Parenting

Journey to Gratitude: Days 45-51

Still catching up from the past two weeks…

Day 45:
Today is Valentine’s Day. I learned a long time ago as just a little girl that this day (and the expectations that come with it) can be very disappointing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped expecting anything from the day. Instead, I have created my own traditions, which NEVER disappoint. ūüôā ¬†Every year, I make red velvet cupcakes, homemade chocolate-dipped strawberries, and enjoy takeout of some kind. I kick back with all of my treats and watch the ridiculous Valentine’s Day movie marathons. I know what you’re thinking: “You’re married now. Don’t you guys celebrate.” Quite simply, no. Since Blaine is a baseball coach, he usually has games, and might not even be home. If he does happen to play at home, he gets home late. So no, we don’t celebrate. We celebrate “our love”, if you will, at other, non-commercial times of the year. Trust me, it’s way less disappointing this way.

So today, I am thankful for simple traditions.

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Day 46:
For as long as I’ve known Blaine (going on 5 years next month), he has always had what I like to call “freak-outs” over major life decisions. At first, it was very frustrating. Five years later, I just know that it is bound to happen – and more importantly, that the moment will pass. Today, Blaine had his “freak-out” over the new house. Thankfully, I’m becoming a pro at how to navigate these moments, which require me to remain calm, drop nuggets of logic into the conversation at very choice moments….and then leave him to marinate. Once reason kicks in, he starts to realize how ridiculous he’s being, and we are able to move forward again. Today, I am thankful that I was able to remain calm and weather the new house “freak-out”.

Day 47:
The terrible winter that had been foretold finally arrived today. It came fast and hard – so much so that my boss decided to close the store early and send us all home. So first of all, I am thankful for the fact that my boss is able to put safety above sales.

Secondly, I finally caught a touch of whatever Bella had (or at least I think that is what has happened), and I felt AWFUL today. So I was thankful to be able to head home to my warm house, slip into my comfy clothes, and crash on the couch. Even more of a blessing, Blaine was also home, so he was able to help out with Bella so I could rest.

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Day 48:
Still snowed in, I was thankful to stay home and rest today. I think OJ and chicken noodle soup gave me life.

Day 49:
Today I was thankful that I awoke feeling MUCH better. Hallelujah!

Day 50:
We had a nibble and a showing on our house today, which is currently only listed on Zillow and Craigslist. Though it was just a nibble, I am thankful that someone noticed it.

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Day 51:
Today, we broke FREE! Having been snowed in all week, we were all getting a little stir crazy. So I dropped off Bella at school to play, and I went to Starbucks and the office to catch up on some work. Once I picked her up, we did a little shopping for some crafts and activities (because more weather is coming tomorrow), picked up McDonald’s for dinner, and headed to a friend’s house for a playdate. Today, I was thankful to escape the house – if only for a day.

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Journey to Gratitude: Days 38-44

Once again, life has deterred me from keeping up with my posts. I had a sick toddler for a week, then I got sick, and then Snowpocalypse 2015 hit. It’s been busy. But amidst all of that, here’s what I can be thankful for….

Day 38:
Now that Bella is getting older and understands and communicates more, I love our outings together. Today, we went shopping for some new appliances for the new house. While we were out, we also went and had lunch at Chick-fil-A. Just a fun girls day out and about (and apparently, very tiring).

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Day 39:
So a few days ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Vegucated,” which was about a 6-week challenge for 3 folks to try the vegan lifestyle. It was very eye-opening and really got me thinking. I’ve always been health-conscious, so I am always open to trying healthier options. That being said, I don’t know that I could ever go vegan or vegetarian indefinitely, as I do actually enjoy meat. But I am capable of eating vegetarian meals, or even going through short spurts of being completely vegetarian. In an attempt to try some new plant-based protein options, I bought some tofurky and soy burgers and what not on my latest grocery trip. I was amazed at how easy it was to find quick-serve options at even the local Walmart. So today I am thankful for how far we’ve come with vegetarian and vegan items, that they are easily accessible even in smaller towns where I live and without going to the local “health foods” store.

Day 40:
Today I got a call from Bella’s daycare that she was running a fever. Blaine had practice, so he couldn’t go get her. Fortunately I was able to get out of my afternoon meeting to go get her. Today I am thankful that I have a relatively flexible job that still allows me to be there for Bella.

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Day 41:
Bella’s fever got pretty high last night. Actually, perhaps the highest ever – 104. Though she acted like she didn’t feel well, she did still have bursts of activity, and she was eating and drinking just fine. I wasn’t sure at what point I should be concerned enough to take her to the ER. I ended up calling a nurse line, who gave me some helpful tips on how to keep her comfy and signs for which to watch that would signal an emergency situation. She slept with me overnight, and by morning, her fever was back down a few degrees and she was acting normal. So today, I am thankful that things didn’t escalate enough to warrant a trip in the night to the ER.

Day 42:
Bella’s fever spiked again in the night, so I ended up having to stay home with her again. Today, I am¬†thankful for not one, but TWO, awesome teammates who were willing to cover my shift in the store so that I could stay home with Bella. I am also thankful that I was able to get some work done from home.

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Day 43:
Bella’s spurts of activity became non-existent and her appetite disappeared – signals I was waiting for to know that this was turning for the worse. So I took her in to the doctor this morning, and we found out that she has a sinus infection and the start of an ear infection. She was prescribed some antibiotics, and I gave her a dose immediately. Less than 12 hours later, she was up and running again. Today, I am thankful that Bella is on the mend. I am also thankful that Blaine was able to stay with Bella tonight so I could go into work for a few hours.

Day 44:
We had our inspection on the new house today. We waited with bated breath to get the results, as we were certain the inspector would uncover something HUGE – hence why we were getting such a great deal on the house. As it turns out, he found only minor things that Blaine and his rental renovation crew can easily repair. The biggest issue uncovered was radon detection – levels at four times the “allowable” level. (If you don’t know about radon – where it is found, what it can do, and how to repair it – I highly suggest looking into it. This is my new PSA mission, as I learned it is the second only to smoking for the leading cause in lung cancer!) Anyway…as scary as that sounds, it is also easily repaired with the installation of a mitigation system, which we intend to get. So today I am thankful for a good inspection on the new house!

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Journey to Gratitude: Days 30-35

Life happens. While I made a note of my gratitude items each day, I did not get a chance to post them. So here’s the past week:

Day 30:
Today, I saw AMERICAN SNIPER (which was excellent, by the way). I am always amazed by those who have the courage and passion to serve this country, as I don’t think I could stand on the battle lines. So today I am thankful for those who serve our country to protect our freedom.

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Day 31:
Bella just turned 2 a couple of weeks ago. While the time is going by so very quickly, I am also thankful for this age. She can finally communicate with words her needs and wants, she understands commands from me, and best of all, we can go “play”! She is at such a fun age where she is curious about everything and has such a great awareness of the world around her. I can now take her to playgrounds and kids’ museums and the zoo – so many fun places!

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Day 32:
This weekend, Blaine and I stumbled upon an amazing deal on a foreclosed house for ourselves. In talking about the possibility of pursuing it, I decided to bring up my credit score. For those who haven’t followed my story, I filed bankruptcy during the peak of the recession (following job loss and all that comes with that). Four years later, I am in a much better place, and have managed to pay off all remaining debt (the car and my hefty student loans were excluded from the bankruptcy). Today, I am thankful for second chances and the ability to rebuild after tragedy, as my credit score is the highest it has ever been!

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Day 33:
My work team has seen A LOT of changes over the past year. Namely, we have gone through an entire culture change, nearly a complete turnover of our HPLT (high performance leadership team), and turnover of a third or so of our team members. It was a tough road, but we are in SUCH a better place now as a result, and 2015 is already off to an amazing start! Today, I am thankful for the new faces at our HPLT table, as I think we have a strong, cohesive team to propel us to the next level!

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Day 34:
Blaine and I put in an offer for the house we found over the weekend, and I became so excited and fixated on it that I was already imagining where we would put things. I could just *see* and *FEEL* us in this house. Alas, it was not in God’s plan, as someone swooped in with a cash offer well above our financed offer. I was heartbroken. And yet, it was a reminder that I need to learn to trust in God’s plan for us. This house or this time just wasn’t right, and there is other business we need to take care of before we settle into our dream home. Today, as hard as it is to swallow, I am thankful for that reminder.

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Day 35:
I was pretty disappointed about not getting that house. Blaine was trying to be encouraging that we would one day have our house, but maybe the timing wasn’t right and we need to get some other business aligned first. This loss gave us an opportunity to discuss many things – our present, our future, and most of all, how fortunate we are to have all that we currently have. I love theses moments when we can really connect with emotional intimacy and have a great chat about life. We don’t get those moments often – mostly because life is so busy and we don’t take (or make) the time to pause and have these discussions. So today, I am thankful for this rare gem that has the power to refuel our marriage and remind us why we have chosen each other.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 29

The prevailing theme of today was “no stress”. I would not have been able to fathom this concept even as soon as a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve cut back my hours at my “day job,” things are going well with coaching, and I’ve exercised every day for the past week. It’s amazing the difference it makes when things in your life are in balance.

As I slipped into my bubble bath this afternoon – a luxury that many moms don’t get to experience on any sort of regular basis – I thought about how stress-free the day had been and how lucky I was to have this moment. Sure, Blues Clues was adding to the ambiance from the next room, but my two-year-old is so awesome that she can behave and entertain herself for the 20 minutes I needed for a bubble bath. Many moms cannot say the same.

Today, I am thankful for balance and contentment.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 20

Bella is struggling right now as her two-year molars try to pop through. Additionally, she may have some viral bug on top of that. So she is miserable with a painful mouth, runny nose, persistent cough, and fever.

Today, I am thankful for the ability to be able to work from home, so that I can stay home with my poor little Sweet Pea and still get some work done. Here’s hoping she is on the mend soon!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 10

Two years ago at 8:00am, I was wheeled into surgery for an unexpectedly early C-section. Pre-eclampsia had ravaged my body, and at 28 weeks, the doctors couldn’t hold off any longer. I was terrified. Not only was my life in danger, but I knew that having my girls at 28 weeks also put their lives in danger.

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Fortunately, I pulled through, and as far as we know, I have no residual effects from the pre-eclampsia. If you have followed my story, however, you know that my baby girl, Bristol, only lived for 9 weeks.

The bright side of this story is that my firecracker, Bella, not only made it, but is a miracle in every sense of the word. Born at 2 lbs and 4 oz, she is still a tiny thing – reaching 20 lbs only recently, just in time for her second birthday. But she has yet to have any major health complications, and is so very observant and smart! Apart from her small size, you would never know that she was born 12 weeks early and spent the first two months of her life in a box in the hospital.

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Today, I am thankful for my little miracle, Bella. I am also thankful that the Lord let me live to see her grow into such a beautiful, smart little girl. And while I am sad that she doesn’t have her twin sister along for the ride, I am so very thankful that we at least had 9 weeks with her, and that we have lots of pictures and video to share her story with Bella as she gets old enough to understand it.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 7

Today’s gratitude post might also serve as a “you’re welcome” post.

Today, I am EVER so grateful for this time-saving tip from a friend of mine: use your electric mixer to shred your chicken.

Whaaaaat?! Where has this tip been for the past 10 years?! Though I love eating chicken casserole and chicken enchiladas, I always dreaded cutting and shredding the chicken by hand. Then a girlfriend shared this tip about the mixer during a girls’ weekend about a month ago, and MAN! This is my time-saving tip of the YEAR! In less than 60 seconds, I had shredded chicken ready to go for my casserole. That task used to take me 20 minutes (or more). AH-MAZING!

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A Mother’s Memory

To meet me now, you would never know that I have just been through one of the toughest years of my life. ¬†I have a beautiful, healthy 8-month-old daughter, an amazing husband and life partner, a nice house, a great dog, and – as of last week – a great job. ¬†No, to meet me now, you would think I have the perfect life. ¬†And I do…..now. ¬†But just six months ago today, we had to say goodbye to our baby girl.

I may never know why we had to go through all that we did. ¬†Why are there so many babies born to families that don’t want them? ¬†Why are healthy babies born to ladies who smoke or drink – or worse? ¬†Why did my body reject my precious babies when I did everything right? ¬†I don’t know. ¬†I may never know. ¬†But I am thankful that we got to have 9 weeks with our precious baby – enough time to make memories to last a lifetime. ¬†In fact, when choosing the words for her headstone, we wanted to capture that sentiment. ¬†After reading countless phrases, we finally found the perfect one:

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Bristol touched so many people in her short time. ¬†Her story is one that will be remembered and told for years to come. ¬†She was so tough and so brave. ¬†I have no doubt that she would have been sassy and spunky just like her sister. ¬†The Lord surely got “the best” when He called her back home. ¬†This poem gave us great comfort when we were grieving:

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be,
So He put His arms around you and whispered, “Come to me”.
With tearful eyes we watched you and saw you pass away,
And although we love you dearly we could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hardworking hands at rest,
God broke our hearts to prove to us He only takes the best.
—-Unknown

The other poem that spoke to us during that time:

When God calls little children to dwell with Him above,
We mortals sometimes question the wisdom of His love.
For no heartache compares with the death of one small child,
Who does so much to make our world seem wonderful and mild.
Perhaps God tires of calling the aged to His fold,
So He picks a rosebud before it can grow old.
God knows how much we need them and so He takes but a few,
To make the land of Heaven more beautiful to view.
Believing this is difficult, still somehow we must try.
The saddest word mankind knows will always be “Goodbye”.
So when a child departs, we who are left behind,
Must realize God loves children.
Angels are hard to find.
—-Unknown

Finally, for those unable to make Bristol’s memorial service, I wanted to share the letter I wrote for her:

letter to Bristol

We are so very lucky to have such an amazing angel watching over us!  We miss you, baby girl!

PREVIEW: Bristol Baby

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What a difference a year makes!

On August 3rd last year, Blaine and I discovered that I was pregnant.  Little did we know what all was in store for us over the coming months Рtwins, pre-eclampsia, NICU Рwhat a year!

I have always enjoyed writing, and it has always been a dream of mine to write a book.  At one point when I was young Рmaybe around 4th grade or so РI actually aspired to be an author when I grew up.  Almost thirty years later, I am finally trying to make that happen.  I am currently working on writing our story.  I thought it fitting to share with you the very rough draft of the start of Chapter 1, given that it is about how we found out I was pregnant and today is the one year anniversary.

Because we were so secretive for the first 15 weeks (well, and I didn’t even find out until I was about 5 or 6 weeks along), many of you may not even know the whole story about how we found out. ¬†I hope you enjoy our story…

Click here to read the exerpt: Chapter 1 РFinding Out