Thursday, August 30, 2012

Worst. Timing. Ever.

I really intended on sitting sometime this weekend and waxing poetic about the first week of school and sending Natalie back to Ms. Rebecca's house as a toddler instead of the baby that I dropped off last year.

But then this morning happened.

As if this week couldn't be any more chaotic and hectic with us going back to school and me starting volleyball season, we are adding major emergency house renovations to the mix.

Because if it pours.  And in this case, I mean that QUITE literally.

This morning while I was heading downstairs at 7:05 to get my shoes on for school, I heard what sounded like a heavy rainstorm coming from the area of the house that is underneath Natalie's bathroom.

I glanced outside.

The sun was coming up and the porch was dry.

A sense of dread filled my stomach.

I headed upstairs and cautiously opened the door to Natalie's sweet pink and white bathroom.

Water.  Everywhere.

The other day my precious daughter had proudly filled the toilet with toilet paper.  I flushed the paper down and kept on moving, quickly erasing the incident from my brain.


The toilet was terribly clogged and since this particular toilet has a tendency to run if you don't properly jiggle the handle, water had overflowed and covered her entire bathroom floor.

I called for Craig and he brought me the plunger but the damage had already been done.

As I was exiting the bathroom to change my socks and head off to work while leaving Craig with the mess, I again heard what sounded like rain.........but this time coming from inside our home.  I ran downstairs and stumbled upon water streaming down from the ceiling and splashing into a puddle on the floor right in front of the dog kennels.


Craig has been at the house all morning with the insurance agent and a plumber type person.  As of right now, from the bits and pieces Craig has texted me.....the floors in the playroom, upstairs bathroom, Natalie's bedroom and our downstairs living room will most likely need to be replaced.  The ceiling in the living room has already begun sagging so it will be torn down as well.


Today my ceiling will be torn down.

And I will not be there to protect my pretties.  My furniture.  My decorations.  My books.  My stuff.

I have school, 7th grade volleyball try-outs and then 7th/8th grade Open House this evening.  I will not be going home until 9:00.

I know it is just stuff and it can (and will) be replaced.

I know that we have home owner's insurance just for reasons such as the events of this morning.

I know in the end there will be some silver lining, some greater message or lesson that I will have gleaned from this experience.

But right now, in this very minute........I am freaking out.  I am struggling to see the end because the road to get there is scary.  Spending an unknown amount of money on the house instead of on Christmas presents like we planned is terrifying.  Potentially losing items in my home that have great emotional significance to me breaks my heart.

So if you have any spare prayers, send them my way.  Prayers for the minimal amount of damage.  Prayers for a great insurance agent who can get this mess sorted out easily and cost-efficiently.  Prayers that Natalie's life and schedule is not disrupted too much.  Prayers that whatever construction work is done through a reliable contractor who creates a beautiful home for us out of this nasty situation.

Oh.  And prayers that I have a nice bottle of wine waiting for me in the fridge this evening.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

She's Crafty

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of attending the baptism of a good friend's sweet baby girl.  When Natalie was baptized last fall my mother-in-law gave us a big white box to store all of Natalie's special presents that she received - a treasure box of sorts.  So for Audrey's baptism I attempted to do the same, but I wanted to make it a little more personal and after one trip to Hobby Lobby, this is what I came up with:

I took this picture with my iPhone so I apologize for the terrible quality.  

I first painted the entire box a soft cream color (it took about three coats to really get it covered well) and then painted the initials for the top in two shades of green (which are found in her nursery).  Once everything had dried I used wood glue and glued the letters on top, touching up spots of paint here and there.  Even though things were coming together well, the box still looked......empty.  I added polka dots around the sides of the box and then accentuated them with silver paint marker.  On the back of the box I wrote a sweet note to baby Audrey and signed my name along with the year.  I thought about adding some more stuff to the top but I didn't want it to get too busy or crowded looking.  After three coats of gloss it was ready to be presented - and the best part?  NO NEED FOR WRAPPING PAPER!

So creating this box for my friend's daughter has inspired me and I've definitely been bitten by the craft bug right now.  

Side note: today is Sunday.  Why do I always get inspired to do great crafts on the one day a week when Hobby Lobby is closed?!

I've got some things planned out for this fall - since I'm not doing any sort of Bible Study or personal volleyball league I'm going to need some projects to give me a break from the chaos of volleyball season.  Natalie needs a step stool for her bathroom (in pink and white) and then possibly a box for her room that will match her big girl bedding I bought this summer (pink, orange, purple and turquoise).

And then I hit Pinterest.  Whoops.

This would be such an easy year-round wreath to create for our front door.  I would probably even keep the same colors of turquoise and chocolate brown.

Source: via Laura on Pinterest

See the top one?  I did something similar to that for Natalie's birthday last March - I could easily make one for Halloween.

Right now our living room in green and chocolate brown and I REALLY want to redecorate it in turquoise and brown with pops of orange.  These vases would look spectacular in my imaginary new living room.

Natalie is starting to get lots of pieces to her Little People collection and they are going to need a home.  Cute covered boxes like this would be perfect for the playroom.

Love, love, love this idea for the mantle - I could easily change out the letters and scrapbook paper depending on the season......from "Thankful" to "Joyful" or something similar.

I did a printable like these for Natalie's birthday party and they are just an easy decorating tool - just print them out at Target and then slide them into existing photo frames around the house.

Source: via Laura on Pinterest

Lord knows I have plenty of wine bottles to use for this craft.

What's more fun than funky pumpkins?!  I could make a fun wreath for the front door and then paint my pumpkins to match - and Natalie could paint her own as well.

So there you go.  Tons of stuff to keep me busy this if I won't be busy enough coaching volleyball and raising a toddler.

If I actually have any of these Pinterest ideas come to fruition, I will be sure to brag post all about it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Seventeen Months

At seventeen months........

You adore your puppy dogs and shriek and giggle at all the funny things they do.  You know that we have to let them out the minute we get in from the garage and that they must go in their kennels before we leave the house.  Much to their chagrin you give them big hugs around their bellies and are having a hard time learning the difference between a sweet puppy dog pat and a fierce toddler hit.

You cook in your kitchen, cuddle your stuffed animals and push your babies around in a stroller.  You jump on the trampoline at gymnastics but also know when it's time to join the group for circle time.  When things get quiet in the playroom, I usually find you sitting among your books, carefully flipping through one and then another, all the while humming a sweet tune and wiggling your feet.

You babble on and on excitedly, peppering in only a few words that your daddy and I can understand.  But soon enough you will be able to share all the ideas and observations floating around in your brain.  You understand so much and probably far more than I even suspect.

Your blue eyes sparkle like your daddy's but you crinkle your nose with glee just like me.  I can see my grandma's curiosity reflected in the intense manner in which you study the world; desperate to understand, to connect and to join.  You have an innate love of water, dogs and reading that links generations of women, from me to my mother, my grandma and beyond.  You display such friendliness to everyone you meet, a trait that I find baffling, disarming and sometimes frustrating.  Your momma is, by nature, a bit more reserved.  You freely dole out hugs and kisses to me and your without any cajoling on our part, you're just happy to show your love.

Your favorite thing to pull off my bookshelf is the baby journal I've kept for you.  While I'm getting ready for the day, you'll toddle over to the shelf, pluck out the lime green book and settle yourself down, happily naming all your people in the photographs.  Every time you do this it makes me smile.  I always knew exactly where my mother kept my baby book and even as a young child I enjoyed quietly examining each and every page which was meticulously filled with information about my infancy and childhood.  For me, that book was a physical representation of the love my mother has for me.  The fact that she took the time to not only notice but to record all the minute details of my life resonated with much in fact that I have kept track of all your teeth that have come in, the moments when you began sitting up, crawling, walking and smiling.  I want your book to be a reflection of the love I have for you.

Because little girl, I do love you fiercely, wholly and eternally.

I love your long legs, now splattered with the tell tale signs of true toddlerhood - faint yellow bruises cover your knees and shins, sometimes accompanied by a red little scrape.

I love the blond that shines in your hair when you are in the sun and I love how I can see the same color when I look at your daddy.

I soak up your strong little body while covering it in kisses and pats, knowing that someday I will not be able to kiss your sweet baby belly.

I love that last sigh you make before drifting off to sleep, letting me know that it's safe to put you in your bed.

I don't have any dreams for you my daughter.  I have prayers that you will become a strong, independent, compassionate and content woman.  I have prayers that God gives me the wisdom and courage to guide you along the path of your life.  I have prayers for your safety, your integrity and the people who would wish to take those away from you.

But dreams?  Nope.  Those are all yours.  I don't want to put my dreams onto you my darling.  I want dreams to be all for you.  Your future.  Your hopes.  Your desires.  I don't want you to live for what I think you should be because I have a feeling what you will come up with will be far more interesting and entertaining.

Vacation Hangover

Today is the last day of summer vacation for me.  Tomorrow I will be at school all day helping with student orientation - taking up athletic paperwork and selling PE uniforms.  Friday we officially start our in-service for the school year which continues all next week.

And how are Craig, Natalie and I spending this last day of our magical summer?  Natalie is at my parents house until tomorrow afternoon because Craig is laid up on the couch with a bum knee after his surgery yesterday.


Awhile back Craig was walking through the baby gate at the top of the stairs and Ajax scooted down in front of him, effectively tripping Craig which resulted in him falling down about five steps and twisting his knee.

Pop!  There went his meniscus!

The surgery was originally schedule for mid-June but due to some complications Craig's doctor pushed it back several weeks to make sure Craig was completely healthy for surgery.  The timing actually worked out better because he was able to enjoy our two trips - the one to Lake LBJ for Craig's cousin's wedding and then our vacation last weekend down to San Antonio with some friends to visit Sea World.

And here we are at my original reason for posting - Sea World.

We left on a Thursday morning and returned mid-afternoon on Sunday and it was just the right amount of time away as a family.  Natalie did relatively well during both drives and slept pretty well in the pack-n-play....but I will admit that she did end up in our bed all three mornings we were there.  We stayed at a great family resort which was right across the freeway from the park and had tons of awesome stuff for kids to do.  She enjoyed floating around in the lazy river, eating ice cream, wrestling and tickling with Daddy on the hotel bed and running down the halls.

And now for an array of pictures.

She loves the water and being out in the sunshine.

Eating queso right off her fingers at dinner on the Riverwalk.

All ready to venture out in the park in her new big girl stroller.

Getting a pre-show snack of goldfish.

Sitting with Daddy, ready to watch the dolphins and beluga whales.

The Azul show was full of fantastic trapeze artists and talented divers.  There was a lot going on for Natalie to watch.  This was by far her favorite show.

I couldn't help but sing the Raffi "Baby Beluga" song.  And I don't even play those songs for Natalie - I remember it from way back in pre-school when my mother would dance and sing it around the classroom.

The sea lion show - it was pretty good but had a lot of dialogue which wasn't so great for Natalie but she enjoyed it nonetheless.

Exploring outside our room at the hotel.

We were pretty excited to be on our first official family vacation.

Maybe someday she'll look something like me...

I love her little nose scrunch when she's excited and happy.

Watching the dolphins swim past.

Her favorite place was the aquarium.  It was ours too because it was indoors and away from the heat.

Patiently waiting for Shamu to start.  See that little straw-Shamu thing in the corner?  Brilliant buy by Craig.  It fit onto the top of a regular water bottle and essentially turned the bottle of water into a sippy cup for Natalie.  Perfect.

The baby whale.

Although the show was great, it was a little more lame than the last time we had seen it which was a few years ago.  The animal trainers are no longer allowed into the water with the whales due to that nasty little incident a while back when the trainer was killed.

The big splash!

Sitting patiently on Daddy's lap.

We had to pull her away from the puffins (or the "ducks" according to Natalie).  

Feeding the sea lion with Daddy - she loved the little bark that they made.

Worn out from her second day at Sea World!

We split visiting the park into two days which turned out to be the best plan.  On day one we were there with our friends and their children and we saw the Azul show, the sea lions and played in the children's water park area.  Since our friends were leaving the next day they stayed at Sea World and continued to roam around while we took Natalie back for a good long nap.  The second day we saw the dolphins, Shamu, the aquarium, the penguins and fed the sea lions then picked up lunch and returned to our hotel room.  It was just so hot and I wanted to maintain some sort of regular routine for Natalie so that we would have a more pleasant trip.

So now she is at my parent's house until tomorrow afternoon so that I can help Craig recover from his surgery and I kind of miss her little face.  I have a feeling returning to school full-time next week is going to be very hard for both of us.  And Angie and Ajax.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympic Tears

The Olympics are coming to a close today and I still haven't watched the opening ceremonies.  We were down in Hill Country at Craig's cousin's wedding so I'm just waiting for a nice four hour stretch of time when I have nothing to do so I can catch up on my DVR.

Right.  So.....when Natalie goes off to college?

But in all seriousness, the Olympics this year brought on some major tears - most notably was when Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won their third consecutive Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball.

I just sat on the bed with tears streaming down my face.

Craig looked over in confusion.  "You're really crying."  It wasn't as much a question as it was a declaration tinged with a bit of bewilderment.

I was really crying.  And for very good reason too.

As I've mentioned before, growing up was hard for me just because I felt awkward and gawky and generally ugly due to my long skinny legs, flat chest and difficulty finding clothes that fit my rapidly growing frame.  My mother, standing resolutely average at around 5'6 had no idea how to help me.  She never had to struggle with finding pants that were long enough nor did she truly understand why I hated my height.  She was my mother and in her eyes, I was a perfectly made gift from God.

Unfortunately, my peers did not view my height in the same regard.

Watching Kerri (standing tall at 6'2) play for a gold medal stirred something in me.  At the rate she is going, Natalie will be long and lean just like me.  But growing up for her will be different.  She will have role models to look up to.  She will have a momma who understands the struggles of being tall.  She will be able to watch the Olympics and see that tall women can be athletic, strong, competitive and beautiful.  People don't look to Kerri Walsh Jennings as a freak of nature but instead as a powerful woman.  I am so grateful that there will be women in my daughter's life to show her at an early age how she can use her height to an athletic advantage, but still retain her femininity.

And then there were the tears that Kerri and Misty were sharing while interviewing after their big win, their hands firmly entwined with each others.  Teamwork.  Women working together for a common goal.  Sharing powerful experiences with your best friend.  So many times in media, culture and society women are made out to be catty, insecure, backstabbing creatures.  Watch any recent season of The Bachelor and you will see exactly what I mean.  But on that night last week when Kerri and Misty stood together as not only teammates but best friends, I cried because I wholly understand how sports can unite women together.

The three years that I spent teaching and coaching at my former school were spent side by side not only with my future husband, but with one of my nearest and dearest friends.  Beri is a few years older than me and we met when I was young and wild and she was married but childless.  Although our life experiences are vastly different, we found a commonality through sports, teeny-bopper movies and a similar outlook on life.  During our second year of coaching together, we won a district volleyball championship with a very special group of 8th graders.  Our win was a team effort - I watched the statistics and kept track of servers and substitutions while she called out encouragement and adjustments to the players.  When the final point clicked onto the scoreboard notating our district victory, our girls rushed out onto the court in a screaming heap of ponytails, spandex and knee pads.......Beri and I breathed a sigh of relief, looked at each other and high-fived.  We both enjoy our personal space.

But not only did we coach together but our classrooms were right next door to one another and we had the same conference period. We spent mornings in each other's rooms catching on on television gossip and trading stories from the previous day.  During passing periods we were both out in the hallway, leaning against the wall between our rooms discussing curriculum, students and parents.....and often trading advice and strategies.  Every Friday was our Starbucks tradition - we traded off buying coffee for each other, me drinking the Skinny Vanilla Latte and Beri a White Chocolate Mocha.  It was during one of those morning "meetings" in Beri's room that she announced to me that she was pregnant.  There were tears, hugs and laughter.  There was the time when I sped down the road on my extra long conference period to be there for her ultrasound - the first time I got a glimpse of her precious daughter.  She stood by my side when I married Craig and she was one of the first people whom I told I was pregnant.

We won a championship because we demonstrated to the girls the most important things about being a part of a team - friendship, respect, laughter and support.  Everyday.  For three years.  Now our time together is spent outside of a gym at restaurants for dinner with just the two of us trading stories of life with small children, our new positions at new schools and the same crappy reality tv shows that we still watch.  Or we'll meet up at the mall for a play date with her 3 year old, my 17 month old and her 9 month old.  Those conversations are held in between corralling children and handing out snacks, but are fun and meaningful nonetheless.

Over the past six years of our friendship we have celebrated one wedding, three births, one masters degree and two promotions addition to the ups and downs of daily life.  Sure we weren't out in the sand wearing bikinis and winning gold medals, but we were a fierce team - a great combination of friendship and compatibility - where one lacked, the other was strong.  I saw our friendship and teamwork reflected in the championship team of Kerri and Misty, the bottom line....are just two great friends playing a game they both love.

And so I cried.  I cried with pride for my daughter - that she will have great role models of how to be a strong and tall woman.  I cried with bittersweet tears - I love my friend and I'm proud of where we both are in our lives, but I miss the times we spent together on the bench and in the classroom.

This is why I love the Olympics.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's 3:00AM and I just woke up sweating and shivering.



I have them all the time. Not weird and improbable dreams. Realistic, can't wake up from it, crying in my sleep nightmares.

Last week it was Natalie committing suicide. In my dream, I saw the whole thing. It was violent, gruesome and vivid. I couldn't save her.

Tonight I was being held hostage and only escaped with my life by paying the man who brandished the gun $400. I took one person with me. A teenage girl wide round blue eyes. Once we were in the alley, the teenager turned into Natalie and I couldn't calm her down.

As a general practice, I try to avoid the news. Not because I don't want to be informed but because I don't want to be saturated. Saturation of events like this morning soak and settle into the crevices of my subconscious. It sits there and waits until I'm vulnerable to begin manipulating my darkest fears. It's that little niggling feeling that makes me distrust other people and encourages me to be a hermit. It dances on my insecurities and feeds my anxiety.

Today on my Facebook feed I saw someone's grumblings about the tragedy in Wisconsin and how disgusting it was that no one was talking about it. I assume this was a vague reference to the ethnicity of the victims and how we're all racist for not immediately jumping to social media to grieve todays events?! The responses he got were apologetic - full of reasons for not knowing...making sure it was clear THEY were not the ignorant racists.

This is why I hate Facebook.

Perhaps it was quiet in his news feed because people are speechless. People magazine just printed its weekly issue which is about the victims in Colorado. To turn around and face another horrific event is perhaps too much for many folks to process.

Obviously it is for me.

But what do you do?

At three o'clock in the morning there is only one thing...pray.

I want nothing more than to sneak into Natalie's room, pick her up and stroke her hair, breathe in her scent and feel her weight in my arms. I want to hold my baby close forever to protect her and know that she is safe.

But I can't. So I pray.

I pray myself out of anxiety, fear and overwhelming sadness and back to sleep.

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