Waiting With Love

One of my guilty pleasures includes salivating over other people’s homes. I follow every designer (and people like me who just genuinely love decorating and creating a home) imaginable. I could never quite peg down my own personal style, but I just know that if I see it and I love it, that’s my style. If I’m unsure about something I see in a store, my rule is to give it 24 hours, imagine it in our (rather small) space, find a place for it, and then go back. On occasion, the item is gone, and I have to accept it was never mine.

There are a lot of philosophies in design and decor, but the one I struggle with the most is the idea that you have to commit to one scheme (in color and general style). To me, homes tell a story. I have a lot of pieces that are just that: a story. Like, over the summer my girlfriend and I were at a small design boutique in Birmingham, and I found this navy elephant, trunk proudly pointed upward as if it were about to sing out. I had to get it. Because at that point in Novella’s life, she constantly did these elephant impressions and this figurine symbolized a time in our life that I knew I wanted to freeze forever. (I also made up a little song about her elephant impressions, but it’s too silly and sacred to share outside of our humble home.)

And so, every year I scroll through Instagram and I see all these trees and flirt with the idea of a perfect matching tree. I’m completely in love with the buffalo check trend and Scandavian and gold and silver and (the Holy Grail of all designer tree right now:) the perfect flocked tree.

Yet, every year I go back to just-my-regular-ole tree. I hardly ever buy ornaments (other decor is a different story). Because, the thing is, our Christmas tree represents the tiny bit of our own history we’ve been able to preserve. Every single thing I pull out of those boxes has its own little story. We have childhood relics mixed with 16 years (is that for real?!) of marriage. And just like life goes, some of these are perpetually happy memories, while some sting a little.

Tree 2017
Our new living room is so cozy, this is the furthest away I could get away from the tree to get a full picture. Also, I let the two year old decorate it and haven’t changed it because why.

We are one month from Christmas, and a more ambitious version of myself aspires to write a story about a month’s worth of ornaments in an attempt to preserve our history even further. But, I also don’t want to be another blogger that makes empty promises (you know the type! Also, I am that type.)

Maybe I’ll make that goal, maybe I won’t. But I feel a definite tug to talk about this ornament. I can’t say for sure why. Maybe someone needs to hear this story. Maybe it was the latest episode of This Is Us that made me so weak remembering this story. Maybe it’s because things are coming even more full circle as Novella asks probing questions that we don’t always know how to answer.

This ornament is five years old, its message short-lived, yet this is the only time I’ve wrestled with maybe not hanging it up. But, it’s our story. Our tree tells a story, and I’ve never thrown a single ornament away.

Waiting Ornament

I often forget that not everyone who reads this has known me as long as I’ve known myself. So, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint even where to begin with this story. Here goes it:

The biggest part of my life story thus far is that we were hopelessly infertile for the first thirteen years of our marriage. That’s a great big story on its own. We went through the ringer in testing and ultimately were left with the option of IVF or nothing at the end of 2011. We pursued that through May 2012, but a large ruptured ovarian cyst left us at a crossroad. I felt very strongly that my reproductive health was in jeopardy on its own and just couldn’t stomach the idea of adding hormones/ injections/ retrievals/ transfers into the mix. At the time, I was completely devoted to my physical health (I hope to get back to that point again soon) and it all felt counterintuitive and unnatural.

The night before Mother’s Day 2012, we decided to adopt from Russia.

That was the best Mother’s Day I could remember at that point. I was going to be a mom. I drove myself to Green Hills in Nashville and indulged in all the champagne and cupcakes they were offering to moms out solo-shopping. I opened my heart to what were ordinary treasures to regular moms: bedding at Pottery Barn Kids, sales at Gap Baby, puppets in a specialty store. We were finally on our way, and it felt oh-so-good to dream with a heart wide open.

The months that passed felt magical and special. I remember being in a state of absolute bliss. I felt like my heart could just explode sometimes. We went to classes and more classes and they told us lots of cautionary tales of foreign adoption but we felt strongly that we could overcome any obstacle because honestly, who really can predict the nature of parenthood beforehand?

We’d completed all of the necessary classes and designated my Christmas break as the time to start soliciting letters of recommendation. I remember the list of people we generated, and we were using the big guns in our life. We were still deciding on a fundraiser or three, but all of those details would be ironed out on Christmas break. I just had to make it to Christmas break. I was getting overwhelmed (we also decided to move across the state during this time) but…just make it to Christmas break.

I left school that first day of Christmas break. I was en route to our (required, ha!) staff Christmas party, donned in a festive red sweater and excited beyond belief to have this time. I remember the plans I had that afternoon clearly: I was going to grab some ornaments at Target for decorations around the house (remember, I don’t really buy them for our tree!) and then type some emails for requests regarding our adoption. I stopped to pump gas and that’s when everything changed.

I called B as I usually do when I leave work. I was standing at the pump, mindlessly clearing trash out of my car and telling him of my plans for the afternoon when he stopped me mid-sentence: “I wanted to not tell you this, but there’s a chance they are cutting off American adoptions in Russia. I didn’t think it would pass, but I think it might.”

I remember so clearly walking into that mandatory party and just sitting. So numb. It was the windiest day I can ever remember. That party was on the river and the cold chill begged to pierce my face, but I just walked on through it, feeling nothing but the chill that already resided in my bones.

I didn’t go to Target after that. I drove to Walgreens and rented that movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green from the Redbox.  I remember crying the whole way through, and then dropping to my knees when it was over and begging to the Lord Please let me be a mom. And then: If this is not Your will, please don’t let me suffer wondering. Tell me.

I said it, but I didn’t mean it. I didn’t want anything to be true. But with one deep breath, I got onto my computer and checked the news, and there it was: Russia banned U.S. Adoptions.  It was five days before Christmas. Such a stark contrast between the day before.

This was so much more to us than a headline. In our minds, we already had a daughter. We were going to name her Kerigan. Everyone in our life knew this to be true. It was devastating. Everything else is enough to fill a novel and rightfully should.

***

It’s actually hard to believe that was only five years ago. It feels like a lifetime ago, considering God did grant all of my wishes that night. We have our little Novella, and I pinch myself every day, but enough to leave a bruise during this magical season.

***

This was the first year I truly considered not adorning the tree, our tangible history, with this ornament. I can’t say for sure why. It’s hard to relive this story, sure. But it’s harder to explain it in simplistic terms.

This morning I awoke to find that very same ornament on the floor. At first, I thought it to be a sign of removal.

But then, I spent the whole day with Novella doing all the stuff of dreams of yore. From start to finish, the day was like the movie I always imagined in my mind when I dared myself to imagine any part of motherhood at all: we cuddled in bed this morning, then she asked if we could go see the Christmas tree. We watched a Christmas movie, and she said: “This is so great! This is really great!” She managed to paint a whole cup of yogurt on her face, prompting her to take a bath. In the bath, she painted (with bath paints, a total lifesaver) a triangular blob and said, “Look mommy! It’s our family! That’s Daddy, that’s you, that’s me, and that’s Bruce!” He’s been gone 5 months but she still readily recognizes him as a member of our family. We got dressed for her pictures and when I presented her with a dollar necklace to wear she said, “Oh, I’m so ‘cited for today!” We went to the mall and got her pictures made, and she was a little superstar. She got a little play cookie set with money she’s been saving from her grandparents and great-grandparents and said, “I can’t wait to make cookies for you and Daddy!” We drove past Aldi and she said, “There’s Aldi! We need to call Griffin and tell him!” because we talked about Aldi yesterday and Griffin doesn’t believe in Aldi, apparently. We got home and played and made up a new game called Circle Ball.

Novella 2017 Christmas 1

Even with everything we’ve endured, it’s easy to take all of this for granted.

I don’t think the ornament on the floor was meant to say, “Throw this away and forget.” I think it was meant to say: “Keep this and don’t you ever forget.”

I’m a mom. Brandon’s a dad. That’s really something.

10/28 Coffee Date

coffee

 

Happy Saturday to you! This mid-afternoon coffee date comes to you from rainy Knoxville at the end of an insane week! Today, I’m drinking again from my French press (pictured above) and I added a little Frosted Sugar Cookie creamer. Novella and I were going to venture to Sam’s and Target today, but it’s rainy and cold and we are recovering from being sick, so I opted to use Instacart grocery delivery. In a little while, we are going to whip up some chili, homemade macaroni and cheese, and brownies. I’m quite excited for this because we’re going to wear our matching aprons my mom made us!

 

Novella apron
She insisted on wearing this all around the mall. I don’t blame her; it’s gorgeous!

 

 

B is out of town in Clarksville today for the second time this week which leads me to my first topic: we are selling our Clarksville home. It’s just time. We held onto it for a multitude of reasons, but we always said we would know when it’s the right time to let it go and that time is definitely now. I am hoping to make some changes to our life in the near future, and one of my stipulations is that we get that house sold. Just as I was starting to doubt myself and plans, our tenants messaged and asked if they could get out of their lease a little early. It felt like divine intervention (although I actually believe every little thing is just that). So, he’s there today making a list of all the necessary repairs, including the roof. Eeek.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not a little nervous about the whole process. I’ve never sold a house before, and we haven’t lived in this house for over four years. I have little to no emotional attachment to it, but I know it’s going to be expensive on the front end, and we’ve already sunk quite a bit of money into our current home.

Butttttt…our renovations are almost done. There of course are some cosmetic things that need to be done. I swear when it’s all done, I will outline the whole process. But, let me say this: if there were no drama in this reno stuff, HGTV shows would be like 5 minutes long. Tops.I’d say the biggest hiccup for us is that it has taken so.much.longer than I thought it would. To be fair to us, dude said it would be a week. Well, we are embarking on our second weekend without anything to sit on but our beds (and kitchen table) and although I’m an extremely patient person, I’ve lost it a few times.

 

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Mostly because we all got really sick this week. I guess it was a virus. I hate that word because there’s nothing you can do about it. I went down first. Then B. Then Novella at 1 am. It was especially disastrous because what could we really do to relax? We had workers in our home (and they were working in our room that day) and nowhere to lay our heads. I had to stay at my sister’s house for two days! I’m so thankful to have family here. Otherwise, we would’ve had to stay in a hotel during the day, and I would hate to fork over that money because, ya know, opportunity costs! That’s two new faucets!

Speaking of…

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Since people have been in the house and I want to keep her away from the actual construction site that is our home, I’ve been taking Novella out in the afternoons either walking or shopping, or sometimes both. Well, the other day we went to a salvage place and I was in awe of some of the prices, so I started snapping some pictures. As I took a picture of the sink, I turned around to find my little darling bare-bottomed and attempting to use one of these potties.

 

This really has been such an adventurous week! I am not a big change-monger, yet here I am! For me, starting is the difficult part. I’ve learned a lot about myself and our little family over this last week. Maybe it’s something I’ve always known, but we are so much better when we’re working together- when we have clear visions and goals, but must adapt and change along the way. I named this blog “C is for curveball” because it’s the one thing I know to be sure about this life- it will always throw you curveballs.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween weekend!

 

 

halloween
One of my shelves, before we started demo. Ha!

 

Coffee Date, 10/15

Are we really mid-October?

I’m a day late on this coffee date.

Last night, I sat down to type a few things out, but as I did my middle school BFF, honorary sister, and one the keepers of my heart texted me and I just love talking to her.

The older we get, the more we need the people we knew when we were young.

Danielle has been my family for, no lie, 25 years. I cannot believe I am old enough to say that I have kept a treasure of my heart for that long, but here we are. I met her in the weirdest of ways- when my family moved to Clarksville, Tennessee in 1992, we moved into her old house. We were in fourth grade. It’s a long story, obviously a lot of twists and turns that go into navigating elementary, middle (!), high, college, early adulthood, actual adulthood…I just cannot imagine a world in which we don’t have each other.

But the point is, we hadn’t talked in two weeks, and sometimes nothing happens in two weeks, and sometimes everything happens in two weeks.

Sometimes that everything is nothing to most people, like when your kids get sick. Sometimes it just means that someone like Tom Petty died.

Tom Petty was so much to Danielle and me.

And so we texted about our sick kids, and all the frustration and humor that goes along with that, when she said, “I have been meaning to ask you, you know about Tom Petty, right? You and I used to wear him out!”

You know, last year my parents moved away to their hometown, on land previously inhabited by my dad’s family. It’s amazing to dwell in your own history; Danielle and I… we feel our history slipping away daily. We don’t know who lives in that house on Dewitt Drive. I know that I could flip to “Just As I Am” on page 307 of the Baptist Hymnal, but our beloved church is gone. Our high school is hardly recognizable.

Tom Petty was home for us. He was a zip tie to our parents in those cliche teenage years.

Danielle’s sweet Mama died 15 years ago.

Here is a list, non-comprehensive, of our Tom Petty songs. There are some that extend beyond our friendship, but this is what Tom Petty meant to us:

“Last Dance With Mary Jane” OK, so…I remember very vividly when this album came out, and I played this album on repeat for at least a decade afterward, but I have to tell a (now) funny story about this song. We were maybe in 8th grade when this album dropped (of course no one said “dropped” back then, ha!) My sweet mom won tickets from the radio station to this show. As I said, Tom Petty was life to my family. But we were all very active in our church; our church was also life to us back then. In hindsight, it makes my heart so smile to think about my parents indulging in a night out in Nashville, listening to Tom Petty sans kids, and having fun. Wellllll, it was apparently the scandal of the century at our church. Who knows how anyone even knew they “attended” this concert, but since this was the flagship song of this (*AMAZING*) album, my parents caught so much heat for this concert.

“I Won’t Back Down” (Note: this is Jason Aldean’s performance on SNL after the Las Vegas tragedy; he was the performer when those 59 lives were lost; I can’t imagine a more fitting tribute to turmoil). Don’t let that previous anecdote fool you. If there was a song that could ever represent one person, this song would represent my dad. As a teen, of course, I did not always love this. But the minute I eased into adulthood and took notice its dynamic nature, I truly appreciate anyone that can stick to their beliefs, no matter how unpopular they are.

“Free Fallin'” Did you know this song is exactly the same four chords over and over? I once played guitar and can play all the Tom Petty hits and “Someone Like You” by Rod Stewart, ha! This song is the anthem of our youth, but I have a distinct memory of listening to this song with Danielle’s mom (Mama J, as I called her partly as a joke that just…stuck) driving down Memorial Drive in that Ford Ranger. It was a rough day at Richview Middle…but we played some air drums, air guitar, and vocals. All was well for roughly three minutes. (WHY DO WE NOT MAKE VIDEOS LIKE THIS ANYMORE?!?)

“Into the Great Wide Open” This whole album was quintessential for our middle school years, but what I remember most is that our friend Kylie’s brother Heath thought this song said “A pebble without a tune.” !!!! I will never forget this!!!! (side note: hearing Tom Petty’s voice on this chills me.) ((Side, side note: oh heeey Johnny Depp!!!))

“Time to Move On” Oh My Gah. Talk about history. When we were seniors in high school, I made the hardest decision of my life and decided not to go to college with the rest of our core group. There were so many factors: my (then) 11-year-old brother was battling leukemia. I had decided to get married, a decision that catapulted me into adulthood in a way I couldn’t quite grasp then, and truthfully don’t always grasp even 16 years later. This was before you could burn CDs or make playlists on all the platforms we can now…I will never forget the sadness of sending my friends off from Danielle’s driveway, and we made a pact to listen to this song and “Silver Springs” by Fleetwood Mac all day that day. I listened to “Time To Move On” probably 100 times that day.

Broken skyline

which way to love land

which way to something better

which way to forgiveness

which way do I go?

It’s amazing that roughly seventeen years later, when everything is different, everything feels the same.

 

Coffee Date, 10/08

We haven’t had a coffee date in a month! I’m very much on a French press kick right now. I am 35 and honestly had no idea what it was or how to use it until this very month. It’s life-changing. Like, if there’s a coffee shop in Heaven (*crosses fingers) this is what it would taste like. I’m in love.

So, lately things in my life have gotten very interesting. I can’t say much about much, but I am looking to really broaden my horizons, especially in exercising creativity. Our renovations have reached a lull, but Novella is going to my parents next week for fall break, so we’re hoping to pick up some momentum. I really envy people that have the forethought to take pictures of these types of things. I would make a terrible home blogger. I’m already a terrible just-because blogger. Ha!

OK, so if we were having coffee, I’d insist that you try my new boo, the French Press at my scattered home. I’m trying to give off a hygge vibe, so you can imagine…it will look and smell like I robbed a Bath and Body Works. And in the background, we’ll be listening to Tom Petty because that’s what I’ve been listening to nonstop. Here’s what I’d probably talk to you about:

I know it’s silly to be this sad about a celebrity dying. I know it. But I am. Monday was rough. I had like a fever dream and woke up early to notifications on my phone about the Las Vegas shooting. It felt very much like a bad dream. I tried to go back to sleep, but my stomach kept churning and I got physically ill. The whole day felt incredibly off. It’s also just impossible to teach seventh graders empathy in these situations; they are desensitized to these things. I don’t remember being that way. The Oklahoma City bombing happened when I was also in seventh grade, and I distinctly remember a lingering sadness. (Maybe in great part to the musical montages they would play on the radio.) But, Tom Petty dying is something exclusive from Vegas, yet it feels like I have to explain why I am so impacted by this loss. Tom Petty wrote the soundtrack to my life. Growing up, he was the one thing my entire family could agree on. Never once did we all collectively moan, “Nooooo, Dad…not Tom Petty again.” Instead, we wanted to hear him over and over and over again. On rewind, no less.

I am having a rough school year. There’s no way we’d have coffee and that wouldn’t come up. It’s not impossible to pinpoint the root of the problem, but today I swear I turned a corner. No small feat on the Friday before a weeklong break, but I am at peace for the first time in nine weeks. It’s not because of the break; it’s because I finally see the results of some serious blood, sweat, and a whole whole lot of tears. At one point, I considered ducking into the large closet in my room and crying. Luckily, I’ve never lost my sense of humor or vivid imagination. And so, I started fancying the idea of residing in said closet and acting like the Wizardess of C. Middle with exclusive and impossible accessibility.

This is in no way bragging or self-congratulatory, but it needs to be said: teachers, don’t underestimate your value and impact. I’ve went back and forth on whether or not to mention this, but transparency always wins in my book. I’ve always prided myself in the connections I have with my kids. I had a lull a few years ago, but other than that, I can honestly say the relationships I develop with my kids are far more relevant to me than any test scores. I think I may have already said this, but I have been straight up grieving the loss of the day-to-day relationships with my “last year’s kids.”

Well, I guess I kind of forgot that those relationships didn’t happen overnight. So, I had my “this year’s” students do a quick write to let me know how this school year is going, and the responses floored me. You just cannot imagine what you mean as a teacher to kids. Their responses are personal, and I won’t share them, but they will propel me through May. It won’t always be easy, but I can do it.

It’s really hard to be a working mom. And that’s been a huge culprit in my current state. I simply cannot be the mom I want to be and the teacher that I want to be. I’ve been really wrestling with this lately, and I know something will always suffer in some form or fashion. These conversations are always jarring. I straddle the fence as a teacher because I am home a lot. For me (and this is just me!), life is easier when I’m home. For everyone. This article drove home what I’ve been articulating to my closest friends. I am the keeper at home, and then I’m the keeper for the 90 students I see daily, and (often times) their parents too.

I’ve also been thinking about this gem as well. Again, I want to exercise my creative muscles far more than I have, oh since the invention of the internet? I am always, always, longing for simpler times in my soul, and for me, it begins with creativity.

I guess that’s a lot for me to talk about, and it would take hours for me to go through this whole dialogue! I am excited for this Fall Break! What would you talk to me about on our coffee date? What are you drinking?

 

 

Coffee Date, 9/01

If we got coffee this week, I assure you I’d get a Pumpkin Spiced Latte. I got zero problems admitting that. And suffice to say that will probably be true until Thanksgiving. Ahhhh, I can just feel fall coming, and I cannot freaking wait! I know I’m a walking stereotype (in leggings nonetheless), but I cannot care! So, here’s what I would probably talk to you about this week:

Well, first off, I’d probably tell you that I feel like I’m cheating on my husband by drinking said PSL. Because we’re doing the whole low-carb/ keto thing. I’m truly doing it because that’s what he wants to do, and we eat from the same grocery cart. I’m pretty over diets in general. As I mentioned before, I’ve done all the diets. And I mean allllll the diets. Keto freaks me out. Not so much the “no carb” aspect, but I have to make a conscious effort to get in veggies. The first week went pretty well (other than I for real did have Starbucks today). Energy is okay-ish. I guess if I had to offer any advice, it would be: keep it super simple the first week. I made a big ole pot of green beans on Sunday, shredded a buncha chicken, portioned out salads, got some broccoli ready, and decided this is not the week to brush up on my culinary skills. We had a lot of those green beans and some pre-made meatballs pretty much every night. The first week is all about getting into the swing of things. In the upcoming week, I will branch out a little more. Also, I miss pizza.

I hate potty training. I don’t even know if you can call what we’re doing “potty training.” I know there are so many methods to this, none of which I can fully grasp. We’re basically in a practice holding pattern. It was all good until my sweet little girl messed all over the only 5×8 rug in our house. I had the good sense to not take a picture, haha. It was freaking terrible. And also kind of hilarious because she’s in an intense bossy phase, so as I am literally biting my lip, she’s saying, “Hey! Mommy! Clean up my poop!” Um, heck nah. I’m hesitant to recount this- I’m super modest in my public persona (whatever that means), but more people need to talk about the fact that this crap (literally) cuz when you’re in this boat…you need to know this is a very real and disgusting possibility!

About a month ago, in the midst of the dog days of teacher summer, I embarked on a very important goal: to watch every single episode of The Real Housewives of New York City available on HuluI’m proud to report that I am almost there, guys. But also, I need to know…how can I access the seasons not available? I need to see Lu and Tom and more Bethenny! I know there’s gotta be a loophole to get me there without paying for cable. (I am not opposed to stealing your mama’s login to Bravo. I have no shame in this mission.) I really want to thank my close group of “work friends” for respecting this sacred time in my life and of course my husband for watching this mess with me and then even “catching up” after I went to bed. That’s love, y’all.

Y’all our house looks totally different! I cannot wait to really show everyone the progress. It’s incredible. Since my last post, B pulled up all of the giant hedges and even a dead tree. (A la Paul Bunyon, so don’t revoke his man card in watching RHONY with me.) We were hoping to paint the door and cedar siding tomorrow, but if you’re paying any attention, you know it’s raining a lot in these parts.

Speaking of, I cannot stop thinking about this piece. I’ve followed her blog for as long as I can remember. I don’t know that I knew she lives in Houston, but either way…she’s already gained a lot of national attention for her writing, but I’m truly praying that everyone reads this. It’s so easy to lose perspective in such disasters. We are so desensitized from information overload that we can no longer discern what’s important and what’s not- we’re slowly losing that human element, the thing that connects us the most. Seriously…please read this. It was such a game-changer for me.

I am pretty jazzed about this weekend, other than the aforementioned potty training. Novella requested a trip to the library, Ima surprise her with a trip to her best friend’s house…y’all I really want a date night. Either way, tell me what you would tell me on a coffee date!

Coffee Date 8/26

Happy Saturday! I actually had to hold off on coffee this week. Last night, I did the responsible thing and went to bed at a decent hour. It was all in preparation for battle, as I knew this weekend would be a little taxing. More on that below. So, if we were going to coffee today, I would probably insist on you coming to my house and drinking hot tea. It’s unfortunate that I was on the way to becoming a tea-aficionado right in time for Teavana to announce its departure. I am borderline obsessed with their Lavender Cream blend, and now I’m faced with a potentially-life-altering-decision: Do I spend $2,000 and buy out their entire supply, or do I just move on?

Either way, I still have roughly two ounces on hand, and I would love for you to come over and sample some! Here’s what I would gab about for this week:

Life is supa crazy around here. Last week I told you that we were on the way to fixing thangs around here. At the time, we didn’t even have a quote. Well, now we’ve officially started renovations and there was no fooling around! We ripped the front deck out, moved the front door to the other side of the living room, creating the need for new shingles, new drywall, and a new porch. All of those have been completed over the course of this week! And when I say “we” I mean we paid someone to do this. It’s not completed yet; I will share those details and befores and afters once the whole thing is completed. So, we’ve been living in a construction site for the last few days which is an adventure on its own, but we also have that little two-year-old to manage.

We are potty training. No Macarthur Genius Grants coming this way. Who decides to potty train in such living conditions? Well, her teacher told me she’s been acting “ready,” and since she spends way more time with Novella than I do, I trust her judgment. She said we could wait until Monday and then start, but I guess I wanted to be part of the process. Around 10 this morning, I had regrets about this decision. But when she got like a milliliter of pee in the potty,  I was thrilled to celebrate with her. So, we’re having a weekend exclusively at home- playing games, giving pedis, watching movies, and going to the potty every 30 minutes. My bladder has never been so empty.

I was kind of underwhelmed by the eclipse. OK, it was kinda cool. But considering how much people talked about the eclipse leading up to the eclipse, the eclipse itself was like maybe 2 minutes here and we didn’t have totality so we were like, “Is that it?” I feel bad saying that because so many people were flabbergasted by it. The biggest “WOW” factor for me was the cicadas. Oh, and the whole town was like a ghost town. I know this because we took advantage of the day off by running errands. My dad gave a great review of the whole ordeal.

I am so obsessed with Richard Rohr. I first heard him on a podcast in June, and now I just can’t get enough of him. He’s a Franciscan priest, it’s kind of hard to sum him up. His theology closely matches my own, and he says things I’ve intuitively felt but couldn’t quite articulate. I’ve been listening to his book Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Second Half of Life. But I would suggest not listening to the book, but instead reading it the old fashioned way so you can highlight and flag it.

So, I guess that’s it for this lovely Saturday! Since we are trapped inside, I’ve got a fresh plate of pumpkin muffins out of the oven and chicken for tacos in the crockpot. Don’t tell me it’s not fall yet!

Coffee Date, 8/19

Full Confession: I am writing this on 8/18 with the notion that you’ll read this on 8/19.

A couple of weeks ago, my parents were here rescuing us from yet another child care crisis, and my mom asked me: “Do you still have a blog?” Yes, I do. I envy those who post on the daily. I just don’t always have that much to say.

So, last (school) year I did “Links That Think” and I want to get back in that habit. But I also really like this idea that I see on a few sites: a hypothetical coffee date. What would I say to you if we had like 2-3 hours (what a dream!) to grab a coffee and catch up? What are the highlights of my life, and (more importantly) what are yours? I had a sentence or two typed out blaming the need for this conversation in print on modern times, but really…it’s like being a pen pal or having a notebook in which you passed notes to a select few friends in seventh grade.

If we had coffee, I’d sit in the back corner and listen to music until you got there. It’s August 19 and hot as Hades, but I’m longing for fall days. So, I’d try to order a #basicB PSL and then opt for a Skinny Vanilla because I am never not obsessing over calories. You sit down with a ______________ and ask me what’s new, and this is what I would tell you:

Our Dog Bruce died. I’m just so sad about it. I don’t know how to explain it. I keep meaning to write about it, but everytime I start, I go back to those moments. I have been through so much ish in my life, and I really can’t remember a moment of absolute sadness like that one. The grief is confusing. B is sadder than me. Six weeks have passed, and life just went on. That’s the saddest part. Well, that and the gut-wrenching notion that it’s just over. When you have a dog, you know they will die. German Shepherds’ life expectancy is 11-13 years. Bruce was 11.5, so he was right on track. We thought he’d be here for at least 5 more years. I have a horrible habit of thinking that rules don’t apply to me.

It’s time that I cannot reconcile. How is it over? How did 11.5 years just slip by us? I know how crazy it sounds, but I swear it was just yesterday…

I am so obsessed with this songC’mon. I don’t listen to the radio, have no idea if this song is a top 40. I don’t care. We all have that person. Her vocals. The soul. It’s almost too much.

I made a Command Center. Out of Peg Board. And I love that ish so much. I need as much organization in my life as possible. In the basket below it,  I have notebooks upon notebooks, and yes I use them all for different things. It works for me. Yeah, I have a spreadsheet or two…but pen to paper is where it’s at for me. So, I buy good pens and pretty notebooks. I would love to source them all, but they come from random places like Sam’s clearance aisle (actually my best find) and Hobby Lobby’s like Dollar Spot. I don’t know what it’s called, but they have unusually cute things, including a 3 pack notebook bundle for $3.  I am actually most in love with the calendar I got at Target. I guess erbody loved it cuz I don’t see it on the website, but here’s the same one-ish in a different pattern. Here’s my Command Center:

Command Center

We finnin’ ta fix thangs So, we were going to venture to Brooklyn over Fall Break, but we decided to invest that money into our humble abode. We have so many projects to do around here that it often feels impossible. Well, we broke thangs down and it’s completely manageable re: time and money. So, we are hoping to start phase 1 over Fall Break! I’m pretty stoked about it…I actually read in Better Homes & Gardens (my second Bible) that three years is the best time frame to live in a house before changing things up, so I guess we’re right on track.

I don’t know what to call this, but I love it. I’ve been cataloging images from magazines via Elmer’s Glue Sticks into my favorite notebook…I guess it’s like Pinterest in retrospect. It’s an oddly satisfying way to spend my free time, but it makes me crazy happy.

I love this phase in Novella’s life. I suppose every parent who’s ever been here could say the same, but what an amazing time! She says the funniest, most innocent, and insanely insightful things. Like, when we say prayers every night, she says “amen” in unison and then turns to me and says, “Thank you Mommy for the deeeeeener.” The best nights are when she says every item on her plate.

I hate to end our coffee date here, but such is life!

 

 

The Weight Of My Heart

I remember the very first time I thought about my weight. I was in middle school and my Granny, not one to mince words, commented, “Yer puttin’ on a little weight aren’t ya?” and then that same summer I was about to go off the diving board when a classmate screamed: “You’ve got a terrible ass!”

Going underwater is already so disorienting, but to plop down with this brand new information about yourself, no time to process, no time to compose…I wanted to immediately scream and cry, but I also had to worry about surviving and getting back to air.

I remember, very well, climbing up that ladder, pulling down my bright blue bathing suit bottoms as far as possible in hopes that no one saw even a little bit of that terrible ass, or worse of all, saw the struggle to fight back the tears. I walked to my family’s spot, sat down, and for the first time, refused Gardetto’s Mustard Pretzels.

And, then my relationship with the scale began. It’s been over two decades of counting, measuring, binging, starving, comparing, a tiny bit of pride, and a ton of disappointment. Only occasionally did I pepper in maintaining my health…I’ve never really liked pepper, really.

Even after begging God to give us a child for ten years, I still rolled out of the hospital pissed off at myself for “letting myself go” during pregnancy.

In the last eight years, I have been on every diet you can imagine. Recently, I started Weight Watchers for the simple fact that it was “the only diet I’ve never tried.” I know what works, how to lose weight…but it’s not really about the weight, is it?

It’s about:

  • The number, and always having to know where I measure against everyone else, or even myself.
  • Not wanting to be “frumpy.”
  • Wanting to look at a picture and not criticize the mess out of myself.
  • It gives me something to worry over.
  • The comfort in discomfort.

Yesterday, I took my little girl to a water park. It was the first time I dared to show (gasp!) my stomach since delivering her. I spent nine months agonizing over stretch marks, and came out without one. I guess I thought that was the clincher in wearing a bikini. But then I decided I was way too fat. Yesterday, I decided I wanted to be more comfortable than anything, so I went with shorts and a sports bra. Anyway, this isn’t a post about bikinis because really: who cares. Show up, have fun, and seriously…no one is looking at you. If they are, believe me…they hate themselves way more than you can grasp.

After I got home, my friend sent me a few pictures she snapped, and my knee-jerk reaction was to begin the usual self-criticism song and dance. But something changed.

Splash Country
Puddle Jumper on backwards for reasons.

I really, really wanted to be a mom more than anything in this world. To me, that doesn’t mean a life sentence of self-neglect. In fact, I think I have a healthy enough dose of selfishness to never really not practice the posh art of self-care. But, am I really forfeiting self-care if I just say: stop logging your food/ use common sense?

Just to kind of touch base with Weight Watchers (I have faithfully logged every meal for 3 weeks), I weighed this morning. I gained 3 pounds. How does that even happen?

Anyway, I didn’t cry or really bat an eye. I got dressed and got ready to take some of my favorite kids out for a day of (seriously) great fun. We went to their favorite restaurant (McDonald’s) afterward, and I ordered a Happy Meal because… there’s a reason McDonald’s has exactly one salad on the menu. I watched little kids giggle to the point of delirium. I delivered two of them home and then wrestled one into a nap. When she awoke, I made one of my favorite Whole 30-approved Meals. Because I like it. Actually, I love it.

I began running again last week, and omigosh I have missed it terribly. I downloaded this app called “Running For Weight Loss” and I’m going to stick with it not because of the weight loss component, but because it has reignited a part of me that fizzled out a few years back.

All of this to say, it’s not that I don’t think diet and exercise are important. I would still argue that they are the two biggest factors in overall well-being. Hands down, when I am eating better and exercising regularly, the better I feel about life in general. Mental clarity, spiritual connection, and emotional well-being are not merely byproducts of a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, BMI, weight loss, measurements…those should be the happy accidents of a healthy lifestyle. And that, folks, is going to be my mantra henceforth.

It’s easier said than done. I have to change my narrative. I have to let go of words that bear no meaning like “lean,” “thin,” or even (barf) “hot.” Instead, I am clinging to words like “kind,” “insightful,” or even “awesome aunt.” Because none of those words would be possible either if I were a lump on a log.

One more thing: can we please stop calling bikini/ bathing suit pictures “courageous”? I mean, I’m showing off a little back fat, not walking through fire to save small children or going off to war.

Also, I’m still logging onto Weight Watchers because I am the Reigning Queen of Dropping Out, and I am fully committed to three months. I have more to say about this later, like when I actually gave it a shot.

Splash Country 2

 

Links That Think 5-26-17

Oh, hey y’all! It’s officially summer break here in East Tennessee. I’m not going to lie to you, I have incredibly conflicting emotions regarding this break. I had an amazing school year, perhaps the best one yet. That being said, it went by in a flash- even without having our usual two-week snow break. Oh, and with having to go on leave the previous two years for *reasons* this was the first time I’ve worked through the end of the school year in three years. Still, the speed of it all disarmed me.

On one hand, the hope of summer thrilled me. On the other, a tad of grief enveloped me. Tis the plight of a teacher at the end of a great year- you’ve prepared them for the future, and you are no part of that future. I understand Mr. Feeney better each day.

Last week, I had this whole post about Mother’s Day, and then I choked at hitting “publish.” Crazy as it seems, I found out I was going to be a mom nearly three years ago, but I still feel like my nose is pressed on the window, peering into this world I longed for. I already seriously suffer from imposter syndrome, but it’s even more evident in this facet of my life. Anyway, I guess I think if I tell you I plan on polishing that up where the truth really shines though, the more likely I am to maybe publish it this week.

Meanwhile, here are some links that have sparked my interest this week.

Black Dahlia Murder Case Let me preface this by saying I had no knowledge of this case before one of my students presented it as part of her Genius Hour project. She mentioned this article, and I.Was.Hooked. Everything you could possibly want to know is here, and it’s stranger than fiction. Now, I just feel like I need to move to California and completely devote my life to this cold case. Go ahead and google follow-ups while you’re at it.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Uses the Word ‘Rape’ and Why It’s a Big Deal” (WARNING: Link contains spoilers) Can I just say, I am in the middle of season 3, and I watch it so differently since reading this commentary? I almost feel like I need to rewatch the whole series, and why not? I mean, I’ve watched The Office no less than 30 times. Let’s not forget, show creator/ my hero Tina Fey was attacked as a child, giving her that “trademark” scar across her face.

“Hotdogs, Sunscreen, and All the Other Ways I’m Messing Up” This is perfunctorily me. Such a paradox- I think about this very concept all the time, while not thinking about it at all. I didn’t skip out on the rite-of-passage dollar store water guns, despite warnings that it may invoke violence or she may be exposed to BPA when she inevitably drinks from said water pistol, but I do buy organic milk and I definitely cut eyes when we pass the smoking section at the zoo. For the record, I was exposed to all of the above as a child, and I’m still kicking. Why are we so darn crazy nowadays?

“Ebb and Flow” This just hit so close to home for me. Honestly, anything that cites Proverbs 31 gut punches me in the feels. How I long to be that woman! How I long to want to want being that woman! This articulated oh so well the struggle, the internal dialogue I combat on the daily.

“Love Like Ghosts” Two of my dearest friends are going through such a tough time. I can’t express the profound sadness that surrounds them, how I pray for the arms of Jesus around them, and how I helpless I feel as a friend who can only offer so much support. I just hear this song and think of their hearts, right now, in this perplexing moment.

It seems a bit appropriate that rain will fall hard this weekend. It’s a weekend that says: “Don’t plan too much.” And so, we’re listening. We need rest more than anything, and I pray we can accomplish this easily.

Links That Think 5-05-17

These aren’t so much links that think, but just more things I enjoy right now. It’s been such a weird week! I had the stomach flu Sunday night/ all day Monday. Turns out, four teachers on my hall all had it at the exact time, so it was definitely something in the air. This was my second bug in 6 weeks though, so I am moderately convinced (like so many things) this could be curbed with some better dietary choices. I dunno. It sucked and I’d do anything to avoid it again.

When I haven’t been praying that my little family didn’t get hit with this, I’ve been trying to organize little facets of my life. Once I recovered, I made a “Get Your Ess Together” plan and I feel much better about life. I don’t know why, but even a day out for the count gives me total-loser feelings and makes me wonder what I’ve done with my life. Anyone else?

Also, I normally don’t watch a lot of tv, but I’ve been eye-deep all week. Season 3 of Catastrophe is now on Amazon. It wasn’t my favorite season, and I bout died when I felt like the plot was really taking off only to discover it was in fact the season finale. 6 episodes! Who does that?

Then, I discovered the show Life in Pieces on Netflix. I think it’s actually a CBS show. I’m too lazy to google it, and really…does it matter? It’s freaking hilarious. I’ve been seriously longing for humor lately, and it seems harder to come by. To top it off, I have a pretty specific sense of humor and am not easy to please. (Joke. Kind of.) I have found myself staying up way too late binging on it, even carrying my iPad around the house so I can laugh while I pack my lunch and stuff. I haven’t been that dedicated to a show, ever.

Anyway, I took my nephroos out tonight so I’m already pondering supergluing my eyelids open. Here’s what I’m digging/ thinking about this week.

 

8 Paradoxes of Creative People I have, as she calls it, a “messy mind.” Always have.This list was a window into my soul/ psyche and honestly validated me. The thing people least understand about me is that I need time to myself to work through problems and create/design solutions. I cannot do this in a room of people because the instant feedback bogs me down. It takes time for me to articulate ideas, but I am full of them!

8 Tips for Taking Better Instagram Photos I possess no photography skills, but I desperately want to take great pictures. I made this one of my 17 resolutions for the year. Initially, I wanted to invest in a DSR camera, but really the iPhone 7S takes amazing photos, so I’ve been experimenting a lot with it. Helllloooo portrait feature! I needed a new phone, so I went ahead and invested in it and I regret nothing. I am obsessed with the pictures it takes. I guess like so many professional lenses, it captures the beauty in the ordinary.

Golden Hour

Growing Up Under The Watchful Eye of Social Media Full disclosure: I do post pictures of Novella on Instagram, and occasionally on this blog (see above). I am extremely conscientious about what I post, what I say, and most of all: why I am posting it. I am so proud of Novella, but I never mention how smart she is or anything that deliberately compares her to other children, or worst of all, straight up brags. Social media is already such a breeding ground for comparison, and I really don’t want to contribute to that. On the other side of that, I choose not to show her at her worst moments, either. Sick pictures are a no-no. Tantrum pictures are quite tempting, but I contain myself.

I would not have thought this way except (when I was pregnant with Novella) a group of my students wrote about how parents should not post pictures without their consent and gave plenty of anecdotes about instances that embarrassed them. Sick pictures and report cards were at the top of their lists, and so I took that to heart. (This is rare case, the only time I’ve ever actually been persuaded through grading essays.) I think “sharenting” is a cultural norm, but we are nonetheless obligated to respect our children’s individual rights and honor them as a human being. Personally, if B would’ve thought to snap a pic of me amidst the stomach flu, I won’t even publically say what I would do.

My Book is Officially Out in the World via The Everywherist Decided I’m going to go ahead and read this over the weekend. If the humor remotely parallels her blog, my cup o laughter might just runneth over.

We have zero plans for the weekend. We had an out of town trip planned, but B’s schedule just couldn’t accommodate it, so I am counting that as a blessing! It’s rainy and cold, so naturally, I’m going to box up my cold weather clothes. I’ll make something that’s hearty and healthy. Gonna read. It’s going to be a good one!

Tell me what you’ve been reading lately via links! I find myself reading the same 4-5 sites daily, and could use a few suggestions!