Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Card Traditions

This time of year, one of my favorite places to be is the mailbox. Like may of us, I love the arrival of a Christmas Card from a friend or family member. I look forward to seeing my grandmother's handwriting and her "I love you so very much." I look forward to seeing my friends' children in all their preciousness. I love remembering the year I helped my friend Kellie take Christmas Card pictures and she ended up needing a "Naughty" picture because Annie would not cooperate (seeing as we do not yet have a Christmas card photo ready, we may also have to go with a naughty pic.) We don't have the best method of displaying these sweet cards because my husband vetoes all my displays, but I am working on some ideas. I will say that last year we started a tradition that I simply love.

Thanks to an idea I got from mops, our pictures come down after Christmas and go into a pile in our bedside table. Last year, each night we pulled a card and we prayed for that family. We prayed for all their hopes, dreams and that God would answer their prayers. For some, we prayed for our relationships with them and for others, we simply gave thanks for the people they are. While we all have our Christmas card lists, Ross and I still felt special to be included in others' lists and felt that this was a small way we could repay their thoughtfulness.

As I looked for cards this year, I kept going back to the adorable Tiny Prints cards. I have enjoyed others' cards from this cute company and am excited to use them for our currently un-taken photo. A few favs...

go here for this cute card

and here for this sweet card

and oh how I wish MK would cooperate for a pic like this!

Happy Card Sending!

Much love sent your way as these amazing holidays begin!

Monday, November 28, 2011


A few minutes ago my girl stood up in her wicker chair and looked at me, waiting for the "please sit down." Her hair is pulled to the side in a bow that she hasn't realized is there, or it would not be there. Her little mullet has grown and her hair is longer in the back. Now she is standing up at her basket of toys, reading a book outloud. She has a small case of saggy pants and her precious pot belly is peeking out of her lime green shirt. She has grown a foot overnight. A piece of soft french bread is met with "da du" for thank you. She walks more than she crawls. She begs for her "bow ber" (brown bear) book. She says "uh oh" when she drops something. Ross says a few times a day "she's so big." There is no baby left in my baby.

I realize this is a nauseating post for anyone outside of my immediate family but I needed to write this in hopes that I relish my next baby a little more. I adored the baby Mary Kate. I loved that baby immensely. But new mommyhood kicked my butt. I prayed for the first 8 weeks to go by quickly, believing that she would sleep through the night then. (She did, if sporadically) Then I mostly endured the months before she napped regularly and the months of seemingly around the clock nursing. I endured those first months with a baby. I should have relished them more. Then I waited on milestone after milestone instead of relishing the now.

I don't say any of that to beat myself up. I know most new moms have similar experiences. But I look forward to baby number two, whenever God blesses us with that new creature. I look forward to relishing the baby time. Because I cannot blink away the tears fast enough, realizing that there is no baby left in my baby. I didn't miss it, but I definitely experienced it in a haze. While future babies will not know a time with their parents alone, something we've been happy to give MK, they will have a mama who is more aware of how fast it all goes. They will have a mama who spends more time relishing all their babyness.

Oh my precious girl, please slow down. This heart of mine cannot take you growing up any faster. But because I know you will keep doing this growing, I promise to relish you more and more. You are a nearly 17 month old, walking, talking, sassy, feisty, stubborn, independent, precious, precious little soul. I understand just a little more how our sweet Lord loves me by the nearly tangible love I have for you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Many thoughts, none of them related.

I have a few posts swirling in my head, thoughts on my heart. But they are the kind of posts better written from a coffee shop than from the floor of my living room where I toss cheerios across the room, hoping to intice MK to leave my SHIFT button alone and go eat the now dog-hair covered oat.

The holidays have arrived.  This brings an unneccesary amount of anxiety for me and I am spending a lot of time in prayer about it. Ann Voskamp says that the feeling of joy begins with the action of thanksgiving. So, appropriately so, I'm working on thanksgiving and hoping that the joy of family begins to supercede the anxiety of travel/sleeping arrangements/sleep schedules.

Mary Kate is 16 months old and has recently decided that she really likes me. Since she spent the previous 15 months ambivalent about my comings and goings, I love this. I love that she is clearly choosing me over others sometimes and that she does, indeed, see me as someone she loves and trusts.

Because of the separation anxiety mentioned above, I am now that mom. After years of babysitting/nannying and years of watching how it took all of 3.5 seconds for a screaming, tearful baby to forget that their mama just left them, I am that mom who wants one last hug. I am the mother that I hated babysitting for. I hope that those years of comforting others' babes will continue to help me kiss the girl, tell her mommy will be back, and then have mercy on the poor babysitter and leave! It's hard, but I'm giving myself another week of being that annoying mother. Babysitters, just give me grace. It took that child forever to even care if I left!

I have decided that the person who said "marriage is hard" probably also said "childbirth hurts a teeny bit." Both are ridiculous understatements but both bring amazing amounts of refining, growing and blessings. I say this with not a tinge of judgement in my heart but I honestly do not know how people without faith manage the complexities of marriage. They have a chip that I know does not exist in me. I am thankful that on days where we aren't feeling all lovey dovey, we (on good days) remember to love each other out of obedience to God.

I have seen a few episodes of American Muslim. It fascinates me the way Sister Wives does. I really enjoy getting a tiny glimpse into how other cultures live. I hope American Muslim sheds light on the the many misconceptions about this religion.

I am still running and think I will keep it up. I am way NOT addicted to the actual running but am VERY addicted to the hour all to myself each day, even if it is at 6am! It has done wonders for me emotionally, psychologically and physically.

A personal goal for me is to not live or die by the length of MK's nap (as she screams 1.5 hours into a normally 2.5 hour nap). Since she has dropped to one nap, I obsess over the length of that one nap. It is admittedly as much out of desire that she be well rested and healthy as it is out of my own need for sanity. Any advice on how not to freak out over naptime/length would be greatly appreciated (especially since the next month will bring lots of naps in others' homes!)

Okay- that's enough mindless stuff no one needed to ever know! Have a wonderful thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's been one of those days

Today has been one of those days; those days that could have been really awful. Instead, it was one of those blessed, glorious days when I felt the presence of God with me from the very start of the day.

That start of the day happened to occur at 5:15 am. Ross was gone super early so baby and dog duty were on mama. I expected Mary Kate to go back to sleep but no can do. The dog was walking around, making noise, wanting to go out. I held firm and refused to attend to either of those fools until 6 am. I layed in bed, knowing I was flying solo today, and knowing how most days that start at 5:15 am pan out. But today, I tried something different. Instead of pulling my pillow over my head and cussing, I prayed. I prayed for an inordinant amount of patience. I prayed for joy to be in my heart today. I prayed not to resent my husband for the fun he'd have while I was working in the zoo starting at 5. I prayed that having a good attitude would change the expected trajectory of the day.

I let the dog out and went in to a royally pissed off little girl who continued to throw a fit for another 20 minutes. Finally she realized she needed to stop screaming in order to be fed and she calmed down. During said screaming, I remained uncharacteristically calm, feeling my favorite teammate next to me. I began to devise a much needed plan for our long day ahead. I texted a friend and told her that the pizza she ate last night was settling in her thighs. (there is an inside joke here. I'm not that big of a jerk.) She took my bait and met me at the gym. Mary Kate got to play for an hour and my friend and I took a very bad aerobics class. One of my favorite mops moms also walked into that very bad aerobics class. This helped calm my nerves about MK in the daycare, knowing my mops mom's kids were in there with her. After, she and I both realized we were single moms for the day and agreed to eat away any lingering husband resentment at chick-fil-a. MK took a catnap in the car, making her a surprisingly (more) pleasant lunch date. I actually think I can tell you a few of the thoughts Amber finished.

Throughout the morning, I was so struck by how God honored my request to have this be a joyous day. I could not believe how at peace I felt. The afternoon, however, threatened to destroy that peace. MK's little catnap killed much chance for any real afternoon nap and she cried for an hour. I kept reminding myself that God was still with me, helping me through this day, regardless of whether MK was happy or sad. When I finally got her up, she was in a FOUL mood. I came very close to cancelling our plans to go over to our neighbors to watch football but MK loves them and their dogs and I thought the change of scenery might be the attitude adjustment we both needed. And I am so glad I did.

Because, ladies and gentleman, at the ripe old age of 16 months and 3 days, THIS GIRL
FINALLY WALKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, after all the appropriate texts and phone calls to say that we may avoid the planned trip to the physical therapist, I stopped for a minute. I thanked God for answering the prayer I had prayed the night before and the one my sister-in-law, unknown to me, was praying after Communion, probably around that same time.
After a few little steps, she full fledged walked to me in Zach and Karen's kitchen. She was so proud of herself and was a total ham, acting like she hadn't spent the previous two hours making me bang my head against a wall.

I came home and rocked that moody little creature in our chair, saying our guardian angel prayer and thanking God for a day that could have been so rough. And while it wasn't perfect, it was one of those special days where I felt Him with me, walking through all the joys and all the stresses of parenting. It was one of those days where you feel, as we used to say in bible study, the spiritual warm fuzzies. God is there, every single day, warm fuzzies or no fuzzies. But oh how great it felt to really feel Him here today, especially when the other man in my life was off galavanting :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

thirteen (POINT ONE)

This weekend I did something I never, ever thought I would do. Had you asked me 6 months ago, I would have laughed at you and then resumed eating my little debbie cake. I had not run more than 3 miles since I was in high school and that was a one time 10 k on prom morning with Jamie Jue. But my best friend dangled lovely accomodations in my face and that last little bit of baby belly begged me to remove it from my body. So, I began training.

Y'all, for me, this process was hard. My first re-introduction to the treadmill yielded barely 2 miles and a child who screamed in the daycare room the whole time. I was not encouraged. But pretty soon I was cussing my way through four miles, and then sending Fr. Tim and my dad pictures of the treadmill showing 7.0 miles. And then my husband worked out of town for basically a month. Training came to a screeching halt.
Discouraged and back to square one, I finally accepted an invitation to run with some moms from mops. They met 100 yards from my house and I was hooked from my first run with them. The next time I find myself out of shape (because, let's be real, this girl loves some swiss cake rolls), I want to look back and see the lessons learned and see what worked. So, in no particular order- what motivated me from couch to half marathon.
  • getting outside (yes Ross, I am forever sold on running outside. YOU. WERE.RIGHT.) Finding a beautiful place to run (along the Chattahoochee river) in the gorgeous Atlanta fall made it less tortuous in those beginning weeks.
  • as I said, finding a group. Listening to these ladies (and eventually talking with them when I got in enough shape) talk about faith, family, races, dreams made those runs fly by.
  • accountability. An email goes out the night before, you commit. Knowing myself, I purposely never got anyone's cell numbers so I wasn't even tempted to text a lame excuse when I wanted to sleep in. I knew they were there and I knew to be on time (those girls start running at 6 sharp and Lord knows I didn't have the ability to catch up with them!)
  • prayer. I could write a whole post on this but this really was a spiritual experience for me. At night I prayed for endurance, perserverance, physical strength. And during the runs, I prayed not to throw up. He answered, every time. On race day, the prayers of friends truly propelled me forward. My friend Molly (a running coach in Athens) sent me this scripture "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to stand on the heights."
  • Encouragement from others. From my husband's compliments on my physique and willingness to do morning baby duty, to support emails from my favorite Padre, to advice from friends who are "runners" to friends just asking how training is going to facebook messages on race day, I truly felt supported by so many people. I have been tempted to downplay this accomplishment (my best friend ran her 4th full that same day!!) but the reality is, it's a big danged deal. 13 is nothing to scoff at.
  • thinking about the big picture. When Ross and I were first dating, he would take me to the river and I could not run the entire 5k loop. I couldn't run half of it. And now, to run alongside my husband and baby and dog, it makes me so happy. That is what I want for my family. I want Saturday morning runs. I want to run alongside a blonde haired fire-cracker on her bicycle one day. I want that blonde haired fire-cracker to see her mama get up early to take care of herself, to value her health (and sanity). Maybe one day we'll run alongside each other, enjoying nature and fitness (and a celebratory donut) together.
  • setting a goal. I am not so much a goal setter. Don't get me wrong, I've set a few in my life. But I am not self-motivated. I don't compete with myself. If you tell me I need to give 70% of myself to something, I'll happily give 70% and use the last 30% of my effort on catching up on the dvr. That may be changing. It felt great to set a big, seemingly unattainable goal, and cross that finish line with as much happiness as I can remember (even if the firecracker was asleep on her daddy's shoulder instead of waving at mama!)
  • faith. During each run, I was acutely aware that I was not running alone. I truly, truly felt God with me. I spent time during solo runs saying a rosary- admittedly as much to make the time go by as to make good use of my time sans baby. Praying through cramps and hurting knees seemed to really alleviate pain, or at least distract me from it.
I know I am bordering on melodramatic here but the more I wanted to down play this success, the more I thought back to the beginning. I looked at blogs written during those first runs and I realize that I did something I never thought I would. It's not a full marathon and it's certainly not world peace, but it's a girl trusting that God gave her a healthy body fully capable of meeting a big goal. It  was 13 (and as a I realized rounding that last corner, an excruciating last POINT ONE) miles. I am proud of this achy body and the girl who all too often tells herself " I can't."

I can't believe I'm posting this photo of my bff and I at 6:30 am on a FREEZING Savannah morning, but it is actually more flattering than the after pictures ! Thanks Katrina for motivating me to sign up and giving us a great weekend!