Monday, August 14, 2017

The Junk Drawer

When I designed our new kitchen, I included 2 junk drawers. The contractor pointed out that an extra drawer would encourage extra junk. I agreed, but that's what I wanted.

Junk drawers are a jumble of scissors, small tissue packs, bobby pins, matches, and sticks of gum. Batteries, a measuring tape, ear buds,  phone chargers, and random keys. Patches for river rafts and air mattresses, a tiny screwdriver for eyeglass repairs. Andrew's pacifier clip, and multiple lipsticks.

They are also the landing spot for things that serve no practical purpose, but have no other place to go.

In our home, those include a small plastic eagle we bought on a coal train ride in West Virginia. A  key chain with Margaret's and my photo on it. A tiny Magic 8 ball. Jack's kindergarten ID. A Darth Vader pen. Assorted novelty erasers. A headless Lego guy. Tim's first Blackberry that Margaret used to play to with, pretending she was a spy.

I straighten the junk drawer every now and then when it gets out of control. This gives me a chance to sift, sort, and remember. If these little things were packed away in a box, I'd likely never see them again, and I appreciate being able to touch them and move them about.

I know they will always be there because it is proven that no one ever cleans a junk drawer except for Mom. Sure, Tim will sigh and claim there are NO MORE NAIL CLIPPERS when he is looking right at them; he'll shuffle some stuff around, but he's not going to toss anything.

I like order as much as the next person, but I also love the little family museum I root through every day.

Now were did those scissors go?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Novagratz Tufted Sofa Verdict

My Novagratz Tufted Sofa from Walmart came and I've been meaning to give you an update. Here's what it looks like in the ad:

I'd seen this sofa around the internet, especially in the emerald green, and I was intrigued. It looked so pretty and feminine. I needed a new sofa like a hole in the head, but I justified this purchase because this sofa is also a futon, and we don't have a guest room. I thought it would be nice to turn my office into a guest room when the need arose, especially because I'm not getting a lot of work done in there anyway. 

Delivery was free and fast (2 days)!

It came in a flat box, with the components (legs, arms) tucked in a zippered compartment underneath the upholstered seat.  It was Ikea-level assembly that involved minimal cursing on Tim's and my part.

I selected the dark gray:


I like that the tufts do not have buttons, because in my experience, those pop off.

The reviews said the couch itself is firm rather than cushy, and I agree. It is not a "sink into" couch by any means. The fabric is very pretty but does NOT look as durable as what I'm used to. For instance, our microfiber living room couch is third-hand, given to me by a friend, who got it from a friend, and it has had numerous spills on it, plus many napping dogs. My basement couch (yes, I have a couch problem) has a nice tweedy/chenille-type fabric that has lasted us 17 yrs without issue. The fabric on the Walmart couch, however, is a non-stretchy velour that resembles velvet. It feels pretty thin and looks like it will not be very forgiving for spills, snags, or dog toenails.

Reviews also pointed out its small scale. It definitely as a lower profile than my other couches. Think futon.

Here's what it looks like in my office:




Pardon the lack of a rug.

My sister spent the night last night and tested out the futon. She is our most frequent house guest, so is the best person to judge the new set-up. She got up extra early with Andrew today (is she a saint, or what?) and gave me her verdict when I dragged myself downstairs. She says it was indeed firm, but that she slept well. There is a bit of a gully where the two pieces come together, but she was not bothered by it. She emphasizes it is a futon for ONE person only, not two. Twin sheets fit on it.

Here it is opened flat, a simple process that took a few seconds:

And made up with twin-sized Laura Ashley sheets, circa 1985:


Does it really solve my guest room problem? No, not if we have more than one guest at a time.

Did I need it? Not really.

Other complications: It didn't look good with my existing rug, so now I'm on the market for a new one.

Am I glad I bought it? Yes!


Grade for Novagratz couch/futon:

B or B+

Would I recommend: Yes.

p.s. This is not a sponsored post.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Weekend plus A Giveaway!

What a wonderful weekend at the national gathering of the Bereaved Parents of the USA. I was honored to be asked to speak twice: 1 keynote, 1 workshop. I was stressed going into Friday because I wanted to honor each parent's experience, and be a light if I could. But with Andrew having a scary accident in the driveway last week (he's fine but oh my!) and Tim being out of town, I was afraid that my talks wouldn't come together. Fortunately, prayer helped, and by the time I got up in front of the amazing parents of BPUSA, it flowed.

It was awesome spending time with online friends I know from support groups, and Tim even made it back in town to join me Saturday night for a long-overdue date night. If you had told me a few years ago that our date night would be at a convention for bereaved parents, or that I'd be asking my 40-something girlfriends for overnight childcare for a TODDLER, I would have thought you were NUTS!

One of the highlights was meeting and talking to Pam Vredevelt, author of the well-known book, Empty Arms. She has helped so many grieving parents over the years after baby loss. We know a bunch of the same people in the Christian publishing world, and it felt like I'd known her forever.

I was able to take look at her latest project, Empty Arms Journal: 21 Days of Good Grief Exercises for Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or the Loss of a Baby and was so impressed. Pam also offers an Empty Arms Online Course.





I'd love to mail a copy of the Empty Arms Journal to a reader for herself or a friend who is experiencing baby loss.

If you would like to enter this giveaway, please do so below. There are no requirements other than leaving a comment on anything you wish.

Love and Hugs,

Anna

a Rafflecopter giveaway



#affiliate link included

Friday, July 28, 2017

Today

On soaking, rainy days like today, when phones beep with flash flood warnings, my family is on many hearts. But to me, they seem like any other day.

Why, I wonder?

I think it's because when I think of Jack, I think of his laugh, his understanding, his compassion, his great love for me. His hair, his speedy talk, his interests, his sleeping figure, his vise grip on my hand in the dark. Some memories are growing hazy, and I wonder what I've already forgotten, but I can't forget his essence, his soul, his love, his space in my heart. They are with me right now.

Even though I am less than a mile from the creek where he died and must drive over it many times a day, he is not the boy in the creek to me, and for that I am grateful.

I think that's why today can just be another day.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Oh Crap!

Today was a long day.

I was up before 6 with Andrew, and faced blazing hot temps outside that only a toddler would love. We had too much tv time, as I tried to keep him cool, and I didn't get one non-baby-related thing done.

I also felt pretty lonely, yearning for adult conversation, but also for alone time and the opportunity to write and create. Mid-morning, I took Andrew to the fancy-pants gym to go swimming, but it was at least 45 minutes of prep and wrangling for 20 minutes of fun. I saw moms and their kids socializing in the gym cafe and wondered if/when I'd ever feel up to that again instead of trying to do this mom thing solo. Perhaps I'm doing us both a disservice by not reaching out for activities and playdates. I know that being busier and more plugged in would make our days go faster, but it just seems like such an effort.

Margaret stayed holed up in her room most of the day.

At 5:30 p.m., as Andrew and I played, Tim sent the dreaded "I have to work late" text. I'd been hoping he would walk in the door any moment.

When Margaret came down and smelled the prepared dinner I'd picked up at the grocery store to save time, she rejected it outright and claimed the odor might make her vomit. I'm not saying it smelled good-- it really didn't-- but when I didn't care for my mom's dinners, I'm pretty sure I kept my mouth shut and made myself a Lean Cuisine. At least I hope I did.

Anyway, after a "disgusting" dinner that Andrew loved, during which I taught him how to put black olives on his fingers, I took him upstairs to change his stinky diaper. Too late-- I could feel dampness seep through my dress as I carried him on my hip. Oh well, we were cruising toward bath time anyway. He wailed and flailed as I cleaned up his bottom, so I decided to let him have some naked time while I started the water. I didn't feel like wrestling with him any longer, and what was 5 minutes diaper-less? His wails turned to smiles as he got busy pushing Tim's new roller suitcase around our bedroom, his chunky tush getting a nice airing out.

When I'd readied the bath, I stepped into the bedroom to grab him and noticed moisture on the floor. A little pre-bath pee is not unusual, and easy enough to clean up. But something else caught my eye. Pile after pile of frothy baby poop-- that he was running over with the suitcase while making car noises.

Some days I'm kicking geriatric motherhood's rear.

Other days there's not enough ice cream in the world.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A-Camping We Will Go!

So remember last year when I took a 3 month old tent camping? With no running water? And my breast pump broke and I had to milk myself like a cow? Yeah. Well, a lot of you said this year would be even tougher because Andrew would be mobile.

Indeed he is.

In short, I'm a wee bit nervous. And, having been sick all week, my energy is WAY DOWN.

We leave in 2 days and I can barely fathom what this is going to be like. Well, I guess I can: It's going to be hot. Dirty. There is still no running water. But there are fire ants, ticks, bees, a river, boiling oil, a fire, and possibly bears.

There will also be mountains, family, and friends. And we bought a larger tent to accommodate a Pack and Play, so it could feel like a palace.

Will you say a little prayer for us? Specifically for Andrew's safety and my sanity? I'll be ready to report back early next week. In the meantime, tales of some of our earlier trips:

2013

2010

2009

2008

Friday, June 30, 2017

Learning about Marriage from a 14 Month Old

Margaret will be away from Andrew for almost a week. "I'm going to miss him sooooo much!" she said as we hugged goodbye. At 2 days in, he's already wandering around the house looking for her.

I'm glad this day has come, because it took a while for them to connect.

First, he was just so fragile and scream-y. Then he got cuter, but she was busy with school and sports. Their interactions were limited and brief. As I like to say, she reminded me of a Downton Abbey parent, content to have the baby paraded in once a day for a quick pat on the head and that was it. If you are guessing that she's Lady Mary and I'm the hard-working nanny in this scenario, you are correct.

Once she decided to pay more attention to him, however, it didn't go so well. She would swoop in after a long day at school and go in for a hug, to which he would fuss and give a straight-armed push right back. That would frustrate her, make her think he didn't like her, and she'd keep her distance.

Tim and I were talking about it one day, and this is what he said:

"She needs to let him interact with her on his terms. She can't just come in out of nowhere and expect him to react the way she wants to with a hug. They need to spend time together first. She needs to figure out what he likes and what interests him. If she'd get down on the floor and play with him more, he'd want to spend time with her and accept her affection."

I raised an eyebrow and said, "Does that sound at all familiar?"

The angels sang, and it all clicked for Tim.

If Tim shows up out of nowhere wanting to get frisky, when days or possibly weeks have gone by with little interaction between us, he might be greeted with a straight-arm, too. If he has shown no interest in what's going on in my life, or forgotten little niceties such as "How was your day?", a hand brushing against mine on the couch, or saying good night, going for the gusto seems jarring and discordant.

Like Margaret did, he may see physical affection as a way to connect, which it is, but if it isn't backed up with a relationship, it feels wrong. Likewise, when Margaret (or Tim) feels rebuffed, it makes them want to withdraw, and the cycle continues.

 Life is so fun!

The good news is that Margaret "got it" and started doing things Andrew likes, such as playing outside, looking for butterflies, reading books, and chasing him around the kitchen. She started spending time one-on-one with him, so he wasn't always running to Mommy or Daddy, and their relationship grew. Now, he's her biggest fan and vice versa.

As for Tim and me, we are still learning. I mean, it has only been 25 years, so why rush things?