Friday, January 31, 2014

Faith, Marriage, & The Bachelor

Did you really think I wasn't going to talk about The Bachelor WEDDING? 
 www.people.com

(Side note: I got pretty into the wedding Sunday night - as in, I may have shed a tear or ten - but I really couldn't get back into Juan Pablo and his goons on Monday.  I just thought the episode was boring and I'm starting to not like even the girls I thought I liked. Ugh.  Anyway, back to regular Bachelor gossip next week probably.)


SO... Did you watch? I am not ashamed to admit that I chose Sean & Catherine's Bachelor wedding over watching the Grammy's (both live televised events) on Sunday night.  This wasn't a hard decision for me, and I didn't even flip channels to see how the Grammy's were going, but from the flood on my Facebook feed and articles like this in the following days, I think I made the right choice.  Who would have EVER guessed in a million years that The Bachelor would actually be the more wholesome and edifying television option?!?


My love for the Bachelor is no secret.  I've been shamelessly scheduling my weeks around its episodes and sheepishly falling in love with someone (or at least someone's story) for almost ten years now.  Yes, that's longer than I've been committed to anything else in the world except maybe Jeff, and that's a little sad... But whatever.   I have seen all four (those odds are NOT good people) of the weddings and, just recently, started keeping up with some of the former contestants on Instagram to really up the ante of my life.  *No, I don't think The Bachelor is a realistic image of love and marriage, BUT I do think it is fun to watch with my girlfriends; and, every once in a blue moon, the happy couple can actually find the real thing behind all the cameras and media craziness.

I mean, how great is the picture?  (From www.usmagazine.com)

Call me naive, but I think Sean and Catherine are one of those couples.

In case you haven't been keeping up with your current events, Sean was pinned as the "Christian virgin" from the very beginning of his Bachelor experience (even when he was a contestant on Emily's season).  I have to admit, I always thought he was sweet, but I questioned whether or not someone who really put his faith in the Lord's will for his life would actually go on a television show to find it, and I kind-of wrote it off as his "angle" that the producers would play up to create drama etc.  BUT,  I was pleasantly surprised to see that his beliefs kept coming up in both seasons and - especially after meeting his family on Emily's hometown visits (and stalking his older sister's blog), I began to trust that Sean's faith really IS the real deal.

I never got particularly invested in his relationship with Catherine either.  I think she is absolutely beautiful and funny, but I don't remember her standing out very much on the show.  (Come to think of it, maybe that's WHY they worked out so well).  However, in the year (or so) since their live engagement, I've tried to keep up with them (admittedly through social media and the tabloids) and have LOVED the way their relationship has played out in real life.

At the final rose ceremony a year ago (from www.usatoday.com)

I love that they decided to live in the same town, but NOT in the same house.  I love that they chose to wait until their wedding night to have sex.  I love that Sean posted a photo of Catherine getting baptized a few weeks ago on his Instagram.  I love that they prayed before he walked down the aisle.

To be clear, I don't think any of those things MAKE a person a Christian - but, I do love that they are living out some of the fruits of their faith in the spotlight, even when it would be so easy and acceptable to not.


Back to the wedding...

I thought all the pre-show stuff about sex was a bit overdone - you know the Producers ate that ish up - BUT, as Erika so perfectly put it on her blog Monday - "they made waiting seem sexy and fun instead of weird and laughable."  I can't argue that that isn't a really good thing.  (I'm still a bit confused about what exactly Grown Sexy is, but I think they got it!)

I also really liked when Sean said - somewhere in all the pre-show interviews - that everyone really latched on to his decision to wait to have sex, but really it is "just one small part" of his faith in God.  YES!!!  Honeymoon Suite camera? NO!!!

From Catherine's Instagram that morning.
The wedding itself was stunning.  I mean, gorgeous.  How could you ever fault a girl for having her wedding on life TV if it got to look like THAT?!?!  Catherine was glowing and giddy, and Sean seemed SO genuine and in love.  Maybe I'm a darn fool, but I really think they GET this whole marriage thing and they are ALL IN.

Of course, the real star of the show was Sean's dad - who performed the ceremony.  (I read on Shay's blog that he actually had the stomach flu and missed the rehearsal dinner the night before.  Can you even believe that? #makesmelovehimevenmore.)  I mean, I bet his inbox is BLOWING UP with requests to do weddings all over the place.  SO. GOOD.  I loved that his words were not overly preachy or "religious," but that he also wasn't at all ashamed to admit that marriage without God is impossible and that ALL of this was for His glory.  It was beautiful.  (And, Sean's sobbing was just the icing on the cake.)

From www.eonline.com

So, here's what I think...

Going on The Bachelor is a HUGE risk.  Yes because you will probably be humiliated on national television, but also because the cameras can really portray you however they want and - let's be honest - fame and popularity can easily go to your head.  No doubt. BUT, Sean has kind-of changed my view of why a Christian (someone truly following Jesus, not just saying they do) would go on a show like that.  Because, y'all, LOOK at his influence.  Millions of people watched their wedding on Sunday night and saw a couple that adores each other but acknowledges that even their love isn't strong enough without God.  Millions of people heard a tiny bit of the Gospel, and saw a beautiful couple that was able to fall madly in love while still being obedient to God.

I was proud to be a Bachelor fan on Sunday night.  A lot prouder than I was to be a Taylor Swift fan at least. ;)



P.S. You should totally read Sean's sister Shay's blog - Mix & Match Mama.  Especially her recaps of the wedding (and some behind-the-scenes details) here and hereShaeffer's recap is also pretty great.

P.S.S.Did anyone else notice that Lesley was a bridesmaid?  The producers totally played that down because we literally saw her face once, but still.... And Dez was in the crowd.  #Awkward

P.S.S.S.  (I know, this is getting ridiculous.) How hilarious were Catherine's vows?  Don't get me wrong, I loved them because they seemed so sincere and "her," but... "the light to my bug" ?!?! Bahaha!

P.S.S.S.S. (LastoneIpromise) Do you think there is any chance they would have a live reality show together now?  You know, kind-of life Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson - the original virgin celebrity couple... on second thought... maybe not.  #thatdidntturnoutsowell

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom Friend,

I'm an all cards on the table kind-of gal; and, right now, I need to confess something to you... I've been a little jealous-y and a little unfair to you lately.

Here's the thing, I'm in a bit of a funk (we'll call it the late-January blues) and have been playing the "grass is always greener" game BAD.  I've been telling myself some version of this the last few days: "If I just stayed home with Sam full time I would actually have time to...  exercise/ organize the basement/ go on play-dates/ cook healthy meals/ put away my laundry/ really PLAY with Sam."  You know, fill in the blank...

Almost every morning these days I throw myself the same little pity party where I ache to stay in my bed just.a.little.bit.longer, to wear my pajamas until noon, and drink coffee out of a real mug while watching cartoons with my boy.  Once I'm here, I'm good, but mornings are the worst.

Just once, I think, I'd like to be in a season (ahem, I think they call it summer) where there are no "due dates," no "appointments," no set schedule.  I'd like to wake up in the morning with a list of Pinterest recipes and crafts to try, "meetings" scheduled with friends over lunch, and all the time I need to finally put away the laundry.


But, here's the thing friend (are you even still reading?),  I KNOW I'm being ridiculous.  I know the imaginary life of a SAHM mom that I'm making up in my head is just that - imaginary.  I know that you don't spend your day lounging and lunching and kicking your feet up.  I KNOW that, many  days, even the life of a high school English teacher feels a lot more glamorous than yours.  

Sure, you might meet a friend for lunch once in a while, but you are toting seven bags and three kids and eating nuggets, while I'm quietly eating a salad at my desk and listening to a book on tape.  You might get to sleep in for an extra hour in the morning, but then you are ON all day.  There is no "planning period" or "lunch break" or chance to run a quick errand alone on your way home.  And, let's be real, you might be drinking your coffee from a cute little mug (instead of my ugly thermos), but it is cold and a little stale from too many re-heats.

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom, I'm SORRY for letting myself believe (if only for a few minutes) that your life is somehow easier than mine.  IT IS NOT.  Yes, we have different obstacles to overcome (and mine might involve more panty-hose and pencils than yours), but we both have obstacles, and (I'm pretty sure) we both have mornings where we desperately wish we were in the other one's shoes. BOTH of our jobs have good days and bad.  BOTH of our jobs are hard.  BOTH of our jobs are important.  I know these things.



Please accept my apology.  I'll sit in silence for ten minutes for you if you'll brew another pot and color another picture for me. ;)


*For the record, I still love my job.  It's just... January.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The 5 Minute Update

Last week, Emily Ley (a totally inspiring blogger that I've recently started following) posted "You Have 5 Minutes" where she asked How are you?  No, really, how are you?  Then, she went on to give a list of ideas of things you can do in just five minutes to "kick that overwhelmed feeling out the door."  I need to take her advice more often and not spend my "free" time on things like Facebook, Pinterest, or (literally) walking in circles.  Anyone else guilty of that?

Anyway, she got me thinking about how so often I don't blog because I don't feel like I have the time to sit down and really write.  But - from the feedback and comments I received on my little survey - it seems you guys really don't care about formality here.  You like the normal.  (Thanks for that, by the way, 'cause I'm not very good at formal.)  So, I thought I might practice a new little exercise today... I'm setting an alarm on my phone for exactly FIVE minutes.  For those 300 seconds, I'm going to type my little heart out with whatever comes to mind.  And, then, when time is up... I'm going to press 'Publish.' We'll call it The 5 Minute Update. In the comments, I'd love to hear how you are doing too. Seriously, how are you?

If all goes well, maybe I'll do these once in a while to catch you up on the day in and day out around here.  We'll see.



For the most part, my life is good right now.  It is simple, which is a good place for me I think.  Sam is still at such a fun stage (although, I admit, I'm seeing a little of the two-year-old defiance creeping in), and every night when I tuck him into bed I smile in the hope that we must be doing something right with him.  My job is good too.  I mean, who can really complain after a week like last where I taught for only TWO days, and one of which was delayed?  And, I've really made some improvements in my health over the course of the last 27 days that make me feel pretty proud.  I'm still going strong on my 'no Diet Coke' rule, and exercise and healthy eating is beginning to come a little more naturally for me.  I can't complain about my life.  I'm lucky.  I'm blessed.  I'm happy, even.

BUT, I still go through most days with a weight on my chest.  I wake up thinking about how many things I didn't do the day before, and how will I ever catch up?  I worry that I'm not "disciplined enough" or "motivated enough" to be the kind of parent I want to be, to ever lose the weight and establish the kind-of healthy lifestyle I want to have, to be the teacher I used to be before I had Sam and could spend hours and hours planning just one 45 minute lesson.  I KNOW I can't do it all, but I find myself still pinned a little underneath the guilt of that admission.


*P.S. A lot of you mentioned in the survey that you'd like to see more photos from my 'real life' here. I'm going to work on that; but, in the meantime, make sure you are following my Instagram (@emyselfandi) if you aren't already.  I'm not great at carrying a camera, but I always have my phone. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Day Confessions

We are out of school for the second day in a row (third if you count MLK Day on Monday) for snow today.  Yes, I have the best job ever.   Confessions today, but first... Nikki Miller and Sarah Hall are the proud new owners of the book Bread and Wine for responding to my reader poll and commenting here last week. Both of these girls are loyal blog readers and friends (Sarah and I actually know each other in real life, and Nikki is one of my very best commenters/ I feel like we know each other in real life), so I'm happy to send a little treat their way! Thank you to ALL of you that answered the questions on my survey and provided such helpful and positive feedback.  You guys are the best!

And now, let's embarrass my mother...

- I'm like a thirteen year old when it snows.  I can't sleep, and I check my phone (and out the window) every ten minutes for an alert that school is cancelled.  I was literally a ball of nerves hoping we would be out for a second day today. It's ridiculous really.  (I like my job, really, I do.  There is just something about the game of it.  And the extra time to put-off grading essays.)

- At any given point, there is a 98% chance that I have a bag of trash (or three) hanging at my back door waiting to go out.

- I have had a weekend, a holiday, and a snow day off from work; and, yet, Jeff and I slept sleeping bag style on two blankets last night because our favorite sheets are still "being washed" after Pukefest 2014 on Sunday.

- I am entirely too emotionally invested in the lives of the Bravermans.  Especially Joel and Julia's relationship right now.  (Side note: Didn't everyone see that Hank had Aspergers?)  I knew it from the first time we met. #seewhatImean)

- I have come to the conclusion that parenthood (the real thing, not the TV show) has made me slow. Physically slower - although probably mentally too.  This is weird since it seems moms are notorious for being able to do TONS in a short amount of time and move a mile a minute.  I don't know what it is, but everything takes me 108978 minutes longer than it used to.  And, usually, I can't even blame Sam.  Anyone else? 


I'd love to hear what you have to confess today!  Let's give this link-up another go, ok?



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What Would You Wear on The Bachelor?

Good morning!  After spending the last twenty-four hours in bed with the stomach flu, you can imagine how happy I was to get today off due to pending winter weather.  Right now, it is flurrying something fierce, but I still have my fingers crossed for a good snow before it is all said and done...

I wasn't on my A-game for last night's episode of The Bachelor; but, overall, I think Juan Pablo has a really pretty set of girls that have a real whining problem.  I still really like Andi and am undecided on pretty much everyone else.  (Chelsie, surprisingly, actually moved up a little for me last night even despite the fact that she was a total goon over jumping off that bridge.) Also, I could listen to Juan Pablo talk all day - he is the cutest.  What do you think? 

www.abc.com
Anyway, I think we can all agree that, aside from Juan Pablo's accent, the best part of this show is looking at all the girls' outfits and different styles from week to week...  Today we are playing a little game where we get to choose what we would wear if the producers called and asked us to pack our bags for the show. I hope you will join me!

Before we begin, there are a few rules to the game:

1.) Money is no object.
2.) You are the perfect weight/height/skin tone/ etc. to wear whatever you fancy.
3.) There are no seasons. It can easily be 40 degrees for one girl and 80 for another on the exact same day.

*Also, if at all possible, you should link to the items you choose just in case one of us really does go on The Bachelor one day and needs it. ;)

Ok, now, on to the "packing..."

First, let's be honest, you're going to be spending most of your time sitting with 10 other girls at the "Bachelor Mansion" (not that I'd complain, this seems like reason enough to go on the show for me). I'm always pretty mesmerized by the variety of outfits people wear during this time.  Some look like they had NO idea they were actually going to be on national television (Kelly), and some look like they are ready for a beauty pagent at any time (Elise).

Lounging:


You really can't go wrong with a good pair of black leggings and a chambray button up, am I wrong? Plus, if we're in the business of spending money on uselessly expensive things and pretending we will look good in whatever we wear, why not throw in a fun pair of New Balance shoes for JCrew and an embroidered emblem baseball cap in bright colors to make you stand out a little from the rest of the girls. :)  This outfit says, I'm casual, sporty, and classy.

The One-on-One Date:


We all know the hardest thing to dress for is the infamous "date card."  I like to believe that the girls are given more guidance on what to wear than what we get, but based on the number of girls that wear heels to an amusement park or to go sledding, I'm doubtful.  So, the challenge here is to look casual enough for a picnic or jumping off a bridge, and fancy enough for a private concert (duh!) or a photo shoot. 

I've pretty much fallen in love with the Tekoa Tank from Anthropologie for its details and versatility.  I love that, from far away, it looks super simple and casual, but up close the beading and detail is beautiful.


With skinny jeans, a great leather jacket (vegan, of course), and a pop of color in your shoes, it is PERFECT.  For the most part, I think you are always better off going casual than over-doing it, so I even love the simple low pony tail and stud earrings the model has on; but, you could easily dress this up with a nice pair of heels and some fun earrings.  (If only I got to plan some of these girls date outfits - ahem Cassandra. Right?!?)

Cocktail Party/ Rose Ceremony:


Here's something you may not know about me - I have a secret love for sequins.  I just think - when done correctly - they are so pretty and look so sophisticated.  I don't think I have ever once worn anything sequin because, frankly, they wouldn't be appropriate for the kind of events I go to; but, you better believe I'd be rocking them on The Bachelor.  How great is this dress?  With some strappy heels and big diamond studs.  LOVE.


Ok, there you have it girls.  Now it's your turn to share what you would wear for lounging, a one-on-one date, and the cocktail party/rose ceremony.  Write your own post and link up below!! Go crazy!

P.S. Who is watching THE WEDDING on Sunday night?!?!  I follow Sean and Catherine on Instagram, so we are basically BFFs.  I love them!!!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

This Week's Gems

I'm not sure you can beat a Sunday afternoon when you have Monday off, you know? I'll be productive tomorrow; today, I will catch up on blog reading, watch movies, and snuggle with my boys.

What about you?  What's on your plate today?

LOTS to share from around the blogosphere this week; but, first, THANK YOU for taking the time to respond to my survey on Friday and leave such kind and thoughtful comments.  You guys gave me some good things to think about; and, even more so, some much-appreciated encouragement to keep this little place alive and well.  It is my HONOR to write here and share my life/stories with such a wonderful group of women! *So far, I've had about 150 people take the survey, but only 37 of you left comments to be entered to win a copy of Bread and Wine.  I will leave it open for a couple more days, so hurry on over if you haven't been yet! :)

For today, here are some of my favorite "gems" from this week...



It's been going on for several months now, but I'm still really enjoying the Simplicity Series at Emily Ley.

What would be on your "simplicity" list?


The College Prepster's tips on "How to Pull Off Lipstick"  


I still don't think I'm brave enough to actually do it (although Erika sure does make a compelling argument), but at least I know how now. ;)


Spoiler Alert: Sam's Valentine's will look like this this year.


They are perfect for my "wild man," and - with the free printable included - I think they will make even me look a little crafty. :)


One of my very favorite posts from this week was "On Pride and Perfection" from Erin at Blue-Eyed Bride.


Y'all, I don't really know how to describe it, but I have been following Erin's blog for a long time now (four years maybe?), and just in the last year I have seen her make this beautiful and seamless shift from being just another mommy-blogger to being a blogger that really makes a difference with her words.  Her quest for "white space" lately, her dependency on the Lord, and her courage to share them both with the world through her blog have, truly, been an inspiration to me.  Read this post.  It is so good.


I NEEDED to read "The #1 Organizing Trick that No One Tells You" from Ann Voskamp this week.


I feel like I am constantly looking for the next greatest thing or twelve step plan to get my life organized and "on track," but this is a great reminder that my days will never be "right" unless they are organized - first and foremost - around Jesus and time in His Word.  Yes.


A Cup of Jo posted about an article on The Psychology of The Bachelor this week, that was SO interesting.


(Read the original article posted in The New York Times in Nov. 2012 here.)


"8 More Winter Boredom Busters" from The Kavanaugh Report has some awesome ideas for entertaining toddlers during this long cold months.



It had never occurred to me to use our water table year round with something else inside it like rice or beans.  We might just have to try this this weekend!


These 19 Things People Swear They Will Never Do When They Have Kids is PERFECT.


I haven't put Sam on a leash (yet), but I'm pretty much guilty of saying I wouldn't do (and then doing) all of the other 18.  #neversaynever #oops

Friday, January 17, 2014

Better Blogging in 2014: 5 Simple Questions for YOU

Y'all, it's been a good week here (on the blog, that is).  If you missed it, on Monday you guys made me feel a lot better about the fact that my kids (no I'm not pregnant) will probably be pretty spaced out (as in, time between them not, like, their mental capabilities), on Tuesday we gossiped about Juan Pablo and his girls, I aired some dirty laundry on Wednesday, and yesterday we had a *lively* discussion about c-sections... I'm pretty sure I broke every rule when it comes to "building your niche" in blogging, but whatever.  I honestly love that we get to chat about the silly stuff and the serious stuff (usually with the equal passion) just the way old friends do over a bottle of wine at a casual dinner party.

To be honest, I needed this week.  The winter is hard for blogging. It is hard to think of things to write about, and it feels like the whole world (myself included) sort-of holes up and hibernates after the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is over.  No, I don't blog solely for an audience, but I'd be lying if I told you that comments and conversations and readers don't make it A LOT more fun!

Source
So, with that in mind, I thought I'd pose a few questions to get to know YOU, my sweet readers, a little better and make this place even more "comfortable" in 2014....

Will you answer five simple questions for me about what you like about E, Myself, and I and where you'd like to see it go from here?  I would be SO grateful.

*Heck, I'll even pick a random commenter (or two) and send you a copy of Shana Niequist's book Bread and Wine (I got a couple of copies this fall at Allume) just to say thanks!


Here are 5 Simple Questions for you... (Make sure you click "vote" after each one!)

What's your favorite topic of conversation around here?
  
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How do you feel about sponsored posts and give aways?
  
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How should I handle comments?
  
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What would you like to see MORE of here? (Select all that apply.)
  
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Which best describes your current life-stage? (Select all that apply.)
  
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When you're done, please leave a quick comment elaborating on any of your responses or just giving me some general feedback on the direction of the blog.  Your comment will serve as your "entry" to win a free book*! 

Thanks guys, I can't wait to see what you have to say!!

*Be sure to include an email address in your comment if it isn't attached to your profile so I can get in touch with you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thoughts on Having a C-Section

This is kind-of a random topic to be writing about since I had my c-section two and half years ago; but, it comes up fairly regularly in my conversations with other parents in real life (I know, I'm that girl), and it is actually on my mind a lot.  In particular, I got to thinking about it this morning after one of my favorite bloggers, Kate from The Small Things, shared some of her c-section story and mentioned that she has received some negative feedback about it, etc.

Let me say this before I go any further... I don't have a lot of strong opinions when it comes to pregnancy, labor, and child birth.  Some may fault me for this, but there is A LOT of conflicting information available when it comes to having a baby, and I decided very early in my pregnancy that I am NOT an expert at those things, and that I would drive myself crazy if I tried to become one in nine months.  The best thing FOR ME was to trust my doctor as the authority and rest in that. I know some of you feel differently.  I know some of you are passionate about natural childbirth or avoiding a c-section at all costs.  That's fine.  This is my experience and what worked for me and my baby.  I also hope that it will be encouraging to those of you that have had c-sections yourself or are pregnant and may face some similar decisions in the months to come.  

Ok.

If you have an extra hour you're looking to kill (ha), you can re-read Sam's complete birth story starting here or jump to the "good part" here.  Otherwise, here it is in a nutshell:

- I labored at home from roughly 11AM - 10PM; we checked in to L&D at 10:30PM and my water broke (on its own) about five minutes later.

- Things progressed pretty quickly once I got to the hospital (I was already dilated to an 8 by the time I got my epidural), and I started pushing at about 1:45AM.  

- For the next hour, I pushed (hard) with very little progress,  until the doctor finally came in to check again around 3AM and found that Sam's head was stuck on my pelvis, his heart rate was elevated, and he appeared to have a fever.  At that point, he said I could continue to push for a couple more hours but recommended a c-section. 

- To quote from my original birth story post, "I sincerely believe that God had been preparing me for that moment.  I am so grateful for the peace that I had about getting the c-section. It was like I was already ready for it.  Jeff and I didn't doubt the decision for one minute; we just went with it.  We just wanted a healthy baby.  I wasn't sad.  I wasn't even scared.  I just was ready to meet Sam."


- Less than two hours later, Sam was born completely blue (not breathing) and with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck FOUR times.  (This is called a quadruple-nuchal, and it was only the second our OB had ever seen. If you want to be scared, Google it.) 

- Thankfully, the OB was set and, after receiving some immediate attention, Sam let out the most beautiful cry ever and we had our happy ending.


OK.... I'm going to try not to be super dramatic here, but... I really believe that if I had continued to push back at 3AM (which wouldn't have been crazy for a lot of people), our story would have ended VERY differently...


So, here's the thing... I think I can speak for every mother ever when I say that the ultimate goal here is to safely deliver a healthy baby when it is all said and done.  Something about becoming a momma makes you instinctively able to do ANYTHING in order to make that happen (just ask one).  I, truly, have a lot of respect for women that choose to have their babies completely naturally and without surgical intervention.  You are right, our bodies ARE naturally designed to be able to do the hard work of childbirth and the miracle of it IS beautiful.  Yes, hundreds of years ago, women had babies in their homes with little to no medical intervention ALL THE TIME; but hundreds of years ago a lot more women and children died during childbirth too.

I'm honestly not trying to cause a ruckus (really, I'm not), it's just that your desire NOT to have medical intervention might be the EXACT SAME reason I choose to have it.  Are you with me?

In my case, having a c-section might have SAVED my baby's life, and you just can't underestimate that.


As I mentioned in my original birth-story post, God gave me an incredible peace about the entire situation.  Long before it was time to make any hard-fast decisions, I had a sense (a motherly intuition, maybe?) that I would have to have a c-section.  *In fact, for those couple of hours when everything was progressing normally and I had started to push, I remember a moment of "I can't believe this."  No, I didn't ask for a c-section; but, I also wasn't upset at the recommendation or disappointed in my decision to go ahead with it.  I feel like JUST AS MUCH of a mother after a c-section than I would have been if I'd delivered my baby "naturally," because - either way - I was doing what was best for MY baby.

Are there negatives to having a c-section?  Absolutely! 
I only got to see Sam for a hot second before we went our separate ways to recover for a couple of hours, I had to stay in the hospital a little longer (which I actually didn't mind), I couldn't lift heavy objects, drive a car, or go up and down stairs for a longer time, and my scar was painful and then tingly for a long time after the surgery (not to mention my scar will show in a string bikini - bahahahaa).  But, overall, I'd say I had a pretty good experience with recovery etc.  (Of course, I don't really know any different either.)

All that said, I have to admit that, although I'm not even pregnant again yet, I already get a little nervous when the subject of c-sections and VBACs comes up in conversation these days.  I don't know yet what we will decide to do when it comes to future deliveries; but, I admit that I feel a certain societal expectation to at least try to avoid a c-section and a little guilt about the possibility of not. But, really, that's silly.  I've got to let that go.  I've got to remember that we all have the same goal, and I don't need to impress anyone.


So, if you are a mama that had a c-section to deliver your baby, I want you to know something:

YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR.  YOU HAD MAJOR SURGERY IN WHICH A SURGEON CUT THROUGH YOUR INTESTINES TO BRING YOUR BABY INTO THIS WORLD, AND YOU WILL HAVE THE "BATTLE SCAR" TO PROVE IT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  Please don't let anyone convince you that you did the wrong thing, that you didn't "try" hard enough, or that you haven't experienced childbirth.  They are WRONG (and, frankly, ignorant.) You did the best thing for your baby from DAY ONE.  Rest in that.

And, if you are pregnant right now and preparing yourself that a scheduled (or emergency) c-section could be an option (which I encourage you to prepare for regardless), know this:  

YOU ARE ALREADY THE PERFECT MAMA FOR YOUR BABY.  PLEASE TRUST YOURSELF, YOUR DOCTOR, AND YOUR PRAYERS AND DON'T ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL GUILT OR DISAPPOINTMENT FOR THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE WHEN IT COMES TIME TO DELIVER. The way in which your baby comes into the world has NOTHING to do with your performance as a woman or a mother.  YOU'VE GOT THIS.  (And, really, c-sections aren't that scary and terrible anyway.)



Ok, sorry for getting so feisty and deep on you today.  Just keepin' it real.

Feel free to share some of your own birth stories and thoughts in the comments; but, keep it nice (duh!).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

10 Little Confessions (& 2 "Fist Pumps")

It's been about a month since my last Midweek Confessions post, and I'm a little rusty.  So, I thought I'd get back in the saddle today with ten "little" confessions...


1. I wear too much blush.  I can't even tell you how many times Jeff has politely reminded me to "rub in" my cheeks.  #lovehim

2. I eat peanut butter right out of the jar with a spoon and my weakness is McDonald's french fries.

3. I use Sweet n' Low in my coffee even though I know it's like the worst thing in the world.

4. I leave dishes in the sink overnight A LOT. 

5. I NEVER iron.  (We do have a steamer, so my clothes don't look totally awful; but, they also don't look totally polished.)

6. I take a nap at least four times a week.

7. I have a reputation among my students of taking a REALLY long time to grade and return assignments.

8. I'm late just about everywhere I go.

9. I get overwhelmed and behind on responding to blog comments, and I feel really guilty about it.  (Please don't stop them though! I read every single one and SO appreciate them!)

10. I am so much more laid back and enjoyable to be around than I was four or five years ago; BUT, almost every day a part of me aches for my former "Type A"/ productive self.



And, just to make sure I don't fall into the pit of insecurity after that little exercise (j/k - kinda), here are two things I'm pretty proud of right now:

* I haven't had a Diet Coke in 15 days.

* My Christmas decorations are all put away and my house feels clean and fresh.


What about you?  I'd love to hear 10 little confessions from you... This took me all of ten minutes; so, don't over think it... Just write!  (Linky below.)

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Juan-uary: My Final Four Picks (& an idea)

First, a couple of thoughts about last night's episode and this season in general:

www.abc.com
The episode started with Clare's one-on-one date to a winter wonderland in LA which, to be honest, kind-of bored me.  Mostly, I spent the entire date wondering whether the snow was actually cold or just a neutral-temperature powder since they seemed to need to wear boots and coats for sledding, but could later dance in bathing suits only.  It was very confusing.  Also, I'm curious whether or not the producers tell the girls what to wear on these dates because Clare had enough foresight to wear a coat (in LA when all the other girls were in cut-offs and tank tops) but NOT to leave her heels at home.  #deepthoughts

I think Kat is just darling and was an incredible sport about the fact that she got TOTALLY JIPPED on a date - seriously, running a 5K does NOT count as a date, I don't care how many strobe lights you attach to it.  She and Juan Pablo both managed to make running in hideous neon outfits look not only attractive, but also kind-of sexy, so kudos to them.  They seem to have good chemistry and, maybe, a future in the highlighter business.

And then, the group date.  Oh, where to begin...  Let's start here: I'm all for charity and helping animals, but I couldn't stand how they kept acting like this was the most philanthropic thing ever. It was an opportunity to get the girls to pose in ridiculous costumes (or lack there of) and act a fool because "it's for charity."  Dumb.  Even dumber, I was SO mad when Juan Pablo convinced Andi to pose naked when she didn't want to. For future reference guys (all two of you reading) if a girl doesn't want to do something, you say "I will respect whatever you decide" and mean it.  Honestly, as the father of a little girl, I really had higher hopes for him.  (I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt because he did seem to handle the nudity respectfully and, I realize, that in some cultures - like maybe Spanish? - it isn't considered as big of a deal, but still.)

Victoria was a HOT MESS.  She is just further proof that there should be an age limit for contestants on the show.  *Kudos to JP for sending her little Brazilian booty home and not wasting time - that's the JP we know and love!!

And now, here are my Final Four Picks:

1. Andi - the District Attorney from Atlanta


I think she is just beautiful.  I like her style and the way she seems to carry herself with class and confidence.  That said, the part in the episode last night where she was worried about being naked on TV because she "sends people to jail everyday for a living" and then was so easily convinced by Juan Pablo that it would be an "adventure" made me doubt her intelligence a bit.  I mean, really?  You are an attorney and you thought that logic was strong and convincing enough? Ugg.  You already know my thoughts on that whole thing.


2. Clare - the hairstylist from Sacramento


I'm still not sure how I feel about her personally - there is something about the way that she pauses in her speech and enunciates her words (I know, I'm getting a little carried away here) that rubs me the wrong way; but, I think she is very pretty and a freaking genius for having this mysterious DVD that her father made before passing away for her future husband.  She'll be here until the final three FOR SURE.  Also, she seems to have one of the better eyes for fashion in the house, so I'm fine with her sticking around for a bit.

3. Nikki - the pediatric nurse from Missouri


I really WANT to like her, but something is keeping me from going "all in" for her.  #Ithinkitsherroots Regardless, she seems to be a "crowd favorite" already, and I really appreciate how much she loves her job as a pediatric nurse.  Lots of potential here.

4. Kat - the medical sales rep from Iowa City



I also really like both Alli (the nanny from Illinois) and Lauren (the musician from Detroit) - is it just me or do they seem kindof like BFFs already? - but they aren't getting a lot of the coveted one-on-one time (or screen time for that matter) so I'm not sure how that will fare for them.  Either way, I appreciate that they seem like normal, down-to-earth girls that somehow managed to end up on national television to meet a man.

The other remaining girls?

Cassandra - Pretty but just too young (she's only 21).  Plus, I can't handle the tears this early on. #nothanks

Chelsie - Not very memorable; but, obviously someone likes her since she makes it far enough to stare in an M&M commercial with J.P. Right?

Christy - Is she even on the show?

Danielle - WHAT was she wearing at the rose ceremony?  Better yet, how did Juan Pablo even know her name to give her a rose.  I feel like they spent ZERO time together.

Elise - Although at times she looks a little too pagent-ish for my taste, I actually really like her.  I think she's really pretty, handled the naked "costume" situation perfectly, and I'm always a little bias towards teachers (although, I am wondering if she really teaches first grade in a pencil skirt suit and all that make-up every day?).

Kelly - She earned a little of the credibility she LOST from claiming her occupation as "dog lover" back with me by wearing that absolutely hideous costume for the photo shoot without whining; but, still, I can't help but wonder if she is drunk pretty much every time she speaks.  #IlikeMollythough

Lucy - Ah Lucy, the free spirit.  Let's just say, I feel confident that she will find a suitor from this show (although my money's NOT on J.P), and I feel very sorry for her parents.

Renee - My friends and I have taken to calling her "mama bear."  She definitely stands out as one of the more mature and ready-to-be-a-mom (maybe because she already is one) girls on the group. I think if she and Juan Pablo met in real life (or the producers had nothing to do with how this whole show runs), they would probably be a great couple and really happy together.  As it stands, I think she'll just be the "friend."

Sharleen - She rubs me the wrong way and - from the looks of the previews - it isn't going to get better.

What about you?  Who are you liking so far?  Not so much?  What are your picks for the final four? 

And now, a little idea I have brewing...

*** The Bachelor "What I'd Wear" Link-Up  ***

Probably my favorite part of watching The Bachelor is seeing all the beautiful (and hideous - ahem, Victoria & Amy L.) clothes the girls wear.  I was thinking for next Tuesday, it might be fun to host a little linky party where we all share what we would wear for 1.) lounging around the mansion, 2.) a casual date, 3.) the rose ceremony, and 4.) the hot tub.  These could be outfits similar to what the actual contestants wear (like "I just loved Lucy's white gown at the rose ceremony last night" - NOT) or we could put together our own outfits using Polyvore or something like that and "shopping" the internet. What do you guys think?  Be honest, would you participate?  *Let me know, and I'll get some details together if there seems to be enough interest!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Space Between Siblings

To be honest, I always just assumed that my children (however many of them there were) would be roughly two years apart.  That's the age difference between my sister and I, and also between Jeff and his brother. Aside from a tiny little window of time when Sam was an infant - during which I decided I'd be perfectly content with just one baby forever - I never really considered anything different.

But, as it tends to do these days, that time period came and went in a flash, and I still found myself - although now fully intending to have another baby some time - secure and confident to wait a bit longer...

I remember, around the time Sam turned two, someone telling me that "the ideal age difference between siblings for physical and physiological development is three years," and - although I have absolutely NO idea if there is any fact behind that statement - I clung to that for a while.  Three years it is then.

And now, Sam is 2 1/2 and - like my previous "deadline" for having kids two years apart - the three year age difference window is swiftly passing by as well....



In our society, you know, it's weird what we deem "acceptable" or "normal" when it comes to spacing out our children... At least in my experience, if a woman gets pregnant before her baby is a year old, people automatically assume that the pregnancy was an "accident" (as if she doesn't know how babies are made); but, once the child is a year, it seems everyone and their uncle's brother wants to know "when can we expect number 2?"  Now, what I'm finding more and more is that as your child approaches their third birthday and there is still no baby-bump in the picture, the questions begin to dwindle and people quietly wonder if you are "having trouble" or just "done" having kids altogether.



To be clear: It does not bother me when people ask when we will try for more kids.  I LOVE being a momma, I love this sweet time I've had with just Sam, and I love the person I have grown into over the last two and half years.  At this point, Lord willing, it IS a part of our "plan" to have at least one sibling for Sam; and, I'm still pretty comfortable with the fact that (for a variety of reasons) the time isn't quite right for another baby just yet... BUT, I do have to admit that I've had some insecurities swelling up recently about somehow doing a "disservice" to my kids by spacing them out so much.  I worry that they won't have a relationship, that the "hard years" of parenting will stretch on forever, and that (frankly) I'm not getting any younger.


So, today, I'm looking for a little encouragement out there in the inter-webs... Do your kids have more than three years between them (or do you and your siblings)?  How has this been a good thing for your family?  What are some of the advantages of spacing out siblings?  Do your kids still have a close relationship?  


*Obviously, and I hope this goes without saying, I'm not saying ANYTHING negative about choosing to have kids closer together either... Just looking for some "success stories" for my own personal situation, that's all.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blog Silence (and Gems)

Hey friends.  Sorry for the silence around here this week.  I don't really have a good excuse for not writing - just a myriad of little things that added up (sick boys, semester grades due, slow internet, this book, and maybe a little bit of Bachelor-induced writer's block) and kept me from visiting this place.

Anyway, despite the unspoken code of blogging that says "Thou shalt not publish a 'comeback' post on a Saturday night" (never mind "thou shalt not cheat and make said 'comeback' a simple compilation of other people's writing") I'm playing a fun little game with myself where I get to read one blog post inbetween each set of papers I grade tonight.  #yougottadowhatyougottado #motivationatitsfinest; so, with that said, here are some gems you may have missed from around the World Wide Web lately:

Busy Isn't Respectable Anymore 


I don't really think "taking naps every day and never folding laundry" is respectable either; but, it is really interesting how our culture is shifting away from the constant rat race, huh? I'm SO glad.

My Hope for You Today


Just a good, simple reminder for the start of another year. :)

16 Books to Read Before They Hit the Theaters This Year


If you haven't already seen this floating around Facebook, check it out - especially if you are in the market for a new book to read.  I'm on a big reading kick lately, but I've only read three of these so far.  #gottagetbusy #mostexcitedaboutTheGiver


And, if you aren't already, you NEED to be following the Possessionista for Bachelor re-caps and details every week. Hil.ar.i.ous. 




Also, here are a couple of new blogs I've started following lately... 

Love, Laura Beth

I actually "met" Laura Beth three years ago when I was pregnant with Sam.  She's been a blog-reader for a while, but I just found her blog recently in my quest for some real-world healthy living inspiration, and I'm HOOKED.

Catholic All Year


Kendra is the cousin of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Pryor.  I don't know exactly what our age difference is, but I vividly remember looking up to her when we were awkward preteens and she and her sister were beautiful teenagers.  Now, she is the (still) beautiful momma to SEVEN (yes, you read that right) in southern California. As if having seven kids wasn't enough, she also home schools, wears adorable clothes, wrote a book, blogs regularly, AND makes driving a 12 passenger van look cool.  Obviously, she IS supermom; but, not in an annoying and intimidating way; more like - I-still-look-up-to-you-even-though-we-are-both-grownups-and-mamas-now.  You will like her (and her blog).
                
AND FINALLY...

A pretty new January Desktop Wallpaper



Unroll me.

Have you done this yet? If not, what in the world are you waiting for?  It (literally) takes two minutes and my inbox is like a DREAM now.  I was subscribed to so many things I didn't even know about!



Ok, I think that about catches us up.

Besides The Bachelor (obvi), what else do you want to hear about next week?  I gotta get my blogging mojo back. ;)


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