Monday, December 2, 2013

Building a Life and Living Through It

Aside from sitting next to my husband on the couch and drinking red wine, or listening to my kids laugh together, writing is my favorite.  It makes me happy and makes me feel smart, so why would I go three months without a blip?!

We have had a BIT going on lately.  All of the bits put together would make a hilarious sit-com and are fabulous fodder for blog writing but alas, I'm going to jam it into one post.

After a year of looking for the perfect house to remodel, we decided to start from scratch.  Like tear it down, scratch the dirt, wood and nails.... "build a whole house for real people to live in" type scratch.

It's a great story, really.

My husband's best friend since the 6th grade... (like if he had to move to a desert island and take one human with him, he would chose to take this man and then write me letters in a bottle, instead of be romantic and take me with him and teach me to build a fire and clean my own fish.)  So this friend and his wife (whom I also love dearly) were adding a second story to their house. (*you can check out that story here!)  Their neighbor, who also happened to be their builder, had bought the "tear down" across the street and planned to build a house there once he found the right client.

Enter our little family in need of something amazing to fall into our laps.

So now we are building the "perfect for us" little house across the street from some of our nearest and dearest, on a busy little block with a lot of happy people under the age of 8, and their parents who like to stand in the front yard with a glass of wine after dinner and watch the kids play.

See: sit-com worthy.

Our house is now a house with walls and windows and a chimney and a garage and we don't deserve one inch of it.  A few (or many) months left to go, but when we get there and get to stay, there will be happy happy tears.

Whilst we are building our house we are doing our absolute BEST to wear out our welcome at my in-laws house.  Again.  (We lived here for a few months almost two years ago before moving away for my husband's fellowship; I'm sure there's a blog post about that somewhere... two Aprils ago)  We are more than comfortable here and I have told many people that the good/great/amazing things about living here FAR outweigh the frustrations of living in boxes and in my husband's high school bedroom.  Although, this is where the sit-com really kicks in.

I go to sleep and wake up every morning to the shrine that is my brother-in-law's news paper clippings from his amazing basketball career; beautifully framed and displayed as they should be.  Then when I roll over to lay on my back, a stuffed bobcat stares at me and perches on a piece of drift wood; this is good motivation to get out of bed in the morning.  Then as I get up, too many deer heads brush my shoulder on my way to the bathroom.  Then the bathroom.  My favorite: a stuffed squirrel, terrified, clinging to another piece of wood.  Mounted on the wall next to the sink, it's huge glossy eyes watching you brush every tooth and apply makeup and dry your hair.  It's strange, but a dead almost-rat keeps me in check after I've admired my eyeliner job and leopard heels in the mirror before heading out to a fancy dinner.

Other than that our living situation is only a luxury.  The girls have their own bedrooms and bathrooms, we have a playroom which serves as our living room, complete with a huge TV, a small refrigerator and tons of space to store our BOXES!  I call the upstairs of this house our apartment and remind myself daily; that were it an actual apartment it would be huge and extremely out of my price range!

Then there are two lovely people who live downstairs and split utilities with us, and happen to love and understand our children sometimes better than my husband and I do.  Our personalities are different just enough to keep things running smoothly and between the four of us our children want for nothing and are completely, and in the best ways  possible, spoiled!

In the middle of all of this I have felt so awful.

I have felt sick and exhausted and forgetful and angry at my skinny jeans.  I have driven across town for specific sandwich because their tomatoes are better and I have seriously debated asking a certain bakery in Dallas, TX if they would air flight a cake to me with extra icing.  I have fallen asleep in the car pool line and let my children log entirely too many hours watching TV.

I am four months pregnant.

Isn't it crazy how excited we can get about a new baby?!  Of course we would.  It's another human life!  Another heartbeat that the Lord has entrusted to us.  Another heartbeat that has me standing in front of the refrigerator every 30 minutes and sleeping as often as possible.  Another heartbeat that has me crying during every commercial with puppies or babies or people sleeping soundly.  And storming away from the mirror every time I get dressed because "this outfit used to fit me!"

I am now about 16 weeks along and finally coming out of the first trimester mess.  With my first two I started feeling sick at 7 weeks and better at 12 and 14 weeks.  This stinker has had me feeling gross and tired from week 4 to week 15.  I have no clue as to the flavor of this baby and I won't be making any guesses; but we will find out in a few weeks.

The baby is due in May and I'm afraid to ask, but I really hope our house will be finished by April.  I do have realistic expectations, and I realize that in the sit-com respect, I'm sure it would be great for ratings if we brought a baby back to the in-laws' house and had to move into our house with tiny, screechy, pink, baby in the mix.

But wouldn't it be nice if it all just went smoothly?!


In the mean time we will continue to build our life and do our best to live through it gracefully and humbly.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Walk It Out.

Getting back to the reason I started this blog.  (And if you don't want to read all of this.... at least scroll down to the bottom to watch a little video that will take about 3:30 minutes of your day.)

My Bug has type 1 diabetes.  

I started out hating diabetes and that feeling has only grown as we have gotten to know each other better.  I still hate you, diabetes.  There is nothing I can do to fix it, heal it, make it go away.  But I can raise awareness and money and send it all in the right direction.  

For our family, that right direction is JDRF; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  The money we raise for JDRF goes toward raising awareness of a need for a cure and to research.  Those labs filled with scientists and doctors, spending all day thinking, planning, working, and losing sleep over the need for a cure for type 1.  

They are close.  But not close enough.
The little box that Bug wears strapped around her waist is most definitely not a cure.  We stick her with a giant needle every 3 days so we can "plug her in".  She lives every second of every day with a little clear tube hanging from her site and attached to her insulin pump.  And we have to make her tiny fingers bleed every 3 hours so we can decide if she can have a snack, or lunch, or a glass of milk.
As a parent you go to every length to protect your kids from dirt and germs and mean kids and bad dreams and Spongebob Squarepants.  I can't protect her from this or make this go away, or fix it, or take it for her.  I can't even reason with it or blame it on something.
There is no cure for type 1 diabetes.... at least for today, there is no cure.  

Help us make this mess go away.  Join us in spirit or in person.

To register or donate:
JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes
Dickey Stephens Park
North Little Rock, AR

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Excitement and Adventure!"

Summer is almost over and I feel like I'm finally waking up to notice it even arrived!

Our summer has been very busy!  To save myself from days of "fill you in" posts.... a list.

-We moved from North Carolina and into my in-laws lovely home.  Returning to the second floor "apartment" we inhabited after selling our house and before moving east.
-We vacationed with my family
-We have all had our maintenance done.... dentist appointments, check ups, hair cuts, manicures.
-We went to the lake
-Bug had her FIFTH birthday!!!
-Peanut decided to potty train herself!!!
-We have scoured the neighborhood for the perfect home.... still yet to be discovered.
-I spent two months in a first trimester fog.... and now have spent two weeks in the post miscarriage fog.
-Bug has taught herself how to play 5 songs on the piano; and is practicing NON STOP.
-My husband started his new job and we are all enjoying his "home before dinner" hours.
-And now we are preparing to send Bug to Kindergarten in her adorable plaid uniform jumper; excitement is at an (almost) all time high.

Summer is my favorite time of year.  I actually love the smack you in the face 100 degree temperatures that come with Summer and the sticky skin and sweaty necks.  I love the colors at the dinner table with fresh vegetables and fruits.  The grill and the pool.  The beach and the car trips.  The freckles and pink cheeks and bathing suits hanging on every door knob.  The lazy mornings and long sunsets.  I could live in summer forever.

However, this year I'm excited for a new season.  The fun things that came with Summer 2013 have been completely overshadowed.  June and July feel like a strange dream.  A dream where I took a bunch of pictures.  A dream I wrote about in my planner.  A dream involving packing and airplane trips and car trips.  A dream with pregnancy tests and champagne toasts in praise and excitement; a long awaited blessing.  And a dream ending with a very dramatic doctor visit, tears and sleep, phone calls, and a major loss of appetite.  A dear friend of mine told me, days after it all started to end, "People always try to say 'this too shall pass' but I hate that.  Right now you're in it and it's awful."  It was so validating to feel right and normal in my funk and sadness; one strangely bright spot that stands out above the fog.

This has not, by any means, been my most difficult hurdle.  I'm surrounded by people who have been there, felt that and I will be forever grateful.  My husband has walked and learned, and done his best to feel everything right along with me.  My friends and family have listened and been patient with my emotions and energy level.  And all the while I have been greeted daily by two giant smiles and tiny arms that squeeze my neck and bring me back to my normal.

My expectations for my return home were set too high.  I was ready to move into MY house, pregnant with MY third child, and continue to build MY life.  All of MY plans have been taken out from under me and I'm reminded that this life is not MY own.  I am, again, giving up control of my plans and awaiting the revelation of a bigger and better one.  It's not easy... it sometimes feels impossible, but overall, I feel redirected and re purposed and renewed.

My husband and I like to sarcastically say "excitement and adventure!" in reference to things that seem the opposite; cleaning up dog throw up, screaming children on the airplane, you get the idea.  This summer has definitely been one of "excitement and adventure!", but I have every confidence that the Lord will bring about a true Adventure.  I won't be able to plan for it, but I will be prepared for it and I will welcome it with tiny open arms, a big smile, and an excitement to discover a "normal".

Thursday, June 13, 2013

That's a Wrap.

*side note: clearly I am experiencing blog design block/frustration/ignorance.... it's on my list of "to do's" but for today....

That's a wrap.  Actually that's a wrap it up, put it in a box, seal it with tape and a very detailed list of the contents.

We are moving.  Again.  Everything in our house is now boxed and stacked and smells very dusty and cardboardy.  I wake up at 3 a.m. and stress about things like "what do you do with WD-40 when you move?  I can't pack that in a box.... do I leave it?  It's a full can!  I'll just leave it for the next renter, the doors here are squeaky in the Winter."

We are in "clean out the fridge and pantry" phase and I am trying my BEST to avoid another grocery store trip before we leave.  Last night even Bug noticed our food scarcities when she started crying, "Mom! We are running out of FOOD!!!"  It's gotten to the point of being able to see the back of the fridge and the shelves of the pantry are close to bare.  I have rationed the kids' food and planned their meals for the next few days, although I'm sure they will still have multiple drive thru meals before all is said and done.  We have plenty of apple juice, cheerios, milk, and red wine... safe to say, we will all survive.

Putting a bow on this year has been an interesting process.  Finishing a year of ballet, a year of tiny person pre-school, a year of home school (praise the LORD.... that was harder than I anticipated), and saying goodbye to the few friends we have made and enjoyed.

My husband is finishing up his last week of work, which will most likely prove to be a very anti-climactic event.  It's his final graduation!  He has been through four years of med school, 5 years of residency, and now one year of a Fellowship.... that's 10 years people.  TEN.  Ten years of studying, reading, learning, NOT sleeping enough, working late, working early, dealing with academic medicine politics, and over all.... he has finished and finished very well.

He has risen above all the drama, the late nights, early mornings, the uncertainty of what comes next, the good cases and the lost cases, coming home to screaming children and ragged wife after a long day of saving lives.  I continue to be amazed by his work ethic, patience,  and humility as he has earned the respect and won the hearts of (almost) every patient and co-worker, while still reserving enough energy to break up a fight, cook dinner, and get the tangles out after bath.  To say I am proud of him would be understating an understatement.  He is our very own super hero and we will never cease to be amazed by him as he leads our little family here and there and everywhere.

Our little family has grown up a little bit.  When we moved in here we had a baby in a baby crib with a passy and diapers.  We had an almost 4 year old who chose only to wear smocked dresses or dress up clothes.  Now we are potty trained, passy free, conversation having people, and we have an almost 5 year old who can CHECK HER OWN BLOOD SUGAR (huge accomplishment).  And she tried on her new school uniform for Kindergarten yesterday and said it was "totally awesome."

They have gone from toddlers to actual people that you can sit and have lunch with and they will wipe their own face.  They tell jokes and stories and dress themselves.  I have so loved watching my girls become best friends.  They play together all day and love each other very well.  Aside from the occasional fight over who is going to turn off the T.V. or wash their hands first; they always end it with a hug and an "I love you sister".  I am beyond grateful that they have each other.

With the growing and the changing always comes growing pains.  This year we have run through every emotion possible: joy, sadness, loneliness, frustration, anger, uncertainty, thankfulness, gratefulness, and so many many more.  Each one met with prayer, some tears, and almost always (thanks to my husband and my children) laughter.

We are more of a family than we ever have been.  We are a team and this year we have proved it.  We have lived, traveled, eaten, played, and cleaned up together exceptionally well this year.  It has been a really hard year for us in limbo and in waiting for the next step, but it has been so great to get to know my family and myself in ways only made possible by our lack of a comfort zone.

Our parents helped us get here and move into this house and when my parents left I stood on the front porch, crying and hugging my daddy.  He said, "Aren't you excited about the adventure?!  It's going to be great!"  Of course I cried more and said, "NO!"  And then we both laughed.

Now we are days away from moving out of and leaving this house on our own.  Just our little team.  The movers will come and take our things away and we will load up in our giant vehicle with our animal and our people.  As we drive across the country, back to my beloved Central Time Zone, we will remember the adventures that we didn't know we wanted, and in my case I didn't know I needed.

Farewell to the "First in Flight" state, we will miss your seasons, your beaches, and your mountains.  We will miss your people and your restaurants.  And we thank you for your hospitality.  This has been the perfect place for all of us to do a little bit of growing up and we will be forever grateful for our little side step over to the east coast.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Death by Comparison.... and Oreos

Comparison is like a poison, in my personal opinion.

Some people think of it as a motivation, or a measurement.  Which is fine.  If it is motivational to think that someone is doing "x" better than you and you should do better, then by all means.... go for it!  For example: "Jenny works harder than you on the soccer field so she gets to start in the game."  In that case, yes, use that comparison to motivate you to work harder.

However!  In the specific case of parenting and being a young mommy; comparison is a poison.

"She is crafty and I'm not."
"She has Tory Burch flip flops and I don't."
"Her kid is walking and mine won't even roll over."
"She got dressed today."

I know you say these things because I did.  I DO! STILL! Which blows my mind, after the advice I've given others.  I have a lot of friends that are either pregnant for the first time or have a baby under the age of 9 months, and my main advice to them is "Do what works for your family.  Don't compare your family to another because you'll never measure up to what you think you SHOULD be doing or wearing or eating."  That and, "Your child WILL roll over eventually, who cares if her kid did that at 6 weeks!"

But I'm still victim to the grocery store line strip down.

Me behind another young mom in the grocery store line:

Ugh, her perfume is too strong and her baby has graham cracker all over himself... hmmm, I'm going to guess her name is Tricia.  She looks like a Tricia..... Oh goodness, Tricia's baby is such a mess.  Maybe I should hand her a wet one from my bag..... oh no, now her kid is screaming for more graham cracker.... I would totally help out but my kid is going through my bag and playing with credit cards so she doesn't scream..... oh no, look at MY kid.  She is playing with credit cards and has milk from breakfast still on her face and it's 4 o'clock!  Ooops, totally forgot to brush her hair today.  I hope no one else noticed...... ugh, the perfume! gross.  Wait, she's wearing perfume.  She is also wearing make up and something that she took off of a hanger...... I'm wearing... oh no.... I'm wearing my stained Uggs in public and my work out pants, that have milk from breakfast this morning smeared on the leg.  Great.  I probably smell her perfume so much because I haven't been out of the house in two days and I'm so used to smelling cheerios and bananas paired with toothpaste and dryer sheets..... oh shoot.  I forgot dryer sheets.  Back to the aisles.  Tricia totally has it together better than I do.  I'd better grab some Oreos.  Oreos make me feel better.


I've also been on the other end of that.  Where I've been dressed well and my kids are behaving well and the family behind me is in shambles and the mother looks like she gave away all her mirrors and hasn't caught her reflection for DAYS.  I have been so proud of myself and prideful about how lovely and wonderful my girls are in matching clothes and hair bows and I imagine the mother behind me is jealous of my togetherness.  It's so gross that I've done that, but I have.

I'm so grateful for what follows my pride almost every time...... the fall.

We get in the car and all in a matter of 30 seconds; our happy family is reduced to the shambles we just witnessed inside.... or worse:  Peanut steals the loaf of bread (from my special cloth grocery sacks.... also a source of pride... ugh), she tears open the sack dumps out the bread, Bug yells, trying to parent her little sister; hair pulling and screaming ensues as my tomatoes and avocados roll out into the parking lot.  I'm running out to grab my produce and drop my phone that was in my hand because I was trying to Instagram a picture of my kids being cute in the silly hats from the Dollar Spot.  Food smashed, phone cracked, children crying..... and now we have no bread and are late for lunch time.  And when you're late for lunch time, nap is late, and if you miss the nap window.....  T.R.O.U.B.L.E.

Suddenly I remember the mom without mirrors and realize, she was probably buying food to make a fabulous meal for her family who doesn't watch TV and her 18 month old can already read and speak French.  She totally has it together in areas where I don't.


The only way I have been able to combat this comparison poison is to just be aware of it.  I catch myself, looking at Facebook, Pintrest, and blogs and trying to measure up.  Usually I don't catch it until it's too late and I'm wallowing in my inadequacy and dark brown Oreo dust.... too late.

Right now I'm reading Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist and she said she had to write down all the things she doesn't do.  I love that. I love that there can be a reminder to myself when I'm thinking, "oh what a great craft she made!" or "Look at that baby's first birthday party!".  I can look at my list and remind myself "oh, right.  I don't do those things.  I hate play doh and I don't do the blow out kid's birthday parties!  Off the hook."

My List of "I don't do"s
I don't go running
I don't throw the super cute blow out birthday parties for my kids
I don't leave the house a mess so I can craft with my kids
I don't clean my baseboards
I don't do fancy calligraphy or other fancy lettery things
I don't let my kids eat without washing their hands (some see this as a negative which is fine... to each his own)
I don't call people on the phone just to chit chat
I don't (usually) wear perfume during the day
I don't wear lip stick
I forget people's birthdays
I don't wear bikinis

There are many more things I'm not currently thinking of, but that's a few that are on my brain.  I don't do those things and I doubt I will start any time soon.  It's somewhat freeing typing those out and looking at them.  So next time "Tricia" is in front of me in line and I start the strip down... I'll remember my list of don't do's.  Then I'll be able to enjoy her perfume and messy, smiley child as she talks to her friend on the phone and pays for her cute bikini, birthday cards, and calligraphy pens.

Try to catch yourself in comparison, then stop it and change it.  You probably won't even need to leave the house.... between Facebook and blog reading, you will poison yourself to the point of 10 Oreos in a matter of 10 minutes.

Do what works best for you and YOUR family, and let that other girl run hers.  You never know, she may think your stained Uggs are cool and edgy.... is that a thing now?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hurry Up and Wait!

Well, it's still Winter.  Such a season of waiting.

I feel like there are so many things coming soon... warmth, sweat, shorts, vacations, home buying, moving, birthday parties, Kindergarten, re-entry into our old life; which could also be considered as just plain entry into our new life.  But for now, we just wait.

My college roommates used to give me a hard time because as soon as I was ready to go, (class, dinner, anywhere) I would wait impatiently... standing at the door looking at my watch or shouting from the living room "I'M ready. Are y'all ready yet?!"  Rude, yes.  Selfish, childish, slightly controlling...?

A few days ago I was praying about a few things that have been "laid on my heart", as they say.  I laid it all out there, asking for direction and I did the 'sit and wait quietly with your eyes closed and no music or noise or anything' thing, in hopes to have this major revelation of purpose.  Like the TV would miraculously come on and the news reporter would look at me and tell me exactly what to do, or my dog would run in the room holding a blue sock in his mouth and that would suddenly mean something to me and I would have a new sense of purpose.

I sat and waited.  I WAITED.  It required much discipline to push out thoughts of a nap, laundry and dinner service.  It also required much discipline to push out "visions" I was making up myself: "oh! I'm sitting at a fabulous dinning table in a comfortable home with all my friends and we are watching our kids play in my new backyard...." You get the idea.

Twenty minutes in, I heard it.  Loud and clear, undeniable.  "WAIT."


I was so annoyed.  I am so annoyed.  I want to plan and expect and dream.  I want to make labels and organize and write new events on my calendar.  I even tried to start packing boxes for our move in 4 months, but I can't.  We still need the few hundred things we brought with us.

We have so many people in our lives right now that have been struck by something major: surgery, death, stroke, illness, new babies, new relationships, new pregnancies and we have to wait to be a part of the healing, the mourning, the welcoming, the meeting, and the growth.  Waiting to renew friendships, waiting to meet the neighbors and the school friends.  Waiting to see who, what, where, when, why, and how.

I made an appointment with our diabetes team back home for July, after we have moved back, and I'm pretty sure I've talked more about that one event more than I talked about my child starting to crawl.  If that gives you any idea of how much security I find in the art of planning ahead.

Whether I actually like it or not; I said send me and I will go and God said "wait".

I'm definitely not wishing away our time here in the waiting place.  We have a nice house, a great church and lovely people in our midst, but the calendar and the countdown brings mixed emotions.  We have just a few more months of our taste of anonymity and minding our own business, and as we love and treasure that; we somehow still long for the hometown and to be known on every grocery aisle.

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!"  Psalm 30:18

Now, hurry up and go wait for something!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Capital H

I read somewhere once that when we lose a loved one we get a taste of Heaven; it suddenly seems more real and accessible.  I got my first real taste of Heaven last February when one of my grandmothers passed away.  Yesterday, my other grandmother went on to Heaven and I had another reality check.

Heaven is real.  It's close.  It holds two of my favorite ladies whom I strive to emulate in my manners, cooking, style, and poise.  I miss them.  However, their passing reminds me that my time here on Earth is short.  Compared to eternity, my years and influence here are a blip, drop, flash in the pan.

Lately I have been in the pits and its been all about me.  Homesick, unable to control the sleeping habits of my two year old, COLD and desperate for 80 degree temperatures.  The death of my grandmother really put a capital H on my homesickness.  I am unable to get home for the funeral because of distance, Peanut's sleeping habits, and real life circumstances that create a much bigger need for me to be here instead of there.

There has been so much pity partying.  Much more than I usually allow myself.  I always say it's OK to have a 10 minute pity party and then to move on, but this one has been hard to push away.

Distance from familiar and comfort has done many things.  It has brought our little foursome of a family closer together.  My husband and I communicate better.  I care MUCH less about keeping up and climbing ladders (albeit, I probably still care too much).  I care much more about, and lean on, prayer.... asking for it, practicing it, talking about it.

I told someone a few days ago; I feel so sad and so joyful at the same time.  I am accepting my homesickness and sadness and longing, and practicing thankfulness for the pits, because I have never heard the voice of God more clearly.  His voice is as real to me now as reading the words on this screen.

The other day I sat on the couch in silence, stewing about my circumstances, and I heard and felt God's presence.... as real as if he were sitting there, leaning on the pillow and leaving a little dent on the cushion where he sat.  He sees me.  He hears me.  I am real to him, just as he is to me.

Sometimes my prayers are angry fist shakers, sometimes they are needy, seeking rescue, and other times they are joyful.  But every time, they end in thankfulness.  I know I am here, seemingly left but clearly purposed, for bigger things beyond my understanding.

God is bigger than my circumstances and bigger than my longings and homesickness and I won't let Satan rejoice in my pity and sadness.  As my girls sing:

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!

And I don't dare let Satan blow it out!