To 30 weeks and 30 years and apple cake…

To 30 weeks and 30 years and apple cake…

photo (61)I had two very stable, rational days, and then yesterday happened. I would love to tell you I lost it and burst into tears over something meaningful, but, no, it was over a lost package. Mom ordered me a new diaper bag a few weeks back. It was supposed to be delivered last Friday. Then, it changed to Saturday. Saturday the expected delivery date said N/A. I called FedEx SmartPost, and they placed a trace on the package and located it in Southaven, MS. The new arrival date was Wednesday, September 17th. Yesterday, I checked the tracking again, and it said it was delivered Tuesday. No, no. I think there’s been an error.

I called FedEx SmartPost again, and they said I would need to talk to my local post office since they handle the final delivery for SmartPost. So, on the way to Bible study I called the post office, and they put me through to my postman who assured me he had delivered the package to my door. I held back my tears and managed not to lose it on the phone, but I kindly told him I had been home all afternoon, and it had not been delivered. He told me he would “check the cove on his route that afternoon.” By the time I got up to my girls in Bible study, I was a mess–the stereotypical very-pregnant woman who has lost it over nothing at all. About that time, Jess slides over a warm apple cake she made me for my upcoming birthday. She made this cake for Bunco last fall, and I have raved about it ever since. Then, I was crying because I was thinking, “I don’t deserve these people, Lord! They are too good to me, too good to crazy, irrational, basket-case me.”

I looked around the cove once we got home from Bible study and saw a package on our next door neighbors. I was pretty sure I saw the Zulily logo on the side, but I had two cranky-needing-lunch-and-naps kids so I took them in and figured I would let the mailman find it. 1. Because I wasn’t sure it was legal to go take something off someone else’s front door step. And 2. Because I wanted the postman to know I was right and he was wrong, and he did not in fact deliver it to my door.

I got the girls lunch, put them down for rest time, got myself a big ole piece of apple cake and turned on Parenthood. A couple months ago I started watching Parenthood during the girls’ rest time. Word to the wise: do NOT start Parenthood when you are pregnant. I realized immediately that this was going to be the episode where Zoe decides to keep her baby and Joel and Julia leave the hospital empty-handed and brokenhearted. Yesterday would have been a good day to buy stock in Kleenex. Of course, we don’t have Kleenex around here, so I was stuck with toilet paper and texted my bestie with every crying emoji while I watched.

After all that crying, I felt much better, but I have decided I need a maternity shirt that says, “Fragile! Handle with Care!” to wear for the next nine weeks. (Make that nine months because you know I’ll be a mess after baby too.)

Around 4 PM, I realized the mail had already been delivered and the postman had not remembered to look. So, in my pajama pants I trekked over to the neighbors’ house, knocked on their door two times, and then took the package and ran. I now have my diaper bag, and, hopefully, I didn’t commit a crime.

Today I hit 30 weeks and tomorrow 30 years. Sometime in January, Jess told me she had a feeling something big was going to happen around my 30th birthday. Her own 30th had brought with it news of a precious baby waiting for her. When I looked on the calendar and realized I would hit both milestones within 24 hours of each other, I smiled and thought of her words and her prayers. For surely this baby kicking and squirming and using my bladder as a squeeze toy is a dream I wasn’t even brave enough to dream, a prayer I didn’t have the courage to vocalize.

This past year has been the best and the hardest of my life. It has been this beautiful, messy swirl of moments I never want to forget like Charlotte’s first birthday, eating Lou Malnati’s with Matt in Chicago, crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles, that beautiful plus sign, and watching Lydia read for the first time. It’s also been a year where I have had to confront my issues with perfectionism and control like never before. This morning in my Bible study book Children of the Day these words burrowed into me, “You’ll never find a perfect perfectionist.” I also need a shirt with that on it. I’m realizing I will battle these things for the rest of my life, but I’m surrounded by a village that pushes me and sharpens me, encourages me and kicks me in the butt. And that is a pretty special gift.

Here’s to 30 weeks and 30 years, apple cake and best friends, great memories and hard lessons, emotional days and knowing I’m not alone.

Love Language

Love Language

photo (45)If you thought this was going to be a post about marriage and communication and deep, important things like that I’m afraid you might be disappointed. Really, it’s about pizza. Last night most of the girls from my beloved Bible study gathered around the table to say goodbye to Lisa as she prepares to move back to Texas in a couple weeks. Three-and-a-half hours later, we were still around the table, a table now littered with empty plates and a few crumbs of chocolate cake. We had originally planned to make it a Mexican affair with Cinco de Mayo and all, but we weren’t sure about crowds and impatient servers. So, we switched to Old Venice Pizza Company. Pizza. My love language. I had the Daddy Crawdaddy pizza which has cream cheese, mozzarella and crawfish so really there’s no way to go wrong in my book. We ate pizza and breadsticks and chocolate cake and laughed so much I had to wipe the tears from my eyes with my napkin. We are an eclectic group, our little Bible study. All moms, some having been mom for years, others for only six weeks. We love talking and eating and laughing and we especially like to do all three at the same time. We don’t always stay on topic, and we don’t have a problem speaking our minds. We are always late and usually breaking some rule. But that group of girls has shown me love and community and sisterhood in a new way. We won’t be the same without Lisa. That’s what I love about a really great group of girls. Each girl adds something unique. And Lisa definitely adds something special. I’ll always remember last night and hours around the table eating pizza and chocolate cake and laughing. And waking up the next morning knowing what we had was something truly special.

I take my love language seriously, and I’ve done extensive research in the field. As soon as we get to Rosemary Beach, I want to stop by Bruno’s and get their Ultimate Veggie to go. I could eat Memphis Pizza Cafe’s Greek pizza every day, and Trolley Stop Market’s Margharita pizza is loaded with fresh mozzarella and big chunks of tomato and basil. And Aldo’s vodka cream pie–spicy and creamy–yes, Memphis has some good pizza. And I don’t know how many pieces of Lou Malnati’s Chicago Classic we ate the week we spent in the Windy City for Matt’s 30th birthday, but that pizza lived up to all the hype. We love to make pizza at home too. My favorite crust is Ina Garten’s from her White Pizza recipe. That white pizza is amazing, but the crust works for any type of pizza. It is easy and only has to rise for 30 minutes. A couple things–I split the batch into two balls and make two pizzas instead of six individual pizzas and the temperature is crucial. Bake at no less than 475 or the crust won’t be crispy like it should be.

Now, what to put on top. We love BBQ chicken pizza. Throw some chicken and water in a crock pot until it shreds easily. Add some BBQ sauce to it. Stretch out your crust on the pizza stone. Smear a thin layer of BBQ sauce on top. Layer on the BBQ chicken, fresh mozzarella and diced red onion. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top and bake. Or a summer favorite is Bruschetta pizza. Stretch out your crust and sprinkle salt and red pepper flakes on top. Smear a thin layer of pesto on top. Layer fresh diced tomatoes (try and get as much water out of the tomatoes with a towel first) and feta cheese on top. It’s a great way to use summer tomatoes and basil. The white pizza is a winner too. When I make Ina Garten’s white pizza, I use feta, mozzarella and goat cheese and leave off the arugula. I prefer my salad on the side.

Matt and I joke that my love language is pizza, but really it’s what pizza represents to me. It’s one of those foods that puts people at ease. You can eat it with your hands and get messy. You can make it yours with a limitless combination of toppings. My favorite people are the same–comfortable in their own skin, not afraid to get messy and okay being unique. I love the pizza, but really I love the people sitting around the table with me.

To my Bible study girls, you are all of those things. What we have is something special.

And to Lisa, thank you for the fashion advice, that pink champagne cake, the running tips and all the laughs about certain “running ailments.” Thank you for making every Wednesday a little more fun and for never being afraid to say what you think. Texas is lucky to have you coming home, and we’ll be heading out for a road trip and that Cinco de Mayo Mexican food we missed very soon. We love you, and we’ll miss you like crazy!



Start Where You Are

Start Where You Are

I’m writing this post from my phone, so please excuse any formatting or editing flaws. (I’m talking to you, Mitzi May–wink, wink.)

I’ve had the words “Start where you are” on my mind recently. Yesterday morning I ran in 50 degree weather under a velvet, sapphire sky spangled with a million winking stars. For this runner it doesn’t get much better than that. I’ve been a runner for 16 months now. It still feels weird to say I’m a runner but it’s true. I’ve run in rain, snow and sleet. I’ve run in temps scaling 90 and single-digit temps. Through all that running, well over 1000 miles, the first mile is still the hardest. Getting out of the bed instead of hitting snooze is still the most painful. The first step on the asphalt is still the most taxing.

Whether it’s running or eating clean or prioritizing my time in God’s Word, the first step is always the hardest. Choosing the clementine over a cookie, putting the iPhone away and getting out my Bible, leaving my comfy bed to don my running shoes–it’s always the first step.

Maybe this is just me, but I’m tempted to wait to run until the weather is good or my right calf stops feeling tight. I’m tempted to give up on eating clean because it takes more work and is more expensive. I’m tempted to postpone my time with God until the house is quiet. But the weather is rarely perfect. My muscles are rarely not sore. Fast food is almost never healthy and my house is never quiet.

But start where you are. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty or ideal. If you want to start exercising, you don’t have to dole out tons of money for a gym membership. Try the Couch to 5K app for free. If you want to start eating clean, just try one meal every day. Chicken and roasted veggies is super easy. Almost every veggie I know tastes even better roasted. Just turn your oven to 425, cut up your veggies, drizzle a little olive oil or coconut oil and sea salt on top and stick the pan in the oven until the veggies get just a little brown on top. Our favorite veggies to roast are sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots and broccoli. If you want to start reading God’s Word, try the one-year reading plan on the Bible app. And my favorite idea to memorize Scripture is to use paint chips from the hardware store to write favorite verses on. I love the color and the price tag. (Side note: I regularly paint anything that stands still so I have lots of extra paint chips. You could also use 3×5 cards if you don’t hoard paint chips like me.)

Whatever your goal is, just start where you are and take one baby step forward. Give yourself freedom to mess up and not be perfect. And remember the first step is the hardest. Push through that and a blanket of stars awaits you.