Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Remain Present

I can't.  I can't read another story of a person leaving their child in the car while they go in the store, or to a friends house, or to work.  I can't.  Is it just me or is this same story in the news everyday?  The obvious reaction is to wonder what the HELL is wrong with them!?!?  But, if we can all be honest... I think we really know.

We are rarely PRESENT.  We are rarely actively listening, focusing, hearing, thinking, or for that matter praying.
Our society has become so overwhelmed with work, emails, social networking, words with friends, texting, news, you name it that we forget things like... our child is still in the car.  Can you blame these people?

I know that there were days early on when I had Bailey that I was so tired from being up all night.  My job was emailing me wanting to know when I was returning, social workers were calling every 10 minutes, friends and family were stopping by, groceries needed to be bought and we were out of diapers and formula.  A trip to the store required an act of God.  I can remember pulling out of the parking space and slamming the brakes to turn around - Did I even get Bailey out of the cart?? Of course I had but I didn't even remember doing it!  We just DO things without even knowing we do them.  Haven't you ever been driving along and all of the sudden you think - Did I run a red light?  I don't even remember looking at the light?  Chances are you looked and it was green... but the same remains... our minds are so clogged.

I remember this verse from a bible study I did once,

"Remember the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds."

When I read the news of this Georgia father who pulled up at work last week totally forgetting that his child was in the back seat and went into work all day only returning to find him dead, I just hurt.
It was a terrible mistake.  Apparently, it was not normal for him to take him - his wife normally did.  And in this world of schedules and deadlines he just did what he always does... got in the car, drove to work, got out, locked the door... like robot.
I know we can all sit around and argue how ridiculous that was, but we won't get anywhere.

Many times as a mom, I feel like some days I hardly spend any one on one time with Bailey.  Some days it is all work and no play.  Chores, errands, phone calls, repeat.  Last year, I had had enough and started making a conscious decision to focus more.
Laundry can wait, dishes can wait, we can always order in dinner if I don't get to the store.  I just need to be more present with her.  And not just Bailey but Christian too... and the dog... and God.

Sometimes, I feel so discombobulated that I can't even pray without distraction... Some nights I get in bed, lay down and almost fall asleep and then realize that I hadn't even said a prayer the entire day!  So I start... "God, thank you for all that you have given us and all of our graces..." then it happens... I start thinking of something else and my mind wanders... a half hour later I snap out of it and realize I completely aborted the prayer and started stressing!  It is really almost comical...
I remember telling my sister I do that and she told me to stop saving my prayers for the night.  Pray all day.  In the car, in the shower, walking, wherever!  If you do it that way, you will get it all in.

I just think that we can all learn from this terrible story in the news.  Be present.  Be present with your kids, your spouse, your pet, and your God.

Today I am renewing last year's vow to be more present... this life can wait.  I vow to understand the condition of all in my flock and to give them the attention they need and deserve.

Friday, June 13, 2014

This Life...

While I recently visited Charlotte my sister was showing me all the houses in her neighborhood where friends had lived but moved.  Then she said, "We're the only people who haven't gone anywhere!"  

My sister and I are a perfect combination of my mom and dad but it is clear who is more like the other.

While I tend to favor the look of my mom, I have the attitude and behavior of my dad.   My sister looks more like my dad, but her demeanor is all my mom.  She is calm, wise, thoughtful, and nurturing.  I am for lack of a better word a spaz, quick to speak, a little more selfish, and not nearly as patient.  If you knew my mom - you know that my sister is just like her.  If you know my dad, you see where I get my fire from!  I also think birth order has a lot to do with it... I'm just sayin'

As I get older, more and more I go to my sister for help and guidance.  She is such a woman of faith and the closest thing to a mom that I have.  She always takes careful consideration before responding to my questions, often telling me that she is going to "have to pray about it first".  My sister is nearly 15 years older than me... when we were young, it was a bigger deal.  But as we get older, the gap kind of closes more and more.  When I lost my mom, I was only 28.  I was not a mom yet, and really was still finding my independence.  I now know why God gave me a sister that was so much older... he knew that I was going to need that later.  She is such a great reference with everything dealing with kids, friends, psycho friends, parents, psycho parents, and so on...

When I first told her that I was moving back to Atlanta, she was happy to have us back in the South, but worried about me going back to Atlanta.  She worried that I would get caught up with old friends who really don't have my best interests at heart.  She hates that we love living in the city and how fast paced it is.  She really would like to see me settle down in the suburbs and be the leader of the PTA... please.

But we are different.  She said that they had never moved because she did it once 15 years ago and it was so awful that she swore that she would never do it again!  I can relate to that... moving SUCKS.  It is one thing to move across town, it is another to move across the country... and to do it twice in 2 years!  

The move to Iowa was pretty easy... but this return has almost killed me.

Some days I wake up and don't even want to get out of bed.  I know the minute I put my feet on the floor, it is going to be a long day.  Letting the dog out every couple hours, managing Bailey in this crazy city, house hunting, working with lenders, Christian being out of the country, wondering why the hell our house in Iowa isn't selling... ahhhh!

I think it has also been hard because my expectations may have been a little off when I moved back.  I suppose it isn't realistic to think that you can leave for two years and return like you never left :(

Either way, we love being back.  This city is such a big part of my life!  This was the first city I lived in as an actual adult... that paid my own bills!!  Bailey was born here... and the Braves are here.  I mean, it doesn't get better than that!

I just think that I may be suffering from a little situational depression... not that I am not happy, but because I think stress is fogging my lenses.  One day our house in Iowa will sell, we won't be paying two mortgages, I will have a yard for Otto, and Bailey will have all her favorite things and a room... with walls... and a door :) Then I will be able to fully grasp being back home in the South!

At the end of the day - I think I secretly do love it though.  Stress that is.  If I didn't, I wouldn't do it to myself all the time!  I would be like my sister, and be content in the same place.  But I am a free spirit... I just go wherever the wind takes me and I kind of like the excitement.  My friends tell me that if they were me, they would be in a mental institution and that they think I am great at handling all these things... I suppose it is true :)

I love following Joyce Meyer on Facebook. She has the best little one-liners... these spoke to me...

The more you hurry, the more mistakes you make. 
Slow down, breathe and learn to be led by God, not driven by impatience. 

God loves you too much to leave you in a mess. 
He has a plan for you that far exceeds anything you may recognize.

Despite all of that... we are still having a great time!  Here are some "moments" from our last couple weeks :)

My best friend Megan's son Manning - presh

Megan and I destroyed these chocolates... it was like eating art...
I am not sure if we felt more guilty because we ate a bunch of chocolate, or because
they were so pretty???

I missed this place while in Iowa!  I go here everyday now...

Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park

Family Selfie

this girl.  LOVE her!

she is DEFINITELY a cabana girl... no getting wet for her...

went to visit Christian's parents while he is in Brazil... his
dad is great on the guitar :)

Leaving Winston-Salem

Charlotte to see my family and mooch off my sister and her pool

Me, Sadie - my sister's youngest, and B

My sister's son has 2 hammocks hanging from his ceiling... why?
I have no idea... I don't have boys...
Bailey loved it though!

Playing on the trampoline with Sadie... and yes
we bought a slip n' slide (in the background)

Bailey woke up every morning and went strait outside to jump... she's a trip!

Breakfast with mom :)

First swim lesson!!!


Brunch :)

Since Christian is in Rio - we went to have lunch and go see Rio 2
So fun!
Had to hit up Little Five Points... Bailey found some shoes she liked...

While house hunting I saw Ms. Lawrence from RHOA!
Leaving church of all places...

Me and one of my besties Ashleigh... we are not normal
and we like it that way...

This is cheering me up!  World Cup 2014!

Got bored at the hair salon last night and took some online quizzes...
apparently I need to move to Brazil and become a writer :)

But not anytime soon... I am staying put for a while!!!!


Monday, May 19, 2014

{ Brassy to Classy }

For the last year or so I have been fighting a major battle... the brassy battle.  Brassy is the gnarly color that your blonde turns because your natural color is dark.  I don't know if it is a difference in technique or preference or simply a lack of experience, but I couldn't find anyone who could get my hair the color I wanted it.  I had strayed away from some of my favorite stylists in Atlanta because they were on the opposite side of town and then while in Iowa,  I was at a total loss. Until...

Last Christmas I went home to Charlotte and had an old friend from high school look at it.  I had a serious problem.  Her solution was not to "lift" my base.  The problem was that these stylists were trying to lift my natural dark brown to a lighter brown and then foil on that.  The result = orange tiger hair.  Eww.

So, she went with heavy foils of blonde and voila!  I was platinum again.  The science of coloring hair is actually very technical... like greys, there are hundreds of shades of blondes some more "ashy" which is platinum and some more "golden" which has a more yellow look.  The color blonde that you choose depends most on your skin color and your preference.

Once back in Iowa I started having one of my BFF's do my color based on my other friends formula - and after a few tweaks, we got it!  I walked out and looked like a blonde bombshell!  Then my next problem... after a few weeks, my hair would start returning to a warmer color, moving away from the ashe.  Her solution was to use "purple" shampoo.  Now, I had used it in the past, but never felt that it did anything.  I gave it another try and the results have been amaze.

My final issue was that in order to get to this shade of blonde, I have to use, ahem... bleach.
That can do a number on your hair over time.  So, she put me on a regimen of products that help flight those broken ends, fly aways, and overall "fried" appearance.

After nearly a year of going through hair rehab, I am finally blonde and moisturized!  LOL!  It was a process and I really want to thank all of my friends and family for being so supportive through this stressful time and of course my loving husband for funding multiple hair appointments and loving me through all of my different shades.  Queue the music...

Ok, seriously, I am obsessed with my new regimen and felt that I had to share it!  I wish you only the blondest of days :)

Purple Shampoo and Conditioner
Shampoo is by Schwarzkopf and the Conditioner is by AG
LOVE this stuff!  I use it once to twice a week.

This is an everyday shampoo and conditioner.
I am OBSESSED with Pureology Hydrate.  It smells delicious!
It is formulated specifically for color treated herrrrr.
These are two of my newest faves.  It's a 10 is the brand
The yellow is a leave in spray/moisturizer for after you wash your hair -
it gets it super shiny when you dry it.  I use it every time I blow dry.  This brand claims that
it does 10 Things to instantly improve you hair and I agree!
The other is a deep conditioning treatment that I do in the shower.  It too claims
to have 10 amazing benefits.
After I wash, I use this and let it sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing it out.  I use this about once a week.
This is my newest purchase.  Also by Pureology.  It too is a leave-in spray.
It claims to have 21 essential benefits, but whose counting!  I LOVE this stuff!
I go back and forth between in and the It's a 10 spray :)
Too brassy... very "orange"
Tiger hair
Am I a redhead?
After Charlotte!  Finally blonde!!!  Cheers to that!
Michelle on the left started working on my hair in Iowa :)

The way I like it!! This was blown out after using the
purple shampoo and conditioner... it totally brightens it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Things that I am living without...

Cable, a washer and dryer, a Keurig, and filtered water.  More on that in a minute, but first...

It is so CRAZY to say that we are finally back in Atlanta!  It was a little nuts at first, but now that we are settled in - I am so HAPPY!!!

The reverse culture shock was a little hard to overcome in the beginning but I feel that the key was to keep perspective.  I mean, if you are ever in Atlanta and need to go to a grocery store, hit up the Edgewood Kroger - never a dull moment.  Then there was the driving.... I had gotten so used to driving without hardly paying attention in Iowa and now, I am a MESS!  I forgot how crazy everyone drives and how aggressive you have to be.  At the same time, I used to know every backroad in this city and a lot of it has come back to me, but those first few days were a disaster!  Going "home" and then getting lost in your own city just don't go together.

Then there is Bailey.  She has no concept of reality.  She still thinks we are in Iowa and that she can roam around and do whatever!  I am like, "Bailey, we are in Atlanta now... you can't just walk off... there are bad guys here!"  LOL!  It is just so much harder to keep up with her in a big city.
Then there are all the different "people".  Bailey's eyes have been opened... lets just leave it at that.

Now, back to what I am living without.  We decided to rent a really cool loft to live in for the summer in the hopes that our house in Iowa would sell.   It is really awesome!  It has all the things that I wanted in a loft - I mean, I always wanted to live in a loft, but I never wanted to buy one.  I love the concrete floors, exposed duct work, garage doors to separate rooms.  So fun.  The girls that we are renting it from are actually Phd's at Emory.  One is a film student or something and has one of her films being shown in film festivals all over Europe this summer which is why there are gone.  They left it furnished and that has been interesting... they have a funky, eclectic style and I kind of dig it... but we have totally moved everything on a top shelf.  Bailey is in heaven!  So many knick knacks... she just walks over, "What is this?"  "Uh... that is a shark tooth, where did you get that?" Silly.
Sleeping with no real walls or doors is interesting, but Bailey is getting the hang of it :)
We love the place and the location is to die for but what they don't have is cable, a washer or dryer, a keurig or filtered water.

Cable.  They are like, "Oh... yeah, we just stream everything online..."  Oh, ok.  Well that is great if I want to watch episodes of Lost, but what if I want to watch the news?  And btw it is not as easy as it seems.  If I do want to watch something, I have to plug my computer to the TV which is a process all its own.  Then, there is Bailey.  She does not understand what the problem is.  No more movies on demand or a DVR loaded up with Disney flicks.  I mean, I think it is admirable to say, "We are getting rid of cable" but it is not realistic, at least not for this brood.

Then, I somehow missed in the description that they don't have a washer and dryer.  I guess I just assumed that at this day in age, everyone did!  Well, I can tell you one thing, the days of me sitting in a laundromat popping quarters in a dryer that never really get my clothes dry are over.  But, what I did find is an awesome spot right near our house.  This chick opened a "new age" laundromat called Blusion.  She has all modern, efficient machines.  Only takes debit/credit and it is a flat rate to wash and dry... I think like $4!!!!  But the best part is for a $1 a pound, she will wash, dry and fold your stuff for you and it is same day service people!!  I am spoiled now.  I seriously may sell my washer and dryer and only do that.

Coffee.  It is bad enough that I don't have BBC to watch in the morning, but coffee??? I didn't know that you could be a professor and not drink coffee... If I would have known, I would have packed my Keurig.  We are right in Inman Park and there is a great coffee shop there but $3.50 a day will start adding up - especially since I send out the laundry now ;0  So in the meantime, I hit up Target and bought this little $14 number.  It will have to do for now.

Filtered water.  I didn't even realize how much I drank it until I didn't have it.  They have an ice maker and water dispenser but it is not connected... womp womp.  So we are back to buying cases of bottled water.  So wasteful I know, but I make up for it because I drive a Hybrid - lol.

I feel like I have adapted well.  I mean, I am still living first world - just a different level.  (totally kidding here)

Otto is also adjusting well.  The loft has a really nice green area for dogs that he loves. (isn't it sad that he gets only one line?)

We had a mellow mothers day since it came just after our 9 hour drive.  I did get to hit up my favorite spa with my BFF Megan and we had brunch at an awesome spot that morning.


at brunch... her eyes are like totally glazed over...

Monday, April 28, 2014


Easter and Christmas.  My least favorite days to go to church!  These are the days when all the people who don't go to church all year finally come out!  I suppose I should be glad that people are making an effort, but it can add confusion and stress to a day that should be just as easy as the rest.
I mean, starting the morning going to church and not being able to even park is frustrating, then to enter the church and find that the sanctuary is full and that you have to sit in an overflow room is equally as annoying.
Good thing we showed up early this year!  I told Christian that I am not going to sit in a cafeteria chair this year and watch mass on an LCD projector - we needed to get there earlier because we KNOW it is going to be busy!  It is not that it is about the seat or the view, but if I am not comfortable with where I am then I feel that my focus gets skewed and I start looking around at everyone and thinking about how annoying they are.  I mean, why do parents bring food for their kids to eat during church?  Really?  They can't go an hour??? Or, why do people whisper and talk during mass?  On that note, if your kid is going ham in church, stop negotiating with them and get out!  See... this is where my mind wanders when I feel frustrated.  And THAT is why this year I wanted to be early, get my seat, and focus on the meaning.  I really feel that the devil LOVES church.  I swear he shows up every Sunday to get inside peoples minds and get their focus off of the message... hence, staring at the lady who is negotiating with her one year old during the homily so no one can hear...
These are all his tactics!  Make me look around annoyed at people so I don't hear what I came for!  Such a sneaky little thing... but not this year!

This year I didn't go crazy with outfits or the Easter Bunny.  Yes, he came, but in moderation.  I think Christian and I both wore jeans and Bailey wore a sundress.  I committed myself to focusing on the beauty of this day and not everything else.

It was a good thing because the priest shared a beautiful message.  For Catholics, Easter marks the end of a 40 day Lenten season.  These 40 days are meant to prepare us.  Give us a chance to make a change, prepare, focus, and sympathize with Christ.  The week leading up to Easter is Holy Week which is the last lap ending with the Triduum - Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday or Easter.  Easter Sunday is like the grand finale!  People come out of darkness and into the light!

The priest asked us a question, "What did you do to make the past week Holy?"  It got me thinking.

What did I do?  Enough?  I vowed to read the New Testament during Lent but I will admit, I fell off at times and ended up skimming the end.  Being in China, Christian taking a new job, getting our house on the market, and preparing for our move really took my focus away.   And that was just his response.

"The WORLD will not make that change.  We have to do it.  The WORLD just goes on, we must make the effort."

So true.  The world keeps moving whether it is Lent or not.  Stocks rise and fall, money is made and lost, the sun rises and sets, people go to China, get new jobs and move... so WE have to make it different.  We have to be the change.
And in spite of the fact that we didn't make the change that God would have liked to see, he STILL gives us Grace.  One pastor referred to Jesus' death by drawing the picture that Jesus went to the tomb of the womb of the earth - a place where all of our sins gather - and he had to go there and die for those sins.
So beautiful.  Even though I ultimately failed at reading the entire gospel, God still forgives.  And not just me, but everyone.  The Easter readings really focused on Peter and Mary Magdalene, both of whom found new life in their relationship with Christ.  They both needed a second chance, and both found blessing in the miraculous happening of Easter.  Paul told us, "let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  Their faith thus became "the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
What a great message.

After church, we returned home where Christian prepared an awesome brunch.  Bailey had an Easter Egg Hunt in the yard, and we enjoyed one of the first nice weekends here in Iowa!  I was really beginning to wonder if it would ever be warm again :-/

Bailey also participated in 2 larger Easter Egg Hunts on Saturday - she was NOT a fan.  All the yelling and kids scrambling freaked her out.  She just kind of stood there like her feet were stuck in cement... a little shy :(  Better luck next year!

Happy Easter!

at least I was happy about the Easter Egg Hunt!

in deep thought... strategizing

getting the hang of it

after a long day...

Easter Bunny!

new wings!

loves chocolate carrots :)

yes you may eat a popsicle, no, not in your white dress!

fun with friends at the park