Monday, September 4, 2017

One Week After Harvey

I haven't typed on this blog since November.  I've had some writers block,  I've had some distractions, I've not wanted to write. Most of my creative writing happens in the form of a Facebook post. It's easier, quicker, more people read it. I've been micro-blogging, so to speak. But today. Oh, but today. Today I have a lot of words and thoughts - and it's too much for a Facebook status. Forgive me as I word vomit here, but I don't want to forget. I want to type this out now, so I'll always remember.

One week ago we evacuated our home due to Harvey.

It was stressful, and it had been stressful. In the days leading up to this, we were inundated with constant tornado warnings - like more than a dozen every day. We were sleeping with kids in our room so we could get to closets quickly. We had days and days of rain that just wouldn't let up. Grant wasn't focused on work, but he wasn't home either. He spent his days prepping our house for the upcoming storm. We needed to fix a pool pump, we needed to sandbag the doors, we needed to seal some cracks in the bricks, we needed to stock up on food and water.

So by the time Sunday rolled around, things were getting intense. My phone was blowing up - friends and family were taking on water in their homes. I felt like I was getting 5-6 texts per hour with more and more of my people, in crisis. Evacuating. We couldn't get to any of them due to flooded roads. The rain would not stop, it was so hard. I would stand at my window in my dining room and just stare out the window. Watching the floodwater creep up and up and up. The rain kept coming.

We started to see the shades of uncertainty and panic on my neighborhood Facebook page. Our neighbors, posting pics of their yard - water higher than anyone here has ever seen - with a caption of "Is anyone else getting nervous?"

We had a big talk, me and my man. Do we leave now? It's dark outside, the water is high, the rain is pounding - is it safe to get out and drive in the dark, rainy night? With our kids? Or do we wait, and evacuate tomorrow morning? But we assumed we would have water in our home by then. Is that the way to go? Should we just go upstairs? Can we get out in the morning by boat? Or pool float? We decided daylight is what we needed to leave, even if water would be in the house. We prayed and prayed and prayed. We got the kids to bed and started getting the house ready.

We borrowed a pump from some kind neighbors that we had never met do get some water out of the pool. We walked out to seal the front door with contractor bags. Carp were swimming around my feet, up and down my driveway. The rain was coming in sideways, and water was coming in from the outside vents on the kitchen wall, water dripping down my backsplash. Grant got a caulk gun and a ladder - I held onto the base in the swampy grass as he tried to seal some cracks shut.

We went back inside and got to work. Computers, photos, albums, important documents went upstairs. Rugs. All my Stella & Dot jewelry - my business. Chairs went on top of tables. We put all the table legs inside a red solo cup. Went into my closet and moved my favorite clothes upstairs, and the important shoes. A box of memories of our dating years. I went through the kids toys and books to pick out the important ones, the sentimental ones. The books they love the most. The toys we've loved the longest. Not gonna lie, there were a few toys that I left lying low. If the flood waters took out that dang monkey toy, then that was just too bad! :) I looked at my piano and started crying. I've played that piano since I was younger than Ellie. It's the one I learned to play, the one thing in the house that didn't feel like "just stuff" - yet it was the one thing I could do nothing about. I was gonna have to let that one go, but it stung.  More friends were taking on water. My friends from church called and we got on a conference call to pray together. Everyone was nervous and we needed some encouragement. My parents texted me a pep talk - "y'all can do this. You will be okay." We brought some food and water upstairs, just in case we were gonna be stuck up there for a few days. I remember Grant asking me "how many days of food do you think we have here?" It all felt so surreal.

We went to bed nervously. I couldn't sleep for hours. But then, I did. And I woke up and before I opened my eyes I reached down and touched the carpet with my hand. Dry! It was dry! I was overjoyed. I woke up and looked out the window, though, and the water was still high. And the forecast called for nothing but rain. Our friends Chris & Callie said they heard there was a drivable path from our house to theirs. We'd have to go a weird back way, but we could get there. We decided to give it a shot. It was still pouring down rain. We bagged up our things in plastic trash bags. Took the kids out to the car one at a time. I looked down the driveway and saw how high the water was, and I decided to just buckle them in at the chest clip and leave the bottom unbuckled. I wanted to be able to get them out of their seats quickly if I needed to - and then Grant put life jackets in the car and I realized we were both worried about the same thing. My neighbor across the street saw that we were leaving and asked if they could use our kayak in case they needed to get out. We left the garage unlocked for them and told them to take whatever they needed. Kayak, pool floats, whatever. We prayed, again, and then headed down the driveway in Grant's big Ford F-150. Getting off of our street was the worst part, my heart was pounding. We did take on some water in the truck, but made it to our friends house safely.

I sobbed when I got there. I had no idea what I would return to, but I was just so overwhelmed. The days of tornado warnings, the days of rain, the standing at the window, the texts from friends - it all just starts to mess with your psyche. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I kept hearing about more and more friends who had to evacuate - some by boat. Some by National Guard. My nearest and dearest losing everything - and I can't physically get to any of them.

And it was still raining.

After that - the world just got weirder. There was no bread or milk in stores. No meat. Airboats were outside my neighborhood. Giant military helicopters flying over my house. School canceled for the foreseeable future. No mail, no packages. Amazon is 2 weeks out, not 2 days. Every part of town was affected, and we were all on our own little island. You can't get from one area to another. You're just in your house, trapped, and knowing your friends needed help was torturous.

Grant and I did take on some water damage from a roof problem, and we will need some roofing and sheetrock repaired - we have filed a claim. But beyond that, we are fine and healthy and dry. The waters have receded in most parts of town, and now comes the guilt. Grant leaves everyday to do demo and help people start this long, long process. But I'm here in this house with my 2 children. But I know that I have survived to serve.

So, I'm doing laundry for my flooded friends. I'm doing a lot of behind-the-scenes things like coordinating volunteers, delegating tasks, bringing meals, and connecting people with who they need to be connected with. I'm purchasing from local stores and small businesses as these people have no income if no one buys from them.

I'm praying. And praising. Seeing the help and the generosity that has come in this aftermath of this awful storm makes me sob. People are good, y'all. People are loving and good. And we are gonna be okay.

God is good.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Night Before He Turns One

I know I don't write as much as I used to. To be honest, I'm not sure why. But tomorrow my son hits a pretty wonderful little milestone, and as I put him in pajamas for the 365th time tonight and snuggled him in my arms, I knew I needed to write. So here's a little letter to Jackson Charles, on the night before his first birthday. 

My boy. My Jackson Charles. We mostly call you Jack, but we have so many other names for you. Jackson, Jack, Jackers, Quackers, Jacketter, Jacketty, Goose, Gooski, Gooski Man, Brother Man, Bubby, Buddy, Mister, The Boy, Bubba, Jacketter-Quacketter,  Broseph, Chunka, Chubbers - it goes on and on. You respond to your name and smile and passionately clap whenever anyone says "Yay, Jack!" 

You're a passionate kid. You're passionate about your emotions - you express anger way more than your sister ever did. You're passionate about food - there has never been a single thing we have put in front of you to eat that you didn't eat with great vigor and delight. I've yet to find something you won't eat. You will not stop eating unless I take food away from you. I can't even say what your favorite foods are because you eat all foods with equal levels of joy and speed. 

You're much more of a daddy's boy than a mama's boy - you do love me and you say my name but if you even hear your daddy's voice your run to him. And if he can't pick you up or play with you at that exact moment, you are heartbroken. You smile and clap and play with me when I come to get you out of your crib in the mornings. You reach up and then pat me on the back when I pick you up. You are a good sleeper and usually go to bed around 7 and wake up in the mornings around 6:30. You have a musical, mechanical mobile in your crib that has little fishies that swim and turtles and waves - we call it your "show." Sometimes you lean up and push the button and turn on your show all by yourself in the middle of the night. We'll hear the music over the monitor and you just lay there and watch the crabs move. 

You're starting to love Mickey Mouse, specifically the Hot Dog Dance, which is exactly what your sister was loving at this age. You like climbing stairs, banging on "drums" and letting your daddy throw pillows at you. You laugh when I put on my sunglasses and are constantly stealing everybody's drinks and claiming them as your own. You love playing with and throwing balls and pushing the buttons on the printer in Daddy's office. You love yelling, it's one of your favorite pastimes. 

Let's talk for a minute about you and your sister. You love her and she loves you. Y'all are 3.5 years apart, but you really do play together. You play ball, you let her put blankets on your head - she crawls in your crib early in the mornings and you jump and play. You clap for her and she claps for you. She gets so excited when you walk to her. Sometimes your hugs turn into a tumble and you end up with tears - but I don't really think you mind. 

I love your sweet face. Your tiny nose, your chubby hands, your fat feet. Your silly teeth. Your sticked-up-hair. I love that yesterday for the first time in about 6 months you fell asleep on me in the living room for no reason whatsoever. When you allow yourself to calm down and not be so busy, you really are a snuggle bug. 

I got emotional tonight, putting you in your crib. Tomorrow I'll have a one year old. No more baby. You're a big boy. A big boy who no longer drinks from a bottle, who eats everything we eat (and then some), a big boy who walks and climbs and makes his voice and his opinions heard - even if he doesn't have the words yet. 

I'm so, so thankful for you. I didn't even know how much I wanted you, how much I needed you. You make me proud and happy. You make me more disciplined and intentional and purposeful. Being your mommy is an absolute joy. A privilege.You make me laugh (HARD) every single day. Your faces and your angry sounds - it's just too much sometimes. Your little lips and the "mmmm" sound you make when you lean in for a kiss - I melt. 

Baby boy, I love you with my whole heart. You're the sweetest and I thank God every day for choosing me to be your mommy.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Red Carpet Recap: Emmy's 2016

It's been FOREVER since I've done a Red Carpet blog and I'm so exciiiiiited!! To catch up on my previous Red Carpet Blogs - click that Red Carpet Recap button up there under the blog header and take a stroll down memory lane. But for now, I give you....

The 2016 Emmy Awards!!!

Let's dive right in!

We're starting our evening with Vada Sultenfuss wearing a unique dress made of what appears to be wrinkled skin.

I don't know who this is but her hair is the same color as mine and I want mine to look more like that so I'm documenting it here so I remember. Also, that color on her is the bomb. 

RAYNA!!!!! Please come back to Nashville PLEASE!!! We need you. 

Also that dress is so dang gorgeous I can't even. 

Amy Poehler barely made it from her son's wedding. 

I love her forever but she is way too young for this. 

Kate McKinnon is so talented and so fun and so pretty and so smart and happy. 

I'm so glad she won!

 Okay I LOVE THIS. Love her hair. Love her dress. LOVE. 
I want to make a chair out of that fabric.

Oh, Edith. 

I like her hair color. I do not like this dress color. 
I'm thinking of watching her new show, what about y'all?

And the winner of this year's jacket contest is awarded to this dapper young man right here! 

This might be one of the weirdest red carpet pics I've ever seen and I've written about a lot of red carpet pics. He has bolts in his neck, y'all. Why do these things happen? 

How did he attach them? how much time did that take? Did he tell her the idea and then she was like "okay, cool?" I don't know. I just don't know about any of it and I'm having a sip of wine. 

This is so flawless it's just not even fair. 

Her hair and makeup is a win at everything she goes to. I like that she wanted to wear a dress but also wanted to wear her comfiest black leggings. You do you, Sarah. 

I don't know who this is but her ring is literally blinding people. 

This is a Wee Willie Winkie shirt. She needs a nightcap and a lantern. 

I LOVE her in this PINK! I hope she gets away with murder this season. 

She is wearing a Charlie Brown dress and she's very upset about it. 

Literal jaw dropper. She is so dang fierce when she's pregnant. 


It's not quite as harsh in this pic - but on TV she came across as VERY orange-looking. So orange that I thought that Mr. Trump's makeup person must've given some tips. The dress is cool though. 


MORE GREEN! Hi Tina!! 

I seriously was like "did John Travolta and Kelly Preston get divorced and he's here with some other woman?" but then I was like "oh wait that IS Kelly Preston.... weird."
I present to you The Plastic Surgery Couple of 2016!

I hope y'all have an amazing week - thanks for reading every year - and if you want to look fabulous like these people and need any gorgeous jewelry for yourself, you can find some lovely things at

Peace out, friends!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Today My Daughter Ate Ham

Ellie had lunch meat today.

I sat her in front of the TV with a plate of strawberries, bananas, and rolled up slices of ham. She immediately scowled and said "HEY! I DIDN'T WANT THAT!"

I calmly told her, "Oh, I know... but remember how the doctor told you that 4 year old girls need to try some new food every day? Well - this is your new food today. And you don't have to eat it. I'm not going to make you. But if you do eat it, when we go to the grocery store later today... you get to pick out whatever kind of popsicles you want and you can eat a popsicle today."

"I want a rainbow popsicle."

"Great! We can do that. But you have to eat the ham."

"How much?"

"All of it."

"That's a lot."

"Do you want a rainbow popsicle?"

(Sigh) "Okay...."

And then she ate ham. And she didn't complain or cry or gag or throw up as she has been known to do in the past. I wouldn't say she gobbled it up or anything like that but she ate it with no issues. I had to walk in my closet and take a deep breath to keep from crying.

And yes, I'm bribing her with popsicles.

At this point I'm not even necessarily wanting her to try healthy food. I just want her to try food! I want her to stop being scared and to realize that food is yummy. I want her to try macaroni and cheese (FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY) and I want her to try lasagna and all the wonderful foods of the world. She's been missing out for a lot of years.

So here's my question for you:

As I'm introducing her to new foods, I want her to realize that food is yummy and I want her to take bites of things that aren't scary looking and also taste absolutely amazing so that she doesn't fight me on it. For years, the biggest battle was getting her to put it into her mouth. Now that she is, I want her to be like THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!!!

So - tell me your thoughts! What would you serve a child that is essentially being brave and eating things for the first time?!