Half way there! Hold up…what?! It seems like I was just finding out you were in there and now we're already halfway to getting to meet you. I guess your big sister has kept me busy enough that time is flying a little faster these days, and that is alright with me.
Speaking of your big sister, do you like how she snuck in to the pictures of you and me this week? First she was trying to stand just like me and and put her hand on her belly. It made your dad and I laugh-- I think you'll find that you'll get a kick out of her too. We are really praying that you two will be great friends as you grow up together. My sister, your aunt Kali, is one of my nearest and dearest friends, and I pray you have that in Blythe.
I decided to take a picture this week of what I actually look like most days: ponytail, t-shirt, and jeans if we're lucky. It's kind of a perk of getting to be home with you, and I thought I should document that too.
We're gearing up for Christmas around here, and it just makes me keep dreaming and wondering about how your little life will have already grown and blossomed so much by this time next year, and how you'll have totally captured our hearts and this entire family. In addition to all the dreaming we've been doing, your dad and I have picked four traits we are praying for your life: integrity, patience, devotion, and purity. But mostly we pray that you'll know the great love of our Savior that we are preparing to celebrate next week.
In another 20 weeks I'll be kissing your sweet face. Keep growing and stay safe. We love you.
I would have loved to have sent you a Christmas card and letter this year…but I didn't. So don't be looking for one in your mailbox. Instead, here is our digital card and letter, because we're so tech savvy around these parts.
Your envelope would have been addressed in swirly and cute print, individualized just for your family. As you tore into the envelope, this card would have fallen out, and you would have promptly hung up my adorable family on your fridge. As another option, I bet you can right click and make us your screen saver if you would like.
And then you would have gotten very excited to see that I didn't sluff off this year but actually included a nice letter about our year, printed on some very cute and trendy and festive paper [nice and thick too, cause I like you enough not to send the cheap stuff…obviously]. Here is what the letter would have said:
This past year was truly filled with JOY, LOVE, and PEACE for our family, and as we near the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we are truly thankful.
It's hard to believe we still had an infant on our hands at the start of this year! We celebrated Blythe's first birthday at the end of March [on a strangely snowy day!], and have enjoyed watching her bloom into the toddler she is today. She [finally] started walking in July, and hasn't looked back. She talks and talks and talks, though you may need Brent or me present to translate. Though just today she was looking through a book and informed me there was a "flamingo!" plain as day. She really has a fun sense of humor, and understands jokes and when she is being funny. She loves stripping down right before her bath and running through the house "nakik." She is currently on a self-imposed hunger strike , but will always eat [frozen] blueberries and oatmeal. She sleeps like a champ and lights up our life each and every day. She truly lives up to the meaning of her name: JOY.
Brent received a promotion and new job title this year, and got to move to the bank's branch here in town. He even gets to come home for lunch everyday! He works primarily with federal regulations, and makes sure that their branches are all compliant and doing what they should be doing. He enjoys it and he recently made it through the first bank examination and they did very well. When he's not working [and can we just be honest here a second: banker's hours are THE BEST!], he enjoys running and running and running… If you ask Blythe, "What does Daddy do?" she will pump her little arms back and forth and says, "Run run run!" This summer he ran a half marathon, and participated in a sprint-triathalon, but those were just to kick off his real training for his second full marathon. He is amazing and did most all of his training BEFORE he left for work in the morning so he could still spend his evenings with his girls. The first week of November he went to Indianapolis and ran a 3:28 full marathon. That's a good time, if you're wondering. Brent is still as patient and wonderful and fun to be around as ever.
I am currently in my second year as a stay-at-home mom. This switch from teaching full time hasn't always been easy, as I truly loved teaching, but knowing that I'm here for Blythe in the every day little things of life has been a blessing and I'm thankful I can do it. I was still able to be the assistant softball coach at the high school this year, which proved to be incredibly exciting. For the first time in school history we won Districts…and then continued and went all the way to state…and then won the State Championship! This is a big deal no matter where you're at, but in a small town like ours, it was a non-stop celebration for weeks! It was so fun to be a part of it all. Other than that I have been subbing occasionally to get my fix of high school kiddos, and have also enjoyed taking pictures here and there for some families. But mainly I spend my days loving on Blythe, and more recently trying to figure out this parenting an-almost-two-year-old business.
Some of our biggest news this year will really be happening next year, as I am 20 weeks pregnant and due May 5th. We are thrilled to be having another baby girl, and so thankful that everything so far has been healthy and well for both her and me.
And this year for Christmas I want to watch the amazement in Blythe's eyes as she discovers the beauty and magic of Christmas around her. I want to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" again and again, and drink eggnog until I'm sick to my stomach. I want to snuggle with my husband and be thankful for Christmas number 9 that I get to spend with him. I want to make cookies from scratch and be covered in flour and frosting and eat the dough and bring some to my friends. I want to give more than I receive and I want my house to smell like evergreens and cinnamon. I want to read the Christmas story and feel the words: and she will call him Immanuel, GOD WITH US.
I want to teach my daughter the actions and words to "Away in a Manger" and kiss her under the mistletoe. I want to build another fort and snowman in my front yard and then run inside and drink raspberry hot chocolate with mini marshmallows in a snowflake mug and tuck my toes under Brent's for warmth while we watch "Elf." I want to put Blythe to bed and rock her and sing to her the song I still have memorized from a children's program at church when I was seven: Christmas isn't Christmas 'til it happens in your heart. Somewhere deep inside you is where Christmas really starts. So give your heart to Jesus, you'll discover when you do, that it's Christmas, really Christmas, for you.
I want to eat homemade toffee and caramels and looks at all the Christmas lights around town. I want to lounge around with family and not worry about the time. I want to place my hands on my growing belly and whisper hopes and dreams for my future daughter.
And I want you to have a beautiful Christmas, full of laughter and hugs and blessings. Full of JOY, LOVE, and PEACE.
Enjoy Christ's birth.
I know it's been said many times many ways…
Merry Christmas to you!
Brent, Kelsey, and Blythe
and little baby girl on the way
In keeping with my "this-baby-will-not-suffer-second-child-syndrome" Brent and I sat down and selected 4 traits we will begin praying over this child as she grows. We selected four specifically if it were a boy, and four if it were a girl.
Just like last time, we knew we wanted to have specific traits to pray for our daughter or son. We still pray for Blythe [Joy, Compassion, Hospitality, and Modesty*], and now will begin praying for this sweet daughter as well. Here are her four traits, and why we picked them:
*I realize Blythe's list was written out in adjectives, and this list is written in nouns. We really wanted 'integrity' and there wasn't a good adjective form, so we changed the rest to nouns to be consistent…okay, I changed the rest to nouns to be consistent because to have one noun and three adjectives bothered me.
1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
2. the state of being whole and undivided
In a society that seems it will do anything to "get ahead," being a person of integrity is important. We pray our daughter chooses to do what is right, even when it may mean not getting the promotion, or coming in last. We want her to be a person that is honest, always, and that seeks out honesty in people and situations around her. We thought of the image of building, tall and strong. It could be a beautiful building, but if it doesn't have "structural integrity" it isn't worth much and it is susceptible to failure. We pray she is built on a strong foundation of integrity and walks securely.
What the bible says about integrity:
Proverbs 10:9 "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out."
1. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset
2. [patience] the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, or anger
3. [patience] quiet, steady perseverance
Patience was one of the first things we discussed for this child. To be a patient person is to also be a selfless person in a lot of ways. We pray that our daughter has a "last shall be first" mentality. We hope that she is okay with not always having all the answers right away. I once heard that patience is passion tamed, and we pray our daughter would have the self-discipline as she grows older to learn this kind of life-giving patience. When a person truly learns to be patient, there is a lot of humility involved, and we pray our daughter may be humble enough to learn how to wait.
What the bible says about patience:
1 Corinthians 13:4 "Love is patient and kind."
1. ardent, often selfless affection and dedication, as to a principal or person
2. [devoted] marked by dedicated loyalty
Devotion was a trait that Brent felt very strongly about, and so we are praying that this daughter will be loyal and passionate about what she believes. We pray she has the kind of devotion to things she truly cares about that allows her to cast vision and be a leader that would draw others in due to her excitement and passion. Obviously we pray she is devoted to the Lord, but also that she could find a few other things in her life that she can be truly devoted to.
1. freedom from anything that contaminates or pollutes
2. lacking a knowledge of evil
3. a woman's virtue
Just as we pray for modesty for Blythe, purity is a trait that is often hard to find today. We pray our daughter has a pure view of others and the world, as well as a pure mind and heart. We pray she guards her heart from evil, as it is the "wellspring of her life" [Proverbs 4:23]. Obviously any parent wishes to protect their child's innocence, but we pray that her innocence would not be naive but spring from knowing the purity of God.
What the bible says about purity:
Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
and Psalm 119:9 "But how can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word."
Here is another story I found in a notebook from when I was first pregnant with Blythe. It seems fitting still, as I embark on this journey to become a mother to two:
I didn't feel like I was ready, but I knew I didn't belong in my 18 year old body anymore. I needed to breathe in something bigger than me and I needed to be changed by it all. I needed to laugh at 2 in the morning and sleep until noon with people who would become my family. I needed to sit in a classroom where I didn't know all the answers. I needed to stress and study and eat chocolate and pizza. I needed it all, but I was too scared to let go-- I was scared to let go of my athletics and scared to let go of being known. I was scared to let go of the title of Student Body President, and scared to let go of never being afraid.
But I needed a little unsafe in my life.
So I went. I packed a million things and I went. I drove away, but still looked in that review mirror because no matter what the moves tell you, you have to look back. I pulled onto campus, 18 years old and brimming with ideas and energy and fear, so much fear. Fear of losing him. Fear of losing everything that was me. Fear of forgetting it all. But I needed it. So I walked to room 211 and threw open the door to my new life. My new life of tears and laughter and fear and pain and growing and heartache and community. I threw the door open to a messy life of learning how to be an adult; a messy life I would share with hundreds of others in that journey.
And now I've closed that door. Not without trepidation and fear. I'm scared to let go again. I'm afraid to let go of 22 year old me and life in the dorms and a simple married life in an apartment with a plant and broken water heater. I'm afraid to need a set bedtime and car repairs and a mortgage. I'm afraid to leave that me behind.
But I need to have a family of my own to grow old with, and I need to learn to pay bills and comfort friends in loss. And I need to learn how to invest in a job that matters. I need to let go of never being afraid.
I need a little unsafe in my life.
I need to breathe in something bigger than me, and I need to be changed by it all. Sometimes when I think of this life inside of me-- growing each day-- I am overwhelmed with responsibility. Responsibility to eat right and not run too quickly and cook my meat thoroughly. I feel the great responsibility to be more than I've ever had to be. Sometimes when I think of this life inside of me-- growing each day-- I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude to Someone bigger than myself. I feel the need to express appreciation more than I ever have. And sometimes when I think of this life inside of me I am overwhelmed with joy-- joy so full and so real that it spreads bigger than anything else in my life. I feel joy so great it wakes me in the morning. I feel joy bigger than me--Joy bigger than this life--Joy in creation.
And I am reminded of the messy life of learning how to be something more than I am. And I dive into the fear.
I used to write. When I was in college I used to buy cheap composition books and write until they were full. Not just journal/diary writing, but try-to-improve-myself-write-stories-share-stories-life-stories kind of writing. I still love writing on my blog when I can but, for me, to pick up a pen and write longhand brings something else out of me; a different "voice."
I used to show my students pages from my notebooks because, well, they're a mess. They are scribbly and winding and I draw arrows to insert and rearrange, but mostly I just write. I write and I don't care if it's perfect. And this is why I would show them to my students: because I think this is where all true writing must start-- in the heart, in that place where things are jumbled and imperfect but bursting and rushing out of you just the same. I wanted them to see, like Anne Lamott always says, that you write the first draft with your heart.
I dug out a few of my old notebooks recently and spent some time flipping through them. A lot of the stories I have shared here at some point or another [in their more edited, perfect form]. But there are a few that I found hidden in their pages that I had forgotten about. One such story I wrote while on an airplane to Seattle, just before I took a cruise to Alaska with my friend, Micah. Here is that story:
People fascinate me. And so as I look out my window of the plane I see a marvelous landscape of carved out mountains, but next to me I see a woman who actually uses the word "marvelous" when she speaks. She ordered chardonnay and looks at me through her "Tiff. & Co." glasses and tells me the time from her Coach watch. She showed me a picture of her grandkids and explained that the seven year old and her are kindred spirits; they are both spiritual and interested in ethereal things. She said she can live on a little when she retires because she's already experienced the 4000 square foot beach house. She travels Monday through Thursday for her job, and she relaxes on the weekends by curling up with her cat, Willow, a glass of wine, and a book.
She said she is very ready to get back to the zero humidity in California and the more tolerant viewpoints, "but I'm not trying to be mean…it's just a different culture." She stopped going to church every Sunday when she was in college because she believes God is in all of us and we are just supposed to love. She was an early reader and read Jane Eyre and Little Women when she was just six years old. When I shared that I was a teacher, she didn't want to "get into politics," but said that she was glad we have a president who believes in the importance of education. She sees herself as a liberal humanitarian.
She passed on the peanuts and eats a quesadilla with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo. She's traveled to Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and more. She sleeps with her mouth wide open.
She fascinates me. I do not aspire to be her, nor do I agree with her on a lot, but she fascinates me. I do not aspire to be her, but she fascinates me and I am thankful we are all created differently. I am thankful we all have stories to share.
Why hello there, sweet one! Thanks for keeping me company for another week. This was a big week for us, too! Not only did I get to SEE your heart beating, strong and to a wonderful rhythm, but I got to learn some very precious information about you
: you are my treasured, second DAUGHTER. I wanted you to be a girl so badly I could have burst, but I was trying to trust God to give us the child He chose…and he chose you! And you are a girl. And you are already so very loved.
Seeing you move and squirm was exciting and emotional. I learned that my placenta is in the front, which is totally safe and normal, but it just means I'll have to be a little more patient to feel harder movements from you. Your dad and I thought that this meant he wouldn't get to feel you for awhile, but the other night you surprised us both and you kicked with all your might and he felt you for the first time.
We had snow this week; your first snowfall of sorts. I'm glad you're tucked away in there because let me tell you, it's quite cold out here in this big ole world right now.
We are trying to come up with a perfect name for you. We want it to be meaningful and unique, but something you can carry around with you comfortably. We may have made our decision, but it's such a big one! We aren't going to tell anyone until you make your appearance though.
We love you, sweet baby girl. I'm so glad you're ours.
I have this desire to chronicle these moments for our second child like I did our first. Here is the story of the first time we got to take a peek at our baby:
I woke up like it were any other day, but the first thought that popped in my head was: The baby! We get to SEE our baby today!
The clock struggled all morning. Seriously. It took FOREVER to move its little self around, until finally, FINALLY it was noon and it was time to get in the car. Brent came home, wearing his go-to blue shirt and pink tie, and we put Blythe in her carseat and headed to Nini Pat's house to drop her off. We let her know we were going to find out if she would be having a brother or a sister, but she was fairly disinterested in the whole process and really just wanted to look at books with Nini. Fair enough. I like looking at books with Nini too.
Brent and I rushed back to the car and off we went. It was almost time! On the way there Brent asked me, "What would you look forward to if this baby is a boy?" He knew I was struggling with the concept of adding a boy to our family, so it was nice to dream big boy dreams on the way.
Last time I got my sonogram I didn't know that drinking a lot of water was recommended/required, so I was quite comfortable when we watched Blythe appear on the little black screen. This time though I had actually read the literature they gave me, or remembered all the ladies in the waiting room from the previous time that were fit to burst with so much liquid, and decided I should probably drink the recommended 32 ounces this go round. I was nervous that it was too early to see much anyway, since last time I didn't go in for the ultrasound until a little past 20 weeks. This was two weeks early! And I wanted to see my baby! So drank I did.
So much so, that I was miserable on the drive there. You see, I didn't really plan the time so well. I started drinking the 32 ounces + at 11 o'clock. I had a 1:30 appointment. About 5 miles from the hospital I finally had Brent pull over and I had to find a bush to go behind. Much better. [Brent told me I had to put this in the story, as he thinks this future child will appreciate it]. I rushed back to the car and started drinking away again.
We got to the hospital and sat down for not even five minutes. Then before I knew it they were calling my name! 15 minutes before our scheduled time! Yipeeee! Which was a good thing too because I hadn't totally emptied my bladder and was still plenty uncomfortable. But it all paid off as soon as she flipped on that sonogram machine. The cold gel was on my belly and then the lights went off in the room and then there was our precious, precious baby.
The first thing we spotted was the heartbeat: fast and strong and pumping with all its little might. In that moment I knew the gender was a frivolous thing, because I was looking at my whole and healthy baby, and knew that, boy or girl, I would get to hold and love the squirmy and delicious bundle. I didn't realize quite how anxious I was this time, but as I saw that heartbeat I exhaled deeply. Brent and I had briefly talked about how it was easier to be anxious this time around. He mentioned that after you have your first child you realize how little control you have on anything. I don't know about you, but my faith becomes very real while pregnant.
We had the same sonogram technician as last time, and she was just as chatty! Her name was Kristin and she was incredibly nice, and I told her how awesome her job is. She said she drives an hour to work, and has for 12 years, but it's because she loves it so much. We also made small town connections as she continued to measure various parts and take pictures for the doctor. Since we got in so early, I feel like we got an extended session. She just kept showing us things: the femurs, the brain cavity, the lungs, the kidneys, the feet...we even got to see one little hand stretch out and spread out all the fingers. It happened so quickly that she couldn't take a picture, but it was incredible.
Finally after about 15 minutes [or more!], she asked if we would like to know the gender. I squeezed Brent's hand as she made the announcement, "It's a sweet little GIRL!" A single tear dripped from my eye. A girl! Was this real? My dream of raising two daughters was coming true? I could give Blythe one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me-- a sister? From the moment we announced our pregnancy, many people have wished a boy upon us, thinking that since we have a girl we must want/need a boy. And though a boy would have been wonderful for many reasons too, I couldn't help but think of what my no-son dad always told people when they made similar comments to him, "The only thing I can think of that is better than one girl...is TWO!"
This is the picture collage I posted to let everyone know the big news!
We finally wrapped up, and Kristin gave us a sticker to take home to Blythe with the sonogram pictures before we headed to the waiting room to see my doctor. We sat grinning at each other, elated at the prospect of another daughter to love. We examined the pictures of her little toes and profile over and over again and then we were called in. My doctor is wonderful and so thorough, and she walked us through, step by step, each part of the sonogram. She explained why they measure this, and why they check that, and with each step she told us everything looked great with our baby girl. She said I am measuring right on track, and that the due date they came up with with the measurements they got was actually two days before my current date, May 3rd.
We left the office feeling incredibly blessed and even more excited to meet this sweet little daughter number two.
We met up with Brent's mom who was in town, and she had polled everyone at the bank where she works as to what they thought we were having. She passed out cherry cordial kisses since it was a girl [she had mint ones if boy], and then treated us to lunch. We called our siblings on the way to pick up Blythe. We of course told Blythe she was getting a sister, but she just wanted to dance and sing some songs that Nini had taught her. Then we headed to my parents and told them before spilling the news to anyone else. We are so excited to add more joy and tutus and high voices and love into our everyday. Blythe will hopefully realize what a gift this is for her life soon too, though I'm sure their will be some adjustments too.
When we were trying to get pregnant, I prayed, "Lord, please give us the baby that will complete our family." And He gave us this precious girl.
In less than 24 hours, I will know the sex of the baby I've been carrying around for a few months! Although I thought waiting for this appointment would seem like an eternity, it has snuck up on us pretty quickly. I actually get to have my appointment two weeks sooner than I did last time, which helps. I'm only worried that the baby won't cooperate for us to be able to tell the sex, but only time will tell.
There are so many thoughts rushing through my head about this appointment: obviously the gender, but also it's our first peek inside the womb. All my appointments would indicate that everything is okay in there, but you just never know until those grey and black pictures appear on the screen.
And the gender? Eek! After you know the gender it seems so much more real and tangible and we can finalize our names and really start PICTURING life with this little dude or dudette. People have asked me if I have a strong feeling either way. I've leaned more towards a boy this time… but I had convinced myself I was having a boy last time too. Only time will tell. If it is a boy, I'll have a whole new world to learn about, that's for sure!
By this weekend check back in for the big REVEAL on the ole blog [we're not doing a reveal party or anything crazy, but I want to make sure we've gotten certain people told first].
The other day as I wrote this post I really just did it to clear my conscious [which was quite burdened, I tell ya], and share a story I hadn't shared on here before. Little did I know that the responses I would get would make me laugh so much.
Just so you understand the great institution of learning I went to, I have to share some of the comments I received:
As the current Director of Residence Life at NWC, it is my duty to inform you that I will be issuing you a contract for theft. The Christmas spirit has been missing from Apartment A for awhile and now I know why. It breaks my heart that one of our own could have done such a dastardly deed. I would expect this kind of behavior from your sister Kali, but you??? I'm shocked. On a serious note, reading this made my day! I plan on sharing this with all of NWC's current RAs! And from my Res Life director at the time… [whose wife, I'm sure, directed him to my blog after she threatened to turn me in to the college president ;)]: Kelsey - As the Director of Residence Life when this happened, I have a few comments.
First, thanks for the confession. How freeing is it to share your sins? Being an RA certainly taught you a lot.
Second, I hope this adds to your guilt, but I remember spending hours looking for this special tree, as it was donated from one of the founding members of the Northwestern Academy. It is worth hundreds of dollars and is a one of a kind. One of those ornaments has $1000 hidden inside it.
Third, the advancement office saw this and said they'll be expecting a significantly larger donation this year to compensate for years of loss.
Fourth, since I made up the last two comments, I really want to know who even bought that tree as I don't recall Apartment A even having one. Maybe Lisa Bu. or Marlon would know.
May your conscience now be free to enjoy the tree in your living room every year, as you think back on great memories of the place that you stole it from.
I also heard from two professors, and several college-mates on the matter [several of whom thought it was high time I got a contract instead of being the one to dole them out…thanks a lot, guys!]. I'm just waiting for it to appear in The Classic and then I'll for sure have President Chr. and the Feds after me! If you are searching for a college to go to, let me know and I'll point you in the right direction! If you already attended college and it wasn't at this one, I'm so sorry you missed out!
And I SWEAR I didn't steal anything else from on-campus!! Except maybe a few trashbags… but NEVER chapel-credit, so I'm good!
Here is a confession of mine that has been a long time coming. Please don't judge too harshly.
When I was a wee pup in college, I had the super sweet privilege of being a Resident Assistant. Maybe at your college these people were called something else, or they were hated, or whatever, but trust me, it was a cool gig and I loved it. I loved it so much, in fact, that after I spent my junior year doing the RA thing in the dorm, I decided to do it again my senior year in the on-campus apartments.
Not only did this mean I got to be a part of residence life again, it also meant that my three roommates and I were automatically given an apartment and we didn't have to fight the masses for one. It also meant a first floor apartment. It also meant the handicap shower, which meant a bigger bathroom. Hey, you take what you can in college, ya know?
Which really leads me to my confession.
At the end of the year it is the RA's responsibility to check people out. This meant I had to go room by room, check to make sure no one had added a skylight or ripped up carpet, then sent the occupants on their merry way to graduated bliss in the "real world" [or most of them anyway, I guess a few were underclassmen… ].
A downfall to this particular part of the job was anything I missed and let someone sign out for was now my responsibility. That sticky stuff on the kitchen ceiling? Missed that, so I got to clean it up. The trash bag in the back stairwell? Better drag that to the dumpster [only to realize I'd left a trail of a mysterious blue ooze….]. However, a perk of this particular part of the job was that anything that was left, I had free reign to grab. Most of the time that meant used bobby pins and a couple of mismatched socks, but when lucky it meant a half a bottle of laundry detergent, a drying rack, and a set of plastic cups! SCORE!
This particular year though, I hit the mother load. I went to the basement where students were allowed to store a few items. Mostly this ended up as a luggage and box dump for the year. The year before I had found some brand new lip gloss and a set of nails in the dorm basement. And that's when I spotted it, in the corner: a Christmas tree box.
You never know if you're going to actually find what's labeled on the outside of the box INSIDE of the box, but I thought, "If that's a left-behind Christmas tree, I'm gonna take it!" I was getting married in three weeks, and moving in four, and had very little to my name. I knew that come December Brent and I probably wouldn't want to spend money on a decent Christmas tree, so if I could score one for FREE that would be awesome.
I lifted a corner of the box and sure enough it was, in fact, a tree! I picked that sucker up and hauled it up the flight of stairs and straight to my backseat. I was pretty excited.
Fast forward seven months. It is December in Louisville, Kentucky, 2008. I find the little box of ornaments our parents had passed down to us, complete with "Baby's First Christmas". And then I pulled out the Christmas tree box. I hadn't ever really opened it, so I was anxious to see what kind of condition it was in. Brent and I started pulling out the different "branches" until we found the base. As he started piecing it all together, I finished pulling out the remains of the plastic evergreen.
And that's when I saw them:
Strands of Christmas lights!
And a tree skirt!
and a few red ball ornaments…
…and some remnants of a silvery garland…
… and that's when I knew.
This was not simply a tree discarded by a forgetful college senior.
Oh no. This was the apartment tree. THE apartment tree. The one that someone came in, put up, decorated, took down and STORED IN THE APARTMENT BASEMENT EVERY YEAR. This was NWC's Apartment A Christmas Tree in apartment 8901 Pine Springs Drive, Louisville, Kentucky.
The way I saw it, I had a few options:
1. Return the tree to the box, and pay a crazy amount of shipping to mail it back to the college with a bizarre note explaining what had happened.
2. Return the tree to the box, not use it, and the next time I knew I would be venturing to NWC bring it along and place it back in the corner of the basement.
3. Keep on decorating for Christmas and realize the tree would most likely never be returned to its rightful owner and bear the responsibility of knowing there would be less holiday cheer in Apartment A this year, as well as the knowledge that I was now a thief.
Option three, though the most burdensome to my soul, seemed like the only real option.
When we moved from Louisville, we loaded boxes into the back of our moving truck and I saw it again: the stolen tree. We unloaded it in Missouri into our attic and have drug it out for Christmas every year since.
This is the first time, publicly, I've made this confession. Now, five and a half years after the theft, I tell myself that surely they've purchased another tree [with some of the thousands of dollars I am still paying them], and there is still Christmas cheer in the hallways of Apartment A.
However if anyone from NWC is reading this, and you feel robbed, contact me and I will pack the box back up and return the tree to its rightful place. Maybe.
And so it begins… :) If you followed along on my journey last time, you may remember that at week 18 I started writing letters to Blythe. I know inevitably this child will suffer from SCS [Second Child Syndrome] at some point, so I wanted to at least get off on the right foot. Dear Baby,
Well, here we are: week 18! I find this incredibly exciting. It seems like just yesterday your dad and I were praying for your existence. The time has just flown by since we found out about you, and I can't believe that in a few short days we will get to see you squirm and kick on the ultrasound monitor…and find out if you're a him or a her! Just know, you will be loved and cherished either way.
You just got to celebrate your first Thanksgiving from in there, and it was a good one! We ate lots of yummy food, and heard a few recommendations for what to name you. Let me tell you, that's a big job! Picking out a name for someone else for the rest of their life? Whew! We've landed on a couple that I think are here to stay…so I hope you like them!
Every once in awhile you give me a special performance and I can feel you spin and flutter and move. It's one of the best feelings ever. Soon you'll grow strong and you will kick harder and even your dad will be able to feel ya! But for now, we keep these little dance parties between you and me, and I like that too.
I hope you're comfortable in there and that you think I'm treating you okay [I try to give you chocolate and cheese as much as possible!]. We love you so much already here in this little house of ours: Your daddy just said this week how he can't believe how awesome it is that we get to do this again with a new little baby, and your sister, Blythe [I'm sure you've heard her a lot already!], came over to me yesterday and laid her absolute favorite blankie on my belly and said it was for the baby.
We love you... and please cooperate for your first pictures so we can see if you're a boy or a girl! Stay warm in there!
If you don't know this about me: I am a sleep-lover. Like, LOVE to sleep, if I don't get at LEAST 8 hours I'm a grump, sleep-lover. In college I learned the hard way the importance of sleep when I got mono [but that's another story for another day, I suppose]. After the mono occurrence my sophomore year, I was not your typical college student when it came to sleep. Sure I still would sleep in until noon if my schedule allowed, but I'd try to be in bed for sure by midnight most nights [I know, I KNOW, that's not early but COLLEGE?! Yes, it's early]. I'm not a big napper, but if I don't get at least 8 hours, you better believe I'm willing to rock the nap if I can.
I can stay up decently late [read: rarely if ever past midnight], but typically I'm in bed by 10, 10:30 at the absolute latest. If I have to get up any time before or near 7, those nine hours of sleep BARELY seem like enough. Most days I get a solid ten hours. And still don't want to get up in the morning.
Some may see this as lazy. I think it's just part of my makeup.
But I promised advice, so here it is:
If you are a sleep-LOVER, especially to the degree described above, you should marry someone who is not.
Now before you get all up in arms and shout, "But EVERYONE likes sleep to SOME degree!" let me clarify: marry someone who can function normally on about 6-7 hours of sleep per night MAX.
Why? Well here are some of the biggest perks:
1. Your spouse will let you sleep in on the weekends while he/she tends to the kids for awhile. Jr. wakes up at 8? Not a big deal to them. They can pop right out of bed and have pancakes flying in no time while you're still trying to remember what day it is and who you are.
2. You always get to maximize your sleep time because they don't mind showering first. You both need to be out the door by 7:30? He or she pops up at the first sound of the alarm and is through the shower and fully dressed before you even realize you've hit the snooze five times.
3. They can perform errands etc. to save you time, therefore allowing you to sleep in. They get the coffee going and take your car up to the gas station to fill it up for your commute to work, all before your feet hit the ground and you realize that somewhere in your slumbering you lost a sock.
Now, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't talk about a few of the downsides, just to be fair:
1. Your non-sleep-LOVING/needing [because let's face it, for you it is a NEED] spouse will make you feel like a bum. Not because they say that to your face [or let's hope they don't anyway, cause then you may have entirely different problems], but because they have clocked a ten to eleven mile run and eaten breakfast and showered before you've even gone to the bathroom or put a bra on.
2. If you are running late for something, it is inevitably ALWAYS going to be your fault. Seriously, it will be. Just take the blame as graciously as you can and know that those 10 extra minutes of sleep were worth it [usually].
3. You don't really ever get to use the excuse, "I'm tired." Just trust me on this one. It may backfire. Don't believe me? Okay. Try it. Tell your spouse that got 6 hours of sleep last night and then got up with the kids two hours before you did that you're tired. See what happens. [Unless you're pregnant: then that trumps everything and you can dance through the house shouting "I'm tired! I'm tired! I'm creating human life!" and there won't be a thing he can do about it ;)].
Now for those of you sleep-LOVERS that have already married another sleep-LOVER. I'm sorry. I really am. I'm sure there is a constant battle over who gets to grab a few extra zzz's on Saturday after the kids are up, and I'm sure the battle for the second shower is an intense one. When Brent and I lived in Kentucky I had a longer commute than he did, plus I had to be at work earlier. This meant some days he was still asleep when I left. I remember telling him that so many times when I tiptoed through the dark and then bent down and kissed him and told him goodbye, I was literally SO MAD at him. Because he was sleeping and I WAS NOT! He could not stop laughing when I told him that. But it was the truth. The rolls are reversed now, and I don't know that he has ever resented me for being asleep when he tells me goodbye.
So again I say: marry a non sleep-LOVER. Just trust me on this one. You'll be so thankful you did.