Monday, April 30, 2012

the truth about the first few weeks


The exact moment that I saw my son for the first time was completely unforgettable. Sometimes I think I must have a picture of it that I look at on a regular basis because the image is just so clear in my mind. That first glance was unlike anything I’d ever felt – it was relief, excitement, love, joy. It was amazing.

And the rest of the day and week and life was sunshine and puppy dogs.

Except not.

I’ve wanted to write this for a while, but I was scared of a few things:

a) I don’t want anyone to think I don’t love my son.
b) I don’t want people asking me if I'm okay 243 times the next time we have a kid.
c) I don’t want anyone to think I don’t like being a mom.

But if I was sitting across from you and you had a newborn in your arms and you looked tired and a little dazed and confused, I would probably offer this story to you. As sort of a keep up the good work, sister! It gets better! kind of thing. Because if I were you, I wouldn’t have been the first to say how I was feeling. For fear of items A through C above.

I guess what I’m saying is this:

Listen up, sister. This is what it was really like for me.


I was uncomfortable in the hospital. I never like being away from my own home anyway, let alone in a place as uninviting as a hospital. And recent events had left me feeling a little bit like I’d been run over by something big and pointy. And I was so, so tired. So tired.

I cried a lot that first night. I got peed on twice. I was tired. The nurses wouldn’t leave us alone. I was tired. I couldn’t move around easily to get to him. I was tired. Etc, etc.

I cried a lot our first night at home, too. I remember everyone talking about sleep deprivation when I was pregnant. “Good luck not sleeping ever again!” they’d say. And I wanted to kick them in the teeth. 

But the sleep deprivation. Y’all. It was no joke. 


Andrew was as helpful as he could be, but the program he was in at the time was super demanding and kept him away most of the time. Not by choice, but because that's what was required of him to graduate. I felt like a single mom for most of those first weeks. He was working all day and all night and I cried every time he left for work. I spent many hours wondering how he could get out of the Navy. When I asked him why he couldn’t just quit, he told me it was because that’s illegal. AWOL or something like that.


What I really wanted was someone to rub my shoulders in the middle of the night and wait on me hand and foot and bring me water and snacks. And I also kind of wanted him to grow a boob so I could just take a break for a few hours. So I cried about that, too. Those unrealistic expectations of mine always seem to come and bite me.

The new baby and the husband's situation and an impending move - it all came together and weighed down pretty heavily. What’s that you say? Baby blues? Probably. But it lasted a little longer than I'd like to admit and I struggled, off and on, with feeling sad and overwhelmed for several weeks. Like when we went to a doctor’s appointment only to remember that it was scheduled for the next day instead so I cried real hard in the parking lot and when Andrew said, “Page, what can I do? Just tell me what to do?”  I told him that I just needed a smoothie.

Girlfriend is crazy, he thought.

I have to tell you that I have never prayed so much and so often. Having a baby is a crash course in faith, that’s for sure. There were so many tearful prayers that went up from that little bedroom in South Carolina and now I get what He meant when he said he is the Good Shepherd. And soon enough, I started to feel more confident. More stable. More peaceful. And there was a lot more joy.


But here’s the thing. I loved my kid through all of that. I always wanted to take care of him. I always wanted to snuggle him and I actually kind of liked climbing the stairs at 3am to be with him. I never, ever, ever stopped loving him. There was a huge separation between how I was feeling and how I was feeling toward him, even though he was kind of the catalyst for it all. 

But I was still so afraid to tell anyone for fear that they wouldn’t see the distinction and I’d get a big BAD MOM label to stick on my forehead. People would ask me if I “just loved being a mom!” and I always lied a said that I did. I loved my boy, but I didn’t quite love being a mom. That junk was hard. 

Looking back, I see how different my love for Jack was then compared to now. The feelings he stirs up inside of me now are so different than the feelings I had when he rarely opened his eyes. This is a much bigger love.

And this is what it feels like to love being a mom. That's another post for another day, because there is much to say about how I really just love this gig.

So, friend? I get it. You just feel a little overwhelmed right now. But oh, do you love that baby. And one day, you'll feel better. Days, weeks, months will go by and one day you will feel confident. Content. Joyful.


Friend, you’ll be so happy.


Friday, April 27, 2012

yard work: a before and after

When my parents came to visit, I knew I needed a project for my dad. He's not one to sit and twiddle his thumbs.

I thought this would be the perfect time for him to help me pick out some flowers for the front beds, especially since my "gardening" has never extending beyond our front porch in Charleston. I had no idea what to plant, when to plant it or how to take care of it.

What I had in mind: a few trays of flowers.
What he had in mind: a complete landscaping overhaul.

I love my dad.

When we got out and started walking around, we realized that there were a lot of random trees, flowers and shrubs that were planted very haphazardly. Boxwoods were choking out azaleas, peonies and rhododendron. There was a butterfly bush that was almost as tall as the house and was so unruly that you couldn't notice anything behind or around it. There were clumps and clumps of hosta in the most bizarre places. It didn't take long to realize that things just needed to be cleaned up.

House Before

After making a game plan, we headed to Lowes. Three hours later, my car was packed down with flowers, mulch, yard pavers, the appropriate tools and grass seed, not to mention a blackberry bush, some bird feeders, a baby, a stroller and my mama.

All set.

The first thing we my dad did was dig up all the boxwoods. Those things are invasive. We decided to plant them outside the fenced-in area and along the tree line instead. I was shocked at how much things opened up just by doing that.


Then he took that massive butterfly bush and turned it into four separate butterfly bushes and planted them in various places. He transplanted azaleas from a spot that was a little crowded to the front bed. He transplanted a hydrangea that we found hiding along the side of the house. He also found all kinds of existing bulbs - hosta, tulips, daffodils - that he was able to dig up and move around. He planted and mulched. He took that ugly AC unit out of the window so it wasn't hanging out. He worked and worked and worked.


But the finished product? AMAZING. Neighbors were stopping to talk about how much better it looked. For days afterward, I'd notice people walking by and pause to look around. Because it's so beautiful, of course.




It makes me happy. A big difference from before, right?

before and after - text

And when the grass comes up in some of the bare spots, it's going to look even better. For now, I spend quite a lot of time looking out the window at how lovely it is. Some of the azaleas are blooming and they're gorgeous. And I usually linger in the front yard when I get home from being out, just to enjoy the view.


So thanks for that, Dad.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

the unofficial house tour

I've been avoiding showing you pictures of the house, because nothing is really finished. But will it ever be? Probably not. And I'm realizing that you people need to appreciate the progress! A little before and after, if you will.

So this is what you'd see if you came to my house right this minute. It's real life, people. Clutter and all. Except you wouldn't see Jack's room because he's napping and if you wake up him up I'll cut you. But you can see it later.

I thought I'd also take this opportunity to run through the project list for each of the rooms. I sure hope you're ready to hang out for a while...

The foyer.

I've never had a legitimate foyer before and I'm enjoying it. On the list:

  • Install board and batten, with the living room color used above that treatment.
  • Find a new chandelier.
  • Find a new front door.

The living room.

This room is probably the most finished and I love it so far. On the list:
  • Install crown molding.
  • Find some art for above the fireplace.
  • Replace the mantel.
  • Get more plants.
  • Install gas logs.
  • Build a new coffee table.
  • Add some more and better lighting.

The dining room.

This part of the room feels a little dark with the dark table, hutch and back of the couch. So I'm working to brighten it up a bit. On the list:
  • Hang art over the hutch. You can see that it's ready to be hung, just hasn't made it up yet.
  • Install new hardware on hutch.
  • Make a table runner.
  • Install a new light fixture.

The kitchen.

This is the room that needs the most work and will be our biggest investment. But I'm excited to see where it goes. On the list:
  • Replace cabinets. We want to keep them white, but we're thinking we might go with the shaker style.
  • Replace countertops. We were considering butcher block for a while, but the maintenance of it has scared us off. Granite, maybe?
  • Install new floors. We're leaning toward cork, which is just beautiful.
  • Replace appliances with stainless steel.
  • Reconfigure layout so that it's a U-shaped kitchen with counters all along the other wall. Right now it's just that weird breakfast bar area.
  • Cut a hole in the wall leading to the dining room to create a bar-area. I hate that it's not a social kitchen - if you're cooking, you're isolated. That will allow for additional seating and prep space.
  • Replace the light fixture.

The sunroom.

Love this room. Love it. But it's kind of a hodge podge right now. On the list:
  • Hang curtains.
  • Build a daybed.
  • Build a larger, rectangular table.
  • More plants!
  • Move that old AC unit that was in our bedroom window and is now in the floor out to the garage. (I'm looking at you, Andrew!)
  • Bring in some storage.

The office/craftroom.

It doesn't look like that anymore! It's cleared out and Andrew built me a lovely desk. More on that later. On the list:
  • Stain the desk that Andrew built.
  • Unpack boxes and put it all away.
  • Make something pretty.

The bathroom.

This is the only bathroom on the first floor and it needs some TLC. On the list:
  • Replace vanity and mirror.
  • Install new light fixture.
  • Install new floors.
  • Repaint.
  • Take down shutters on the window and come up with another alternative for privacy.


The master bedroom.

Something about the peach trim, green ceiling fan and rose border just doesn't feel very relaxing. On the list:
  • Replace the ceiling fan.
  • Take down the border and repaint. We already have a lovely gray picked out.
  • Repaint the trim and closet doors. White, white, white.
  • Finish unpacking. And maybe put the laundry away? I told you this was real life.
  • Replace blinds

Not pictured: Jack's room (I'll cut you, remember?) and the basement. I always forget to take pictures of that space, which we're using as a guest bedroom/family room because it's so huge, so I'll maybe do a follow-up post on that. Right now it's full of yard sale stuff and other miscellaneous items that have no place on the first level.

I'm enjoying taking my time decorating and getting things set up, but there are rooms that kind of bug me while in such an unfinished state. My bedroom for example, is not the picture of serenity that I'd like for it to be. So it's pretty high on my list of projects for the moment.

Speaking of, any tips for tearing down wallpaper?

Monday, April 23, 2012

bringing a little green up in here

Andrew has been saying for months that he wanted to fill our house with plants. He wants them so badly, in fact, that he's currently trying to grow an avocado tree in the sunroom. I know. We won't tell him that we live in Connecticut.

And I don't know why, but decorating with inside plants kind of intimidates me. I can fill a hundred hanging basket with flowers for my porch, but what in the world do I put inside? TOO MANY CHOICES! About the same time I was having this little crisis about how to bring some green indoors, The Nester wrote this perfectly packaged little post about that very thing. And I was inspired.

So I took myself shopping for plants. And y'all?

An obsession was born.

I want to fill all the pots with all the plants and put them in all the rooms in my house. They just make me feel so happy! Add a vase with fresh cut flowers from my yard and I'm in heaven. Who cares if I haven't hung any pictures on the wall, we have plants!

Care to join me for a little plant tour?


This one is my favorite. It's a potted Hydrangea that I got at Lowes around Easter and the color is just lovely. And it reminds me of our beloved Charleston. It greets me from the living room every morning when I come down the hall.

plants 3

This is in the dining room. I took a chance and married this random house plant with a succulent. Who knows if they can cohabitate, but I think they look great together. I got that urn at The Christmas Tree Shops and I love the blue against the brown of the hutch. (Still need to figure out if I want to hang that window there. I'm thinking not.)

plants 2

On to the sunroom! Begonias. Swoon. That little yellow plant stand was a thrift store find in Charleston. And that greenish hydrangea is FAKE. It fools people all the time. Also, a plant in a tea cup? Precious.


I'm hoping to add some herbs to this little table, which Andrew built out of an old shutter, since it gets so much great light. I had fun with the planters here. You can see part of the blue planter I have in the corner, which will soon be filled with yummy basil. The turquoise vase belonged to Andrew's great grandmother. The African Violet is in another Christmas Tree Shops vase and that little galvanized tin was in the dollar spot at Target last year.


We found this guy (a Calathea) at Lowes for $9. It has the coolest swirly leaves that are purple on the underside. So fun.

Personally, I think the green thumbs in my life should be proud.

I'm actually kind of amazed at how much life it brings to our house. Plants really do warm up the space and keep it from feeling stark. I love it. And I'm having fun thinking about all the possibilities for our sunroom. Avocado tree included.

Hooray for plants!

Friday, April 20, 2012

a visit with nana and papa

Hey you people! Jack here.


I thought I'd tell you about the visit I had with my Nana and Papa a few weeks ago. It was just so much fun. I love my mom and dad, but it sure is nice to get someone else's attention for a few days. It makes me feel like a king. A king, I tell you!


My Papa likes to have projects to keep him busy, so my mom asked him to do some work in our front yard. It needed some flowers and stuff.

Picnik collage

He worked out there aaaalll weekend. For a minute I was like, "Hey mom, is that man our personal landscaper?" But nope! It was Papa! I just got confused because he was doing such a good job, I guess.

Picnik collage

The weather was pretty nice, so I got to sit outside with Nana to watch Papa work. We sang songs and watched cars go by and learned about the different birds. She played this game where she bounced me on her leg and sang a song about going to get babies some candy. She said that her Nanny used to sing that song to her. It was so funny!


That Nana. She's a hoot.

And guess what? My daddy came home! I love it when he comes home. We got to go down to the river and watch his submarine pull in. He has a cool job, if you ask me.


We had a lot of fun while they were here. So when my mom told me that they were leaving, it kind of hurt my feelings. This is right after she told me that we were about to take them to the airport.


But they told me that they'll be back soon.


I sure hope so. I need someone to plant me a vegetable garden.

Just kidding, Papa!


Man. I'm funny.

Thanks for coming to see me! We love you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

six months with jack


My sweet, sweet boy.

I finally have the free moments I've been looking for to say all there is to say to you. This is a baby book of sorts and I didn't want to leave anything out, you know?

On your actual half-birthday, we were running errands together and as we were walking through the parking lot I happened to notice the time. 2:33pm. Six months ago at that time, you were just minutes old and we barely knew each other. And then there we were. Little buddies just walking along. You with your hand on my cheek and a smile on your face, the norm when you're in my arms. You make me want to have a thousand babies when you do that.

Lately, I've been feeling panicked that I won't remember everything about you at this age. There is just so much sweetness oozing out of you at any given moment and I want to bottle it up and hold it in my heart forever.

You are so quick with the smiles and I think that's my favorite thing about you. It's rare that we can't get one out of you and we spend most of our time trying. Even when you're upset, you'll do a little laugh-cry thing that makes us want to give you whatever you want. And it makes it hard to get anything done around here. Not because you're a handful, but because I can't walk by you or look in your direction without getting that bright-eyed smile of yours - like you're seeing me for the first time in days - and there's no way I'm just going to keep walking. That sort of cuteness is meant to be enjoyed as much as possible! It's good for the soul.

When we read together, you stop every few pages to look up at me. You always put your hand on my cheek and you always smile real big, like you just can't handle the excitement of that moment.

I can't handle it either, little boy. It makes my heart just crack right open.

I don't know how much you weigh or how long you are, because I always forget to check those things out when you're awake. We're having too much fun doing other things. But you're heavy and you're long. You're in the big boy car seat now, which you love. You like to look out the window and when the weather is nice, we'll roll the windows down so you can feel the wind. You usually have your tongue sticking out at that point, which gives us a nice laugh.

You're starting to try real food, but you're still more interested in the mommy milk. And I don't mind that. You'll nom on some frozen bananas from time to time, which is a nice little distraction during the witching hour when I'm trying to get dinner ready and your daddy isn't home yet. We're in no rush, so you just take your time. I feel so thankful to still be able to give you what you need.

You're thisclose to sitting up on your own, but you've got a big noggin, so it's taking a little while. And while you know how to roll over, you kind of hate being on your tummy so you don't do anything that will land you there.

And everything! is a new! discovery! It's nice to be able to hand you random things to keep you quiet for a little while. In church the other day, the bulletin distracted you for a good 15 minutes. And when we meet daddy for lunch sometimes, you're mesmerized by his red water bottle and name tag. Someone told me once that the best part of parenting was seeing the world through your baby's eyes. I totally get that now.

My boy. I could go on and on. Six months has never gone by so quickly, nor has it ever been so full. Thank you for that.

Happy half-birthday, little one.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I didn't intend for things to be so quiet around here this week, but I got to living life and it just happened.

And when I went to share everything from the past week - my parents bringing a taste of home to my new one, my husband coming back to me, my boy celebrating a half birthday - I couldn't get my words to do it all justice.

I even wrote a short and sweet post about Jack at six months, but I took it down. It didn't feel strong enough. There is so much more to say about that kid, you know?

Do you ever feel like life is just so full and rich that you can't possibly describe it?

That's where I am.

It's all coming, I promise. The pictures and the stories. I'm just going to keep it stored up a little while longer until I can get it out right.

Friday, April 6, 2012

five random things (v7)

I couldn't come up with 10 today. I got distracted by the cuteness that is Jack in a hat.

1. The Johnsons are coming! The Johnsons are coming! I'm picking up my parents from the airport TONIGHT and will have them here until Tuesday. It will be so nice to have some familiar faces around here. And of course, someone else to share snuggles with the boy.

2. Couch-to-5k Progress: One week down. I'm doing it, y'all! I finished the first week and I'm feeling good! I've discovered two things about running. One, there is no shower like a post-run shower. Amen and amen. And two, listening to good music while running might lead you to unknowingly sing out loud and before you know it, you've embarrassed yourself in front of the new neighbors.

3. Jack has a tongue obsession. I would say that he's sticking his tongue out about 50% of the time that he's awake. It started when I started running. I think he liked feeling the wind? I don't know, but he does it A LOT now and it just cracks me up. 

Picnik collage

4. I put the tongue obsession to good use. And taught him a new trick! 

5. We should talk about the hat, shouldn't we? Isn't it the cutest? I got it at a consignment shop (I think it's H&M) so that the sun wouldn't blind him when we walk/run down to the park. And he's just so scrumptious when he wears it!

Picnik collage

I love that picture where he's in the stroller with his feet kicked up on the tray. So much attitude.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some cleaning to do. There's nothing like a little last minute, company is coming! cleaning on a Friday :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

on comparison


There is something that has crept into my mom heart that I didn't expect. I was prepared for a few things and felt armed to fight them:


Those things that try to steal the joy of mothers everywhere, by whispering you're just not good enough, are you? I know enough amazing mothers to know that those feelings come with the territory, so I'm not surprised when I feel them and I just get to praying that my little heart won't let it sink it.

But there's something else, y'all.

Comparison. Talk about a joy-stealer.

I was going to list some of the thoughts that dance through my mind when I see another young mother, the thoughts that force me to compare myself to her and determine that I'm just not good enough, am I? But I don't think that would bless anyone here and I'm not going to allow myself to spend any more time on those thoughts that I already do.

The point is that it's disgusting. 

I'm a good mom, you know? I love my kid. I mean, I really love him. And he knows it! You should see  how that boy lights up when he sees me. And I take care of him. And I teach him things and I help him grow and I am a good mother. A good one.

This morning, I realized that it's time to get real about defeating this whole comparison thing. I've been wallowing in it a bit, really, and using it to try and be betterbetterbetter. But I'm completely robbing God of the glory for the work He's done in me by not believing that what He's done in me is good.

It's good, Page. You are a good work.

Jack needs a confident mom. One who loves like Jesus and gives grace like Jesus and serves like Jesus. And Jesus surely didn't look to others to determine who and how to be. He looked to one Other and that was the only one that mattered.

So I'm committing to kick this habit. No more comparison! No more.

I ordered this print from Naptime Diaries, because I'm determined to drill it into my heart. I plan on hanging it somewhere so it's in my face 342x a day. 

That's truth right there, y'all. And I'm bound and determined to believe it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

wordless(ish) wednesday




These pictures alone are enough to make me keep my promise of using the good camera more often.

Holy cute.

Monday, April 2, 2012


you can reach it

I have so many words in my heart right now and even though I've been trying for the last hour to get them out, they just won't say what I want them to. Does that ever happen to you?

What I want them to say is that I feel so grateful to be able. 

I've done things in the last month that I never thought I'd do. Things that were always on Andrew's list because they were boy jobs or because I just didn't want to do them by myself. 

But I quickly realized that his weekends at home are going to be few and far between and what I'd rather do is drink coffee in the sunroom with him, catching up and enjoying the son I know he's going to miss so much.

So I started doing these things myself. Some things took me twice as long (i.e. painting and repainting the living room). Some things required some education on my part (i.e caulking around the fireplace). Some things resulted in minor back pain (i.e. putting together and moving a giant bookcase).

But I did them all. And I'm proud of myself for it.

This afternoon, while Jack was napping and I was lugging boxes out to the garage, I thanked God for making me able. For giving me a body that could do those things and for building a confidence in me that allowed me to believe that I could do them.

And then I realized that the girl I knew five years ago wouldn't have been cut out for this job. The moving and the building and the fixing. The baby who is being clingy and cries when she leaves the room to go to the bathroom. The dog who is being needy and won't get off her heels. The jogging stroller that just won't go together as easily as the box said it would. The rain that just keeps falling, falling, falling. All the while, the husband is away. Again.

That girl was a lightweight. But by His grace, here I am.


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