Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Legitimately happy

I feel girlish, silly even, to say that sweet little statement above. If I've learned anything in my mere 3 decades it is that happiness isn't the ultimate goal in life and it certainly never comes how I might have expected. Many authors these days are all about the secret to happiness and unfolding it in 300 quite monotonous pages. This is especially true if you are a Christian author because of all people shouldn't your typical Christian be the happiest of all? We've got God and Jesus and all of the angels and special powers on our side, right?

Well, as I experienced first hand this past year and a half my faith and my happiness are not directly related though I found that once I finally got the first one the second one came with a little more ease. I've given myself alot of grace from that last year. I wasn't a good friend to anyone. I feel if anything that I "took" a whole lot from everyone...prayers, meals, sympathy, consoling, and whatever else and I really had nothing to give to anyone. I certainly was not a good wife but luckily I married a very understanding person and our marriage has truly flourished from that awful year and the nights of sobbing, the missed work days, and even from the lack of sleep. I was okay at the mom thing but that was only because the boys weren't necessary old enough to know better and whatever I did have to give seemed to go to them. I know I wasn't a good sister or daughter or servant but certainly not a "good Christian" if you can be one. For the first time I was truly faced with something that money, time, a doctor, a medicine, a vacation, a massage, a special visit from a special friend, a prayer meeting with hands laid on my head and everything couldn't fix. Of course I couldn't see it then but I am starting to see now as each day gets a little brighter than that place...that place with no answers tied on the top of the package in a pretty bow...that that is right where God had me.

Many mornings now I wake up - which is so beautiful to say - and I try hard to recall what it used to feel like...how long the days were but how much longer each night was alone and awake. Once I start to visualize what it looked like I have to stop because my heart starts racing. Then sometimes during the day I will try to remember the days with the two active boys looking at me so edibly, so affectionately and I remember feeling like there was no light in my eyes to look back at them. I felt dirty and ungrateful. No matter how bad things were I had these boys and Brad and shouldn't that fix everything? It made everything not as dark but as I said, there was no answer to the place I was in last year....it was one messy, twisted, complicated, sticky, unknown mess with no bow on top.

But today I know I couldn't feel the Christmas music on the radio the way I do now. I couldn't enjoy the meaningless conversation with a stranger at the park. I couldn't take in the quiet of the afternoon nap like I get to do today if I hadn't truly walked through the valley that I walked through last year. Everything now seems so much bigger and grander than it ever did before and even before this past year. A quick kiss from Brad as he leaves the door stays with me throughout the day. Hearing Brooks pray at night lingers in my head for hours where before I smiled a crooked smile and knew I was missing the whole blessing though hearing it for myself. The cold air today feels that much colder and the smell of the Christmas candle burning in the kitchen runs throughout my veins and it's like I can feel it all over me the way I used to feel what I described as a current going through me all day and night to keep me going. Yuck yuck yuck.

Lastnight Brad came home in the rain and dark. It was a Monday and a Monday after a long, great weekend of giving thanks. It was just set up to not be a pleasant environment when he walked in the door. To his surprise, everything was kinda perfect. Yall know I am not one to brag about how leave-it-to-beaver-ish my home is because often, it may look reeeaaallly good on the blog or facebook but yall know it isn't always that lovely - that magazine worthy. Last night it was. Yes, the fire was going, the tree lit, the house straight, dinner was simmering, and the boys were giggling at each other from their chairs and their squeals when daddy walked in the door could have melted the hardest of hearts. That was all nice and yes, very perfect, but it wasn't what Brad felt and what I had felt the whole day. It was something bigger, deeper, wider, grander, and more sincere then a candle that would fade and holiday music that will end in another month. It was the inner sense of peace that almost always can only come after having walked through a valley and having come out on the other side. And I am not even saying - having come out "healed" because who know what is in store - but having come out with your hands fully open, surrendering to a God who, fortunately, knows what is best. Even if His best is another pregnancy and another little one under one roof. It's this - having surrendered to wanting the bow on top of everything. I used to think there was a reason and an answer for everything and certainly if there was going to be struggle than there was going to be an overwhelming reason for that struggle. This whole thing proved me wrong and taught me the most valuable lesson...that not everything can be explained - atleast not immediately. We have to get to a place where we are okay with that and that is where that "trust in the Lord" thing comes in play in a real way. Real trust....the hard kind...is where the genuine happiness is hidden.

"I'm so happy," I told Brad as he walked in the kitchen. I haven't said that in so long. Actually, I may have said that but I haven't felt that in so long. Not only do I feel favored as anyone would who had been through so much and felt so rescued but I feel so lucky to have had such a horrific experience and to be able to truly "feel" now. Sadness, grief, joy, sympathy, exuberance, humility, hot, cold, music, pain, thankfulness, sorrow, shock, gratitude...I can finally feel it all for the first time in many years.

And I finally get that thing I have been telling people since I started going to church. I finally know what that "peace that passes all understanding" feels like and honestly, it has a little to do with the fact that things are better, yes, but more to do with the fact that I had to finally let go of alot of things I was holding onto in order to receive this legitimate peace.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pin this

I stayed away from Pinterest for a long time. I mean, I got an account and let it sit there just knowing I didn't need one more thing to distract me in a world that wants me so badly to be distracted. More so, I just didn't want to add to anything that would make me "want" anything more. Isn't there enough of that already? Anyway, a few weeks ago I cracked for a second and found a recipe that I was looking for for apple crisp. It was delicious and I had fun following through on my desire....going to the store, taking the time to cook and not skimping on any of the ingredients. If you happen to have found me on pinterest I am sorry because I am not going to be the originator of any brilliant thoughts but rather a copier. That's the stage of life I am in and I'm okay with that. I know maybe that is what half of the idea is - some people create things and some people just "pin" them and hope to one day create or obtain them.
Well today I was a little turned off. Or alot. If you just hit the "explore" button and explore everything being pinned 75% of the photos were of a few ridiculously blessed in the bosom type women with hip bones that stick out. And then always there was some young teen or 20-something posting the picture and labeling it her "motivation." One of these such pictures even had 20+ things you could do to get this skinny - anywhere from making yourself a snack and then throwing it away just to feel some will power, to chewing on ice when you get hungry. Geez. This just made me sad for so many females out there who constantly, I mean constantly are wanting to look like something else. I don't know if it was marriage or motherhood but I hope it was before when I finally learned to love the me that god created - every curve and dimple.
Okay, I just needed to rant a bit.
But - I also want to just pin pictures of the boys on pinterest and I know if I did I would really lose all popularity. I mean pictures of cute clothes or yummy cookies are enticing and I love love love the fresh ideas for a home makeover and I can't wait to one day have our own home and hope to implement many of the things I have seen but as a mom or a dad - do you not just think your own kiddos are the most pinnable thing out there? I feel the same about your kids too or your Wheaten terrier dog as well because obviously they are my 2nd favorite thing (shout out to Amos!)...I really do. To me the sweetest, cutest, most desirable things on the planet are the expressions and smiles of innocent little folks. So, here, you can pin this and that may be all I have to add to "pinterest" or facebook of the like for several years. I know my creative brain will come back to life soon enough but right now I am happy living life through the eyes of a toddler.
(Now if only I had beautifully taken pictures to post here but alas - I am still using the iphone for all of our memory making!)

He may hate me for that one later.

And this is the tree at our neighborhood park. Ahhhh...fall how I love thee most!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The long but beautiful story of the miracle baby

The morning of Saturday, September 24th started just like most mornings over the last 14 months. I got out of my “bed” which had become the couch just before 6 after fighting through another night of not falling asleep. I mean- not sleeping whatsoever even after swallowing a little pill the night before that was supposedly one of the most effective and potent medications prescribed for insomnia. This most recent chapter in our long battle with insomnia had really torn me apart. Granted, I was finding sleep every few nights which was far greater than some of the weeks spent in this nightmare but it wasn’t for certain and the anticipation, anxiety, and genuine fear that now existed around something seemingly so natural had robbed me of the little joy I might feel after even a little sleep. I had seen 13 doctors and tried 12 different medicines over the past year+ all with little success. We had literally turned to everything possible to try to take a stab at this disease or symptom or whatever the doctor wanted to call it and that “constant search” was stealing me and my family of just a normal life with two little ones.....which should be trying enough alone. We spent our savings on every type of therapy and doctor that had been mentioned to us. More so, we had fallen on our knees so many times and really for the likes of a solid year we had heard no real answers. But the more we tried to find an answer or some relief the bigger the problem became.

The last doctor seemed to be a God send as he really understood the problem and he was realistic about the progress I could make. He didn’t promise me sleep in 11.5 weeks as one holistic doctor had told me if only I were to buy in to a whole regime of natural supplements. He hadn’t told me just to wait it out until my hormones from the two back-to-back pregnancies leveled out. He affirmed me that my burden was heavy and that it was barely understood and that it would take a very long time to get to the bottom of it because I had made it so big by even trying to solve it so relentlessly. Though I had finally found a doctor that most seemed to “get it” I still felt very alone. I knew I wasn’t facing a life threatening cancer but in my own way this had become my cancer. No one can truly comfort you when they aren’t in it....experiencing the emotion, the deflation, and the exhaustion for themselves. I had come to a place where it seemed there was truly no answer. The week prior I had just emailed a trusted group of friends whom have walked this journey with me as best as they could during this year. I had asked for wisdom or prayer or anything as my new doctor was wanting to add a 2nd medicine to the the already powerful 1st medicine that wasn’t working. I had delivered my first child naturally for no real good reason at the time. I just felt deep down that I was supposed to do it. After that experience I could see this whole mentality transforming the way I had always thought about my health. But then the very next year everything at my core was challenged as I went through medicine bottle after medicine bottle to find any relief. It literally brought me a little lower each night as I shut my eyes and swallowed a pill and hoped not even for sleep but for the ability to relax and let go.

So that Saturday in September changed my life, my faith, and my story for good. It was half time of the Georgia game and I had come home from a morning out away from the boys and Brad. I had had a weird conversation with a random stranger that morning that had me thinking. She was sadly talking about a friend whom wished she had aborted one of her twins because the one was having development trouble. They were 10 weeks old. My heart was broken for this woman somewhere in Atlanta and I drove home just praying that God would change that mother’s heart and comfort her in a way she had never known. Though I was in the middle of the heaviest trial I had ever faced I had seen my two little boys as the gifts that God gave me in the storm. They were truly my only hope and the one thing that kept me going each day. I knew I couldn’t just fall apart no matter how tired, frustrated, or hurt I was with them watching.
This conversation had me thinking about my own recent decisions. We had our first two boys 14 months apart and I had said ever since the youngest’s birth last year that I would do it again if only I was feeling better. But to eliminate any possibility for the most selfless thing to happen in the middle of what felt like the most selfish season of my life...battling for my health and sanity...I went “all the way” and had the IUD put in a few months prior. I don’t really know what I thought about it, I just knew that there was no way we could be surprised again with a baby when I was a mess and my family was barely treading water. The IUD is reportedly 99.999% effective so short of abstinence I was feeling pretty confident.

Anyway, the whole day the random woman’s comments sat with me. When I came home briefly that Saturday I went to change my clothes, use the restroom, and you know...take a pregnancy test. It wasn’t possible that I was pregnant but I just had to see the little thing say “No” because all I could think about was the heavy cocktail of medication my doctor’s had me on for the past several months. What if a doctor were to ask me to abort a child because of the harm I could have caused from medicine? I don’t know why I kept thinking this...I just wanted to understand this woman’s friends’ heart. How could she ever think that abortion would have been the better option?
I came stumbling down the stairs from our bathroom and asked Brad “why does this thing say I am pregnant? I can’t be pregnant. It’s not possible?” Brad asked if I ever really had the IUD put in, sort of jokingly. He then came over to see what I was seeing and he, too, was a little baffled. It wasn’t clearly a “yes” but it wasn’t fully a “no.” So he did as I never thought he would do and left the Georgia game to go to the drugstore. $20 later and with the top of the line test in hand, the one that can’t be misread - it says either pregnant or not pregnant - we tested again. Inside I was thinking the worst. Not even that I was pregnant but that maybe I had some weird cancer or tumor as I had always thought and for some reason this test was showing positive. I mean, I had the IUD in...the birth control that is 99.999% effective. More so, there was no way God or the stork or anyone could think that a baby, right now, would be a good idea. It would truly be the last straw.

Well, the handy-mac-daddy pregnancy test took 2 minutes and just before the game came back on the little test read PREGNANT.

I wish I could say that the rest of the afternoon was all giggles and screams and hugs. It was so much the opposite that I almost wish not to recall the details. Let’s put it this way - I was petrified of what this meant. I couldn’t even think that the word “PREGNANT” meant a baby or anything else. All I could think is that somebody messed up. Ashamedly, it was the most selfish feeling I had ever felt. Why would a God that I believe in and have waited patiently for a whole year to save me have allowed this to happen? What would I do with the new medicine that I was 4 weeks into and against all recommendations I was not supposed to just stop, cold-turkey? Brad tried to bring joy to the situation and talked about the 3rd child that would join us and how we had wanted them close together anyway. He said atleast they would be 22 months apart which seems like icing compared to 14. He was very sweet and genuine but honestly all I felt was pity. He wasn’t the one not sleeping. He wasn’t the one in a knot of turmoil and intense anxiety over having to take a medicine that wasn’t even working. And he wasn’t the one now carrying a child. How could I give anything to a baby when I felt like the worst version of myself? My mom always says I don’t get angry easily but I was angry. I was angry with God for my new predicament and I literally felt absolutely helpless for the first time through the whole thing.

That night after trying not to think about the obvious - Brad and I had to decide what to do with my medicine. It was clear to him. I was pregnant. The medicine is strongly discouraged during pregnancy so that was that. To be honest, I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up for many weeks and only then when there was another solution for my sleep situation. Clearly, he didn’t understand the place I was in but I am grateful for his wisdom and foresight especially in the crucial times.

We prayed together that night that God would pick us up when we were at the bottom and that He would protect this new life from the harmful things that had been in my body. He went upstairs that night around 11. I gave him a half crooked smile and told him I would see him in the morning as I took my usual position on the couch. And I wept like I never knew I could. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t take the medicine. I really didn’t know what I would do. It felt like time had stopped and it was just me and my couch and my medicine and the big fact that I didn’t know how to sleep on medicine, let alone throwing it all away. Rebound insomnia was a sure thing -there was no way I could escape that.
That night was one of the loneliest places I had ever been. Somewhere after 3 I finally fell asleep for a few hours. Brad woke up early on that Sunday to come check on me and as he walked down the stairs I looked over and just cried and laughed and melted at the love that had bombarded my heart in those two hours of sleep.

God, my Healer, changed my heart, my perspective, and my story for good that long night. That Sunday morning I knew that God had sent the impossible as an answer to my problem. I had actually slept for a few hours which was a few more than I had the night before on medicine. More than that, the fear, extreme anxiety, and, worry were gone. Completely. The Lord had truly sent a child to deliver us from the worst year of our lives and though it was highly unlikely to get pregnant - that is just what I was, pregnant and free for the first time of the dark cloud that had been over me.
The next two nights I slept a tad bit more but I never really thought about the sleep. I just knew my prayer for an answer had come and my spirits were completely different. On the 4th night I fell asleep, in my own bed, and awakened 7 hours later for the first time since before William’s birth. Each night that was farther away from the medicine and the commotion caused over the medicine was a little better. And then about 10 days later the beautiful pregnancy hormones kicked in and I started sleeping like I never had before. 2 hour naps everyday while the boys napped and falling asleep on the couch at night at 8:30...that kinda sleep! And each day I was more and more humbled over the love that God had shown me through this miracle baby.

We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary in October and Brad commented on the way home that it was the 1st date in months that we didn’t talk about sleep or doctors or the latest person I had spoken to whom had had a similar experience. It was so refreshing. Like I said, the sleep is nice but it was never really the sleep that I wanted back so desperately. It was the peace of mind. The race from doctor to doctor to therapist to the pharmacy to any book on sleep or anxiety to the acupuncturist to the internet had absolutely robbed me of my joy. I had felt like if I didn’t find the solution no one would because my situation seemed to baffle everyone I met. I had never experienced anxiety and I didn’t seem depressed..... My blood sugar, hormone and any other level always seemed just fine so I was always sent on my way....to figure it out on my own. I finally had my peace of mind back and I felt alive again. I had claimed this whole year that God would do something big with my story. I knew it deep down but I had started to think that insomnia would just be my cross to bare. And who knows...maybe it is? But I can honestly say with confidence now that God has done something with every night I spent alone, in fear, and burdened over the turn of events.
The speaker of my bible study for mom’s spoke at our first meeting this fall about being “seen” by God. I wrote this on my paper and scratched it out that day. I knew God was with me and He wasn’t going to let me die over my lack of sleep but I surely didn’t feel “seen” by anyone.

But can you imagine how “seen” I felt that first morning after actually falling asleep without having to swallow anything? And to have felt like myself again for the first time through a very very long season of sadness?

Our miracle baby will join us sometime around mid-May. I still sleep better than I did before but as we are now in the 2nd trimester the new found energy burst has helped me feel better but has also left me awake at night. My attitude about the lack of sleep is completely different and I know it is just a process of retraining my brain and body how to sleep even if I am not drooling on the couch at 8pm the way I was those first beautiful weeks of pregnancy. More so, the one goal that I had told my last doctor - that I wanted to be able to sleep without medicine has been fulfilled and the lack of anxiety that comes with that is overwhelming. My peace of mind is so much better.

Of course on this end I wouldn’t trade one tear, one sleepless night, one heart-wrenching conversation, or one pleading prayer for this surprising news. We are so excited about this new, beautiful addition to our family! What an unexpected answer to prayer for us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The other side of being a SAHM

Stay at home mom's: a lunch-time restaurateur's worst nightmare and a Groupon/LIvingSocial/Daily deal site's grandest dream come true.

There are so many aspects of being the domestic CEO of our household that are just blissful but I know you rarely hear those parts. It's unfortunately much easier at the end of a long, snotty day to amuse readers with the fumbles of the day involving little ones. But there are so many treasures of my job that I take for granted but will have a hard time doing with out should I ever take my efforts back to Corporate America.
As always, in no specific order:
1) Easing into the morning. I have 4 robes and I alternate them every few days. I have a great pair of rugged slippers and those are used every morning. Whether or not I choose coffee in the morning I make it just to smell it and hold it and sometimes the coffee, robe, and slippers are still in use come 10:30. I watch the money-maker of the house scurry out of bed at the sound of his (hideous) alarm and within 20 minutes the lights are pulling out of the driveway. I don't envy this part of his day as I do his private and alone time on the office potty. I love taking our time with everything in the morning. Actually, the more time I take - the better - the less time to entertain before a 1pm nap!
2)Choosing if/when I'll shower. I know, most people have to start their day with a shower but for us stay-at-homers a shower is almost a hassle. I don't think I've been able to dry my hair in 2.5 years now and a wet head is never comfortable all day. Therefore, I often "choose" not to shower and rather just "rinse off" as rapidly as possible before the dog ends up in the toilet by the youngest one.
3) Chick-fil-a get's it's own line item in a budget. Whether it's picking up lunch to take to the park or terrorizing the playground on an afternoon when naps just didn't happen Chick fila is the place to go. And I know they are good to all of their peeps but hello.....if you are not a mother have you ever watched the red carpet rolled out for the crazy mom's of multiples at lunch time? I'd argue it's better than a 5 star restaurant without the shame of leaving the thrown food on the floor.
4) During the summer it is a part of the job description of a mom to explore every new yogurt shop in town. I am a sucker for a build your own yogurt so I do very well at this part of my job. All in the name of entrainment!
5) Not always having dinner ready is okay and I feel zero guilt chatting at the park with the neighborhood moms up until supper time. Dont get Me wrong, I actually like cooking when there is time to think about a menu, shop at a store without two people that eat everything before you leave and steal balloons, and then cooking without someone holding on to your ankle and another eating dishwasher soap. I really do. But under the above circumstances cooking becomes a painful experiment often ending in dry chicken dish, microwaved rice, and then a bowl of cheerios later to make up for the terrible experience at dinner. One day in my life as a wife I will embrace cooking dinner again but not now and I don't feel guilty.
6) Afternoon naps. I used to feel like I had to clean or read beautiful literature to not let my mind go to mush and do other noble things while the boys napped but thanks to my year of guilt free living since having two under two - I unabashedly and quite happily enjoy my own nap time with some trashy Bravo television show in the background and an occasional HGTV or FOOD network show - all things that ultimately will up my value as a wife and mom....... one day just not now.
7) A little exercise is built in. Yall know me - I am slightly anal about getting to work out everyday but along with my guilt free year I've had to take on a new attitude about exercise. Unfortunately, my figure knows it and I officially feel like a "mom" and not a young, nanny at the park who just couldn't have her own kids because she looks to dang good. Atleast at the end of the day I just dont feel like a lazy blob after doing almost everything for two humans. Seriously, if you add the caloric burn from picking up 100+ pieces of toys 4 times a day plus the burn from carrying 70+ lbs up and down the 14 stairs in our house added to the work of getting folks in and out of a car 6 times a day you just wouldn't feel bad either about a little tv in the middle of the day either.
8) Embarrassing the boys the way my mom used to do while dancing in the car or in a store. I didn't know you could embarrass a 2.5 year old but last night I did and it was so worth it. Brooks has a way with his big, expressive eyes anyway so doing anything to warrant an unusual expression is fabulous entertainment. I'll never forget my mom dancing and singing while dropping us off somewhere in HIGH SCHOOL and just feeling the burn in my cheeks. Secretly, my heart swarmed because I loved watching my mom have fun! She'd roller skate down our street when I was younger and I, too, secretly can't wait to roller skate down our street and give the boys a good laugh in front of their friends.
9) Speaking of roller skating or hoola hooping or galloping like a horse....who wouldn't love to do all the above in a 5 minute window just to get a rise out of your little ones. And then to get to watch them mimic anything you do....good times! Last night we put on our rain boots and went to find puddles to jump in and it was perfectly within the scope of my job as a mom.
10) ANd of course there is the obvious - witnessing the most heart-melting, tummy turning moments that only happen every so often and can never be repeated or relived. The boys recognizing eachother in a crowd and squealing with joy to run to each other, a little one laying his head on your shoulder in the middle of a conversation with a friend just to feel like he is close to me, watching two boys mimic the lion cubs at the zoo that were wrestling/playing, hearing the new words come out of a toddlers mouth like his latest "I need a baby dister (sister)" ...whoa....what?, and then getting to witness the beautiful thing that was just brought to my attention as I type - the 15 month old eating the tip off of a pink and green marker. Precious. I WOULD NOT MISS THESE MID MORNING AND MID DAY HAPPENINGS FOR ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

That's just us

I was exceptionally whiny this week and I know it was irritating to those blessed people who get to live with me. It was one of my favorite weeks of the year - the week leading up to the Georgia vs Auburn football game. I know this seems extreme and maybe a little exaggerated but I'm telling no lies. I LOVE this rivalry. Or love-hate this rivalry but I love the energy that swarms around the game every year. I can remember travelling down 85 many times, once in my friends conversion van singing 90's rap songs with her older brothers. Another time I just remember never being so cold in my entire life but the Bulldawgs won so nothing mattered. Years ago when I was free as a bird and just freshly making commission checks we put on what I still think was the grandest tailgate before the game that ever existed. The next year Georgia banned this kind of tailgating from North Campus and I like to think it was because of our 4 foot tall speakers and gobs of people all smashed under two tents. Ahhhh the days! Not so high on the memory charts was mine and Brad's first football game after we came home from our honeymoon. Let's just say we ended up at a restaurant talking over this whole marriage and expectation thing. Nonetheless, it was a memory and it adds to the intense feeling I have over this fun week. When you live in Atlanta almost everyone either went to Georgia or couldn't get in and went to Auburn. The schools are oddly similar though both will claim that their respective towns are that much more charming, inviting, and picturesque than the other.
So this week I was just in a sour mood. I can say for the first time in my 2.5 years of being a full time mom that I wanted to be fired. The boys didn't love the whole time change thing and though they still slept just fine, they, too, were just in stinky moods every morning. This didn't help my already growing desire to be fired for atleast the weekend. There is this one thing as a mom that I think is what makes the whole gig as hard as it is and it is that there are no weekends, no vacations, and no Veterans days off. A Tuesday morning looks like a Saturday morning and while many of them are fun and entertaining and do not involve a tie and a morning meeting - they are all the same. I hope you don't hear me complaining....just stating the truths. And occasionally this reality makes me a little whiny. I just want one morning to feel like a "day off." I don't even want to sleep later - just wake up and eat my eggs the way I used to and watch the today show and drink my coffee slowly.
This week the modern conveniences of social media just made me even more sour. As gameday approached I watched everyone announce how they would be spending their tailgating hours in my favorite city and I think I considered at one point just checking them into Children's for a day for an unexplainable cold and coming back the next day to get them. I know, that's bad. I unabashedly begged my husband to find a way, any way, to get us to Athens for the weekend because my soul just needed it. I needed to sit in a folding chair under a magnolia tree with warm clothes on and eat chicken fingers and potato chips for hours on end with no thought of a diaper or a green nose. But come Saturday morning the crowds were travelling north on 85 and we were watching Cat in the Hat and cleaning up syrup.....just like any other Saturday morning. But this is why I like my marriage partner. At 945 I mentioned the not-so-blissful idea of packing up the kiddos and heading to Athens. Yes, we had no tickets in hand, our boys both had nasty green noses, I only logged a few hours of sleep the night before, it was freeeeeezing that morning and, conveniently, Brad had taken a few Tylenol- PM's at 8am that morning. But after some quick showers to ponder this idea and packing up anything that could be needed in a crisis with two toddlers amid a sea of drunken tailgaters - we were on the road.
I offered to drive since I was dealing with a walking zombie for atleast the next 6 hours while the "PM" effects wore off. !0 minutes into the trip and all of the males in the car were snoozing and I was as happy as I had expected I would be driving the back roads to my favorite place on earth. About 20 minutes out my patient woke up. I said, "Brad, we are either going to be singing from the rooftops that we loaded our toddlers up on a whim and headed to one of the biggest party scenes we could imagine on a cold fall day OR we would hate ourselves the whole way home and wonder as we do many times why we didn't just make our lives more easy and stay home?" And Brad said, perfectly, "That's just who we are, Betsy. We say we should make our lives easier and cut out all of the travel and babysitters and obscure commitments but that's not us." And that is what I love about us. While life with kids has certainly changed every aspect of our lives, even down to when I can eat my eggs and if we ever shower, it hasn't fully taken the wind out of our sail. I love just "rolling with it" and enjoying life with kids in tow.
Obviously that last sentence answered my question. The afternoon went perfectly and I was in heaven. I loved watching the game-goers and feeling young again. I loved being with my family and running into so many old friends and I loved watching the boys throw a football on North Campus and shout "Go Dawgs" to people passing by. Life now isn't about wishing it was the way it was years ago but embracing it with a a diaper bag in tow. I will say both Brad and I walked through the piles of grills and radios and bourbon bottles on north campus saying "I never ever thought I'd be pushing a double stroller through campus!" And that is why I love us!
The boys tacking eachother at the tailgate.

Ringing the game day bell with Nise and Big.

If mama is happy, everybody is happy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The boys

My intentions when I first started this blog were to be able to update our family out of town about our whereabouts and happenings. Enter two babies and all of a sudden you would think this would just be a collage of pictures or a "baby book" of sorts but instead my insides got all mushy and I tend to spend more than half of my time writing about bigger life issues....patience, sin, happiness, trials, you know...all of the stuff you probably don't come here to read. And since I acclaim to be no profound writer or have any bigger insights on this journey than the rest of you today I will stick to the "baby book" type thing. I've said it many times on here but the days are sometimes excruciatingly long and the years are bitterly short. Technically, we no longer have a baby in the house but two-toddling-toddlers. So, here is a mini update atleast for my memory years down the road. Speaking of memory - are any other moms out there seriously worried about when the supposed "mom brain" goes away. I thought it was just during pregnancy but I can't remember anything. I cant remember what we did last week and I can't remember dates Brad and I went on 4 years ago. Which always makes for a pleasant evening when the conversation goes, "Babe, do you remember when we went to Jacksonville on a plane together?" Me: "I've never flown to Jacksonville. Never." Oooppss.....mommy brain?? Please tell me it isn't just me?

Anyway, since the boys seem to be polar opposites of each other I'll do this how I probably never should and compare them. Bring on the sibling rivalry, right?
* William is a walking disaster and Brooks is scared of his own shadow. Hence the 4 bruises on William's face right now and the notion from Brad that we shouldn't leave the house in fear that DFACS will take me.

Sweet, sweet, sweet. And where was W? In the fireplace!
*Brooks could sit and figure out a Rubik cube for 2 hours without making a peep. William has the attention span of a small flea. Yesterday when the rain started I pulled out the paints and the leftover pumpkins. Before I had even put Brooks in his chair William had thrown his pumpkin and wiggled himself half way out of the chair.

William would NEVER Sit this still. Hence his baby mullet.
*William would not follow me or delight me so much as to try to mimic me if I gave him a whole tub of Breyers. Brooks will repeat words I said 4 weeks ago. This could be just a factor of age rather than personality but I think there is a little of the latter in there, too. Here we are "exercising" last night.

*Brooks has an obsession with shoes and clothes right now and has become quite picky when it comes to what he wears. William belongs in a nudist colony. I came into his room this week during what was supposed to be a nap and he had unsnapped his drawers and taken off his diaper and peed all over himself. Brooks is 14 months older and has never even noticed how to take off his diaper.
Excuse my poor editing job.
*Speaking of shoes Brooks is going to have the foot of his uncle Carter...a humble size 14. William on the other hand can't wear shoes because his feet are too thick. Not too wide or long but too thick!
*The oldest is a little fixated with television or anything with a picture. He loves to sit and look at slide shows of our 1000's of pictures on the computer and point out all of the people he knows. William hasn't glanced in the way of the tv not even once. Hopefully this means he will be brilliant???
*Brooks hoards and hides. William throws and destroys. Example - after a night of light trick or treating Brooks literally had to sleep with his candy and because it was cute we let him the first night and then have paid for it the last two nights. William launches anything given to him even if it is his most favorite thing as soon as he gets it in his hand. Luckily we really do think we have a future bulldawg on our hands!

But...they are sooo sweet to each other. I'll say it again - I think the most rewarding part of procreating is watching the little people under you interact with each other. They look for each other when they are apart, they give sloppy kisses to each other at night, Brooks always says thank you for his brother in his prayers at night without prompting, and it is truly the best and most rewarding part of being a mom! Oh, and get this, last weekend we had a babysitter who said Brooks was sitting on the sofa with William and he was rubbing his hair to one side like I do and then playing with his "piggies." That makes a mama proud. And yesterday when I came to pick them up from wee-school Brooks had wondered into William's class and was holding him on the floor (or wrestling...not sure) when I came in to get them. I'm so grateful for this early bond they have created. Trust me, they have their moments, too, atleast daily but the sweet times erase all the knocking over, stealing, and screaming. We looooove having two boys!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Things that just make me smile lately

Some of these are kinda weird and I think probably just specific to this stage of life we are in currently. I'm sure in a few years some of these things won't quite blow my skirt up the same way but for now it really is some of the littlest things that bring me that real, gut-felt, authentic joy.
1) Obsessively vacuuming every single piece of food or leaf out of my mom-car. I bought this car not as a mom car but as a "I just got my first big commission check and I kinda like the chrome on this thing in a weird way" kinda car. Now 6 years later the car never new a day without a goldfish crammed in it's seat belt pockets or a credit card erroneously stuck in it's cd compartment. Sad.
2)Thursday's. Both boys are at school for the morning and I don't have another commitment. The 2.5 hours alone is seriously overwhelming. I love going to the bathroom by myself and turning on Katy Perry or Sara Baraeilles Pandora really really loud and cleaning the house. I hope this doesn't always excite me so much.
3) Hearing Brooks put sentences and thoughts together. Yesterday he asked where dad was and I said work to which he exclaimed, "EVERYBODY is at work! Nise is at work, Big is at work, Mary Lauren is at work, Carter is at work, Grandma is at work, Sutton (his friend) is at work, EVERYBODY is at work but you ma-ma." Very observant little one. One day I hope he sees the "work" in my day.
4) Living across the street from some of the coolest neighbors we'll probably ever have. As you know we are house searching and one thing I always ask for is neighbors like we have now or an empty house next door where they can move. They aren't just "can I borrow some eggs and a cup of milk" kinda neighbors. They truly love us, it is obvious, and we feel the same about them. You can't choose your family and you can't even choose your neighbors but in this case we got neighbors that are a little closer than family. I love having front yard parties everyday and drive way cocktail hours after the kids have gone down.
5) $1 half sweet/half unsweet with lemon iced-teas from Mickey D's. I don't think this will ever change.
6) Country music. Brad and I go in phases with this one but right now we are hooked. I think it always makes life seem a little less hectic.
7) William's open mouth kisses that he dishes out to whomever/whenever/wherever. Yummy.
8) One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Read it.
9) Having nothing to do and nowhere to go for the next several weekends. Ahhhhh. I've become such a home body.
10) My husband's beard that he started before "No Shave November." Something about a little stubble....
11) Online boot shopping and putting every pair I even have a second thought about in my shopping bag knowing Ill probably never buy any but there is just something about online "shopping"
12) Eating lunches out. Sorry, husband. It's true. Being home all day among syrup and smashed macaroni and cheese and spilled apple juice just makes for a very serious urge to eat something un-kiddie like. I think I have picked up lunch 4 out of 5 weekdays for the past 6 weeks and that one day that I do eat at home just makes the urge even stronger. And I feel a little justified???
13) HGTV
14) A swept and blown off front porch and yard. I LOVE the fall colors in our yard right now but I LOVE them even more in a pile on the road. Hint hint hint....
15) Christmas decorations already at Target today
16) Speaking of Target. I think random Target trips must lead to a high number of divorce. Brad doesn't really ask anymore because I can always make everything seem like a "need" but I am the biggest Target $1 aisle sucker around and I can never spend less than $50 even if I only went for deodorant.
17) Modern Family. Like everyone else....who doesn't love Cam and Mitchell to pieces?
18) On Demand Exercises TV. As a pretty avid exerciser I never thought I would have a favorite tv workout but my friend turned me onto Pauline Nordine's Butt Bible and it is the real deal. She's pretty comical, too, so it makes it go by faster. And if your 2 year old catches you and tries to mimic you by doing pelvic thrusts on the floor it's even better entertainment.
19) Watching William, the transformer, toddle his way around the house or the park or the store. I LOVE the curiosity at this age and he has no reservations about anything so he'll try to figure out pine cones or a bumble bee no matter how bad it hurts.
20) The hidden Halloween candy that seems so hidden to everyone else but me.
21) Iphone pictures of the boys on Halloween. And, oh, Anna Kournikova.

22) Even better pictures (Thanks to Jenny) of our trip to Jacksonville for the bulldawg WIN! More to come (thanks to Amanda).....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Patience, ewwwww

Why is waiting so hard? I know the obvious reasons but as a spiritual person, and someone who believes and has seen in the past that everything just sort of works our the way it should, and always better than I'd hoped, the answer should be even more obvious. Waiting creates deep desire that often comes from outside of ourselves because really if it were up to us we'd make everything happen right when we had the initial desire.

I've been sleeping pretty consistently lately and the answer to this year long problem has totally blown my socks off. There is more to come on that later but the point is that - had I started sleeping like normal a week after this insomnia began 16 months ago I wouldn't have nearly the depth and understanding that I do now. This test of patience was one I know will stay with me always. I am not sure how I got through this last year looking back on it and everyday I just beg and plead that I am protected from it again. But who knows??? If so much good came from this extensive trial than why would I resist that type of reward?

Though we haven't talked about it much on here we've also been enduring a grueling season of waiting in another major aspect of our life at home. It's just that - our home. We have been waiting for almost 6 months now for a home to move to with just a tad more space and a place that we can finally call ours. Luckily, because of our moves over the last few years, we have ended up in rental situations. This was such a blessing for us and an odd answer to a prayer for us early on in our marriage. Luckily now, because of this "fate" we haven't been stuck under a mortgage of a home that we can not sell in a city that we aren't even residing. But of course on this end we would do anything to finally, after 4 years of marriage, 3 houses, and 2 kids to feel "settled" if that really exists. I really can't remember a month in the last 4 years that we haven't been looking at houses on the market that we would potentially buy so it seems like the search is truly never ending. Then recently we put in two offers on two separate houses and both fell through even after being the first people to see the houses and offering above the list price. Our hearts were truly broken the 2nd time when we found out that our offer was out bid. So, now, 2 months later we are still here, waiting as patiently as we can for a door to open....in November of all terrible months to find a house! Ironically, the thing that has fueled my patience with our house search is the battle with insomnia. We did finally receive an answer and it was in a very unexpected form but I am so thankful that God did answer us...no matter how late the answer seemed. I am assured that the answer to our first house will come, too, when least expected but perfectly in God's time. A few Sunday's ago at our church the message was about when God is late. I know there are 2999 other people sitting in the auditorium when I am there but that day it was just me, Andy's words, and a special sense of Gods presence. The whole message reminded me of our past year with insomnia and now our year that continues with the ephemeral house search.

But then yesterday this whole patience thing surprised me in the best way. Brad and I didn't get to talk yesterday morning which I know is probably normal for many but usually we have touched base about the bruises the boys have endured from the morning and the broken object count for the day by lunch time. After a long weekend away in Jacksonville (for a very patiently awaited WIN for the Bulldawgs!) I just figured big-daddy-Warbucks was catching up on work from the days he was out. He came home for lunch (which is something I do love about our house now....he is so close) and I knew the moment he walked in he had news. I wasn't sure if it was good or bad but I knew there was news. Instead of spending the morning slammed as I had thought he had been in an office with several men, much senior than him, receiving accolades and a little promotion. Goodness, it always happens just like that....out of the blue....and after Brad has begged me to be patient with his career path. Isn't it hard as a wife? You want the most for your spouse and of course we see them as the best workers they could be so I had thought that this jump into management had been long overdo months ago but I was so thankful that this news happened not on my own clock. I prayed back in March that Brad would see progress in his job and that he would feel valued and respected. Many times I would hassle him to "talk to his boss" and he always reminded me it wasn't just that easy. You'd think I'd been out of corporate America for decades but it's really only been 3 years. It's just the whole "patience" thing at it's best.....working in me right where I need to be worked on. In this area Brad's patience certainly paid off and I know it was worth the wait.

I truly think patience is learned and not just something we are born with but I believe more that it is a virtue and the more we are able to grasp the true gift of patience - the more our patience will be rewarded. Or atleast the reward feels bigger.

Now the one thing that I have no patience with whatsoever is Halloween candy. 5 paragraphs later and I have eaten some Reese's pieces and a small pack of skittles! PLEASE COME TAKE THIS FROM ME RIGHT NOW! I can't wait for this I NEED SAVING NOW!