Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

I have two children. My beautiful little girl that is so full of life and excitement, and the baby I never got to meet.  Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I struggled all day with the decision to post something. We lost our baby in 2011. Many people that know me now, and many that read this blog, have no idea that we ever suffered such a loss. I documented that journey in another blog and when I started this one I wanted it to have a different tone. Besides, isn’t it counterproductive to open old wounds? But the thing is, the wounds are never really healed. And the fact that it’s still something that no one wants to talk about, is exactly why I felt I had to.

Losing a child is unbearable, no matter how old it was or how it happened. No one should feel that pain alone. Yet so many women do. As many as 15 percent of confirmed pregnancies are lost, but somehow women still feel like they need to hide. There’s a sense of shame and failure in miscarriage. And there’s this ridiculous thought that because you never got to hold the baby that it shouldn’t really matter, but it does. The baby matters. The pain matters.

When I got pregnant the second time, I hesitated to tell anyone. I didn’t even want to know myself. Then I remembered the strength I received from all the people that prayed for us when we lost the first one, and I knew that I needed that to get me through. My pregnancy with Reagan was an anxious one. I never truly settled until I held her in my arms. And if I’m truly honest, it is a very big reason why I don’t think I want to have another child. I’m not sure I could survive another loss. I’m just being real here.

When I lost “the bean” I was very open about it. I was humbled and in awe of the people that reached out to me to share their stories; the friends that contacted me because someone they love had a miscarriage and they didn’t know what to say, the other mothers that had been quietly suffering alone, the fathers that wanted people to know they felt the pain too. There’s something really magical about people bonding together. When we build each other up, we really can survive anything.

In the book Heaven is Real the little boy that has supposedly been to Heaven tells his mother about the sister he met there. His parents had never told him they had lost a child before he was born. When she asked what her name was the boy replied that she didn’t have one because she was waiting on their mother to get to Heaven and give her one. I hold that image in my heart when the sadness creeps back in- as it sometimes does. It creeps in on long car rides and rainy days, when I see someone’s ultrasound or hear a newborn cry, every July when the would-be due date rolls around. I imagine that twenty years from now I will still feel it. I also imagine that one day, many years from now, when I get to Heaven my little one will be waiting there for me, with open arms ready to whisper “Mama” in my ear.

If someone you know is struggling with the pain of miscarriage, reach out to them. If you are struggling yourself please visit Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. A wonderful site where you can share your story and connect to a community of women that draw strength from one another.

Fall Bucket List: 25 Things to Do

There are few things I enjoy more than turning a calendar page. I’m not sure why, but it gives me a little rush. That’s especially true when I get to flip it to October! It’s finally starting to feel like fall! (Let’s ignore the torrential rain that has lasted for the last week.) There’s a chill in the air and pumpkins are everywhere.

Tonight my family put the first check of many on our fall to-do list. We kicked back, ordered a pizza, and watched Hocus Pocus. I’ve been watching this movie for years, but I always make myself wait until October. Now I get to share it with my little girl. Isn’t that the most fun part of having kids?

I thought I’d share the rest of our fall bucket list with you.

  1. Visit a pumpkin patch
  2. Try pumpkin-flavored anything and everything (even Oreos)
  3. Shop a consignment sale
  4. Run a race
  5. Make a Halloween costume
  6. Spend a weekend in the mountains
  7. Make S’Mores
  8. Bake cinnamon rolls (Pioneer Woman’s recipe is the best)
  9. Host a pumpkin carve-off
  10. Pick out mums from a local farm
  11. Go to a football game
  12. Play in the leaves
  13. Have friends over for the weekend
  14. Drink apple cider
  15. Swing in a hammock
  16. Spend the weekend in pajamas
  17. Host “Friendsgiving”
  18. Try different soup recipes
  19. Make leaf art
  20. Brewfest (or any beer or wine tasting)
  21. Watch season premieres of shows
  22. Go on a hayride
  23. Have a Harry Potter movie marathon
  24. Winterize the fairy garden (move it into large pot to come inside)
  25. Go on a hayride

What did I miss?

What’s on your fall bucket list that we might want to try?

Doubts in the Dark

I’m going to be real honest with you. Sometimes I’m not so sure I’m doing this mothering thing right. There are times when her little face looks up to mine and she smiles and says the wittiest thing that has ever come out of a three year old mouth and I am in awe by what I have made. But there are other times, when it all seems so much harder. When the darkness is around us and she’s been struck by whatever bug is circulating  and neither one of us can sleep from the coughing and the wheezing, I have my doubts. Why would the Lord trust me with His amazing creation? What if I don’t deserve it? What if I fail? Her soft skin burns and her teeth chatter and I lay beside her helplessly holding her and wishing I had some kind of magic to take it all away.  I think of everything I know to do. I turn to Google in the middle of the night. I pray.

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear.  I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:14)

Tears creep down my face because helpless is not a feeling that comes easily to me.  I feel a little hand reach out in the darkness and find my hair. She twirls her little fingers around the dark ribbons and looks up at me with sleepy eyes, “I love you, Mommy. I’m better now.” And she snuggles in close and fades away to sleep. Of course, she’s still sick, a miracle did not strike down from the sky. But I realized right then that I have everything she needs, even when I have nothing at all. A mother’s job is a hard one, and often we underestimate ourselves. When I step back and see myself through those little eyes I know exactly how she feels. I was a child once and in the darkness of the night, when I was sick or scared, there was only one thing that I truly needed, my mother. And I wonder now if she doubted herself too while I snuggled in close and trusted in her as Reagan now trusts in me.

How we Enjoy Sunday and Get Ready for the Week

I have a love affair with Sundays. I see Sunday through a water-colored lens where everything feels just a little muted and slow. Inevitably though the day fades and reality sets in. Monday is coming. Mondays are hard. The only thing harder than a Monday is every other day of the week that requires me to put on real pants and pack a lunchbox. I learned long ago that in order to survive the week, at least part of Sunday must be spent preparing.

I have a pretty consistent prep routine. I rely on it to ensure that I have a successful week. After morning coffee and snuggles I start to think about the week ahead. I pull out my calendar and meal plan and get started. I try to make a nice dinner for my family on Sunday. This is usually a whole roasted chicken or some kind of large piece of meat. I plan the week’s meals around those leftovers. If I’m making a chicken, the rest of the week may include chicken salads, fajitas, or wraps. Finding ways to reinvent leftovers saves you both time and money. Once I’ve made my plan, I make my grocery list and hit the store. As soon as I get home I start preparing what I can for the week before I lose momentum.

Today I had to do a little extra work since I’ve eaten up my supply of breakfast foods that I had stored in the freezer. My go-to breakfast is from PaleOMG.  Her Easy Breakfast Casserole truly is so simple. It’s also delicious. Once I bake it, I cut it into individual slices and freeze them in Ziplock bags. Each morning I pull one out and microwave it for one minute. One casserole gives me breakfast for twelve days. In order to get anything done, I move Reagan’s kitchen right next to mine. Kitchen work is serious business around here.

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She’s making “lasagna soup”, which is actually soapy water with a little dog food. Reagan has been helping in the kitchen since she could walk. I think it’s so important for kids to be a part of preparing their food. Three year old kids should be able to pour ingredients, stir, peel bananas, etc. She already knows quite a bit about cooking. We even go so far as having her help her daddy with the animals on our small farm. She helps gather eggs each day and make sure the chickens and sheep are taken care of. Although she claims her favorite way to help is by making smoothies!IMG_7420

We are starting this week off with Cranberry Citrus Smoothies from Simple Green Smoothies. It’s a zesty combo of water, spinach, frozen cranberries, oranges and a banana.

It’s important to get yourself ready for the week, but Sunday should be about spending time with loved ones and relaxing as well. We finished up the prep work and headed outside to enjoy some of these last days of summer with friends. There were water balloons to bust and adventures to be had. Isn’t that the point anyway?

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What’s your Sunday routine? How do you get ready to face the week?

Is It Fall Yet? Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe

Fall is in the air! In southern Virginia that means that people are talking about fall, there are Halloween decorations popping up, you pulled out all your cardigans and hoodies, but you’re just looking at them while you sweat because it’s still ninety degrees outside. We got a thunderstorm the other day and it temporarily cooled things down so my three year old and I went a little crazy decorating. She kept yelling, “Look! It’s fall-tastic!” while I set out the acorns and fall leaves and every day since she’s become obsessed with checking the leaves for color change. No such luck, honey. However, it’s coming. I can feel a crisp in the air. We’ll be consuming all things pumpkin while wearing our favorite boots in no time!

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During our fake fall fiesta, we decided to do a little baking as well. One of my favorite combinations is pumpkin and chocolate chip. As a matter of fact that was the flavor of my wedding cake. In case you feel the need to taste a little Autumn, I thought I’d share the recipe.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes 2 dozen)

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

15 oz pumpkin puree

11/2 cups of applesauce

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking sods

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbs pumpkin pie spice

1 cup of mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin cups or use liners.

2. Mix eggs, sugar, applesauce and pumpkin puree

3. Combine dry ingredients and then add to wet ingredients and mix well.

4. Pour into muffin cups and back for 15 minutes.

These muffins freeze perfectly. Throw your second dozen in a large Ziplock bag once they cool, then pull them out one at a time and reheat in the microwave. Excellent warm breakfast as you’re rushing to work.

 

If you let your three year old pour the mix into the muffin cups, you will end up with some awkwardly large muffins and some that are bite size. Be prepared.

 

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You Can Call Me Sarah

In the year I was born thousands of women named their bouncing baby girls, Sarah. In that name they saw someone trustworthy, solid, old-fashioned and strong. But those of us who grew up with the name in the angst-ridden years of the Fionas and the Toris of the world, saw it as boring and tired. In just one of my high school classes there were six Sarahs.  In college I lived with three. For those of us who carried the common name the world had just too many Sarahs. I grew up hearing my name around every corner only to find it was someone I didn’t know, not talking to me. How could we aspire to be someone special, if we were all the same?

Growing up I was always reinventing myself. I changed my hair, my clothes, and my hobbies often. I never really knew who I was. Some days I still wonder. I’ve been an artist, an athlete, a singer, a dancer, a mother, a writer, a teacher, a painter, a wife, a runner, a northerner, a southerner, and the list goes on. I’ve been a wanderer that longed for roots, and I dreamed of taking flight when I got them. Maybe all this came from some desperate need to be different, to be the girl that stood out in a sea of Sarahs. Or maybe the only place where there were too many Sarahs was inside my own mind.

These days I’ve settled into a comfortable life. I’ve come to understand that all of these things combined make us who we are. Maybe we aren’t meant to be stagnant. Now I know we are supposed to change, evolve, learn.  There are a thousand different versions of each of us all jumbled into one body. That is what makes us so uniquely wonderful.

So that’s what you’ll find here. A collection of sorts. Some of this and some of that. So if you’re a rooted wanderer, a cheerful pessimist, a free spirit that can’t fully let go, if you’re a collection of interests and can’t quite put your finger on what makes you tick then you’ve come to the right place, my friend. Welcome home. You can call me Sarah.

Doing Important Things

I’ve always been a bit of a dabbler. Sort of a “jack of all trades and master of none” if you will.  I have a hard time saying no. I don’t want to miss out on anything. This has always been a great way to live. It has led me down so many paths to a million amazing adventures. 


It also makes me very tired. It causes me to spread myself too thin. It makes me wonder if the fact that I do too many things is why I don’t do anything exceptionally well. I often wonder what would happen if I just focused myself on one endeavor. That will never happen.


Since the start of the new year I have recommitted myself to my fitness goals. I plan to reach new weights at the gym. I fully intend to run a half marathon in under two hours. I have charged into 2014 with a fresh outlook and energy. It has all gone really well, until today. 


Today’s rainy morning turned into a beautiful afternoon. I planned to hit the gym, but when I saw the sun shining I changed my mind. I figured I’d go for a run instead. By the time I got home, I’d lost that motivation too. You see, when I asked myself what was the most important thing I needed to get done today, the answer didn’t involve any of the things I’d planned. What I needed to do today, was be a mom.


Of all the things I dabble in, of all the things I like to do, there is nothing compared to being a mom. So today I decided to see the world through my daughter’s eyes when it was time to decide what important things needed to be done.

There were masterpieces that needed to be created.

And long journeys to take across the yard, trying to reach that ever- elusive moon in the sky.

I thought at the end of the day I would feel guilty about missing my workout- not following my plan. Do I? Nope. Not one bit. You see, I don’t stand a chance at being an expert on anything. I won’t hold a world fitness title. I won’t write a bestseller. I won’t win “teacher of the year”. I won’t win a Grammy. But to one person in this world, I am already everything I need to be. I am enough. I am Mommy.

Monday…

 

Best laid plans…I should be at the gym right now. I have a Monday morning date with myself every week. A 6am sweat session, the only one that I am guaranteed each week. The rest get filled in when spots open, but that 6am Monday slot has become sacred. A quiet drive through the dark streets of my city, a challenge to my body before the battle of the workweek begins. It has become the one thing that makes Monday bearable.  

How can life possibly weigh me down when I start my week reminding myself of my strength? That I have the power to just lift myself back up?

But 5:15 came too early today. When 2am brought a toddler that wanted juice, and to play, and to wrap her fingers in Mama’s hair, 5:15 came way too early. 

Some days are like this. I’m learning that the best laid plans do often fail. Sometimes I need a reminder that I am not in control.  My strength is given to me by a God that knows my heart so well. He knows what I need, right when I need it. He gives me the strength I need when life becomes heavy. He carries me.

So this week, when I feel like I have already let myself down, I will call on Him. When my attitude slips, and my weakness shines through. When I’m trying to squeeze it all in and still make time for myself, and my husband, and for tiny fingers and toes that dig in the dark to find Mama, I will call on Him, for He knows my need.

Currently, my need is coffee….and a shower…and to get to work. Happy Monday, everyone. 

 

Beating the Funk and Petting Pigs

Do you ever get in one of those funks that just feel like the world is crumbling down around you? I very rarely get that way, and kind of pride myself on that fact, but yesterday was one of those days. I was in a look out, get out of my way, someone kicked my puppy and peed in my Cheerios kind of mood. It was bad. Not even a hot bath and a glass of wine did the trick. At 9:00 I informed Jon that I would be taking two squares of chocolate, eating them in bed, and then going to sleep to try for a do-over tomorrow. He totally understood.

Today is a new day! I slept in until a glorious 7:15, had a cup of blueberry coffee, and decided the cloudy sky would not ruin my Saturday with my baby girl. So we packed up and hit the road looking for adventure. First, her and I did a little yard sale hunting. We found a couple, but my quest for a super cheap exersaucer is still ongoing. Next up we hit the farmer’s market. Something about that place just makes me happy. I love seeing all those people selling things they have made and grown with their hands. I love to talk to the farmers and hear how passionate they are about the quality of the food they are selling. I also love to see all the people buying fresh local food. It makes my heart smile. 

I picked up a watermelon and a dozen ears of corn. The guy even slipped a free cucumber in my bag.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I feel about cucumbers the same way I feel about snakes, spiders, liver, and other icky things. Jon will eat it. I almost left the farmer’s market with this:

I’m not kidding. If I had the cash on me I would be petting my pot-bellied pig right this moment. Jon came home with five turkeys one day, why can’t I have a pig? Later, I called and asked him what he thought….let’s just say it is not completely off the table.

I bid farewell to Miss Piggy and Reagan and I hit the Riverwalk Trail for a run. I was so excited about today’s run. She got to ditch the car seat and ride in the stroller like a big girl (facing forward)! She’s finally big enough and strong enough to do it. I wedged her in with some blankets to be safe, but it was awesome! She was so much cooler in there and so happy to look around as we moved.

One thing I love about my town is all the opportunities there are to be active if you want to be. Sure, there’s also about 75 fast food, fried food, country cookin’ places too, but if you want to live a healthy lifestyle it’s pretty easy to do. The Riverwalk Trail is such a wonderful place to run. It’s so calming to race along next to the water.

We went a few miles and then stopped at the Fit Stop so I could get in a few squats, pullups, toes to bars, and pushups done while she slept. This little “park” is such a nice addition to the trail.

A few miles back and Reagan was ready for lunch, as was I. We hightailed it home and hung out together while I fixed up a little something. 

Some people have been trying to convince me to try to go Paleo. I eat pretty healthy, but I just don’t think I could go that far. I really love cheese….and beans and flour and milk and yogurt and all the other wonderful things that I couldn’t have anymore. I just don’t think I want to do it. I know I could, I just don’t want to.  I mean, doesn’t that look delish? Trust me, it was.

I guess my awful funk from yesterday stemmed from the fact that I finally had to go back to work. I’ve been off with Reagan for almost four months. I know that’s such a blessing and most people don’t get that much time off, but it’s just so hard! I kept thinking about all the “firsts” I’m probably going to miss. The thing is, I won’t be her “person” anymore. I mean, I’ll always be Mom but she will now spend the most time with Grammy. Again, I know, we are very fortunate that she stays with Grammy when so many people have to use daycare. Cut me a little slack and let me wallow in self-pity for just a minute. First-time mom here. 

 So today I decided that the only way to deal with it is to make the most of the time we DO have together. It doesn’t help to be sad about things I can’t change. Being a working mom is a decision that I made a long time ago. She’s too little now, but someday she’ll be able to remember mornings like this one and when she looks back on her childhood I hope she’ll smile at the mom that took her running and wanted to buy her a pig. Okay, the pig was for me, but still.

Tips for Running The Rugged Maniac

I find myself more and more interested in running races that are not simply road races. I haven’t really ran any 5K races in my area this year and I’m not really sure I’m going to do any. Ever since I have been doing Crossfit workouts, I have been seeking out things that are much more physically challenging. The Rugged Maniac was the perfect arena for my new-found love for mud, sweat, and physical exertion.

My husband, and a few friends, and I ran the Rugged Maniac in Asheboro, NC a few weeks ago.  This is a 5K race with about 20 obstacles built in along the way. There is everything from a giant mudslide to a wall of fire. It isn’t for the faint of heart, the sluggish, or those who wish to remain clean. It is, however, an absolute blast! 

BEFORE

AFTER

Here’s a few tips I thought I’d share now that I have experienced the Rugged Maniac.

1. You will get muddy and cold. You will feel disgusting. The lines at the water hoses are pretty long, but not unbearable. Bring a couple gallon jugs of water to get yourself started and then when you feel a little less disgusting you can stand in line for the “shower”. There’s also a changing room so be sure to bring something warm to change into. We had a beautiful day, but after being soaking wet for an hour or so, sweatpants are a blessing.

2. In Asheboro, you can’t park at the event. You will park a few miles away and be shuttled to the race. The wait isn’t too long, but you don’t want to plan on going back to your car to change or pick up anything you’ll need while you are at the race. The line for bag check is very long and I just can’t see waiting while dripping with sludge to pick up your bag. We packed inexpensive items that we didn’t care about in inexpensive bags and stashed them in an inconspicuous spot. They were still there, untouched, after the race. There are still good people in the world.

3. You can donate your shoes if you’d like to after the race. That is if you don’t lose them on the course. To prevent this, I recommend duct tape. 

4. Be sure to bring a trash bag to put your muddy things in after the race. You will also need your id and cash. Wrap these in a plastic baggie and put them in a pocket- they will still get wet and disgusting. It’s unavoidable.

5. Embrace the yuck. You will go under muddy water- the whole way under. There is no possible way to keep your head above water. Hold your nose. Don’t swallow. Trust me.

6. Apparently, it doesn’t take a flying leap to cross the wall of fire. 

But I didn’t get that memo.

Instead of finisher’s medals, the race directors decided to hire professional photographer to place themselves along the course and take these great pictures of everyone. Watch for the photographers and try to look excited. You’ll have so much fun looking for yourself when they send you the link. You are free to download or print the pictures as much as you’d like. It’s really a nice touch.

7. Cover as much of you skin as possible. The rocks that are hidden under the mud might be the worst part. I am still scratched and bruised- a minor inconvenience. Wear knee pads if you’ve got them. People might think you’re weird until after the race. Then they will think you’re a genius.

8. Be prepared to immediately want to sign up for another one. These things are addictive. I haven’t had so much fun in the mud since I was a kid. 

Get Rugged!!