Thursday, March 24, 2011

Can’t Seem to Catch that Nesting Bug!

At 34 weeks pregnant I am now officially the biggest I have ever been in my life. I’m not ashamed of my giant classification. In both my previous pregnancies I have just kind of looked bigger. I never had that “basketball belly” and was really envious of women who were all belly.

Let me tell you, the grass is NOT always greener on the other side. Sometimes it’s soggy, and muddy, and difficult to walk in. I do have myself a basketball. I am all belly, lots and lots of belly. I can’t bend or see my feet. I “let” my 3 year old “help” me make dinner tonight because she thinks its fun to bend down and get the pots and pans out of the cupboards.

As I hopped up onto the scale at the doctor’s office this week the nice med tech lady put the little marker on the 150 lbs notch! Let me tell you, her finger couldn’t slide that thing allll the way to the other end fast enough! I laughed out loud at her.

“Umm, thanks, but you can go right ahead and switch that up to the 200 notch down there” I said.

She didn’t respond. Must be protocol.

She does have my chart in her hand, right? I thought to myself.

I spent my entire appointment wondering if medical professionals have a whole day of class in their programs about NOT offending women on the scale. Because really, there is no way any person in their right mind would take a look at me and put that notch on 150. I’m still laughing. Not only am I huge, but I am also 5’9. That lady was insane, or blind.

The whole thing reminded me of the time my husband had to be given a “mesh shirt” to wear. He was having a 24 test done on his heart and the mesh shirt was supposed to hold the wires and leads hooked up to his chest in place.

This mesh shirt was one size fits all -at the children’s hospital - he’s 6’6.

“Don’t worry, it’ll stretch,” the lady hooking him up to the test said.

The mesh tank top was a neon green sports bra on his broad frame. He looked like a cross dresser on his way to a rave.

Up until recently we have been thinking we may move before baby makes her grand entrance. Now that we know we will be living in our current location when she arrives, I need to get down to business. This week’s events on the scale and the need to enlist a 3 year old as my sous chef have me thinking I’m running out of time. For crying out loud, we made dinner on the floor tonight so mama could rest. We were boiling raviolis. I had to sit and rest in the middle of putting water into a pot and dumping in raviolis. I turned it into a counting game for Tessa because I’m a mama, and we need to turn our lazy moments into educational activities for our children to get through the day.

I better get going before I become immobile. This basketball belly is so large there is impending danger that being upright may just cause me to topple right over. There are young ones underfoot here, I can’t be toppling over. Not when my house is this messy. Someone could be injured.

There is one problem. I just haven’t gotten that nesting bug. I’ve been bitten by it before. It makes a woman a crazy cleaning machine. The only time in my life I have ever cleaned behind an appliance has been while pregnant. I don’t naturally think of those things. I’m a pile maker and a pick up so I can redecorate or rearrange the furniture kind of gal. I need to be bitten by the nesting bug, and fast.

All the baby clothes are still packed in bins in our garage and we haven’t even thought about if we will be setting up the crib or the pack and play in our bedroom. I did order a new bouncy seat offline. It came 2 weeks ago. The huge box it came in sat in our living room and served as Tessa and Anna’s “bus” until just the other day when my husband took it out with the recycling. As for the bouncy seat, I opened the box. It’s now sitting in our bedroom unassembled.

I thought I had maybe been bitten by the nesting bug this afternoon. But, now here I sit. “Cleaning” out my stack of magazines in the lay Z boy and watching Grey’s Anatomy. I am clipping the coupons and tearing out yummy looking recipes. And, I will collect the magazines into a bag when I am done and ask my husband to take them to recycling after we all trip over the pile for a few days. So, it counts. Right?

**Prayer Bubby: Wow! I really need you! Thanks for all your prayers and PLEASE keep them coming. Lots of big things to be thinking and praying about over here right now. Hoping to post about some of them soon, but for now, thank you and please don't stop!**

My Sous Chef

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why I’m NOT giving up anything for Lent.

Ok, don’t throw stones. Remember Lent is a time to grow in the love and peace of Christ.

I’ve spent a great amount of time praying and reflecting and what my Lenten sacrifices would be this year. In the process, I found even the exercise was not exciting me about a time for spiritual growth, but adding to my already large amount of anxiety about our current state in life.

This is not what the liturgical season is about. In the past I’ve attempted (with varying degrees of success) several difficult Lenten sacrifices and tasks. I never was one to give up sweats or something else I would simply count down the 40 days until I could partake in again. Instead, I have always seen the season as a time to attempt to change something about myself - be it a bad habit or an unhealthy mental reaction I’d fallen into regarding certain people or situations. A wise spiritual advisor had recommended giving up or adding something so difficult that only with the aid of God Himself I would have a chance of succeeding. Either way, when Christ arrives resurrected with Easter, I am marveling at the power of God in my life. I have either changed something about myself for good, or I have learned a valuable lesson about how fallen I am and how much I need Christ.

The truth is, this year, giving something up or adding something big is just too much for my already full plate. Our life is Lent right now. I’m not complaining. In fact the parallels between the Lenten season and our struggles right now are not lost on me. I am thankful my personal life is coinciding with the Liturgical year as over the last year the seasons of my life did not coincide with those of the Church and it left me feeling slightly separate from the community of believers.

Every possible life situation that could be up in the air right now for our family is. I know nothing about what our life will be in 2 months. The only thing I know is that we are having a baby. Joseph is working on his graduate thesis and we are hoping he will graduate the week after Easter. With his graduation comes the loss of his job (he works as a graduate assistant at the University), and thus the loss of our insurance. We had Joseph complete this master’s degree with the hopes of him getting a state/university job. That hope is currently lost/up in the air as we live in Wisconsin. If you don’t know what’s happening with the fighting over these issues in Wisconsin you must be living under a rock. Regardless of if we agree or not, the state is not currently hiring as its fate is up in the air.

Joseph is currently working so hard to finish his thesis and apply for jobs. I’ve put the purchase of anything and everything on hold in case there are months of unemployment. This means our van is still unfixed and I am going on 7 months of not having a vehicle. We also thought we would be moved by now as we thought we would know where he will be working and where we will be living. But that is up in the air as well and I am trying to make space in a 2 bedroom condo for a family of 5 because we will now be bringing home baby to what I call a “cracker box.”

Because of the insurance issue, Joseph will have his yearly heart appointments and our new baby will have her genetic tests the first week in May before our insurance runs out. I pray the baby comes in time and that Joseph’s health is holding strong, I can’t think of the alternatives – mentally or logistically.

These stresses have become a bit overwhelming for a really pregnant me. I know the emotions of pregnancy are to blame, but it’s become a lot to have on my plate. Joseph is really busy trying to finish school and take care of all of these things. The long winter, very small living space with no vehicle to go anywhere and the stress has gotten to me and I don’t think I’m my best self right now.

So, I won’t be giving anything up for Lent. Instead, I’ll try to best see the blessings in our life, look forward to the arrival of our third daughter and NOT let the anxiety and stress of everything else get to me as I have been allowing it to. So, my life is my Lent this year!

I do want to hold myself accountable, but also don’t want to be too hard on myself or deny my emotions. I am 32 weeks pregnant after all and the things on my plate are real concerns for our family. So, I’ll attempt to handle them in the most holy way I can and support Joseph is doing the same.

I do feel as though I may need a substitute for the fasting. Due to medical reasons for both of us, Joseph and I are not required nor could we uphold the fasting requirements of Lent. And, since our children are too young I don’t think I’ll focus on them in our home. Maybe I’ll attempt a cleaner kitchen. It is something I struggle with and food related.

This is the biggest Lent of my life; God has obviously set the stage for it to be. I’m not giving up a thing. I’ll just deal with life. Doing so with grace will be a huge success for me. And, it’s truly only possible with God at this point!

A blessed and peaceful Lent to you all!

PS – I joined the Lent Prayer Buddies this year! Prayer buddy, welcome! I’m so sorry you got me, you’ve got a lot of work cut out for you this Lent. Although I don’t know your name, please know I have already added you to my prayer list as well.

Clearly Anna Clare isn't worried. I need to take lesson from my soon to be middle child!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Tale of Two Dresses

Betty Beguiles recently challenged her fellow bloggers to reflect on their wedding dresses. What the dress said about us then and what our thoughts on the dress say about who we are today. Personally, the questions posed are about much more than fashion.

What I wore, how I chose it and how I felt wearing it reflect so much on my expectations going into marriage, and ultimately how I feel about expectations (and fashion) today.

I was far from a “Bridezilla.” I was over the moon to be engaged and excited about the wedding, but I preferred a small affair. My husband- to- be and my parents wanted a larger wedding. I knew I wanted to get married in my hometown. We met in the Church in my hometown and I thought it greatly romantic to be married in the very building we met. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

When it came to my dress I had two requirements. The color had to be the darkest shade of white that could still be called white. Alabaster is too kind a work for how very white my complexion is. I also have a great amount of almost black hair. An odd combination I am aware. Therefore, white is not the most flattering color on me. An ivory or wine shade of white was necessary. I also wanted a halter style dress. I find this fit the most flattering on me and I’m not a huge fan of strapless dresses in Church.

What I thought would be my wedding dress

To my complete surprise, my mother and I found the perfect dress in the tiny boutique in my small hometown. It was dark ivory lace in the halter style with a long train. It was also more than double what I thought I would spend. I won’t share the price because I am shamed! My mom cried when I tried it on. We ordered it on the spot and she purchased it for me. The wedding was planned and deposits were made.

A few months into our engagement we found out Joseph needed his first heart surgery. All the wedding plans that seemed to be so important melted away with the “honeymoon” carefree stage of new love. There were many decisions to be made and prayers to be said. At the last minute we decided to move up our wedding and get married before the surgery. We decided on a Sunday to be married the next weekend.

There were strong reactions. Some of our loved ones found the circumstances romantic and a testament to our commitment to each other and the sacrament of marriage. We believe strongly in the graces of the sacrament and knew we would need those graces for the hard road in front of us.

Others were less than supportive. Emotions were high and the sum of all the circumstances may have been a bit much for some. Things were said that made me feel like less than a bride. “It’s not a real wedding” seemed to be the theme of those not is support of our decision. This created a fashion emergency for me.

My fancy, lace covered, extremely expensive dress had not yet arrived and would not have been fitting for the somber/joyful small affair.

My maid of honor and mother put together a wedding in a week as I had just started a new job and was working 12 hour days. They suggested I go to a bridal store and buy something off the rack from the less formal wedding lines. It would be white and a wedding dress, but not too fancy for a small wedding. I should have listened, but all the fighting and opinions of others made me feel as though I had no right wearing a wedding dress.

I spent every night that week in the large bridal store. I would only try on bridesmaid dresses. I was so emotional I had to call my fiancé to come and pick me up one night as I couldn’t drive myself. Wearing what I thought was my best dress option; I asked my fiancé and his friend their opinion when they arrived.

“Umm, it looks like a bridesmaid dress, but you look nice” my fiancé said.

I threw a shoe at him. In public. Not that I encourage throwing shoes at people in the comfort of their homes either.

Other people’s reaction to the biggest, best and hardest time in my life was preventing me from knowing what I wanted for myself. And I was allowing it. I was frustrated. All the expectations I had for my wedding I had given up out of love, how could people think badly of me? It was my first and only identity crisis and the only time in my life I look back on with regret.

Two days before our wedding I walked into Fashion Bug on my lunch hour and purchased a dress off the clearance rack for $14.99. It was white, it had lace and it was from their “beach wedding” line. I did not love the dress. I didn’t even really like it. It was the only white dress I could find that didn’t look too much like a wedding dress but was still a wedding dress.

On our wedding day with my family

I didn’t feel beautiful on my wedding day. I didn’t have my dad walk me down the aisle. Although that is what I wanted, I feared it would have appeared to others too “wedding like”. Because of the circumstances I didn’t feel as though others thought I had the right to be happy on my wedding day.

The wedding itself was amazing and the kindness and generosity of the people who supported us was overwhelming. There were about 50 people present and the mass was intimate and gorgeous. The important aspects of the day were perfect.
The best picture of us together on our wedding day

But the fashion - that symbolized a huge compromise. I compromised myself by allowing others to define the circumstances of our wedding. I still pray I will forgive myself someday.

My expectations of others and their opinions of my life have greatly changed because of the lesson of the wedding dress. It was a lovely wedding. I’m so sad I didn’t embrace it as fully as I could have. I did learn a very valuable lesson. Joseph and I no longer care what others think of our choices. We pray about what we do and how we run our family and that is as far as the consulting goes. We protect this union.

The saga of my wedding dresses is a hard one for me. Like so many hard things in life, the experience was freeing. The regret and anger I have at myself over the situation haunts me and motivates me to be who I am and no one else. I no longer care about or allow the opinions  or negativity of others to impact how I feel, especially when it comes to my own life. I’m so thankful we learned this lesson early in our marriage and before we had children. Because I have been so blessed by that clearance dress, I am growing to love it as well.

We kept our originally set wedding date and had our reception. My husband was feeling better after his operation and it was a joyous affair. And, because some of you have asked – yes, this is where I feel on the dance floor. I broke my leg in two places. I left in an ambulance strapped to a stretcher in a huge wedding dress. I don’t know why they called an ambulance. It may have something to do with the fact that several of the people making decisions had been drinking. It was midnight after all.

Since we did not walk in together on my wedding day, my dad walked me into the reception

With a college friend - right before I fell!

That night ended with a middle aged man trying to get me (and all of my dress) onto an X-ray table in the ER. I was wearing my fancy, expensive wedding dress. Made just for me. I told them they could just cut the darn thing off, but they wouldn’t do it. They said it looked too fancy and I may regret having them cut it off of me. Instead, I was mortified to have others called into the room, put iron aprons on and hold the thing over my head so they could X-ray my leg.
My older brother in the waiting room at the hospital. Poor guy has taken much heat for this SUPER funny picture

I had two weddings, and two wedding dresses. I was humiliated in both of them, but loved greatly in both of them as well. More importantly, I have one groom. And one very big lesson learned about protecting my joy.

With my groom. I love him so much we got married twice!