Four

On this day four years ago, I got up at 5:00 a.m. I took my sweet time getting ready. I shaved my legs for twenty minutes. I let hot water envelope me into almost a meditative state. After I was clean, shaven, and relaxed, I opened my hotel room door and walked the 20 paces to my right and knocked on the door. I was meant with the welcoming faces of my father, his significant other and my sister. My sister then proceeded to do my hair and makeup. We then went into the lobby and ate some breakfast. Shortly after, we rode to the site where, in a few short hours, we would say I do. We had a quick walk-through. Afterwards, we all gathered together in the small conference room of the hotel and had a rehearsal brunch. Our friends and family all broke bread together and then we all scattered. Several hours later, I was driven through a garden in a classic convertible style car. My parents walked me down the aisle and my hand was placed in Ben’s hand. From that moment forward, I have often thought of that day. The sounds. The voices. The faces. I remember all of it, but yet, it is a blur.
Four years later, I think I have figured out that this is just how my brain processes the greatest days of my life, a large blur. The birth of both of my children happened much the same way. All the intricate details are hidden there, in the shadows of my mind. If I jostle my memory just enough, they come flooding back. Otherwise, they remain stored in that area of my memory. I prefer to think of it as a “corner.” This “corner” is a room with a green vintage screen door. From far away, you can see inside. Everything in there is white and has a haze to it. Lace hangs from the ceilings. There are frames with chubby cheeked newborns adorning the walls. It’s clean…no clutter allowed in this area. My wedding dress hangs from somewhere. I don’t know where because I can’t see through the lace. It seems to be suspended in time, just floating. In the back, there is a beautiful little oak desk with a single chair, a vintage typewriter, and a mug. The mug has an ever changing quote on it. Among all of these things that I love and hold of importance to me, there is a box. A caramel-colored, weathered, leather box. It is sitting lonely on a high shelf. It is much too high for me to reach alone. I think that is the point. I can not reach this box without my husband. This room in my memory would not exist without him. The chubby cheeked newborns, the dress I loved when I first tried it on, the corner desk with the typewriter and my dreams. I closed my eyes and beckoned him. When I opened them, he appeared in front of me, smiling. As in an answer to my unasked question, we both turn and reach for the box together. His hand has a tight grip on one side and mine on the other. Together we bring the box down and hold it between us. What is inside? Is it a gift? Is it a curse? Is it empty? As our eyes meet, we never break their stare, as together we lift the lid from the top. It seems like seconds pass, or is it minutes? Neither of us is looking down yet. He smiles and says, “Well, aren’t you going to look?”
I smile and answer with, “You first.” He shakes his head at this and in a moment we have agreed to look together. “One,” I say.
“Two,” he answers back.
“Three,” I say louder.
“FOUR,” said together this time. Both of our gazes drop and rest upon what lies between our hands.
The box falls to the floor.

Happy Anniversary my love.

IMG_4105.JPG

Scottish Dreams

About a month ago, I stumbled upon a girl I went to college with on Instagram. A fellow journalism major, I was delighted to find that she too had a blog! Since I was on maternity leave, I took the opportunity to catch up on her blog and the awesome things she has done in life since graduating. After graduating, from what I can tell, she has stayed in the journalism field. This makes me smile. I know all too well how hard it can be to “stick it out.” Before and even after I moved to Texas, I have had a hard time getting jobs in this field. I can appreciate the heart it takes to have a passion. Not only that, but to have the drive it takes to never give up on that passion.
Anyway, some examples of the awesome things this chick has done include, but are not limited to: moving from Ohio to Chicago, participating in marathons, making a bucket list and working to cross things off of it, owning a cute blue record player, sharing an apartment with a roommate, riding a bicycle to neighborhood coffee shops, living through and (as far as I can tell) rising above a broken heart, participating in live literature readings (in front of strangers, chhhaa!) and last but not least…planning an amazing trip to a city where she has never been. My favorite part about the trip? She is going alone. ALONE. To some people, this may sound weird. To me, this sounds like the greatest, bravest, and possibly most rewarding idea to date. I have to admit, I’m pretty jealous. She openly admits that she is going to sit in unfamiliar coffee shops and write. She will ride a bicycle around and visit places she has carefully (or not carefully) chosen to see. She will talk with strangers. She will wear boots. I can not wait to see what she writes about the trip.
I feel a great hope that I will one day take a similar journey. Where will I go? Scotland, I hope. My step sister recently started college there. My mother and stepfather just got back from escorting her across the pond. I am currently engulfed in a book series based in The Highlands and my mother’s side of the family hails from the beautiful country. I want nothing more than to visit this mystical place in person. I could listen to my mother talk for hours about all the amazing things she saw and heard. I long to be submerged in the culture and learn what life is like there. It’s almost a romantic notion I have to sit inside The Elephant House coffee shop in Edinburg on a gloomy, rain-drizzled day. I think about being wrapped in a cozy, heather grey, sweater knit shaw. I dream about people watching while hearing only sounds of coffee and tea cups clanking while they are returned back to their rightful saucers. I can close my eyes and hear noises of laughter, and low tones of a language with which I am unfamiliar. All the while, I tap away at the keys on my laptop. What am I writing? Probably bits and pieces of conversation I can pick up from a nearby table. I love to hear the exchange of familiarities between friends. I try to repeat lines of a deep conversation that is going on close to me over and over in my head. It’s amazing what people sound like when they are in a comfort zone. When they think the only person who is interested in what they are saying is the person with whom they are conversing, the lingering ear of a stranger goes undetected. These are things I dream about. Of course, with two young children and other financial obligations, this rewarding writing holiday with have to wait. But, heed my warning. This is my notice. I will find myself in that dark, Scottish coffee shop writing for hours upon hours. It has officially been added to MY bucket list. Thank you Meryl, for the inspiration!

IMG_4008.JPG

Satchel Full of Crack

Something is brewing inside of me. My feet hit the floor this morning and my mind won’t stop racing. No, I do not do drugs. I also have sworn off caffeine. Which is strange, because I would compare my feelings at this moment to that which I would believe a caffeine high would feel like after three years of not having any.
I have this pressing feeling that I must DO something. My synapses are firing at what feels like lightening speed. I feel like a giant grizzly bear who just woke up from 29 years of hibernation. What the heck happened to me? Did a fairy drift in my window last night and scatter some magic crack dust over my head? Did I dream about something that made my subconscious jump up instead of just leisurely stretching it’s fictitious legs? I have no idea. It’s like something clicked inside of me. Like a dormant disease just suddenly reared it’s ugly head from within me and is now claiming stake to this body that once belonged to me.
All I know is that I went to bed in the same fashion I have every night for however long I can remember. I have no particular memory of changing into a raving lunatic in my sleep…yet, this morning, I am one.
My mind is all over the place. I feel excited and ready. I feel a little awkward and confused. I’m hoping that this all pans out to be something positive. Today is the day I grab the bull by the (insert whatever body part is most suitable) and go with it. If it takes me for a hair raising eight second ride, I’m in. If it walks slowly and nudges me forward, I’m okay with that too. In whatever form or fashion, I am not the person I was when I went to bed last night. From this moment forward, I am the person I want to be. I dare someone to tell me something is impossible today. My creativity is at an all time high. I feel the buzzing pulsing through my veins like the constant hum of a power line.
I’m doing my ceremonial tribal dance inside. The drums are the sound of my heart. Watch out Monday. Watch out thirty. Watch out elusive fairy with your magical satchel of crack dust. I’m on a rampage today.

IMG_3960.JPG

Economics and the Heart

Next month marks the fifth year I have lived in Texas. I never regret my choice to follow the man that I love to this great state. I love everything about the south. I love the weather. I love the friendliness of people, even the ones who are complete strangers. I love how people down here talk slower. I love how Sunday is the day of The Lord…no exceptions. Friday night means high school football and Saturday means college football. I love that family comes first, NO MATTER WHAT. I love that cowboy boots go with anything. I love that you can find a heart warming, home cooked meal at the diner down the road. I love that there is never an awkward silence anytime you have a conversation. Oh…and everyone, men included, love to see and talk to the babies you have in tow. No ma’am and yes sir are the first things your child learns to say. I can honestly say that this is, without a doubt, the most amazing place in the world. Five years ago, a man from Texas stole my heart. I fell in love with him. I fell in love with this great state. I am proud to call it home.
Now, with all that being said, I do miss my family in Ohio. It hurts my heart that I can’t drive over to see my sister and my niece anytime that I want. It pains my heart that my dad only gets to see his grandsons two or three times a year. It worries me that my grandmother will be 85 in two months. Every time I talk to her on the phone, I hear in her voice how badly she wants to see my kids. I have all these emotions fighting me on the inside. It makes my heart pang.
I have made my fair amount of trips to Ohio the last four and a half years. I just find myself thinking of the holidays as they approach. I love my family here in Texas. They have always made me feel 110% welcome. We have amazing family gatherings here and I am thankful for all the loving family I gained through marriage. Now that we have kids, it’s hard to want to be anywhere but our own home for Christmas. I still find myself dreaming of Ohio. There is nothing like Ohio in the fall. The crisp, cool weather that comes with September and October is one tall tell sign that football season has arrived. It means fall festivals. It means piles of leaves lining the sides of the streets. It means hot coffee or hot apple cider. Fall holds a very sentimental place in my heart. I find myself feeling nostalgic about all things fall. I have fond memories of Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s or my dad’s brother’s house. I miss all the warmth and genuine happiness that comes from wrapping my arms around my dad’s sister or my awesome cousins. I miss sitting with my grandmother and sipping coffee on a Saturday morning. I miss the cackle of a laugh that belongs to my mother’s youngest sister. I miss all the same jokes and jabs I have been hearing for some twenty odd years. I miss the unmistakable smell of my sister’s hair or is it her body lotion? It’s a sweet smell. Not overwhelming, but just noticeable enough that when I hug her, my nose tingles for a few short seconds with the invasion of the long lost scent.
As I lay here writing these things, I feel an empty pit in my stomach. My grandmother has sold her house. It’s strange to think that we will never share a family Thanksgiving while sitting at her large red cherry dining room table again. I won’t drive back to her house and pass two of the houses I lived in while growing up just up the street. With her moving, I would really have no reason to go back to that neighborhood again.
These are all the thoughts that run through my head at any given moment when I think of Ohio.
I know it’s not economical to travel back there as often as I would like. I know that in my head. I also know that I made the choice to move away. I just have a hard time explaining the economics to my heart, especially this time of the year. So, if you see my eyes get glazed over at the mention of Thanksgiving, or if you hear me talk about Ohio a little more during the fall months, I hope you can understand where I am coming from. Although I do miss the fall weather, it’s not Ohio I miss. It’s my family that still lives there.

IMG_3909.JPG

Two Tiny Humans

Today is my last day of maternity leave. Tomorrow I will rejoin the workforce. Life will inevitability speed up. My kids will get older with each passing day. Eight of those hours, I will miss out on seeing them grow.
I don’t know why I let the guilt get me. It does, it eats me alive.
For reasons that I can not explain, while I was locked up in my bedroom yesterday feeding babe #2 (my 14-year-old stepson was in the house, thought I would spare him the breast feeding show) I started watching an episode of The Real Housewives of Melbourne. Now, I watch these shows purely to make myself feel better about myself. I think it’s extremely sad how most of these women portrayed in these shows have million dollar homes, fancy cars, celebrity status, rich husbands, and above average children, but they are made to seem like they are idiots. I guess the point that I take away from these shows is this; even if you have everything you could ever want in material things, you can not fake your way through having common sense. The episode yesterday had a segment where one of the women was doing a Q&A session with a group of working mothers. This “Real Housewife” was writing a book about being a working mother. During the Q&A session, she handed out a list that she gives her nanny when the nanny is caring for her children. Some of the things on the list were ridiculous . Some of them were chores that had nothing to do with the children. The group of mothers were clearly confused as well. One woman asked the author if she (the mother) came home before the certain part of the list was done, for example, giving the children a bath, if that part wasn’t done yet, they asked if she took over there and finished the rest of the list herself. The things after that were bedtime stories and tucking the children into bed. The author simply stated, “No.” So this woman doesn’t even want to tuck her own children into bed each night. I felt sick. How could she not want those precious moments with her kids? How could she not feel guilty about willingly letting someone else be the last face her children see before they fall asleep at night while she is downstairs doing what? She is working on her book about being a working mother? Not buying that book! Sorry, not sorry!
Anyway, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed my time off with my kiddos. My mom was here for about four weeks. The rest of the time, I have been enjoying learning how to be a mother to two amazing boys. My floors are dirty. My hair isn’t done. I dance around the living room like a crazed fool with my two-year-old. I am babe #2’s own personal milk cow. I don’t have a normal sleep pattern and I have yet to find the time to start my new workout routine, but I have loved every moment of it.
Every. Single. Moment.
Tomorrow I will be a mess. I will cry. I will check in on my kids too many times. At the end of the work day, I won’t care about anything except getting my arms around them. They have my heart. They are the reasons behind everything I ever do. It’s funny when you realize that you no longer care about what you want or what you need. All of those things get trumped by them. Two tiny humans run my life and I am perfectly fine with that.
Wish me luck!

IMG_3867.JPG

Ablaze

I had a rather large and disappointing blow dealt to me today. No, it’s not my health or anything to do with my kids. The fact that I even have to add that disclaimer shows me that there are way more important things in life than being disappointed about something.
Still, I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. My heart did ache. I was angry. I was sad. I allowed myself those few moments (okay, hours) of self pity.
We all have those magical things that make us who we are. We have personality traits that people like or hate or like to hate. We have our own personal ideas of what our lives should be and how we picture them working out. Once we get that vision in our mind, we set out on our path. Depending on who we are and what circumstances surround us, we either find some deviation of that path or blaze a new trail.
I have always been a firm believer in staying true to your dreams. There have been plenty of opportunities for change. Even more opportunities to conform or simply survive. The only way I know how to describe my feelings is to say that I have worked my whole adult life at trying to fan some embers of a fire. The embers smolder and smoke. I would use one of those old school fans you see people in colonial days keep on their fireplace hearth. I would fan the embers of my dreams. At times, I would see the fire ablaze. It would have so much heat radiating from it that it would take my breath away. At other points, there would be no sign of those amber streaks of light, only the remnants of what was once a hot, heaping pile of fire. But, there underneath all that coldness, in the depths of that darkness of nothing, there were the tiny stems of a sparking light. They may have been unseen to anyone who passed by the black and burnt woodpile, but they were there. They were there all along.
That’s how I feel about keeping my dreams alive. I feel like I try. I feel like I push. I can hustle. Where are the rewards? Where is my happy ending or my happy beginning for that matter?
Today was just a setback. I feed myself that line more often than I care to admit. So, here I am, still sitting at square one. I have nothing left to do but give it up to God. I will keep praying that I find my way. I will not lose faith in my cold, hidden dreams. I will not be selfish. I will not fall victim to self doubt and self pity. That’s what the enemy wishes me to do. He wishes me to fail. He wishes me to give up. My dreams are my dreams. Nobody can take them from me, not until I let them.

IMG_3714.JPG

Little White Speck

It’s quiet now. There are no televisions on at our house. I can hear the crickets outside the bedroom window. My newborn is asleep on my chest, my two year old is asleep in his crib. I find the quiet to be a magical fantasy. It lures me to leave it alone. It doesn’t want me to move. It doesn’t want anything to change.
I have read a million things these last two and a half weeks. Everything from parenting newsletters in my inbox to blog posts I find during a 2:00 a.m. feeding session on Pinterest. One post that really caught my attention in particular was about a woman who followed a blog. In this blog, the writer was a mother and wife. She posted all these awesome pictures and entries that made her life seem perfect. She had the perfect kid who never cried in any pictures. She had the perfect husband who never complained and was always the doting dad. She cooked perfect meals. Her life was amazing. The blog I was reading was written by a new mother. She had followed this woman and her “perfect life” and had been comparing her life to the things this woman was describing. It took the realistic mother only a short while to figure out this other blogger was a phony. Realistic mother went back and looked at everything she had been posting herself. She showed a few examples of pictures she had put with some of her entries. The first 10 pictures she took were never the pictures that she used. One example was a picture of her husband and daughter. The picture she used showed a smiling dad and a smiling child with their arms wrapped around each other. It showed them looking undeniably cute and affectionate. Then, she showed the pictures she took before the one she used. The kid was not happy. She was not smiling. The dad looked uninterested in being in the picture. This whole thing really made me laugh. We are all so worried about what we look like to the world that we “fake it till we make it.”
I am a mother of two wonderful boys. I love them with all of my heart. That is the truth. The rest of the truth is that they both poop a lot. I change a lot of diapers and it’s not pretty. I have a 2 year old who tells me no. I have to “smack his booty.” He won’t always take a nap. He gets toys out and won’t put them back when he is asked or told. He says “mine” all the time. He cries when he knows it’s time for bed. I have a 2 1/2 week old baby. He eats, sleeps, poops and repeats. He is hungry all the time. My nipples feel like they will fall off. His butt makes sounds that should only come from a grown man. I get peed on at least once a day. I know all the words to Dora’s songs. I had to take television away from my child because I think he is mildly addicted. My husband works away during the week. He gets to have time to himself. He told me today that I was “snippy” with him. My mother is here helping me right now because I can’t physically take care of my two children, cook and clean my house. These are all my truths. Is it embarrassing to put it all out there like that? Heck yes. Do I think it makes me look like any less of a person or mother? Heck no. My life is by no means perfect. There are daily struggles. I win some battles and I lose some brain cells. At the end of the day, I would rather I was honest with myself and anyone who cares to know about me. I don’t have it all together. No amount of edited pictures or fancy writing skills will ever be able to cover up that truth. I love my kids. I love my husband. I appreciate my friends and family for their help and support.
If I have learned one thing from the post I read about “perfect mom,” it’s that she doesn’t really exist.
I stole this quote from one of my all time favorite movies and it seems to go well here, “The funny thing about that little white speck on the top of chicken shit. That little white speck is chicken shit too.”

20140803-221049-79849407.jpg