November 2014 archive

A Thankful Life

index

I’ve noticed this trend on Facebook that for every day in November people will post what they are thankful for. I love this concept but haven’t done it yet as I missed that whole first week as I was vacationing with Hans in Florida. I have, however, kept a running list of blessings for years now. I got the idea from a Bible study I was once a member of and we discussed One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. The leader of the Bible study suggested we all take time to write down our many gifts within our lives as they came to us. These could include small things like the sound of falling leaves in autumn or big things like the baby boy growing within me. I thought this to be a wonderful idea and have kept at it for a few years now (although somewhat sporadically). It’s always a great reminder of the wonderful gift I have living this life. I’ve looked at it after my foot surgery and after my miscarriage. I’ve looked at it during the happiest of times. I’ve looked at it as each season turns into another. And now I offer it to you to look at and perhaps inspire you to start your own list or grow the one you already have.

  1. My relationship with God
  2. HANS
  3. Family
  4. Bella
  5. Friends
  6. Our colorful, clean, safe apartment
  7. Working, nice cars
  8. Hans’ job
  9. Waking up next to Hans each morning
  10. Going to sleep next to Hans each night
  11. Laughing with Hans
  12. Singing with Hans in the car
  13. Cuddling with Hans on the sofa
  14. Hans taking Bella out each morning and every night
  15. Morning walks with Bella
  16. Belly laughing uncontrollably
  17. Singing
  18. Dancing
  19. Raining while the sun is shining
  20. Rainbows when you really need one
  21. Bible study
  22. My sweet mother on the other end of the phone
  23. Girls laughing together
  24. Migraine medicine
  25. Health – body, mind, spirit
  26. Cheese dip
  27. Banana margaritas at Pure Taqueria
  28. Eating Paolo’s Gelato with Hans
  29. Lemon cheesecake at The Daily Grind
  30. Seeing deer while walking Bella on Big Creek Greenway
  31. Watching robins tease Bella when they realize she’s on a leash and can’t get them
  32. Watching Bella delight in seeing squirrels
  33. Bella’s scruffy fur
  34. When Hans compliments my beauty because I’m not wearing makeup for the first time in awhile
  35. Great books
  36. Great book series
  37. Teaching
  38. Clean food
  39. Free speech
  40. United States of America
  41. Fox Brothers BBQ Texas Fries
  42. Mission trip to Guatemala
  43. Book stores
  44. Lunch dates with friends
  45. Sun-kissed skin
  46. Imagination
  47. Walking on bridges – I love the metaphor!
  48. Puppy breath on my leg
  49. Free days to do the unexpected
  50. Broadway musicals
  51. Singing in the car
  52. Kindness of strangers – especially receptionists
  53. Being able to tighten up my belt a few notches
  54. Freckles
  55. Freshly vacuumed carpet
  56. Words
  57. Writing
  58. Starting a new book
  59. Rereading a book – like visiting an old friend
  60. Making a new friend
  61. Becoming a better friend with someone
  62. Painted finger and toe nails
  63. Freshly washed hair
  64. A good hair day
  65. Makeup on a bad self-esteem day
  66. Birthdays
  67. Beautiful, sunny, mild-temperature, perfect-weather days
  68. Animals
  69. Goofy nicknames
  70. Rain right when you go to bed
  71. Dog smell
  72. Dog kisses
  73. Bella watching over me when I’m sick
  74. Our new rental house
  75. Girl Scout cookies
  76. Finishing a book with more in the series
  77. Substitute Teachers
  78. Cuddling and watching television with Hans
  79. Warm, clean, just-from-the-dryer bed sheets
  80. Handmade blankets from my mother-in-law
  81. A week with my mother as I recover from surgery
  82. Scarves
  83. Well-written television series
  84. Movie Theaters
  85. Cheesecake
  86. Freshly cleaned apartment or house
  87. My own reading room/library
  88. Board Game Night
  89. Parties at our place
  90. Sand beneath my feet
  91. Sun on my face
  92. That feeling of Fall and changing temperatures
  93. Snow days
  94. Good doctors
  95. A good bottle of white wine
  96. Woodchuck Fall Cider
  97. Jeans that fit just right
  98. Going to the hair salon
  99. Colors in my hair
  100. New makeup
  101. Hiking
  102. Double Dates
  103. Date Night with Hans
  104. Impromptu time with friends
  105. Paying off a credit card
  106. Paying off a car
  107. Getting a car title… finally
  108. Helpful, quick, and courteous customer support (especially when your wallet has been stolen)
  109. Talking for hours with Hans
  110. Giggling with Hans
  111. Helping a friend in need
  112. A shoulder to cry on
  113. Watching Bella get a new toy
  114. Giving Bella a Greenie
  115. Watching Hans and Bella play hide-and-seek
  116. Watching Bella run around like crazy
  117. Traffic that moves after being stuck for awhile
  118. Inside jokes
  119. Quotable movie lines
  120. A red cardinal on a dreary day
  121. A happy crow with a beak full of cracker
  122. Watching the tubby squirrel from the bedroom window – Mr. Tuppers T. Squirrel
  123. Shopping Day
  124. Burning a new candle
  125. Receiving flowers from a friend
  126. Receiving a bottle of wine from a friend
  127. A new friend bringing a gift for the hosts of a party
  128. Warm blankets on cold, winter days
  129. The smell of fresh laundry
  130. Bella’s love of blankets
  131. Great smelling body wash
  132. Bubble bath
  133. New perfume
  134. Awesome sales when shopping
  135. A trip to the bookstore
  136. Used books
  137. Deals at the used bookstore (like buy 10 books, get 10 free)
  138. Starbucks
  139. French pastries
  140. Sleeping in
  141. Early start to the day
  142. Being tired after a great exercise
  143. Workout clothes
  144. Comfortable tennis shoes
  145. Smart artwork
  146. YouTube videos
  147. Blogging
  148. Writing poetry
  149. Writing a novel
  150. Traveling
  151. Excitement over trying to have a baby
  152. Babies and children
  153. Inspiration
  154. Painting
  155. Crafting
  156. Cozy sweaters
  157. Holidays
  158. Vacations
  159. Watching the documentaries on the subject my husband loves
  160. Being carried up the stairs when I can’t walk
  161. Whispered adorations in the middle of the night
  162. Saying hello and goodbye with a kiss and an embrace
  163. Listening to someone who needs someone just to listen
  164. Flirty texts
  165. The look on his face when I say something lusty
  166. Silly sayings just between the two of us
  167. Confidence in a partner
  168. Being the host of a gathering of friends
  169. A song that ties us together
  170. Love songs that speak to my heart
  171. Being held as I cry
  172. Being able to rant without worry
  173. Finding the perfection amid all the imperfections in another person
  174. Staying in pajamas all day
  175. Holding back hair when someone is sick
  176. The smell of French toast in the morning
  177. Laughing at mistakes
  178. Patience during driving
  179. Jumping on bed
  180. Chasing Bella around the house
  181. The sound of Bella when I walk through the door
  182. Dancing like I have a wedgie I’m trying to get out
  183. Laughing at South Park
  184. Feeling like a kid as I watch Adventure Time
  185. Singing the My Little Pony theme song
  186. Discovering a love of a new television show with Hans
  187. Exploring new places
  188. Trying different things
  189. My husband reading the same book as me so we can discuss it
  190. My husband drying dishes as I wash them
  191. My husband cleaning the bathrooms because he knows that I hate it
  192. My husband killing icky insects and spiders around the house
  193. A touch to calm frazzled nerves
  194. A look that conveys the world
  195. Saying nothing but meaning everything
  196. Birthday parties
  197. Costume/themed parties
  198. Unexpected birthday gifts
  199. Kind words
  200. Movie day in the classroom
  201. Unexpected gifts from students I see only once or twice as a substitute
  202. Playing music in class
  203. Vacations with my hubby
  204. Used books
  205. My blog
  206. Hans by my side through our miscarriage
  207. Keeping a journal for our first baby
  208. Being pregnant with a healthy baby
  209. A husband who takes care of me
  210. New chapters in life
  211. Parents who will dog-sit while we’re on a vacation
  212. A free place to stay on vacation
  213. Free tickets to the happiest place on Earth, Disney Land
  214. Costume parties
  215. A friend coming with me to a doctor’s appointment
  216. Seeing our baby on the ultrasound for the first time
  217. Each time we see and hear our healthy baby
  218. A clean bill of health on our baby’s genetic testing
  219. Finding out our baby is a boy
  220. Planning for the future of our baby together
  221. Hosting Thanksgiving within our house for our family
  222. The sound of falling leaves in autumn
  223. Bella barking at the falling leaves
  224. The sound of Bella running full speed through the dry leaves
  225. Bella’s floppy ears
  226. Bella’s “Muppet” feet
  227. Hans playing bed monster with Bella
  228. Catching up with a friend
  229. Keeping in touch with friends through social media
  230. Social media
  231. Mexican food
  232. A hot shower on a cold day
  233. Warm-from-the-dryer bedsheets on a cold day
  234. A friend to whom you can tell anything and can rely upon
  235. Hand-me-down baby necessities from said friend in #234 :)

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What It Seems from the Outside

In the wake of recent trials and events that have transpired within the past 24 hours in our country, I will keep my opinions to myself. However, I wish to remind us all to walk in other people’s shoes. Things are not always what they seem from the outside. This decision may ignite more hatred and fear, but this needs to stop. People are people, no matter the race, religion, sex, gender, or sexual orientation. Peace is the only balm needed in many cases.

My stepfather recently told me a story when I was down for my great-uncle’s funeral. (Forgive me, Brian, if I get some details wrong. My memory isn’t what it used to be due to age and pregnancy.) When he was a young boy growing up in England, he used to walk past this house everyday going to school. It was impossible to see into the other houses in the neighborhood, but because this house was sitting on a hill just right, anyone walking by could easily see into the window. The house belonged to an elderly man, and what made this man unique was that he dressed in women’s clothing when he was in the house and would dress in the respectable men’s clothing when he left the house. Pretty soon, people started to complain about his “deviant” behavior. (Remember this was a different time when cross-dressing was unheard of.)

The police received so many complaints that they had no other alternative but to talk with the elderly man. They went to his house and eventually had to break in because there was no reply. Being an elderly man, the police were worried about him. They found him dead. As the coroner was called and the police started to poke around, they discovered the man had been wearing his deceased wife’s clothes. His own clothes were ratty and torn with only one outfit in acceptable condition. This outfit he used to go out when he needed to and would have to wash it every time, leading to a diminishing condition as well. Because he had no other clothes and an income too small to buy new ones, he had been wearing his wife’s clothes while in the house because he thought his house, like all the others in the neighborhood, was not able to be looked into from the outside. He didn’t mean any harm by what he did; it was simply a necessity.

All of the people who thought him such a deviant had not stopped to consider why he was dressing in women’s clothes. They had not taken a moment to really think about him as another human being, just like them, and to take a walk in his shoes. Things weren’t what they seemed from the outside, and what a difference it would have made if people would not have judged so quickly.

I, like most people, am quick to judge. I am quick to say what is right and what is wrong, usually based on my own political beliefs and lifestyle. I enjoy hearing other people’s views, but I laugh to myself with superiority about how wrong they are. What would happen if I took a moment to consider where the others are coming from? What would happen if I tried to sympathize or empathize instead of being quick to point out exactly what is wrong? Wouldn’t it be grand if we put our judgments down and took up love instead?

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A Superhero Dream

I have been keeping a journal for my baby for over a month now since my friend Michelle mentioned the idea. As my friend Rachel had already gifted me with a new journal for my birthday in May, I had all the tools necessary to start this endeavor. Most entries are cheesy and so saccharine I may just give my son a cavity when he reads this journal. I could write on my motherly love every day. However, I’ve also been trying to show him how our lives are right now, what the world looks like today, and encourage him to make it better through whatever he does and convince him he is worthy of great things. I won’t be sharing most of my entries, as these are meant for my son, my husband, and myself, but I will share the following one with you. Enjoy!

 

November 18, 2014

When a woman is pregnant, she has crazy dreams as she sleeps. Almost every night I have a vivid, colorful dream, and these have been quite entertaining as long as they’re not nightmares. The other night I dreamt I was a superhero. I controlled fire much like Johnny Storm, a.k.a. Human Torch, from the Fantastic Four (don’t worry, you’ll be learning all about Marvel comics) or Liz Sherman, a pyrokinetic from Hellboy (another comic and/or movie you’ll be reading/watching). I even had the phrase “Flame On!” to indicate I was using my fire abilities. I was able to fly, something with manipulating such a strong element, and the whole experience was quite liberating.

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I was accompanied in the dream by Hank McCoy, a.k.a. Beast from the Marvel X-Men Comics, Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman from DC Comics, and Bruce Banner, a.k.a. Hulk from Marvel Comics. We were fighting some sort of huge evil that was such a threat to human existence that it was necessary to my subconscious to blend Marvel and DC superheroes together. We were doing a fairly good job, and from out of nowhere, we started falling a great distance. Beast, Batman, and Hulk grasped onto me, and with my ability to fly, I saved them all.

It’s important to note that I was a woman in my dream as well (and, yes, sometimes I dream that I am a man though not very often). The fact that a woman had just saved these three hulking heroes did not go unnoticed within my dream. As I had the personality akin to Deadpool (another character within the Marvel universe) I was quite full of myself for the rest of the fight and let everyone know about it. I can’t remember how the dream ended, though when I woke up I had almost a sense of glee, so I’m assuming the fight ended well by saving the planet from that blurry evil. For the rest of the day, and even for two days afterwards, I continued to think back on this dream. Not only is the feeling of being so powerful intoxicating, but the idea that I, a woman, had the ability to save so many strong men filled me with euphoria.

So why am I telling you this, Baby Boy? Because I think it’s important to never underestimate someone. People have more strength than even they may know, and this strength usually doesn’t manifest until faced with an assumed insurmountable dilemma. Don’t give up when faced with challenges that appear too difficult to vanquish. You are more than the world will give you credit for, and your belief in this will give you strength. I’m also telling you this because women can be superheroes, too, even though no acceptable movies have been made about individual women superheroes within the comic book world (hopefully this will have changed in your childhood). I know you are a male, sweet child, and what I hope you get from this is to not underestimate the other sex. Indeed, I hope you don’t underestimate anyone who may appear different from you. People are stronger than the prejudices and stereotypes against them, and you are smarter and more generous than to buy into these. You will be one of many to shape this world into a more loving abode for everything upon it.

As always, remember you are loved unconditionally, and no matter what you become or are already, your father and I believe in you. You have made me stronger and more powerful which manifested in this dream! Until next time, my sweet boy, adieu.

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” – Aibileen Clark in The Help, written by Kathryn Stockett

A Time to Grieve and a Time to Celebrate

My great-uncle died today. When he didn’t show up to my grandmother’s house for after-church lunch, my uncle and stepdad went over to his house. It appears he had just gotten out of the shower and was in the process of getting ready for church because one pants leg was on. They think he was sitting on the bed and just sort of keeled over. He couldn’t have been in pain because he never pressed his medic alert button. I suppose that’s the way to go when one must. Painless and in old age. But death is still a bitch.

Death is scary. Perhaps I don’t have this Christian thing down because the idea of death still scares the shit out of me. Yes, I know through Christ that I am promised a shiny seat in Heaven, and Heaven is way better than this mortal coil in which we exist. I know these things. I believe these things. Yet there’s always doubt. We can tell each other that death is a glorious promise of something better and that we will meet it with a smile. But there’s always doubt. Death is still a mystery. And fear of the unknown is the greatest fear. No one can be 100% positive of that “life” after death.

As I grow older, I have come in contact with death more and more. Three of my grandparents, a beloved uncle, great-aunts, great-uncles, and now my Uncle Garnold. It’s frightening to see the aftermath of someone’s death. It’s frightening to ride that emotional rollercoaster after someone’s death. Although the death itself may have been clean, the aftermath of the ones left behind is always messy. We may act composed, but there is a torrent of emotions. The death of someone close brings our own mortality to the forefront. We fear our own eventual demise but perhaps may fear the death of those closest to us more. I’m writing this with my little dog curled up next to me, my husband in the next room playing Shadow of Mordor, and a baby in my belly. How could I deal with any of their deaths? Will I have to in my lifetime? Could I survive it?

Sorry to get so dark. See what I mean about death being messy for those left behind? It really is scary as shit. I wish viewings and funerals weren’t such bleak affairs. I struggle with the fact that these tend to be centered on the grief (and in most cases centered on whether one is saved or not, especially in the South) instead of a celebration of the life that was lived. When I die, I want a party thrown in my honor with live music, dancing, and amazing food. I want something like Marley had in A Little Bit of Heaven. Something lively to celebrate not only my life but the lives I’ve left behind and those I loved. My body may be cremated or donated to science, but my memory should be celebrated. I pray that someday I am the type of person people will want to celebrate.

I’m driving down to South Georgia tomorrow morning to be with my family. I hope I hear tons of great stories about my Uncle Garnold. I hope we celebrate his life and the great man that he was. I hope we remember what a blessing he was to the community. I hope to reminisce about going to his country store and enjoying Coke in a bottle, Reese’s, and Flintstones ice cream while sitting on a plastic Coke crate as sticky sweat slowly plastered my shirt to my skin. No summer day with my grandfather was complete until we went to Uncle Garnold and Uncle Harold’s store. I enjoyed listening to the old men talk in the store (there always seemed to be a few hanging around on old wooden chairs or crates at any time of the day). Most of what they talked about was boring to my kid self, but I loved listening to the sound of their voices. Melodic Southern twang that seemed to rock the words lovingly. Slow speech that showed they thought about what they were saying. And sometimes the accent was so thick that it honeyed the words right out of coherency. I will miss you, Uncle Garnold. Thank you for the memories.

It’s a Boy!

IT’S A BOY! Hans and I found out last week when the results of our genetics testing came back. He’s healthy and doesn’t have any issues as far as the DNA testing can see. I’m not going to lie; hearing my baby is a boy kind of threw me. I had a feeling that my baby was female, so finding out otherwise was a surprise. However, I couldn’t be more thrilled whether he was a male or female. As long as he’s healthy, we’re happy.

It does make me more hesitant on how to raise him, though. I’m female and have never really thought about what it is to be male. I know my husband will be a great father to him, but will I be a great mother? Is it easier to raise a child of your same sex?

I want to make sure he’s a strong man who isn’t afraid of showing emotion. I don’t want him to be confined by phrases and thoughts that men shouldn’t be wimps/weak/pussies/pansies. I don’t want him to be confused on what it means when someone says, “Act like a man.” Basically, I want my child to grow into an adult who thinks outside of the box and who isn’t afraid to voice his true feelings to others. I want him to think of women as equals, not as delicate flowers that are created for men to take care of, have sex with, and perhaps eventually marry. I want him to treat all people with respect, especially those “other” to himself whether it be a different sex, race, religion, culture, or sexual orientation. And not only will he treat them with respect, but he will not get held up on what makes them different from himself.

I want him to be an intelligent man who thinks logically and attacks problems from multiple angles. I want him to be exposed to different ways of thinking to enhance and evolve his own way of thinking. I want him to like to read, to like to play video games, to like to play board games, and to like to spend time with those he loves. I want him to not be afraid to try new things and to not get pigeon-holed into a certain belief system, be it Republican or Democrat, Atheist or Christian, or something else. I want him to experience the world with his eyes and heart wide open.

I also want him to not pee on me when I’m changing him. (I’ve heard a lot of horror stories already.)

I want to be the kind of mother who can teach him these things and who can demonstrate them as well. I want to be the kind of mother he loves to be around. I want to be the kind of mother that always has a hug and kiss to offer and a shoulder to cry on when needed. I want to be the kind of mother that demonstrates what a strong female looks like and what a strong marriage looks like. I want to be the kind of person who accepts others as they are. I want to be the kind of Christian that loves above all else instead of passing judgment on others who are not doing as they “should.” I want to be a role model. I want to be a mother whose son loves her and looks forward to coming home even when he’s moved out.

I guess my hopes and dreams are not that different for my son as they would be if we were having a daughter. I pray I live up to this amazing blessing growing inside me.

I guess we'll be buying bow ties instead of bows! :)

I guess we’ll be buying bow ties instead of bows! :)