Wednesday, February 10, 2016

No Pictures Yet

I've heard that in any kitchen renovation, there is one thing that stymies you and makes you crazy.

For one friend, it was pendant lights. Another lost it over a faucet. For me, it was the counter tops. I know, you would think that with my life experience I would get a grip and not obsess about something as unimportant as counter tops. Plus, I had the happiest childhood in the world with white plastic counter tops that showed every Kool-Aid spill and often had words that bled off the daily Washington Post stuck to them.

But obsess I did.

I made multiple trips to the granite place. I scoured message boards, online conversations, Pinterest, and Houzz. I drove Tim and Margaret crazy. Around Christmas, Tim and I found something we both loved and the angels sang. Until I over-researched and discovered that  the material might not wear well. Then I contemplated going with a man-made and more expensive material, but could not see a large slab in person.

I even considered driving to a warehouse in New Jersey to see it. Yep, my pregnant self was sick and uncomfortable, but I wanted to see those counter tops! On Monday,  I found a place that had them closer, about an hour away in MD, and I rushed to get there and back before my big sonogram.

When I saw the material, I was like, "Meh. No love here." No angels sang. I liked the tiny sample better than the slabs. But after promising our contractor months ago that I was the most decisive and easiest to work with customer he'd ever meet, I needed to make a decision that day or risk throwing off the whole schedule.

I avoided his eager texts.

Then, at 11 o'clock at night, I did the unthinkable. I told Tim we had 2 choices: Luxurious and high maintenance or Meh and low maintenance, and I wanted HIM to decide. Lest you think I gave him this honor because he is a known for style, let me remind you that he brought only a rusty metal New England Patriots trash can and a pair of maroon parachute pants into our marriage. No, I let him choose because I was desperate. I even let him pick the paint color for the kitchen, living room, DR, and hallway.

Margaret, who would like to be an interior designer, preferred the one he didn't choose, but I knew I would have fewer resentment and blaming opportunities with her.

Hold me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


For those of you who don't follow along on Facebook, I wanted to make sure you didn't miss the latest picture of our cutie that I posted yesterday. 30 weeks and doing great! Please keep praying for him, and for me. I am still struggling to get more than a few hours of sleep at night.

Monday, February 1, 2016

You Never Know

Last night I had the chance to deliver a 1 minute speech at a Hub Dot event. If you haven't heard of Hub Dot, check this out. It was so inspiring! I loved the chance to connect with a bunch of awesome women. My brief message: Wisdom/Insight out of pain comes at such a high price. If you have a changed perspective, direction, greater faith, or a new mission that has come out of pain, don't waste it. Share it with someone who may need to know what you know now.

So, as I entered the event I saw a woman who looked and sounded familiar. After I pried a little, I found out she was someone I had last seen when I was 18 years old, the summer my mother died of a brain aneurysm at age 46. I waitressed at the restaurant where she had formerly worked, trying to keep my mind off of our sad and empty-feeling house until I could escape back to college. I was skeptical that this could be the same Lisa, because apparently she'd found the fountain of youth.

Well, when I introduced myself, she remembered me immediately and told me that she had spoken at the last Hub Dot event about changing the direction of your life, and how important mentors are in the process. She said that as she told her story to the crowd, she got emotional speaking of a mentor who had helped her shift gears into a very successful floral business that lasted over 20 years.

That mentor was my mother!

Mom had gotten to know Lisa as our frequent waitress at the restaurant we went to at least twice a week throughout my high school years when Mom decided that she'd cooked enough dinners to last a lifetime. In the last year or so of her life, Mom helped Lisa see new possibilities for her future.

I was amazed that after almost 28 years gone, my mother was still impacting people, and that her legacy was as fresh to Lisa today as it was when she was a young waitress all those years ago.

I know that my greatest fear as a bereaved mother is that Jack will be forgotten, especially because he had such a short time here and a very limited sphere. But talking to Lisa last night made me realize we NEVER know whom we are influencing, and in what way.

It seemed to dovetail so nicely with the theme of the evening which was about helping others through our own experiences. That can be through writing books, raising money, starting non-profits, and being advocates, but it can also take the form of quiet conversations in the booth of a local diner, helping someone dream bigger, and walking beside them while they do.

"Oh, Anna," Lisa said, "You have to meet my daughter!"
She called a gorgeous young woman over.
"Her middle name is Margaret, named after your mom."

P.S. If you are local to the Northern Virginia area, I'd LOVE IT if you could join me on Sunday, Feb 7 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon. I'll be speaking about Embracing the Mystery of God in Difficult Times. The event is FREE, includes a yummy lunch, AND you'll still be home for the Super Bowl! 12:30-2 pm, with an optional time just for women afterward to reflect and connect from 2-3:30. Hope to see you there! If you are on Facebook, here's a link to the event.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Kind of a hodge-podge update for you today.

It has been a week of highs and lows, sometimes in the same moment. The week started well with my passing a 3 hour glucose test at the lab! While most of my friends and neighbors were scrambling around getting ready for our impending blizzard, I was getting A LOT of blood drawn. The whole process made me feel sick and worn down, but that could have been residual issues from the stomach bug last week.

Margaret and I were sleeping at my dear friend's parents' house in anticipation of construction dust and fumes at our house, as we were having the kitchen floor refinished. I slept better than I have in months, and ate well too. It was wonderful to be away from my sickbed-exile and in my friend Cynthia's childhood home again, snuggled in her cozy bed watching Gilmore Girls with my girl.

The best part, however, was how both Cynthia's mom and dad MOTHERED me while we were there. I realized that even at age 46, I crave mothering; perhaps you do too. I feel like I've been on my own for such a very long time. They fussed over Margaret and me, giving us just one more bite of Lebanese food, one more piece of fruit, helping Margaret print out a paper, and searching for flights for me on the computer.  Reflecting on how special this mothering made me feel, I now know I want to mother those who need it, whether or not we are connected by blood.

Tim had to leave town, which meant my finding the dogs a safe place to stay out of the fumes as well. Two lovely friends offered to help, despite crazy schedules and puking kids. The process of getting the dogs' things together, however, meant that the dogs and I were exposed to the absolute brunt of the fumes (due to a mix-up, the workmen showed up hours earlier than planned, while the dogs were still there). I had to get them safely OUT of the house, but I didn't want to be IN the house. Breathing those fumes has caused me a lot of anxiety about the welfare of the baby, but I can't undo it.

During my intense freak out about this (Why would God give us a miracle baby only for us to harm him doing something stupid? Will we ever get this parenting thing right? Why does Tim always go out of town at times like this?), my car broke down on a major road. So that was fun.

Two days later, my car back from the shop,  I had a doctor's appointment. They said I should have been getting sonograms every 4 weeks due to my age, but no one had told me or given me a prescription. They gave me one for as soon as possible, but I can't be fit in for another 2.5 weeks, which will mean I will have gone from 20 weeks to 30.5 weeks between sonograms. Ergh. I was dealing with some serious insurance wrangling when I saw the first flakes, and it became clear I needed to get someplace fast and hunker down for the storm, so I headed home to sleep for the first time since Monday. It also became clear that there was no way I could make it to Charlotte, NC for a speaking engagement. That was really disappointing.

Tim is in town again. He says he smells no fumes anymore, but I don't buy it because-- male nose-- so I'm back in my bed (the farthest spot from the kitchen) with all the windows wide open, looking out at more than 2 1/2 feet of beautiful snow. It's like unofficial bedrest-- a theme for this pregnancy. Margaret is at a friend's house for the duration, so she'll have someone to hang out with. The dogs are their spunky, happy selves and are LOVING the snow. No plows have come to our neighborhood yet, so it will probably be a few more days before we go anywhere. I hope you are warm and safe where you are.

So, no words of wisdom here.

No faith or philosophy. Just a mixed bag of worry and trust. Impatience and patience. Anxiety and peace. My village has really helped me this week. Thank YOU for being part of it!

p.s. Here's a pic of my kids during a BIG STORM in 2009

Friday, January 15, 2016

Marking Time

I lift my head from my pillow of drool. There is Alicia on the TV screen, looking smashing in a vibrant fitted suit.

She has been with me through 3 months of morning sickness, the week my back went out after I  dared go on a power walk with a friend, a sprained ankle, insomnia, and now two days of a virulent stomach bug. I wasn't sure if I was on the same episode I'd been watching when I drifted off to sleep, but it didn't really matter. There would be an unsavory client, or a deserving client. Perhaps two law firms would merge, again. We'd have sexual tension, and a glimpse into the underbelly of the political world. The Good Wife has been my binge watch for the past 6 months, season after season coming to me on Amazon Prime. Tim and Margaret are now used to seeing me propped up in bed, dealing with whatever my most recent ailment is, with Alicia and Peter in the background. We'll watch something together on TV and I'll say, "Did you know that he/she guest starred on The Good Wife?"

A few days ago, feeling gross from an illness that ripped through the three of us, I pondered whether I'd ever be able to eat again. Whether I'd ever feel normal, or take a shower. And if my bedroom and TV exile were indicative of how life would be for the next year of birthing and breastfeeding and sleeplessness. Could my numerous ailments and TV binge-watching foreshadow what was to come?

Although not necessarily sick of The Good Wife, I was getting sick of feeling sick and stuck, so as a way to wallow even more, I of course decided to add up how many hours I'd invested in this show.

Goodness Gracious.

120 hours. Granted, during some of these I was asleep, having finally drifted off, but still.

What else could I have done during those 120 hours?

Taken several college classes
Started writing the novel that is bouncing around in my head
Written articles for magazines and websites
Outlined and pitched my next non-fiction book
Read a good portion of the Bible
Read! Read! Read!
Finished a baby registry
Set up a speaking schedule for next year
Learned a language online
Cultivated relationships
Painted furniture
KonMari'd the heck out of the house

Okay, some of these things are harder to do from a bed than others, but I definitely could have accomplished SOMETHING during those many hours of TV watching.

One thing I'm learning from this pregnancy, however, is to let go, and part of that is going easy on myself as far as the changes my body is undergoing, surrendering to the differences between this pregnancy and my others.

Part of that may also be letting go of expectations of accomplishment during this time, which is difficult, because I realize that I have much more time NOW than I will for the foreseeable future. It's easy to feel as if I'm wasting time, or doing time, and forget that this is just one season in a long, complicated, beautiful life.

I'm certainly not proud of my binge-watching, but I am glad to have had Alicia, Will, Peter, Diane, and Cary with me during these months.

Hmmm....potential baby names?

p.s. This quick article by Jon Acuff about binge watching struck a chord with me today.

p.p.s. I failed the glucose test and will go in for the 3 hour version on Monday. Yuck.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I've Created a Monster/s, and My New Favorite Thing

So the kitchen renovation is in full swing. We still haven't decided on a countertop, and Tim does not want to go out to the stone warehouse with me again, so we are at a standstill on that front However, the structural work is well underway, and it's going to look GREAT. So, think of a basic 60's-80's split level with the kitchen in the front. Picture the L-shaped walls between the kitchen and living room becoming half-walls supported by square columns. It's not WIDE OPEN, but it provides sight lines we didn't have before, plus a breakfast/homework bar!

Here's a sneak peek of the new walls, looking toward the back of the house:

 And the countertops we are seriously considering:

The biggest issue we have run into so far is that we "borrowed" about 2 feet from our already small dining room, and I'm not sure what kind of table will fit in there now. It is a tight squeeze, for sure.

I do not mind that we are spending most of our time on our lower level during the renovation, with a temporary kitchen set up there and in my office. It feels cozy, and we seem to spend more time together. I wasn't sure how the dogs would adapt to the NOISE and to people coming in and out, not to mention losing their kitchen, which is where they stay whenever I leave the house. Turns out Charlie barked the whole time I was gone the first day, which was pretty annoying to the workers. Since then, I've left him out of his crate as long as there are workers here so he won't bark. A baby gate keeps them both off of the level where the work is being done.

Got back from my glucose test a few minute ago (Yuck! I'm worried I failed) and the pups were certainly enjoying their new freedom. Crate-less Charlie had started eating the dog bed where Shadow usually lounges when Charlie is in lock-up. Then, both dogs proceeded to climb on the couch and spoon. I think those turkeys are really enjoying this renovation!

Oh, and I wanted to tell you about my favorite new thing. I've been trying to stay away from microwave popcorn because of all of the nasty chemicals, so Tim usually cooks our popcorn on the stove. Well, knowing we wouldn't have a stove for at least two months, I bought him this contraption for Christmas (affiliate link) and we are loving it! It is made out of silicone. You put a small amount of popcorn in the bottom, and if you wish, add a little oil. We do. You fold down the flaps and microwave it for 2 minutes. Delicious, fluffy popcorn with no burnt pieces! We LOVE it!

Of course, all aspects of my diet may need to change once I get that test back. I'll let you know the results. I'm just grateful to be up and walking around again on a much-improved ankle, and that my daughter, who was sick Sunday night and into Monday, is feeling much better.

Hope your Tuesday feels more like a Friday than a Monday!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Falling Hard

So remember how on Sunday I stumbled and it set of a rush of cathartic tears?

Well, last night I really did FALL. Our kitchen was gutted on Tuesday (exciting! terrifying! expensive!) and I was showing Tim around the empty space when he got home from work. I didn't realize that the flooring was uneven, and before I knew it, I rolled my ankle, pitched forward, and ended up sprawled on the sub floor.  I yelled at poor Tim when he tried to help me up, as if he had somehow been responsible. Ugh.

It didn't feel like I'd landed on the baby-- only my shoulders, hip and knee. I was heading out to a speaking engagement, but before I left I was able to get out the mini doppler machine a friend gave me and hear the baby's heartbeat, loud and strong. Thank God!

At the speaking engagement, I had a wonderful time connecting with amazing women in my community and arrived home at close to 10 pm.

Around 1 a.m. I was in the middle of a a bad dream, a la the movie Misery, with Kathy Bates taking an axe handle and bludgeoning my foot. My first thought was, "Yay! If I'm dreaming, that means I'm sleeping!" My second thought was, "I need to pee." Standing up to head to the bathroom, I crumpled to the ground. My foot was really messed up. The rest of the night was spent in a recliner, with my foot on ice (thank you, Tim!)

Today I'm holed up in our bedroom. My foot is throbbing. Tim is staying home from work to help me, and he has devised a line of chairs for me to hang onto while I hop to the bathroom. We are talking about trying to get me to the doctor later today, and I know that's wise, but I am in too much pain to contemplate getting from here to there at this point.

Is it weird that my foot only hurt a little bit when I rolled it,  but it started throbbing 6 hours later?

Right now I'm trying the I.C.E approach: ice, compression, elevation, and making sure I feel plenty of  movement from the baby.

I'll update you as I find out more, but I wanted to ask for prayers. THANK YOU, FRIENDS!


Went to urgent care and found out it was a "bad sprain" made worse by weakened ligaments because of pregnancy. Settled in for the long haul of healing...but guess what? The very next day the pain was cut in half. And today, Saturday, I feel 95% better! Thank you for your prayers and concern! So grateful and relieved!