Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Bachelor, Soccer, and Love

First things first... the Bachelor.  I can't describe the way I feel...
If you don't watch, this season the bachelor is from Arlington, Iowa.  I was especially interested since I just moved back from Iowa.  I am fascinated by agriculture and and think he is pretty hot ;)

I guess I knew Chris was going to choose Whitney - and I liked her WAY more than Becca - but I didn't "love" her.  There were so many personalities this year that got on my nerves... Brit... I can't... she makes me want to scream with her ridiculous lip stain.  I loved Kaitlyn, but if you are that good looking and fun and are still single... you must be nuts.
Speaking of nuts - let's touch on that.  Christian will be watching this show and naturally gravitates toward the "hottest" contestant... but I am wiser.  I know this... when I see a girl, in their thirties, beautiful, skinny, fun, and she is NOT married and not even close to it - there is only one reason... she is C-R-A-Z-Y.  Don't beleive me?  Test my theory...
Everyone harped all season about how Becca was a virgin and the thought is that she was "chaste" and saving herself for marriage... but I beg to differ.  That girl is DISCONNECTED.  She is not a virgin because she has had self-control, she is a virgin because she is impossible to get close to!  She has ZERO personality and is so awkward!  I mean, I almost fall asleep every time she talked.  Chris broke up with her and she was just like, "ok."  What?!?!?!?  You got all the way to the finale and have NO emotions!??!?

I like Whitney and she seems the logical choice but I have to ask myself... could I live with someone who sounded like Minnie Mouse forever?  Probably not.  Then, she was all about moving to Iowa but at the finale she said that they were "working through it".  Honey please.  You won, and NOW you want to take your time... errrrr.

I don't even know why I watch this show.  It is a sick obsession, but so entertaining!!!

As for farm life - the biggest issue with the ladies has been the idea of moving to Iowa and living on Chris' farm.  Many of them quickly realized that they could not do it and left and others "say" that they can but don't sound too convincing.  For the record - I could TOTALLY do it!  I mean, look, I LOVE the city... I live in it!  But, there is something about that life on a farm.  I would love to be that in touch with nature and the earth.  And... I wouldn't mind just being there with the one I love!  I feel like most weeks Christian and I spend our time just sitting in our house here - just hanging out with Bailey and cooking.  When I moved to Iowa, that idea seemed so foreign, but now that I am away from it - I kind of miss it.  It is so simple and so quiet.  Not that I lived on a farm, but I saw a LOT of farms.
My mother spent most of her summers on our family farm in Franklin Tennessee.  Yes, Franklin... my mom was going to Franklin WAY before Franklin was cool... and truth be told, had the depression not hit, my family would still own the entire town of Franklin!  Unfortunatly, her family had to slowly sell off portions of the farm but some still remains and is still in the family :)

On to the next thing... soccer!  Bailey had her first soccer experience two weeks ago on Saturday.  She was super pumped about it and I was over the MOON!  I really hope that Bailey is as into sports as I was - I just want to be her biggest fan!
They start out just practicing - mostly dribbling.  She is getting the hang of it ;)  I think the first week was hard because it was just so much and she really is one of the youngest ones out there.   Last weekend we had our second soccer practice/game and Bailey did awesome!  She scored 2 goals (we aren't going to mention that one of them was for the other team)!  She is really liking it now that she understands more about what to do :)  I am a proud mama!

Lastly, LOVE.  Christian and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary last week on March 5.  It feels CRAZY that we have been married that long and even CRAZIER that we have been together for over 16 years!  I really love this guy and can't imagine this life without him :)
A lot has changed since he first approached me at a party in Wilmington - mainly that he doesn't wear chains or Ecko anymore - LOL!  Christian was traveling last week but we are planning on going to St. Maarten for a week in April!  So pumped!
For gifts, your ten year anniversary is aluminum.  I could not decide what to get him but found the perfect thing on Etsy.  I ordered it and was so pumped!  Then, a couple days later I saw a charge go through our card for another Etsy purchase!  I was like, OMG.  I bet we got each other the same thing!  It wouldn't be the first time... twice we have given each other the same card!
Anyhow, I got him this little aluminum wallet card - the lady will engrave anything on it so I had her engrave the lyrics of our first dance :)  I know... so mushy.  I really thought that I was going to win for most creative gift until I got Christian's... His was so sweet! (and it wasn't the same) He had this artist find license plates from all of the states that we have lived in and form the date we got married!  I LOVED it!

Spring is in the air and I am beyond ready.  I am OVER the rain and cold.


ow owwww!
My mom on the family farm in Franklin 
First day of soccer!

College circa 1999

loving these beautiful mornings 

Christian's gift to me :)   LOVE
Mine to him :)
A little photo op from our Beltline walk last weekend
Rizzo - relaxing :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Our Purpose

I believe in balance.  I truly do.  I think that everything is in balance - no one can have it all, good or bad.  With that said, Christian and I are starting to think that something REALLY awesome is about to happen for us!  It has to...

A few weeks ago, I spoke about feeling like I had been lost - mainly because I felt like we couldn't catch a break.  I got back into my yoga, running, and trying not to destroy a carbohydrate every time I saw one... For the most part, I was feeling good again!  Getting those endorphins flowing was just what I needed!  But then... another wall.

We had to put Otto down.

I cannot even wrap my head around what happened, because it was so fast.  The short end of it... he had a neurological issue.  We did everything - professional training, multiple vet visits, sensitivity training, behaviorists... you name it.  He basically as far as anyone could tell would fall into these "seizure" type spells and become extremely aggressive.  Christian had been bitten 4 times, the vet was bitten once, and myself once.   While running him a week earlier, he out of nowhere went in on a lady we passed at the park.  Nothing was working and his last bite was three Monday's ago... It was Christian, again.  I tell people that Christian always got bit, because I had stopped touching him.  Christian refused to let him win, and kept trying to love him - Otto would do so well for a stretch and then inevitably snap and go into this fit of rage.  Tuesday we took him in to the vet and that is when they told us what the only solution was... In the words of our vet...

"I will NEVER condone an aggressive dog to live in a home with a child."

We spent the rest of the week networking, calling, emailing EVERYONE.  I wanted so badly to find a rescue for Otto or another home... but no one would take him with a bite history.  The tears... oh, the tears.  It was so hard.  When we lost Monk and South, they were old... and they passed in their sleep.
Otto was only 14 months young, I felt like he deserved a second chance but his behavior was getting worse and more and more unpredictable.  I told Christian that it didn't make sense to put him down... "if our child was behaving badly, we wouldn't euthanize her!"  His response, "If a child attacks you in your home, you kick them out.  We can't just take Otto's collar off and open the front door and tell him to get lost..."  I suppose he was right :-\
Christian and I felt like if it were just us, we would have kept him... but I could not keep him with Bailey.  Never.  I would never forgive myself if something happened... I also could not take him in to the vet that day.  Christian called me and said, "we need to make this decision."  I told him that he knew what had to be done, but I couldn't do it and I couldn't even be a part of it... very Pontius Pilate of me.
Three days later, I came home... Christian's car was in the driveway.  I walked in and immediately noticed that Otto's kennel was gone, his bowls gone, and his toys gone.

Christian amazes me with his strength.  He always gets stuck doing the hard stuff around here.
I started crying - ugly crying.  It was so sad.  Otto was so sweet... 98% of the time.  But that 2% was so bad.  Bad enough that we made a decision that I hope no one I know ever has to make.

I asked Christian how he was.  He told me he cooked him an entire pound of ground beef in bacon fat and let him eat the whole bowl.  He said that they prayed together and then he took him over to the vet.
We received his ashes 2 days later.

With Monk and South, we kept their ashes in the house.  But with Otto, we are planning to bury them out back next to St. Francis.  Christian thinks that since he loved to bite people, that maybe we should bury him out back... to protect the house - in spirit :)

I called my dad the other day to tell him and could hardly speak.  It is just too hard.  Until now, I really have only told 2 of my friends.  I am just too sad to tell people, and a part of me is a little embarrassed and humiliated.  I hate the thought that we could have done more - but we did everything.  We saw two different vets and got the same answer from both.  They assured us that there is nothing that we did or could have done, he was just a rare case.  He was sick.  He was not happy.  I guess some people are born completely nuts, and so are some dogs...

I have to ask myself "Why?" Why did we get stuck with this dog?  I think that after some prayerful nights, I have come up with the best answer possible.  It was our purpose.

There are a lot of people who buy dogs and a lot of them are terrible owners.  I especially think that with breeds like Rottweilers, a lot of people abuse them and exploit their strength.  Christian and I love Rotties - we love their power, strength, and confidence.  We also respect it and know that if it becomes stronger than you, then there is no turning back.
I believe in a weird way that God chose US to have this dog because he knew that we would make the right choice.  He knew that there could have been so many other bad people who would have loved to have a dog with this natural instinct.  Not us.  The vet even said that making this decision is the most responsible decision.  We recognized the illness and we recognized the dangers of it.  Christian and I have a bizarre love for dogs.  That is why I have a St. Francis statue in the yard - the protector of animals.  He is my favorite :)
I guess in a way, God revealed to me yet something else I did not know of myself.  Was this my "life purpose"?  Certainly not, but it was a mini-purpose... one that God had already armored us for.

The true irony of all of this is that 10 days prior to putting Otto down, we saw this little rescue puppy online and decided to adopt her.  We have always had two dogs and thought Otto would benefit from having a little friend.  They actually got along great!  I just never thought that just as fast as we got Rizzo (our new pup) that we would be losing Otto.
God works in mysterious ways.  Then, maybe, he put Rizzo in our life right at this moment for a reason.

We miss Otto... the mailman does not... I still think I see him, laying over there in the corner but then Rizzo walks in and I know that he is gone.

Rest in peace sweet boy.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
where there is injury, pardon
where there is doubt, faith
where there is despair, hope 
where there is darkness, light 
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
to be loved as to love 
For it is in giving that we receive, 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

- Prayer of St. Francis

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Bailey just turned 4 and Christian and I are feeling that heat.  That pressure that it is time to add another child to our family...
Believe me, we want more.  LOTS more.  If you followed my blog from the beginning, you know our story.  The miscarriages, the treatments, the ultimate infertility, and finally the miracle of adoption.

I was the youngest of five children and Christian was the oldest of four.  We LOVE big families.  We are both in agreement that we are addicted to chaos - meaning that if our life starts getting monotonous, we shake it up with something crazy.  Whether it be a renovation of the house, getting a new pet, or taking a trip we think that desire for chaos comes from being in a big family.  There was ALWAYS something going on.  Someone going somewhere or doing something.  We NEED it in our lives.

Before we knew we could not have biological children, we wanted a HUGE family!  I wanted like 4 or 5 kids... seriously.  So does Christian.  But, the reality is - adoption is hard and it is very expensive.
I would LOVE to be able to just pop out some kids anytime I want under our 100% covered healthcare plan!  But for us, it will be hard.

The question that everyone wants to know when we talk about adoption is "How much did it cost?"
I think there are so many myths out there and people just want to know the truth.
You can take many avenues to adopt but we chose to work with a Christian Agency, Bethany Christian Services.  They were great!  I really liked working with an agency, especially for our first time.  They are super informative and they really do care.  I really liked Bethany because they genuinely have the birthmother's interest at heart.  What does that mean?  Well, they will never pressure anyone to choose or follow through with adoption.  They realize that ultimately if a birthmother chooses to keep her child, then that is what is best.
It is a hard pill to swallow as adoptive parents... you secretly want them working for you!  But you have to be honest with yourself - and trust.

So to answer everyone's question... How much?  I must first say that there is a taboo to talking about the cost of adoption.  I have no idea why... adoption websites never list the cost and many won't even talk about it until you sign up.  To me, it's not like asking someone how much they make... I just think people are curious!  And for us, it explains a lot.  People want to know why we haven't done it a second time, and the answer is the money!  Like I said, we used an agency so it was a little more expensive - about $35,000 to be exact.

Why so much!?!?  Is the obvious second question.  And to that, I am not sure.  Many think that birthmothers get that money and that is 100% wrong.  If a birthmother chooses you and needs financial assistance - that is extra... AND there is no guarantee that she will follow through and no legal avenue to recoup that money.  You obviously have the choice on whether or not to help as well.
The biggest of the expense is the agency fee.  Ours was about $23,000.  This seems like a lot but you have several people working for you during the long process.  You have social workers, counselors, filers, etc... This cost is also subsidized by the agency who depends on donations from others because it is obviously more costly than that on their end.
The other expenses are the Home Study which is around $6000, attorney fees - $4000, applications and paperwork - $2000 and about $1000 more on your adoption profile, background checks and other various expenses that come along.
The government does offer the Federal Adoption Tax Credit which is between $12-13,000 which helps... but ours came at the cost of an intense tax audit :(  Good thing I keep everything!

Now, without a doubt it is worth it.  I don't think that it is "too expensive" - but I do think that more could be done to make it more affordable.
A lot of people ask why I don't just adopt myself or network.  I guess that is an option, but there are so many risks and so many scams out there.  An agency prevents all of that, plus you have someone working full time on your case!  It is a toss up of course.

This year, our goal is to set aside enough money to go for it again next year.  I am not sure how we are going to do that (now that we pay an arm and a leg for Catholic School) but I do know that a LOT of prayer will be involved!  Some of my friends tell me to fundraise or to start a GoFundMe page - still chewing on that.  I lean towards thinking that it is kind of tacky - but everyone tells me that they would totally donate!  LOL!

In the end, we are there.  That point... that point where you want more... you want a bigger family.  Oh, and no pressure that Bailey asks EVERYDAY for a sister ;-)

If you read this blog, keep your ears open!  Miracles happen everyday and you never know when someone's unexpected can become someone else's miracle :)



Monday, February 2, 2015

I forgot to mention...

I have been so busy that I have totally forgotten to mention that I started my own little side business working as a consultant for Beautycounter!
I honestly NEVER saw myself doing any MLM... I mean, I love people who do... and I am pretty sure that they love me!  (I LOVE to shop!)  I just never thought I could do it and have never found anything that I am passionate enough about to sell it.  Until... Beautycounter.

I discovered Beautycounter through a friend and I immediately became obsessed.  I attended a regional meeting here in Atlanta during the summer to mainly hear what those at the top of this company were doing and just to smell it out ;)
That night seriously changed my life!  I left feeling motivated, inspired, and determined.

Before I could jump in, I did a little... well, actually a LOT of research.  I wanted to make sure that this was a reputable, honest company.  I did not want to get caught up in some pyramid scheme and I wanted to be a representative to something that had importance and filled me with passion.  I am not into those fake, fast remedies or scams - I wanted to be involved in something chic, fresh, and current.

Beautycounter is more than a company that sells beauty products, it is a mission.  This company is dedicated to bringing awareness to everyone on the risks of toxic ingredients in personal care products that we use everyday.

Some powerful facts that I have come to learn upon joining this movement are:

- There has not been a federal law passed in over 75 years regulating the ingredients in our beauty products

- The average woman puts 12-20 products on her body EVERYDAY

- 60% of what we put on our bodies is absorbed by our skin

- 80% of the ingredients in our products have NEVER been tested for safety

- Many of these ingredients have been linked to cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption, learning disabilities,

- The European Union has banned over 1300 ingredients from their products, the US has only banned 11.

I was shocked when I began reading these statistics and it only motivated me more to be a part of the change.  As I began researching Beautycounter, I was even MORE blown away by those leading this company.  The Board of Directors is made up of some unbelievably recognizable and impressive names...
 - Candice Kislack - the woman behind the TOMS movements and One for One campaign
 - Margot Fooshee, the president of marketing for J. Crew
 - Court Coursey, managing partner for the investment capital firm TomorrowVentures and
 - Bryan Wolf, Senior Partner at Ziffren Brittenham LLP who is a powerful Hollywood Entertainment Attorney.

With people like this on the board, I knew that it was legit.  I also can't help but be a little obsessed with our Founder, Gregg Renfrew and our head of creative design, celebrity makeup artist Christy Coleman.

So, here I am!  I am a Beautycounter Consultant!

People often ask me how they can get involved and I tell them that there are really three ways...
1 - you can be involved as a client
2 - you can be involved as a consultant spreading the mission and educating people
3 - you can join our Band of Beauty which benefits one of three of our trusted non-profits

I would LOVE to chat with you about our line as well as opportunities to get involved!
Give me shout!, via Facebook or my website



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I've Been Lost.

People tell me everyday that I should "blog" professionally or that I should write a book - and while those sound like GREAT ideas, I could never do it.  Reason #486...  I haven't blogged since SEPTEMBER!  Who would follow that?  LOL.

Honestly, I haven't done a LOT of things since September... like, run, practice my yoga, cleanse, or have a girls night.  Going to mass weekly has also fallen off and just structured prayer in general.

I feel like my internal compass is stuck going in the wrong direction.  Am I depressed?  Am I bored?  Am I heartbroken?  Am I overwhelmed?
These are all possibilities.

Before anyone calls in reinforcements, don't worry... I am not going to do anything crazy.
I simply feel like 2014 was so nuts for me!   I started the year with our second dog dying Christmas Eve (2013) and getting a new puppy three weeks later.

Then, I left Bailey for 2 weeks to go to Shanghai with Christian.

When we returned, Christian took his new job and we spent all of March working on getting the house ready for the market.

Once that was done, Christian was off to Atlanta in April and I stayed in Iowa with Bailey until May.

Over the summer, we lived in a loft which was MISERABLE - and followed that with the move from HELL and closed on our new home in August.  All the while the stress of 2 mortgages hung over my head but praise Jesus!! (in my best Melissa Gorga voice) we closed on our Iowa home in September.

In the midst of all this moving, packing, traveling, and transferring - I also had some personal struggles.  Falling outs with old friends, a run in with the cops (I will never tell ;0), and Bailey starting school.  As all of this is unfolding, I am still striving to be the best mom that I can be and also the best wife.

It is all hard.  I think that one thing that I have found is that those who are still standing with me today even after all that craziness, are the ones who will be there forever.
Stress doesn't bring out the best in people and it certainly didn't for me.  I have not been the best friend or even the best person, but some chose to take this moment of weakness in me and attack me while others unconditionally have loved me.  I also have learned that at the end of the day, your spouse will be your redeemer.  Through all of this, Christian has just stayed strong and been my biggest advocate and most understanding ear.  He has let me know when I should have acted differently but loved me all the same.
I felt like many times over the year last year, people were a little thrown off at my half-insane attitude and instead of just supporting me, they tried to FIX me.  I don't need fixing.  I don't need an intervention.  And I don't need criticism and judgement.

I guess, like I said in the beginning, I may have been overly stressed, which definitely left me overwhelmed, which made me vulnerable - and people took advantage, which in the end left me heartbroken.

but I am wiser all the more...

As for my internal compass, I will reference the old adage, "All those who wander are not lost."
I am not lost, just off the beaten path, but I am making my way back!

I am running again, I signed up with a new yoga studio, and am looking forward to an exciting girls weekend next weekend as I go with my best friend Ashleigh wedding dress shopping!!!
I am getting back into my prayer cycle and Christian and I are planning our 10 Year Anniversary trip to St. Maarten!  But best of all, I am BLOGGING!!!



My friend Michelle (middle) visited me from Iowa!

Bailey was a pirate for Halloween!


Pure excitement!

Thanksgiving Party at Bailey's school

Thanksgiving in Charlotte

Going to see Santa!

nailed it.

Bailey's teacher, Ms. Laney

Bailey turned 4 this past Christmas!

but first, let us take a selfie at the party...

Christmas morning at our house

Otto - 12 months, 100 pounds

Bike ride :)

On the sky view Ferris Wheel in Atlanta... where I discovered that I HATE heights...