October 31, 2011

on my ghost story...

I was seventeen when it happened. It was late, and I was the only one sleeping in the basement that night, as my sister's room was empty while she was out of town. I never slept with my bedroom door closed, but for some reason I had shut it that night. Of course.


It was around 11:00PM and I had just turned off the lights and rolled over to go to sleep. My bed was set up against the wall, with my feet facing my bedroom door and my head below a window. I was on my side, curled up in a ball and facing the wall. I've never been someone who can calm her mind quick enough to fall asleep immediately, so I know for sure that I wasn't sleeping when I first felt the presence—after all, it had been only minutes since I'd turned off the lights.

My eyes whipped open when I felt it. My heart started beating so fast that it was almost painful. As I lay there, I could feel someone standing in my room a few feet away.

I'm not sure if everyone else is like this, but I can sense when someone is in a room with me without seeing them. It's like the energy changes, especially when you're laying there in a quiet room with your eyes closed. I guess it's a "sixth sense" sort of deal. (Not the kind that means you see dead people. Were that the case I would be seeking INTENSE THERAPY.) Basically, if someone is in the room, they don't necessarily have to make a sound or be breathing loudly for you to be aware of their presence. And, of course, it's even more terrifying when you don't hear any sounds at all and simply feel someone there.

Especially when your room had been empty only seconds before, and your door is closed, and there is no way someone could get into your room unless they climbed into the tiny space behind your closet that held the hot-water heater, then managed to climb into your actual closet, then silently opened the closet door and made their way into your room—all without a sound, mind you.

I stayed absolutely still, staring at the wall. I can't tell you why, but all of a sudden I was certain I was about to die. It wasn't just fear, it was was the understanding that the person there was going to hurt me. I could feel them watching me as I lay there. I couldn't move, I could hardly breathe, I refused to turn around because I'd never been so terrified.

Then, I felt them move closer. Just a few steps, then another.

Before you think I'm crazy, try laying in a room with your eyes closed and have someone walk towards you. I swear, even if they're trying their best to be absolutely silent, you can feel them moving towards you. It sounds ridiculous, but it's not. I promise. Try feeling that when nobody is supposed to be there and you're all alone. And your door is closed. And there's nobody to witness the entire incident.

My entire body was rigid and my eyes were wide open, staring at the wall. I kept thinking, Okay, how am I going to get out of my room? They're close enough to grab me. I need to act like I'm sleeping. No, I need to act like I'm waking up. Like I know they're there. Like I have no idea they're there. LIKE I HAVE A GUN.

At this point, I wasn't thinking ghost. Even though it didn't seem possible for someone to show up without a sound, I was still thinking actual person. I didn't necessarily believe in ghosts at that time in my life, and the presence behind me truly felt like a real, solid human being. It was an actual body in my room, standing there, moving closer. And I could hardly breathe.

After a couple minutes had gone by, I made the decision to leap out of bed, bolt up the stairs and run to my parents room. I'm pretty sure I made it across the basement, up the stairs, through the kitchen, down the hall, and to my parents bedroom in one breath.

I actually went into my parents' room (at seventeen, mind you), woke them up and told them there was someone in my room. Although, by nature, I'm a little paranoid and scared of silly things, there's no way I would bust into their room at that age and wake them up like that without being completely confident of what had just happened. I wasn't someone that had grown up having nightmares or night terrors—I don't even think I was really scared of the dark as a child, so this was completely out of left field.

I hurredly told my mom that there was someone in my bedroom and I don't know how they got in there. My mom was all like, "WHAT." My dad was all like, "Mmphhhhblrrgghh." (He was apparently pretty asleep when I ran in to wake them.) My mom told me it was just a bad dream and that it was just my imagination, but I finally convinced them that I most certainly hadn't been asleep, and that there was someone in there.

After a moment they must have noticed I was trembling a bit, and that my fear was genuine.

My dad finally got out of bed, put on his robe and casually made his way through the house, down the stairs and to my room. I remember thinking, "WHY IS HE NOT TAKING A GUN, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY."

My mom did her best to calm me, and when my dad returned from inspecting my room, he assured me there was nobody there. It's crazy, though, what fear like that does to your mind. I kept wondering how the person had time to rush up the stairs and get out before my dad had gone to check my room. I kept thinking that surely they were still there. I mean, where would they go? How could they get away that fast? What? Why? How? HOLD ME.

Needless to say, I slept at the foot of my parents' bed that night. And I'm sure my parents contemplated whether or not their second-born child had lost her ever-loving mind.

I don't remember how long it took for me to be able to sleep alone, in the dark, in my bedroom again after that. I never felt the presence again, but for a long time I found it really difficult to fall asleep. I'd lay there, convinced they would return. Convinced I'd feel that same feeling again, of someone walking closer and closer—not having any idea who they were or where they had came from.

When it comes to ghosts in general, I'm still not sure what I believe. It's been ten years since that night and I still wonder what it was that visited me that night, and why they were there. Because there is no doubt in my mind that it was something. And I also wonder, had I not reacted with such fear, if I would have found something not so scary after all...something that wasn't out to chop me to bits.

I guess I'll never know. And, quite frankly, I'm not in any hurry to find out.

October 28, 2011

my little flower (an easy-peasy costume DIY)...

Easy-peasy DIY baby flower costume! | yourwishcake.com
Let me preface this by saying that the whole Halloween costume thing stresses me out. I don't think I'm very good at adult Halloween-ing, because just thinking about coming up with costumes this year was making my hair fall out in big chunks. I haven't dressed up for Halloween since I was twelve (neither has Jay), but knowing that we had two costume-required events to attend this year made me realize there was no backing out.

Costumed we would be.

We traipsed around no less than four different stores on Wednesday searching for costumes, only to come up empty-handed. (I'm sorry, but as a grown woman with a small child, I'd rather not pay $45 to dress up as a sexy UPS employee. Honestly.) Luckily, Jay ended up coming up with a fantastic costume for himself after visiting a thrift store (he's going as an 80s rocker, complete with wig that makes him look totally sketch). However, as of last night, I still had nothing for Eisley and I.

I finally had one of those a-ha moments while thinking of the obscenely large head-flowers that I've grown to love. Therefore, instead of going to bed (as I should have), last night I busted out my hot-glue gun and got to work. See below for my quick-and-easy baby costume, a-la-Eisley:

Easy-peasy DIY baby flower costume! | yourwishcake.com
(Kindly ignore the angry-face. I swear I'm not a horrible parent.)

Supplies

  • hot glue gun (here's the one I have)
  • felt in two shades of green (I purchase mine here)
  • a needle and thread
  • obscenely large/adorable head-flower (you can find this particular one here)
  • a stretchy headband (similar here)
  • an old onesie that may or may not be stained and one size too small (similar here)
  • a small child willing to endure a photo-shoot while looking like a freshly-picked flower (sorry, you can't have mine)

Instructions


Cut felt into one strip for the stem, and into several leafy shapes. Add some stitching to the two layers of felt leaves. Hot glue the stem and leaves onto the onesie. (For the leaves, I just glued them along the middle line of each one, so that they could pop up a bit and seem more leafy. If that makes any sense at all.) Add some hot glue to the back of the obscenely large flower and attach it to the headband. Stuff baby into onesie and place headband on their round, little head. Take a moment to say, "Sweet mercy! I just created a Halloween costume in less than fifteen minutes! Someone get me a glass of wine and four cookies STAT!"

Handmade flower costume.
The result? An adorable (and simple) costume that hardly costs a thing. (I had all these items on hand, which made my thriftiness do a happy dance.) Although Eisley wasn't really feeling the photo-shoot situation, I have a feeling she felt like the prettiest little flower in all the land.


Easy-peasy DIY baby flower costume! | yourwishcake.com "ME NO LIKEY."

Walking around with the wee one.We attended a local trick-or-treating event last night with a couple friends, and it made my heart want to burst anytime I saw someone point out Eisley to a friend and say, "Oh, my gosh! She's a FLOWER! So cute!" (One person asked me if I had gotten the costume on Etsy, which is the ultimate compliment for any crafty lady.) It was such a wonderful time, and kind of felt like our first holiday tradition as a family. It was so sweet to see Jay walk around, proudly holding his daughter and smiling every time someone complimented her. It made my soul happy.

And as for my Halloween costume? I may just grab some gardening gloves, a floppy hat, some seed packets, smudge some dirt on my face, pretend I'm a gardener, and call it a day. That works, right? Right.

(And, no, Halloween Industry, I will not be a "sexy gardener" just because I'm an adult female. I have standards, you know. Sheesh.)

Further reading: DIY No-Sew Fabric Bows and DIY Painted Wooden Sign


Affiliate links included in this post. Yep, yep.

October 20, 2011

on myself, eight years ago...

"I think that I'm rather unlike most 19 year old girls. I don't want to be in a relationship just for the security or sex. I want to find my soul mate. I want to get married and have a family. Not now, as far as marriage goes. I know I'm young. But...I don't know. I just can't wait to find the person that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with.


And for as much time I spend feeling convinced that I'm hopeless, I know I'm not."

— written by me, at 19

October 16, 2011

on month two...

two months.

How is Eisley two months old already? (I'm sure I'll be saying the same thing as all the upcoming months pass by, too. I have no doubt.) To say she's grown up a bit in the past four weeks is quite the understatement. She's truly started to come out of her newborn-y shell and is developing quite the personality. Every day she seems to be doing something new, and her little features are starting to really come alive.

Here are some of my favorite things from the past month:
  • She is finally sleeping in her crib every night and for most of her naps during the day. We discovered that she is a belly sleeper, and she'll sleep for up to 5 hours straight at night that way. Gone are the days of cosleeping! (Although, truth be told, sometimes I'll let her sleep on my chest after the last feeding of the night, just because I feel like some extra snuggles.)
  • Speaking of sleeping in her crib, she's apparently learned how to scoot in her sleep, because she'll start out at one end of the crib when I put her down, only to mysteriously end up at the other side when she wakes up. Even if she's only asleep for a couple hours, odds are she'll have moved across the crib by the time she's awake. Kind of freaks me out, I'm not going to lie.
  • We're loving our Maya wrap! She's very cozy when she's tucked inside, and it makes Costco trips much, much more tolerable. (Except that she ends up covered in crumbs from all the samples I eat. I mean, what?)
  • She does all these new things that make Jay and I giggle: Rubbing her eyes with her fists when she's sleepy, sticking out her bottom lip right before she starts crying, waking up in the morning with the biggest goofy smiles you'll ever see.
  • She is currently rocking one ringlet on top of her head, a half-dimple in her right cheek and an outie belly button (the last of which used to stress me out, but kind of seems to not matter any more).
  • We are still squeezing her into newborn clothes, even though the onesies are more like curve-hugging bodysuits at this point. It's funny, though, because I had no idea we'd get so much use out of the newborn clothes we received! I'm going to be sad boxing up the smallest things she wore. Mostly because I'm emo like that.
  • Elbow dimples. Chunky shoulders. Double chin. I never thought I would embrace these things with such fervor, but Lord have mercy they are adorable on babies. Amen.
I noticed the other day how Eisley's eyes are the same shape as Jay's. And I think I'm starting to see little specks of brown, so I'm sure she's going to end up with her daddy's warm brown eyes. My mom still thinks that she has my nose and mouth, so Eisley is apparently going to end up being an adorable little hybrid of Jay and I.

(I can already tell that she has his toes and my love of musical theatre.)

On Wednesday, she has her two-month appointment, which means there will be shots involved. Which also means there will be many tears (about half of which will be Eisley's—do they give stickers to moms who don't bawl their heads off?).

We've had to deal with quite a few challenges in the past month (breastfeeding issues, her apparent refusal to nap some days, sleepless nights, and so on and so forth), but the joys have outweighed the frustrations, for sure. I absolutely adore being a mom. Completely and entirely. And I'm so thankful to have this little nugget smiling at me every morning.

October 10, 2011

on a to-do list...

I love this little nug.

This week I will:

…enjoy and any all snuggle time with this little peanut. Even when she decides that a thirty-minute nap is sufficient for the entire day and I get absolutely nothing else done.

…perfect babywearing with my new Maya wrap! I want to use it at least once a day—even though the weather is supposed to be in the 90s on Wednesday and I will surely die a slow and violent death with a baby sleeping on my chest. (Are we sure it isn't July? Really?)

…add at least five new items to my etsy shop. At this point in the game, there's no knowing how much crafty time I'll have in each day, but I want to try and get at least one thing done each day. I need it to feel like "me", if that makes any sense at all.

…continue playing catch-up with my email inbox. Hold me.

…do one brave thing.

…do six silly things.

…rock the messy-bun without shame.

…talk with each of my sisters, who I miss like crazy. And also secretly plan a future where we're all living on the same street and everything is perfect and happy.

…decorate for the new season. Although I'm not really a Halloween-decorating sort of girl, I'm definitely all over autumn colors. I adore wreaths, leaves and pumpkins. And tea lights that smell like baked goods, of course.

October 9, 2011

on a little shop update...

I've somehow managed to make some time for craftiness (in-between changing diapers, cleaning the duplex and all the other glamorous moments that fill my days). Here are a few of the new items available at my good ol' shop—more items coming soon, soon, soon!

eisley necklace.

eisley necklace, mustard yellow | $18.50

rosette earrings.

rosette earrings, teal | $12.00

rosette earrings.

rosette earrings, mustard yellow | $12.00

home sweet home.

wall hanging, home sweet home | $10.50

bliss.

wall hanging, bliss | $8.50

chipboard pieces.

goodie bag, chipboard shapes | $2.50

notecards.

various notecard sets | coming soon!

October 3, 2011

a birth story (part three)...

[To read part one, click here; to read part two, click here!]

When it was time to start pushing, I couldn't believe my labor had progressed that quickly. I was truly expecting to not give birth until the next day. But apparently the wee one had other plans.

What I loved most about this part of the delivery was how intimate it felt. In my mind, I had thought I would be in a cold, sterile room with lights shining in my eyes, surrounded by a bunch of people I didn't know who were pretty much taking charge of the entire situation. In reality, the only people I could see at that point where the nurse (who held back my right leg) and Jay (who held back my left leg). It was like we were the only three people there, and although it was a rather intense situation (obviously), the fact that I felt so safe, comfortable and encouraged by both the nurse and Jay helped me keep my calm.

For the record, it was bizarre to me that Jay was just standing there in his jeans and t-shirt, right there with me as I was pushing. I think he was surprised that he would have a role in that part of the delivery, too, to be honest. For a moment, as the nurse instructed him to hold back my leg, we looked at each other and both had this moment of, "Well, this is…not what I was expecting." (I look at photos of my dad from when I was born and the guy was covered from head to toe in what looked like a surgical uniform. Including a facemask. And Jay wasn't even asked to wash his hands! Oh, how times change.)

Anyhow, the nurse let me know they were going to turn down the epidural so I could feel when to push. And feel it I did. It wasn't awful, awful pain or anything; it was just…odd. The nurse would ask me when I felt a contraction and then she would count through so I could get three good pushes during each contraction. I actually found it difficult to push, because even though I could feel that I needed to, and knew how to, I couldn't really feel the baby descending or anything. It was hard to tell if anything was happening, even though they had turned down the epidural. Also, the nurse would keep telling me to push harder and I felt like saying, "Well, at this point I think my face is going to explode. Is this normal?"

But I pushed. Through about five contractions. All the while hoping that Jay wasn't looking at my "situation" and henceforth destroying our marriage. (I kid. Mostly.)

The nurse informed me that the baby's heart rate was starting to slow with each push, so she wanted me to take a break. At that time, another nurse walked in looking very confused and told Jay that there was a priest here to see us. Jay and I were both like, "What? Who? Why?" And all I could think was, "Is a priest necessary right now? I mean, who called for a priest? AM I DYING?" But then we realized that it was actually just our pastor, who we didn't know was stopping by, and immediately felt a little ridiculous about our mild freak out.

All the nurses left the room to let me rest for a bit (although it didn't feel like rest) while we had a quick visit with the pastor. It actually meant a lot to us that he came to visit. He chatted with us for a few minutes, said a blessing and said a prayer for both us and Eisley. I don't think he realized that I was on the brink of delivery when he arrived, and I managed to hide it well, I think. Even though I kept thinking, "Holy moses, this child is going to come out, like, NOW!" But I didn't want to interrupt the Lord's Prayer. Because that would have been awkward.

As the minutes wore on, I kept feeling intense pressure that was getting stronger with each contraction. It was the weirdest type of pain, and I guess it's just something you have to experience because it's impossible to describe. Finally, I mumbled something to the effect of, "Um, I think that…maybe…I should start pushing again…ehhh…" Jay and the pastor were like, "WHAT? Oh, okay. Yeah. Let's get the nurse."


The nurse checked me again, and I think she was surprised with how quickly the baby was coming. At that point, someone went to get the doctor, and everyone prepared for Eisley's grand entrance. I think there were a few more people in the room at that point, but the atmosphere all around me was of pure excitement. It seemed like everyone was cheering us on and was just as excited for the baby to arrive as we were.

The doctor came in a few minutes later, I started pushing again, and then (to everyone's surprise) Eisley arrived only two contractions later. She was born just eleven minutes shy of midnight.

The way I was positioned, I was able to see her body as the doctor helped deliver her, which was truly incredible. I kept thinking, "Oh, my gosh. That's her. She's here. That's my little girl." She cried immediately, and Jay cut the cord. I always figured I'd be someone who would burst into tears of joy after giving birth, but my emotions were surprisingly subdued. I remember just feeling so at peace. Even though I didn't get to hold her right away, I was okay. I just felt like everything was perfect, and she was here, and there was nothing else in the world that mattered.

The nurse next to us announced that Eisley was 6 pounds, 2 oz. and 20.5 inches long. Jay gave me a kiss and squeezed my hand. We couldn't stop smiling.

The room was still busy around us, but the mood was light. The nurses commented on how well I did, and one of them even said, "Well, that's not fair. Your hair looks just like it did when you got here!" (She must have known what I needed to hear. I wanted to hug her.)

I can't tell you how thankful I was to be surrounded by people who, although they had helped deliver hundreds of babies, made our moment feel like a celebration. It was perfect. One of the earlier nurses who had assisted with my labor even came by after Eisley was born, just to see us and congratulate us. I felt like everyone who took part in our birth experience was a close friend, as silly as it sounds. I just couldn't have asked for better.

As the doctor was stitching me up, he commented on how he couldn't remember the last time he'd experienced such a quick labor with a first time mom. Apparently my body progresses incredibly fast and any future deliveries are sure to be even shorter. "For the next one," he said with a laugh, "you be sure to come to the hospital right away. Unless, of course, you'd like to have a baby in the car."

After Eisley was cleaned up, they put her on my chest. She was completely calm. We looked at each other and it was the sweetest moment. She snuggled into my chest, sucking her thumb as Jay and I admired all her tiny features and felt her soft, baby skin. She was just as I'd imagined she would be, and she was perfect. The little girl I'd always dreamed of was finally in my arms.

newborn.

October 1, 2011

on my baby belly, before & after...

39 weeks pregnant vs. 7 weeks after baby.

[In labor, 39 w. 2 d. pregnant | Yesterday morning, 6 w. 6 d. postpartum]

Seeing my body transform during pregnancy was incredibly surreal. I remember the first few times I looked in the mirror and spotted my "baby bump". From that moment on, I was constantly stealing glances at myself throughout the day in everything from store windows to the sides of mini-vans in parking lots. (Yes, it was a slight obsession. I could just hardly believe I was pregnant half the time, and having the physical reminder was both comforting and thrilling.) Although it took a long time for my bump to be apparent to the rest of the world, I could feel my body changing every day.

You always wonder what it's going to be like, you know? Seeing your belly grow as the child inside you slowly changes with each passing day. What will it feel like? Will I still feel like myself? Will I feel different?

I know most of us worry endlessly about what pregnancy will do to our bodies. Extra weight, stretchmarks, all the lumps and bumps that we work so hard to avoid under normal circumstances. For some reason, I didn't let that worry get to me. I kept thinking about how if there was ever a time to just let my body do what it needed to do, pregnancy was it. There was always that worry of becoming a human blueberry, but most of the time I just giggled about it. In the couple years leading up to my pregnancy, I had managed to overcome many of my body image issues and I wasn't going to let my worry steal any joy from the next nine months.

Bring on the love handles and double-chins. I was going to take it all in stride. (And try my best to hide the chins in any and all photographs, obviously. I'm no saint, people.)

As it ended up, I really lucked out. I'll never deny that. Having a tiny baby, combined with the fact that I somehow avoided many typical pregnancy cravings and the usual increase in appetite, led to my gaining only 20 lbs. during the 39 weeks I was pregnant. (I take no credit, for the record. It was a mystery of science, because I had always figured I'd gain at least 50 lbs. No lie.) And having a smaller belly led to my also avoiding stretch marks—not including the one that appeared after the wee one arrived. Of course, I will never complain about that lone stretch mark, and instead find it slightly endearing. I imagine it being all, "Ohai. I'm just chilling here on your abdomen. Don't hate."

After I gave birth, I still looked like I was about five months pregnant for a few days. At first I felt awkward about it. I remember changing into my regular clothes before heading home from the hospital, noticing my still round belly. I looked at my mom, rubbing my leftover baby bump and saying, "WHAT IS THIS MESS." She assured me it was normal, so I calmed down a bit. I knew it would slowly become smaller and smaller—and, in a way, I started to get wistful after that.

It's like the last signs of pregnancy, slowly melting away.

About two weeks postpartum, I kind of adored what was left of my baby bump. I wanted to go belly dancing. Or just shimmy around a bit in front of the mirror. Mostly because it felt good to be curvy it a way that didn't include my stomach protruding a foot from my body. I have a waist! I have hips! I have a soft, beautiful belly! Hurrah!

I'm now back down to where I was pre-baby (just a few pounds under, actually—which I contribute to breastfeeding, as well as being more active). It's been an incredible journey. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was so anxious and eager to be forced to wear pregnancy jeans, and now I'm back to my regular wardrobe. My body has shifted and changed, but has also given me a healthy, happy little girl. I'm in awe of the whole process, truly.

I remember my mom always telling me about how each time she gave birth, it was such an incredible experience that she felt like she was the first woman in the world to have a baby. Creating a life, sustaining that life for nine months, giving birth to a tiny miracle, and then being all that is needed for that life to continue outside the cozy space it had grown within.

It's definitely been a life-changing experience. And as a woman, I can't help but be in awe of how I was created for this...as cliché and old-fashioned as it may sound.

Sometimes it's still so overwhelming to look at the tiny baby sleeping in my arms, knowing that without Jay and I, she would never exist. And that my body held her life within it for so long, making sure she was safe and sound for all those months. Magical, really.