Just a ‘hello’

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So let’s talk blogging…

love blogging.  From the creative writing, to the honest soul-searching, to the staying in touch with all of you, blogging has been an important part of my life for many years now.  🙂  I’m just realizing that this phase of my life gives me very little free time, and – more and more often – I’m finding myself unplugging during those moments that I do have to myself.

I’m finding that life is more fulfilling if you don’t spend it in front of a laptop, television, or phone.  It’s more real.  It’s more relaxed and refreshing.  So all that to say, I might not be blogging regularly, but I will be blogging.

I’ll be writing whenever the urge hits (and whenever I have something fun – or funny – to share).  Let’s face it, the mom life is never dull, and I always have a story to share.  ;)  AND fall fashion, food, and festivities are arriving, which always makes for pretty pictures.  But at the same time, I’ll be unplugging a lot too and making time to cuddle on the couch with a good book.

So thank you to all of you who have remained faithful, even if my posts aren’t daily like they used to be!  I’m still here.  :)

 

 

Girl’s Trip to Vermont (Part 2)

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Sleeping without interruption – and waking on my own – was the best gift anyone could have given me. I know that this doesn’t need any explanation for you moms…  ;)  Sleep is precious and priceless and fleeting.  To stretch myself awake and realize that I could just lie there in bed for hours should I chose to was a little piece of heaven on earth.

And honestly, this was all thanks to my sister Sarah.  I couldn’t have afforded a vacation getaway to such a lovely place this year…  In fact, I had told her that we should plan our trip to Vermont for five years from now!  Ha!  But she responded by booking us a two-night stay and a manicure and pedicure.

All I had to pay for was the meals.

Yeah, my sister is pretty incredible like that.

She and I woke up to this view outside our window…  Sunbeams exploding through the mist hovering over the lake.  It was one of those views that make you pinch yourself, because it’s just too beautiful to be real.

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The gorgeous morning was simply begging us to go for a run.  So we did.  Three miles (and endless hills that really added up more to a small mountain) later, and we had worked up an incredible appetite for the breakfast buffet.  During our run, we saw numerous deer, beautiful horses grazing in fields, cows, and turkeys.

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During the breakfast buffet, we saw scrambled eggs topped with fresh herbs, French toast sprinkled with powdered sugar, perfectly-seasoned potato wedges, crispy bacon and sausage, fresh fruit, bagels, cereal, and – obviously – coffee.

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We had planned on eating cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, but the eggs won in the end.  (Even a piece of bacon mysteriously found its way onto my plate).

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After breakfast, we decided to try our hands at paddle-boarding.  This has been on my bucket list for pretty much forever, so I was beyond excited to try.  In my head, I had this vision of me standing on the board like a pro and paddling my way around the lake with ease.  (I’m pretty athletic and these types of things do generally come easy to me).SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Not paddle-boarding though.  I’m pretty sure Sarah got the hang of it WAY before I did.  In fact, I’m not all that sure I ever really did get the hang of it.  (I have video proof that I’m sure will – at some point – find its way onto my blog to show you all just how un-flattering my paddle-board skills were).  ;)

But still, it was a blast.  

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We decided to go kayaking afterward though, and that is something I’m good at.  :)  (I own my own kayak but hadn’t gone in years.  Getting out there on the lake and finding my paddling stride?  It reminded me of why I had loved it so much)!

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Our next meal was the picnic lunch option, which we should have split.  The sandwiches were literally the size of my head…  And oh – my – gosh, were they amazing!  I don’t know what I had imagined, but definitely not what we ended up with.  These weren’t deli sandwiches slapped onto Wonder bread, if you know what I mean.

Thick pieces of grilled chicken breast, fresh veggies, chilled mayo, crispy bread.  (My mouth is watering right now at the thought of it).

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(If I ever went back, I’d bring my own bag of chips and then just split the sandwich with someone!  I only could eat half).  :)

The remainder of the day consisted of swimming in the pool, lounging in the hot tub, and coloring.

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(I just recently jumped onto the adult coloring book band-wagon, and I have to say that it’s SO fun, especially when you’re on vacation).

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Our seats for dinner that night were just as perfect as they had been the night before.  We overlooked the lake and rolling hills, while waiting for our food.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Sarah and I both ordered the Pad Thai, and – oh my goodness – it was perfection!  A tantalizing blend of sweet and spicy, rice noodles, veggies, cashews, and grilled shrimp.  I’m going to dream of that Pad Thai for the rest of my life.  ;)

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This entire trip was perfect from start to finish… from the leisurely activities, to the delicious food, to the beautiful surroundings, to the amazing company.

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And although I was excited to come home and see my tater tot and hubby, I soooooo enjoyed my time away!  I came back as refreshed and rejuvenated as I had hoped.  Thank you, Sarah, for another amazing sister’s getaway.  :)

It was AWESOME!

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Girl’s Trip to Vermont (Part 1)

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The last girl’s trip that my sister and I did was to New York City, and it was every bit as magical as I had expected it to be.  Skyscrapers…  Tantalizing smells around every corner…  Horns beeping, lights flashing, radio’s blaring…  And an air of romance and nostalgia, even though I had never before been.

This past trip was about as apposite of that as you can get but just as memorable.

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The Mountaintop Inn and Resort – located in Chittenden, Vermont – feels almost like the middle of nowhere (but in a good way).  Trees for as far as the eye can see…  Horses… Farmland… A beautiful lake…  Extremely limited cell phone reception.

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It’s a perfect blend of rustic and pampering, especially for those who love the outdoors.

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When Sarah and I first arrived, we were too early to check into our rooms; so we spread out the lunch we had packed and enjoyed a picnic on the green.  One of the first things we noticed was the quiet…  No traffic.  No radio’s and cell phones…  There really weren’t even any voices.  Just the wind rustling through the trees, the occasional horse snickering, and birds.

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Gosh, that was nice!  The entire purpose of the trip had been to unplug and unwind.  I’m a mom who never has a free moment. Sarah is a busy career-woman.  Our ultimate hope for the trip had been to leave feeling refreshed, and – even from the beginning – we could tell that our wish was coming true.

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After lunch, we had a bit of time to kill before our spa appointments, so we decided to lounge by the pool (which just so happened to be completely empty).  Yeah, it was sooooo stressful to just lie there on cushions with the pool before us and the mountains in the distance.  ;)

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The mani’s and pedi’s were such an incredible, pampering way to start our girl’s weekend away!  It was my first-ever manicure, and I have to say that it was absolutely amazing.   (Yes, you read that right…  First-ever manicure.  That was a fun item to check off my must-do list)!  :)   

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With our nails done and looking oh-so-pretty, we checked into our rooms and decided to walk around the grounds and work up an appetite before dinner.

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Honestly, we didn’t need to work up an appetite though.  You all know that Sarah and I are foodies, and that the highlight of any trip for us is the food.  I’ve eaten at some pretty amazing restaurants in my day, but I’m fairly certain that the restaurant on site served some of the best food I have ever eaten.

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We started off the meal with Truffle Fries, which were THE most indulgent, delicious fries I have ever eaten. They were hot, crispy, and perfectly seasoned with salt and fresh Parmesan cheese.  When dipped in the chive sour cream?  Oh…my…goodness!

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My sandwich choice, as we ordered off the Tavern menu, was the Teriyaki chicken sandwich… served on a potato roll with fresh pineapple and smoked Gouda.  So fresh and delicious!  (Honestly, isn’t this how restaurant food should be?  I hate it when I order something and then think, “Eh, I could make this – or better – at home.”  I was floored by how good the food was)!

And the view during dinner?!?  You can’t get better than that prime, outdoor  seating…

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After dinner, we soaked our toes in the hot tub before retiring to our room and reading.  I guess for most people, they go to sleep and dream of the next day of their vacation.  But I’m a mom…  So I dreamed of bed and got my wish.  It was a quiet night’s sleep without having to keep one eye and one ear open.  :)

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It was just what I needed!  And when I woke up refreshed the next morning, I had an entire day of fun ahead of me!

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Hashtags (2)

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Just a bit ago, Brady started to call me ‘Mamma’ for the first time…

He was perfectly capable of saying it all along, as ‘Mamma’ was one of his very first words.  But he decided, from the beginning, that I was ‘Dadda’.  He said my name that one time and then decided to go months before saying it again.  I didn’t think it was a big deal until that first time he looked up at me with big eyes, snuggled up close to me, and said, ‘Mamma.”

#myheartismelting

And my heart still melts every…single… time.  Hundreds of times a day.  All day…  Sometimes at 1am.  But even if he calls out for me maybe 20 times too often, I still love hearing my name on his lips.  It’s precious!  (And maybe sometimes a bit maddening…  But the preciousness always outweighs the insanity).

Except for on ‘those days’…  There are always ‘those days’ during which I’ve just had enough, and I have to send the hubby and toddler to the store for creamer.  Or paper towels.  Or play-doh, because we’re obviously having a play-doh emergency that needs to be resolved immediately.  Basically anything to get them out of the house, so that I can sit down in peace for 15 minutes.

I do have Brady trained pretty well though.  He calls out “Dadda” whenever he makes a poopy diaper!  LOL!

#genius

Making time for myself definitely took on a bit of a priority this past summer, because I realized that -sometimes – I need it.  I’m not talking, “Oh, it would be nice to have a bit of time for myself” type situations.  I’m talking, “People will get hurt if I don’t have ten minutes to breathe.”

(Have you seen the Tshirts that say, “I bake, because punching people is frowned upon?”  My Tshirt would say, “I have mommy time, because we can’t afford to lock me up if I go crazy).  :).  I just need it sometimes.  Gone are the days when I felt guilty about scheduling it.  I realize now that it’s a healthy part of my functioning as a good mom and wife.

So much so that Nate sometimes senses my exhaustion (#crabbiness) and schedules mommy time for me!  Ha!  But he gets it.  If I have time to myself (OR time with a close friend), I come back recharged and much more patient.

So he was ALL in favor of me going away for a couple of nights with my sister, when she suggested that we enjoy a girl’s getaway.  It’s something that Sarah and I have done annually, although it’s the first time doing it since Brady was born.  Yes, this will be the first time that I leave my baby boy behind for more than 7 hours…

As you read this, I’ll actually be driving home; but as I write this, I’m packing to leave my guys for those two nights.  My sister and I are headed out on our trip to Vermont, and I couldn’t be MORE excited.  And MORE devastated.  ;)

#homesickalready

My heart literally hurts at the thought of leaving my little guy behind for two nights.  But at the same time, I know that I’ll come home rested and refreshed.  I SO need this!  And I know it’s going to be FUN and pampering!!

But, wow, hearing ‘Mamma’ is going to be pretty amazing after having gone without hearing it for so long!

#happiness

August 2016 Ipsy Bag

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I did it!  I took the plunge and ordered a year’s subscription to Ipsy.  :)  (If you’re not familiar with Ipsy, it’s a subscription that sends you a makeup bag once a month with five sample – or sometimes full-sized – products to try).

I used to love trying new products, but that doesn’t really fit into my mommy budget these days.  But $10 a month is definitely doable for such a fun, pampering treat.

I was SO excited when my first Ipsy bag arrived last week, and it made me realize that this is definitely going to be worth it!!

Here are the items I received in my bag AND a review of how I liked them!

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NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator

This is the one product that I was most nervous about receiving, because I’ve never used any form of highlighter on my face.  I’m very simple when it comes to makeup, and an illuminator seemed a bit advanced for me.  (I’m still in makeup gradeschool, so to speak).  ;)  But I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use (thanks to the Ipsy instructional videos).  It added a subtle shimmer to my cheekbone, and I thought it really did give me a nice glow.

It’s only about $7 at Target, so it was great to discover this product!  Love it!

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Beau Gachis Paris Pro Series Applicator Sponge

I haven’t tried this yet, because I use powder foundation and concealer.  BUT I’ve always wanted to try one of these applicators and have been thinking about switching back to a liquid foundation.  So I can’t wait to try it soon!

Definitely excited that it was in my bag.

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Nomad Cosmetics Intense Eyeshadow in Spice Market

I liked how this eyeshadow was applied, and the color was rich.  But I’m not a personal fan of this color on me.   But I think I’ll use it in combination with other colors to create an evening look for special occasions.  :)

It’ll be nice around the holidays!

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Marc Anthony True Professional Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Deep Hydrating Treatment

I’ve always wanted to try Argan Oil, because it’s supposed to be great for reducing frizz in curly hair.  I’m generally not a fan of Marc Anthony products, but I think this is one of my favorites that they have.  I felt that it did help with my frizz a bit.  That being said, I’ll probably continue to try other Argan oils, because I didn’t feel that the difference was noticeable enough for me to actually buy the product.

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The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Cleansing Gel

This was my FAVORITE product in the Ipsy bag!!  I love that it’s a safe, organic product; and it left my face feeling so soft and smooth.  Now I know why rose oil receives so much attention; it’s amazing!  (I use it in the morning as a light cleanser; and a little bit goes a long way).  At $85 a pop, this is a bit expensive for my budget, but I’m going to make my sample last for as long as I can.  :)

This is a great product for sure!

Thank you, Ipsy, for my awesome bag this month!!

Workout Update…And the Inflatable 5k!

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I’ve come to the realization that my ability (a.k.a. my motivation) to workout is directly related to how much sleep I get.

May was a really good month for me.  I ran at least three days a week, ate ridiculously healthy (short of eating kale), and cut out most of the added sugars from my diet.  (Emphasis on ‘most’.  I can’t live without chocolate… or icecream…. or the occasional caramel iced coffee).

But looking back, it was also a really good month for Brady.  He slept 12 hours a night and then about 2 additional hours during the day.  It was like being on vacation in my own home.  I was SO rested!

And then June hit…

The following 3 months have not been so smooth in the sleeping department.  ;)  (Brady ends up in our bed a lot , pushes his bedtime out as far as possible, and wakes up around 5:30am).  As a result, my energy levels have been down, and the thought of going for a run hasn’t been all that enticing.  Honestly, the thought of going for a run can be kind of hysterical …   And conversations with myself sometimes go something along the lines of, “Hmmm, I could go for a run right now” followed by me throwing my head back and laughing, “Bahahahahahaha!  That’s funny!  Where’s the chocolate?”

That being said, the past few months have not been wasted.  I’ve had a different mindset and so – therefore –  I’ve done SO much better.  I’ve kind of fallen into a “do my best” rhythm, and I’ve seen results (both physically and mentally).  In the past, I would have fallen into the ‘all or nothing’ trap and therefore ‘started again on Monday’ if I had a few rough days.  Now, I see my food and exercise as a lifestyle, and I just do my best.

(And I do push myself to run on the days I don’t want to sometimes…  But I also listen to my body, and if it’s exhausted and aching from lack of sleep, I’ll just decide to go for a walk instead.  Or I’ll chase Brady around a splashplad or playground).  :)

It’s amazing how freeing it is to do your best with each day, as apposed to killing yourself to reach a specific fitness goal.

I have been more committed to a running routine than I have in awhile and usually go a couple of times a week.  I walk a lot.  The meals I prepare are always from scratch and healthy (even if I still could eat dessert less frequently).  ;)  Oh, chocolate, why must you be SO delicious?!?  And although I haven’t necessarily lost a ton of weight, I feel more toned and strong (and I have gone down a pant size).

My sister is so proud of me that she just can’t keep her feet on the ground!  :)

I feel good!  (Now if we could just add some extra sleep to my schedule, I’d feel like Superwoman)!  :)  But still, I feel as though making small, healthier choices has – overall – made me feel even more confident (and healthy) than before.

Last weekend, as part of my just-have-fun-with-working-out lifestyle, I ran a 5k with my sister Sarah.  It was the Insane Inflatable 5k in Cape Cod, and it was a blast!  

All of the obstacles were inflated, which was just downright awesome!!!!  It was also a downright good workout.  ;)

Many of the inflated walls had to be scaled with the help of ropes, so the event was a full-body workout.

 

What…a…blast!

I might not be a personal trainer or a bikini model (which, for the record, sound about as enticing as eating an entire bowl of plain kale.  So, you know, not interested)!  ;)  But I DO feel good!   Scratch that, I feel great.  I feel strong, beautiful, confident, and healthier than I have in a long time.  Sometimes, it’s just about taking it a day at a time!!  :)

 

When a Piece of Your Heart Is In Heaven

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Trigger Warning:  At the end of January, I had written a post about loss, because I felt compelled to write about what I wasn’t yet ready to share.  But I feel as though I’m ready now, if only because writing has always been a part of the healing process for me.  I also know that there are many women who are facing this very same devastation, and I want them to know that they’re not alone.  And although I feel peace and healing, this is my way of moving forward.  It just feels like time to move on… without ever forgetting.  This post deals with miscarriage, however; so if that’s something you’re not ready to read about, please skip this post.


 

I’ve written this blog post many times, only to hit the delete button and erase it all.  I think that I just need to write it.  One time…

Honest…  Real…  Messy.

This time, it’s not about finding the humor or sharing what I’ve learned.  It’s just about being honest and open, letting you see a piece of my heart that was broken earlier this year.  Because time heals, but there are some hurtful moments that shape us forever.  They change the very structure of who we are, because now we’ll see the world through changed eyes.

I don’t want to forget.  I also don’t want to pretend it didn’t happen.  But I am ready to move on and embrace the healing that comes with time.

So here goes…

I had a miscarriage earlier this year.  I had found out – for sure – that I was pregnant on Christmas morning, and it was the best Christmas gift that Nate and I could have been given.  (I’d taken a test around the middle of December, but the line was so faint that I didn’t trust the results and had decided to retake it on the holiday).  We had really wanted this new addition to our family and  to find out – on Christmas Day –  felt like a special present from above just for us.

Like most Type A people, I had my entire pregnancy mapped out by New Year’s.  I’d signed up for the pregnancy apps again, searched for maternity clothes bargains, and found every excuse possible to wander through the baby section of stores.  (Everything looked so tiny and filled me with excitement over bringing another newborn home).

Nate and I imagined Brady playing with his brother or sister.  We talked about how we’d have two little ones the following Christmas.  I mapped out my teaching schedule and began to organize so that the transition to having a toddler and a newborn would be as smooth as we humanly could make it.

When the spotting started, I tried to brush it off.  I’d spotted a little bit when I was pregnant for Brady, so I told myself that this is all it was.  It was just how my body reacted to pregnancy…  My doctor, on the other hand, took it more seriously and scheduled an ultrasound.  The verdict was that the heartbeat was a bit more faint than they would have liked, but maybe I wasn’t as far along as we all thought.

At that point, all I could do was wait.  Every single day was one day closer to the second trimester and an added level of security.  I kept telling myself that I just needed to get through the first trimester and everything would be fine.

But if I’m to be honest, I knew all along that something was wrong.  I had almost known from the very beginning.  Something inside of me just kept warning me that things weren’t right.  Every day I prayed and prayed and prayed for this little life inside of me that I so badly wanted to meet, but – at the same time – I just prepared myself for what might happen.  Although it was light, the bleeding wasn’t stopping.  And that terrified me.

Hearing this song by Hillary Scott (which was written after her own personal miscarriage) so greatly reflects my feelings during that time.  The way I pleaded and trusted God, knowing that I couldn’t control anything.  Just completely trusting that God would bring me and my husband through what was about to happen.

I woke up one morning, late January, and the bleeding was heavy.  I knew.  I called the doctor’s office and calmly told the nurse that I was miscarrying.  Then I hung up the phone and cried.

I’d naively told myself that because I was so early on in the pregnancy, that a miscarriage wouldn’t hurt.  But I’d had an ultrasound.  I’d heard a heartbeat.  I’d planned, and prayed, and fallen in love.

The physical side of the miscarriage was much harder than I had anticipated, and – to only complicate things –  my doctor was on vacation when it happened.  No one told me what to expect, because no one seemed to know who I was supposed to be talking to.  I fell through the cracks, so to speak, and my chart never seemed to be listed with the appropriate information.  So every time I was asked to go back for an appointment, bloodwork, or an ultrasound, the receptionist or nurse greeting me would happily ask, “So are we here to see how much baby has grown today?” or “are we confirming a pregnancy today?”

It happened five times.  Every single time, I’d look at the woman calmly and say, “I’m here to see if I’ve finished miscarrying.”

The cramping was intensely painful.  I was weak from the heavy loss of blood and freaked out that maybe I was losing too much.  Should I go to the emergency room?  Was this normal?  Again, no one was telling me what to expect, and – in the moment – I felt too dazed to ask for answers.  In the end, the process book about two weeks, and it wore on me both physically and emotionally.

The emotional side of the miscarriage hit me a million times harder than I could have believed.  It didn’t matter that I was still in the early stages.  My child had been stolen from me.  I truly believe that I have a baby in heaven waiting for me and that one day, I will hold it, and he or she will know just how much their mama misses them.  But I so wish that I could have held them here on earth.  That I could have told them to their sweet face just how much I loved them.  That I could have watched them grow up.

I never understood the pain that comes with miscarriage until I personally faced it.  I’ve had so many friends go through it, and I tried to be empathetic, but I just didn’t know.  But now I do…  And now I know that it rips your heart out and carries a small piece of it to heaven.  And I know that there is no such thing as moving on completely, because you will always remember and always love the baby you lost.

I love the saying about how our babies are the only ones who know what our heartbeat sounds like from the inside.  And even though my baby was very small, one day he or she will find me in heaven and know me by my heartbeat.  And they’ll know that I loved them even though we were never given the chance to meet.

Society almost frowns on talking about miscarriage, and it’s something that so many of us face in private and alone.  So I write this to reach out to any other woman going through a miscarriage right now.  You’re not alone.  I know your pain.  I promise it gets easier and that you’ll be able to move on.  But you’ll never forget.  And sometimes, little things will happen that remind you of the loss that will always be a part of you.  But you will heal.

I see you.  And so many other women do too.  And although we so desperately wanted to meet our babies, we trust that our Father in heaven (the only one who could love them more than us) is holding them close until we can do so ourselves.  That fills me with hope… joy… and peace.

xoxo  -Nicole

 

 

 

A Beautiful Mess

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I woke up this morning and looked into the sleeping face of my husband.  I then looked into the sleeping face of a curly-haired little boy, a stuffed Elmo… and two fuzzy cats.  Yes, it was a full house.  I had about two inches of space allotted to myself on the Queen-sized bed and had slept with my right arm tucked underneath my body so that it didn’t hang over the edge.  That had resulted in my aforementioned arm falling asleep.

So I just lay there…stuck.

It was almost nice, to be honest.  There were a million things that I had to do, but I had to just lie there until the little guy woke up.  (Leaving him asleep in bed with my husband isn’t the safest of options, since Nate literally can sleep through a fire alarm).  So it was like being forced to sleep in.  (The only thing that would have made things better would have been if my bed were three times bigger, there was blood flowing through my arms so that I could reach out and itch my nose, and if there was a maid service available to bring me coffee and a blueberry muffin).  But all things considered, it was rather nice to be able to just lie there.

Sometimes, when you’re a mom, you just have to count your blessings!

The night before had been a bit rough, because Brady was super clingy and emotional.  He’d fall asleep in my arms, but then wake up crying hysterically whenever I tried to put him down.  I ended up just snuggling in bed with him until he fell asleep, at which point it was 10pm (which resulted in my deciding that I didn’t have the motivation or energy to crawl out of bed and wash makeup off my face).  So needless to say, my plan to blog before bed didn’t happen.  And I woke up with a pale face and dark eyeliner and mascara smudged around my eyes.

Nate opened his eyes at one point and murmured,  “You’re so pretty.”

“Oh, well, that’s good to know,” I said.  “I didn’t realize you were into the gothic look.”

We laughed.  (You know, one of those I-didn’t-get-enough-sleep type laughs that makes tears run down your face, even though the cause for it really wasn’t that funny).  Both cats glared at us in disgust, horrified that we’d be so disruptive this early in the morning.  And Brady sleepily opened an eye before sitting upright and exclaiming, “Hello, Daddy!”  (He still insists on calling us both daddy).

It was time for our day to officially begin…

I was a mess.  I was exhausted.  My arm was asleep.

But I honestly couldn’t have been happier.  Sometimes, there’s nothing like waking up to a bed filled with your loves! (Although I still would have liked that blueberry muffin).

Or a cupcake.  A cupcake will always do!

 

 

Reboot

5

“Sooooo, I know this is super last-minute, but I’m calling to see if we can make going out tonight happen.”

Before my friend Liz had even finished her sentence, I had come up with a million reasons as to why I had to push off a Mom’s night out once again.  The house was a mess…  Brady’s in a clingy stage…  I had cupcakes to decorate for company the following night…  The house was a mess.

No, seriously, the house was a mess.  My neighbor had popped over unexpectedly to drop off fresh veggies; and with slightly widened eyes, she murmured, “Oh my” as she scanned the chaos.  In my defense, I was smack-dab in the middle of decorating cupcakes and feeding Brady.  So there were pots bubbling on the stove, meatballs flying through the air, a puddle of milk on the floor, powdered sugar coating absolutely everything, and dishes overflowing the sink.

I knew I had to say ‘no’, but yet I found my lips unable to form the word.  I really, really needed the night out!!!  I was getting to that point where my nerves were shot, and I needed a reboot.

So we left it at this: I would call her in an hour or two to see if I could get some things done.  If I felt as though I’d finished enough projects, then I’d be able to go out for some fun.  I immediately set out to decorate the cupcakes and settled Brady in his highchair to eat dinner. I made good time and did my best to ignore the fact that Brady had discovered that cooked spaghetti sticks to the wall when thrown hard enough.

But then I took a meatball to the face.  Thwack…sliding down my cheek…oozing down my arm…  lands – splat – on my bare feet.

Brady laughed.  I swallowed the urge to cry from frustration and as-calmly-as-possible said, “No. No, Brady, we don’t throw meatballs at Mamma’s face.  You have to go in time out.”

Oh, wait, he’s covered in spaghetti sauce.  I can’t move him until he’s clean, at which point he’ll have forgotten what he did.  

I reached for my cell phone and dialed.  “Hi, Liz?  Yeah, I’m ready to go just as soon as Nate gets home.”

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned since becoming a mom, it’s that there never really is a convenient time for ‘me-time’.  There’s always something that needs to be done.  Mom guilt will always say, “You need to do more before you take time for yourself.”  You need to get on top of this or that…  You need to have an organized house… You need to get caught up on laundry… (Ha, ha, that’s hilarious).  You need to figure out the complexities of the universe…

Something.  There’s always something.

And this isn’t just for moms.  We women in general tend to run on empty, because there are so many things pulling at us.  And we feel as though we need to be able to juggle it all.  We tell ourselves that we’ll rest once we’re done; but if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that ‘done’ doesn’t exist.

Busyness is just a part of our lives.  But at the same time, just as we’re so good at penciling in appointments and responsibilities into our planners, we need to make sure we set aside time to reboot.  To pour into ourselves.

I really am learning that I am a better mom, wife, and friend when I make time to put aside all the responsibilities once in awhile to just live a little.

Oh goodness, the night out was just what I needed.  Sometimes, it just feels nice to be able to walk without bending over to hold a tugging, chubby hand.  Or to be able to have an actual, adult conversation.  Or to sit and eat dinner without having meatballs thrown at your face.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade the tugging, and the flying meatballs, and the constant singing of Winnie the Pooh for anything in the world.  They all come with being a mom to the cutest little boy who stole my heart forever…  But still, a mom needs me-time every once in awhile that reminds her that she matters too.  That she is actually still a human being.

It’s ridiculously easy to forget that sometimes.

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Liz and I ate dinner at Panera and then found ourselves at Old Navy, where I fell in love with this sundress.  It’s so light, stylish, and the perfect transition piece for fall (since it’ll be really cute with a jean jacket or sweater).

Love, love, LOVE!  I’ve really been into knee-length dresses lately, because they’re nice and cool for the hot days.  AND I don’t have to worry about throwing an outfit together.  They’re more grab-and-go, which is really convenient for a busy mom like me.

Sooooo, yes, I did make the purchase and brought this one home with me.  :)  (I would have brought Liz home with me too, but her little ones would miss her).

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Still, I’m SO glad she called and suggested a mom’s night out, so that I could have fun with her for a few hours.  A few hours was all that I needed to feel calmer, more collected, and rested.

Until next time, Liz.  Until next time!  :)

God Wins!

7

It’s been four years since Nate’s assault, which really just blows my mind.  It feels like a lifetime ago… but somehow it also feels like just yesterday too.  You don’t ever completely put something like that behind you, because it changes you to your very core.  It molds you, shapes you, puts you through fire until you’re burnt… or purified like gold.

But I’m constantly reminded that God can turn ashes into beauty; because the pain, and the fear, and the feeling of ultimate helplessness taught me to trust the only One who controls tomorrow.  I used to struggle with levels of anxiety that just weren’t healthy.  I thought through every worst-case scenario and worried about it until I felt sick.

The journey to find emotional healing after Nate’s assault really taught me to tackle one problem at a time… and to trust the unknown in the hands of a miraculous God.  I remember sitting by Nate’s bedside in the ICU, holding his hand and realizing that we might not have the money to pay for that month’s mortgage.  And for the first time in my life, I completely surrendered a problem into God’s capable hands.  I physically didn’t have the energy or strength to worry about money, because Nate needed my complete attention.  I had to trust that God would take care of what I couldn’t…  So I prayed, asked God to intervene, and left my fears at His feet.

I felt peace after that prayer, and I really did refuse to think about finances for one more moment.

And that very day, someone paid that month’s mortgage… and others donated money to help us with groceries, car payments, gas, etc.  We had so much extra money left over that we were able to pay the mechanic in cash, when our cars both had extremely expensive repairs later that year!  God not only provided for the concerns at hand, but He also provided for a problem that we didn’t even know about yet.

My God is big.  He’s bigger than any situation that this universe can throw at me.  And it’s easy to forget that, because there’s a lot of hurt and pain in this world.  Sometimes, we feel alone.  Sometimes we wonder, where is He?

The thing is that this world isn’t perfect… but God is.  And while heaven will be beautiful and nothing but peace and happiness, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t at work here.  It doesn’t mean that He can’t work in every single situation if we let him.  Even amidst the toughest of situations, He is good.

He is peace.  He is strength.  He is the guidance we need to rise above the circumstance with grace and joy.

Even during those tragic circumstances, He wins.  He brings people together.  He teaches us to trust.  He gives us hope amidst the darkness.  He shows us how to love, to forgive, and to face tomorrow with a solid foundation beneath our feet.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as Nate and I are about to put the legal side of this experience behind us for good.  We’re smack-dab in the middle of paying lawyer fees and signing retirement papers, but Nate is going to officially be retired from the CO position… which means we can finally move on.  It comes with restrictions, because he will only be cleared to work part-time.  And there will be a pay cap for the rest of his life, which isn’t ideal (since he’s only 32, and inflation could potentially hurt us one day).

BUT we’re trusting. And we’re praying about decisions.  And we’re calmly formulating a plan.  (Paying off our mortgage as quickly as possible is the biggest part of the plan, so we’ll be coming up with a pretty tight budget in the near future).

I thought about it this morning and realized that none of this had been in me and Nate’s plans, when we got married and began our life together.  It’s unfamiliar territory.  It’s a little daunting, because it’s so unique of a situation.  (You can’t exactly buy a finance book on how to deal with your future, should you find yourself in this sort of predicament).

BUT God wins.  The Bible doesn’t promise that the road we travel will be easy, but it does promise that we will not walk it alone.  And it doesn’t promise that we will be rich, but it promises that we will be provided for.

Nate and I always have been.  We’ve been provided for, protected, and held.  I truly believe that we always will be.

And that puts a smile on my face, because I can face this particular situation with confidence, hope, and joy.  I’m not scared.  I’m just excited to see how God shows off next!