Peace in wishing: National Infertility Week

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I have invisible babies.
Their names are Matthew and Elisabeth, Abigail and Michael.
I see them sometimes.  Blond hair like their brother, brown eyes like their sister.  Sometimes I am jarred from a dream where I am holding Abigail in my arms while Michael pulls the couch cushions off the couch.
They exist in my imagination only.  They are the babies of my heart, the ones I wanted to have and, barring miracle upon miracle, will not.

But then I remember the years before.  When I had two more imaginary babies, and their names were Joshua and Olivia.
I remember dreaming of them, too.  Of chubby, peanut-butter-and-jelly smeared cheeks and the scent of freshly shampooed hair.  I dreamt of a little boy who pedaled furiously down the sidewalk and a little girl in a black lace dress.  
I remember my then-boyfriend telling me that it was okay if there never was a Joshua or an Olivia. 
I remember, both times, sitting in a doctor’s office saying, I would like a baby.
I remember the wind on the hot summer day as it threatened to blow the prescription I clung so tightly too, all my hope wrapped up in that little piece of paper.

And those September days, both times in September, when there was, joy of joys, miracle of miracles, two pink lines instead of one.

And I remember those days, both times in May, when a red, screaming baby was placed in my arms, and those imaginary babies suddenly had kissable little noses and a very healthy set of lungs.

Someday, perhaps, they will know how very wanted they were.  How Mommy gained far too much weight on fertility drugs and they made her cranky and mad and depressed and tired all at once.  How doctors told Mommy that she could not have children, but God intervened and said oh yes, you can.
Someday, maybe, I will tell my babies about the other babies, the ones that aren’t.  Somewhere in the shadows I will always see them, but lately they’ve been crowded out by the squabbling and messes that come with two very small children.  Not that those imaginary babies would have been any less hoped for or wanted or loved than the two I have in my arms and climbing on my back right now, but the truth is, they aren’t here.
And unless God decides to intervene again, they never will be.

I go back to the story of Hannah.
How she prayed and cried for baby.  How when she was done, after speaking to the priest, she got up, dusted herself off, and went back to her life.  Not that her imaginary babies were not wanted or hoped for or loved, but Hannah knew she couldn’t live in that pain.  She couldn’t wallow any longer in the plight of infertility.  Hannah went her way and ate, 1 Samuel says, and then went home with her husband.
Hannah dried her eyes and went on with her life, not knowing whether or not she would ever have a child, but knowing that the Lord had heard her prayer and that Eli, the priest, had wished her peace.

And so do I.  I cuddle and rock and play with and enjoy the babies that I have.  No, there may never be a multitude of children running through my house, but, truthfully, these two have enough energy for twelve.  And there may always be Michael and Matthew and Abigail and Elisabeth in the back of my mind, what could have been but isn’t, and I am okay with that.
I get up, and eat, and tend to my children, and, like Hannah, go in peace.

When all the world is running out

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My babies,

So many people right now are asking what is wrong with the world.  What is wrong with people that they would plant bombs to kill and maim innocents?  What is wrong with a world where a man can shoot up a kindergarten class, that firefighters and paramedics can be shot while trying to help someone?
Some days, watching the news, it feels like everything is wrong, that the world is upside down, that I am raising you in a world filled with horror at every turn.

Here is the truth: There is much wrong with the world.
And there is so much that is right.

Someday–not until you are much older–you will probably see the footage of yesterday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.  You will probably be able to visualize flying limbs, torn bodies, blood.  But here is what I want you to see when you watch those video clips…see the people in the yellow vests?
See how, when everyone is fleeing the scene, they are running towards it?

Those people, my babies, are everything that is right with this world.  Those are the first responders, whether police, fire, EMS, military, physicians and nurses that were there.  Bystanders with medical training that knew to take their belts off and tourniquet severed stumps where limbs had been blown off, saving lives.  They are people, helping other people.

See how they run in when their world explodes.

Mr. Rogers, in a famous quote, says that when you are scared, when you see scary news, look for the helpers.  The helpers are always there, risking their lives to help someone else.

My babies, I want to take this a step further. 
I want you to be those helpers.
I want you to be brave.  I want you to understand situational awareness, I want you to know about scene safety, I don’t ever want you to recklessly disregard your safety–but I want you  , in that moment where your world explodes, not to run.
I want you to stand still.
I want you to hear those cries for help.
And I want you to be brave, to put others first, whether it’s a national tragedy or helping an elderly woman carry her grocery bags to her car.

In this crazy, crazy world, I want you to always ask yourself, what can I do to help someone else?

My lovely, beautiful, innocent babies, this world can be so cruel.  There is so much horror, so much pain, so much destruction.
There is so much wrong.
And my prayer for you, my goal in raising you, is that you will be all that is right in this world.

Love,

Your Mommy

Clothing wars

I have a 2.5-year-old little boy and a ten-month-old baby girl.
This means that our clothing budget needs to have money in it and that I need to have time to really shop, and three months from now do it all over again when Josh has destroyed his clothes and Livie grown out of hers.
Yes, please laugh at the idea of me having both time and money to clothes shop every few months.  I think it’s a hilarious concept, too, and one I can’t actually imagine.

Enter Ebay.

Where I can sit at home or in the car(since I have the awesome Ebay app on my phone) and type in exactly what I’m looking for.  Last week, I was looking for tunics, and I was able to find two t-shirt tunics that fit perfectly for around $4.99 plus $2.00 in shipping.   I also realized that Olivia needed a dress or two for the still-cold spring months, so I typed in girl dress long-sleeved 12 months.  Ten minutes later, I was the proud owner of a Laura Ashley dress, new with tags, for $1.99 plus $3 shipping, and a floral corduroy dress for $0.99 plus $2.50 in shipping.  Image Image

Then, since my children were still napping, I looked for the next two items on my list–a new pair of boots and some chunky necklaces and bracelets in brown.  By the end of the day, I had all four items on my list, for a grand total, including shipping, of around $28.
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And, by the way, these entire purchases were paid for by the sale of a lot of four pairs of jeans and three shirts that my son had outgrown.  I accomplished all of this while my children napped and I sipped my vanilla hazelnut coffee.

Sold yet?

If you haven’t used Ebay, it’s simple.  Go to ebay.com and sign up.  Make sure you have a paypal account, since it’s required to purchase or sell anything on Ebay.  Paypal has buyer protection, so if you buy an item and don’t receive it, you get your money back.  Once you have paypal set up and an account on ebay, you can start to purchase. Ebay itself will walk you through the process of buying and selling, so there is no need to do that here, but I have a few tips for you:

1) Watch the shipping price.  Most people are pretty reasonable, but there are some who charge exorbitant amounts for shipping.  There is no point in buying a $2.99 dress if you’re going to pay $12 in shipping when you can probably find a similar dress for less.

2) Unless you need something immediately, don’t purchase the first thing you see(unless, of course, it is the exact thing you’ve been searching forever for, then buy it!).  In order to buy something, it has to meet three criteria: I have to like it, I have to need it, and it has to be within a price range I’ve previously set.  Right now I’m looking for a maxi dress. Every 3-to-5 days, I go on ebay and type in “summer maxi dress size medium.”  So far, I haven’t found anything that met all three criteria.  There are enough items being continually posted on ebay that patience will pay off.  If you don’t really like something, don’t buy it just because it’s cheap–you won’t wear it. I keep a list  by my computer of upcoming needs that I’m aware of and use that to search on a regular basis.

3) Set a price range and search buy it.  Also, when you bid on something, you can bid the highest amount that you will pay and Ebay will automatically bid in increments.  This means that if an item is currently at $1 and you are willing to pay $5, bid $5. Ebay, however, will bid $1 for you, and if someone else comes along, the computer will automatically keep bidding against them on your behalf up to your limit. I have a policy that once I’ve bid that limit I won’t rebid, even if someone goes higher.  This keeps me from overspending and, honestly, there are so many items on Ebay that another one will come along.

4) Check out lots.  Lots are groups of clothing or other items; instead of selling them individually, the seller has decided to sell it as a group.  Children’s clothing is often sold in lots; I was recently able to buy 8 pairs of jeans, 5 shirts, 7 onesies and 3 dresses for my daughter for somewhere around $15.  Again, just watch the shipping on these, because there are more items sometimes sellers think they can overcharge for shipping.

Like everything else, Ebay is a tool.  You have to make it work for you.  For me, it works out great.  I’ve been able to get high quality clothing for little money without having to search through a store, and a week or so later it shows up on my doorstep.  Yes, there are downsides–it’s not immediately available like a store would be, so you do have to plan ahead, you can’t try things on(though most sellers will accept returns), and Ebay and paypal do have seller fees, though minimal.  

Ebay has allowed me to save both money and time, and, when you have two little kids running around and a full time job, that means everything.

How about you?  What are your tips to outfit your kids without breaking the bank and losing your mind?

This post is linked at http://trinaholden.com/2013/04/embracing-beauty-link-up-1/

Embracing Beauty: Not Just For Moms

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I was really kind of unsure when I bought this book, mere moments after it was released.  After all, a book about fashion? Me, really?
Plus, the author–Trina Holden–is a tall, willowy, classy woman who is always rocking scarves and cute hairdos, whereas I am short and round and my wardrobe consists solely of navy blue duty pants, white button down uniform shirts, and jeans.  Even the tagline, Practical Style for Every Shape and Season of Motherhood, had me a wee bit concerned–I mean, the only shape my body should be doing now is decreasing.  Was this only a book for women in the maternity stage of life where bodies are increasing and decreasing on a regular basis?  As someone who can’t have more babies, I was concerned that it would make an already raw heart even worse.

I shouldn’t have worried.
While Trina is clearly writing from the perspective of a mother with multiple pregnancies, whose body is continually changing, the ideas are basic and simple.  They are things we’ve heard before–wear colors that look good on you.  Design your wardrobe around those colors.  Accessorize.  However, Trina takes this one step further with ideas on how to incorporate that into a busy mom’s life.  Each chapter lists ways you can put her fashion tips into practice when you don’t have a lot of time and money.  My favorite idea was to create a fashion board on Pinterest, pinning outfits that strike your fancy, then analyze them to really determine what you like.  Are skinny belts prominent?  Loud colors?  Lace?  Use that as a starting point to decide what your particular clothing goals are, then start shopping.  And Trina dedicates a whole chapter to shopping–at thrift stores.

Beyond this, Trina gently reminds us, over and over again, that God is a God of beauty.  That he designed women to be beautiful; that the God who made peacocks and sunsets could not possibly want us to dress dowdy, even when we’re at our busiest.  That modesty is important, but so is feeling lovely.
The day after reading Embracing Beauty, I put on a purple shirt for the first time in forever.  I ordered a cheap lot of chunky necklaces and bracelets that I admired off of Ebay.  I even splurged on a pair of knee high boots I’ve been watching for a while.  I even went to the thrift store and bought a turquoise blouse, simply because I like turquoise.
And I lit candles and cleaned my house, because if I was looking good, I wanted my house to reflect that beauty, too.

I do wish that there was some more discussion about bigger sizes, as far as using color, shape and patterns to deflect the weight we carry.  Some of Trina’s suggestions, like the purchase and use of tunics, just won’t work on my short, size 8/10 body.  Tunics, which I have tried, seem to make my thighs look even bigger. And while I love the idea of thrift stores, I do think that what you’ll find there is very dependent on the local economy.  I have access to three thrift stores, all in economically depressed areas, and they either charge way more than I am willing to pay or have such poor quality clothing that I’m better off going to Walmart.  However, I do like secondhand clothing and can usually find exactly what I’m looking for on Ebay.
Like any author, Trina is writing from her vantage point, and that is as the mom of three–soon to be four–young children. Because of that, there is emphasis on buying clothes that would work through multiple pregnancies and size changes, when, truthfully, that is probably not applicable to the vast majority of women who will never birth more than two children. However, I don’t think this detracted from Trina’s message of bringing beauty into our closets.   The principles are universal, and all women are busy, not just mothers.

Honestly, I’m about to head back into a third reading of this book.  This time, I’m going to seriously work through her suggestions, start thinking about what I want to look like and work towards it.  More than that, Trina has inspired me to bring beauty into our everyday life here at home, making it a reflection of the world God has created.

(And the best part? You can buy it for Kindle or for print off of Amazon.  And I love Kindle books…)  Check the book out on Amazon, and check Trina out at

Addendum:
I was wrong.
This happens occasionally.
I found some t-shirt style tunics off of Ebay, and the price was minimal, so I bought them.  I have not taken the brown one off, because it falls gracefully on the heaviest parts of my body–my thighs and hips.  My new theory is that it’s not the tunics themselves making me look short and fat, it’s been a combination of the material they were made of and never going to the gym.
So I highly support tunics, you just might have to check out different materials to see what works best on your body.

What love is

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My little Livie Kate,

Someday, someone is going to tell you about real love.  It might be a friend, it might be television, it might be the starry eyed lovers in a movie you watch at the mall.  But someone is going to tell you what they believe love is and isn’t.
Someday, you will think you’ve fallen in love.  Your heart will race when you think of him; you’ll want to talk to him all the time; you’ll spend your time flipping through Bridal magazines.  You will believe that no one, not ever under this sun, has ever felt like you do about him.
This is not love.
This is what the world wants you to believe love is, but, really, it isn’t.

Love is what happens after you think you’re in love.
Love is cleaning up after your pregnant wife vomits all the time for nine months straight.  Love is picking up the dirty socks on the bedroom floor after you’ve told him 23,201 times that you can’t stand dirty clothes on the floor.  Love is going to his favorite restaurant even when you’d prefer Panera, which he can’t stand.
Love is when he goes to the store at 3 am for baby formula–the baby formula he told you that you were out of yesterday and you promised you’d get–and never says a word of complaint.  Love is working overtime shifts so you can build your wife the bathroom she so desperately wants.

Love isn’t chocolates or roses or candlit dinners with violins playing in the background.  That is in love, which is a totally different thing.
Love is what happens later, when you live and learn and fight and play together.  Love is when it’s no longer about you want, but about what your spouse wants.

This is love, my Olivia Katherine.  What you see between your father and I–that is love, even when we don’t like each other.  This is a steady love, which, I think, is my favorite kind.
And this is what I wish for you.  A love that is for the ages, a love that will mature over a time, until you are no longer separate branches but have become one tree with roots so deep a hurricane can’t blow you apart.

Until then, watch your father carefully.  Watch how he sacrifices for his family, watch how he loves me, watch how he cares for your and your brother.  Take notes, Liv, and measure all guys against him until you find one that meets all your criteria.

And then fall in love.