Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ode to My Unborn Child...

Yep, I said it, child; as in one thumping heartbeat. Yippee doo, skimininu! I've heard the stories. You know the ones I speak of, where a friend of a friend thought they'd have three children, and in the third round were taken down by a set of twins. Of course I would have loved them both, if that had been the case, but I most likely would have been loving them from a looney bin. Heck with three kids under 4, and for a short time 3 1/2, I might find myself there after all, but twins would have sent me over the edge much sooner. Enough of that though, because there is only one lonesome baby, and that makes me very happy.

I was going to write an ode to the new baby, but I'm not going to. It would turn out cheesy, and we all know how much I like cheesy. Besides I'm sure you want to hear all about Blake's visit to the doc as well. So, we're back on the charts for weight and height. Another yippee doo, skimininu. At 12 months, Blake weighs just over 20 pounds and is a whopping 28 inches. How does that compare to other children his age? Well in weight, he is in the 5th percentile, meaning that 95% of all other 12 month old children weigh more than he does. But at least he has a percentage. In height, only 86% of children are taller than he is. Yeah baby, double digits. I am a very proud mommy. What Blake loses in weight and height, he makes up for in bravery. He took his vaccinations, all three of them, like a trooper. And then they drew blood, and though he cried the entire time the needle was in his arm, he shook it off and went on about his day. That's my boy. I know babies who remain a mess for a day of two after being stuck with a needle. Although I think as parents, we have more of affect on how our kids handle shots than the needle itself. If we're freakish, they become freakish. It's funny how even when we try not to pass on our fears to our children, we always do. Like I wonder if any of my children will develop a fear of flying. Even though I try not to show my trepidation, I'm sure it shines through none the less. Maybe since Neil looks at a plane ride like a roller coaster, the kids will adopt his perspective and not mine.

Owen is in this stage where everything is a battle, and the whining...oh, the whining. It's more like a defiant moan followed by an uncertain "NO." I know it's a test, a test of boundaries, a test of discipline. What happens when you combine a lack of energy, severe allergies, and a little nausea? That's absence of patience. I'm constantly repeating the word "consistency" to myself, reminding me to be consistent with discipline. If I fail, I will lose the war. And my goal is to win more battles than I lose. Isn't that the goal? We're parents, not perfectionists. Though some parents can be perfectionists. The point is that we can't win every battle. We are human after all, not capable of perfection. And I'm fully convinced that I can't even win one battle with my toddlers without the help of the Lord. I believe he's the one who continuously whispers "consistency" in my ear...what sweet nothings. I just wish he'd whisper "obey your mommy" into Owen's ear.

Oh, and now it's starting with Blake. Want to know what he started with...the dog food bowl. What is it with babies and dog food? Does it really taste that good to them, or am I starving my child to the point where he feels like he needs to eat that to sustain himself? I'll catch him in the act, smack his hand, firmly say NO, and remove him from the area. Do you know what he does? He looks up at me, smiles gently, and then heads back to the scene of the crime. We'll repeat this step several times before I finally give up and simply close the door to the playroom. Speaking of, I'm sitting here typing and Blake has come over to visit. Guess what I find in his mouth? Enough said!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trepidation...that's a good word to describe how I'm feeling right now. Why? Because I'm pregnant with our third child, selling our house, and have no idea what the future really holds. Sure we have a few ideas. Chances are we'll sell our house sometime in the near future and find a new house somewhere in this region. We'll have the baby, maybe a girl, and we'll have three kids. But none of that is certain. The house may not sell, despite all the work we've put into it. Neil may be considered for a job down south, but that feels like a long shot. Have you ever been at one of those times in your life where you feel completely helpless? That's where I am; I have no control, and absolutely no clue as to what is going to happen. We have no choice but the trust in God's perfect plan for our lives. Sounds cliche doesn't it? I know. Dad would have called it trite, but he wasn't much big on trusting in anyone but himself. But it is a cliche. I hear this all the time, "You just have to trust in God." Tell me, what does that look like exactly? Is there a 12 step program for faith? I get the definition, and I know, in theory, what it is, but when it comes to practice, I can't seem to get myself out of the way. It's my human nature to want to be in control, and trusting God means I have to give up my control. But how do I get rid of my human nature? Can I toss it out with the garbage? I could, but I know within minutes, I'd be down at the curb sifting through dirty diapers and chunks of moldy food (which I should be composting) to find it. So this all brings me back to how I can trust God with all these confusing aspects of my life without myself getting in the way? The answer? I don't know. If I knew, I'd have nothing to write about this morning.

As of right now, we have a plan. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps," Prov. 16:9. Sell the house, move, have a baby. That's our plan. Doesn't sound well planned out, does it? There is certainly no certainty in any of that. When will the house sell? And for how much? Where will we move? Will God provide a job for Neil down south just in the nick of time? Or will we move to another area around here? What can we afford? What school district should be in, and how will it affect Neil's commute to work or how commute to church? How close will we be to friends? You know how important that is for me? I don't want to be isolated. Will all this happen before the baby comes, who's due at he beginning of January? Random side note: maybe this baby, hopefully a girl, will be the first to be born in 2009 (Yay, free stuff). And then there is the after the baby stuff? How am I going to handle 3 kids under 4? Seriously, will I even have a life for the next 4-5 years? I've always been so concerned about losing my identity to my kids, but how do you not when there are three kids. There's no way I'd be able to get out of the house everyday with them, and I really like getting out, even if it's just to the gym. I'm so glad I don't have to do this alone. I do have a God who loves me, and was not surprised at all the see that plus sign show up on the pee stick. And I know he'll be with me every step of the way. And yes, there will be a few surprises, but nothing that I can't handle with Him by my side.

Trepidation, yes, a word to describe how I feel at this moment. But as a good friend once told me, "feelings are real, but they're not truth." Thank you Paige Boivin! I know these things will work themselves out over time, and what I think of as the future will soon be the present.

Tomorrow is my first doctor's appointment for the baby. Here's what I'm hoping to find out: there's just one baby, the baby is healthy, and is due at the beginning of January. Blake has his one year check up as well. I'm interested to see where he is with his height and weight. Hopefully he's made it back on the charts, and we can go ahead and turn him around in his car seat. It should be a fairly busy day at the doctor's office. Yay! Not to worry though, Neil will be with me. Man, I love my husband, could never imagine doing all of this alone.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Nasties

This morning I am praying that the events of yesterday culminated from a stomach bug and not from this baby growing in my tummy. I've managed to make it through two pregnancies without getting "sick" in the truest sense of the word. Sure I had nausea and food adversions, but never had to deal with the actual act of throwing up. Yesterday, midday, I began to feel the tightness in my belly and knew it wasn't going to end well. As per usual, I was right :)! What a miserable day. By 11:30 last night, after several pepto bismal pills, I was able to climb into bed and got a good night's sleep. So, now we'll just have to see what today brings. Please, please, please just be a stomach bug. I don't think I can go through that everyday. And let me just say that it wasn't your normal morning sickness where it comes on quickly. It was painful and tight, and I didn't like it one bit. That was a fun story, wasn't it.

Neil is taking the day off today to work on the house. Our objectives for the day are: get the new front door installed, paint the front deck, move the "junk" to the storage unit (that we don't actually have yet), plant the plants and flowers in the front yard.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Assisting in Annoyance

Owen walks over to me and says, "help please," and hands me a coffee can filled to the brim with small toys and the lid. How can I resist a child in need? I rearrange the toys so the lid will fit and quickly hand it back to him. Apparently I'm not too smart before I've had the appropriate amount of coffee or maybe it's a case of pregnancy brain, but as soon as Owen reacquires his treasure, I am regretting my benevolent nature. For what was once a quiet room is now filled with the musings of a small child and his make shift maraca. I am left facing a very important question; why would I assist my child in annoying me? Thankfully two and a half year olds have a very short attention span and he has moved on to tantalizing tasks like collecting every ball from around the house and lining them up by size (OCD much?). Of course he doesn't realize that each of these tasks adds 1-2 minutes onto my "what I have to do before I get out of the house" list. And if I make him clean it all up, 5-6 minutes added easily. Which brings me to a dilemma? Do I selfishly spare myself 3-4 minutes per check box and do it myself, or attempt to teach my son good cleaning habits at such a young age? The correct answer? It depends on the day. Today I have more time to focus on the details and therefore will be singing the "Clean Up" song with Owen while following him around the house in hopes that several toys will make their way to their proper homes. On other days life is more rushed requiring me to get what I can get done in a timely fashion (and their is nothing fashionable about it), and on these days I skip the lesson and hope to get out of the house in one piece. Teaching children valuable lessons is hard work. The word "quick" never enters the equation. Parents who do this well must be naturally patient and detail oriented, because quite frankly, I suck at it. This is probably why Owen is not potty trained yet, because it's just as much work, consistent work for that matter, for me as it is for him. You have to remember to take him to the potty every time he takes a sip of water. I'm lucky if I remember to do it after nap time. It could be too that he fights sitting on the potty. Maybe I don't want to fight with him, and maybe I shouldn't have too, and maybe I'm just making excuses. Who knows? For today, I will fight the battle, teach the lessons, and hopefully help Owen develop a few good habits to counter the bad ones he's already become accustomed to. Tomorrow is a different story. We'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I just lost my blanket and my chair. Owen, politely sitting in the chair next to me, starts to climb up into the recliner with me. Ahhh, how sweet. He wants to sit with Mommy. He says, "blanket mommy, blanket." Since the blanket was wrapped around me, I had to stand up in order to untangle it so we could cuddle up together. I turn around to sit back down only to find Owen already there and placing Big Bear beside him, clearly no room for Mommy. I gave up the blanket to the adorable little monster and his friend then came and sat on the couch. The sacrifices we make as parents.

I hear Blake stirring, which means my post will be extra short this morning. Katy and I are taking the kids up to the Inner Harbour today. We both do mystery shopping, and on occasion we get the Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore. Score! While we're there critiquing this fabulous excuse for a restaurant (who doesn't do kid's menus, by the way), we make a day of it by visiting the Aquarium and maybe the Children's Science Museum. Katy has memberships at both so I get to go as her guest for free. What a fun free day, except for the million dollars in gas to get up there, but still. I'm sure I'll have a few stories to tell when I get back, so in the interest of your time, I'll be going to get monster #2 out of bed and start the day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Linky No Worky

I don't know why everyone elses computers are so whack. It works fine when I click the link to the house listing. Either way, I've added the link to my "Links to No Where or Somewhere." If it still doesn't work then I blame it on the dark forces of the world who don't want me to sell my house (most of which are family who happen to live south of 12 hours south of here).

Tonight, my realtor (who is awesome might I add) went to Lowes with me to pick out landscaping stuff to create better curb appeal, and we did it for a little over $100. Sweet! It already looks better and they're just sitting in their pots waiting to be planted. Hopefully I'll muster up the courage to "dig in" and get dirty later this week. I can do haunted houses, easily. They don't scare me at all, but gardening? Well that will send me into a tailspin for weeks. I have a black thumb, and plants know it. They see me walking down the aisle and they pretend to look dead so I won't pick them. I'm not even exagerating. They hate me. Maybe I don't have a black thumb after all. Maybe they commit suicide. Let's just hope I can keep these plants alive until we sell the house.

Just as an update on the fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. We raised just over $200. Great job. Thank you to all of you who placed orders. I'll be posting some items for sale later this week. After two and a half years with The Pampered Chef, I've decided to move on and focus on being a mom and pursuing writing. I may stay active for the discounts, but I will no longer do cooking shows. Be on the lookout for discounted merchandise in the next few days. I'll offer it here before I put it on ebay.
My lack of motivation, and energy for that matter, is a thorn in the side of "Operation Sell Home." I do have a good excuse though. Last night, more like this morning, Blake wakes up crying. Being the good mom I am, I decided to let him cry it out, only he doesn't stop. This was at 2:00. I finally got him to go back to sleep around 4:30ish, after a series of HGTV shows, a shot of motrin, and a snot filled blankie. Then when I go to lay down, I can't sleep. My mind starts filling up with all the things I need to do today. I believe I drifted off shortly before 5:00. Neil kindly woke me up before he left at 7:00 to tell me Owen was awake. Forty five minutes later, I heard footsteps on the stairs. Owen's head peeked around the corner and dissapears. I jumped out of bed and flew to the door just in time to see Owen climbing up into Blake's bed. Okay, I guess I'm up now, foggy head and all. Now it's not the items in my head reminding of my tasklist for the day, it's everything I see around me. Suddenly I feel like crawling in a hole and pretending the outside world doesn't exist. Don't worry, I'd take the kids with me and just make sure there are plenty of snacks and a few Blue's Clues videos. We'd be set.

Being that this isn't an option, I made breakfast for the boys, a grand one consisting of off-brand Lucky Charms and juice, and a cup of coffee for myself. Then I thought writing would help clear my head, so I put on Super Why for the boys (great show by the way), and got started. I'm actually starting to feel motivation seeping into my veins. It's more likely the caffeine, but I'll call it what I like.

Switching gears to something entirely unrelated to selling homes or sleepless nights. I went to visit Jo this weekend in Philly. She just had a beautiful baby girl, Evie, and I went to do what I do best...hang out. I would have liked to have been more helpful, but Jo is unlike most women I know postpartum (well at least me), she's still capable of multitasking. It was a good visit, and I realize how much I miss spending time with her. As I was getting ready to leave, Jo brought down some maternity clothes she'd borrowed, which is good cause I'll be needing them soon. She told me that she was returning a book I'd given her because she found an inscription on the inside cover from my dad. That's weird. I only remember having two books inscribed by Dad, Scary Stories and More Scary Stories, and I didn't give either of those to Jo. When I pulled out the book, an antique doll book, and opened the cover, sure enough, it was from Dad. I'd know his signature anywhere. Dated 11-15-87, it was shortly after Mom and Dad told us they were getting a divorce. I wonder if it was some sort of peace offering, a way of telling me that it wasn't about me. Clearly it was a very special moment in my life since I have no recollection of it. Isn't that weird? Why would I remember the Scary Story books and not this one; maybe because it's so girly, or maybe because I knew it was wrapped in guilt. Either way, I'm glad I have it now. However it made the drive home a little teary. I've actually been thinking about Dad a lot lately. Becca told me yesterday that she keeps wanting to call Dad to tell him she's moved. I get that. I've been there several times. I'm thinking that the shock value has worn off and reality is setting in. Jo put it well when she said that most days are pretty normal, especially since I'm so far removed from him anyways, but on the days that he'd normally be a part of, that's when it gets rough. The funny thing is that when I saw his signature in the book, a flood of memories came rushing back to me...from when I was a child. That's good because maybe it will help me remember him before the sickness. Someone told me while I was sitting in the hospital that I wouldn't remember my dad like that, but so far, I'm still haunted by his face just after he died; a face I don't recognize. I can't wait to get to the point where I think of him and remember my dad, not the cancer.

Off to put my house back together again.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The House Listing

Click Here

This is the link to our house! You can click on the camera to see pictures. Let me know what you think! Hope it sells quick!

Update: I was having issues with the link before...try it now!

"Operation Sell Home" Has Begun

Our house goes on the market today, huge step of faith for us. I know I haven't been very good at updating my blog lately, but I do have a good excuse. Ready for this? I'm 7 weeks pregnant, have 2 very active boys, just turned 30, and am trying to get a house ready to sell. Good enough for you? But I am going to try and write at least every other day. It's so freeing for me. I find that the longer I go without blogging, the harder it is to find something to write about. There is just too much information. Even now, even with a clear topic, my mind is swarming with a variety of interesting topics to fill this space. Maybe I'll do two posts in one day to make up for lost time.

Remember my excuse (from two sentences ago)? Well there is something seriously wrong with that sentence. Who puts their house on the market when their pregnant and have two toddlers? Crazy people, that's who. The more I think about it the more I am convinced I should be institutionalized. But what's the alternative? Doing it when I have an infant and two toddlers. I believe we're picking the lesser of the two evils.

It's not the stress that gets to me. I've done stress lately and survived. It's the cleaning. If you're a mom, you get this. It's hard enough to keep your house from becoming a bottomless pit of clutter, much less creating a perpetual illusion of neat and tidy. The upside? Maybe I'll develop good habits of picking up after myself and the children. Instead of managing chaos, maybe I can learn to create a clutter free utopia. Who am I kidding? I still have two toddlers and a baby on the way. I will always be managing chaos, but I might just be able to turn it into organized chaos.

My friend and realtor (whom I highly recommend) Stephanie is coming over this morning to help me figure out what plants to put in the front to add to our curb appeal. Considering I manage to kill any plant I try to keep alive, I don't have a clue where to start. I'm glad keeping plants alive isn't a prerequisite for child bearing. Last night, Katy helped me paint a few walls. I love this concept: will work for food. I cook and people help me paint. It's fabulous, except when the two cans of the SAME color paint aren't a true match. There is nothing worse than to finish a project and feel so satisfied, only to find that you have to repaint an entire wall because the tints are a little off. I did not go to bed a happy camper. What if someone comes to see the house today? I guess I know how I'll be spending my evening.

Getting a house ready to sell is ridiculous. Isn't it funny how much time, energy and money you put into something you're getting rid of? We're finally completing our "list" and we're not even going to stick around to enjoy it (hopefully). I've been begging Neil for years to let me change out the brass ceiling fans in the living room and what used to be our bedroom? Now that we're selling the house, he jumps on board my bandwagon. Go figure.

Oh and the many toys. You want people to know your home is child friendly, but you can't just leave toys lying around for potential buyers to trip over. So you try to contain them, keep them organized and contained to two rooms. But you have two toddlers who love dragging their toys around to various rooms, hiding them in closets, throwing them down the stairs, dunking them in the dog's water bowl. Just when I think I have them all picked up, Owen has a bat, a ball, and small Diego figurine ready to play baseball. Before I know it, Diego is flying through the air, followed by the ball, and the bat. Of course I have Owen pick up his own messes as much as I can, but he's a boy with a very short attention span. It's actually amazing how quickly he can transition. He puts the bat into the drawer with one hand, and overturns the bucket-o-blocks with his other. It's a vicious cycle.

For now, I am managing the chaos. My plan is to get the kids ready to go to the gym, put them in the car, and then do a quick 30 second run through to get up all the clutter. Don't judge me, and I won't judge you. Let's just hope, for our sanity's sake, that the house sells quickly and for a fair price, so we can move on and move in to a new house in a new neighborhood in a better school district. Your prayers are appreciated.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Feeling IT

What a crazy few days, and I mean crazy. Saturday was my 30th birthday, and thank you to my wonderful hubby Neil, my SWF Clare, and my soon to be next door neighbor Katy for making the day super fun and not at all depressing. A while back I threatened my dear hubby within an inch of his life to make a big deal out of my 30th. He then was smart enough to enlist the help of two of my closest friends. While Clare whisked me away for a day of manis & pedis, Katy, Wes , and Neil turned my house into a party palace of black and purple. If you ask me, Clare got the better end of that deal.

Funny side note: I sort of knew what was going on. Clare & Katy are bad liars (which isn't a bad trait). Anyways, Mom and Becca surprised me with a dozen pink roses & chocolates (okay, that wasn't a surprise either, but that's because Becca called me every five seconds claiming she was bored. Really, she was seeing if FedEx had delivered the flowers yet.) Such a sweet gesture, and totally not predictable. Since Clare and I were on our way out for lunch when Fed Ex arrived, I didn't have time to put the flowers in a vase. Actually we left about 30 seconds before Mr. FedEx got there, so we had to come back, but that's not the point. All day I was tempted to call Katy and say, "Hey, How ya doing?"

Katy-"Good. Are you having fun with Clare?"

Birthday Girl-"Absolutely! Where you at?"

Katy-"Oh, we're on our way to my mom's."

Birthday Girl-"Sounds fun. Hey, can you put my flowers in water?"

Ha ha ha! Still makes me laugh. Aren't I stupid to laugh at my own jokes? Anyways, I didn't do that because I didn't want to let on that I knew. Why ruin the fun for them? It was really fun to pull up in the driveway and see my friends standing out on the porch. It was a Day-O-Hillary, my favorite kind of day.

Poor Neil got a doozy though, a whole Weekend-O-Hillary given that Sunday was Mother's Day. He did good though, taking me out to breakfast, then taking care of the kid's all day so I didn't have to do anything (including poopy diapers). You know what would have made my Mother's Day more enjoyable? Not being pregnant. I was just so tired; All I wanted to do was nothing. I didn't even enjoy going to grocery store, which is entirely unlike me. Katy, Wes, and Jerry came over after church, which was fun. Katy & I made cookies (okay, Katy did) and looked for houses online, while the boys played darts and drank beer. You'd think they would get tired of that game, but nope. When they left, I sat in the cozy, ugly recliner to watch a show and drifted off to sleep. Last night, I couldn't even stay up past 9ish. Even Neil was shocked to come down and find me asleep (and not playing Sudoku.) So I'm feeling IT. I'm just not sure what IT is. Is it the pregnancy fatigue I've come to love, or the fact that I'm 30 and getting up there in age? It's probably just the pregnancy, but I find it a bit too coincidental that it comes the day after I turn 30. It could be worse though, I could be puking every 30 minutes. Luckily, I've been through 2 pregnancies and never had that problem. If this is a girl though (fingers crossed), I could be in for a treat.

If you made it this far in my rambling, I'd like to give an update on the Pampered Chef fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. So far, I've collected just over $200 in orders, a little shy of my $2000 goal. If you were thinking of placing an order, please do so soon. I'm planning on closing out the show on the 15th. I've heard from several people that they are planning on ordering, but haven't yet. There is still time to hit the goal, so tell your friends. You can even combine a few small orders into one large one to save on shipping. This is most likely my last month as a full time consultant, and I'd like to go out with a bang. And by bang I mean one that "kick...cancer's arse." Those are my dad's words, not mine.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The BIG 30!

Remember when 30 seemed old? When I was 18, 12 short years ago, thirty seemed a million miles away. People who were 30 were married and had kids. They had real jobs and responsibilities, 4-letter words to a kids just graduating high school. Yep, I remember when 30 seemed old. Wait a still does, and I'm only one day away from it. I'm married, and have been for nearly 7 years. I have kids, two of them and one of the way. Neil has a real job and we both have responsibilities, like keeping the kids alive. It's like all of a sudden I woke up, and I'm a grown up. I don't feel like a grown up. In fact sometimes I don't "feel" old enough to be a wife and a mom. I was shocked with the doctor's let me leave the hospital with Owen. You mean they're not going to test my knowledge on parenting or check in on me in a few days to make sure I'm not shaking the baby? Inside I still feel like that kid preparing to go off to college and discover herself, her whole life waiting. But I'm starting to realize that life doesn't end at 30. There's nothing to say that who I am now is who I have to be for the rest of my life. Don't worry, no mid-life crisis here. Mainly because it's not anywhere close to mid-life (or hopefully not). I guess my dad probably didn't think 30 would be mid-life for him either. That's too weird to think about, so I'll move on.

This has been one heck of a 30th year. I kicked it off with the birth of my son Blake on the 23rd of May. That's really not true. I spent my actual birthday with my husband and my mom doing EVERYTHING I could think of to get Blake out of me (you know, since my mom was here and all.) Then I restarted my business with the Pampered Chef, and held strong through March (when I left to go to Georgia). Wow, it's amazing how I can't remember much between May and March 23. There was our 6th anniversary and Owen's 2nd birthday...oh, and Neil turned 30 as well (all in August might I add). Right after the Summer, we started working on Grace Adventures Day Camp, a new camp at our church. It didn't actually get a name until after the Christian Camping and Conference Association conference in San Diego in November (first time in San Diego and I got to see my friend Jen too). Let's see, what else? We decided to sell our house and buy another house in Maryland...and started working to that end (sort of). And then Dad got digressed, barely surviving the C-Diff. And you know the rest of the story. A day or two after he died, this third child (prayerfully a girl) was conceived.

Mom said last night, "It's a good thing we don't believe in reincarnation." That's just what I need my dad running around disguised as my child. It gives me the creeps just thinking about it. Not that I wouldn't love to see my dad again, but yikes. Can you imagine me trying to discipline him?

Yes, it's been a big year for me, and not all great. No one is supposed to lose their dad at 30, but then again, I suppose there are many out there who didn't even get that. I know I keep going back to this, but my sister Alex is only 18 (almost 19). I try to put myself in her shoes, to think of what it would have been like to lose him back then. First of all, it would have been hard for a multitude of different reasons. It was when I was 18 that I became a Christian, and one of the first things I prayed for was the ability to forgive my dad. He was coming to Milledgeville to speak to my literature class, and the night before, I stayed up all night long writing him a letter. It might seem cowardly to you, but if you knew my dad, you'd know how difficult even that was. It was long, and I honestly can't remember what I said, but once I gave it to him, something in me changed. The bitterness began to melt away, the anger subside. I was free. From that point on, I made every effort to regain a relationship with him, and I did. So in the midst of all that, I can't say what it would have been like to lose him then, with so much baggage unpacked, so much unforgiven. But I know I would have carried those suitcases around with me, filled with regret, anger, and a couple pairs of socks. I'm so thankful for the 12 years I had with him as an adult, and especially the last few weeks of his life where I had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I probably miss him more now because of all that, and I can't believe that he won't be making his annual birthday call to me tomorrow.

Okay birthday's are suppose to be fun and uplifting (at least until you hit 40), and I'm sitting here depressing myself. Could be the hormones from the pregnancy or just the fact that I miss my dad. Either way, I shouldn't be sitting here, listening to the rain fall outside, typing through my own storm of tears, getting ready to start my ever so busy day.

I can believe I'm turning the BIG 30 tomorrow.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pregnancy=Writer's Block?

You'd think that this week, of all weeks, I would have a ton to write about; the baby in my belly, the fact that I'm turning 30, the boys tugging at my last shred of patience. But when I sit down to write, I can't seem to formulate a complete thought. Maybe it's that I have so much to write about, so many thoughts and emotions running through my head, too many to make sense of, much less organize. Here I go again, I'm at a loss for what to say. Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that I have to swat Blake's hand away every two seconds, since he's trying to type a little something himself.

This time last year I was walking 2-4 miles a day with my mom trying desperately to get a child out of my belly, and now I'm going to do it all over again? I haven't even been "not pregnant" for a full year. Overwhelmed! That is how I feel today. Shock is wearing off, and panic is starting to set in. How am I going to handle 3 kids under 3 1/2? That's crazy, right? I can tell you all think so, because everyone gives the same reaction; jaw drops, face scrunches, and you say, "congrats?" It's certainly not the same reaction I got when I told people I was pregnant the last two times. I get it though. I had the same reaction. "What? Are you kidding me?" But now that it's starting to set in and feel more real, I'm questioning how in the world I'm going to be able to parent 3 children, and parent well. Heck, I'm not even sure I'm doing that well with two kids. Okay, I realize I'm starting to freak out a little and that was not my intention. Not really sure what my intentions were though, since I didn't have anything to say 5 minutes ago.

Do you know what bothers me the most about this? I busted my butt for months to lose the baby weight I gained with Blake (which wasn't much, but I never lost all of it from Owen), to no avail might I add. And now I'm pregnant again, starting out 10 pounds heavier than I did the last time. Now, the silver lining is that after this one I'm done, and I can focus on losing all the weight once and for all. But between now and then, I get to feel frumpy. Although in about four months, I'll be showing and feeling more pregnant and my insecurities sort of float to the back of my mind until after the baby is born. That is one of the perks about being pregnant, a free ride on the weight issue. But the ride comes to an end eventually.

Another thing that bothers me is all the questions this raises. What do we do about the house? Do we move? Will it finally be a girl? Or another boy? How will this affect camp this summer? Will Owen be potty trained by August so he can start pre-school? Will I keep my sanity? What would my dad think?

Let's address the last one first. I think he would have thought we were crazy, but he would have been happy for us in the end. He would have appreciated the irony though. Out of death came new life. But that is also the part that kills me. He'll never even meet this one. He'd seen Owen several times, and met Blake at Thanksgiving. It's bad enough that none of my children will ever remember my dad. Actually, with the exception of my nephews Logan & Ben, I imagine that none of his grandchildren will have that clear of a memory of him. And that saddens me. And Alex, my little sister, misses out the most. She won't have Dad to be at her college graduation, walk her down the aisle at her wedding or meet her children. So even though I'll never forget the circumstances surrounding this conception, it breaks my heart to think that Dad will never meet her (or him).

Will it finally be a girl? Or another boy? I don't know, but I will find out. No surprises here. I really want a girl, and this is my last chance, but boy or girl, this child will be unconditionally loved. Please be a girl!

What about the whole house thing? Neil said to me the other night that he'd like to be in a new house before the baby comes. I assume he was talking about here in Maryland, but if an opportunity came up down South, he would pursue that as well. At this point, it's clear that I don't know what's best for us, so we'll just have to trust in something greater, like God's perfect plan. He already knows where we'll be 9 months from now. We just haven't been clued in yet.

Amazing how I had nothing to say, and yet all these words appear on this page. Maybe an elf came in while I was getting ready for my pilates class and wrote a little something. Or maybe I received a litle inspiration. Who knows?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Sheep in Wolve's Clothing

Yes, I know that it's backwards, but there is a reason, though it may be just a little far fetched. The last month or so has been treacherous on my spirit. Actually, even before I went to Georgia, things had been confusing at best. Should we sell out house and buy another one here? Should Neil pump up his efforts to find a job down south? Should we have another kid or be happy with the two we have? I feel like our lives have been caught in a state of limbo with no solid direction. And then I was gone for a month, doing what I knew I was supposed to be doing, but it certainly didn't help much with the confusion and chaos I call my life's situation. Coming home not only brought an opportunity for a fresh start, it also brought me a transcendent peace. See, if I learned anything from my dad, it was that life is worth living, as short or as long as it may be.

Why does everything have to be decided today? God has a plan for my life, a good and wonderful plan, and I think it's about time I start trusting Him with that plan. Neil has a great job and there's no real urgency to move (here or there). Sure, I want to be closer to family, but like I've said hundreds of times before, I can't provide a job for Neil. Though the idea of me showing up at some company begging the CEO to consider my husband for a job does sound exhilarating, it may be just on the other side of sanity. All that said, I'm still not to the sheep yet.

Yesterday my friend, Katy, called to tell me that she's pregnant. Of course I'm happy for her, as they were trying to conceive their second child. Last night, she and her husband came over for a game night (which consisted of the guys shooting darts and Katy and I walking the kids around the neighborhood, but that's besides the point). Anyways, Katy gave me an extra test she obviously didn't need anymore. Jokingly I peed on the stick, and sat there in utter shock as the plus sign appeared on the results window. For those of you who don't know what a plus sign means on a pregnancy means I'm pregnant. A few seconds later, I just started laughing. What else was there to do? I didn't stop for 20 or 30 minutes. I staggered up the stairs and just handed the test to Katy, whose jaw hit the floor (though I could tell she was ecstatic to have someone to be pregnant with). I then proceeded to hand the test to Neil along with "I was just joking around and..." He looked at the test, shrugged, and returned to his darts game. Later, i found out that he's okay with the whole situation. Personally, I think he would have been happy if I'd gotten pregnant a few days after leaving the hospital with Blake. Neither of us are fans of the infant stage, and want the kids to be close together so we can just get through it already.

My reaction? Still in shock. To think a few weeks ago I was debating even having another child. If it weren't for the fact that I wanted a girl, I probably wouldn't have considered it. Of course Neil did tell me when we got married that he doesn't produce female. So I can only hope, and this is my last chance. After this, Neil is getting himself fixed...with my blessing of course.

You'd think that this news would kick up the dust of uncertainty in my life, but oddly, I feel at peace. It's all going to be okay, crazy, but okay.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

There is Such a Thing as Too Clean!

Staying Busy? That is my response to anyone who asks how I'm doing, and it's true. I'm staying busy. Almost every night is filled with engagements, friendly dinners, or a camp related meeting or event. It might be an excuse, but for now, it's mine. The last few days, in particular, have been centered around Grace Adventures Day Camp (the camp we're starting at my church). Yesterday camp and the church's children's ministry sponsored a Family Fun Day...a first for Grace Community Church. More than 400 people came to play on our beach (or volleyball sand pit), toss water balloons, kick soccer balls, bounce on the moon, eat hot dogs, and pet cattle (unexpected surprise as the church's neighbors have a dairy farm and the cows decided to come see what all the fuss was about.) It was a great day, except for the fact that the boys and I all ended up sunburned (yes, I am a stupid mom for not dousing my boys in sunscreen). I'd just like to give a shout out to Wes & Katy who took it upon themselves to watch the boys during the event, thus allowing me to focus on important tasks like helping little ones up onto the moon bounce and replenishing bags of chips. They ended up coming back to the house with us (Neil went kayaking and missed all the fun) for chinese takeout and cheap box wine.

So anyways, Friday night, I thought it might be a good idea to wash my jeans (since I'd been wearing them for a week straight). Thanks to my four weeks of no exercise, they are the only ones that comfortably fit me. When I went to put the clothes in the dryer Saturday morning, I found a little surprise in the cell phone. Yes, I washed my cell phone. You don't know true panic until you wash your cell phone the morning of a huge event. Literally, I'm thinking in my mind how I'm going to get to the T-Mobile store to get a new phone without interfering in the million tasks of my day. Luckily, I remembered that I still had my old phone in a box under the desk. Normally I sell them on ebay, but just had too much going on recently. So I plugged in my old phone to charge it up and went on about my business. Of course I lost about 50 numbers, so if you don't hear from me in a while, it's not because I don't love you, it's because I'm a loser who washed her phone. Who does that anyways? Except for my pastor, T.J., who did the same thing...only someone gave him an Iphone when he did it. Lucky Duck!

Although this may turn out to be a good thing. Why? Because I've been wanting a PDA, and since I'm not eligible for an upgrade on a phone until 2010 (cause I just got my waterlogged phone two months ago), I just bought a Palm PDA on ebay for super cheap. Now, since I'm now in the market for a new phone, maybe I could just kill two birds with one stone and get one of them combo phones. Huge step up for me, by the way. I normally only use my phone to talk. I don't even know how to text (which cost me .15 every time someone texts me, so please don't). Then I can resell the super cheap Palm on ebay for at least what I paid for it.

So I've been staying busy, but when the busyness stops, my mind returns to Augusta and my dad. Friday night, I was sitting on a bench outside the church waiting for Neil. Since I don't like to just sit and do nothing, I opened my phone and started scrolling through the phonebook looking for someone to call. It wasn't long before I saw Dad's number. For a split second, I thought I'd call Dad for a quick chat. Then I remembered...and tears welled up in my eyes and that all familiar lump began to form in the back of my throat. I tried to delete the number, but I couldn't. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Instead I sat on the bench and cried; a good cry; a needed cry. I miss my dad, and I still can't seem to grasp the fact that he's gone. I was there and still can't wrap my brain around it. I can't imagine what it's like for my sisters and brother who weren't there; is it just as surreal for them?

I think we're all staying busy, Rebecca, Alex, Richie, Sherry, myself...because the busyness allows us to climb up out of the sadness and live our lives. I've never been so happy to have a long, unaccomplishable to-do list before in my life. It's a distraction from my heart ache and I welcome least for now.

I'll be sending out evites today or tomorrow for a Pampered Chef catalog show in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society in Dad's memory (including my commission). If you'd like to receive an evite and I don't have your email addy, just let me know. My email is! Thanks!