Archive of ‘Life’ category

Giving a Voice to an Invisible Illness

By Natalie

Since my sister Nem’s diagnosis with Lupus I’ve been wanting to chat with her about her daily struggles, in order to share her words to give friends and family a better understanding of what she is going through.

During a recent trip to Fredericksburg we finally had a free moment to talk over breakfast about her life with Lupus, and what she so simply descibes as her new normal.

This woman I spoke to, she’s another version of the sister I grew up with. In some ways I’m reminded she’s the same, but mostly she’s different. She’s tough, she’s disciplined, she’s faithful, and she isn’t going to let any old illness take control over her life no matter how extreme it attacks her body. No matter how invisible.

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When were you diagnosed with Lupus, and what was your immediate reaction?

On September 24th 2012 I was diagnosed with Lupus as a primary disease, & Sjogren’s Syndrome as a secondary disease. The doctor told me on the phone that I had a positive ANA test which meant that I had autoimmune activity going on in my body. I went to a Rheumatologist for more blood work, and she told me I had Lupus and Sjogren’s.

I immediately started taking PlaquenilA common Lupus medication. My initial reaction after the diagnosis was shock. Sean called while I was in the pharmacy waiting on my prescription. He asked how the visit went. It wasn’t until that moment that it hit me, and I just started crying when I told him I was diagnosed with lupus.

What are typical daily tasks that you find yourself unable to do?

I have good days and bad days. After 2.5 years on medication, several detox diets, and learning to listen to my body, it’s gotten better. At first, I wasn’t able to complete my Saturday morning routines of running errands and cleaning my home, I had to discontinue rigorous exercise, and I often wasn’t able to make it through a work day. 
My new “normal” requires that I actively listen to my body and rest when needed so I don’t wear myself out. I need to get plenty of sleep and reduce stress as much as possible. If I don’t, my body will go in shut down mode, leaving me unable to do anything. I’m always reminded that Lupus is there even when I pretend it isn’t. Whenever I push myself, I always pay the price.

I was devastated because I’ve always tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle by working out and watching what I eat, but my efforts couldn’t have prevented what was going on in my body. I didn’t do anything to cause this, it just happened and there was nothing I could do about my body attacking itself. I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis after months of not feeling like myself, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional distress that it caused. I soon became depressed and continually grieved for my old life. I would see people on social media living their lives (fun outings, working out, etc…) and I made myself miserable by comparing myself to others. People were doing what they wanted to do while I felt helpless and unable to live my life fully because my body simply wouldn’t allow me.

What is your body feeling at those times when you’re helpless in need of rest?

One of the big issues of life with lupus is its unpredictable nature, meaning one day I can feel like my old self, and the next I just want to stay curled up in bed all day with extreme fatigue. It’s not like a sleepy or tired fatigue, but one of weakness. Like when you have the flu, and your whole body feels heavy and achy. I also get joint pain in my arms, wrists, hands, and legs accompanied by muscle aches. This discomfort and weakness has left me unable to walk at times. It can make my body feel so tired that I sometimes just want to cry at the thought of doing one more thing, or meeting one more obligation. I’ve also experienced nausea, GI issues, insomnia, and frequent migraines.

A flare can happen at any time and be brought on by a variety of triggers. It could be a busy weekend, eating certain foods, staying up too late too often, stress or long hours of work can eventually trigger a flare. Other times, it seems to happen for no apparent reason at all. It can be mild or severe, and it’s impossible to tell which it’s going to be from the outset of an attack.

As there is no current cure for Lupus how much medication are you required to take daily to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Right now I take 16 pills a day including supplements to keep my immune system up. I take medications to manage joint and muscle pain associated with Lupus flare ups.

About six months after my initial Lupus diagnosis I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I take medication for that as well.

How has your diet changed since your diagnosis?

A stricter diet has significantly added to our grocery bill. I eat raw and organic as much as possible with very limited amounts of processed foods.

How have people treated you since you were diagnosed?

At work, my coworkers have united in supporting me in every way possible. Being an elementary school teacher I have to walk my class to their encore classes, lunch, and recess. Teachers in my grade level have walked my class to and from these places, written sub plans when I couldn’t make it through a day, and my principal has even driven me home a number of times when I felt unable to walk.

I’ve really realized I have such an incredible support system. I know my family prays for me a lot, and checks up on me, and wants to know how I’m doing. Several months after I was diagnosed when you signed us all up for the lupus walk in D.C., that was a really big deal to me.

The love box. (A box full of goodies, homemade creations, and encouraging words Nadir and I put together each month.) Means so much to me.

How has it affected your marriage?

A few months after my diagnosis, Sean and I had the biggest disagreement we’ve ever had. I was frustrated as we discussed the delay in our plans of starting a family due to my illness. I was still processing my feelings and was angry that our plans had to change, but I didn’t realize I was taking it out on Sean until he said “I’m not the enemy here. Whatever you need, I’m here no matter what! We need to take care of you right now and worry about this later.”

He cooks and does a lot more housework since I’m not always physically able to handle it all anymore. He’s understanding, and encouraging when I’m feeling down or thinking it’s going to be this hard forever. He reminds me that “It’s just a bad day. We’re going to get through it and soon we’ll be celebrating a good day.” He also does a good job of communicating with me about my physical and emotional state. Because it’s an invisible illness, he can’t always tell if I’m trying to tough it out and so he always asks how I’m doing. 
He is helpful, often reminds me that he loves and supports me, has a positive attitude and his hobbies serve as an outlet that keeps him balanced which is good for both of us.

How do you feel it has affected your family and coworkers?

I think it’s made my family sad. I think it’s made my family feel helpless. But at the same time I think it’s also given my family the opportunity to love on me.
My coworkers feel helpless also, and it means alot to me when they offer to walk my kids to specials, or lunch. When they ask me how I am. For them to offer their support makes them feel like they can do something. Sometimes I don’t know what to tell my family I need. That’s why the love box is meaningful. Sometimes all I need is an encouraging word. Acknowledging that I look ok on the outside but not on the inside.
I take it one day at a time.


Nem and I also got a chance to chat about what she’s learned with Lupus, her future, and what she wishes people understood about her illness.

Stay tuned for that post coming soon!


On Marrying Young

By Natalie

imageI’m not sure I would reccomend marrying young to just anyone. Because it’s definitely not for everyone. It’s not because I regret marrying at nineteen by any means, I just think that we are a rare commodity. I tell people I’m married and their eyebrows go up. “Oh Newlywed huh.” They’ll say. To which I respond. “Actually coming up on four years.” Then their eyes pop, and the jaws literally drop in disbelief. It’s pretty fun to watch. There are so many great benefits to marrying young. For us specifically it’s been an adventure. A bit of a financial roller coaster at first, in which Brandon was working freelance, and we were eating a whole lotta hot dogs for dinner. But then we just kept moving forward. And we’ve grown into responsible tax paying adults together. You see we hopped in the same car, and kept on the same track with the same goal. That’s the benefit to marrying young. To begin adulthood with similar expectations and share the same end goal, enjoying life all along the way.

But Brandon was not your average twenty-one year old guy. And I was no regular nineteen year old girl.

In addition to being madly in love with a man of God, this is why I was ready…

I can’t tell you that I had no childhood. Because I did learn how to ride a bike. Sort of… with training wheels. Ok, you got me. I can’t really ride a bike or swim. Dad gave me a grand total of like two lessons, and I never quite mastered either of those. I did however manage to master climbing the overgrown holly tree in our backyard. I made mud pies by the deck when my mom wasn’t looking. Scarfed down my easy bake oven creations like they were the best dang brownies I’d ever tasted. I played teacher, and house, and the occasional secretary. Who played secretary? Clipboards and all? I had big dreams guys.

So yes, I had a childhood. I remember it being whimsical, and I remember it being fun. But once I hit about eighth grade, I needed to learn to fend for myself. My sisters were working, and mom was working. They weren’t always around to be sure I finished all my homework, or ate my vegetables. Well… I shouldn’t pretend like I was all on my own. Nem definitely completed a few science fair projects for me. And Nadir definitely helped me get through some books I needed to write reports on. But once they moved out I was left making my own dinners, and caring for myself until mom got home late from work. Being raised in a single parent home leaves you fending for yourself… a lot. This is in no way to say that my mom should have been there. Cause guess what? Dad should have been a better man, and been there. Sometimes I wonder if I should write stuff like that and then I decided that I own my stories. I hope people understand that if you want to be spoken of highly, maybe you should treat people better. They shouldn’t have to tiptoe around your words or actions. You should have acted better. Thought about the venom in your words before you spoke them.

I am in no way saying that my mother could have done better. She did perfect. I am who I am today because I had to figure things out for myself. I didn’t have parents to fall back on or mooch off of. I learned to make my own decisions. My own meals. Suffer the consequences of not completing my homework when no one made me do it the night before. Now I realize how many things must have been on my mother’s mind. She wasn’t worried about holding my hand while I finished my algebra. She was too busy figuring out how to put food on the table, and pay rent. She trusted me to be her helper, and fend for myself in the areas I was capable. I can’t wait to have my own children and be faced with the challenges she was able to face alone. How much stronger will she seem to me then when I have Brandon by my side?

If you don’t believe in prayer you haven’t met my family. You haven’t met my sisters, and our husbands that my mom prayed for since we were small. That we would love, and care for husbands who were good men, ones who sought satisfaction in their own wives, and never needed to look any further. It’s amazing to think that my mom prayed for Brandon before I could make logical decisions. Do you realize the importance of that? As a product of her prayer I can tell you I’m eternally grateful. Thanks mom. It worked.

My Future Little Ones…

By Natalie

imageLately we’ve been talking alot about you tinies. Little things like what names we’ll give to you, and when would be best to bring you into this world. And though it’s still a long way off, these discussions have made my heart more than content. They’ve given me a purpose to better myself, and enjoy a childless marriage while it lasts. Cause once you’re here we’ll be parents forever. We’ve been striving these past almost four years to prepare ourselves to be everything you need. Making a home for you that has love spilling out of the walls, and family written all over it.

What will it be like when we see you for the first time? What will it feel like to have you grow inside me? What will it feel like if I find for some reason that you’re unable to grow inside me? Will your eyes be brown, or will they be green? Will you be born healthy? What if you’re not? What will our marriage look like when you’ve kept us awake at night? What will our home look like after you’ve arrived?

Oh, but you… We’ve waited for you. We’ve learned how to care for one another, how to read one another, so that when you come as this little bundle of joy with no user manual we can figure it out together. As your parents, who have come to figure out so many other blessings and challenges. And you know what I think? I think you’re going to make us more in love with eachother. You’re going to stretch us. You’re going to push us into becoming better people as we have done already in our marriage. You’re going to teach us how to love deeper, and sacrifice more. You’re going to show us the beauty of God’s love through being your parents. Perhaps I need that to be written down here for future reference. When you are crying, and I’m stumped by what may be bothering you. Or a while down the road when we’re no longer your heros, but embarassing parents. Will we be embarassing parents? We’ve asked ourselves that, and convinced ourselves that we certainly would not be.. I wonder if you will one day think differently.

Some pressume you’ll be like your cousins. Spitting up, when we thought for sure there was nothing left to spit up. Exhausting us, and asking us to fall in love with you through your fussiness. I have a feeling they’ll be right. But that’s ok sweet babies. Because you’ll be ours. If I have learned to love all of the little quirks about my husband, and he has learned to love the little quirks about me, we must learn to love all of the little quirks about you. Because with us as your parents, you’re bound to have quirks.

We’re going to break each other, and mold eachother. We’re going to be a family.

Until then tiny ones, all that we do will be in preparation for you.

Before I Pass

By Natalie

At first I thought I may be a little young to be thinking about the end of my life. Then I realized that if I don’t come to terms with the fact that one day my life will end, will I ever take any risks? Will I ever be willing to uncover a boldness in myself to make difficult decisions, and attempt things that scare me?

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.

-Lemony Snicket

I used to hate being home alone. Hate sitting in my own living room because the door was near the couch, and what if someone came knocking? I hated going places on my own, because I’d see a sketchy dude and think up the worst. My mom was a single parent to three girls and in desperate attempts to protect us we learned to be extra cautious. But as I got older this caution turned into paralyzing fear. Leaving me uncomfortable around most men I came across, building up what if scenarios, and afraid of putting myself in a situation where I may be hurt. Then Brandon said “Pack your bags.” The day he got a new job, and I got thrusted into this unfamiliar place. There was no room for being afraid anymore. I had to explore on my own, and after getting over a smidge of culture shock I made it. I’m not sure I’ve quite overcome my fear, but I have definitely broken a large chunk of the bondage that fear held over me. And now, I’ve learned something. That sometimes you just have to throw yourself into your fear, and take control of it. Because living in fear or hurt is hardly living.

rp_image2-1024x1024.jpgThe truth is I have to choose happiness now. Live in the “Why not’s?” Because who knows when my heart will stop ticking…

Life is too precious to submit to fear’s heavy bondage.

Too short to be dragged through our past when we need to let it go.

Life is too magnificent to spend our days in silent war with ourselves.

Too brief to not love unconditionally.

Too unforgiving to make the same mistake twice.

Too quick to let people in your life go unappreciated.

Too beautiful to hold on to relationships that are damaging.

Too authentic to not be honest with yourself and others… God is the author of your story, you are merely the storyteller.

I never imagined myself as the memoir type. I have notebooks full of high school creative writing fiction I’m too embarassed to share. I think during that time I was desperate to create other worlds that were safe, and made sense. Now that I’ve figured a few things out the hard way I’ve grown to enjoy this world. Here I’ve been for the past year docummenting my life as I live it. I realized the other day, these are pretty much my memoirs. And forgive me while I boast a bit, but I’m so proud of myself for continuing these memoirs as long as I have. They’ve allowed me to let certain things go, and learn more about myself in the process. It’s been a complicated journey where I’ve balanced on the fine line of emotion and forgiveness… Before I pass I want to make sure that I explored all the opportunities I wished for. I want to look back on these memoirs with feelings of nostalgia. I want to live a life that was surrounded by people who care for me, and support me being ME. I want a life that was well traveled, and fearless. One that our future children could admire. They’re big dreams, I’m aware.. But I have today, tomorrow, and how ever many more days I’m blessed with to figure it out.

And a Happy New Year

By Natalie

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Forgive me, we’ve been on Christmas vacation..

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I wish I could describe to you the emotions I felt during our stay in Fredericksburg. But there were so many different feelings with so many different people that I’m still trying to wrap my own head around it. I would hope that maybe this Christmas you experienced the same sort of thing as you begin to witness your families growing larger and larger over time.

There were so many conversations I cherished, so many smiles I’ll miss. So many moments that will be hard to forget from the Poe family’s quick wit, to my sister and brother in law tearing up while opening presents for their still growing baby girl.

Christmas was as expected, Christmas. Full of family, presents, and a whole lot of calories. It came and it went just before my eyes.. Sending all of us in different directions to carry on with our lives, and it left me sitting here on my own hundreds of miles away from the family I laughed so much with. How that happened so quickly I hardly know. I keep thinking back wondering if I thanked that person enough for that thoughtful gift. If I should have just gone ahead and eaten that extra cookie that’s only around this time of year. If I told everyone I cared about them enough, and that it was wonderful to see them. Just in case, I’m saying it now.

As the new year quickly approaches I’m happy to say that I’ll still be finding myself, which I’d like to believe  never really ends. I promise myself to continue my writing because it’s the one thing that has comforted me in hurt, helped me to see the good in the bad, and most importantly to view life through the window of the small things. Those sweet little moments that remind you of why you’re here, and what a good life this is to live. Moments like noticing my sister in a frenzy before Christmas dinner, and needing to stop her, hug her, and tell her we’re not going to starve. That it’s ok to slow down. Because the small things aren’t found in a blur. That’s the beauty of them. You have to slow down to notice them. Even more precious moments like hearing my nephew call out “Aunt Natalie” while I hide behind a curtain playing hide and seek. Let’s not talk about Bingley sniffing around for me pulling back the curtain to reveal my spot. That dog.

If you haven’t started already I’d strongly encourage you to slow down in 2015 in order to be on the lookout. Find those moments, and when you do, snag them up and hold them as closely as possible so not to lose sight of their meaning. I’ll be here doing the same. Filling this blog up with all the ones I find.

That is what makes up a happy new year. Spread the word.

Don’t forget to get your nap in before midnight.

Cheers.

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Christmas in the City

By Natalie

imageBrandon and I began our day in the 7th street public market in hopes that two equisitely made lattes would scare away our sleepy eyes. Much to my excitement we found that the streets of Uptown Charlotte had been hit by the Christmas bug.

This weather is not convincing me that Christmas is around the corner. The mornings are just a bit chilly, covering car windshields with the slightest layer of frost. But by the time the sun really wakes up the frost melts, and it hits the upper 50s by lunchtime… Thankfully it’s at least starting to look and sound like Christmas around these parts, even though the weather insists on being warm.

There’s nerd nutcrackers, gingerbread houses to model Charlotte shops, toy soldiers, giant presents in the park. And on top of all that you can find musicians every few blocks. I had a bundle of ones in my wallet so I decided to share it with an elderly man who was puffing beautiful Christmas music into his trumpet. I dropped the money in his jar, and with his lips still pressed to the mouthpiece he smiled at me, and gave me a thumbs up. His sound carried for blocks, putting everyone in the best sort of spirit, to be reminded that Christmas is just around the corner.

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imageWe had some time to kill Sunday afternoon so Brandon and I were pushed onto the city streets. It was the best kind of afternoon. The kind that provides perfect sweater weather, and emits love into the air. Sometimes I forget just how nice it is to walk with my husband hand in hand. It’s the sweetest thing on earth.

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As much as I am in love with the skyscrapers I have to say they are no match for the city’s Christmas tree.

Don’t you just love these extra tall Christmas trees that stop the people in the streets to gaze in wonder? It’s no Rockefeller center, but it’s in our neck of the woods, and it’s perfect.

imageAnd big giant ornaments littered along the way to match. How grand is that?

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imageMerry Christmas everybody. Here’s some happy reindeer to put all of you Scrooges in the mood. They’re happy, I can just tell.

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This November

By Natalie

Well it’s November. In my mind that calls for a few really good cups of apple cider and caramel. One really bad change of weather head cold. Mittens and scarves, and a few loaves of homemade Pumpkin Bread for good measure. I’ve been abiding by all of these lately including the rather unfortunate cold. I’ve survived it ladies and gentleman, and have returned to tell you the tale. There was a whole lot of coughing, and sniffling. Tea, tissues, Nyquil and I even broke out the snuggie while resting up with some classics on Netflix. That was this past week in a nutshell. Me sadly making my own chicken soup, realizing I’d long past the age and independence where my mother would make it for me. What a sad day that was. She makes the best chicken soup. But I’m on to her, she adds an extra pinch of love I think. Here’s the Chicken Soup Recipe.

Back to being ill. I was a mess.

I’m telling you, if you can find someone who loves you through the crusty nose, fatigue, and vicks vapor rub on your chest you’ve got it all. You don’t vow in sickness and in health for nothing. Because I’d argue that when you’re sick, you come closest to the truest version of yourself. Trading stye for comfort, loving for needy, and daily tasks for extra sleep. That’s why it’s so important to have a companion who’s aware of the real you. Because no matter how independant we try to act it’s nice to be taken care of every now and then.

Do you want to know a secret? I’m feeling better now, and I’m sort of bummed out because B has been learning through every sickness how to better care for me. He’s been by my side just to keep me company. Reminding me to laugh at my severe congestion, and succumbing to most all of my silly requests. So yes, I’m going to miss it. Not only was it the extra hubby care but the snuggles with a pup who knows I’m not feeling well, and the ‘Woe is me’ on the couch talk that got me whatever I wanted. During this month of thanks I’m grateful for my health now, but even more grateful for a husband who’s there when I need him most.

As for my plans for the rest of the month I’ll be loading up on my chewable vitamin C, because as much fun as it is to cuddle with the kiddos at work while I’m sick it’s even better to run around and play when I’m well.

B and I will be traveling to Fredericksburg to see the fam for Thanksgiving. We’re signed up for green salad, and pumpkin bread this year, because I make a mean pumpkin bread. In fact, I’ll even share my recipe with you…

Homemade Pumpkin Bread

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) Pumpkin Puree
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 2 3/4 cups White Sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • Glaze (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 7x3in loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl mix pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until blended. Pour into loaf pans.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick comes out clean.

In years past I’ve made this pumpkin bread as more of a dessert item adding a sugary  glaze to the top of the loaf. Either way turns out delicious! Enjoy!

Fathers + Daughters

By Natalie

IMG_6907IMG_6909Around here you’ll find alot of talk on marriage, and dog ownership. You’ll find what we’ve been up to lately, and the latest funny story, or diy project I’ve disciplined myself to create. But every now and then you’re going to see one of these posts. Because blossomed father daughter relationships just get me in the feels.

A few houses down from us there’s this little girl that runs outside in the morning with sleepy eyes, and footie pajamas. She has to run out there every morning to say goodbye to her dad when he leaves for work. Some days when I’m out I’ll even see her give him kisses when he comes home. What’s it like I’ve always wondered to see your dad walk through the door after a long work day and scoop you up into his arms? To smile at the life and home he shares with your sweet little face?

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When we were in California we stayed with cousins for a few days. We were all getting dressed up for B’s grandparents 60th wedding anniversary party. B and I sat on the couch talking to his cousin Jordan waiting for each of the kiddos to run out into the living room ready to go. Selah ran out twirling her dress around with confidence only a child could have. Jordan looked down at his eldest daughter and stopped speaking mid sentence in order to admire her.

“You look beautiful Selah.” He said.

In which she blushingly responded, “Thank you daddy.”

Oh man. Four little words… It got me first right in the throat. Then it took my heart and squeezed it a bit. I have never heard such precious words exchanged between two people. He stopped what he was saying to look at his daughter and remind her of her beauty. It’s my life’s mission to scream from the rooftops to dads out there that this is the stuff fatherhood is made of. Encouraging your children in their creativity and imagination, and admiring the person they are becoming.

IMG_6911IMG_6912Recently I was reading a blog I follow Scissortail Silk, when I came across an older post Daddies Love Just as Much as Mommies. I’ve spent alot of time speaking to fathers about how important it is for them to love on their daughters, because they could never know how much of an impact they will make on their daughters lives. In addition to loving on their little girls I’ve stated how important it is to treat their wives with admiration, and respect for the children to see. I’ve also said alot about daughters being receptive to dads who are trying, and have been there for them. Those are all important to consider however I never thought about how wives need to also be encouraging to the father daughter relationship. And even the father son relationship as well. Daddies Love Just as Much as Mommies sums it up so perfectly I thought I would just share it with you, in case you’ve fallen short, and need a bit of encouragement.

Thanks Jordan, for being yet another dad that has been a part of healing my past through the beauty of your fatherhood. Keep lovin on your babies.

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Intro

By Natalie

Greetings from Charlotte!

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1 16ft moving truck, 1 dog tranquilizer, several sad goodbyes, and 6 hours later we made it to our new home.

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As I drove out of our neighborhood I got just the slightest bit sentimental. Because we grew up in Fredericksburg. We dated in Fredericksburg. We married in Fredericksburg. It’s the one place that holds so many memories. It’s everything we know, yet Brandon lives for things outside of his comfort zone. And Fredericksburg, it was a comfort zone for both of us. So we were lead to Charlotte for a new beginning, and lots to explore. 

On the home front.. Bingley has mastered the complexity of stairs. 

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He’s loving a sliding door to people watch, and I’m taking comfort in the familiarity of our belongings. 

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Yesterday morning I went grocery shopping in South Carolina, because that’s about a 15 minute drive away. Carolinas I’m already blown away by your southern hospitality, and killer sweet tea. My grocery options are no longer a Wegmans, Giant, or Food Lion, but a Harris Teeter and Publix. I tried Publix out first just because and I was so pleasantly surprised at how fresh their produce was. Every single employee I passed greeted me. This a pretty big deal considering my latest grocery shopping memories in Fredericksburg’s Wegmans was a woman pushing past me to weigh her Bananas at the ticket station I was literally seconds away from using. I mean my goodness I even wrote a post on How to Get Out of the Grocery Store Alive.

When I got to the checkout the girl asked if she could unload my cart. What? Unload it onto the conveyer belt? “That’s ok I got it.” I said. Then she bagged my groceries while the cashier rang me up. When I was finished she began pushing the cart and insisted that she help me unload the groceries.  When we finished unloading the groceries in the trunk I spewed out all sorts of thank yous and have a great day’s. Then when I got in the car I had the biggest smile on  my face because everyone was just so pleasant. Now all of a sudden I find it so sad that people are not more kind in passing just because. Because why not?? Why not smile at the person you’re passing in the grocery store? Why not be extremely appreciative that yes the 8th employee you’ve seen in the grocery store has asked you how you’re doing this morning, and if you need any assistance? You know what? I think I may be a happier person down here. Just a hunch. 

Then guess what else? When I pulled in to our home our neighbor was in her car and she said hello, and stretched her hand out to introduce herself. Then she said “Welcome to the neighborhood.” with this big ol smile on her face. So yes, we miss everyone back in Fredericksburg, but so far we are loving this new place we’re calling home.

And just because how could I not? Share the first day in our first house… and the last.

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A Dozen

By Natalie

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Yesterday morning I attempted to pour milk into my freshly pressed coffee and it didn’t seem to pour. As I rubbed my eyes, adjusted my glasses, and looked a bit closer I noticed that the cap to the milk was still on. If that doesn’t describe this move I don’t know what will. It’s been an exhausting week, and no matter how many cups of coffee I drank by the end of the day I still found myself nearly asleep on the hard wood floor next to Bingley on the dog bed at 9:30pm, because Bingley, well… he’s been frazzled too.

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It’s been exciting, it’s been emotional. It’s been a whirlwind really. Our time in Fredericksburg is quickly coming to an end. That’s becoming more real to me now, as I believe it has become for our loved ones here.

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Basically Bingley has been a whole lotta trouble, jumping all over my sister while she sat on the floor attempting to organize, and wrap precious belongings. He plopped himself in the middle of the kitchen like a ton of bricks as my aunt tried to maneuver around him. He’s gotten his wet nose all over me while he sniffs inside a box. He’s been clingy and barked to get himself back inside where the people are. But he’s also licked up the spills, been quite a bit of comic relief, and found quiet corners to fall asleep in. He’s found me when I’m taking a break and sitting on the floor, and comes to rest near me. Basically yes, dogs are a handful. Dogs are a nuisance, but this dog… he’s a whole lotta sweet, and a whole lotta handsome as well.

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It’s the last Monday in our house in Fredericksburg. We’re soaking it in. Bingley’s sitting in the morning light with his nighttime jammies still on, which in this house means he’s roaming collarless. B is in his office shredding lots of papers, and packing up his belongings. I’m in the craft room sitting near a naked desk, and bare walls. My coffee is still hot, and I think I’m ready for the day. I’ve moved 11 times before this.. I think making it a dozen will be just fine.

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