Thursday, January 23, 2014

Finding the Joy

It's been a little bit since I sat down to write {having a baby will do that to you!}.  But lately I've felt a conviction to once again share my thoughts, so back in the saddle we go!  

One thing a southern lady will always say is that you have to have "your ducks in a row" and I am no exception to that rule. I thrive when I know exactly what needs to be done and when. I have a calendar hanging in our kitchen so that we know exactly when and where we all need to be on any given day. So when things don't go as planned, I sometimes can get a little frazzled.

Case in point - two nights ago after playing and having a generally wonderful evening with kids I discovered the baby felt incredibly warm. He wasn't showing any signs of being sick but was running a very high fever. Concerned quickly evaporated to irritation and frustration. Not at the baby of course, but at whoever could have brought this illness to his {fully acknowledging that it was probably one of us within the family}. And after a visit to the doctor the following morning it was confirmed that he had a case of RSV and would likely need to be out of daycare for the rest of the week.

Now I'm going to be honest here - this just didn't set well. I have a job and things to get done. My dear husband has already spent a number of days off or working at home this year because of all sorts of things, so I knew this baby was all mine. But as I drove to work {with sick baby in tow} this verse popped into my head:

Was I being joyful and praying? Not even in the slightest. Was I thankful that I had to juggle a clingy baby while trying to get some work done as quickly as possible? Nope. Just nope. It was all just a big inconvenience.

However, later in the day, as my sweet baby coughed and sneezed and at times struggled to catch his breathe I realized that while my day {or week in this case} isn't how I thought it would be, I did have so much to be joyful and thankful for. I found joy not in his illness but in the fact that it wasn't serious. I was beyond thankful that my boss and work were understanding enough to allow me to work from home so that I could care for him over the next fews days. And most importantly I was beyond grateful to be trusted by God to be this little guy's mom and to provide him the care he needs while his body heals. 

So yes, in the end I was able to find joy in what most {including me} would consider a sucky situation. It's hard to do though. Finding reasons to give thanks in the least thankful times. But there's a reason, His reason, and you'll see it too, if you take a moment and open your mind and heart to Him.

I've got a couple exciting posts coming up, so I hope you'll stop back by to hear this southern belle's secrets.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I just.....AM!

Just a couple days shy of 36 weeks and I've reach ::that:: point.  I am big (although not really all that big), hot, and most of the time, generally a few notches closer to completely annoyed than not. Poor husband and son are dealing with this unhappy momma by spending lots of time at the park, outside, or pretty much anywhere I'm not.  And me...well I'm spending as much time as I physically can where it's cool {almost cold in fact - and yes it's perfect fine if it's so cold I feel the need to wear sweats and a long sleeve shirt..THANK.YOU.VERY.MUCH} and I can manage to find a comfortable position to be in.

As we prepare for baby boy to arrive I've been doing all that I can to get prepared, which mainly consists of digging up books and washing baby clothes.  But I'm also trying to figure out how to soak up these last weeks - last because he will be here soon and last because I don't plan on having any more kids.

It's a heavy place to be.  Realizing that this will most likely be the last time I feel this uncomfortable because there is a 5 lb baby in my belly kicking my ribs continuously. That's it's likely the last time I'll be preparing a nursery. Or even wearing these stupid maternity clothes. It's a double edge sword that I am looking forward to putting behind me but also beginning to miss in some ways.  I think it's because of that I find I'm even more off.  So in short I just am what I am.  I'm not sure what that is or how to feel. Or for that matter what I'm really suppose to feel.

I don't really have a point today - just felt the need to put it out there.

And now, it's time to focus on the special men in my life!  Happy Father's Day to all the daddies out there!  Hope you and yours have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What I Wish I Knew....

Being a First Time Mom

Being a practical, black and white type of person, my journey into motherhood wasn't something that was really ever up for debate.  Once I got past my wild college days of carefree fun, I knew at some point I'd bite the bullet and have kids.  So in the time leading up to my first child being delivered I read and researched everything I could about babies and kids.  And while I quickly figured out which bottles were the best (seriously, whatever you baby likes if that is your choice), which parenting style worked best for me, and the fact that you really don't need all the gadgets (honestly, they aren't lying), many of the sources failed to address some of the more real aspects to parent.  You know, the junk that no one really wants to cop to.  The really ugly stuff.  But for me, that's the stuff I want to hear and read.  I want the REAL dirt.  So here are a few things that I wish I knew as a first time Mom.

1) Once you get that first "positive" test, you might be overjoyed or overwhelmed.  If you are like me, you have a "Oh Sh*t" moment.  Although in my case that moment lasted for a good couple of months. Whatever your emotions are - they are ok.  I remember being blasted on a discussion board once for have the nerve to post that I was struggling with being excited and happy - after all how day I NOT be excited when so many other women tried for months or years to get pregnant.  But the reality is, that every one of us take a different path and whatever you feel is complete OK!  So if you feel scared or sad (even if it was planned) it's OK!  I wish someone had said that to me because once I moved past the scary early months I felt shamed and guilty for not feeling excited early on.  (*NOTE: if you're lacking excitement and feeling down or depressed, please talk to your doctor.  Depression is a very real thing that many expectant mothers feel and your doctor can help!)

2) Not all first time moms deliver late.  I had so many people tell that there was no way I would go early, that all first time moms went late, blah blah blah, that I was actually convince that it just wouldn't happen.  So color me surprised when my little bundle of joy came screaming into the world 2 weeks early.  Thankfully we lived very close to the hospital so our lack of car seat installed or very loosely packed hospital bag wasn't a big issue, but in reality it can, and does happen.  The last month of pregnancy really is just a big waiting game, so be prepared.

3) For those working moms - don't put off putting together a thorough maternity plan.  Again - convinced I wouldn't be having my first son early, I actually took home a bag of work and planned on working on my maternity plan 2 weeks before my due date - the same weekend my son was born.  And for a work-a-holic like me (or at least) I just rolled with it and worked through those first couple of days, but it's not ideal and a lot of things slip through the cracks when that happens.  So my advice is plan early!  Communicate often and begin paring down your work at least 6 weeks out.  The 2nd time around, I'm now at 33 weeks and planning out my maternity plan this week.  Over the next two weeks I'll be doing the initial transition discussions and meetings.  Beginning at 36 weeks I start creating detailed task sheets at the end of each day for the following day and week for each of my backups.  Yes - this is a lot of work, but it also ensures that if I go into labor at any point, some one can step in and figure out exactly where I was with something and what else needs to be done.  These are especially helpful if you also include any necessary passwords and file locations!

4) Post delivery sucks!  You'll read that everywhere, and it's true.  The healing process is no joke.  Just prepare for it.  Expect the worst - then if it's not that bad you're just a lucky one.  Oh and take all the underwear the hospital gives you.  You'll ruin them and it's OK!  Also - take the stool softeners they give you religiously and keep taking them when you get home.  The first couple BMs are horrible.  Nightmare worthy in fact.  Having been through this rodeo once before, I can tell you have I no fear about birth but seriously am already dreading that part.

5) Graciously accept any and all help you can get.  People seriously don't care if your house is a mess, if you haven't showered in a couple of days, if you're grumpy - they really just want to help.  So take it!  And when a friend offers to come and rock the baby so that you can enjoy a hour long shower if you want, DO IT!  You'll have plenty of days where a 5 minute shower is a luxury and the entire time you're in there you will swear the baby is crying (trust me - even with a monitor this happens), so take the opportunity!

6) In those early post-partum days, it is extremely easy to get comfortable in your home, but do yourself a favor and get out!  Whether it's sitting on a deck for 5 minutes, taking a walk down the street, or running out to pick up lunch - just get out!  Load the baby up and go.  Why you ask?  I mean it's not like you've got oodles of energy to spare - right?!  But the reality of it is, fresh air does everyone good!  Mentally, physically, emotionally - just changing your environment is a positive thing.  Do it.  Ask your friends to hold you accountable.  Yes it's hard - but you will feel better if you - this I can promise.

7) It's totally OK to wear your maternity clothes after you have the baby.  I don't exactly know why I didn't know this the first time, but I guess I just expected that after delivery everything would magically fall back in place.  News flash - it doesn't!  So unless you've got buckets of money sitting around and can afford to buy a new wardrobe - wear your maternity stuff a little while longer.

8) It's ok to get frustrated with your spouse, partner and even baby in those early days.  Don't beat yourself up if you find your patience running thin or you catch yourself thinking "Can't you just stop crying for a few minutes." Everyone in your house is adjusting to this new person, and this new person is adjusting to their new world.  It's a lot to take in.  So take it easy and relax.

9) Finally, remember that even the "perfect" moms - you know the ones I'm talking about, perfect hair, perfectly dressed, kids are neat and tidy, with the fresh baked basket of muffins, yeah those - they may look perfect, but 9 times out of 10, if you scratch just a little below the surface, everything isn't perfect.  So don't hold yourself to impossibly high standard.  Be proud of what YOU'VE accomplished, even if it's as simple as getting dressed in something other than yoga pants and a t-shirt and hold your head up high.

Is there anything you'd add?

Until next time.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Things I Wish I Knew.....

My First Job(s)

Recently some conversations about "new" workers, i.e. young kids fresh out of college, and even to some extent the whole of 20 somethings, got me thinking about my career, the path I've taken, and the things I wish I had known when I started working.

But first let me start with my history.  I grew up in a divorced, middle class home.  Both of my parents worked, and both of my parents had spent their entire careers at the same companies they started with.  Money was tight, but my mother sacrificed a lot to ensure my sister and I had everything we needed, which a few extra things here and there.  So as a teenager, the choice to work was based 100% on my desire to purchase things that I wanted.  If I wanted the name brand jeans, then I had to save up.  If I wanted to go to the movies, it meant working a few extra hours.  At 16 I had 3 (yep that's right, 3, actually 4 if you count the random babysitting jobs I would pick up) jobs.  I worked at the library shelving books a few hours a week.  I spent every afternoon at a local law office filing and retrieving court documents or doing research. And I spent a few evenings each week working at a local pizza place.  I was busy.  But those early jobs instilled me a few lessons that have paid me back 10 fold as an adult.  So without further delay, here are the few things I wish I had known (or in some cases kids these days should know) about my first adult job.

1) You are the low man on the totem pole.  Acting like you're not will only create a bigger problem for yourself.  I thought I was hot stuff at my first job - I knew what I was doing and everyone should listen to me.  After all, I had a degree in management.  Looking back I can't believe how stupid I was and I can also see the drama I created with my poor attitude.  Being humble and understanding that, yes, you may have a lot to give, but you also have a lot to learn really is key to starting your career off on the right foot.  Plus - no one wants to work with a "know-it-all," so just don't be that person!

2) Being on time is important!  Thankfully this one was I never really had to learn, but I see it so often it's worth the mention.  While I'm not advocating the old advice of showing before everyone else and leaving after everyone else (unless you have enough work to keep you busy) being on-time or even a few minutes early shows you have respect for your employer and fellow employees.  And yes, I hear your whining all the way over here, "but so-and-so always shows up 5 minutes late, or takes an extra 10 minutes on lunch, and no one says a thing to them."  Well guess what - here's the truth - if you notice, your boss probably does too.  As does the other people they work with.  Sometimes those things are overlooked because they've worked late or are on call or maybe they've made other arrangements.  Either way, don't assume anything and trust that if they are truly slacking, sometime is taking note.  And when the opportunity arises to assign a special project or give someone a chance, it will always be those employees who have proven their dedication that will get the chance.

3) You are NEVER, let me repeat that, NEVER too good, above, senior, whatever, to do the basic things.  Part of the key to my success, is that I was always willing to help out, regardless of whether or not is was part of my job.  Sometimes that meant running errands, making copies or even, yes, unclogging the toilet in the shared bathroom.  Gross, yes.  But I quickly earned a solid reputation that I was dependable, reliable, and willing to get the job done.  I was rewarded through earning the respect of senior management and in return given responsibilities and access to information that most in my position would not have been given.  Even now, when it comes down to handling the little stuff, I'll step in and do it.  I've stuff envelopes, cut fliers, stuck stamps, and a host of other "low level" tasks more times than I can count.  But I do so willingly because when you work in an office environment, helping out each other only helps everyone in the long run.  Plus you catch a lot more flies with honey than you do vinegar.

4) Last, but certainly not least, don't be afraid to ask for help when you don't know the answer or need help.  You're young - no boss of yours will expect you to know everything.  So admitting you don't know or need help isn't a sign of weakness.  In fact, it's truly a sign of strength.  It shows that you care enough to want to do the task the correct way, the first time.  But, and this is a big one, it's not enough to say "I don't know." Those that get ahead are the ones that say "I'm not really sure, but I'll do some research and see what I can find out" and then go do it.  And if after that, you still need help, ask!  The exception to this is if you've been instructed multiple times and have failed to listen.  Instructions should only have to be given twice at most.  If you're not getting something, asking during the training.  And keep asking until you understand it.  Don't just assume you'll figure it out later.  Because often you won't, and when you have to ask for the 3rd or 4th time, you're boss will start to wonder whether you're just dense or lazy.

Which brings me to my last tip....

5) ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a pen and note pad with you.  I don't care if you're popping in for an update, taking a training course, or simply walking around to socialize.  Carry a notebook - big or little doesn't matter - with a working pen with you.  Just trust me on this!

So there you have it.  What about you?  What are the things you wish either you knew or that your new employees knew when they started working?  Anything I forgot here?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The State of our World

It's been a little while since my last post.  I've had just a few things going on - namely moving and working through Easter at a church - so my already hindered mental capacity has been at an all time low.  However, I've been dreaming up some posts and hope to get back on a regular posting schedule soon!

All that to say, the last 24 hours have given me so much material I felt I need to just write out my thoughts.  Firstly, the Oklahoma tornadoes.  I purposefully avoided the news last night because I simply  couldn't handle the heartbreaking stories that I knew would be shown.  By God's grace, the count of those who had passed as a result of the storm has come down, but even still a considerable number of people lost their lives, including a number of children.  In the overly hormonal state I currently find myself in, I am finding that avoiding the news, pictures, videos is helping me stay focused on what I can do - which in this case is a constant and intentional state of pray - as opposed to playing the "sorrow game."  My heart breaks for those impacted, but I do myself no good by pouring hours into reading all the reports and looking at all the pictures.  Because what I've found is that when I do that, I begin to put myself in position of those impacted.  I begin wondering "What if this happened here?" "How would I feel?" " How would I respond?" and that path only leads to state of panic, worry and ultimately a self-centered distraction.  Instead I am focusing my attention on God and prayer.

And in the midst of this tragedy today I am ran across a somewhat controversial TED Talk that got me thinking even more....

As I listened to this talk by Dr. Jay, I found myself nodding in agreement with many of her assertions.  20 somethings of today are taking a pass.  They aren't taking life seriously, because they have time.  Time to figure it out.  Time to make mistakes.  Time to life seriously.  And maybe they do.  I was raised to take every day and use it, learn from it, and make the next day even better than before.  I didn't spend my 20's dating the wrong men or working in a job that meant nothing.  Yes, I approached my 20's with a learning mindset, but I also had the amazing guidance of my family, that taught me that everything we do is a learning experience, but wasting time results is nothing more than wasted time.

I count my blessing that this video is something I strongly agree with, as opposed to feeling condemned by.  I struggle to see the other side of the coin in this instance, where floating through a period of my life without direction or intent could be beneficial or even enjoyable.  Which then brings me back to the tragedies in Oklahoma.

We don't always know what tomorrow, or even the next hour may bring.  I doubt any of the victims yesterday woke up knowing that they would not be returning to their families or friends.  I would bet that everyone of them had something planned in the days and weeks ahead, that sadly they won't be making. Events like yesterday are what make me what to grab hold of every person - 20 something or not - that says they've got time and shake them.  To tell them that by God's grace maybe they do, but maybe they don't have 5 more minutes or days.  So don't waste today.  Seek to move forward, to impact someone, to change something.  If not for yourself, for those who no long have the opportunity too.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Mom Confessions

Wow, the weeks right now just seem to fly by for me.  I have several other posts in the hopper, but getting the precious few minutes needed to do final edits {or in some cases just finish thoughts} has escaped me.

I unfortunately don't have a ton of confessions this week, but instead have just one big one.  Despite the fact that we begin moving into a big, beautiful new house in less than 4 hours - I am NOT excited - not even in the littlest bit.

Wow - could you feel that?  I think a thousand pounds just lifted off me and yet all at once hit me in my ever-swelling stomach.

The process of purchasing a home is one that is filled with a wide range of emotions.  Most people stress about the decision and money BEFORE they commit.  Now don't get me wrong, I get my ducks in a row before walking down a path of this magnitude, but until the dollars and cents are finalized, I don't get stressed.  It's not until it's time to actually write that check do I start to panic.

For me, money has always been a big issue.  Like most married couples, it's probably one of the things we discuss most often and probably the one thing I obsess about on a regular {read: non-stop} basis.  How much we've saved, how much we've spent, and how we can earn more.  Growing up, I was by no means poor.  Even after my parents divorced, we lived in beautiful homes and while I never had the best or newest gadgets, my mother did an amazing job of providing what we needed with a few extras here and there.  She also taught me the value of hard work and the importance of managing your money.  Only NOW, after I've "grown up" and started to see just what it really takes to run a household can I appreciate the sacrifices she made for me and my sister, but more importantly I can begin to see the strength she had to weather the storm of stress and anxiety she must have faced.

I know that I am blessed, beyond measure, with the worldly gifts God has given me.  And throughout this entire process I have felt God's hand guiding us.  Everything in fact, came together far better and easier than I could EVER have imagined.  And yet now, I find myself questioning if this was the right decision.  It's going to make the budget tight - real tight.  And with baby #2 on the way, I worry if this was the wrong decision and I just thought God was leading me this way.  I lay awake at night worrying about the bills to come.  Not because the money isn't there, but because of the sacrifices I have to make to ensure the money is there.  Many of which are selfish, self-serving sacrifices, like my penchant for eating because I simply don't want to cook.  

There's a reason that Jesus is recorded talking about money more than anything else, second only to the Kingdom of God.  Even more than Heaven and Hell combined.  And that's because as humans, even thousands of years ago, money had the ability to take hold of us and Satan uses that lure as a way to continue to distract us.  I've found myself praying even more than normal over the last few weeks about money in particular.  Because right now, money is the reason why I'm not excited about moving.  It's the black rain cloud that prevents me from enjoying the path God so patiently and lovingly forged for my family.  And to make it worse, much of my stress in self induced.

I worry about not being able to afford grabbing dinner with my girlfriends, instead of seeing this as an opportunity to open my home and heart to my friends in a real way.  I worry that my husband will resent our decision when he can't freely spend money on things he wants {even if I hate those very things, like cigars - YUCK} and will feel like a failure as a husband and provider.  I worry about the day to day "misses" instead of the joy that will come with a new baby and space to actually enjoy each other's company.

And at the end of the day, that my friends is the real the problem - because I worry about everything that the devil wants me to worry about - perception, image, other peoples opinions - instead of remembering that God has my back.  That he laid this path and made it possible for everything to come together.  That for every "sacrifice" I make now, he has an even greater plan for me in the future.  So while I may not be jumping over the moon about our impending move, I am praying hard that with this move our family can continue to share the love of Christ with those around us and that through our sacrifices we may bring joy to others.

I saw this image posted on Facebook yesterday and felt it was all too fitting for my mindset lately.  It's a hard lesson to follow at times, but one I know that is worth it!

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday Mom Confessions

Maybe a little late.  I have to admit, I thought about it yesterday, but yesterday was one of those days.  I was just in a funk and if I had written anything, it would have reeked with disdain and likely brought a big black over you as well.  Pregnancy hormones do weird things to you and yesterday was a low day.  So without further delay, below are my Mom Confessions from this past week.

Confession #1 - I have eaten a serious amount of my kid's Easter candy.  In my defense, he's 2, almost 3 {OMG that breaks my heart just typing it!}, and is seriously affected by sugar - as in screaming wilder beast who gets grouchy and even mean.  So we avoid giving him too much of anything heavy in sugar for everyone's sanity.  And what better way to get rid of it, than to eat it myself.  Mind you, I have my own Easter basket {yes, my mother still fixes one for me too!} overflowing with goodies, and my scale tells me to QUIT, like now, but so far neither of those facts has stopped me from digging into the kiddo's basket first.

Confession #2 - I often deal with things by simply forgetting or avoiding.  When I feel overwhelmed or stressed, instead of getting into the moment and dealing with it, I will delay, delay, delay, until it all comes crashing down on me.  Because after all - if you ignore something long enough it will eventually go away, right?! {I'm only kidding with that last sentence - this is NOT a good way to deal with things, but certainly helps me keep my Southern Belle coolness in pressure filled situations}.  However, as we did our final walk-through of what will be our new home in less than a week{!!!}, the gravity of all that I still have to do in our old home {namely - packing} hit me.  Where I wasn't worried before, now I'm suddenly panicked and have even more stress about how it all get done. Thank you Lord for my amazing husband, because without him the great moving debacle of 2007 {Summary: a large 2 bedroom apartment full of stuff, and only 3 boxes packed the morning everyone showed up to move us} would be occurring again next week!

Confession #3 - I sometimes have a hard time believing when people say they "feel" the presence of God with them.  Sorry that's kind of a heavy one - but it's been on my mind a lot this last week as I've found myself praying like it's my JOB.  I am a woman of strong faith {most of the time, but hey, we all stumble from time to time} and believe in the power of prayer.  I've even felt the emotional weights be lifted {albeit, usually after a good nights rest or some time} but I don't know that I've even really "felt" God with me.  It's an interesting concept, because I truly believe he is with me, but actually feeling it is something totally different.  IDK - I'm curious if anyone else feels this way or has actually experienced Him with them.

And....that's all I've got this week.  It's a little sad, but my poor, pregnancy fogged brain is working on overtime right now.  I daydream about cuddling my pillow and sleeping for days on end right.  Hopefully this fog will pass soon - because I've got too much stuff to do to just be laying around sleeping!

Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. For all the southerns out there - aren't you LOVING this weather?!  Granted, 80 degrees in April could be a really bad sign for the summer to come - but after what felt like a super long winter - I'm LOVING it.  Even sent the kidlet to school in shorts today!