It’s been A DAY.

Can I just be real for a second? Like… really, really transparent with you?

Today has been A DAY. The kind of day where I feel like I matter so little that I ask myself why I even bother. The kind of day where I want nothing other than to be understood and yet I feel like nothing I say will make anyone understand me. The kind of day where I seriously wonder sometimes if I am completely invisible unless someone wants something from me. The kind of day where one little thing happens and it brings back EVERYTHING that has ever made me feel the same way and makes me feel an inch tall, not to mention like I'm still stuck in high school. The kind of day where I just. don't. feel. GOOD ENOUGH.

Ugh. I hate days like this. This is not who I am… but it brings out the worst of my insecurities. What's my age again? Thank you Blink 182 for that profound question. I wonder that myself sometimes. One would think at 30 that this kind of crap would be behind me already.

When I was in elementary school all the way up to when I was 20, I had this friend who I considered my best friend. And repeatedly throughout those years, she would bail on our friendship and on me to go be BFFs with someone else. And then when that person bailed on her, she would come back to me and I would forgive her and be her best friend all over again- as long as she decided to keep me around, anyway. My parents and my grandma warned me over and over again to be cautious
with this person because they saw how hurt I was every time I would get
left behind. Maybe I was just obnoxious but I would rather lose a friend permanently knowing that I was obnoxious so I could change rather than wonder what is so wrong with me that someone can desert me temporarily, but keep me around for convenience. This went on many times until she completely wrote off our friendship when we were in college with a handwritten, mailed letter saying she didn't want me in her life anymore. At that point, while I was confused and once again hurt and wondered where she got off being so self-righteous and condescending, I felt as if I were much better off without this so-called friend, and I never responded and moved on with my life. 

It really sucks being used. The very meaning of that word in the
context of relationships implies that, eventually, you get thrown
away-discarded- without any regard for the fact that it really, really
hurts.

Fast forward six years when she tracked me down on MySpace and asked for my forgiveness and for a restored friendship. And I forgave this person, truly, and we are again friends. But what I never made peace with is the effect that friendship had on me through the 12 years I endured never being good enough to be her friend after someone better came along.

Growing up as an only child (my brother and sister were grown and out of the house when I was born), I placed a high value on friendships. I still do, but as an adult I now have more solid boundaries. And I suppose the problem is that this hurt that I never truly processed has made me hyper-sensitive to unbalanced friendships and relationships and the rejection that accompanies them. Being treated like I don't matter to someone I hold in high regard is something I have a really hard time dealing with. Sometimes it's outright shocking and other times it's just like, "OK… but… seriously?" I don't blame my friend for the fact that I haven't dealt with things completely- that is my responsibility. It's just what happened. What I am learning in light of this is that balanced friendships are rare, valuable and definitely to be cherished. The rest deserve respect and kindness but in the end don't really matter, because they won't be there for you when you need them.

OK… enough with the pity party. This is also the kind of day where I totally need to get over myself. I
know this all sounds incredibly narcissistic- half the time the things
that hurt me aren't even about me- they're about the other person.
That's another thing I've learned as I grow older. When all is said and
done, I'm fine… I just need a hug from my husband when he gets home
from work tonight. Tomorrow is a new day.

I know that Linnea will mostly learn from her own mistakes. Now that I'm a mom, I understand that as much as I want to teach her the things I have learned and protect her sweet little heart, experience is going to be the best teacher. I can only pray that she is guarded from being too hurt and that she is wise in her decisions. I can guide her and teach by example. But that will require first that I make peace with my own past, and make the most of the days I am blessed to have. God willing, I will someday fully experience where my true worth lies- not in the opinions and insecurity of others, but in Christ alone. I have searched and searched and no matter who I encounter, another person will never value me as much as my God does. The same is true for all of us.

Are there things in your life that you haven't made peace with yet? Would you be willing to share? If you're a mom, or soon-to-be, are there things you want your children to know based on your experiences? Sometimes, even if the situations are completely different, it's good to know that other people are human and have things they have to deal with too. I normally don't do this, but… today, I just had to get this out.

On another note, I am really thankful for these people:

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Bri, Brett, Cassie, and Matt! These are the folks in our small group… and they are simply wonderful.

I am also thankful for this person, my BFF through thick and thin, through all my highs and lows:

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This girl is the real deal- God has shown me his love, friendship and loyalty through her in big ways. I would not have kept my sanity all these years without her listening ear and no-nonsense advice. If she wasn't on a ten-day camping trip with her hubby this week, I probably would have unloaded all of this on her and you wouldn't have had to read any of this long-winded nonsense. Ha!

Arizona is home… for now.

Cody and I have been thinking of where we would like to live if we ever left Arizona. Then I take pictures like this and wonder if I could ever leave this kind of beauty.

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There is no sky like an Arizona sky. You can see for MILES.

We're planning a trip to Nashville for our anniversary this year (and keeping our fingers crossed that it actually works out) because we are super intrigued by living there… even though we've never been there before. So call us crazy that it's at the top of our list of places to live- vastly different than this scenery, that much I know.

I think that no matter where I live, Arizona will always be home. I love this place more than words can say. But Cody and I both agree that if we didn't take a chance and move our family somewhere else at some point, we may regret it someday. It would be a huge change and super difficult to leave our family and friends, but it's time for some adventure in our lives!

Maybe we'll just pack our loved ones in our bags and take them along.

Just sayin'.

Appreciation.

I am so thankful for everyone who has been praying for my dad and who contacted me to let me know that he is in their thoughts and prayers. We went to the hospital today and he was awake and in very good spirits, and no doubt very thankful to be alive. We are all happy about that. He would laugh that I am saying this, but he truly radiated appreciation today. Renewed, I think- for life, for his loved ones, for his wife and his children and grandchildren. He's big and tough and ultimately a measly quadruple bypass can't keep him down. But he knows better than to go against doctor's orders, so he will do whatever it takes to get well soon. A CAT scan is in order to make sure we don't miss anything. And lastly, he is willing to have the surgery team go in to take care of the aneurysm the right way- whether that means they have to open his chest again, or go in through the artery in his leg. We're hoping and praying for the latter, and asking God to hold Dad tightly in His protective hands as we await the next surgery. So don't stop praying for him in the coming weeks. Our family is grateful for all you have done to lift up Dad already.

As our family came together at the hospital, anxiously waiting for good news from the surgeon, I realized that there are so many wonderful things about each one of these people that I hope Linnea sees as shining examples of love and character as she grows up. In the coming weeks, I will be sharing what each of those qualities are in individual blogs dedicated to those who are closest to my heart through thick and thin and who have shown love unconditionally in spite of my flaws. These are the people I want Linnea to look to when she questions humanity, because God has blessed me tremendously with amazing people who love her as much as I do.

So anyway, this is just a quick post to say thank you. Near and far, friends and those merely passing through my little site- thank you. God hears each and every one of your intercessions on my dad's behalf, and I will never forget what you've done for us. When I told my dad that there are countless people praying for him- strangers, even- he smiled brightly and said, "That's wonderful. Tell them to keep it up."

Fix you.

Isn't it true that we wake up most days thinking that life will generally be the same when we go to bed at night? For the most part, that's how life goes. But then the days come when life is turned completely upside-down. Life simply won't be the same, ever again.

Sometimes it's good- you get engaged, and eagerly anticipate your wedding day. The day you graduate from college. The day you find out you're going to be a mom or a dad. The day your child is born. Someone surprises you with something small but exciting, like my BFF did when she gave me a haircut for my birthday. Or maybe it's a big surprise, and someone you love is coming home early from deployment, or they show up on your door step unexpectedly. Life is full of all kinds of amazing surprises.

But sometimes it's bad. A loved one passes away. You receive a devastating diagnosis at what should have been a routine doctor's visit. A baby dies of SIDS with no warning whatsoever. A car accident happens that takes a person's life. Or you wake up one day only to find out that your dad- your big, strong, wise dad- has suffered a heart attack, and was taken into emergency surgery for a quadruple bypass. Family comes together, not quite processing the gravity of the situation, until you go into the room, and see him lying there with tubes hooked up to so many different fluids and machines that you can barely breathe yourself. You choke back tears, knowing that he is OK, but given that there is still a looming, gigantic aortic aneurism that can't be operated on until he recovers from this first major surgery, you pray and pray that God will protect him from a rupture in the weeks until the doctors can complete their work. 

That was how I spent today.

I don't even know how to begin to tell you how much my dad means to me. We didn't always get along, God knows, but when all is said and done, he is my hero. He has a piece of my heart that no one can touch. He is as proud as can be, and has this silly tendency to just brush things off like they're nothing (like when he was joking around with my mom before surgery- no big deal, right?), and for goodness' sake, whatever you do, don't get him started with his political opinions! But, oh my gosh… he adores his family. And we all adore him. And while we aren't big on saying so- well, it's no secret how much we mean to each other.

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The things that I have witnessed and experienced in recent months make me amazed that the human heart can withstand so much change and contain such an astounding volume of love. Our daughter was born and it was as if my heart ballooned to epic proportions just to accommodate the love I have for not only her, but my husband as well. We lost Mum Mum, and while I was rejoicing that she was with the Lord and no longer in pain, there were things that I wish I could have said to her before it was too late- and it's not like I didn't have time. My husband and I witnessed a horrendous wreck right before our eyes that makes me shudder to think that had it happened two seconds later, all of us, including Linnea, would have been a part of it, and the people involved in the wreck may not have walked away. I learned of a young couple who lost their first child to SIDS when she was five months old- a story that tore me apart and, even though I don't know them personally, I think of them every day. A police officer was murdered two weeks after the birth of his second child, and his wife has been left to care for her two babies and mourn the loss of her husband. I learned this week that the mild dysplasia that was discovered during my pregnancy had progressed to severe, or "cancer-in-place" – one step below invasive cancer – that fortunately was caught in time and removed by my doctor. And today, I am eternally grateful that my dad is still alive and in recovery mode from a life-saving surgery. 

So if you ever want to justify to me that it's worth treating people like they'll always be around, that it's a good thing to wait to make things right with the people you love – that is, if you ever bother doing so – I would laugh in your face. Because take it from me – life is short. My 95-year-old grandma said so before she passed away. She talked about her teen years as if they happened yesterday. Don't ever take your loved ones for granted. Don't ever treat them with anything but love and transparency. Don't put off forgiveness or believe that sick myth that "time will heal." It won't. Don't fear real relationships in life, and don't be fake or mean or unforgiving, because when you reach the end and your life is flashing before your eyes, you will see nothing but static on a broken TV.

The song "Fix You" by my favorite band of all time, Coldplay, has been on repeat on my iPod in recent months. It's therapeutic, it's heartbreaking, its words are healing when I can't make sense of things that are happening around me. It crescendos to a state of hope and desperation that sometimes only music can provide. I don't want to lose something that I can't replace if I can help it. I hope the same for you.

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse.

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above earth or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream, down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face and I…

Tears stream, down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face and I…

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you.

Balance.

I’ve been back from my four-day girls weekend since Sunday night and have barely had a chance to breathe, I’ve been so busy with TomKat orders! Monday was my unpacking/parents oogling over Linnea day, so I dedicated yesterday to catching up on the plethora of customizing and e-mailing I had to take care of so I could get caught up. I was in front of the computer from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and only got about halfway through- it was nuts! Then today I did the same thing. Don’t get me wrong- I am NOT complaining. Not in the least- I am so blessed to be doing what I’m doing, and to be working with Kim and our sweet customers is a better gig than I could have imagined. And it’s seriously like a comedy show around here tonight, with all the e-mails Kim and I have going back and forth. I’m falling off my chair laughing right now. I love that this is my job. I actually get PAID to do this.

My challenge lies in the balancing act that is required to be a WAHM, or a Work-At-Home Mom, or a Whacked-out ADHD Hell-raising Mamacita, if I may Dooce-ify my title a bit- only that’s the clean version. I have this child who is, yes, a little angel, but does require that my work flow be inturrupted continuously throughout the day in order to meet her needs, or rather, to simply not ignore her in order to do the things I need to get done. It breaks my heart to not interact with her as much as possible, but sometimes, it’s just HARD. Cody makes fun of me because he says I throw productivity fits, usually at the most ridiculous hours, but once I get going, man, everyone had better clear the way because I am getting things DONE! And yeah… it’s true. For goodness’ sake, it’s 12:30 and I’m sitting here blogging. But sometimes I feel like if I don’t do things late at night, they don’t get done. Then I wake up to my happy, clearly-a-morning-person baby girl cooing excitedly through the monitor, never any later than 7:00 a.m. Hmmm… Something’s gotta give. But what?

My husband wrote a great post the other day about being fully present. Even though finding balance may be a struggle, it is so important not to gloss over the precious moments we may miss in our pursuit of being the perfect mom and professional. We can’t live in the “someday” at the expense of enjoying our children growing up. Because I gotta tell ya, not only do I love my work, but I am having a blast watching my little girl discover her feet for the first time; listening to her incoherent and sweet opinions on EVERYTHING; holding her close while she figures out just who that little baby in the mirror is; making her almost giggle when I blow raspberries on her belly. I don’t want to miss a thing.

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All that to say, I thought this would be a lot less challenging than it is. It’s not that my life is so hard… it’s just that at this point, as a new mom, I’m struggling to find a balance. And I know that there are plenty of mamas out there who can relate, and I hope we can all connect to support and encourage each other while we navigate the road toward raising amazing kids and realizing our dreams of becoming smart and savvy business owners!

I want to know the secrets, or maybe the realities, of the WAHMs who
seem to have this uncanny ability to juggle the demands of motherhood
with work… when they’re blended into one throughout your day. Does it
get easier or harder as your kids get older? What are the challenges
you face as your family grows? What tricks or advice can you share with other WAHMs who may just be starting out? Or, if you’re a new mom and new business owner, like I am, what specifically has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced? And, most importantly, how do we balance it all?

Ready… GO!

Naughty Blogger.

I am a naughty, naughty blogger. Good bloggers stay on top of posting. Good bloggers have something interesting to say, and the best have something interesting to say every day. I have determined that I haven't been keeping up with posting regularly because I haven't led a very exciting life lately. I started this blog hoping that becoming a mom would provide me with a plethora of hilarious, endearing stories to share with my readers.

But alas, my child is so perfect, I have nothing exciting to write about.

So what if I'm biased… and kidding. But she eats well. She's gaining weight at a normal rate, finally. She sleeps ALL THE WAY through the night. She coos, and smiles, and almost laughs, and today she rolled onto her back from her tummy for the first time. TV enthralls her (unfortunately), and I stay home with her most of the week. I take her everywhere I go and she is a little angel pretty much all the time. When she's asleep, or generally content, I get some work done. All in all, a pretty tame existence. I have an amazing kid.

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On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Bloggy Boot Camp with my talented and world-famous client Kim of the TomKat Studio. My head has been swimming with ideas ever since, and so has Kim's – so much that we're closing up shop next week so she can get some ideas implemented and the brainstorming can commence. It was pretty spectacular being surrounded by ladies who get what it's like to be a mom, to want to contribute to the family income, to use business-savvy and social skill to propel ideas forward. We learned about Web design, PR, SEO, small business, monetizing, and being authentic. It was fantastic. It was inspiring to meet like-minded women who support each other; not compete with each other. How refreshing for a profession that has the potential to be incredibly catty.

I have to admit though, that for a novice like me, it was a tad bit intimidating. I have tons of ideas that I've wanted to see come to life, but the adjustment of new motherhood and working from home has been tougher than I thought. It's not that life is so hard or complicated; it's just that I don't have it down to a science yet. While everyone there was super welcoming, it definitely was hard to feel like part of the "club" because I didn't feel like I had much to offer. These ladies are so talented and seem to have this ability to juggle responsibility that I can barely wrap my mind around. But it was so good to see firsthand that yes… it can be done.

Life as a new mom has been incredible in ways that I couldn't have even imagined. I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I can't complain about having such a perfect child. Ha! I'll be paid back a hundred fold for such a comment, I'm sure (The tween years? Honestly). I mean, seriously, writing about how Linnea has been cooing happily on the couch next to me while I get some work done is only exciting… oh… never. I'm not saying I'll never write about her- she is my muse, after all – I just have other things to share here as well. I'm working on a list of topics and a schedule to follow, and I can't wait to get organized and share them with you.

On another note, I just finished the book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Don Miller, and also had the chance to hear him speak at our church a few weeks ago, and it was a timely, much-needed message for not just me but my husband Cody as well. We're working on our "What If" lists and are determined to live a better story (you can read his here). If I've learned anything in recent months, it's that life is short, and precious. Cheers to making the most of it!

Surgery. It’s not as bad as it sounds.

It's funny how a doctor can call even the most simple procedure "surgery" and consequently send patients into a downward spiral of panic. Last week I went in for my six-week post-partum checkup, and everything was fantastical until I mentioned that I was still bleeding- not profusely, but just, you know, still bleeding. At a point when it probably should have stopped. She ordered an ultrasound and afterward I was informed that I had "retained placenta" and had to have a D+C. Hmmm, OK, and what is that exactly?

"SURGERRRRRYYYYYYYYY."

Good Lord, that is such a dirty word when you're the one who has to go through it.

So a D+C is a simple procedure where they get all up in your business and scrape out the inside of your uterus. Something for which, fortunately, there is an anesthesiologist present who injects the good stuff into your veins and knocks you out completely. Takes 30 minutes or so. Breezy recovery. So it's not that bad- why the brief bouts of terror?

You see, needles don't bother me- until I see them. I've had my ears pierced, and even had a period of rebellion in my life when I pierced my tongue and got a tattoo. Because I never saw said needles, and I was fine. But show me the needle and FORGET IT. In addition, you can pretty much stick me with a needle anywhere and I barely notice, but get a sharp object anywhere near the crook of my arm where they draw blood and I go white as a ghost. Therefore, pregnancy and childbirth, as easy as I had it, was not a walk in the park for me when it came to all the blood tests I had to have done.

So here's the backstory. When I was six years old, in our family doctor's office, a man who was so caring and wonderful and who I trusted completely, I had to have my blood drawn. At six years old, I had no idea that it would be better not to watch them do it- I thought, in all my infinite wisdom, that I needed to see it and I would feel better. So I watched. AND PASSED OUT COLD. When I woke up, I thought I died, and I have had a phobia of getting my blood drawn ever since. I know- pathetic, right? I was six years old! Get over it already!

So the worst part of today's surgery was the fact that I had to sit there for about an hour, fully conscious, with an IV line sitting in my arm in preparation for the glorious anesthesia I'd be receiving for the procedure. It bothered me SO MUCH. I couldn't even feel it but the fact that I knew it was there made me all lightheaded and weirded out. It's the first thing they do and the last thing they remove before you're all done. But whatever, I survived to tell the tale, and I'm at home less than two hours later and feel like a million bucks.

How I ever took up sewing as a hobby I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. There are a lot of needles involved in that pastime!