Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ready Or Not

Here he comes!!

I'll be on a blogging hiatus over the next few days as we wait to welcome our son into this world of ours. After finding out yesterday that his arrival needed to happen sooner than later, we kicked it into high baby mode and were at the hospital by 6am to start the induction.

Needless to say, last night was not spent sleeping as visions of the labor, but more so our little nugget raced through my head.

And now we wait. I've never been great at waiting, but amazing things come to those who wait.

Until we chat again, I wish you a fabulous week and  I look forward to introducing Ziggy to you.

Let's have a baby, shall we?!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday High Fives

Today marks the end of my summer, folks. It's back to full days on Fridays and I'm so broken up about it that I have not stopped crying out of my right eye for the last four days. Or that could be from the pink eye, but even if it is, I'm still pretty bummed that my half day Fridays are complete for another year. See ya in 2015, half Fridays. You and your endless possibilities for afternoon naps during horrible Lifetime movies, estate sale shopping or spending time with my mom
 will be missed tremendously.

With that I bring you the good things that got me through a rocky week:
  • Getting a prescription for this eye of mine. I went back to the doctor yesterday as my eye was getting progressively worse and the minute the doctor walked into the exam room, she took one look from across the room and said "oh, you poor thing. Let's get you some drops." Thank you, thank you!
  • Texting and emailing with my BFF's in Charleston this week. They're always on my mind and even just a few texts back and forth make the distance feel not so far. Miss you girls SO much!
  • The Hubs and his buddy putting in our car seat. We're all set, Ziggy!! Your car seat and swing await you.
  • Finally getting to watch Jen Hatmaker's Big Family Renovation show on HGTV last night. They're just the cutest, most real family. Check it out if you can stay up that late on a school night.
  • Celebrating my in-laws for their anniversary with a little hibachi and Red Mango. It was fun to do something different for dinner and the food and company were both wonderful. The Hubs may have ruined his shirt thanks to being an overzealous chocolate syrup eater, but no one's perfect.
  • The start of Bachelor in Paradise. I make no apologies for the crap TV that I partake in and it was nice to not have a void in my Monday night entertainment. Could I have been doing something more productive like painting the trim in our house to get it ready to list? Sure. But who can pass up watching a house full of drama queens and clueless men on a tropical island? Not this girl.
  • Getting the little nugget's room finished for his arrival. He'll have a little more space in the new house, but for the first month of his life, I think this nursery is perfect and will hold many precious memories.

  • Welcoming our furniture pieces back that we had sent out to have painted. I'm so pleased with how they turned out. Rennie, recognize any of these pieces? It's hard to tell the colors in the photos, but some are an antique white and some are a French gray, and all of them look so much better! Here's a little before and after for you.
Before (gag):



Happy Friday, Y'all!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pink Eye The Stink Eye

I can comfortably say that during this pregnancy, I have weathered many a random, physical challenge and lived to tell the tale. From battling the flu for a full week when I was about 8 weeks pregnant to morning-afternoon-evening sickness, to pregnancy induced Carpal Tunnel, to today's joys compliments of pink eye, I have seen my fair share of random illnesses in the last 9 months. The good news is that in each instance I've been able to power through and Ziggy seems no worse for the wear. The high fevers during the flu were the scariest, but this little nugget is tough and went unscathed.

The down side of this weeks illness is that I currently look like Sloth from The Goonies. True Story. My face is fairly swollen when I awake these days and now I have the pleasure of having one eye about 50% swollen shut. I dread looking in the mirror this week. It's ain't pretty folks. No way around it. I keep telling myself "if the Hubs doesn't run and hide and somehow still finds me remotely attractive after all of this is said and done, well, he shall be dubbed Saint Hubs".

I don't typically ask for prayer over small illnesses such as the stink  pink eye, but if you don't mind sending one up for me, I'd be very grateful. I can power through this thing, but I'm worried about our son coming a few days early and his momma looking like a combination of Sloth and one of those white rabbits with the bright red eyes that you see at the county fair, in every single photo of his first days of life. And more importantly and less selfishly, I don't want to worry about giving this gunk to our new baby. I want to be able to hug and kiss and cuddle him as much as he deserves and as much as I've been anxiously waiting to do without fear of harming his brand new eyes.

This too shall pass, and if I have to walk around with one eye fully done with make-up and the other as bald as an eagle and running nonstop, I can do it without much complaint (note "much" complaint. I'm human and this stuff stinks!). I just pray this doesn't take 7-10 days like the doctor mentioned or I shall forever look like I'm winking at the camera in every single photo of Ziggy's arrival. Not exactly how I imagined looking in our first family portraits. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Hard Side of My Career

When explaining what my office does to other members of campus, I often tell people that we have the pleasure of being the "warm fuzzies" department at the College. Granted, we do a lot more than hand out free smiles and donor thank you notes, but when it boils down to the basics, we're often here to share great stories of student success and strong causes with donors who want to make a difference with their financial "treasure". And when you give to someone without expecting anything in return, do you not get to feel all warm and fuzzy inside? It's joy in its most simplistic form. You have a need and I have a resource that can fill your need. When that need is met, we both get to feel the relief and the joy of living beyond ourselves. Warm fuzzies, right?

The hardest part of my job, outside of making the "ask" for support face to face or being told no, is when I meet with a grieving family who want to do something beyond themselves to memorialize their loved one. Although these moments are engrained in my mind as the most rewarding donor interactions, they are by far the most gut wrenching at the same time. There are real and very raw emotions involved. Often times the loss is very recent and fresh. Sometimes it was unexpected or many times it was a long and painful process that finally came to an end. Tears are always present. As the fundraiser in the room, it takes everything I have to not sit right there and cry with them. Alas, I am human so there have been times when I've shed a tear right with them, but for their sake I try my best to be compassionate yet collected so that someone is talking them through the process professionally.

Today held one of those challenging moments. This afternoon I sat in a meeting room with a widow of only 3 weeks and her sister, and tried to guide them as they decided what route to take to memorialize the man that they so loved. From the moment the wife walked into the building, I knew this was going to be a bittersweet meeting for her. On one hand, she's being given an opportunity to see her husband honored for the lifetime of the college, but on the other hand, the much more heavy and somber hand, her walking into our office with an envelope of memorial checks was just another reminder of what she has lost. When she could not answer my first question of "how are you doing", I just handed her a tissue and let her have the silence she needed before we moved on. There were stretches of her face being hidden in that tissue while the sister remained the strong one. And when they saw the memorial option that they would decide upon, they both wept together. It was a neat experience to see them both scanning their individual list of options and when their eyes hit one of them, thankfully the same one, they both cried at the same time independent of the other. I saw relief and grief on their faces at the same time.

I am confident that with time and a little acclamation to her new normal, although I hate the new normal for her, this meeting today will serve as the first step in her husband's lasting legacy on campus. Hundreds of thousands of students will see his name on a room within our campus and although they will not know his full story, full impact, and the great love that he has left behind, they will know his name and that someone loved him so much that they engraved it for all to see. His name and his wife's love will forever remain written upon the walls of the campus where he called home for so many years.

What is an open wound right now for his widow will slowly begin to heal with time, and with that time, my hope is that grief will turn to remembrance and someday, eventually, this moment will become a warm fuzzy.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week In Review

It appears I missed yet another "High Five Friday". I'm so slack. Or, more accurately, I'm just slammed trying to prepare for the arrival of Small Frei. Trying to tie up current loose ends at work, while also cramming 12 weeks of upcoming project preparation makes for a long day for this chica. My apologies.

In an effort to give my high fives some credit for making long days better, I shall declare this post a whole darn week in review. I'm just creative simple like that. Here's to hoping you had some fabulous high fives come your way last week as well!
  • Securing a couple large gifts for scholarships at the College last week. Many of our students are so deserving, so every dollar we bring in for them is a super high five!
  • Parmesan Garlic popcorn from the Popcorn Parlor. Fresh, local and delish.
  • Discovering the new show Married at First Sight. I LOVE it. If you haven't seen it, give it a watch. It's a reality show where you actually root for the people versus roll your eyes at their drama. Now, I'm not condoning marrying a total stranger, however, it does make for an interesting experiment and some darn good TV.

  • Spending an afternoon with my mom on Friday. I gave her lunch and a pedicure for her birthday in Feb. Needless to say, it was way overdue!! 
  •  Happening across an AMAZING deal to have some of our furniture refinished for next to nothing. We have some pieces that I bought and had big plans to redo myself, along with a few older pieces that the Hubs already had. That was until this year when we found out we were expecting and painting was on the "no-no" list.  So there they sat, untouched, in the way and collecting dust. As of today, there are 5 pieces being refinished without me having to smell one whiff of a paint fume. It's glorious, friends! I can't wait to share the results. I haven't even seen a finished product and I already feel as though it was worth every cent. Here are two of the pieces (so long Ronald McDonald dressers!!):

  • Catching up with old friends over a delicious brunch on Sunday morning. It was a morning filled with mommy talk, catching up on other skating friends, a few gifts for Ziggy and wonderful fresh apple cider pancakes. I was also given this sweet bracelet in honor of our boy. I love it.

  • This sweet family portrait compliments of my friend's daughter, Sophie. Precious.

  • Purchasing all of our remaining "must have" items from our registry. The Hubs put together the travel system and it is 100% Piggy approved. He let me push him around in it for awhile and seemed totally content being the practice baby.

  • Cleaning out our garage with the help of my parents over the weekend, and my father in law today. This was no small undertaking, but it looks so good! I just want to lay in the middle of it and do garage floor angels there's so much space. Thanks for your help mom, dad and Dick!
  • And the biggest high five goes to Walker, my friend's son, for beginning his healing journey. He's suffered from seizures for over a month now, but is now out of the medically induced coma and experiencing less frequent seizures. He has a ways to go with PT, but his eyes are open and his mom got to hold him for the first time in a month. This picture is pure joy. She's the strongest mom I know!! #Walkerstrong

I hope y'all had a fabulous weekend and are ready to rock this week like 7 Fridays in a row!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

3 Weeks- But Who's Counting?

I'm now officially in my last month of this amazing, odd, ever changing pregnancy journey. At times this process moved at a snail's pace. Now, I feel like Flash Gordon. Well, the days feel like they're Flash Gordon-like. Me, I'm not moving anywhere fast unless it's to the bathroom, and then it's a slightly quicker waddle. Let's be real.

With Ziggy's arrival quickly approaching, we're heading out tonight to purchase all of the essentials that we don't have in our parental arsenal yet. I.e. the stroller-travel system, a new mattress, changing pad covers, champagne for this 9 month sober momma and cigars.

Do people still do cigars? My uncle requested one upon Ziggy's arrival, but we're not really cigar type of people. Maybe we'll do something a little more classy like Miller High Life 40 oz. and Swisher Sweets? That's a bit more our speed, and nothing says "welcome to the planet, baby N.", quite like a $0.97 cigarillo, am I right? Don't all rush to the hospital at once for your ghetto goodies, friends!

As the finish line of this almost year long marathon draws closer into sight, here are a few things that I will and will not miss:
  • I will not miss the extra pounds that grace my face. At times it feels as though I've gained 50lbs in my face. My cheeks are so dang heavy that I swear I should be burning massive amounts of calories when I talk. If I am burning them, they ain't fallin' off my face, I can tell you that.
  • I will not miss chubby jokes. I've gotten quite a few in jest, but a fat joke is a fat joke. Just because you follow it up with an "I'm just teasing" nudge does not negate the fact that just commented on my weight. Ain't nobody got time for that while carrying an entire human being inside of you.
  • I will not miss my Flintstone feet. I'm down to 2 pair of shoes that fit. It's a sad state of affairs from about my lower calf on down my leg. This past weekend I slipped my flip flops on mid-way through my brother's wedding reception which resulted in him announcing to the party that he "found the missing cocktail wienies, everyone." Awesome. Not.
  • I will not miss having to physically cross one of my legs over the other one with my hands. This is a new concept for me. I do not enjoy this concept.
  • I will not miss being able to hear myself breathe. Ziggy was sitting so high for awhile that I was breathing like a 405 lb coal miner at times. Who wants to sit next to that in work meetings?!
  • I will NOT miss Carpal Tunnel. I can not write anything by hand to save my life. And if I do, I will pay for it for hours. I no longer sleep through the night thanks to my hands repeatedly going painfully numb about 6 times a night. Last night I had to sleep sitting up with my hands dangling next to my sides because the numbness had spread up my forearms. Yeah, it's about as cozy as it sounds. I pray this goes away. Please, Lord.

  • I WILL miss this journey of slowly becoming a mom over the last 9 months. Each day gives you the opportunity to grow closer to this person inside.
  • I WILL miss feeling Ziggy move around. No one on the planet will ever feel him like I've been blessed to feel him and it makes me teary to even think about not feeling his kicks.
  • I WILL miss the smiles from strangers and the general kindness that people offer you when you're an expectant mom. When else are people genuinely concerned with how you feel and genuinely excited for you in ways you've never felt?
  • I WILL miss seeing my doctor and nurses as often as I do now. I love those people.
  • I WILL miss the feeling of falling in love with someone I've never met. It's surreal and completely unconditional. I'm only in the initial parenthood stages, but it gives me a glimpse into how much my parents must love my brother and me. It's eye opening to know that your love can know no boundaries or borders.
All in all, I will miss many things and some things can hit the road, but I wouldn't trade this journey for anything. It's Ziggy's journey and it has only just begun. The Flintstone feet are just as much a part of his story as are his sweet kicks and hiccups. And some day when he's 13 and tells me I'm the meanest mom in the whole wide world, I'll be able to smile and tell him that it's just payback for making me sleep sitting up for the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy and for making me wear these hideous shoes with my dress pants on a daily basis. Now who's the mean one?!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Goal Update

With only three weeks to go before we meet our little nugget face to face (3 weeks, what??!!!), I figured it was time to pull out the ole summer goals a la 2014 and see how much progress we've made. AKA, what can we crank out fit in before we're consumed by a 6-7lb wonder.

Without further ado...

Summer 2014 Goals-
  1. Dine Al Fresco more often. This has been done roughly four times since this post took place. I call that delightful progress.
  2. Take a weekend trip, as we've promised each other, for our anniversary. Sadly, I do believe this one will elude us. Timing has just been off and although it makes me sad, I'm not sure there's anyway around it.
  3. Finish two books in July and one in August before our due date. I'm on track to be able to check this puppy off the list. Anyone have any good reads for my maternity leave? Or is that wishful thinking with a newborn?

  4. Clean out our garage. This one, I'm proud to say, is scheduled for this weekend. Hold us to it, friends. No, seriously!
  5. Walk along the bike path with Wrigley and the Hubs more often. And at least one of those times, bring along a picnic dinner. This has happened and was lovely. Why don't we do this more often?
  6. Attend one Evening in the Gardens and take in a few City Markets. As of tonight, both of these events will have been attended by yours truly. If you're local and head to City Market, I highly recommend the roasted sweet corn. I had mine with parmesan, lime juice, cilantro and butter. No exaggeration, best corn I've ever eaten.

  7. Watch Tim Kayak in Rock Cut while I read, nap, and breathe in the fresh air. Boom. Done. Although thanks to an overly stimulated toy-poodle, there was no reading or napping taking place. Just a lot of walking, sniffing every tree stump and trying to get a wired for sound poodle to lay down on the blanket. Oh well, I enjoyed the views and the fresh air. My book and People Style Watch can wait. I can't fit into any of those cute clothes right now anyway.
  8. See one more movie in theaters in July and one in August. All while watching the Hubs crush $18 worth of mediocre popcorn.  July was dominated, now on to August. Anything we should see?
  9. Have a Birthday party for Pig and his dog friends. A kiddie pool is a must. Coming soon!
  10. Meet our son around August 21st! Ahhhhh!
What's on your summer bucket list? Anything you recommend that we can throw into the mix before August 21st?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday High Fives

I'm tired, people. Anyone else out there tired this week? TGIF, no?

This week's saving graces brought to me compliments of:
  • A delicious dinner on the grill Monday night of BBQ pork chops, fresh roasted squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and onions, and garlic noodles. It was superb.
  • Dropping off a meal to our friends so we could secretly sneak a peek at their precious 3 week old. And, no, we didn't drop off the meal just to see the baby, but I'm not going to lie, that was a perk of the outing. He's just so tiny and precious. Can't wait for Ziggy to meet him!
  • Hitting the 36 week milestone. I'm officially entering my last month, friends. That first trimester felt like this was never going to have an end in sight. Cue the second and third and we're rocking and rollin'. 4 more weeks, but who's counting?! Thanks for the weekly milestone stickers, Rennie! Stripes may not have been the proper choice for a sideways photo shoot, but whatever. It is what it is.

  • Getting to celebrate my brother and sister in law tomorrow at their wedding reception. They were married in a very intimate ceremony in May (there were only 8 of us in the room), so this weekend is a chance to celebrate them and officially welcome Sonia into the craziness that is our family.

  • The Hubs was chosen as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the State of IL for 2014, which made this wife VERY proud! You go, Timmy!
  • Water. And no, not ocean water or pool water, but drinking water. I. Cannot. Drink. Enough. I now bring two sources of water to my nightstand for bed. Which in turn means more frequent trips to the restroom at night, which would be a low five.
  • No wedding rentals this weekend. Sometimes you just need a break.
  • Venturing out with the pig a few times this past weekend. On Saturday we took him to the walking path on the campus where I work and he was in hog heaven! He ran non-stop until he pretty much collapsed. On Sunday, we loaded up the picnic basket, the Hubs' kayak and Piggy and headed for the state park. Pig and I relaxed on a blanket and watched all the kayaks, paddle boards and boats go by while the Hubs took his kayak out for a spin. The only "fail" came in the form of a sandwich. Apparently I did not seal Tim's sandwich container fully which made it completely water-logged from the melting ice in the cooler. He tried to take a bite, but I'll forever have the image of him biting into it as cold water poured down his chin from the bread. It made me gag, folks, that's how much water was in that sandwich. Oops. Sorry, Timmy! And here I thought you'd be the one taking on water that afternoon.
I mean, really. Have you ever seen a cuter boy?

Maybe next time we'll bring Pig's life jacket so he can ride along.

  • Lastly, loving my doctor's office. I've hit the stretch where I now have weekly appointments and normally I'd dread going to a doctor, sitting in the waiting room, etc...every week. However, from the receptionist to the nursing staff to my doctor (who the Hubs and I call Dr. Huxtable), these people are top notch. I've never felt more at ease and more cared for than I do within those walls. The doc makes me laugh uncontrollably and the nurses have stayed after hours to see me on a moment's notice. I love them and give them a lot of the credit on how much I've been able to enjoy these last few months of this crazy journey. We hit the doctor jackpot!
  • I lied, one more high five MUST go to the Hubs for my "just because" flowers this week. Just because is my most favorite reason to receive flowers, so they made my entire day. Thank YOU, Timmy!!!
Happy Friday, Y'all!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Not Just for Moms

I came across an article today about a husband who blamed his wife for their messy house, and although it was written with stay at home moms in mind, I think it also speaks for us working women, mom or not. Worth a share? I thought so. So here we are (article link below). Let's discuss, shall we?

If you come to my house on any given day, a Pottery Barn catalog it does not make. There is often more dust than I'd like, and piles of mail (my mail, never the Hubs) stacked on the kitchen counter in various places. I loathe mail. Sure, cards are a fun and rare treat, but other than that, opening mail is probably on my top 10 list of tasks I despise like going to the dentist, public speaking, etc... I digress.

There is usually clean laundry folded in the living room and our shoes in two chaotic piles by our back door. I cringe when someone stops by. Not because I don't love having company, which I DO, but more so because I am embarrassed about the state of our nest. I'm sure my mom cringes when she comes over. Her house is always in order. This apple fell faaaarrrrr from the tree when it comes to this particular subject. Sorry, mom.

As I read the article this morning, I began to see my home and even myself in a different light. Could my home be tidier? Well, duh. Do I have a lot to work on in this realm of personal growth? Um, do bears poo in the woods?

With that being said and aired for all to see, here is what I learned from today's read:

Sometimes my life trumps my dust. More often than not, I'll chose to spend my time with friends and family and the Hubs over opening my mail or putting away the clean clothes piles. By the grace of God and a few loose screws, I'm hard wired to want to be involved in my community. I often find myself running from one committee meeting to the next, after working all day, only to make it home in time to cook dinner for us. By the time we eat at 7:00pm or sometimes closer to 8pm if I've had an event, the last thing I want to do is to dust our TV stand. So I crash into the couch, lift my feet up, and watch something that finally lets my mind rest, all while staring at the dust during commercials thinking "I really need to clean that. Tomorrow." And then tomorrow comes and the whole circus of work meetings and committee meetings and events starts all over again, and guess what? The dust remains and the internal shame grows another layer.

Although I don't have kids and I'm not a stay at home mom,  I still run around like a crazy person all week. Nine times out of ten, the Hubs and I will say blissfully to each other on a Sunday evening "we don't have anything planned in the evenings this week" and we'll take a huge sigh of relief and relish in the fleeting fantasy of one week without any obligations or commitments. By Tuesday, we're typically booked solid until the weekend. I wouldn't change it (well, I wouldn't change most of it), but come the weekend, this soon to be momma is beyond exhausted. I've used up all energy sources, my feet are swollen and achy and I'm just done. And so grows the dust and the guilt when I choose to nap or just be still on the weekends in between wedding rentals. Are you seeing the same pattern here that I'm seeing?

So if you come to our home and there's laundry in the living room, less than perfect floor boards, piles of hoarded mail and dust, please know that while I may not be tidying up my home as much as you AND I would like, what's more important to me in this stage in my life is the fact that I'm working hard to try and tidy up a bigger home. This city Tim and I and our son call home. If given the choice, I will most likely choose to help Transform Rockford or help chair an event for a great and worthy cause before I'll tackle the laundry pile. Sure, I'll get to my house before we have planned visitors, but sometimes the mess just isn't my first priority. It can't be. Not right now when I can still serve without missing my kids bedtimes or picking them up from school due to a late meeting. Right now are my "yes" years when asked to pitch in. Soon the "I'm sorry, I just can't help right now" years will be upon us, but until then, the dust can wait. I know because it's been waiting and that junk has yet to disappear on its own. Sigh.

Anyone else feel like this?


Monday, July 21, 2014

Walking with Walker

One of my SC friends could use your prayer and support. On July 3rd, our friends' 3.5 year old son, Walker, had his first seizure completely out of the blue. What has unfolded since is nothing short of heartbreaking.

Walker has been in the hospital since that day with little relief and little answers. I cannot imagine what his parents are feeling, thinking and going through on a daily basis. Every hour or so, my mind drifts to them and all I can do is pray for answers, for rest for all involved and for strength for both Walker's body and brain and for his parents who have gone 18 days without answers.

From medications to diet changes to a deep, medically induced coma, the doctors in Columbia, SC are working around the clock to uncover the culprit. His seizures have not subsided even with the deep coma that they've induced to protect his brain from permanent damage.  Movement seems to trigger his seizures, but that's about all they know at this stage.

Today Walker and his mom will be transported by plane to Memphis in the hopes of meeting a team who can dig deeper for the answers they so desperately need. His dad will follow by car later today and I'm guessing their younger son, Weston, will stay behind with family. Please join me in praying that their journeys are safe and smooth and that answers await them soon. If you'd like to walk with Walker throughout his journey, you can visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/Walkerphillips. He's got quite the prayer warrior team on his side rallying around him daily, but you can never have enough prayer or support.

Dear Lord, please be with the Phillips family during their journey today and in the days to come. Please keep them safe both in the air and on land as they make their way to Memphis. Please prepare the doctors and nurses there that await him. I pray that although Walker is not aware of what is going on right now, that he is fully aware of YOU and your power and love for him. Even when we are not "awake", you never sleep. You know how this will unfold and you have plans for him, great plans. Please protect his tiny body and mind. Please also be with Karie and Andy as they go through one of the biggest challenges that they may ever go through. I pray that they remain strong and unified during this time. I pray this brings them closer as a couple and closer to you. I pray that they can find rest when possible so that they have the strength to keep going when needed. Their strength has been incredible during a time when doubt would be so much easier than believing. But they've remained strong and grounded in you, and I'm so grateful for their faith that is getting them through this time. Thank you Lord for Walker and for his amazing parents. It's in your name that we walk with Walker and ask for his healing, amen.

Walker's sock monkey friend, PQ, keeping watch over him PICU.