Category Archives: Great Gifts

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Here we are at nearly 39 weeks. The nursery is ready. The house is ready. We’ve read books, we’ve mentally prepared, we have bags partially packed, ingredients on hand to make homemade cookies for our labor team once it’s go-time, and I’ve got all my postpartum care supplies ready and waiting. Waiting. That is what we have left to do.

Since starting to practice yoga, I’ve been fairly in tune with my body and aware of any changes. This makes the waiting even more frustrating as I can feel all these subtle changes, but at the same time there is no precise sign that says “hey, this is happening today or tomorrow, or not until next week.” I’m noticing more of a pronounced waddle – which is my hips expanding and opening in preparation for birth, an observation which is corroborated by my fabulous chiropractor who has noticed increased movement in my pelvic region. I can feel Baby G has dropped. His feet, which used to jut out to the left when looking down at my stomach as he stretched out, now they stretch out farther up into my rib cage indicating he has more vertical room and his head has descended. I have to pee every. 30. minutes. At least!

What triggers labor is still a mystery, but apparently it is the precise combination of hormones from both mom and baby. I have to trust that when Baby G is ready, and even though I might feel ready maybe my body just isn’t quite there yet, that this incredible process will begin. So for now, I just need to keep busy and find a few new projects to keep myself distracted.

Luckily, I have my writing as an outlet. So, for the next few days I’ll talk about my experience with pregnancy, what we’ve found helpful, the birth we have in mind, the resources we’ve engaged, and anything else I can think to offer. That being said, pregnancy and birth is an incredibly personal experience. I’m sharing mine in the hopes others might find the information helpful, but not in any way from the view point that this is the “right” way. It is *a* way, and what has worked for me personally given my background, experiences, and values.

The most important thing to remember, and which I remind myself of constantly, is that I have to listen to my body and my intuition. Take what serves you, leave the rest. This is when it comes to advice from friends and family, from that expert in the book, and even when it comes to your care providers. Certain things are absolutely necessary, others can stand some questioning and may even be avoided if that is what you feel is right for you and your pregnancy.

If I were to impart only one nugget of advice, I recommend finding an experience that makes you feel involved, empowered and informed.

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Belated Birthday Post

A little over a month ago it was my birthday. This is an extremely belated birthday post, but this story has been waiting patiently in the back of my mind while I sorted my life out enough to get back to writing. The past few months have been a trying period where – in my typical fashion – I quickly uprooted any sense of routine I had established in favor of my preferred state of utter chaos. I am simply unable to merely make one big life change and then be content for a bit. Nope, I need to layer changing careers with the addition of a side business which I’m working to grow into a substantial second income, to that add getting engaged and merging households into one tiny space while already formulating a plan to move again (I’ve been in my condo for less than one year), and to finish it off, I’ve decided I’m going to add yoga instructor to my skill set and I’ve already booked a course for this fall which will consume every weekend for a month. I will have no life from September to October. None.what.so.ever. I’m learning this is how I thrive. There must be change, there must be excitement, there must be an absolutely terrifying sense that it will all fall apart. It is what keeps me awake and engaged – present and in the moment. But I digress. You wanted to hear about a birthday. 

For this past birthday Brian finally managed to surprise me, and I had my first ever surprise party. I’d always wanted a surprise party. Those people who say “I hate surprises,” well, I am NOT one of them. I love surprises. I’m infuriatingly difficult to surprise, but I love them.  Each time Brian has tried for a thoughtful surprise, the universe thwarts him. There was that time I went with a friend to get a massage and he secretly came into the spa and bought a gift card which he asked them to apply towards my service. They forgot. I called him on my way home and he kept waiting for a huge and well-deserved thank you. When it didn’t come, he finally asked, with more than a little irritation in his voice, if there had been anything waiting for me at check out. Surprise ruined. Then there was that time (at another spa mind you) he booked my surprise birthday massage and explicitly asked they not send me a confirmation email or text, but they did. Surprise ruined. Then there was that time he was going to propose, and his well-meaning buddy was on speaker phone in the car and made a comment which by itself wouldn’t have made me suspicious, but Brian’s reaction totally gave it away. The surprise wasn’t totally ruined, as he managed to play it so cool leading up to the proposal that I had talked myself out of being sure it was happening, but, you see the trend. 

This time, with a little help from my best friend Heather who kept me occupied with pedicures and wine (pause for an observation – apparently I spend a lot of time and money on massages and pedicures and it has just occurred to be I may be a bit high maintenance), he pulled it off. He gathered my favorite people for a little poolside grilling and by happenstance also made my favorite birthday meal of perfectly seasoned London broil. To top off the perfect day, we destroyed a cookie cake. And.it.was.delicious. Unfortunately the cake was consumed before I thought to snap a picture, but luckily my Uncle Chris made this beautiful cake for me later in the week when I visited my Charleston family for a second celebration. What can I say, I’m one lucky and loved girl. Happy belated birthday to me.

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On patience

For new followers – (yay big life events!)  – I may need a little background before I begin. Brian and I foster for the Greater Charlotte SPCA. We’ve been fostering for about a year and a half now, and have helped ten of our foster fur babies find their forever homes. Many people ask us “how can you possibly let them go?” and the truth is it does get harder and harder each time. Hopefully this story will help explain.

Our latest foster is a sweet little long-haired Chi named Eden. I can’t tell you what her life was like before she came into mine, but right away I knew it had been rough. Although she appeared to be well-fed and well-cared for, the moment we met she clung to my leg for dear life. Who knows what amount of neglect might cause an animal to live with that level of anxiety. I can only imagine. Unfortunately Eden’s start with me wasn’t a good one either. Our first attempt at a trip outside to go potty resulted in her being lost for nearly 24 hours. Still traumatized from a recent spay and stay at animal control (props to those at CharMeck AC as they do everything they can with limited help and resources), she managed to slip her lead and disappear into the night. A terrifying night alone and subsequent dramatic capture left poor Eden in rough shape. The fleeting trust we had built was gone, and my sweet girl was terrified to even let me touch her. She would hover at the back of her crate and stare at me suspiciously, sometimes baring her teeth. This would go on for three days, and for those three days she’d be too scared to even leave her crate to use the bathroom. Neighbors and friends saw how distraught I was. They gently told me it was ok, not my fault, not every one could be saved. My heart broke for this sweet, terrified little girl who wouldn’t let me give her the comfort I knew she needed. And this is how Eden taught me a lesson in patience.

I wanted to hold her close to me right away, but I had to wait until she was ready. After nearly eight long days of soft encouragement, tons of treats, and giving her the space she needed to feel comfortable with us, Eden has done a complete 180. She still has a bit of a ways to go, but this is our sweet girl now —

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It is tempting for us to keep Eden. She is a near twin of our personal little long-haired Chi and is such a complete doll. But if we kept her, we wouldn’t be able to keep giving others like her a soft place to land. Some may have given up, lost patience, and just shuffled her off to the next place when she wasn’t ‘perfect’ – but we’ve learned patience and love are all that’s needed to transform a fearful animal into a complete cuddle bug. Eden has a potential adopter, a wonderful woman who was adopted herself, and wants to offer the same love and second chance she was given to another. These are the stories, this is the why. Fostering saves lives, and not just the furry ones. I am certainly changed by Eden and all our other fosters – and always for the better.  

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Christmas on Easter

Easter Sunday was a day of gifts in all shapes and sizes. I was given the gift of time spent with my boyfriend’s family; welcomed into his brother’s home and able to share the memories of his nieces eagerly dashing around searching for colored eggs holding the promise of sugary delight.

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I was also given the gift of a level 72 fellow Borderlands 2 player dropping a heaping pile of legendary weapons in the midst of another gift of a Sunday evening spent geeking out with boyfriend. He also shared how to add an infinite number of weapons to my inventory. I made millions of fake dollars. It was like Christmas on Easter.

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I hope you had the good fortune to be feel as gifted.

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Friday Before Last I Turned 26

I wrote this last week, but was too lazy to post…

On Friday I turned 26. Apparently 26 is the year where I give up starving myself for three weeks to squeeze into a skin-tight black dress and hit up a club so I can give myself the gift of an ego boost via appreciative ogling. Or at least, what I think is ogling but could be everyone else developing the same tendency to squint and overactively blink when their contacts dry out due to dehydration caused by a mix of blasting AC  and too many vodka sodas. Or at least I assume everyone develops the squints. I do.

Instead of the aforementioned excitement, I’ve spent the last week stuffing my face full of delicious food and tossing down scrumptious cocktails which will leave me bloated and in need of some double-duty yoga sessions for oh… the-rest-of-my-life. It’s been awesome.

I may finally give up and admit that I love food too much to ever return to my high school weight. I’m getting used to my pot belly. I believe a gorgeous French girl once mentioned while lying in bed next to Bruce Willis in one of my favorite movies ever (if you don’t know the movie you should stop reading my blog now and never return) that she wanted a ‘pot.’ Well bitch, I got one. Be jealous.

As a matter of fact, all yall should be jealous. You know what goes into making a pot? A whole lot of time and money. I mean, you can’t sample one of everything on a menu without it – and that’s what I’ve basically been doing.

On my birthday proper we went to my favorite summer spot for patio dining. I also worked there during the space “in-between” college and real life – so I’m a bit biased. Sitting outside under the loving shade of an umbrella, sampling savory tapas and sipping red wine sangria made for pretty much the best birthday ever (except for last year when I spent it with my favorite Mexicans who showered me with chocolate, and cupcakes, and actual cakes.) It’s a tie.

Saturday was spent in Asheville. It was less a food day (which is strange because Asheville may be my favorite place in NC to eat) but I still managed to find several tasty brews to fill my belly.

And then there was Sunday. And Boston. And three marathon days of eating. I’ll leave that for my next post. 

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Love Stories and Family Photos

This weekend I’m in Charleston tending to my mother as she recovers from having her gall bladder removed. I say ‘tending’ lightly because she stubbornly refuses to let me do anything for her. I came armed with my DVD collection and a motley array of novels expecting a weekend of heating up soup for my barely conscious mother — I only added a sundress and my makeup as an afterthought to my pile of sweats and yoga pants. Instead, less than 24 hours after having an organ removed my mother is dragging me out of the house to traipse down the aisles of Publix and peruse shelves at a local used book store (Mr. K’s is my new image of heaven by the way, but I’ll get to that later.) I’m surprised at her energy and inability to stay seated for more than half an hour, but I’m not in the least disappointed. We’ve been in need of a good visit and this is by far one of the best we’ve had in a long time. I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I am “absolutely pleasant to be around” as my mother phrased it this morning. This may be largely because I’ve toned down on the ego, am less prone to horrendous emotional mood swings, and have managed to generally realize that my existence isn’t the only one that matters.

Another thing my mother did today was remind me how I’ve been neglecting my writing. “When are you going to write another blog post?” she asked. For once, I’m doing as I’m subtly told.

I’ve been pondering lately my relationship with my family. I was curious why, after 25 plus years, I was suddenly feeling a deeper connection. In conversation with my mother yesterday evening I had a rare light bulb moment. I was burrowed deep into the cushions of the couch sipping on the comforting flavors of French vanilla chai when I noticed the glint of gold under the bookshelf. A familiar album was peaking out at me. I recalled my mother pulling the book out several times — of my sister and I half-mindedly flipping through it over the years, but this time it was different. This time I walked eagerly to the bookshelf and lovingly tugged it out from under. I took the album over to the couch and opened it with a new anticipation. And this time first, before opening it’s pages, I turned to my mother and said “Can you tell me about the day you met my father?” Her eyes first registered surprise, and then delight. This time as I turned the pages, looking at my young parents each taking turns holding me but staring at each other behind the camera, I saw it differently. This time they weren’t looking out at me, but at each other. All the feelings my mother described as she was clearly transported to another time and place were there– in the wide, unguarded smiles, and in the meaningful stares. I felt a shift, similar to the moment when I stood on the street’s of Rome staring at the grandeur of the Coliseum — my parents’ lives were every bit as dynamic and fraught with emotion as mine.

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For years I’d seen my parents, my siblings, my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents and everyone else as merely players in my life. At some point I had not only realized they had lives outside of my existence, but I’d actually wanted to know about them. When I started to ask questions about others instead of waiting to answer questions about myself — that’s when I finally go it right.

My mother’s love story isn’t the only one I’d inquired about that day. While together in the hospital waiting room yesterday morning I’d had the chance to pick my Aunt Lee’s brain. She and my Uncle Chris have been married over twenty years and it’s one of the longest running marriages I’ve ever seen first-hand. I wanted to know how they met; how she knew he was the one. Trying to recall exactly how long they’d been together a smile tugged at my Aunt Lee’s lips, a shine filled her eyes, and she said, “You know what, it feels like just yesterday.”

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Greetings from Hawaii! (almost)

Greetings from Hawaii! I really, really want to say ‘Aloha,’ but I’m resisting the urge. I mean, how much more clichéd can you get than ‘Aloha’ from Hawaii? As a college freshman sitting attentively in Journalism 101 several principles were drilled into my head. Number one was to avoid clichés.

Number two was strict avoidance of the word very. Very adds nothing. It is very redundant, very bland, and very lazy. A wealth of other adjectives can be used in its place, i.e., extremely, abundantly, extraordinarily, ferociously, inarguably, etc., etc., etc.

And this one I may have made up, but I hold it to be just as true. Number three is to be concise. Too much verbiage clouds your message. Precise wording creates impact. After you have a final draft, reduce your word count by about 25%. Your message will still be there; trust me. (A related rule is to remove superfluous words such as ‘that’ – you’d be surprised what little difference it makes.)

As I’m typing this, we’re experiencing horrible turbulence. It’s quite unnerving. I lied when I said ‘Greetings from Hawaii’ – I’m actually several thousand miles up en route to Phoenix, and about ten hours from the islands. Maybe I’ll break out ‘Aloha’ once I arrive and am seized by an island spirit which will overrule my writer’s code.

A more appropriate title of this post would have been ‘Greetings from First Class!’ as my extremely generous father gave me his front row seat. This is my first time sitting amongst the hot shots, and it’s everything I hoped it would be. They gave me real silverware and a lady keeps refilling my water glass. Actual glass. Thanks Dad, I hope you weren’t too cramped back there in coach!

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