All About Me…

So, my dear sister, Kristen, has been nagging lovingly encouraging me to start blogging again.
This got me thinking about why I don’t blog consistently.  Interestingly enough, the time of my life where I posted to a blog most often was while pregnant with Ella…(old blog here).

My usual excuse for not blogging is that I don’t find myself that interesting.  However, I find my kid interesting and I don’t blog about her either.
Really, if you read the last real blog entry on the old blog, you’ll see that I say to find me on facebook and that I update my status every couple of days.  Wow – how 3 years changes things.  Facebook became my outlet for keeping in tough with friends, sharing what I found cool, and sharing information about myself.

Ironically, I also spend some time each day reading at least one of 16 blogs that I have bookmarked.  My most visited blog is Kelle Hampton’s Enjoying The Small Things with visits to Kristen’s blog, Lifestone when she updates it (far more often than I do).  There are 14 more, but those are the two I visit most.

Today, I went to Holly Furtick’s blog, The Preacher’s Wife which I visit about once a month and catch up on.  On March 1 she made a list of things about herself.  There were ten items ranging from a change in taste after pregnancy to the fact that she only washes her hair twice a week.

It made me think… what do people who follow my blog know about me?  So I decided to make a list too…

1. I’m 15 1/2 weeks pregnant with baby #2 (we find out boy/girl on April 2 so stay tuned!)
2. In my first pregnancy I couldn’t see or smell chicken – raw or cooked in any way.  Not so this time, though seafood (which I love) is very hit or miss.
3. In my first pregnancy I craved Chipotle and could eat it daily.  This time, I crave sushi and often pick up a California Roll from Martin’s to curb the craving.  (Honey, I could really use another Ichiban date night.)
 4. In my first pregnancy I took belly photos every week starting at week 10.

Here I am this past Saturday at week 15:
I did take a photo at 11 weeks, but it wasn’t very flattering so I didn’t publish it.

5. I eat Chef Boyardee at least once a week…  This is awful considering how many of my friends are really health conscious and would never let something that processed into their house.
6. I wash my hair about 3 times a week.  If I wash it more, it dries out.  I keep thinking of going with the No Poo movement and eliminating shampoo all together and using vinegar and (what goes with the vinegar, Kris?) instead.
7. I have Medullary Sponge Kidney and it is no fun while pregnant.  While most of my stones are teeny-tiny and pass at home with drugs, they’ve discovered a super stone with this pregnancy that may end up leading to some type of kidney surgery by the time everything is said and done.  If I can make it to 30 weeks without it moving into my ureter, they’ll be more comfortable going in since they could accidentally trigger labor.
I am am not a fan of drinking water, yet I’m supposed to drink 80-100 oz of water every DAY so if you see me and I’m not drinking water, feel free to hand me a bottle and tell me to chug.
8. I am not nearly as creative as I want to be.  I love finding cool craft ideas and buying craft supplies, but every time Ella gets glue (Elmers – it washes!) on the table I find myself freaking out… not AT her, but she can always tell that the mess of glitter and glue stresses me out.  I also have a tendency to “help” her with her art projects… you know, even something up here… space things out over there… not at all the way you are supposed to do art with a pre-schooler.
9.  I am 100% sure that I am married to the world’s best father.  The man painted our 3-year-old daughter’s bed pink.  Why?  Because she told him that princess beds are pink and that she needed a pink bed.  I spend days trying to sway her to white with pink bedding… he took her shopping at Home Depot to pick out her paint.  That man rocks.
10. I really, really want to be a better blogger.  I just need to find stuff that makes me passionate enough to write about it.  I have too many projects and ideas floating around in my head that I often just feel too overwhelmed to actually put any of it into words.

Anyway… it is a start, right?  Not brilliant by any stretch, but maybe I can get back on track.  Maybe if Ella would keep sleeping past 8:00, I could use that 7:30-8:00 stretch in the morning when Jeff has left for work and I’m able to sit for more than 30 seconds at a time.  See – I may update my facebook frequently, but rarely am I sitting at the computer for any length of time.  You try it with a 3-year-old and see how “alone” you’re left.

Oh, and I’m loving that warmer weather is here.  It can stay for as long as it likes.
I keep saying that I could live somewhere that never dips below 70 degrees and be perfectly happy.
I really mean that too…

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Blessings…

My status on Facebook today:
November 30, 2011 – Today I am thankful that I have such an incredibly “comfortable” life. Leaving the gas station today, there was a woman (pretty young) with her very beautiful dog sitting at the corner with a cardboard scrap that said, “Trying to get home for Christmas”. I gave her $20. I know, I’m not supposed to give cash out of my window, but it was what I had and I had it to spare. We’ve also been able to donate a toy to Toys For Tots (Ella picked one she has and loves), money to the red kettle for the Salvation Army, and the donation for a meal at the Martin’s checkout. If my life weren’t so comfortable, these little things wouldn’t be possible. Thank you God for more blessings than 30 days worth of posts.
We are blessed beyond measure, aren’t we? 
I went back and read my post about being content.  I’m almost there and have an addendum to post next week… but today, I am fully focused on all that I have.  
Today was Ella’s 3-year-old check up.  While I may not have those five kids that I had once planned to have… I have one incredibly healthy little girl.

She amazes me (and frustrates me) with something new every day.  If I never have another child, I’ll consider myself beyond blessed to have this one.
I have a car that is nearly paid off…
I have a house that is “ours” and is as much room as we really need…
I have a family who loves me and supports me in anything and everything I do…
I have everything I need and most everything I could ever want.
Aren’t you blessed too?

If I’d Only Known…

My beautiful sister-in-law Kristen suggested that I blog about Ella being two so that she’d know what to expect with J.J. (he turns 2 at the end of this month).  I’ve spent several days mulling this over…

Let me start with this… I worked in a Private Preschool for a couple of years about 10 years ago.  For about a year, I was the lead teacher in a classroom with kids ages 12 months – 24 months.  I loved that room.  I loved those kids.  Then, after we had two teachers leave for lunch one day and not return (shouldn’t the fact that they were carrying boxes out been a clue?), I got popped up into the 3-year-old classroom.  I worked in the 3’s class for about four months until an Assistant Director position came open at another location under the same company.  I interviewed and with amazing references from one of two bosses in my lifetime that I have adored, I got the job – meaning I left my boss I loved and went to work for the worst boss I have ever had.  Seriously.
In my six months as an Assistant Director I was consistently left “out of ratio” – however I always worked it out to be watching the school age kids in the front room while toting a baby from the nursery (keeping all the other rooms “in ratio”).  It was incredibly stressful.

That said… do you notice which age group I NEVER EVER worked with?

Yep – the two-year-olds…

I was completely unprepared to be the mother of a two-year-old.  C.o.m.p.l.e.t.e.l.y. U.n.p.r.e.p.a.r.e.d.
I’m just now finding my bearings for this year and we’re less than two months away from her 3rd birthday.

What do I wish I’d known… I’d heard that three is worse than two and from that time in the 3s class, I can tell you that (in my opinion) – it is true.  She has not nearly been as bad as several kids who still haunt me…

Things we’ve accomplished at two: 
That catching snowflakes is one of the best parts of winter

That it is fun to save money

That heartbreak comes at any age… (giving up Nuks will always be her first)

Learning how to walk the dog (though that job doesn’t last all they way through the neighborhood yet)
*can’t find the picture!

How to garden with her daddy…
How to walk on a balance beam
That road trips to visit family is worth the car ride
How to properly hold a guitar 
(can’t wait for her to be big enough to hold one that will play & take lessons)
 That vacations with family are the best!
  
To climb stairs without giving her mom a heart attack
That carousels are fun and not torture

How to “fall” into a pool, turn around and find the side without drowning 
(still with supervision, though)

A bit about the family tree – Mommy is mommy, Mac is mommy’s mommy, GG is Mac’s mommy
(and that EE counts as an extra grandmother)

That costumed creatures are still REALLY freaky- Cmor, Barney, Cat in the Hat, George…
all good from a distance and with Amy & Jackson in the middle

Being able to do crafts… with glue… and only make a minimal mess

Walking through the Zoo or Maymont without a stroller and without having to be carried 
(just did this).


That babies live in tummies first…
(though actually being pregnant is not required – Ella often has a baby in hers)
And that holding babies requires one to be very, very careful…

That we live in a neighborhood (and that we are in OUR neighborhood when we get here)

Learning how to take our diaper off in bed-with or without poop in it 
(she did this again last night – no poop)

Do you know what my Pre-school program did with the two year olds?
They potty trained them.
By the time those kids got to the 3’s room, they were already using the potty.


Things we have NOT accomplished at two:
POTTY TRAINING!

I’m pretty sure that this will get accomplished at 3.

Kristen, I really wish I had known how cool it would be to watch my own child (not someone I’m paid to watch) learn new things.  There are days when I hand her to Jeff as he walks in the door and take time for me.  There are days when if someone touches me or pulls on me one more time, I’m going to scream.  
I wish I had known just how whiny a two-year-old can be.  
And that “whiny” is a tone… not just an action.

That said, every day that she says something incredibly smart or does something she has never done before (like putting her pants back on after she takes her diaper off in bed… pretty impressive) I am glad that she’s two and able to tell me what she wants and verbalize her thoughts.

I’m sure there is more to share… but it about time for her to get up from her (no longer every day) nap.  Two has been difficult, but I’m afraid of three.
Ask me again in a year and I’ll let you know…

Contemplation, Contentment, and Closure

Today is April 21, 2011. 
Tomorrow, April 22, 2011 would have been my friend Amanda’s 36th birthday.

Tuesday night, April 19, I spent three hours at Adrian’s house going through and sorting Amanda’s jewelry while Adrian attempted to catalog Amanda’s Alice In Wonderland collection.

Adrian messaged me on April 14 to ask me if I would be willing to assist him in this task.  I agreed without hesitation, hit send, and burst into tears.  March 25, 2011 was the two-year anniversary of Amanda’s death.  It is a day that I dread as it approaches as it fills me with regret that I hadn’t booked plane tickets to Houston the moment she asked me to come earlier that week.
I was with Amanda’s mother on March 25 this year.  I tried to avoid admitting the significance of the day, but we were among friends (ladies from our church) and when Leigh broke down, I had to leave the room.  So much for the supportive friend, right?

You see, I get to live in a world where I don’t live with losing Amanda in an every-day-tangible way.  I have moments where I completely lose it… moments where I desperately need her advice or to share some “mom” type of thing.  We had great plans for being moms together – if I would only get pregnant.
I think I’ve posted this previously, but the day I had my first ultrasound Amanda was in the hospital.  I took the little picture home, scanned it in, printed it as an 8×10, and headed to the hospital to tell her.  I knew it would lift her spirits.  Within 30 minutes of me letting her open the envelope to reveal the picture of Ella, the doctor came in to tell Amanda she had cancer.  Adrian wasn’t even there… I was wrecked.  I left the hospital at breakneck speed to get to their house and send Adrian to the hospital while I stayed with Alastair.
We still had hope for being moms together.  We still had plans.  She was going to beat that cancer and we were going to raise Alastair and Ella to be buddies.

The despair that I don’t have to feel every day flooded over me when I read Adrian’s message.
I cried big heaving sobs that shock me (because I don’t cry that way often).
I contacted a friend not remotely connected to the situation and asked her to pray for me.

As I pulled up to Adrian’s house Tuesday night I texted Amanda & my old youth minister, Scot, and asked him to pray right then if he could including my prayer request in less than 160 characters.  I got a text back within minutes telling me he’d prayed.  I was sick to my stomach walking up to the door of the house where I had spent hours with my friend…  I don’t go to the house very often.  I think I am scared of what emotions will grip me when I do… but sitting in the floor and sorting more jewelry than I could count, I felt such peace.

As I laughed at Adrian (the Alice collection was a bit more than either of us had bargained for… instead of finding empty boxes for items in Manda’s curio we found tubs full of boxes with Alice items STILL IN THEM), I separated the jewelry into types (rings, bracelets, earrings, etc) and showed anything to Adrian I thought might mean something to him or Alastair.  By the end, he had pared down what he was keeping for Alastair into a small pewter jewelry box and I had more jewelry than a jewelry store… all sorted and organized.  I was able to pick pieces that were meaningful to me to add to my own (very tiny by comparison) jewelry collection.  I wore one of her big flower rings out to dinner with girlfriends last night and it was quite a conversation piece.  It made me feel great to be carrying her with me.

I had some closure.  No matter what else (or someday, whom else) God brings into my life through Adrian & Alastair it will be okay.  I may even grow to adore that person.

Anyway… this all brought me back to a conversation I had with Neal Alligood at MACU‘s Gospel Rally.
I ran into Neal before the Gala on Friday night of the Rally.  Knowing he’d recently moved back to Elizabeth City from Atlanta (gosh I love Atlanta) I wanted to know what was going on with him; what he was getting involved in; and how he was feeling being back “home”.  He expressed with a chuckle that he hadn’t really expected to be living back in Elizabeth City at the current point in his life, but that he was happy and finding many ways to serve God.  So I posed this question to him: “If you could be anywhere in the world right now, serving, where would you be?”  It’s an innocent question, right?  In fact, it is a common question… We all dream about where we want to go. Point in fact, we consistently ask young people (children – college kids), “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

Neal’s answer BLEW MY MIND… He said, “You know, I don’t really think that way. 
If I did, I would never be content where God currently has me.”

I’ve been contemplating that ever since.  Am I content where God has me?  If you read my blog post prior to this one your answer would be “NO!” (and you’d shout it at me just like that).
So now I’m thinking… Why am I not content?  What do I think I’m missing out on?
Aha!  I think I’m missing out on something… and therein lies the rub.

I do spend a lot of my time thinking about the “what ifs”.  I always have – as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved the What If Game.  Ever played that with your friends?  I had a friend my freshman year of college who was dating a guy who had perfected that game.  “What if I had a compulsion to lick roadkill… would you still love me?”  (No lie – that is my favorite question he ever asked her in my presence.)

What if I married so-and-so… how many kids would we really have? (We were saying 5 at the time we were dating – this was NOT Jeff)
What if la-dee-dah showed up today… would I still love la-dee-dah?
What if I had chosen option A over option B… would I be happier with the life I’d be living?
What if I had majored in English instead of Math… would I actually want to work? (Of course, I’d be paying off student loans since my scholarship was offered by a math grant and not one in English)
What if I had gotten pregnant younger… would it be easier?  would I still want 5 kids?

I watched a movie recently (The Bad Mother’s Handbook) in which the main character is playing the “What if” game.  She finds out she was adopted and ends up getting in touch with her birth mother as she is about to become a grandmother herself.  It was moving to see her receive the answer to her “What if” questions.

Have I learned a lesson somewhere along this path of contemplating contentment?  Not fully… yet.
I’m still playing the “What if” game every single day… but I’m trying to catch myself and remind myself of what Neal said.  I need to be content where God has me – even if I’m where I am because of decisions I made that may not have been what God wanted for me.  That is a thought I’ve really been praying over in the last five weeks since that conversation with Neal.  I shared what he said with my Bible Study groups the following week.  I was excited to have recognized a fault a failure in myself.  I wanted to embrace the recognition of this and pursue God in a new way.  But as mountain top experiences occur, so do the valleys between the mountains.  And the valleys get me down quicker than I can climb back up the mountain of God (see previous post).  But I’m determined to face my place in life with a new hope – a hope through which I look for what God is saying to me.  I want to be content where I am… and I want to serve God in my contentedness. 

I know this seems like a rambling post… it is certainly a long one.  But it all fits together for me.

While Amanda was at the Massey Cancer Center here in Richmond, she and I talked a lot about the straw she drew in this life.  I don’t think she realized that our conversations were going to scroll through my head for the rest of my life.  When she went to Houston for the trials that were being offered there, we started talking on the phone.  A lot.  In one of our conversations she said to me that she was at peace with death.  She did ask that I always stay involved with Alastair and that if Adrian ever met someone else that he wanted to be serious about that I better stand behind him & support him or she’d come back to haunt me.  She was content with what was coming even though I was not and cried throughout that whole conversation.  It was in that conversation that she asked if I would come to Houston and spend some time hanging out.  The “what ifs” surrounding my decision to wait to buy tickets until I could coordinate all of the minute details eat me up sometimes.

My point – I want to live a witness like Amanda’s. 
I want to live a witness like Neal’s.
I want to be content… and even more,
I want to be joyful serving God right where I am.

Please pray for me.  Pray that all the thoughts swirling around in my head since Gospel Rally will help lead me in the right direction.  Pray that I’ll be content and joyfully serving wherever God leads me.
And pray that if (and probably when) I try to take the lead from God, that He will use my imperfection to bring a perfect result (as He has always done with my stubborn self).

Thanks for reading…

Oh, my first two songs on my playlist are Jars of Clay songs, but not the ones I wanted.  Though “Love Song For A Savior” has been a crucial song in my life.  Their cd, The Shelter, is not available on Playlist yet.  If I could share the three songs impacting my worship right now they would be: (1) The Shelter (2) Small Rebellions and (3) Call My Name.
I rarely try to influence people to listen to or buy specific music, but this CD is GREAT!
The bridge of The Shelter says: If there is any peace, if there is any hope…We must all believe, our lives are not our own. We all belong.  God has given us each other And we will never walk alone
And the chorus says: In the shelter of each other, we will live, we will live.  In the shelter of each other, we will live, we will live.  Your arms are all around us.

We have to be God’s human form at this stage in the game.  If I am not content where He has me, how can He use me to be a shelter for anyone else.  How can I stage small rebellions of “senseless brutal acts of kindness” for those in need around me? *Small Rebellions also has the words, “We will never walk alone”.  Isn’t that powerful?

And Call My Name has become my theme song:
I’ll go when you call me
I’ll run when you tell me where to go
We are desert walkers under shaded clouds
Your fire shows there’s more of you to know
Let our idols fail
Vanity subside
We will see the beauty in our lives
When I hear you call my name
When I hear you call my name
Send me to the edge of the earth
Show me what a life is worth
When I hear you call my name
I will wait in the darkest hours
For you will be a light on this road
Lead me out to the ground I’ve never walked on
Only to rely on you alone
This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ear
My heart is still at home
When I hear you call my name


© 2010 Bridge Building / Pogostick Music (BMI). All rights for the world on behalf of Pogostick Music administered by Bridge Building.

Melancholy…

mel·an·chol·y/ˈmelənˌkälē/   Adjective: Sad, gloomy, or depressed.

I’ve been feeling melancholy lately… I’m not able to put my finger on exactly what it causing it.

It may have something to do with the music I’ve been into lately.
For example… I’ve just discovered Sam Bradley (who I really like!)
Here are the words to one of his songs called Sea Blue:

Sky is clearin, city scrapes my eyes
Ocean is not movin, I cry
Wind blows through the doorway
It chills me to the core
Sea blue on the horizon
I can’t feel blue for that much longer
So pack up your belongings
And crystallize your conscience
To live for love is clearly nonsense
We seem to need a whole lot more
The world’s steady population
Defines that you’re the only one
Been fooled my many imitations
I’m done, I’m done
So kiss the world goodnight now
It’s you I want to hold
Rain at my window
These walls don’t shelter cold
So pack up your belongings
And crystallize your conscience
To live for love is clearly nonsense
We seem to need a whole lot more
(guitar)
So pack up your belongings
And crystallize your conscience
To live for love is clearly nonsense
We seem to need a whole lot more
The sky is clearin’
City scrapes on lies
Ocean is not movin’
I cry

Here is the video for this song…


Who knows… maybe it is just that I’m getting older, but I don’t *feel* older.
I posted a bunch of pictures from camp years gone by recently on facebook.  I look at myself through the years and see myself changing size and shape, and maybe looking a little older, but I still feel like that girl I see in the pictures. 
 
I’ve also run across pictures of myself from high school.  In one I’m wearing a half-shirt (yes people I did actually wear a half shirt) and I can see my stomach muscles.  I think it just makes me sad that I’m not so young and carefree anymore.
 
NOT SAYING THAT I WANT TO EXCHANGE WHAT I HAVE FOR THAT – just remembering how fun and free-spirited I was.
 
I posted to one of the teens from church recently that she needed to enjoy each day of her senior year because that young freedom only comes at that one stage of your life.  I even admitted to being spun in circles by another student while he held me by my ankles.
If someone picked me up by my ankles to swing me now I don’t know what I’d do.  Have a heart attack maybe?
 
Okay… now no one start getting concerned.  I’m not so blue that I’m going to do anything crazy (though a nose piercing has been mentioned in many conversations recently).  I just felt the need to vent it out.
And now I’m going to go back to listening to my melancholy music.
…because that’s what we do, isn’t it – when we’re down we listen to music that feeds our mood instead of reversing it?
 
SCRATCH THAT – I’m gonna listen to something that makes me want to dance.
(If you haven’t gotten to Britney Spears yet… she’s #2 on the playlist below)

I admit it…

I’m a Twihard.


Just finished the books (Monday 3/21).  Can’t get them out of my head.
Then I found out that one of my favorite songs on someone else’s playlist was from Twilight… hadn’t ever paid attention to that before.

I’m Team Edward and, though I’ve never been attracted to Rob Pattinson before (outside of a random interview), I find him delicious after reading Edward and having him as the picture in my head.
I haven’t seen the movies (but I will soon)… but the description of Edward in the books and the previews for the movies that I have seen makes it hard to separate the two.

Though I did think he was “cute” as Cedric Diggory…
Then, I found out that RP sings.  Sorry to torture you, but I’ve added his songs to my playlist.
The first two are the same song, but by different names.  I love it enough that I hate for it to end.  Now at least, it can play twice back to back for me.  (And I can loop it on my itunes and listen to it over and over again).  Wish I’d had the song to play in the background as I read.
I never got the whole Twilight mania until I read the books.  Amazing what books can do for you, isn’t it?  They just transport you to another time and place.

Barney sings a song about checking out a book from the library and in it is says, “You can have an adventure in a faraway land, you can learn about a tuba in a marching band, you can travel to the stars or the deep blue sea when you check out a book from the library.”

A couple months ago I spent several days in the nation of Panem fighting for my life and trying to figure out which boy I actually loved…

Real or Not Real? 
(I’m seriously thinking about getting that as a tattoo, but not what is pictured here … just the words…)

Recently, I’ve been in England learning magic and fighting an evil, evil sorcerer…

and just this past week I’ve been in the Northwest U.S. (with side trips to Italy and the Caribbean) living with Vampires and trying not to love a Werewolf.  Oh – how I get wrapped up in what I’m reading!!!  I can imagine I’m right there with the characters!

I love reading.  But I will be taking a much necessary break for the rest of this week before picking up another book.  I need to sleep normal hours and focus on doing the stuff that needs to be done (like laundry, dishes, and packing up the years worth of too-small Ella-clothes burying the guest bed). 

I’ll miss Cullens…we’ll start over again some day.  I’ll see you soon on my t.v depending on how patient I can be before I start watching the movies…and when they start arriving in my mail from Netflix…