My Noticer

My Noticer
There's always time to stop & smell the roses!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Pinterest Fails & Learning to Embrace the Perfectly Imperfect this Christmas

Yes, that is a dinosaur "Christmas" cookie... and I am a little worried about that gingerbread man

Christmas snuck up on me this year. We traveled out of state to visit family for Thanksgiving so that threw me off a little bit. Not to mention Landy and I both came home with colds and of course I had copious amounts of dirty laundry to wash and bags to unpack... so this year we were a few days late getting our tree up. I am a creature of habit and I struggled with this. Alas, the tree is up and my version of decorating the house is complete! I don't go crazy with the decorations. Not because I don't like them but because I am simply too lazy. I love seeing people's homes all decked out in ways that would make Martha Stewart proud. However, setting all that beautiful crap up also means having to put it away and STORE it somewhere after Christmas. No thanks, I will just look at Pottery Barn catalogs and drive around to check out the hours worth of  labor someone ELSE put into their outdoor light display.

There are really only three arenas that I totally commit to during the Christmas Season.

1. I like my tree to be PERFECT. The lights have to be arranged just so. I mathematically space out my ornaments and need things to be color co-ordinated. I HATE homemade ornaments and there are NONE on my tree. Typically I only like white lights BUT I have given in and added colored twinkle lights because Landy likes them.

2. When I bake Christmas cookies they need to look bakery worthy. This means piping bags for the icing, strategically placed sprinkles, uniformity as far as size and color are concerned, and of course cute little gift bags so that I can give them to my neighbors because I obviously need validation :) Also, I suck at being a neighbor 99% of the time. So, at Christmas time I like to make up for it. I have actually hidden on the floor of my back porch so my poor elderly neighbor wouldn't see me and invite me to one of her church's tea parties or other social events. I am also really good at just pretending I didn't hear the other 90 year old neighbor call my name 5 times. In my defense I am usually fresh out of bed taking out the trash with no bra on so really I am doing said neighbor a favor by not subjecting her to that kind of imagery first thing in the morning. My point is, I am pretty good at baking and take great pride in the appearance of my goods.

3. I am a boss at wrapping presents. I like pretty paper and ribbons and bows. I adore cute name tags, and stamps, and all kinds of different embellishments to make the gift that much more special. There is a scene from "Love Actually" that I can totally relate to! It gets me every time. Check it out if you have a minute and need a good laugh!

Gift Wrapping 101

So far Landy hasn't cramped my holiday style too much. Last year he helped with the tree a little bit but mostly just wanted to play with his little people nativity scene. Also, he didn't seem to notice that I re-arranged all the ornaments he so carefully placed on the lower quadrant of the tree. When it comes to cookie making he has always been happy to let me do all the baking and decorating so long as he gets to eat some. His approach has been sort of hands off, he likes to watch me create. These days are long gone! He is coming into his own as a little crafty elf and creator of beautiful things.

So, this will be my year of reckoning. This year I am embracing all things perfectly imperfect and changing the lens through which I define beautiful things. Probably something we could all benefit from in the pinterest perfect allusion of a world we live in.

The Tree:
This year one of my strands of white lights broke. I didn't realize it until I was already committed to decorating the tree. So, this year my tree will only have colored twinkle lights. The other small strand of white lights I had are in Landy's room framing his window. He couldn't be happier. Okay, I can live with that. Also, this year Landy picked the candy canes....he didn't pick the classic and might I add uniform red and white striped ones I like. No, he picked a multi colored variety with Mickey Mouse pictures on the wrappers. They are strategically hung on the lower portion of the tree where he can reach the branches. Some of the branches even have two or three candy canes gracing them. Not sure what his mathematical formula was maybe its too complicated for my simple mind. Typically with my Christmas balls I stick with a color coordinated theme. In years past its been silver, gold, and red. I have some other colors but I don't normally add them to the mix. Well, Landy had other ideas. My tree is covered in a multitude of colored balls. Like the candy canes several; okay most of the lower limbs have multiple balls clustered on them like grapes. Then there is the glory of glories....the box of "special" ornaments. Landy gets an ornament from us every year with the hopes that some day I can lovingly pass this box onto him and his future wife. He has also received some really beautiful ornaments as gifts. Needless to say his little collection is growing. Normally hanging these keepsake ornaments and finding that perfect spot is something I revel in. However, this year Landy couldn't wait to hang all of the "special" ones on his own. Most of them are airplanes so I shouldn't be surprised.... So, while I watched Landy lovingly place ornaments the same way I do my heart instantly melted. I realized to Landy this was the most fun and magical night and he thought the tree was beautiful. He told me over and over how much he loved our tree. I could see the pride on his face and the way he searched for the perfect home for the ornaments. When I stopped to pause and see the tree through his eyes I had to agree. It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. The lights twinkled just so and the ornaments suddenly seemed perfectly placed. My mathematical mind that desires order could see the organized chaos and I loved it. Decorating the tree with him was the best. We laughed and danced to "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" like a thousand times. We ate fruit flavored candy canes (weird) and I told him the stories behind all the "special" ornaments.

Holiday Cookies:
Landy and I baked our first official batch of Christmas cookies. He of course wanted to do rolled sugar cookies and I had to get out all of my cookie cutters....even the dinosaurs. I guess dinosaurs like Christmas too. Normally I just kind of do everything and I save two or three cookies for him to "decorate" and I do the rest. Nope, my little pastry chef wanted to be involved in it all. He ended up covered in flour, sprinkles, and frosting. And plain white frosting wouldn't do. We had to have white, green, red, and yellow..... And of course after seeing me frost the cookies he had to try too. In general I am not good at sharing a kitchen with ANYONE. Its kind of my sanctuary. Its therapeutic for me. I like to think and create in quiet. I lose myself when I am cooking. Try explaining that to a 4 year old! By the end of it all Landy was in cookie heaven. He even discovered the deliciousness that is RAW cookie dough!! Honestly, I can't blame him. If I wasn't pregnant I totally would have joined him! My kitchen counters ended up being covered in cookies, sprinkles, flour, and frosting. My sink was full of measuring cups and frosting covered utensils. A frosting covered beater  I precariously left on the edge of the counter slowly dripped frosting onto the floor and sprinkles of all colors covered the floor like annoying beach sand. No matter where I stepped sprinkles were attaching themselves to my feet like leeches....I can't stand feeling dirt or crumbs under my feet. During all of this Landy was totally in his element enjoying the moment. Once I let all the messy stuff go I was free to join him and I'm glad I did. I reminded myself that once we were done having fun I could sweep and mop the floor. The dishes would get done and my counters would be clean again. But the moments we were creating together were little treasures I could lock away in my memory for days when he is grown and doesn't care about frosting dinosaur cookies.

I realize I can easily re-arrange the tree when Landy goes to bed but what message would that send? I don't want to undermine his contributions and his view of beauty. I think his perspective is better than mine anyway. The lens he sees the world through is raw and unfiltered. He isn't comparing our tree to anything. Its beauty stands on its own, and that's saying something. He isn't worried about anyone else's impossible standards or really what it boils down to once we become adults is our own impossible standards. While he is young and his mind is free I want to let him experience his own unbiased ideas about beauty and contentment. As far as the cookies go I think I'll keep them for the two of us. Not because they aren't good enough to gift but because someone else might not appreciate how beautiful they actually are. Other people wouldn't know that these cookies were actually better than the bakery shelf worthy cookies I would deliver in perfect packages. Our cookies are just too good to share if that makes sense.

This holiday season is shaping up to be one full of joy and love and laughter. I'm glad Landy reminds me to see past consumerism and the bright and shiny pictures of staged homes and trees we see in catalogs and advertisements. I'm glad that even though our cookies may not be pinterest worthy they are perfectly imperfect  and making and creating them with Landy is one of the sweetest and most beautiful moments I will cherish forever. For now I get to remain the wrapper of presents so I'll let my OCD run wild in that arena.

Here are some little gems from the holiday season so far.....

Seriously better than any bakery display case cookie

How I found the nativity scene this morning.....

I LOVE that Santa is chilling with the wise men....He even brought gifts! Oh, and I just realized the angel is missing and has been replaced by a camel. Nice Landy....Nice.

Landy's world is way too cool! I see the angel wanted to hang with the shepherd and Santa's Elf.

Sidenote: There are so many people who want to fight and argue about Santa vs. the Nativity....My 4 year old just figured this super complicated issue out. Why not combine and get the best of both worlds!! I swear he is a genius!

Once again Landy, thanks for the dose of beautiful reality and perspective!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Good Ol' Fashioned Lickin'.....

I am fiercely aware of the testosterone that freely runs through my home. My dog still has his balls....hmmmm, maybe I should do something about that... I have my Landy and my second man-child; my husband Austin who together are like a testosterone driven ball of Tasmanian Devil energy. In case you didn't know, there are such things as Tasmanian Devils....I always thought they were the imaginative animated creations of some brilliant woman's mind who perfectly captured MAN-kind (of course not woman-kind).

In any event, I thrive on this BOY energy. I love it! I love tickle fights, and zombie/monster chases, wrestling, you name it! I blame it on my own child-hood. Tickle fights and wrestling were prominent! My brother, sister, and I reveled in fighting for our lives against our evil dad tickle monster. Though I have to admit, he always won....we always ended up screaming out "Uncle" just before we took what was sure to be our last breaths because we just knew our lungs would explode from all the laughter! You could always be sure my mom would be in another room yelling at my dad to stop wrestling and rough housing. Now I understand....this is one of a mother's most important jobs. I mean, if it weren't for our interventions who knows what would happen to our children! Because like I said.....we need to remember our husbands are really just giant man-children trapped in big strong bodies and I am so glad for it. It never fails, I can wrestle and play with Landon but the second my husband joins in it goes to a WHOLE-NOTHA-LEVEL..... Suddenly I am painfully aware that Landy's body seems to be twisted up like a pretzel while Austin torturously tickles him. I imagine Landy loosing an eyeball to one of the sharp corners on our head-board while he is tossed around like a rag-doll. Basically, I imagine anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And suddenly I become my mother. I yell at Austin to stop, I scream that he is playing to rough, I try and scare Landy and tell him he is going to crack his head open.....but this blinds and deafens both of my boys to the peril they face!

However a couple of days ago I feel like I won a very important battle in this war... It all started innocently enough. The three of us were wrestling and tickling each other when suddenly I realized my little boy was no longer on my team...Normally we always gang up on Austin and its just glorious. If Austin tries to tickle me Landy comes to my rescue and I have to admit I LOVE it! We have this alliance, almost like a club and its very exclusive....I am trying to soak it up while I can. I think my glory days are coming to an end. Landy's new favorite thing to do is LICK me....


The more I hate it the more he loves to do it. His eyes actually light up and he almost looks evil. He sticks his tongue out and makes the most grotesque moaning sound....I try to act like it doesn't bother me so I don't encourage him but he knows....somehow he knows that licking is my achilles heel....
BESIDES...the second he starts making his weird noise Austin starts laughing hysterically which only fuels Landy more. Its actually scary the pleasure he takes in this kind of torture....A part of me thinks this is karma on my brother's behalf. When I think of all the creative and evil ways I tortured my little brother I know that I deserve it. SIDENOTE: Josh, you should be honored! Licking was one of the things he hated most and I loved nothing more than pushing him over the edge until he was in tears. Also, I made him eat one of MY boogers when we were younger.....I know, I know, I am beyond evil. Don't worry though. If memory serves me correctly he cried and told my dad and then I was forced while crying about how unfair it was to eat one of his boogers....

Anyway, there we were wrestling in the bed, Landy crawling all over me trying to lick me while I feebly attempted to fight him off. He is actually very strong and of course because he is little I can't fight him off the way I would Ausin. If Austin starts acting like he wants to join in and lick me I shut it down! I let him know he will be kicked somewhere very specifically. And when I say it, he knows I mean it...So he just sits idly by laughing and encouraging Landy.... I thought for sure all had been lost. I finally escaped and turned Landy's attention to his daddy. Suddenly I was free. I left the room to regain my composure while Landy's delighted screams and laughter followed me through the house. As usual I could tell the playing and wrestling was reaching the danger zone. I screamed several times for Austin to "take it down a notch"! Sadly my pleas were ignored. I was in the middle of screaming some more when the belly laughing finally got to Landy. He had laughed so hard he started coughing and choking. I SCREAMED at Austin to "Stop, give him a chance to breathe"!

It was too late....Next thing I know Landy is projectile vomitting ALL over my bed. Austin promptly sat him up where a very confused Landy tried to catch his breath. He took him into the bathroom where he threw up some more in the shower. I called him a few choice names (in front of Landy) and scolded him....I then proceeded to strip the bed and take our bedding to the laundry room all the while muttering things under my breath like Donald Duck...Me and that Donald Duck have a lot in common, although I don't imagine Donald's rants include a multitude of 4-letter words. FYI, I did apologize to Austin later. I like to think I gained some valuable ground that day. Maybe next time Austin and Landy will heed my advice.... And I have to say to my own mom...I am so sorry for the torture we all put you through. I get it, you were just trying to save us from irreparable damage and being maimed for life...

Honestly how I feel about Austin and Landy sometimes! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Scarlett Letter

I think most people are familiar with the premise of the book "The Scarlet Letter". The main character is found guilty of adultery and is publicly shamed and humiliated. She is made to wear a scarlet "A" so that everyone knows she is an adulteress. There is obviously a lot more to the story but this post isn't about doing a book review. Its not even about adultery, although my scarlet letter is also the letter "A". This post is about abortion....not just abortion, but my abortion.

While my abortion has remained largely a secret and I have never been publicly humiliated or shamed I have carried the guilt and shame for 12 years. No one has made me feel this way, though when I hear the words and blanket statements people make about women who have chosen abortion I am so glad that it is my secret. The feelings I have about my own abortion have not been pushed on me by the church or conservatives, or even the pro-life movement. They are feelings and revelations about what I did that I have realized on my own, through personal experience and lots and lots of research.

So, why after 12 years am I sharing my experience? Honestly, because I feel the Lord leading me to do so. It's not something I necessarily WANT to share, and up until recently I have never felt compelled to share my experience. I prefer to keep it my secret. It's easier to compartmentalize that experience and I have convinced myself that since it happened in the past thats where it belongs, never to be discussed. A few months back in my women's bible study we were doing the study "Move On: When Mercy Meets Your Mess". One night the author herself revealed her secret. She had an abortion when she was a teenager. This is going to sound weird but I was so relieved. Up until that point in the study she just seemed to have it all together. Like she was the "perfect" Christian, the christian I could only aspire to be. She knew her bible,  and she was so spiritual. She is a woman you know is spirit filled. She seemed to have the answers for everything. In my mind she was NOT the "kind of person" who would have an abortion.... My pastor once said in his message that we impress people with our strengths but its through our brokenness that we bond. I know exactly what he means now. The author went on to discuss the aftermath of that abortion and what that looked like as she grew up and matured and changed. Then when she became a Christian she talked about feeling like its not something you share with the church or your christian friends, its too shameful and you don't know what people will say. When she did finally open up and share she talked about feeling an enormous weight being lifted. In revealing her secret she could also talk about the glory of God and how he heals and restores. She mentioned the term "It is Finished" and how when Jesus declared that on the cross before he died he overcame sin and death. Coincidentally I have "It is finished" tattooed on my wrist because there is something so powerful and beautiful about that statement. In my mind its a victory cry. The bible says "death where is your sting"! Its amazing and beautiful what was accomplished that day on the cross. The song lyrics from  "Forever" sum it up perfectly:
"The war on death was waged, the power of hell forever broken" "His perfect love could not be overcome, now death where is your sting" "Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated"

Ahhh, I could go on with these beautiful lyrics and what they mean. If you haven't heard the song check this link out.

At the end of the study she gave the women a verbal challenge to share the burdens on our own hearts. I literally felt that the Lord was speaking to me....maybe other women felt it too but like me were too scared to open up. I was internally wrestling with God. I mean, I didn't know the women in my group like that. I didn't feel safe, I felt terrified...what would they think...Thats the one thing about church...sometimes its easier to keep things surfacey because we are afraid to go deeper. We are afraid of the knowing looks and the judgement. As christians sometimes we feel like we are supposed to have it all together. We are really just alienating ourselves from each other and to be quite frank the secular world. And so I would challenge Christians to get comfortable sharing  the broken parts of our lives. If you are scared then just remember that at the end of the day it isn't about the brokenness that you are sharing but about the restoring that the Lord does. We are walking examples and miracles proving what God's grace and mercy can do in our hearts if we allow Him. If someone can't get past the brokenness and the ugliness about past sin and struggle then they are just totally missing the point. Unfortunately, I was not obedient to God that night, my faith wasn't strong enough. I kept my mouth shut and talked about something safe and surfacey. But you know what....ever since then this feeling that I need to share my experience has only intensified. And with all of the planned parenthood scandals going on now and all the sharing of different videos via social media the abortion topic is taking center stage again. I'm sure all of the debates and discussions surrounding the Republican candidate hopefuls has helped spark all the controversy as well. In any event my heart has been stirred again and the feeling will not go away. Again, I have been wrestling internally. Trying to talk God out of His plan. I keep trying to point out weaknesses and flaws I perceived because I am uncomfortable... I talked to my husband about it hoping that if I pointed out it could embarrass him as well he would tell me not to do it. I talked to my mom who only found out the truth a couple of years ago hoping the shame and embarrassment it might cause her would be enough for her to say it wasn't a good idea to share. I told God; "Well what about my in-laws (my FIL is a pastor and he and my MIL are two of the Godliest people I know) and people in their congregation who know me....they might be embarrassed, think differently of me....or worse, what if they can't love me anymore. What if my worse fears come true? All of these arguments I know God heard, I know he knows the turmoil I am feeling emotionally. And the thing is....I'm STILL supposed to share this ugly part of my past, the brokenness that was me.

Sunday, as in 3 days ago I was still trying to find a way around it. I skipped church that day but needed something. I needed my spirit fed. So, I went to my old church's (Living Waters) website and listened to one of the recordings. There is a new pastor on staff and I was curious about what his message style was. I listened for about 10 wasn't boring or anything it just wasn't speaking to me....I think the Lord knew what I needed to hear. I went back to the list of recorded sermons and saw that the worship pastor had spoke. She is one of my favorite people in this world and consequently one of my female heroes. She is just the real deal. She is genuine and IS one of the Godliest people I know. For her it isn't for show its WHO she is. Anyway, the title of her message was "Choices" how perfect is that! She talked about how difficult it can be to give up the comfort of the familiar for the challenge of the unknown. She was talking about the story of Peter and him placing his faith in Jesus and stepping out in faith to walk on the water. It was as if this message was meant for me to hear that day. God calls Christians to walk out our faith all the time and we have to choose between comfort or challenge and apathy or obedience. She said that when God calls us to walk out our faith we have to know no one else can take our place. No one else can step out of the boat for us. She said its okay to be terrified, wrestling with fear and faith is normal. I LOVE that she pointed out that too often we want to focus on Peter's failure because his faith wasn't strong enough. Although Peter's faith was not perfect it pleased God. Jesus did not condemn Peter, Jesus appreciates that there is value in our failures because there is opportunity to learn. The point of the story is not the failure, the point is his success. Peter got out of the boat, he experienced walking out his faith. A key takeaway for me was this; Jesus is not as concerned with our failures as we are...he is more concerned with the possibility that we may never know what its like to walk on the water.  DONT overthink it, don't make it complicated, if we are being called to do something just do it, step out into the unknown. Stop analyzing, stop listing out the pros and cons, don't ask God to map out the path just obey...As I sat there listening to this message with tears in my eyes I was reminded of my Father's love for me. He knew the exact words I needed to hear to feel emboldened and comforted. I have had several really special encounters with Jesus in my life and when you experience Him you know it because it changes you forever.

So after 12 years I am finally going to surrender my secret.

I had an abortion the Summer after I graduated high school. I had just turned 18, was accepted at the University I most wanted to attend, had my roommate assignment and was just excited at what the future held. I knew I had the Summer to party with friends before the fall semester started. I was about to embark on the greatest journey I could imagine!

Imagine my surprise when I found out I was pregnant. Although, I shouldn't have been that shocked. I had gone to a party and basically had a one night stand.... Um, I don't know if ANYONE knows this because I lied to everyone I ended up telling. The truth is I had unprotected sex. I don't even like admitting that to myself. Its funny how we adopt the lies we tell others. I thought that if people believed I had tried to be responsible maybe it would make me less responsible for the abortion I ended up having. I never intended on dating or having any sort of relationship with the man I slept with. Once I knew I was pregnant it was just sort of a given that we would be together. So he was my boyfriend during my short lived pregnancy. I remember being too scared to tell my mom so I wrote her a letter which I gave to her in the car. before she even opened it she knew. I started crying and apologizing. I feel like she took it the way any mom would. From the beginning I had a LOT of mixed feelings. Mostly I did not want to have a child with the man I slept with. That seems harsh I know. He was a nice guy, a good looking guy and a hard worker. I even knew one of his sisters well. But he was older, already had a child that I knew he struggled to take care of financially. I knew that he did not have his high school diploma and I wondered about what our future would look like as a family. Me a kid, the unpredictability of what his future looked like, both of our families had their own sets of emotional baggage and to be frank I did not want to bring a baby into that situation. I was actually quite interested in adoption. I felt it was the best of both worlds. However, I did not get the family support I was hoping for. I feared that the baby would end up being raised by one of our families or that the baby's father would try to raise the baby on his own. I couldn't imagine those scenarios. I was pro-choice but for my own values and personal beliefs I wasn't sure I could choose abortion. I was in this perpetual state of limbo.... Also denial would rear its ugly head and I did things like play rough soccer hoping I would miscarry, I smoked pot a few times, I even drank alcohol a few times. I was so afraid that my baby was going to be deformed or mentally impaired because of my reckless behavior. I had no regard for the sanctity of the life that was in me. In my mind I would clearly be the worst parent. Eventually abortion was on my mind more and more. As the pregnancy progressed further and further along I felt this enormous pressure to hurry up and choose. I had already missed the point where I could have a non-surgical abortion. I knew it was going to have to be surgical. I also knew once I got through my first trimester I had no choice in the matter. I had what must of been my 12 pr 13 week appt. coming up and I remember waiting until just a few days before that to finally decide to go through with the abortion. I felt like adoption was out for me and getting rid of my baby seemed better for him or her.... I know that sounds crazy to some but thats what I had convinced myself. And a huge part of me was truly terrified that something would be wrong with my baby physically. I know now that is very unlikely which saddens me terribly today that I was so misinformed. I also want to be honest and its not like I was only concerned with the future welfare of my baby. I personally could not imagine a different course for my life other than the one I had plotted out for myself. I was determined and ambitious. A baby had no place in my college plan. A baby was inconvenient.

Never-mind this inconvenience was a direct result of my irresponsible sexual behavior. So, a couple of friends offered to drive me to St. Louis to the abortion clinic. I had no money to pay for this so I asked the father if he would give me the money. I can't remember but it was either $700 or $800. He gave it to me. I knew he didn't WANT me to do it but he supported MY decision to abort OUR baby. I want to point out that I do think fathers deserve a say in the matter, it was his baby too. We headed to St. Louis and I couldn't tell you anything about the 2+ hour car ride up there. I can tell you I was terrified. I imagined there would be hundreds of protesters outside the clinic with signs and posters. That day there weren't. I think there were maybe two or three people but I did not make eye contact and if they said anything I don't remember.

Once inside everything is sort of a blur. I know I was given an oral medication to soften my cervix to help prepare me for the surgery. I feel like it was hours of waiting. I did have an ultra sound but I was not shown the image nor did I ask to see. I know this practice is very controversial and I understand why. You can't argue the humanity of a fetus when you see that ultra sound image. I would find this out years later when I was pregnant with my son. I can remember going into what I would call a locker room where other girls were and we were given hospital gowns to change into. As I went into my stall and pulled the curtain shut I knew it was too late to change my mind. Actually, I still wonder about this. I think I assumed because I took the oral medication I had reached the point of no return. After I was in my gown I handed my personal belongings to a nurse and followed her into the surgery "room". It wasn't its own room though....It was like this big open floor with lots of procedure tables...I can tell you this, it felt dirty, almost like a factory feel. I wondered if I was just one of a hundred girls about to have this very personal procedure done out in the open. Im sure there were curtains to separate us girls from one another but this was just the impression I had at the time. Once on the table I couldn't stop shaking or crying.  When I say shaking I don't mean trembling. I was violently shaking. Im not sure they would have been able to do the procedure if I hadn't stopped. My nurse was holding my hand and squeezing it. It was comforting. I was then given a shot in my thigh and told it was going to be okay. As soon as I got the shot I remember feeling nothing. I was awake but completely unaware of my surroundings. I don't remember the sounds of the machines or even the way it felt which is a blessing to me. I must have fallen asleep because I just remember waking up in the recovery room. There were other girls in there too. Some were crying, some were just sitting there calmly. I remember crying and then getting up because I needed to throw up in the bathroom. It was awful.

After, my friends took me to the hotel room we had booked. If I remember correctly that was one of the stipulations of the abortion clinic. I had to stay within a certain driving distance the first night in case of complications. Anyway, I remember telling my friends to go do something and that I just needed to sleep. when I woke up hours later there was blood everywhere. Hotel sheets are always so white and the blood was so red and there just seemed like so much of it. I was really embarrassed. I remember nothing about the next day or the ride home from St. Louis. I had previously told my mom that I was going to the lake for the weekend which was not out of the ordinary for me so I wasn't too worried about seeing her. I had already made up the story I was going to tell her. As far as she or anyone else was ever going to know I had gone to the Lake with friends and had decided to ride jet-skis. I told everyone I must have just ridden too roughly because later that night in the shower I had a miscarriage and lost the baby. I just told my mom there was a lot of blood and blood clots. She of course was worried and freaked out. She tried to convince me to go to my doctor. She said the baby could be okay. She also said that if I had in fact lost the baby I needed to be checked out for my own safety. I convinced her that I had my next appt. in the next day or two and would just stick with that. I was clearly upset so Im sure she was afraid to push the issue. I just remember going into my room and sobbing uncontrollably. I prayed to God and told him how sorry I was, I told my baby how sorry I was. I held my stomach and just sobbed for the life that I chose to end.

Several days letter when I did go to the doctor I insisted on my mom waiting outside because I knew I couldn't lie to the doctor about this and didn't want my mom in the room. The doctor was getting ready to do an ultrasound and I told her there was no point and there would be no heartbeat. When she asked why for the first time I said aloud "because I had an abortion so there is no baby". I feel bad for the doctor because I think she was genuinely shocked. She didn't seem to know how to respond. For all I know she was pro-life and just did not know what to say to me. I had her reassure me that my medical records were private and that I did not want my parents ever finding out about the abortion. I don't remember having an exam or anything else that was said. I left the office told my mom that yes I had lost the baby and I didn't want to talk about it. For me life went on....

I did not go to college that fall but did go for the Spring semester. I still got to share a room with my friend, I broke things off with the father of that baby and never spoke to him again. I don't know if his family knows the truth or not. I am sorry to them and to him. The only people that know I had an abortion are the father, and my two friends who took me to St. Louis, my counselor at the time knew, and I later told my sister. Other than that my husband knows and another one of my best friends know. I told my mom a few years ago so I assume my dad knows. So that is the background, its ugly and sad and I carry the guilt. In fact instead of being lessened over the years its grown.

These are the things I wish  I would have known before I had an abortion.

1. I wish would have known how emotionally wrecked I'd be afterwards. I wish that I would have known I would immediately regret the decision. I wish I would have known that afterwards for months seeing pregnant woman and infants would almost bring me to my knees...even in public.

2. I wish I would have had actual knowledge and an understanding of fetal development.  Seeing an ultra sound and having the baby's developmental stage explained to me may have been a game changer. I'm not sure how keeping girls in the dark about reproduction and how a baby develops actually helps young women make informed decisions. How is it really a choice if you don't have all the information. Its like lying by omission. There are lots of girls like me who were and are on the fence about abortion. This isn't about a guilt trip or convincing them one way or another, its about showing them the evidence and letting them decide. I have heard some say that showing girls images of ultra sounds before an abortion is like torture.....Don't people realize that more likely than not at some point these girls are going to see one some day....what then?

3. I wish that abortion clinic counselors would stop using terms like "product of pregnancy", "mass of cells", even the term "fetus" can be misleading. I don't know that there is room for political correctness when it comes to discussing the humanity of a fetus or baby. Why aren't we allowed to talk about what babies are doing in the uterus at different stages? Is it because it makes people too uncomfortable??

4. I wish that I had actually known what an abortion procedure entails. Not the cliff notes version but the unabridged version. In an effort to understand I have done lots of research. I have watched videos, seen doctors speak on the various ways abortion procedures are deformed and how that changes based on how progressed the pregnancy is. When you lay it all out; ALL of it, it's funny how suddenly its a little bit harder to use terms like product of pregnancy, its hard to pin point the exact age of viability. It's hard to know the whole truth and continue to argue that a fetus has absolutely no rights. If a picture is worth a thousand words than seeing the real and true images of aborted babies, body parts and the tissue that is recovered during abortion should not be censored from the public because it's tough to see, or because the mother may feel guilty. Shouldn't these images and discussions be happening before that decision is made? How can we make the big decisions that are being made without all the facts. The FACT that these things offend our consciences so much is pretty telling. Since educating myself with information from BOTH pro-lifers and pro-choicers I finally think I have a clear understanding of what my choice to have an abortion all those years ago means.

5. I wish I would have know that someday when I had the baby I "wanted" I would feel so guilty about even being able to conceive a child. I wish I would have know that during the entire pregnancy I would fear losing my baby NOT by choice.

6. I wish I would have known that when my doctor asked about my pregnancy past while I was pregnant with my son that I would relive the shame and regret while sitting in a paper gown and answering "Yes, I have been pregnant before and it ended in an abortion".

7. I wish I would have known that I will forever wonder what that baby would have looked like, been like, if it would have been a boy or girl. I wish I would have known that I am forever calculating the age that baby would be if he or she was alive.

8. I wish I would have known that looking at my son and knowing the love I have for him would sometimes make me feel immense guilt for not appreciating the life and the potential of that beautiful life that I ended.

9. I wish I would have known that someday I would have a real miscarriage and feel that I so deserved it for my lack of respect for human life. I wish I would have known that the only difference between the two losses were my attitude and desire to have or not have a child. Just because my very first pregnancy was unwanted doesn't mean that child was any less alive or any less important. My attitudes and beliefs are subjective not the baby's life.

10. I wish that the movie "Juno" had been out when I was a teenager. That seems silly but that movie really spoke to me and I think Juno's character is a hero. Her scenario is what I wish I had been brave enough to do. I wish that adoption was more focused on. Not that every girl has to decide that But I think in the pro-life/pro-choice war adoption often takes a back seat. I want to raise awareness about that as an option. Celebrate the gift of adoption to the child and the adoptive family. I would LOVE to see more ad campaigns and funds raised to push awareness for that. How about federal funding for that agenda. It still honors women's rights and the rights of the baby.

11. I wish I would have known that someday when I had children I would see their ultra sounds and know that the argument that fetus's don't have rights is something I could never support. When you see a baby moving and kicking around and waving and swallowing and hiccuping how can you say that fetus, baby, child, whatever has no rights. When you see the flash of the heartbeat as early as 6 weeks how can you say that baby isn't alive or a life worth fighting for. I wish I would have known what it is to feel your baby move inside your womb. I  just wish I would have known my fetus was a baby. When we use clinical and sterile language we are only de-sensitizing ourselves so that we can stomach the truth about elective abortions. We are tricking ourselves into believing lies. Ignorance is not bliss. Lets stop enabling this laissez fair attitude as it concerns human life and when it starts.

12. I wish I would have known that the guilt and shame is something I will live with for likely the rest of my life. I just wish I would have known more, and understood more about the scope and breadth of the decision I made 12 years ago.

To be clear, I am not against women's rights. And I am not talking about women who are victims of rape or incest. I am not speaking about women and babies who are at severe medical risk if a pregnancy continues. In my opinion those should be considered on a case by case basis and left up to medical professionals, the women, and their families.

I am more concerned with the young women who are on the fence about abortion. I am concerned with young girls and women having multiple abortions and using them as a form of birth control instead of actual birth control. I am concerned with women who just aren't sure if the timing is right, or that they don't have enough money in their savings accounts to comfortably afford a baby. I am worried about girls like me as a teenager  have their whole lives ahead of them and just aren't sure how a baby fits into the plan. Maybe it helps to think of it like "1st world problem abortions". And, trust me I know thats politically incorrect but I think it sums it up nicely. I have to wonder if providing ALL the information instead of the parts more easily sold in a pretty little packages would help change minds and hearts about abortion. Obviously in a perfect world people would just have responsible sex. But that isn't always going to be the case. Women should have all the knowledge and truth before making a life changing choice. I also want to say that the items listed above are my personal experiences and feelings I have had because of my abortion. I do not condemn women who choose abortions. At the end of the day I just want women to make well informed and educated decisions. I feel like I didn't get that. I want abortion talks to be real and honest, not sugar coated. I want adoption to be as much of an option as abortion. After researching and reading from tons of women who opt to have abortions for numerous reasons I noticed something. Most of the time the women seemed to feel like abortion was their ONLY option. On these sites I didn't see any mention or talk  about adoptions, I'd love to see that change.

I think my scarlett letter will always be a part of who I am. I don't want it to consume me or run my life. I am glad that my life is so much bigger than the sum of my past mistakes. I am so glad that my Heavenly Father sees me as beautiful. He doesn't see me as broken and damaged the way the world might. He took my brokenness and restored me. He has a purpose for me and my life. Even when I can't forgive myself he has already forgotten. I want to see people the way he sees them, I want to love people the way he does. He has transformed my heart and my life and I will never be the same. I hope that other women like me who feel the guilt and shame are able to find hope and healing. Its a tough secret to bear alone. When I find myself hoping and wishing that others will show me grace it reminds me to approach people in my life with grace instead of judgement and condemnation. Hopefully I can bond with someone through sharing my brokenness. I know that other women who have allowed themselves to be vulnerable have really blessed me and that is really what I hope to do with sharing this story.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

When I'm Old..

I started keeping a journal for Landy almost as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I would just write him little things I was thinking, things I was excited for, finding out he was going to be a boy, and now I write little love letters to him and just funny little things about him as he hits various milestones and stages. It's funny because you think as a parent you have so much to teach your kids and we do....But man do they teach us life's most important lessons. I was re-reading some old entries and there is this underlying theme of being thankful to him for opening my eyes and teaching me about love and life. Landy adds the color to my world... Crayola doesn't have a chance at naming some of them. Beautiful and rich colors so bold and unique they can't be confined to a name or a label. Its a beautiful thing.

Landy taught me to be a mommy....

The last memory I was sharing with him was about a time I asked him if he would take care of me when I'm old. Okay, maybe a serious question but I did just read the book "Love you Forever" so thats my excuse...

Disclaimer: If you haven't read this beautiful story PLEASE for the love of tears have tissues handy. It's a story about the evolving love of a mother and her son... I'm so impressed that this author and illustrator could capture a story like this so eloquently and beautifully that it literally brings tears to your eyes yet its a children's book. That is quite and accomplishment. Anyway, after reading this book (to myself) and crying (privately) I nonchalantly asked Landy if he would look after me when I'm old. Without a moment's hesitation he said "Yes". I asked him what we would do.

When I'm Old.....

Landy will drive me around, he will take me to the library to read and do puzzles. He will drive me to Barnes & Noble so we can play trains together at the train table.

He will cook me chicken nuggets (consequently this is HIS favorite food) and we will eat fruit snacks together. Oh, and he will get me coffee from Starbucks.

We will go on adventures together. FYI adventures are when we walk in the woods and see the extraordinary in the ordinary. We have an adventure bag and we collect rocks, feathers, sticks, (especially if they are shaped like a "Y") pine-cones, etc....Oh, one time we saw a dead bird and he threw a fit b/c I wouldn't let him bring it home.....I asked him what we would do with it...He said put it on the kitchen counter. Oh my melt my heart.

He will sing me "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" every night before bed.

Oh, he will also mow the lawn for me.

I know this may seem silly but I was thinking about how special the moment actually was. As parents its so easy to doubt ourselves and beat ourselves up over our mistakes and failures. They seem so big and important and because we obsess over them we assume our kids will too. I think that couldn't be further from the truth. Its the little everyday things we do and say, the silly things we don't give a second thought to that shape our children's views and hearts. Those silly things I do with Landy make him feel loved and taken care of and what bigger compliment than to have him say he would do those things for me. It was like seeing myself as a mother through Landy's eyes....He thinks I am fun, he likes spending time with me, I make him feel safe and secure. It was such a sweet moment of affirmation that I never expected from such a silly question. I know that Landy KNOWS I love him and that is an amazing feeling. In Landy's eyes I am enough. I swear, my sweet boy has stolen my heart right from my chest!

And Landy, know that I am holding you to this...Consider this a signed contract!

One of the last pictures in the book where it is inferred that his mother dies.....'nuff said

Oh, Landy....Thanks for adding the color to my world!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends -John 15:13

I have always considered myself to be a patriotic person. I love my country and I have the deepest respect for those men and women who devote all or part of their lives whether it be for a day, a month, or years in service to our country through the armed forces. I think growing up for most of my childhood on various military bases as a "military brat" definitely shaped a lot of my view points and values. If you haven't lived on base then its just not something you would understand. I don't mean for that to sound elitist but it really is different. It's almost its own sort of sub culture. Everyone has some big things in common. You move all the time so you totally get what its like being the new kid, therefore being the new kid isn't a big deal, you make friends fast and easy. You keep in touch with your friends because even when you move away you may see them at the next base. This used to happen to me all the time. I saw a kid I was in 3rd grade with while I lived in Okinawa several years later when my dad was stationed in North Carolina. It was crazy! I feel like the  friendships forged between those serving together and their spouses are more like the relationships you have with family because you don't have family nearby. You just sort of adopt each other, you become each other's family. There is such a sense of comradery and community that I have never experienced in any other "civilian" neighborhood or town I've lived in. Anyway, I have one more special memory to share and I'll move on! I can distinctly remember being outside on the playgrounds playing with friends and stopping in our tracks when it was "colors" time. You could be in the middle of the most intense game of tag and when that song came on signifying the lowering of the flag and you knew you had better stop and stand up straight. My favorite part is that there were no  adults around, it was just something you did. It was something every kid did. Okay..I more thing that just gets me is the National Anthem. It does something for me, maybe its cheesy but I can't hear that song and not get teary eyed. Last thing I promise.....another song that just gets me....every time... America the Beautiful when Ray Charles sings it. I get goosebumps for days! Thanks for going down memory lane with me.

I guess with Memorial Day being tomorrow I am just really reflective and grateful. I can never repay those brave soldiers who died while serving, but I can give them all of my respect, remembrance, and honor. And I do. I am so proud to be an American and I never want to take for granted their sacrifices. I was thinking about all of the friends and families of fallen soldiers who have had to move on in life without their loved ones and I was just overcome with gratitude to them as well...
they sacrifice too; often silently.

This is hard to admit but in the past it has been easier for me to think of those fallen as only seems simpler and more sterile to think this way.  My heart breaks if  I allow myself to think of the humaneness of the fallen and the loved ones left behind to pick up the pieces of their lives. But this year and from now on I want to give my respect by recognizing and truly grasping the gravity of their sacrifice. I don't want to shy away because the truth isn't pretty and simple. So even though I can barely type these words without crying (and thats okay) here are some of those other titles those who love and miss them would use to define them. Titles like; daddy, momma, daughter, son, best friend, comrade, partner in crime, hero, brother, bubba, sister, sissy, teacher, coach, mentor, companion, lover, husband, wife, fiancĂ©, school mate, grandpa, grandma, grandson, granddaughter, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, favorite person...I can't even begin to list all of the roles these men and women fill, this infinite list will never be complete.

I know Memorial Day is "said" to be the start of Summer and sometimes in the excitement of the weekend its easy to lose sight of the true meaning. I'm all for BBQ's and picnics, and friends gathering together. In fact, I think it's awesome that their sacrifice can be remembered and celebrated when we come together in like mindedness and appreciation for all the freedoms we have. It's also a great opportunity to talk to our kids about Memorial Day. Landy and I made cupcakes for our church's picnic today and we added little flags to them. He is only 3 but I did explain to him that soldiers died trying to protect us and keep us safe and sometimes keeping other people safe in other places. He got it as much as a 3 year old can but I want to establish early on respect and reverence for those who serve.

So in the midst of our fun celebrating maybe we can just remember to say and extra prayer of gratitude for those who gave their lives and for their families who may or may not be celebrating this weekend. I plan on setting an alarm on my phone so that at 3P tomorrow I can show a fraction of my gratitude and respect with a moment of silence where I truly take the time to acknowledge the depth and weight Memorial Day holds.

I came across a quote by George S. Patton and I thought he had an interesting way of thinking of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. He said; "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived"

I don't know if I can completely get behind every word but I totally get the sentiment.

I did and will celebrate this Memorial Day weekend but I will also remember.

Flag Cupcakes

They were as good as they looked!

He was very proud of his "USA" cupcake!

Also, he HAD to decorate w/ Christmas trees because what could be more American....

I dropped some frosting and obviously it is frosting poop and its hilarious and its delicious on graham crackers! Oh Landy!

He was so excited for the picnic!

See what I mean!

Something I just loved about this picture! It seems so "Americana"

Seriously...if someone captured me doing this it would be grotesque NOT adorable!

Landy and Bella sittin in a tree.....
NOT k-i-s-s-i-n-g  see what I did there........
Landy's other sweet friend..too cute not to share! Poster girl for all American girl next door!

They fell, but o'er their glorious grave floats free the banner of the cause they died to save. 
-Francis Marion Crawford

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Mother's Heart

I love Mother's day. For me its a day for reflection. Not only of my own mother but for all the women who have impacted my life. I feel so blessed to have been loved on and impacted by so many strong and beautiful women. In church today we honored all of the mothers, and then our Pastor took it a step further and asked that we honor all women who have a mother's heart. He pointed out that because we are wonderfully made in God's image a mother's heart mirrors Jesus' own heart. Like we love our own children unconditionally so our Heavenly Father loves us. Of course our Father's love surpasses any earthly love we can experience,  even the love we have for our children. I am thankful that we get to experience even just a taste of the love He has for us. I am so completely honored and blessed to be Landy's mama.

Today I just want to bask in the glow of motherhood. Thanks Landy for making me a mommy and for teaching me more than I ever imagined about this life and love!

This picture perfectly captures the essence of who Landy is! I can't wait to see who you become!

Just a couple of goofballs! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!
Heart Stealer....always has been, always will be!
My Mother's Day card from Landy this year is my favorite so far! He picked it out because it had roses on the front. I like that he thought of me when he saw it. Also, he told Austin to write and I quote: "I love you more than the stars in the sky" -Snickerdoodle Landy

I can't even..... touché Landon!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Summertime, and the livin' is easy!

It's official, the ice cream truck proves it, Summer is right around the corner! I love Summer and all that it represents. The sounds and the smells of Summer bring back so many of my own fond childhood memories. Summertime was simply the best. Summertime and the freedom it brings is like a right of passage in childhood. Summers are when I had some of my favorite adventures and I hold onto the memories like they are precious gems, because they are.

I have a feeling this is going to be a regular occurrence!

Summertime means sweaty brows and dirty bare feet, it's eating way too many popsicles, its chasing fireflies, its endless days of playing outside all day, every day. It's impromptu picnics, and long bike rides. Its picking your mom dandelion bouquets, its smelling like coconut sunscreen and practically tasting the beachy air every time you put it on. It's summer baseball games and fireworks, late nights and early mornings because you can't wait to see what the day holds for you. Its the smell of fresh cut grass, skinned knees, windblown hair, and the sound of the ice-cream truck.
Summertime can be perfectly summed up in one sentence....

-Summertime is always the best of what might be- Charles Bowden

Every summer has its own story and I want Landon's summer stories to be some of his favorite chapters in his life. One of the positive things about moving up North is that Summer is just a little bit sweeter. Living in Naples was amazing and I miss it all the time. It was a perpetual Summer and I loved it, but I can say I appreciate it so much more now. So far, Landy's summer is shaping up to be pretty amazing. There are adventures to be had, friendships to be forged, and ice-cream to be eaten!

Landon has become quite the ladies man in the neighborhood. I didn't even realize there were so many children in the neighborhood. Leave it to blue skies and sunshiny days to bring the kids out! Landy just recently had a picnic with our neighbor's granddaughter. Abby is all he can talk about. My husband took a picture of the two of them sitting under the shade of our huge tree eating their wheel shaped pasta and talking about who knows what....
Oh to be a fly on the wall for that sweet conversation...

This makes me happy! 

Then, another neighbor's 7 year old granddaughter took Landy under her wing like a mama hen and taught him the fine art of hide and seek. Seriously...they were hiding in another neighbor's car. Granted the neighbor said they could I still didn't know whether to laugh or lecture them about "smart" choices! Then, he and Hailey bonded over ice-cream sandwiches and laughed chocalety smiles. It was a delicious moment. I wish I would have captured that. I find myself taking lots of mental snapshots and I really do mentally file the images away. I don't want to be so obsessed with capturing every moment that I miss out on actually experiencing the moment.

Besides, I am always more amazed and impressed by the moments I can't quite capture anyway. Like, how do you capture the innocence of kids and the ease in which they make friends. I love that Landy walks up to other kids no matter where we are and wants to play. He is so brave and uninhibited. I want that to last for awhile. Life.. relationships... its all so un-complicated right now. I want to follow Landy's lead and lead a less complicated life. I want to live in the moment more and I want to be brave and genuine. I want to just be me and be completely and totally comfortable with that. I want to stop over thinking and over complicating life. Ah....another life lesson from my little sensei!

Here are some of our pre-game Summer moments I managed to capture. I know this Summer is going to be great!

Ice Cream Time

Good Choice!

My favorite people in this whole world!

Family Day! We played kickball for like 3 hours! Nothing makes you feel old like being sore after kickball.....

This smile!

It was a good day!

Could nature be more beautiful? I mean, we have flowers slowly drifting down from the trees... 

I feel like I'm in a Dr. Seuss story. I probably wouldn't be shocked if the freaking Lorax popped out!

 The entrance to "our" field! Landy is very impressed that the trees are no longer "maked"

DISCLAIMER....Landy AND I are obsessed with dandelions!

He finally learned how to successfully make a wish and send the wish fairies on their way!

This was a REALLY long dandelion and Landy was enamored!

I'll take a bouquet like this any day!

Even beautiful in black & white....

That yellow though.....

Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air -Ralph Waldo Emerson-  My Summer Motto
We recently went to a carnival so I'll write about that soon because a carney post is always good! Tonight we are off to a baseball game AND fireworks...there will be beer and hot dogs so I am ridiculously excited. Who knows what other adventures Summer holds....I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ode to Boys

This week I am on vacation! I am in Dallas Tx with my husband and Landy is staying with my
in-laws. Being away with Austin in our beautiful resort has almost been like honeymooning again. Laying by the pool, delicious fruity drink in hand, books slowly devoured with no interruptions, coffee that is finished before it goes cold, sleeping naked because I can because I wont have a toddler sleepily climbing into bed with me at 5am, long lazy days that are mine to do with what I want.

Its been wonderful but I do miss my Landy. I can't help but wonder what he is doing, what he is thinking, what new adventures he is having. I see the world through a new lens and even when Landy is hundreds of miles away he is always with me. I know he is in fantastic hands having the time of his life. I also know he is getting everything he wants (aka pancakes and chocolate milk for breakfast everyday) because my mother in law told me so! I know he is being loved on and spoiled and made to feel important and it makes my heart happy!

I am so thankful for Landy everyday. He keeps me centered and grounded and my life is so much better with him in it. He is wild and free and uninhibited. Its beautiful really.
So here in photos because I can't sing is my "Ode to Landy".

I really need to get him some sunglasses!

We had just finished being chased by dinosaurs at the park when I took this picture. 
It was exhausting running from them. Ha, I literally just realized he has a dinosaur shirt on, how perfect!

Landy and his cake pops! His Aunt Beth would have been proud!

This is how I know I am loved....he gives me this leftover piece to eat when he is done!
Some day when Landy is grown I hope we'll talk over coffee about anything and everything!
Mmmm, I am missing his smell. He calls himself my lavender berry!
Oh if I could kiss that face I would.
I think the Missouri country is getting to him. He insisted on no pants and being barefoot! 
My sweet boy stopping to smell the roses, always!
All good things are wild and free -Henry David Thoreau