Friday, September 18, 2015

The Sick Bell

I'm currently laying (Lying? Laying? I didn't pay attention in Grammar class) on the couch at 12:26 in the afternoon. There are tissues stuffed up both of my nostrils. I've got a cough drop tucked in my cheek, and next to me on the coffee table sits my 4th cup of hot tea, a box of Kleenex with lotion, a bag of Ricola throat drops, the TV remote, and about 473 dirty tissues that were all dirtied in the last 22 minutes. To state the obvious, I have a cold.

I. Hate. Being. Sick.

What's worse is that my babies are sick too. It's been a fun 2 days of us all sneezing, snotting, and snoozing together. Lots of Pixar movies and Thomas the Tank Engine have graced the screen of our TV.

Much like my own kids, I want my Momma when I'm sick. When I was sick as a child, my mom would send us to bed to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. (Rabbit trail: I never could quite understand how I was supposed to be sleeping and drinking lots of water at the same time.) She would come tuck me in my bed, kiss my forehead to check for a fever, and give me the sick bell. 

Ah, the sick bell. I loved that thing. It was the only fun part about being sick. It had magical powers to summon the woman that usually did the summoning and then you could ask her to bring you things.... And she would bring them! Unless it was candy, of course. I would lay there (lie there??) trying to think of things to ring the bell for. "Can I watch a movie?", "I'm hungry.", "I need another blanket." 

I don't remember it ever happening, but I imagine the magic sick bell was taken away from me a time or two due to me abusing my power. With great power come great responsibility, eh? 

I'm 25 now and I don't live in my parents house anymore. My mommy doesn't drive across town to tuck me in when I'm sick. I have no sick bell.  While my hubby is at work, I have to go fetch my own food and water, not mention nurse a growing 6 month old, and feed the odd appetite of a two year old. I'm not complaining. I'm just...reminiscing. And thinking about how much my mom took care of when I was younger. It's something I could never fully appreciate until I was a mother myself. So, thanks Momma. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go look on Etsy for a bell....

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stitch Fix #1

Imagine with me for a moment, that one day you open your front door and there on your front porch is a box. A beautiful box that contains not one, not two, but FIVE pieces of quality, designer clothes. They are all your size, and chances are you will fall in love with most of them. And you didn't have to step one foot into a store with pushy sales people and too many options to process. Ladies, welcome to StitchFix.

I first heard about StitchFix from a friend on Facebook. She had posted about loving her most recent "fix" and I decided to check it out. After talking to my hubby about it, I decided to give it a try. So here's how it works: 

First, you fill out a style profile. It has info for your very own personal stylist about your sizing, age, general style, modesty preferences, and ballpark budget. There's even a nifty section to write down extra notes so you can tell them stuff like, "don't even send me a mini skirt" or "I love the colors yellow and gray together." I was sure to specify that I was nursing and a stay at home mom who likes fun colors and comfy clothes that I can still look put together in. 

Also, you can add a link to a Pinterest board on your style profile. I recommend making an entire new board and pin things on there for your stylist to get a good idea of your overall style. Make notes on each pin telling what you do and don't like about it. 

Next, you schedule a fix! You can schedule a fix anytime you want for as often as you want. I signed up for a fix every 3 months. It seemed like a good idea to get a fix per season. It will be a way to jazz up the clothes I already have without going out and buying an entirely new wardrobe. There's even a spot in the fix scheduling process to make more notes for your stylist about that specific fix. I mentioned that it would be nice to have a new dress for church since all the dresses I own are not nursing friendly.

And wait (cue the theme song from Jeopardy).

This is the hardest part. Waiting for your fix to show up at your door. I love surprises and even though I knew I was getting clothes, I didn't know what exactly, and it felt like I was waiting for Christmas day. However the day FINALLY arrived and I was NOT disappointed! Without further ado, here is what I got in my first StitchFix.

1) The Jessie Maxi Dress ($74).

How cool that the name of the dress is my name?? I love, love, love everything about this dress. The fit is perfect. It is comfortable, flattering, modest, high quality fabric, and not to mention...ADORABLE!! One of my favorite parts of this dress is that I don't have to worry about it gapping anywhere. Oh AND!! I can nurse in it! WIN! (sorry for all the words in all caps, but I just can't help myself) This dress was definitely a keeper. 

2) Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jeans ($78)

I have never spent $78 on jeans before. I usually wait for sales at Old Navy. Little did I know what I was missing out on. The saying "you get what you pay for" makes so much sense to me now. The second I put on this pair of jeans, I was in love. They are so comfortable! I was also surprised at how well they fit, considering the trouble I normally have finding jeans that fit in the waist, but are still long enough. These were ever so slightly too big in the waist, but nothing a good wash/dry and a belt couldn't fix. Needless to say, I kept these as well. 

3) Queensland Dolman Jersey Top ($48)

When I first pulled this top out of the box I immediately loved the color. But, my excitement dwindled a little bit when I saw the style. I don't normally gravitate toward the baggy, flouncy look. StitchFix encourages you to try everything on even if you don't think you'll like it. So I tried it on and loved it! It's not overly flouncy and I like how it gets tighter around the hips so it doesn't look frumpy.  Keeper #3!

4) Corinna Striped Dolman Top ($48)

This top is so soft. I love that it can be dressed up or dressed down and is so comfy! It's kind of a thin sweater material so not exactly ideal for summer time in Tennessee, but it works with shorts for the less sweltering days and will be awesome when colder weather rolls in. Keeping!

5) Cannes Scoop Neck Blouse ($48)

I immediately did not like this top as soon as it came out of the box. However, I tried it on anyway. I still didn't like it. And not just because it was way too big. I'm not a big fan of floral, and off white shirts tend to not look so great on my pale skin. I did not like this top at all. However, if you keep the entire box, StitchFix gives you 25% off of your order. And since I'd already earned $50 in referral credit, I decided to keep this top and see if I could sell it. It was actually cheaper to keep it than send it back.

The next step after trying everything on is going to your StitchFix account to pay for what you are keeping, send back what you're not in the postage paid bag they send to you, and leave detailed feedback on your box for your stylist. They take your feedback into account so as to make each fix better suited to your style.

Overall, this was a super satisfying first Stitch Fix experience and I am SO excited for my next fix in October! If you want to have a fun box of cute, stylish, high quality clothes show up on your front porch, you should check it out (and please use my referral link, because I will get $25 credit if you schedule a fix. #shamelessplug)

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go scroll through countless fashion pins on Pinterest for my StitchFix board.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Birth Story: Round 2

On Saturday, March 14, 2015, I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. For the previous three months of my pregnancy, I had been nearly bed-ridden with lower back pain that left it impossible for me to take care of myself, much less a 2-year-old. When my husband, Ben, wasn't home taking care of us, my wonderful family and church friends stepped in and helped above and beyond the call of duty. So when I say, "I WAS SO READY TO HAVE THAT BABY", I want you to understand my full meaning.

Ben had given up hope of going to the board game convention that was in town that weekend. He assumed we'd have a new baby by then. However, the weekend arrived and I was still as pregnant as ever. I decided that William and I would hang out [at] my mom and dad's house that day and send Ben to the convention for a day off from Daddy Duty, since he had been working so hard to take care of us.He happily agreed to that idea. "Watch you go into labor as soon as I get there and start a two-hour board game," he joked. I smiled and said, "Whatever it takes!

During lunch, I had a few contractions that were definitely more than just Braxton Hicks, and I wondered if these might be the first twinges of labor. I put William down for his nap at 1:00; and, since I was still having sporadic contractions, I figured it would be a smart idea for me to take a nap too. 

I didn't sleep very soundly. Basically, I just dozed in between contractions that were gradually becoming more consistent. When William got up a 3:00, I was convinced that this was it. Can you say, "IT'S ABOUT TIME!!"?

I called Ben at the convention and told him it was show time. He left immediately and came to pick me up. (He had just sat down to a new board game.) We were already planning on William staying at my mom and dads house when I went into labor, so we gave goodbye kisses and headed home. 
At about 5:00 I was having to focus more on the contractions and breathe through them rather than continue chatting Ben's ear off and singing along to my Labor Playlist. He had been busy since we got home with a "Things To Do when I go into labor" list. 

Around 5:30 my back was killing me during each contraction so I went to go take a hot shower. Just before I got in the shower, I lost my mucous plug and was shaking. I had Ben text Susie and she responded with, " I'm on my way ". In the meantime, I was on my hands and knees in the shower thinking, “Holy cow these contractions are coming really fast! I don't remember it being this intense with William." The hot water eventually ran out and I had to get out of the shower. FYI, it's really hard to get dried off and out of the bathtub when you're in intense labor. I thought I would never make it to the bed. 

I finally did make it to the bed and Susie's assistant, Cindy, got there at about 6:30. Susie and my mom arrived at 7:00. By this time the contractions were pretty insane. I remember feeling like there wasn't much of a rest in between each one and I was having to focus really hard on breathing. The only position in which I could get in the zone and focus was lying on my side. Ben was next to the bed, holding my hands, talking me through each contraction and giving me sips of water. I could NOT have made it without him. 

Just after Susie got there, my water broke. I was 5 cm dilated at that point. The contractions just kept getting more and more intense and I remember thinking once again, "I don't remember it being quite this fast and intense with William". Susie and Cindy were scrambling to get their stuff set up because I think I was progressing faster than they thought I would too.  Mom had set to work making [coffee and] food for everyone, because she's awesome like that.

Not long after my water broke, I started feeling REALLY pushy. I told Susie and she checked me again. I was 7 cm - no pushing allowed yet. It was soooooo hard not to push. Like, really hard, almost to the point of impossible. 
Thankfully, not long after that Susie checked me again and said "10 cm”. I was so happy. Just before that announcement, my mom had stepped out of the apartment to meet my Dad in the parking lot, who had brought the biscuits my mom had forgotten at her house. When she walked out of the door, she thought I was still at 7cm. This was the update she then gave my dad. Little did she know that I had jumped to 10 cm in a matter of minutes and that we were shouting, "Mom! Get in here! You're gonna miss it!!!"  She made it back just as the baby’s head was crowning - just in time!
Three or four good pushes later, Calvin Benjamin was born at 8:15p.m.  All 8 lbs.and 14 oz. of him!! As soon as I saw him, I burst into tears of joy and exclaimed, "WHAT IS IT?!" I don't remember who said it, but someone answered, "IT'S A BOY!" I noticed immediate back pain relief, and I was just so happy he was out of my body and into my arms. 

He was the chubbiest newborn you ever did see and had a head full of dark hair that still sticks straight up in the air. Unlike his big brother, he had a hard time getting the hang of nursing, but with the help of Susie, we got him on the right track. 

It's hard to believe that chubby little baby turned 4 months old yesterday and is a whopping 15 lbs. He is the happiest baby ever, and his squinty-eyed smiles and infectious laughter light up any dreary day. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Home Away From Home

My Daddy was a preacher when I was a kid. I grew up moving from town to town because of it. We hardly ever stayed at one church for longer than 2 1/2 years. Consequently, I never know how to answer the question, "where are you from?". My answer usually ends up being, "uuuhhhh, I was born in Missouri, but I've lived in lots of places."

The first church my Daddy pastored was in a tiny town in Kansas called Phillipsburg. We actually lived there twice. (1994-1996 & 2003-2005)

A few weekends ago was that church's 50th anniversary. My Dad, Mom, and myself drove the 14 hour trip (along with my 3 month old baby) to be there. Of course, what is normally a 14 hour trip, turned into 22 hours when you're stopping to nurse a baby every 3 hours. But it was so worth the drive.

I knew I missed the town and especially the people in the church that we had left behind when we moved, but I didn't realize how much. It's hard to describe. I imagine it's a lot like those country songs about going back to your childhood house and all the bittersweet emotions that come along with that. 

We only got to spend one whole day in Phillipsburg and I made sure to make the most of it. Every minute I wasn't nursing Calvin, I was catching up with old and dear friends; my favorite Sunday School teacher, the couple that I was the flower girl at their wedding when I was 5, the resident jokester who used to call me Monkey, the sweet couple whose family we have been friends with for years despite the miles, the gal who gave me my first job shredding paper at an accounting office for $1.50 an hour, the sweet old lady who has been there for all of the churches 50 years and is never afraid to speak her mind, my 8th grade music teacher, and so many more sweet faces. I also missed many the faces of some people who have passed away and are in the presence of Jesus. 
After church on Sunday, we went to the Chicken Inn for dinner. Because you can't go to Phillipsburg without getting chicken strips, curly fries, and a cherry Mountain Dew from Chicken Inn. 

A tour of the town (population around 2,200) doesn't take long, but it was full of memories and I was delighted to see that not much has changed. We drove by our old house. The garage door is painted red and a tree is missing from the front yard, but it mostly looks the same. The town square still looks like something straight out of a Jan Karon novel, complete with the The Third Street Bakery where you'll find the same group of people at the same time every morning, shootin' the breeze. I saw the buildings where I went to preschool and middle school and the hill where the whole town went to sled when it snowed. 

Last but not least, Daddy and I went by the old church building. After we moved away the second time, the church moved into a much nicer new building that used to be a grocery store and then it was an office building of some sort. But to be quite honest, as nice as the new building is, I was anxious to visit the creaky floored, musty smelling, little, white church that I came to know Jesus in. 

I made up my mind before we got there that I wouldn't cry....HA! As soon as I walked in the door, the old church's familiar smell hit me and I started choking back the tears. Before we walked up the narrow staircase toward the sanctuary, Dad reminded me not to be too disappointed if it wasn't how I remembered it because it was now the youth group's hang out a.k.a. The Fortress. I rounded the corner and choked back more tears. The walls once white, were painted a groovy dark blue and all the old, gray padded pews were gone. It was smaller than I remembered. Dad and I started pointing to the spots where the pews used to be and naming off the people who used to sit there, Sunday after Sunday. 

Downstairs, in the musty basement the murals that I helped my Sister and Aunt Cheryl paint for children's church, were still there. The tears were flowing freely by this point as I remembered countless potluck dinners in that basement. When we lived there the first time we had a once a month burger fest called Hamburger Heaven. 

I'm so thankful for that tiny little church. I'm so thankful for the people in it and the Gospel that I heard and saw played out in the lives of the people. I'm so thankful for the love my family knew from that church. I'm so thankful for how God is using them to impact that little town called Phillipsburg. 

To the rest of the world, Phillipsburg is pretty insignificant with its brick streets and one stop light. But to me, it's a beautiful chapter in my story. It's a place I can look back on with fond memories and say that was home....and in some ways, still is home. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Answered Prayers at Aldi

Breakfast. Check. Clothes that kinda sorta go together. Check. Grocery list, wallet, keys, phone, grocery bags, quarter for the cart at Aldi. Check. Both children strapped in their car seats. Check.

A couple days ago my mother told me that I needed to stop worrying so much, and pray more. This morning I took that to heart andI said a quick prayer out loud that God would give me special help. I was headed out in public for the first time with both my boys. The morning was already not going well and I was frazzled, annoyed, exhausted, and near tears.

We pulled into Aldi parking lot just as it was opening. I began the process of just getting the boys out of the car. Calvin was safely strapped to my front in the baby carrier and I grabbed William's hand as we headed for the carts. It was then that I had my first, "how we gonna do this" moment. There's no way I could lift William into that cart...but there was no way I was going to trust him to hold my hand the entire time we were in the store. I tried lifting him. Nope. So I took his hand and prayed for help for the 2nd time that morning.

Within seconds of that prayer a woman wearing a plain white v-neck t-shirt and a maxi skirt walked in the door. She gave me a once over with her eyes, smiled, and said, "honey, I've got 5 kids. Trust me. Throw that boy in the cart." 
I laughed and said, "I'd love nothing more, but I can't lift him. Especially with the little one strapped to my front."

She responded by saying hi to William and lifting him with ease into the cart. I thanked her profusely and we chatted a bit about life with kids and how challenging and fun it is as we perused the first isle. Then we parted ways.

But the story doesn't end there. That blessed woman got her groceries all paid for and in her car. THEN she came BACK into the store to help me get William out of the cart, help me bag my groceries, and loaded them into the back of my van while I loaded the boys into car seats. And she took the cart back (which is like my least favorite part of Aldi shopping).

The whole time this is going on, I can't stop thanking her and it's a wonder I didn't just burst into tears. I told her about how I prayed for special help before leaving the house and she said, "Isn't God so good?! I'm so blessed to be an answer to that prayer," 

So with my groceries and munchkins loaded, she gave me a big hug and told me that it gets better. The sleep will eventually come back and I would soon be a pro at taking 2 kids to the store. 

I got in my 300,000 mile, junky, green mini-van and couldn't help but grin from ear to ear and thank God for the amazing ways he takes care of me. And for the blatant, obvious, tangible ways he is answering my prayers these past couple days. 

Next time, I'm getting a babysitter.