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Welcome to my little haven of creative writing, passionate ranting, and thoughtful learning.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lessons Learned (or Relearned) in 2014

I was so pleased with how I was able to recap and learn from 2013 that I decided to use the same format this year as I revisit important moments from the year.

January

Stability is key to my happiness.
January began a full-time, set schedule job that had no end date. I work 8-5, at my own desk, and when I leave on Friday at 5, I know what I'm coming back to. For me, having the ability to plan in advance and have some idea what my life looks like, was a fantastic baseline to my happiness.

February

Surrounding yourself with friends makes life infinitely better.
When I look back at my social media from February I see posts from spending my time with friends. Not even doing crazy weekend trips or typical 20-year-old-girl things, but just sharing life. Celebrating birthdays, doing farm work, working out and holding each other accountable for workouts, and just knowing that we had companionship on our journey.

March

Achieving even part of a goal is amazing.
Originally my goal was to lose all 40 pounds and run my first 5k in March on my 24th birthday. I didn't lose all the weight, but I did run my first 5k. Not only did I run it in the time I hoped, I placed first in my age group. It was an amazing day, and an amazing feeling to be able to run three miles and not be miserably slow.

April

Birthday parties don't need to be an over the top affair to be perfect.
To celebrate Jace turning two we had a little party at the park. Pizza, friends, sidewalk chalk, and some bubbles. That's all it took, and Jace loved it.

May

Having a grown up job really helps you grown up.
In May I took my first ever "business trip." I went to the Annual Meeting for my work, spending two days in business casual wear, talking to President's and Dean's of our colleges, and mostly pretending I had some idea what I was doing. Despite being intimidated, I actually really enjoyed it and can't help but enjoy the new experiences I get with my job.

June


Friendships endure.
Yes, I realize I already posted about friendship once, for three summer's prior to this one, I worked at the Berea City Pool. I guarded, taught swim lessons, or managed and LOVED it. In part I loved it because of who I worked with, but I wasn't sure if those friendships could really stay alive when I no longer worked there. As it turns out, though I missed a lot not being there 40+ hours a week, my guard friendships were still there and are still going strong now.

July

Let it go. 
Yes, I'm using a Frozen reference here, but July was four months into attempting to buy a house. Not just a house, the place we wanted to be our home, where we wanted our family to grow. But we ran into complications from the beginning and in July we were out of ways to make it work, so we had to move on.

August

Take the time to have some adventures!
In August we did some hiking, went to King's Island, had little cookouts with s'mores, and made an effort to be outside while summer was still here.

September

Even if you fail to meet your goal, you can still look at the bright side.
My second 5k was the Spoonbread 5k, and I wanted to be able to run it in 25 minutes. I didn't. I ran it in 27, but I ran it with a good friend, my husband and son were ready to cheer me on as I crossed the finish line, and the fact that I ran it meant I was still running and keeping active.



October
One year being fitness-aware is wonderful.
It took nearly a year to do it, but I hit my goal weight. Forty pounds lost. And since I took so long to accomplish it, I have to believe that the changes I made are sustainable and that, hopefully, I will always remain aware of my health and fitness.


November
Appreciate what you have.
This isn't news to me, but for most of November I had to make a consistent effort to remind myself to focus on what I do have rather than what I lost. November was a very hard month, and sometimes it's still hard, but I try to remember to focus on the positive.


December


Getting away from home is great. Coming back home is too.
The entire month of December seemed to pass in a blur as we were constantly travelling. The first week was our long-awaited cruise with a drive that went to Ohio-to-Florida-to-Ohio-to-Kentucky. A couple weeks later we were back on the road to spend Christmas with family. When we arrived home after that trip all I wanted to do was just stay home for awhile and get back into my routine. Thankfully, that's what January should be!



Overall 2014 was a good year, and of course it was another year to watch my rambunctious little one grow and learn and a year to watch my relationships mature and strengthen. I look forward to 2015 and both the joys and heartbreaks that will come with it!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Going Nowhere

I'm really very fond of this little blog. Not to mention extremely proud of the fact that I've kept it faithfully for over a year and a half. But recently I've watched my friends and fellow bloggers blogs take on a more serious note.

Instead of intermittent posts, there are:
- at least two posts per week
- link ups
- interviews
- giveaways
- Facebook shares
- dedicated directions 
- a "point" to the blog

It's impressive, it's structured, and it's so not what my blog looks like at all. I have months where I post like crazy, then months where I only post one thing. I don't guest blog, review books, or do giveaways. My blog is just what it began as: a place for me to write, the share, and to connect.

And honestly, after some thought and self-examination, I'm really happy going nowhere with it. I don't need this blog to be income for me. I've never needed a spotlight (in fact I'd prefer to hide from the spotlight if possible). And I don't have time to work tirelessly on it, my time with Jace and my hubby is already cut short by work and responsibility.

So while I applaud and sit in awe of the friends that are making waves in the blogging world, I'll be happy here in my little corner with my regular ten reader that like to connect with my words and tell those ten people that they are quite awesome.




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Daddy's Girl

Sometimes I believe I am extremely grown up.

I'm a parent, a wife, a graduate, and a full-time employee.

All those descriptors clearly point to being an adult.

Yet there are still times when I'm reminded that I am a child.
Specifically, Mark and Brenda's child. To them, I will always be their baby girl. My mom is vocal about that, she still asks how my "little friends" are even when I tell her that they're finishing their master's degree or buying their first home. She still sees my friends as we were in high school, and I think in some ways she always will. However, my dad is much less clear on his thoughts. If you've ever met my dad, you wouldn't describe him as "warm." He used to terrify boys that I liked, and intimidated Nathan to no end. He is tough, straightforward, and not affectionate with words.

But he has other ways of showing how he feels though, mostly by taking care of me in moments I don't want to ask for help.
When we left for the cruise I left my car at my parents house since we were taking Sam and Michael's Jeep to Florida. When I returned my dad had taken my car in to the dealer to get parts replaced from a recall, had checked it over and replaced the spark plugs, and then put four new tires on it. Financially, it is my Christmas present, but I know what it actually was: it was my dad's way of saying "I love you." It was his way of saying he's sorry for the rough couple months I have had and showing that he still wants to protect me from the world, no matter how grown up I think I am.

It melted me to have him do that, because I have always been a daddy's girl. And honestly, I know I always will be, no matter how far into adulthood I go.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Learning

Happy End of November! Hope your month has been exciting, maybe full of family, and has left you prepped for Christmastime! Here's what I learned this month:

1.) Sharing my loss was the smartest move I could have made.
Losing a baby left me depressed. I'm still dealing with it, but having support has made it much easier. The week after surgery, members of our church volunteered to bring us meals, and it was helpful on more levels than can be understood. I still receive texts asking how I am and hugs for no other reason than to remind me that I am loved and valued.

2.) Christmas decorations still have their mood enhancing power.
I decorated early this year, and as usual went slightly overboard. Jace and I put Christmas lights in nearly every room in the house, wrapped all the pictures on the wall to look like presents, and set up snowmen everywhere. I find it very hard to be sad or stay sad when Christmas lights in the window greet me as soon as I pull into the driveway.

3.) Jace loves responsibility (in small doses).
As he gets bigger I like to give him little jobs, and I love to watch his face when he's able to do something. I was cooking dinner one evening and he wanted my attention, so I decided to have him help me. We were making homemade pizza, so I had him sprinkle on the cheese and add on pepperoni. Was it visually the prettiest pizza? Not at all, but Jace loved being able to help. I'm still figuring out what jobs I can give him at his age, but he is quite an eager learner.

4.) Sometimes my crazy list making is really a good thing.
We're on vacation right now, which meant packing. And not even normal packing, for Nathan and I we had to be prepared for the winter in Ohio, and summer weather for the cruise! So I responded with a giant list literally planning out each outfit for every day, and managed to fit everything into the appropriate suitcase, and then into the car with space to spare. It was quite a wonderful feeling.

What did you learn in November?

This post is linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Social media fads and games often tend to annoy me.

For example, let's all fill out the map and share it so everyone knows how many states I've been to! For two days every times I logged into Facebook all I saw was map after map. While it wasn't the worst thing, it was still annoying by the second day.

However, there's one trend that doesn't usually bother me. In fact, I almost look forward to it, but this year the trend went away.

Normally, all through November, you see a daily status proclaiming what the user is thankful for leading up the Thanksgiving. It makes November feel very appreciative. But this year not one of my friends did, which seemed strange to me. 

Of course I didn't either, but I really would like to proclaim that I am thankful. 

2014 hasn't been my easiest year, but as I sit right now I cannot help but be overwhelmed by all that I have. I have a steady job that affords sick time, vacation time, and a set schedule, which makes it a lot easier to raise a charming, inventive, handsome boy that is in wonderful health alongside a faithful, doting man.

No matter what else has happened, this year I have always had a warm bed to crawl into with a sturdy roof over it. I never had to miss a meal because we couldn't afford it, and Nathan and I both had jobs to go to.

I am thankful that I live in a country where having enough food is not unheard of, and that this year, for the first time, my entire family has medical coverage so that I was able to seek medical attention when I needed it.

I am humbled by the friendships and relationships that have challenged me, spoiled me, and cared for me this year. Words are inadequate to convey the warm and fuzzy feelings.

And above all, I am grateful just for life. To be able to learn lessons, even those that are painful, means that I am alive and when I get hurt it means I was afforded the ability to take a risk and to want something. I live a life of hope, so how could I not be appreciative?




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Making it Normal

Every woman's story of miscarriage is unique. There's no "right" way to feel, "right" way to react or "right" way to move forward.

Where I'm at right now, I have accepted what has happened.
I lost a baby. It happens to one in four pregnancies. It doesn't mean it will happen again.

My body is going back to normal, I cry and tear up less frequently, and though I sometimes still don't recognize the emotional creature in the mirror, I am trying to regain a sense of normal.

Here's where it gets hard. For me to continue to move forward, I need what has happened to become a part of my life, and to do that I need to be able to speak it freely. I need to be able to use phrases like "I was pregnant."
"I miscarried."

But society isn't set up for that. Society has set up such a cloaked, hushed community surrounding miscarriage that when I say something about it, no one knows how to react and instead they uncomfortably look away from me.

It's not their fault, I would probably do the same thing in that situation, but I would love to see it change.

Last night Jace and I were walking through Goodwill when an older woman stopped and was just taken with Jace. She cooed over how adorable he is, remarked on how happy he looked, and told me that he had just the cutest smile she'd ever seen.
She then studied my face for a moment and asked if I had a daughter.

The word caught in my throat for a minute before I could say, "No."

What I wanted to be able to say was that I don't know, that the baby I lost could be my daughter. But that's not how society works. We can't say that we lost a baby too small to know the gender.

The encounter ended there, she waved bye to the toddler that was playing shy and half hiding behind me and Jace and I headed to the register.

It just seems to me that if we were to create a society that would allow us to own that part of our life, say what happened as if we were sharing other sad news, it would be easier for mom's who miscarry to move forward.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Loss


There's a rule when you become pregnant that a lot of women follow.

"Don't share your pregnancy publicly until you're 12 weeks along."

The idea is that by that point the highest risk of miscarriage is over, because if you miscarry before that, it should be kept secret. Mourn and grieve privately.

I was never going to follow that rule, I was only going to wait until my almost 7 week ultrasound to see the beating heart before I told the whole world that Jace would be a big brother. I was ecstatic, thrilled, and couldn't wait for June to meet this little baby.

When I went in for the ultrasound I had already told a small group, including my coworkers because I was sure I'd start feeling morning sickness soon just as I had with Jace. But instead I found that they couldn't find a baby at all.

I don't exaggerate when I say that I believe this has been the worst week of my life. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday passed in a blur of bloodwork, tears, and scheduling surgery for Friday morning. There isn't a physical reason, no one is at fault, and no one can explain why I lost it.

I know other mom's that have miscarried, some recently, some a long time ago and each one does what they need to get through. Some tell a close group of people for support and otherwise keep it hidden. Some have moved so far past it that they can bring it up in casual conversation. I'm choosing to share it because I am mourning. I am mourning for so much more than the loss of a cluster of cells, I am mourning for baby Ava or Sawyer and what could have been. And I don't believe that I should have to grieve secretly for someone that I loved.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Flash Fiction Challenge

Gone

She giggled as the monarch flitted in front of her outstretched fingers.
Blonde curls knotted across her forehead, bare toes crunched decaying leaves through the open meadow while her white sundress caught the wind.
At the edge of the field stood a willowy woman, frozen in thought.

"Emma, time for us to go!"
The toddler ran further, determined to touch the butterfly.

"Emma honey, we need to get home to make some dinner," the woman said, not moving.
The blonde curls reached the edge of the open space.

"Emma baby, Mommy is serious now, it's time for us to leave."
Tiptoes headed into the first of the trees.

"Emma you need to turn around now, Daddy is waiting for us at home. Mommy is going to count to three! One..."
A loud crack signified a tree branch breaking behind the dark haired woman, but she didn't flinch.

"Two..."
Unnoticed by the woman, a rough hand reached out for her shoulder.

"Three!"
An arm whisked her around to face a blonde man towering over her.

"Emma's gone honey. You know this. She's been gone for two years."

__________________________

This flash fiction piece was written linking up with Catherine Valentine: feel free to join her creative writing challenge for October!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Things I Learned in September

As usual, I'll be linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for this little post of learning.



September was a busy month!
Between a 5K, a couple date nights, a lifegroup, family coming down to visit, and the Spoonbread weekend, I was kept on my toes. Here's what I learned:

1.) Two year old boys cannot sleep in the same room without causing trouble.
After crawling in and out of the pack'n'play, moving every toy in the room, and refusing to sleep, I eventually moved one toddler into my bedroom so we could all get a little rest!

2.) The actual year, academic fiscal year, and federal fiscal year are 3 completely different things.
I am going to call this a lack of communication, but it just seems illogical to me that years start and end on different months for all three of these.

3.) How to organize an emergency binder.
Thank you Pinterest! I've always wanted to make one so that I would have everything in a reliable place, but could never figure out how to separate things. Where to I put the social security cards versus the car registration? But these printables let me put together an entire binder in two days!

4.) Being left alone at work can be dangerous and wonderful.
Last week my office was only two people. Two. So after doing every work-related thing I could come up with, I ended up finding projects and making lists of my own all while binge-watching Netflix on my tablet. It was heavenly! The readjusting back to a full office has been a little rough though.

What did you learn in September?


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Making a Marriage Binder

I love organization.
I also love accountability, responsibility, set dates, and clear expectations.
It works in life, and in marriage as well.

Nathan and I began working on our marriage the day we said "I do" (almost 3 years ago, how crazy is that?) and will continue working on it every day until death do us part (we are taking those vows very seriously).

But sometimes, we misunderstand.
And sometimes, we don't communicate well.

To try to avoid some of those times we decided to sit down and write out what we each really wanted in our marriage, by way of a marriage contract.
Literally, I got the idea from The Big Bang Theory with Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler's Relationship Agreement.

Though ours is not a 31 page document like theirs, it covers all aspects we thought were pertinent in our relationship.

I Responsibilities
II Physical Affection
III Verbal Affection
IV Date Nights
V Anniversaries
VI Spousal Neglect
VII Spousal Loyalty
VIII Broken Contract Protocol
IX Amending the Contract
X Contract Check In
XI Encouraged Ways to Show Love
XII Fighting

Once it was written I wanted a way to easily access it as well as keep other pertinent information, which led me to the marriage binder. Right now it is merely four sections:

1.) The Marriage Contract
2.) Date Night Inspiration
3.) Marriage Bucket List
4.) Accountability

The date night inspiration has pages of date night ideas other than dinner and a movie (or pizza and a redbox) that include a list of required items, and some even include a menu so that it's easy for Nathan to surprise me as well.
And, in our contract, we agreed to sit down once a month to touch base with how we believe we've been over the past month, so accountability is simply a way to address any issues.

I hope that as time goes on we will find new things to add to our binder, but for now these documents promise designated date nights and continued work on our relationship.




Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spa Date Night

For the first time in recent history, Pinterest failed me.
*Insert gasp of disbelief here*

I wanted to do an at home date night this weekend, and wanted to veer away from the constant popcorn, couch and a movie night. I also really just wanted a night to relax. So, when scrolling for ideas, I found Spa Date Night and thought "perfect!"

And then came the issues. Every blog/pin/idea I found was either a $200+ extravagance or so vaguely described that I had no idea what to really do. And the most difficult part? Not one single site listed anything for a menu.

Clearly, spa night is not a pizza and wings affair, but what on earth goes with the spa theme that
a.) is not a salad, and
b.) is something I can actually make?

So once it all came together I wanted to post about it here for all my other couple friends who might be interested in a different date night from usual.



Menu

Beverages: think light and luxury. 

Wine, Sparkling Grape Juice, Bottled Water.

Main Course: Light, we actually had a small dinner earlier with the toddler, so we didn't need much.

Shrimp Scampi

Grilled Chicken Flatbread

Desserts: again, luxury and small quantities.

Salted Caramel Gelato, Mint Milano Cookies, Dark Chocolate Squares, Strawberries



Prep:

I wanted a hotel feel for the night, so I shut up our room for the day and completely cleaned it. I set out robes on the bed, printed out a menu and agenda, put candles everywhere, made a Pandora station, and had everything set for us to not have to scramble looking for things.


I prepped as much food as I could early on (slicing the strawberries, chilling the drinks etc.) then once Nathan took the toddler boy to bed, I was able to quickly set up and enjoy an evening.

Here are some ideas of fun spa couple activities to do:
Massage each other
Give each other a pedicure
Facials
Take a bubble bath with bath salts, oils etc.
Enjoy the hotel feeling and candlelit conversation!





Thursday, September 4, 2014

Embracing Fall '14

Having a summer bucket list was great: while we didn't end up doing EVERYTHING that I listed, we did do the majority, and some things multiple times!

So as we head into Autumn there are some adventures I want to have, and here is what I've come up with:

1.) Pumpkin picking at Baldwin Farms
2.) Carve jack-o-lanterns
3.) Go trick or treating
4.) Hike the Pinnacles in the fall colors
5.) Attend a bonfire
6.) Made homemade hot chocolate
7.) Check out the Spoonbread Festival
8.) Bake some apple desserts (apple crisp maybe?)
9.) Go to the Hot Air Balloon Glow
10.) Run the Spoonbread 5k
11.) Enjoy chili, peanut butter soup, potato soup and other glorious fall cuisine
12.) Document our adventures in pictures

What is on your to-do list for fall? What new adventures have made their way onto your list?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Things I Learned in August


1.) How to roughly edit a video.
For work, I (as the most tech-savvy person in the office) got to try to cut together some raw footage from a conference. It took me two days. But in the end I felt extremely accomplished and really did learn something new!

2.) There are exactly two places in Lexington that sell Jeni's Splendid ice cream.
And they both close at 9:00pm on a Saturday night. At the same time, I also learned that if the GPS estimates a 14 minute drive and it is 20 minutes till 9 a little determination and spontaneous friends can result in procuring the aforementioned ice cream.

3.) Speed Testing, Ping testing and Packet Loss.
We had some internet issues this month. Actually, a lot of internet issues. And, as is true with basically any office job now, lack of strong internet basically brings the office to a standstill for work. So in the midst of repairman after repairman I learned a little bit about how it should work for our office and how to test it to see if there is a measurable issue.

4.) Double dating is amazing for your marriage.
Labor day weekend was spend with my best friend of over a decade, and a newer friend that I had convinced to start texting each other. So we went out on a double date night and it's amazing the difference that happens when you go out with friends. For example, when Nathan and I go out we have to make such an effort to avoid:
- Is babysitting set up for the week?
- Did you budget out your next check?
- When will your next doctor appointment be scheduled?
Not really romantic. But when you're out with friends you talk about fun things, you flirt more, you hold hands more, and kiss more. I'm not kidding, try it!


What lessons did you learn in August? Link up with Emily and let the world know!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mustang Sally (Link Up)

My first car was Sally, a '94 Mustang with no heat, no A/C, sometimes inconsistent brakes, and a bit of rust. She was lent to me for use under the agreement that I paid for her gas, her repairs, and my insurance.

I was almost 16 1/2 when I finally took the test and became a licensed driver and she really became my car.

Even then, my mom rarely let me drive alone.
I could drive to school (0.8 miles from my house).
Work (6.6 miles).
And Giant Eagle (1.8 miles).

Other than my sister, no one else was permitted in the car with me.
So, like any 16 year old that knows it all, I rebelled.

As far as my family knew, Sally and I were supposed to be going to work; a 6 hour shift on a Friday night.

Actually, we went to Lindsay's house, I changed out of work clothes, and headed to the mall to meet up with other friends. It was my first time driving in bad mall traffic, but we made it. We spent a few hours shopping, snacking, talking and reveling in our victory. I mean, that was by far the worst thing I had ever done, I was somewhere I wasn't supposed to be, breaking the rules, and free!

I arrived home, on time, in one piece, and with parents that had no clue. I sneaked my purchases into the house and went on with life.

That was the first of many secret high school adventures, because Sally was my transportation for almost three years. She was my way to get away after breakups, she taught me responsibility, she ran errands between school and drama practice, and she drove pizza delivery at work.

She was a frustrating, amazing, expensive, freeing, high-maintenance piece of machinery, but she'll always be my first car and I'll always have a little love for her memory.



Linking up with Carla at "This Messy Heart"!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Faith Is Not Your Project

I sleep in one day a week.

Saturday.

It's glorious!
I don't usually leave my bed until at least 8:00am (sometimes even 8:30!). And that's a full three hours later than any other day of the week.

Then, I put on comfy clothes, toss my hair into a messy ponytail, and enjoy a morning with my toddler having breakfast, watching cartoons, and doing laundry.

But last Saturday, shortly after 8:30, my doorbell rang.

"Do you know our Lord Jesus Christ?"
"Have you read this pamphlet?"
"Could I come back for bible study with you?"
"Let me show you how you should be studying the bible."

Who thought this was a good way to spread the news of something so life-altering? Who in their right mind thought that interrupting someone at their home at 8:30 in the morning on a SATURDAY was the best way to open someone's mind and heart to anything?

To clarify, I do know Jesus, study my bible, and love my church where my faith is restrengthened each week.

But if I didn't, I can assure you that showing up unannounced, and taking away precious moments from the one morning each week I have with Jace, is not going to make me want to listen to anything you have to say.

Yet, I have to believe that this woman was doing what she thought was right. She believes in sharing the gospel, which is a good thing in itself, but her method is unlikely to work. People don't like to be told what they have to do, they don't like to be told that they're wrong, and they really don't like hearing these things from a stranger.

It's an issue I've always had with the idea of evangelizing.
Truth be told, the word evangelizing makes me cringe a little.
So, when I stumbled upon an article titled "Your Interfaith Friends Aren't Projects," it resonated with me.

Here's a brief quote that really sums up the article:
The main idea here is to be aware that in conversations with people—regardless of what they believe—the things we should prioritize the most are loving them and trusting God, not trying to force an agenda. This is where not leaning on our own understanding is truly fleshed out. It's where we have to believe that the One who put us in these situations knows them better and has something specific to that moment to share through us.


That's it.

Stop looking at people as someone that could become a Christian if you just show them why they're wrong for believing anything else. Stop looking at them with a plan of how to make them change. Stop thinking of them in terms other than human being and, hopefully, friend.






Friday, August 1, 2014

Things I Learned in July

Linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for this month's collection of what I've learned!


1.) There is an EST (Eastern Standard Time) and EDT (Eastern Daylight Time).
Seriously, I never knew this. Until I accidentally sent a work meeting request with the wrong one on it.

2.) The best way to clean out your house is to ask this question:
Am I keeping this because I want/need it, or because I think someone else wants me to keep it?
And if it's that someone else thinks you should have it, then it's time to donate it.

3.) How to be happy being still.
When we lost out on the house it was disappointing. But after all the stress we had been through, all the drama it had caused, and all the money we had lost with it, when we finally got the definite "No," I actually felt relief. I unpacked the boxes, decluttered my home, and found myself being content without worrying about "What's our next move?"
Are we going to stay in our apartment forever? No chance. But do we need to change it right now? Nope.

4.) Don't let 2 year old's play with technology that you will need.
When we went up to Ohio this month I packed my iPod knowing that I would need it to go for a run. Unbeknownst to me, the day before we left Jace had gotten a hold of it. So when I went to run I turned it on and was greeted with an odd request:
Enter your passcode.
I've never put a passcode on it. But apparently Jace did. And there's no way to ask a toddler what four numbers he set. Since there are 10,000 possibilities I now need to reset it to get back into it.

5.) My toddler wants to be a rock climber.
Wednesday night we decided to go up to Anglin Falls to hike, mostly because even the edges aren't that steep of a drop if Jace gets too close. But the end of the trail feels like it's basically straight up some rocks, and Jace was ready for it. He didn't want a hand to hold, and he certainly didn't want to be carried up it, he was was going to do it by himself thankyouverymuch.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Passing Down the Not-So-Flattering Traits

There's an obsession that comes the minute you see your newborns' face.
Not from you, but from the rest of the world.

Who does s/he look like??

If you're like me, you think something along the lines of, who cares? But you'll hear it, constantly. I'm not sure what age the question ends: so far at age two it's still going strong.

While I'm not particularly interested in the fact that I'm usually told "he looks just like Nathan!" I do find his character traits that were clearly passed down to be infinitely more captivating.

This two year old boy is thrilled by sports, just like his daddy, and demands a bedtime story at night, just like mommy. There are many adorable little traits that are so fun to watch.

And then, there are the traits that I can recognize as mine, but wish I couldn't. Yesterday was a big one: the boy reacts to needles the same way I do.

First, I am so sorry kid. This is not going to make your life easier.

Yesterday Jace went to get his vaccines, he didn't cry and barely flinched while he watched the needles go into his legs. The nurse was impressed to see a 2 year old respond so well. And then, his face went white, his forehead got sweaty, he spit up and went limp into my arms. He was still conscious, but I knew by looking at him exactly how he felt. Because I've felt that way with every needle for as long as I can remember.

I've never done needles well. Even needles by choice. When I decided to get my bellybutton pierced at 18 I sat with no problem while the needle and then the ring went in. Moments later I felt light headed and faint, lost my color, and had to lay back down.

I can expect it now, so I try to make sure I have a sugary drink nearby and that I don't try to stand up too quickly. It's why I've never been able to give blood, because all it takes is a finger prick to start the process and then I'm on the verge of fainting.

But the nurse said it's a reaction she's never seen in a two year old. It's something I never would have expected from him. He's never seemed bothered by the sight of blood, gives pretend shots with his little doctor kit, and is usually just a curious kid. But yesterday, I watched myself react to shots in the miniature form.

Again I say, I am sorry kid. Turns out in this respect, you are just like your momma.




Thursday, June 26, 2014

Being Transparent

First, I'm not writing this for pity. I don't expect special treatment. And I'm not writing as a contest of, "Oh you think that's bad, just wait till you hear what's going on in my life."

I'm writing to explain.
To apologize.
And to let those that care about me enough to read my blog in on what's happening.

I realize I've been more snappy, less patient, less reliable, and not as cheerful the past few weeks. The biggest reason is the drama we've been dealing with as we attempt to buy a house.
To put things in perspective, a typical closing takes around 45 days or less.

We went to see the house the day after my birthday (March 23). We put an offer in on it that week. It's nearly July, and it still isn't ours. We honestly, at this moment, do not know whether or not it ever will be.

At this particular moment, we are still jumping through hoops to prove that we are stable and reliable to be worthy of the mortgage. So, we still do not have a set closing date. We still do not know what is going to happen. And living in limbo is not something my personality is suited for.

I spend my days fighting an overwhelming need to control everything. So, to have literally no control over anything that happens in this process has caused an extreme amount of stress. Additionally, since we were told we could close and move in two weeks ago, I packed up my apartment. I have been living out of boxes: finding ways to live around them, feeling disorganized and cluttered, and not knowing whether to unpack or continue packing for over two weeks now.

Again, I'm not writing this for pity, but if I've been short with you in a conversation, not responded to a text or message, or taken things personally that I shouldn't have, it's because I've been living with a great stessor on my shoulders for longer than I know how to cope with.

I wanted to break through the "Everything's fine, check out these cute pictures of my kid!" social media presence long enough to admit that not everything is swimming at the pool and enjoying friend time this summer. I wanted to admit that things are not really okay.

To my friends, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for not telling everyone what has been going on all the time. We literally go from believing everything is fine to believing that there is no way to get the house at least twice a week at this point, and keeping everyone updated seems to just be asking everyone else to be stressed alongside us.

I'm sorry for not being myself lately, but I know that this is only a season and it will pass.

And thank you, if you're reading this, for the grace to let me be honest with where I am right now.



Monday, June 23, 2014

The Creative Process. Sort of.

Delete.

Start again.

To begin a blog post first I must

Nope.

Let's try that one more time.

Do I have a creative process? Hmm, process, what exactly does process mean? Step by step?

Okay,

1.) Stumble upon a topic that hits my heart.

2.) Feel all the feels and mentally dialogue about it in my head. This happens a lot during the morning shower.

3.) Start typing phrases, words, arguments, quotes, and chaos.

4.) Delete approximately half of what I just typed because it doesn't sound right.

5.) Take what's left and refine it.

6.) Walk away. For an hour, a day, a few weeks.

7.) Return and think, "hmm, this doesn't sound half bad."

8.) Polish up, adjust spacing, then hover over the publish button long enough to run through the possible objections.

9.) Post.

It's not a pretty process. It's not an exact science. And for every post I publish, there are two drafts waiting for me to return to and three that end up deleted because they just aren't right to me.

But it's my process, and I've embraced it.

What does your creative process look like?
Link up with Victoria to share it!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Challenge or Defeat?

It's not a secret that running is one of my favorite ways to work out.

It's right up there with swimming and Refit. Which is why I usually go for a run 5-6 days a week.

But this morning was a little different. Normally when I run on the college track at 6-something in the morning, the only other people there are older people walking their laps. However, this morning I was joined by four high-school age athletes.

As I puffed and panted through my second mile, I watched myself get lapped. Twice.

This kid had to be running a 5 minute mile.

His breathing was even. He barely looked phased by the two miles I watched him run.

And I had a choice.

I could either look at that kid, compare him to my own run, and be defeated.
Or, I could use him to challenge myself.

I chose the challenge.

I kept moving, and in my 45 minutes on the track this morning did almost 4 miles.

I have worked too hard to let a fleeting moment of feeling inadequate do me in.
Because I am not inadequate.
I am not any less than the 5 minute miler. Why? Because we are both working our bodies. We both woke up and, rather than staying in bed, got ourselves to do a workout. And just because he clearly moves faster does not mean I can go slower since I'll never catch him anyway.
That's an excuse. A small-minded justification to not push myself. And I refuse to give in.

Realistically, I doubt I'll ever run a five minute mile. Even in my best high school shape I couldn't do that.
But I can certainly work toward that number.

I can also choose to continue going and compare myself to my own numbers instead of someone else.



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thinking Ahead

I stumbled across a blog post recently, about the general population's reaction to a "big family" (read: more than 2 kids). I was interested, and when I shared it a couple friends mentioned that it's accurate. 

People actually look at multiple kids and say things like, "You know how that happens, right?" to the parents.

Most public places seem to consider a family of more than four an inconvenience. 

I suppose it's good that I know this now, because 
I want a big family.

When I get pregnant again, and then hopefully again, it isn't going to be an accident. It won't be because I don't understand birth control or that I'm irresponsible. 

It's because I treasure my son, and I know that I am meant to be a mom to more than just him. 

And he is meant to be a big brother.

You may think I'm joking, but I'm really not. Jace tries to leave me for bigger families. There are two at church he particularly goes for: one family is 2 boys and a girl, the other is 2 boys and 2 girls. He tries to disappear from my side to sneak in with their families, and it is absolutely because of the other little ones close to his age. 

Now, I'm not foolish enough to think that he won't change a bit when he gets a sibling that he has to be around all the time. And that he must share his toys with. 

But Jace will be a great big brother to his future siblings, and when Nathan and I pass away he will not be left alone to deal with the loss, he will have support in his siblings and hopefully in his own wife and little ones. 

I suppose I better start preparing my responses to the rude inquiries now because whether by giving birth or adopting, I plan to become the mother of a "big" family. I intend to embrace the chaos, the love, the inconvenience, and joy that will inevitably come my way. And I will accept every snarky comment that I will receive as well, because no matter what the current population's view of too many kids is, only I can determine what is too many for me. 


Monday, June 2, 2014

Things I learned in May

Linking up with Emily for this month's things I've learned!


1.) College Presidents can be cool, normal people too.
This month I went on my first business trip and spent a day and a half with the Presidents and Chief Academic Officers from the majority of the 35 colleges that my work is affiliated with. And I was actually able to enjoy having a conversation with them as  I would with a friend.

2.) I can't NOT lifeguard at the Berea Pool.
I've taken Jace twice this summer to swim and play.
I still tell kids to stop running, continuously scan the water, watch the guards, and remind myself once every 5 minutes that I'm not actually employed there.



What did you learn in May?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Summer Family Bucket List!

I love summertime.

Okay, I'm just a big fan of seasonal activities and events. But this year the toddler is getting big enough to really enjoy some of the fun things that we can do together as a family! 

I figured one of the best ways to make sure I do all the things I want to do is to make a list, and here it is:


In case you can't read the small text on my picture:
1.) Picnic lunch at Anglin Falls
2.) Host a bonfire
3.) King's Island
4.) Cincinnati Zoo
5.) Play Putt-putt
6.) Hike the Pinnacles
7.) Berea City Pool
8.) Water Balloon Fight
9.) Flat Lick Falls
10.) Make s'mores
11.) Take family pictures
12.) Dance in the rain
13.) Go fishing
14.) Backyard camping
15.) Go to a concert
16.) 4th of July in Newton Falls
17.) Harry Potter movie marathon
18.) Host a game night
19.) Family walks at Brushy Fork
20.) Berea Learnshop
21.) Go to a drive-in theater
22.) Host a Disney movie night
23.) Berea City Pool Movie Under the Stars
24.) Cumberland Falls
25.) Lexington Legends Game

Friday, May 16, 2014

I'm terrible at this. And that's okay.

One of my favorite ways to exercise is Refit on Monday nights.
I also follow them on my social media, get their songs stuck in my head, and on occasion have started doing a routine in the aisles of Wal*mart (don't judge).

But this morning they posted the image below on their Facebook page and encouraged others to help shut down the "perfect" life that social media highlights.


1.) Art.
     Painting, drawing, sculpting, weaving, or whatever else. In my mind, I see what I want to create. Then my hands remind me, bluntly, that it just isn't gonna happen.

2.) Keeping in close touch with more than 5 people.
   But I know a lot of awesome details about the five that I am in regular contact with!

3.) Dancing.
     My foot is supposed to gracefully arch left. It actually does a spastic movement to the right. 

4.) Actually doing anything with my hair.
     I used to. Then I decided I liked my morning workout more than having well-straightened hair. And, let's be honest, that's the only thing I knew how to do with it anyway.

5.) Verbalizing my feelings.
     Truly, I am much more comfortable doing something for you than looking you in the eye and telling you that you are important to me and I love you. My eyes dart every other direction, my cheeks get red, I say the wrong thing anyway, and then I make some sort of joke to lighten the mood. 
It's the definition of terrible.

So, what are you terrible at? What do you not proudly proclaim on Instagram?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Best Advice You've Ever Gotten

"This too shall pass."

I use this as a mantra, often, in good times and especially in bad.
When I remind myself that everything is temporary, I am better able to cope.

For example, my toddler is deep into the terrible two's. He was an easy baby, but he is a stubborn, loud, difficult toddler sometimes. He will throw himself to the floor in a tantrum of screaming over the "wrong" sippy cup. It's exhausting, and testing.

But one day, he's going to be all grown up. He's going to leave my house and make his own way. And when that time comes, I will miss this. It's temporary, it's a stage in life, and it will pass by. No matter how bad his tantrum, how short my patience, or how silly our battle, it will shortly pass.

In good moments too, I cannot help but remind myself to savor it, because it will never come again. As strange as this will sound, when I was holding Jace an hour or so after his birth, I was crushed with a little wave of sadness.

He will never be this small again. 

I clung to him every second, sometimes even reluctant to let others hold him, because it was too real that he would grow quickly. I treasured his 2 and 4 am nursing sessions because as I sat there I thought, I will never again have only one to care for. I will not be able to crawl in bed all morning with my next because my next will already have a big brother. 

Life changes, sometimes suddenly, sometimes without even realizing it, but no matter how glorious or terrifying or miserable it is, it will pass. You will keep going forward.

Image courtesy of Ray Davis Photography


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Your Favorite: 5 Blogs

I know the idea of the blog challenge was probably to consecutively blog... but I went to my hometown for my sister's graduation and was without internet or a laptop for a longer-than-anticipated weekend, so I think we're going to make this challenge a regular thing, but not a daily requirement.

Anyway, onto the topic of the day: 5 favorite blogs.

Pick only 5?
Hmm, okay

1.) Happy Wives Club
Almost daily there is a new post, and it is always encouraging and helpful tips to keep your marriage strong. It has introduced me to a community of women who are more interested in being happy in their marriage than whining about what their husbands do wrong. And it serves as a reminder to me to put my best foot forward in my marriage, even if I don't always feel like it.

2.) Victoria's Ramblings
Victoria is a new mom, young wife, and good friend that posts anything from simple recipes and creative writing to personal stories and challenges. She shares her struggles and her joy, with parenting and more, and loves to create community.

3.) The H and K Chronicles
I just love the twins that are Holly and Kelly. They post about their lives, important news, geek-dom (some I get, some not so much) and each post is written from two perspectives. They also have ongoing quote posts where they gather up the more humorous things they have done and said to let everyone enjoy a chuckle.

Jeff Cole started his blog when he was first diagnosed with leukemia. It is one way of keeping everyone in the loop on his progress, but in a bigger purpose, he uses it to share the gospel. During this entire trial he has show his faith through his writing, and it is inspirational to read.

Another more personal story blog, Jeff uses his blog as a way to process his life. And, even better, relate it to the gospel and learn from his experiences. He is always unflinchingly honest and aware of his own shortcomings, which makes him worth reading.

Bonus: My husband is trying to get into blogging, here's his blog if you want to check him out! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Why do you blog?

Because sometimes a 160 character tweet cannot do justice to my thoughts.
And a Facebook comment is not always the proper place to write out my real emotions.

Because my thoughts are sometimes confusing, contradictory, unfinished, or shown best through edited writing.

Like my thoughts on Emily Letts.
This 25 year young woman made a video about her abortion experience.
And on my own social media timelines I am seeing her be met with hatred, judgement, condemnation, and name-calling.

That's the response I would, honestly, expect from someone not at all secure in God's love. The need to attack someone for their choices and behavior (especially a stranger you have never met) usually signifies an inability to confront your own flaws.

This girl needs to be met with love. Not our love, honestly she needs to know she is loved by Jesus. Something about knowing that you are worthy, you were worth death to save, changes how you see and approach life. It simultaneously humbles you and gives you confidence in your value. It impacts every choice you makes and affects how you see your own power.

But if every experience she has with "Christianity" is condemning her and threatening her, she is never going to know Jesus. I speak from my own life here: one reason I avoided churches, Jesus, and the gospel for so long was because I thought it was a rule book looking for ways to tell me I was going to Hell. I felt no desire to be judged or lectured, and it took me ages to understand that condemnation is NOT what Christianity is about. It is about love, sacrifice, grace, community, and purpose.

I pray this girl gets that experience and that it shines through over the hatred and backlash. I pray she is able to one day feel God's love, because no matter what choices she has made on this earth, and whether or not we personally agree with them, she is still beloved and precious and it is our job as children of a merciful, loving God to show her that.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Meaning of your blog name?

I recently changed the name of my blog.

And, if I'm being honest, I'm not crazy about it.

Reflections in Writing is appropriate because I tend to process my thoughts both verbally and through writing, it's a logical title, but in the back of my mind I'm constantly thinking of other options. Obviously I don't want to get into the habit of changing my blog name all the time, so I'm waiting till I come up with something that strikes me, suites me, and excites me.

Until then, I'll just stick with what I've got.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Writing Challenge





Intro and a recent photo



I'm Camille.
I could give you a million adjectives and labels, but instead I'd much rather tell you about what's important to and about me.
I'm in love with God, my husband of nearly two and a half years, and my two year old toddling troublemaker Jace Alexander. I'm an introvert that can be confused with an extrovert as I love to people-watch and interact, I just find it exhausting. My current weight loss journey has me down about 32 pounds with a great deal more energy and strength. I work full-time outside the home in a small office and look forward to going most mornings. I am a morning person that takes pride in having a full day before I sit down at my desk at 8:00.
And, more than anything else, I am exuberantly happy with my life.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Recreation

Back in November of 2010, Nathan and I had officially been a couple for 11 months, and to commemorate the day we did a picture date on and around campus.

Yes, we were that couple that celebrated month-iversaries.
Okay, I was the half of the couple that made a bigger deal about it, but still.

Nearly three and a half years later, I had the idea to try to recreate images.

 Here are the results:






And of course some fun originals:



Since we only had a little time we couldn't go all over campus to recreate pictures, but it was so much fun doing these and remembering when we first took them.



If you could, what pictures would you recreate now?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Things I learned in April

So, I'm really not that great at this blogging thing.

I mean, I love writing about various topics, and I post pretty frequently, but I've never done a link up, or a guest post, or one of those link up monthly challenge type things (seriously, I'm not even sure what the proper name is).

But... after watching Victoria link up in a series called "Things I learned in _____" I wanted to give it a try!

So, welcome to my first ever link up post with Emily of Chatting at the Sky




1.) They make skinny leg dress pants.
Seriously. Who thought that was a good idea?? I quickly understood why they were on clearance.

2.) Two year old's are supposed to have 50-100 words.
At least, according to the pediatrician they are. Mine doesn't yet, so we'll see what that means.

3.) I can keep a plant alive!
So far. I have two on my desk at work and several around the outside of my house, and they are all not only alive, but they are actually growing!

4.) Lunchtime walks improve the entire workday.
I've gotten in the habit of packing my lunch, then going for a walk around the neighborhoods, campus, or down to alumni fields. Even if it's only 10 or 15 minutes it makes a huge difference in how I approach the rest of my workday.

5.) There is an Ocean's Seven marathon swim challenge.
Doing all 7 seems unlikely, but I want to swim at least one of them in my lifetime.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Disconnect.

I was prompted to write this post
(Yay, someone actually reads this blog so regularly they wanted to hear my opinions on something specific!)

The topic?

The smartphone.

We'll be clear, I love my little smartphone. I'm a huge fan of being able to watch Netflix, play solitaire, send a text, listen to Pandora, and check my social media. It's lightweight, reliable, and just generally pretty awesome.
But I have moments where I would literally like to slap the phone out of people's hands.



I've been getting so irritated lately. I can be having dinner with someone, at a group outing, at a party, even having a phone conversation, and suddenly I'm repeating myself. Why? Because a Facebook notification came up and had to be checked instantly. Because, blatantly, I've been told that I am less important than a piece of technology.

Let's be very transparent for a moment.

I do not repeat myself.

I grew up with a deaf parent.
I learned to speak clearly and slowly so she could read my lips, and frequently had to say the same thing repeatedly for her to understand it. I still do.

I do it for my mom because she hasn't been able to learn sign language and I need to be able to communicate with her. I do it because she really and truly wants to know what I'm saying and sometimes she just can't catch it. I do it because I see that she would give anything to be able to have an effortless conversation again.

So, to me, it is unbelievably rude to make me reiterate what I just verbalized because you were too distracted. It's insulting to watch someone take advantage of the fact that they are lucky enough to have their hearing and can have an easy conversation.

Whoever "liked" your selfie will still show that they "liked" it in an hour.
Your newsfeed will show you the same news in the morning as it will right this second if you scroll down far enough.
And if someone is announcing their big news to you on Facebook and not calling, texting, or better yet talking to you in person to announce it, then you're really not too good of a friend to them anyway.

So I have a plea. The next time you are lucky enough to have some face-to-face time with a loved one, treasure it. Be grateful. Show them that their words matter to you by focusing on what they say. And leave your phone in your pocket.



Monday, April 28, 2014

It's All in Your Mind(set)

Last week was busy.

Oh, who am I kidding, every week of my life is busy, with scheduled, planned, and unexpected things. 

That's the season of life I'm in, a full-time office assistant, a young mom, a wife, a daughter, and a friend. I try to live up to every one of those labels, inevitably fail and fall short sometimes, exceed at other times, and generally just continue to bounce forward.

Anyway, as I was saying, last week was busy. One specific day I knew would be a no-downtime day from 5:15 am till probably 9 or 10. But the last thing I would be doing that day would be a little birthday dinner for a new and dear friend. 
And I actually caught myself thinking, on the way there, just this one last thing to do today.

Hold up.

Yep, instead of looking forward to celebrating friendship, showing love, and indulging in cake, I had somehow written it off as just one more item on my agenda that needed to be accomplished before I could go to sleep.
I quickly mentally chastised myself, took a breath, and thought about the evening for what it was: a celebration. I thought about how blessed I am to see the women that I would spend the evening with, how fortunate I am to have a husband that, after coming home from work, would keep not only our toddler, but an additional two year old so that we could celebrate. I thanked God for the community I have stumbled into. And suddenly, I could not wait to get there

The only thing that had changed was my mindset, and that's all that needed to change. 

I'd like to put out a challenge, to myself and anyone else willing. Take one thing each day and try to see it through a new lens. Maybe it's work, maybe it's cooking dinner, maybe it's heading to a meeting or date that you have every week. Stop seeing it as just another obligation, even if only for that day. Then see what changes!



Monday, April 21, 2014

Why Moms Cling to Other Moms

After two years of mom life, I've noticed something. Almost all of my female friends nearby are fellow moms.

Of course, I still have some very close friends that aren't parents, and I love them so dearly, but I started studying why moms stick together. (Yes, I really do spend a lot of time analyzing people.Yes, I'm a bit strange.) But anyway, here's what I've discovered:

1.) Moms understand late or canceled plans.

You were just about to walk out the door when you noticed. No choice but to strip him down and get a new diaper.
Just as you went to hop in the shower, little one threw up all over you.

You call or text, explain in as few words as possible, then deal with the above circumstance.
They respond: no grief, no guilt, just a very compassionate: I totally get it.

2.) Your missed text or call is responded to. Two days later. No judgement.

The conversation picks up just where it left off: no explanation needed.

3.) The state of your toy-strewn living room looks totally normal to them. They probably don't even notice.

Admit it, as a mom, we are envious whenever we walk into the houses of out non parent friends. Their fingerprint free windows, beautiful vases of flowers placed on low coffee tables. Books without Disney characters or that start One Fish Two Fish on their shelves, and stunning grown up colors on their unstained carpets.

And we therefore know what those friends see when they walk into our homes. The red and yellow blocks strewn all over the floor, the television remote that has some sticky substance on it, the Curious George theme song on repeat, and the toybox, which has somehow become the centerpiece of the room.

But another mom, she's able to look past all those things and see the new family picture you hung up above the couch. She doesn't make a face as she uses her foot to clear a path through the room because it's so second nature, she may not realize she's just done it.

4.) Coffee/Lunch/Dinner dates happen at each others houses.

Fellow moms don't usually head up to the local Starbucks to catch up. We don't go out to Olive Garden for a leisurely lunch. We pack up the kids, and head to the home of mom friend where they have brewed a good size pot of tea, and enjoy conversation while watching the kids play in an already kid-friendly place.

If we do go out, we're heading to the nearest food joint with a play place (unless we've found a babysitter or a hubby with no plans of his own).

5.) They offer a type of support no one else can.

When you tell another mom what's going on, especially if they have a kid near your child's age, they can not only offer words of comfort and support, they get it.

Unlike your mom, who has blocked out most of the more terrible parts of parenting and remembers the cute and cuddly parts.
Unlike your single friends, who can offer love, but have no real way to put themselves in your shoes.
And unlike even your husband, because even if he is the most fantastic father in the world, he doesn't quite get it.

Here's one of my best examples: this past Monday I was heading to dance fitness. And Jace lost it on my way out the door: crying, clinging, "mamamamama"-ing. Anyone knows that is sad, and can imagine that it is hard, but I have to believe that only another mom understands what it physically does to your heart to watch your baby cry for you. It's not something I can put into words, it's not something that I can make an adequate comparison to, but when I arrived at dance fitness I didn't have to explain it because the mom's just got it. That solidarity offered me so much comfort, because it takes away the feeling of being alone in your feelings.

I'm so incredibly blessed to have those women in my life, and I don't think I can every thank them all enough for their friendship.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pregnancy- A Poem

I was searching through old documents and found a poem I started when I was still pregnant with Jace.
 I touched it up and finished it and wanted to post it here.

Shock.
It all makes sense.
But none of it makes sense.
My new D cup and aversion to smells,
That part adds up.
But the doctors all said no.
Our chances were minute.
Chemo caused some damage,
High stress levels wouldn’t help.
But the test says positive.
So does the one at the doctor’s office.
Due date: April 19.
“Take your prenatal vitamins.”
It’s still unreal, we can’t quite comprehend.
A baby.
Us.
We get to have one?
Love one?
Name one?
Planning commences,
family members are told.
Excitement follows.
First ultrasound
Congratulations, it’s a
BOY.
Jace Alexander.
I continue growing,
as does he.
Kick.
Jace learns to somersault,
roll,
and rest feet in my ribcage.
More ultrasounds,
more doctors,
he’s healthy and fine.
Setting up the nursery,
Lion King bedding,
and a library of Dr. Seuss .
Getting closer to April,
nervous about labor.
Plan baby showers,
read about birth.
Watch a lot of Teen Mom.
3-D ultrasound,
the first time to see his face,
looks like daddy.
Skin continues to stretch
Angry red streaks my stomach
I simply can’t get any bigger,
there’s nowhere else to go.
Too much movement
to sleep,
just prepping
for newborn nights.
Doctor appointments weekly,
a couple medical scares.
“Signs of preeclampsia.”
“Strict bed rest.”
Then finally,
“We should induce.”
More calls to family members
“Jace’s birthday will be tomorrow!”
Start the pitocin,
sleep, rest, wait.
Water breaks,
progress,
time for the epidural.
Progress slows,
ceases,
stresses.
“It’s completely up to you.”
C-section.
5:33pm
Congratulations!
The cry that would change
every priority in my life.


Courtesy of Ray Davis Photography

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#MomLife

My baby turns two today.

Yes, you read that right.

T W O

My thought: Where the heck did the last two years go?


That tiny little bundle that came home from the hospital is now a very independent toddler that keeps me on my toes. And realistically, I wouldn't change a thing.

Here are my favorite parts of being Jace's mom:

1.) He's fearless!
If you've met him, you know he doesn't get scared easily. He loves animals big and small, slides down slides of any size, and would jump right into any new situation.

2.) He's a people baby.
Even if he pretends to be a little shy at first, he loves everybody. It doesn't matter who babysits him, or who's house we're going to, he warms up and adjusts quickly. 

3.) HE'S A READER!
I love this. It's probably my favorite part of his personality. Ever night before bed, we read him a story that he picks out. When we say "The End," he takes the book into bed with him to read it again to himself until he falls asleep. We've found him after naptime reading a book, during naptime, even waking up first thing in the morning. 

4.) He gives the best cuddles.
  He doesn't get super cuddly often, but when he does he curls right up on my lap and gives the best hugs and kisses. 

5.) He's a quick study.
It amazes me to watch him pick up on new things daily. This age is the age for learning, but it's so interesting to watch him learn new words, new actions, and make new connections. 


Happy Birthday baby boy! 


Monday, March 31, 2014

Fitness- What Worked for Me

After my last post I was pleasantly surprised to hear a few people mention that they would be interested in hearing what worked best for me so far and what tips I've picked up over the last few months about losing weight.

So I thought it would be worth it to try to put all the best information I've come across in one place.

Losing weight is a basic science principal: burn more calories than you are taking in.
That's it.
No miracle pills, no secrets, nothing really confusing about it, if you intake fewer calories than you output in a day you will lose weight rather than gain it.

So, count your calories. 
I use LoseIt, which is a pretty great free app and website with a large database of foods with calories already figured out. I plan ahead the meals that I can and try to make overall healthy choices. But by knowing the calories in all my favorite food I'm still able to eat pizza and enjoy chocolate. If you decide to do LoseIt feel welcome to add me as a friend (camille.myers.kouris@gmail.com).




Schedule your workouts.
I'm serious. If you think, I'll go for a run sometime Saturday, but haven't set an actual time and location, you won't do it. I speak from a whole lot of experience here, and unless you are a person that really really just loves to workout, you need to schedule it.
Here's what a typical workout week looks like for me (in case anyone was curious):

Monday: 6:30-7:20am     Swim Laps
               7:00-7:45pm    Refit Dance Fitness

Tuesday: 6:00-6:30am     Workout Video

Wednesday: 6:30-7:20am  Swim Laps
                    6:30-7:00pm  Run or Family Walk

Thursday: 6:00-6:30am    Workout Video

Friday: 6:30-7:20am        Swim Laps

Saturday: Varies by week depending on what we're doing.



Drink water. All the time.
Yes, water is boring compared to the possibility of ___________ (insert your favorite soda here). But water is 0 calories. Your body needs it. Drinking more of it helps other systems in your body and helps clear up your skin if you're like me and still struggle with acne. I aim to drink 64oz a day, because if your body feels it's not getting adequate water the scale will tell you that you're gaining weight.
I'm sure there's science behind that, but I'm not enough of a science person to understand it.

Track your progress. 
And do it in multiple ways. Yes, the scale is a fantastic tool. Personally I weigh myself first thing every morning because it gets my day started thinking about my goal and what I'm working toward. But the scale won't always tell you what you hope to see. Measure to count inches, take weekly progress pictures, time your run or how long you can hold a plank. Seeing improvement in any way is the absolute best motivation to keep going.


Don't reward yourself with food.
You're not a dog, you don't need a food treat when you've done something good.
This was hard for me, because in college my reward for finishing a paper was to go get a milkshake. Or a burger. Or mozzarella sticks. So what I've had to do is find other ways to reward myself. For example, when I hit 165 lbs, I gave myself $10 to go to the bookstore in town and get a couple new books. When I hit 150, I get a pedicure.
Obviously this is going to look different for everyone, but write it out, post it where you will see it, and do it in increments that make sense for you (for me it was every 5 lbs).

Plan your meals.
If you have a menu and all the ingredients already in your house, the temptation to run through a drive through on the way home from work shrinks considerably. Do the same with lunch and snacks. Currently at work here are the snacks I keep on hand for my morning and afternoon snack:
Apples
Green Grapes
Plums
String Cheese
Protein Balls (oats, honey, peanut butter, dark chocolate)
Wheat Thins
Dried Cranberries
Granola Bars
Popcorn
Dark Chocolate
Pretzels
Sunflower Seeds

Utilize tools.
When I get something new, I get super excited to use it, and since I know that about myself, I've basically tricked myself by purchasing things used for workouts.
New workout tank top? I should go for a run!
New pretty tumbler? Guess who drank all 64 oz of water today!
And when I got down 28 pounds I needed an extra push, so I got a Fitbit Flex. It taps perfectly into my competitive side and I went down two pounds last week.

Take advantage of your Sunday.
My work week runs 8-5 M-F. So on Sunday I take some time in the afternoon to pack my gym bag, pack snacks to take to the office, make sure all my workout gear is somewhere near, charge my iPod if I'm going to need it, and declutter my house. If I wake up in the morning and the house is a mess I will sometimes avoid my workout by loading the dishwasher and picking up toys off the living room floor. If those things are already handled there is no excuse to not get my workout on.

Down 30 pounds!