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Days 3 – 6

6 Mar

Well that was a big fat fail, huh? I have no good excuses for failing to post consistently AGAIN. Well, actually, I do. Last week was crazy insane and unfortunately not in a good way. I’ll give you the recap that I sent to Mrs. D today.

Sunday – My mother in law comes over to watch kids so Chip and I can work on building a 6 ft. high retaining wall that spans across the entire back half of the property, using 60 POUND BLOCKS.
Sunday night – I got sick with this nasty, nasty flu.
Monday – Tuesday – I am deathly ill and Hubs is over at the duplex every night trying to finish the wall. He finishes late Tuesday evening.
Wednesday – I am still near death and we get a huge wind storm so Hubs calls at 3 and says he’ll be working all night (he’s an electrical lineman so when the power goes out, he works.)
Wednesday, 4pm – I get a call from the lady who lives next door to the duplex who tells me that 1/2 the retaining wall has fallen down. I call Hubs and we both cry. I worry that my husband has finally been pushed over the edge.
Thursday – Hubs gets home from work about 5 am, sleeps for 2 hours and spends the rest of the day trying to clear all the blocks out from under the massive pile of dirt. My lungs feel like they are going to collapse at any minute and every time I cough I nearly cry.
Friday – Hubs has taken the day off to fix the wall. He leaves about 7 am to pick something up at the store and returns home with my brother in law who has TAKEN A VACATION DAY FROM WORK and surprised us to come over and help Hubs fix the wall. I cry.
Friday evening – THEY FINISH THE F*&%ING WALL OMFG. I am finally feeling a little better.
Friday late evening – Nolan wakes up with 104 degree fever.
Saturday – My parents come out and my dad helps Hubs at the duplex and my mom stays home with me, allowing me to take a nap, grocery shop ALONE while she corrals my heathen children.
Saturday night – Nolan still has a fever.
Sunday – My parents come BACK OUT TO OUR HOUSE, which is a 45 minute drive, where my dad helps Hubs again and my mom stays home with me again and I GOT TO TAKE ANOTHER NAP.
Monday – Nolan is still sick and is home with me today, although he is being super cute and super good.
Today – Nolan was home sick again today, but seems to be better. I finally feel normal, so no complaints today!

Moral of the story – I love my family and I hate the duplex.

So. THAT is why I gave up so easily. I’ve been trying to catch up on work and laundry and just plain trying to get my bearings back.

And since I know everyone is SO excited to see my pictures (ha ha!) here are days 3 – 6. And really, I’m finding this kind of fun, capturing these little snapshots of my life. I also enjoy seeing other people’s photos. I’m kind of a Nosy Nelly so catching glimpses of what someone else’s days look like is fascinating to me.

Day 3: Your neighborhood

If you look real close, you can see the lake.

Day 4: Bedside

Book, TV remote, water – the essentials. Normally that would also include my phone, but I was using the phone to take the picture.

Day 5: A smile

I usually don’t post pictures of my kids, but this was Tessa at less than a year old and goodness, just look at that face.

Day 6: 5 pm

Starting dinner

My thoughts on the gay marriage “issue.”

10 Feb

I’ve seen two very incredible things on the internet lately that have me thinking a lot about this. Check out this and this.

I remember as a teenager feeling so liberated when I finally realized that I have my own experiences and those experiences shape my thoughts and feelings – that I didn’t have to blindly accept what I had been told. I was raised Catholic, in a very traditional, by-the-Bible family. While my parents weren’t outwardly critical of gay marriage, it definitely wasn’t a secret that it wasn’t something they condoned. Of course, part of my experience was being raised in a church that embraced everything the Bible says about being gay.  And it took me a long time to realize that that feeling I got when confronted with the issue – that kind of yucky feeling, if I’m being honest – was residual of all the prejudice and innuendo I picked up from other people. It wasn’t how I felt, not at all. Just because I had a knee-jerk reaction to something didn’t mean that it was actually how I felt or what I believed. I realized that I didn’t give a rat’s behind who loves who – that as long as people are good to each other and respectful and contributing members of society, then good for them. They’re ahead of a lot of people in this world.

I’ve had to go to battle for my opinion, mostly when people use Bible as a crutch for their prejudice. It infuriates me when people who claim to be “walking with Christ” or “living through him” can be so hateful to a whole sector of our community of human beings – people who are kind, and good, and hardworking and just happen to love a member of the same sex.

With that being said, I do understand it – the Bible is, after all, a holy document, one that I respect and pray about and such and I understand people’s desire to live by the Bible’s word. In most situations, it’s a great guide.  However, it is also an archaic document, passed along for thousands of years, edited by man. It has been changed, manipulated, and shortened, often to fit the needs of a king or some other leader. Not to mention all of the commands in the New Testament that, somewhere along the way, people just stopped observing. Not even your most religious person follows it to a T. So if we pick and choose other things, why are some people so hell bent on sticking it to members of the gay community with Corinthians and Leviticus as their only weapons?

I’m pretty sure God’s message was of love and understanding. That there is a whole lot more information in the Bible about love and acceptance than there is about being gay. The Bible was inspired by God and Jesus’ message, but ultimately was left in the hands of human beings – competent human beings, but human beings who are just as much susceptible to mistakes and misunderstanding as anyone else. If I had to be my life on it, I think God would want us to just love Him and each other. To accept ourselves, to make others happy, and to enjoy the many, many blessings He has given us.

Poverty is an issue. War is an issue. Crime is an issue. Gay marriage is not an issue. It is not an “issue” that we should use to elect our government officials. It is not an “issue” that should spark violence. Unless someone is harming someone else, it is not our “issue” to decide who someone can or cannot love. It is not an issue at all.

**********

Nolan has asked me a lot of hard questions – about death, about life, about the world around us. He hasn’t yet asked me what gay means. He’s certainly heard the word and we’ve watched shows that featured gay men and women, but he hasn’t asked yet. I hope he never does. I hope it is just something that he accepts as part of our world, no different than the fact that some people have two kids and some people have four. Or some of us are blonde and some of us are brunette. Nothing so out of the ordinary that he feels it merits an explanation. But if he does ask, this is how I plan to respond:

“Mommy and daddy are a boy and a girl. We met, fell in love, and decided to spend the rest of our lives together. Sometimes two boys or two girls meet, fall in love, and decide to spend the rest of their lives together.”

That’s all. Short. Simple. Because that is all it is – two people, falling in love, and deciding to spend the rest of their lives together. Period.

A Picture Speaks

24 Jan

I was taken with a Nikon camera, at sunrise, against the backdrop of one of nature’s greatest miracles. I was snapped by a young man who had no idea that in six short days, the picture he was taking would be a beacon of hope to a whole family.

I was presented to them in a manila envelope on the worst day of their lives. They have copied me into 8x10s, into 5×7, into wallet-sized pictures to carry around with them all the time. I’ve been given as gifts, ensconsed in frames and hung on walls. I sit over fireplace mantles and in the center of living rooms.

He is their son, their brother, their father, their friend. He is standing in the far left of the frame, with his back to the camera. His figure is all blackness and shadow, so dark that you can’t see the color of his shirt or his hat. But the outline of his ears, the tilt of his head, and the breadth of his shoulders leave no doubt this is Nathan. His silhouette is outlined against the expanse of the Grand Canyon. It lies before him, with all its depth and peaks and valleys highlighted by the rising sun. The sun blazes, a white-hot ball radiating orange and yellow across the sky.

They picture him on that blinding ridge, a place where he can look out over everything and everyone he ever cared for, laying comforting hands on their souls when they need it most. I provide them with a visual, and they can imagine that he looked down from that place and saw that the love and peace and fun that surrounded him in life comforted all of them, even in his death.

They look at me to remind themselves that if such a thing as heaven exists, it looks like that. And he is there.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Write on Edge:

Do objects have a memory? Does a rocking chair hold the essence of the snuggles it has witnessed? Does a pottery mug remember the comforting warmth it offered a struggling soul?

The dictionary defines personification as “the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.”

This week, tell a piece of your story from the point of view of an object who bore witness.

400 words or less.

2012

5 Jan

Man, I was so proud of myself for seeing NaBloPoMo through. My stats were up! People were commenting! I was loving it! And then … BAM. I started working from home and oddly, spend less time blogging, annoying my dear Internet friends, and losing hours of my life to Twitter and Pinterest. And then the holidays came. Also my kids are home with me from 11:00 on and they are heathens. Heathens, I tell you.

Anyway! I started to do the obligatory year-end post but found that all of my answers started with “I quit my job!” or “I’m working from home!” or “I’m constantly worried about finding work (of which I’ve found NONE – YAY!) and money!” so I didn’t think that would be all that interesting to read. In fact, I know it wouldn’t be all that interesting to read, so I’ve spared you a lot of pain and heartache, Internet.

I’m trying to not make any solid resolutions this year, as I pretty much suck at follow-through. But my main goal in 2011 was to start working at home for myself, and I met that goal. So maybe I can follow-through with one thing for 2012. I suppose I’ll just call them goals and hope that I can pull one of them off.

1) Lose 25 pounds.

2) Build my clientele so I don’t have to constantly worry about money or feel guilty that I’m not working enough.

3) Read 50 books.

4) Write here. Get published somewhere for something.

And that’s it. Sounds manageable. I hope.

Anyway, I’ve found myself fervently hoping that the beginning of a year is not an indication of how the rest of the year is going to go.

Because sometimes your husband will get sick the day before Christmas Eve and will spend the rest of December and first week of January fighting it off.

Because sometimes your son will start puking the night before New Year’s Eve, when you’re supposed to get a massage with your husband and have a night out with friends.

Because sometimes your daughter will start puking two days later and there is just no easy way to handle a puking one year old who cannot yet aim for the bucket.

Because sometimes you your dog escapes when it’s 20 degrees outside and you spend an hour and a half driving around and then have to go to sleep because it’s midnight and you can’t find him. Then you have to wake up at 6:00 the next (after not sleeping much, anyway) to look again and call animal control and still not find him.

But your husband pulls it together enough so that we can pull this off and give our kids an amazing Christmas:

(And this doesn’t include the two bikes that were hiding on the back porch!)

And your awesome parents still agree to watch the kids in spite of the puking so that you can get your massage and go out with your friends and eat way too much sushi and drink way too much wine.

And your daughter, who is sick and miserable, looks up at you and says “I o-tay Mama,” and gives you a hug.

And as you’re driving through your neighborhood for the bazillionth time, looking for the dog, and you’re simulatneously on the phone with animal control, you see a cute little boy in his front yard with your dog on a leash and because they are kind, good people, your dog has been in their house all night, not freezing to death outside.

So I guess it wouldn’t be the worst thing if the rest of 2012 shaped up like this first week.

I did it, Part Deux

14 Dec

When I first wrote a post titled “I did it” it was because I had quit my full-time, life-sucking, making-me-miserable job to work part time, to spend more time with my kids and focus on starting a freelance writing and editing career. While I never said this out loud, I gave myself a goal of freelancing full time by the end of 2011.

As of two weeks ago, I was convinced I would never make it. I was frustrated by the constant rejection from the jobs I applied for, I was frustrated by the seeming lack of jobs out there, and I was all-around miserable. I hated my part time job more than I had hated my full time job. I was held back by a lack of time – I needed time to apply for jobs, to grow my business, to market myself, but working outside of my house 25 hours a week and having a family just didn’t leave me the time I needed. But we also couldn’t afford for me to just quit. I felt the same as I’d felt for so long – stuck.

And then two Fridays ago, I was pushed over the edge by my boss. He was a cocky you-know-what and it hit me, just hit me that I had spent years (YEARS!!) working jobs I hated, working for total jerks, jobs which didn’t bring me any kind of fulfillment, personally or financially. I was waiting around for something to fall into my lap – to be one of those people for whom things just happened.

But that was silly and childish. It wasn’t going to happen unless I made it happen. So when I was at work, with my hands shaking in anger because I couldn’t believe I was an adult and being treated like a misbehaving teenager, I made the decision that I was getting out. I wasn’t sure how, but I had to. I didn’t want to be 40 or 50 or 60 years old and look back at my life and have a pile of regrets. I didn’t want to live with the realization that I had spent my kids’ childhoods away from them 40+ hours a week doing something I loathed. It would have been different if my job provided me with something that made me a better person – but it didn’t and it was no longer worth the sacrifice.

So Hubs and I spent the weekend talking and discussing, adding and subtracting, then talking some more. And Tuesday, I quit. I told them I would finish out the week. This Monday marked my first day working from home and it has been fabulous.

To save money on daycare and make ends meet, I’m keeping the kids home with me in the afternoons and working in the mornings and during nap time. It’s not ideal, and it’s definitely not full time yet, but I know I can do it and in the end my plan is to have enough work to put them back in daycare in the afternoons, but on an abbreviated schedule.

I’m going to create the life I want – the freedom to work when I want, how much I want, and be an involved, happy, and fulfilled mom. I’m terrified. I might totally bomb and be desperately looking for a normal, horrible job again in a couple of months. But I hope not. I really, really hope not. Because now that I’ve gotten a taste of what it feels like to work at home, on my couch, in sweatpants, I have to tell you – I might never go back.

Why I write

8 Dec

I wish I could say that I’m one of those people who has always been a writer – that I kept a diary as soon as I could hold a pen, that I have volumes of journals in which I recorded my teenage angst, that I’ve got drafts of ten novels sitting on my harddrive. But it’s not true. I’ve always been a reader – and I’ve always desperately wanted to be a writer. But every time I tried to write, even if it was just in a diary, I would be hyper-critical of every single word. I would inevitably tear it up and not try to write again for months.

So back in 2008 (I think??), when my amazing friend H started her blog, it planted an idea in my head. That maybe now that I was older, and had been through something really terrible and was having some serious trouble dealing with it, that I should try to write it out. It took me another year, but I started a blog and loved it immediately.

Every comment I received was a little ego boost. Every time I hit publish, especially on posts that were hard to write, I felt a little part of myself heal. Every time I wrote, I saw my writing improve and now it’s something I’m proud of.

But most importantly, I’ve made some very valuable connections through my writing. Some fellow bloggers have become friends. I read the words of others and wonder how they could have possibly gotten inside my head and wrote down exactly how I feel. As a parent, I read about other parents having the same struggles I do and I don’t feel like I’m failing my children miserably.

Navel gazing is an inherent part of blogging – you are, after all, creating an entire website with yourself as the subject. And I am not the kind of person who likes attention. So I always feel somewhat guilty when I write about some of the most personal aspects of my life. I worry that people feel like I’m writing it just to get comments, sympathy, or attention.

When I saw Write on Edge’s prompt for Tuesday, I knew exactly what would have to write. There was no other option for me. And I was worried it was melodramatic or indulgent. But I can promise you it was honest.

The response to that post blew me away. I started to respond to commenters individually but found myself unable to articulate what their comments meant to me. To write about the events of that day – which were traumatic and still incite a physical reaction in me when I think about them – and have such an outpouring of support and love by people who are (mostly) strangers … well. I was quite literally brought to tears.

So thank you. Thank you so very much to everyone who read or commented.

This is why I write. To connect, to hear other people’s stories, to know that there may just be something I’m good at after all. I have grand hopes (but no illusions) that I might some day be a “real” writer. But if it ever does happen, and I can reach just one person – if just one person is moved or changed by my words – I will consider that a success.

NaBloPoMo Recap and My Cute Daughter

1 Dec

So, I actually didn’t suck at that as much as I thought it would. I only missed four days, which is loads better than I thought I would do. The biggest surprise for me is that I actually enjoyed it. A lot. I was worried that I would run out of things to talk about or that it would be boring, but that didn’t happen.

The Write on Edge prompts have helped a lot with coming up with content and that has, by far, been the most enjoyable for me (but what do you think? Are you tired of reading this story about Grace? Does it suck?).

Another surprising outcome from NaBloPoMo has been that my readership has increased. I attribute a lot of that to Write on Edge, also, but it seems more consistent, which is nice.

So, basically I’m going to try really hard to continue posting everyday, or at least every other day. I hope anyone reading will continue to come back!

**********

So I feel like since I talked a lot about Nolan yesterday, I feel like I should brag about Tessa a little. She is at such a fun/frustrating age. Frustrating because she is old enough to know what she wants, but not yet old enough to reason with. So basically, she wants what she wants when she wants it and DO NOT GET IN HER WAY lest you be exposed to Raging Terror Tantrum Baby.

BUT. Oh, BUT. She is so stinking cute. She loves to color (with pens, if she had her choice, and if you give her a pen, you can guarantee that she’ll color on her skin, her clothes, the couch, whatever she can find), carry around a Johnson’s lotion bottle (DO NOT ASK, I DON’T KNOW), brush her “teef,” pull ornaments off the Christmas tree, watch Bubble Guppies (OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN), and she loves to be outside.

She also screams “Bruh-bo!!!” every time she sees her brother after school or when she wakes up in the morning. She knows how to get anything she wants from her Daddy, and all she has to do is lay her head on his chest, or even just yell “Hi Daaa-eee!” She can also have anything she wants out of my dad, as every time she sees him he yells “HI PA-PA!”

We have a new game which I make her play over and over and over again in which I pretend to be asleep and the only way she can wake me up is to give me a kiss. But she’ll only kiss me after she smacks me and yells “Get up!” She can also get ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING she wants when she gets in my face and yells “Cuddle me!” and I’m expected to hold her on the couch, cover us up with a blanket and cuddle. Melt.

She’s so smart and frequently talks in 4-6 word sentences and can also “read” the books I’ve read to her over and over.

She’s so sweet. But rotten. Definitely rotten.

It doesn’t divide, it multiplies

29 Nov

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I knew, obviously, that I would love this new baby. I couldn’t wait to cuddle a newborn, to hear her soft coos and feel the tight grip of her little fingers around mine. I knew I would fall in love.

But I was concerned, as harsh as it sounds, that I wouldn’t love her in the same way as my son. Your first child introduces you to a limitless, all-consuming love, the likes of which you can never fully appreciate until you hold your first baby in your arms. I was (and still am, really) completely enchanted by my son (except for when he’s being snotty, then it’s not so much enchantment but an annoyance that he’s still cute even in the midst of a wild tantrum). I worried that with a second baby, it would be a little “old hat” – that the wonder and amazement would be tempered by the fact that I’d done it before. It seemed like there couldn’t possibly be enough room in my heart to feel the same way about another baby like I did my son.

I didn’t need to worry. My daughter enchanted me just as much as her brother. Her coos and cries and cuddles were all new to me – they were all hers.

So when held my both of my babies in my arms for the first time, even though I needed a shower and was recovering from surgery and my son was sitting on my IV line and it was tugging at the vein in my hand, I was completely and totally overwhelmed by how complete I felt.  I never knew she’d been missing, but there she was.

And no room had to be made. My daughter just moved right in and my heart exploded.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Write on Edge:

This week, I’m asking you to take us into the moment your favorite photograph of yourself was taken, to show us who you were then and what the photograph means–in 300 words.

 

My kids’ mom

28 Nov

Nolan was born to a mommy who was very, very different than the mommy Tessa was born to.

I feel like Nolan got the short end of the stick. I didn’t yet understand the cruelty of the passage of time, how instead of worrying about his feeding schedule and naps, I should have been memorizing his little face, taking time to soak it all in, imprinting those moments in my memory. I was also wrapped up in my grief and crying a lot, and constantly anxious. I was struggling to balance my happiness with the pain I was feeling and it was … hard, to say the least.

Tessa has a much more relaxed mommy, one who knows that it’s okay if her outfit doesn’t match everyday, as long as it meant we stole the time for one more minute of cuddling. I take the time to stare at her, to try to figure out what kind of person she is going to be, to talk to her about our day, to interact with her, rather than trying to anticipate every upcoming problem. I’ve worked on myself a lot in the years since I had Nolan – I’m in a much better space mentally and it shows in the way I interact with my family.

But no matter my shortcomings, with both of my children, I was given the blessing of just the type of child I needed at that time in my life. In Nolan I was given a child who loves so fiercely that you feel as though he gives a little piece of his beautiful heart to you with every hug and kiss. He is forgiving and accommodating (at least as accommodating as a young child can be) and wants nothing more than everyone around him to be happy. He makes everyone who meets him laugh and has a mind like a steel trap.

Simply by coming into this world he saved me from myself. He allowed me to make mistakes, to be sad, to worry… but with the ferocity of his love and his gorgeous smile, he was able to pick me up, dust me off, and push me to carry on. He is an old soul, who seems to understand when I am sad and need a hug. When I cry, he rubs my arm and tells me “It’s okay Mommy, don’t be sad.” He healed me, and he is the reason I pushed myself so hard to overcome my grief and depression.

In Tessa, I was given a child that embodies the traits that I feel I am lacking.  She is a girl who knows what she wants. She loves to be cuddled and she likes her binky. She doesn’t throw a fit unless fit-throwing is called for, but watch out if she decides it’s time. Nothing deters her from accomplishing her goal – we always joke that she is either going to rule the world or end up in lots of trouble. She is showing me what it means to be your own woman.

As hard as I have worked to make myself better, I still struggle with figuring out who I am and what I’m supposed to do with myself. Tessa is showing me that the lesson I want her to learn most of all – to be comfortable and proud of who she is – she is already learning. She isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants and doesn’t let up until she gets it. I am so thankful that she has such a strong, forceful will about her.

As much as every mommy in the world says it, I wish I could stop time right here. I wish I could guarantee that I will never forget a moment of their childhood. I wish I could bottle up the way they smell, save the softness of their skin and the chubbiness of their cheeks. I want to record every giggle, every sloppy kiss, the hilarity of a toddler’s excitement for the world. I wish I could memorize every change in their face, and remember how they looked every day of their lives.

Parenting is such a Catch-22. For every moment of joy there also comes a profound sadness, because you know that moment is fleeting. It will be gone soon, a wisp of a memory that 20 years from now you may not be able to recreate. Of course every moment of joy makes way for another, but there is something to be said for all the lost moments, all the things we can never get back.

I can’t articulate how full my heart is, how grateful I am for my two babies. I wish there was a way for them to understand how much I love them, how they have made me better, how if I didn’t have them, I would be a shell of the person I am today. I will never be able to make them understand, at least until they are parents themselves, what they have meant to me.

The best I can do is let go of some of the baggage I still cling desperately to – the anger, pain, sadness, and anxiety bred from the years I struggled so hard to just be normal. For them, I will figure out how to let it all go, to live in the moment and not cling to the past, to embrace the lessons life has taught me. If I can do that, I just might be the kind of Mommy they deserve.

Today …

24 Nov

I cuddled with my kids.

I cooked.

I cleaned.

I played with my kids.

I hugged and kissed my husband.

I hung out with my parents, my nephew, my brother (who I never get to see and who I miss entirely too much, but don’t tell him because it would make his head REALLY big), my mother-in-law, my grandma, an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time, and a friend of my brother’s who I love so very, very much.

I ate waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much.

I drank some wine.

I drank some more wine.

I laid around with a belly full of food and wine and watched my kids run around like heathens and enjoyed every second of it.

I missed my brother so very much.

I counted my blessings over and over and over again.

I decided I was going to be one of those people this year and I’m headed out to shop at midnight. I KNOW. Shoot me dead.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone’s day was full of food, family, and lots of laughter.