He is There

I am so happy to share that (drumroll please) my kitchen renovation is about halfway complete! 

I have been pulling double shifts and painting until midnight. Tonight I was overcome with an overwhelming emotion of school girl giddiness. I can attempt to explain it no other way. I was painting away and I looked around the room and I felt some peace. Yes, peace and excitement, at the same time. All I could imagine was my family all together in our new kitchen. I could see my kiddos eating their pancakes at the table. I could see me running around and grabbing requested items, coffee cup in hand. I could picture my hubs shaking his head as our oldest squeezed too much syrup on to his fluffy pile of flapjacks. 

I have been dreaming of this kitchen for two years now. Thanks to my mom and stepdad, it has finally started to look like something from my dreams. Mom has been my coach. She explains the process of the things we are doing and she double and triple checks my work. She gives me advice and she has been the visionary on the plans for what I wanted. My stepdad is just an all-around craftsman. He can build just about anything! It truly is amazing to see someone make ideas become reality. I honestly hope that my children can learn so much from him in the years to come. I want them to be independent young men who are not afraid to craft awesomeness. 

The school year can be such a stressful time for us. I look forward to many happy Saturday mornings spent in the improved space. I promise to post “after” pictures when I have everything completed and things are in their rightful places. Right now…I will share a few from before we got started.


Also, I wanted to say a special thank you to my dad. He has been on my mind during this whole project. In the midst of night, while I am in there painting away, he is heavy in my heart. I feel like my sweat and tears are helping me to breath some of his soul into this kitchen. I feel he would be proud of my trying to do something challenging and fulfilling. I feel he would want me to have a happy place as my stress-free zone. I feel…him. He is there. He is happy. He is my peace. 

Small Adventures

I’m ready for an adventure. Don’t get me wrong, everyday with a 2 year-old and 3 month-old can be an adventure. I’m just ready for one that doesn’t include dirty diapers and snotty noses. I love my boys, in all their glory, I just have a longing that needs fulfilled.
It could be as simple as a quiet coffee shop and my book. It could be a shopping trip with my girls. It could be a visit to a winery. On more than one occasion I have dreamed of a sunrise horseback ride with my hubby. I think these are all romantic notions that I have dreamed up in my spare moments of solitude. Is it wrong that I lay awake at night and yearn for small adventures like this? I hope it’s not wrong to want these things. My kids are my world. I think as mothers and parents, we often feel a pang of guilt after any inkling of fun that may not involve our kids. Being a mother is the most rewarding job I have ever had. It is also, by far, the most exhausting. A hotel bed with crisp, clean sheets, a television, and no alarm set is one of the most amazing pictures I can paint in my mind. I also dream of fancy dinners where my main concern is what drink I will pair with my meal instead of where did the crayons fall on the floor or when was the last time my 2 year-old washed his hands?
I often feel that if I don’t make an effort to at least dream of these adventures then I am doing everyone I talk to an injustice. For example, talking with people who do not have children or have grown children, often can be a disaster of a conversation for me. I notice that it’s usually my go to conversation piece. Some people don’t want kids or can not have children. Therefore, they have zero interest in hearing what crazy, awesome thing my 2 year-old did the other day. I sometimes feel guilty talking to people who also have kids. Are we robbing each other of these few precious moments where our lives do not revolve around those munchkins? I mean, let’s think about it. On average, my husband and I spend one night a year together away from the kids. That means 364 days, we see/talk/think about the kids and their needs. If our life is at all similar to any other couple with children, then that does not leave much time (save the middle of the night or in between bites of food and screaming children) to talk to each other or other adults. So, if we are going to have a baby sitter and a night out with friends (who have children) is it wrong to try and talk about anything other than your kids? I enjoy an adult conversation once a year that doesn’t involve poop or the newest virus going around the daycare. Does that make me a bad person? My simple answer to this is no. No, I will continue to dream about having those adventures. Life without dreams is a sad one. Will I have a chance to do all of the things on my adventure list this year? Probably not. Will I have a chance to do one of them? I hope so.

IMG_4148.JPG

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

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

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

I Feel Him There

Sometimes, I open my eyes and I am standing in our pasture. It’s those few minutes between darkness and daylight break. I look out over the high grass and see the fog settling. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. The air blows just enough that I feel it move my hair. I can feel God there.
One week ago, we welcomed our second son into this world. Already having a child prepared me for what labor would be like. I said several times that I think a woman’s brain is trained to block some things about labor out. Otherwise, nobody would ever have more than one. We went in to the hospital early Thursday morning. My doctor broke my water around 8:00 a.m. Things progressed pretty quickly this time. (I was in labor with our first son for 8 hours.)
After four and a half short hours, it was go time. Every time I was told to push, I did. I would close my eyes so tight. When I opened them, I was standing in our pasture. I was feeling the dampness in the air. I was listening and waiting. I felt the comfort of knowing he was with me. I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t hear him. I just knew he was there. Before I realized what had happened, my son was being placed on my lap. I had tears running down my face. All the months of fears and worry had come to a screeching halt. The worrying had been about eating the right foods, getting enough rest, living with guilt of my first son not being my only priority anymore. All of these things and more had been challenges for me. In that moment, the moment he was placed on my stomach, the moment I heard him cry, the moment I knew my life would once again never be what it was before, I knew that God had been there with me. I knew that he had a hand in helping us through.
Life is such a beautiful thing. In moments like these, I am thankful that I can open my eyes and my heart to see the things that not everyone believes to be there.

20140723-230243-82963130.jpg