What is it they say about a year? It makes all the difference?

19 Jul

It’s been exactly a year since I drove up to Asheville with the baby, the dog, the cat, and a week’s worth of supplies to sign the deed on our new house (Walter was on vacay, that lucky dog!). Last year I was in the middle of chaos on July 19th. This year the rush of life is much more pleasant, especially because it doesn’t involve unpacking a house worth of boxes.

img_20170719_133401978_topThis was me on July 19, 2017. I had only had 3 hours sleep, I had just driven 3.5 hours with the constantly meowing cat, we had been living in two different states for a month, just got a contract on our Atlanta house, and I had just spent the last week celebrating one of my best friend’s weddings. Oof.

Today, however, it is 68° outside, cloudy and gorgeous, and we spent the morning outside mulching the garden bed, planting rose of Sharons transplanted from my mom’s yard, taking a walk to the blueberry farm on our street, and napping before a play date this afternoon.

img_20180719_110116_638Kiddos doing what they love best: getting dirty and playing with mud. One day soon I’d love for this to get off our driveway, but I do love the imaginative play a big pile of dirt creates.

img_20180719_123453_267Our neighbors two doors down. Besides the ticks, I love #countrylife

Walter is almost six years old and is as fascinating and amazing a person as I could hope for in someone so young. His curiosity and depth into life astound me. The only real struggle I have with him right now is deciding whether to continue homeschooling or to put him in the excellent elementary school he is slated for. I love homeschooling, but it is also a great window into all my parenting fears and flaws I battle with on a daily basis.

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Rex is a year and a half and is really one of the most joyful people I know. I soak up his smiles and adventurous spirit, and one of the things I love about where we live is that we are in the middle of nature and he thrives on that. If I open the door to let the dog or cat out and he doesn’t get to go outside, he usually screams at me.

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While I still miss my Atlanta friends and family, I feel like we make a good bit of effort to see everyone at least once a year. I just spent a week with the boys in ATL and a very busy schedule of play dates. It was exhausting but oh so wonderful! I also feel like I am finding some good friends up here, and that makes all the difference in the world. Because of these things, and the amazing location we live in, I can say I have no regrets about this move. It definitely wasn’t always a smooth transition — there were many nights I asked myself and Dave “why did we do this again?” — but I don’t think I could go back. I feel such joy and peace when I look outside my windows, and I know this is a lucky feeling.

img_20180714_154452_717July 2018 — I look like a much more sane person! I’d travel the world to hang out with these three beauties. These are my book club gals and some of the best friends a girl could ask for. Okay so to be honest I am involved in five book clubs (two in Atlanta and three in Asheville). It’s hard to keep up sometimes but reading is my passion!

There have only been two homes in my life that in retrospect have been true homes. The first was my apartment on Charles Allen Dr in Midtown. I began my life there, even though I was already 23. I found poetry and yoga and the love of my life; I accomplished goals that I set for myself, and I had a lot of fun doing it!

And here, in this beautiful home in Asheville, I am more present than I’ve ever been. I rock my baby to sleep and read with my other child before bed and tend to the yard and go to local farms to buy food and explore the wilderness and, and, and… The list could go on, but I won’t! Time to go continue enjoying life.

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Birthing an Embryo

15 Jun

NB: Reveals details about my recent miscarriage.

#3 started out fun. We were on vacation, our first as a family that didn’t involve other friends or family joining us. We had a much needed, great time together at the beach. We went out for seafood one night and the low country boil I ordered smelled very bad to me, and Dave and I thought, oh, hee hee, what if we’re pregnant? And then I felt pretty sick after a glass of wine, so I thought, maybe I really am!

IMG_20180502_142323175Morris Lighthouse near Folly Beach.

img_20180428_201759My boys exploring the sand and surf. Oh how I love the ocean.

We got home and my period was supposed to start. I had some cramping, but after a couple days of no Aunt Flo and some sore boobs, I took a test. I couldn’t even wait for David to get home from work, so I had to call him with the news. I was shaking with excitement and disbelief.

“We’re going to need to get me a bigger car, honey!”

img_20180509_095855050_topIt’s a blurry pic because I was literally shaking. Though Rexy doesn’t look too pleased at the prospect of being a middle sibling haha.

Fast forward a couple weeks, where we had told grandparents but no friends yet, and we enjoyed spending a couple late nights in bed talking over baby names, especially girl names. Since we had already had two boys, obviously there were no more boy names left, so we figured out some girl options.

My brother and his family came in town over Memorial Day weekend, and right as we were about to go to dinner their first night, I popped into the restroom for a quick pee. I was pregnant, after all, and had to pee all the time. I was not expecting anything abnormal, as the morning sickness was already playing a strong game all day long every day.

Blood.

Not that much, but I told Dave anyway. Most of my pregnancy symptoms seemed to vanish the moment I saw that blood. I barely slept that night, worried about the newest baby, and our little Rex was just starting to get over a double ear infection and he was up all night with a 103° fever. The next day I rested some while the rest of the crew went downtown to shop and eat lunch, and when I bailed on dinner, wanting to eat at home, my SIL was a bit confused. So I said, “Well, to be honest, I think I’m having a miscarriage right now. I’m supposed to be about 7 weeks along.” We hugged and over the next few days I gathered my strength and we had fun.

img_20180525_210142170Cousins are the best.

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Of course this had all started on a Friday night of a holiday weekend, so by Tuesday morning I called my new doc for an appointment as soon as their doors opened. I hadn’t even seen them yet, as they don’t see OB patients until at least 8 weeks, and my first appointment with them was still two weeks away. They had me come in that morning for an ultrasound check. Dave met me there to help with the boys. I had had two and a half days of spotting, mild cramping, one hour one night of heavy bleeding, no cramping, and one day of heavy spotting, no cramping.

I went in, fully expecting nothing on the screen and a diagnosis of a miscarriage. They saw a 6 week old embryo with no heartbeat and said everything looked fine, but maybe my dates were wrong for my last period? No, I said, they were accurate. They couldn’t confirm a miscarriage based on my symptoms alone, so they sent me off with a “threatened miscarriage” diagnosis and told me to come back in a week for another ultrasound to see if anything had changed. I was very happy that they were caring and professional about it all even though I wasn’t an established patient. They offered for me to come in multiple times that week for HCG testing, but after all the blood tests I took during the IUI for Rex, I opted to just come in in a week and see if the baby had grown any more. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome either way and it seemed like only more hassle for me.

Queue heavy cramping as soon as I left the doctor’s office. Literally started in the parking lot while sitting in my car. That day I continued to only have heavy spotting, so I was on the fence about having hope. I did have a dream that night that the baby would survive and she was a girl and we named her Penelope Grace.

The next morning I woke up with no cramping and no bleeding. So I vacuumed the house. And then the cramping began. It was pretty severe; then the bleeding started. And oh the clots that came out! After an hour or so of this I started getting afraid to go to the bathroom. Luckily David was able to come home early from work and take care of the boys while I ran from the bed to the bathroom. This continued for about 2.5 hours and then it stopped completely. No more cramping. Barely any blood. I felt great, surprisingly, but knew that the end had come for #3. Dave made me a batch of dirty rice for dinner that night, which I was craving, and it’s the only thing I wanted to eat for the next three days. Bowls of that with a cup of milk, and a banana for dessert.

We agreed David would go back to work, and I took the boys to the grocery store and the library. Upon returning home, I started severely cramping again, the pain much more intense than it had been the day before, even though I wasn’t bleeding as much. I called David home again, took some ibuprofen and sat in bed with a heating pad. I didn’t get out of bed for the rest of the night. The off and on severe pain and bleeding continued for the rest of the weekend. One night I had a mild fever and I was concerned I was getting an infection, though my OB later told me she had never had a patient get an infection from a miscarriage (I had gotten one post-Walter’s birth so I was concerned about that).

img_20180602_102033227Doughnut treats while all this was going on.

img_20180603_121711787Grandparents came to visit to make sure we were all doing okay. It’s nice to have an OB MIL during times like this!

I went back to the doctor’s office on Monday morning for my ultrasound and nothing was there this time. Even though I had been prepared for that, it was very sad to see. I’m glad I could have that visual confirmation though, because despite everything, there was a tiny bit of hope inside me that some miracle had happened and the baby was going to be okay.

The whole experience was very surreal. After it taking two years and fertility treatments to get pregnant with Rex, I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant again so quickly, if at all, even though with Walter it had happened right away. I was still trying to wrap my head around there being a #3 when we lost the baby. In only a few short weeks I had been excited, terrified, in love, and even relieved to not have to be sick all summer during first trimester. It was a lot to process.

Dave says that I knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t work out. I was very cautious and kept saying, “If anything happens, at least we know we can get pregnant again without intervention.” It’s almost as if my pregnancy symptoms came on too strong and too fast for me to be comfortable believing in the pregnancy. Even though I have successfully made two tiny humans before, the whole process seems like magic and my fertility journey completely confounds me. I have no idea what would happen if we try again. Pregnant in a couple months? Never pregnant? Lots of miscarriages? There is no way of knowing, but oh such is life, and that’s the fun of it.

I alternate between sadness and peace every day. The baby had it’s own DNA (though most likely DNA that wasn’t quite right for this world), but I don’t think it ever had a heartbeat, which somehow relieves to me. Dave and I have grown closer during this time, which is the silver lining and blessing of the whole experience.

All in all I bled for about 2.5 weeks, and my morning sickness tapered and finished after a week. I thought because it was so early on that it would feel like a heavy period, but it was really a mix between the worst period of my life and a birth. I’ve come through this feeling very grateful to be able to connect with my friends who have had miscarriages themselves, for they helped me immensely while I was stuck in bed hurting. There should definitely be miscarriage doulas!

img_0206These guys! They, and their dad, are the lights of my life.

I’ve decided to use this as a wake up call to get fit and have already started working out and eating even healthier. I feel better than I have in a long time, and I like knowing that if the universe decides I should have another child (because really, what control do we have in this crazy thing we call life), I’ll be the best person I can for the experience. And if not, I’ll be a healthier, happier person besides.

Country Kitchen Redo

18 Jan

Turns out I can’t move into a house without throwing myself into some DIY projects! I knew the kitchen was a must as soon as we looked at this house…

Cabinets were good quality, but the fluorescent light fixture, plastic counters, drop in sink, and dated pulls had to go…

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After a little bit of work, voilà!

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I actually didn’t take any before pictures (whoops), and they only had two pictures of the kitchen that I was able to copy from the MLS listing… So you can just barely see that they had cabinets hanging over the peninsula. Dave and his dad took those out ASAP.

ISy7878ghwn3h01000000000 (2)IMG_20180118_105733_022Ah, breathing room and an eating space!

IMG_20180118_104150108_HDREven though we went with the basic (and classic) subway tile, we added some flair. The edge of our butler’s pantry has a chiseled finish, which is subtle but fun up close. We also couldn’t find any bullnose corner pieces on short notice, so instead of doing 45° cuts on the tile, I had bought these really cool tiles from a local artist in Hendersonville a few months ago, and I had them put in instead.

IMG_20180118_104202376Painting along those grout lines was scary! And the white took three nerve-wracking coats to look good.

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I love our granite (Typhoon Bordeaux Light), and the sink is a regular undermount sink with a low divide. This was the feature I liked best from our expensive farmhouse sink that we had picked out in our last house.

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The counters were hard to pick out. We had a bad experience at our last house with soft granite from India that sucked up every spill no matter how many times we sealed it. Because shop hours in Asheville are mostly during the week, David could never take off work to help me pick something out. My mom came with me one of the several times I went to the giant warehouse that had so many choices I was tired halfway through just looking at them. But I finally settled on one that has delighted us after install. We wanted something with movement and flavor, and we got it! It sparkles and never fails in its beauty. Thank you, earth magma from long ago, for creating this magnificence!

Have I Changed?

4 Dec

My mom asked me a couple visits ago if I thought our move to Asheville had changed me.

It was hard for me to answer because I think I’m always changing all the time. I am nowhere near the person I was 10 years ago or probably even 10 minutes ago. Even though many times I feel like the same person I was at age six. These thoughts are both comforting to me and a source of anxiety at times.

But maybe what she was really asking was, “What do I feel Asheville has changed in me so far?” This is a question which I had no good answer to give her when she asked, but I’ve been thinking about it every day since then.

I think the best way to put it is, retreating to the mountains has made me retreat from the rest of the world as well. It’s amazing to me that after almost 33 years in one city, four months in another one makes me see Atlanta in a whole new light. While it is a pretty Southern town, it is also a busy, bustling city and part of the rat race. I think a country girl has always been inside me waiting to be let out. I am drawn to the Laura Ingalls Wilder/American Girl Doll (when they were about history)/Janette Oke types of stories, and now I’m trying to live a little bit more like that. I dream of heading more towards the ideas the Amish have, where mechanical technology is preferable to electrical. A deep rooting into the earth, a connectedness.

While my fondest memories of my childhood were running wild throughout our neighborhood with my friends, I didn’t have the stars. The city is so absorbing that even in the suburbs it is hard to see what’s going on in the universe. Here, I look up at the sky all the time and am falling in love with everything astronomy has to offer. Star myths of the past and space explorations of the future…

I’ve definitely been unhappy at times during this transition. I desperately miss my people in Atlanta. We had developed a really solid home base in Marietta the year that we were there in terms of homeschool and the YMCA and of course the friendships that we garnered throughout our years in ATL. Some of the things I’ve tried to replicate here so far have only disappointed me. But I’m not giving up. I gave myself a year to feel at home and I’m not even halfway there.

I worry about the boys not growing up in a neighborhood, especially since we homeschool, and if I can provide all that they need to have satisfying childhoods. But growing up in the country has its perks too, and I’m so excited for all the plans I have for our land. We planted some rose bushes yesterday, and it filled me with happiness to see our family work together to add beauty to the incredible nature that surrounds us here.

One step at a time!

IMG_20171203_181728_824A cute little bear we found in our front yard.

The Move

7 Sep

The past three months I’ve been fixated on The Move. Our move last year was apparently just a mini-move taste to prepare us for this crazy move we call Asheville.

We came because of this (and a job with Blossman Services):

IMG_20170629_182549591 (1)The view from our property. The stargazing is amazing here on a clear night when the moon isn’t full.

And this:

IMG_20170904_221542_01The Craggy Garden Mountains are a 30 minute drive and a beautiful, short hike from our house. The winding mountain roads are pretty scary though! We were amazed at the bicyclists we saw going up the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 

But most of the time I’ve felt like this:

IMG_20170730_192732234_HDRDespite my wild eyes, these boys have been stellar through all this craziness — we’ve driven to and from Atlanta ~25 times over the last several months. This picture in particular was taken about an hour before I crashed after putting the boys to bed around 8pm.

This has not been the easiest few months of my life. Dave started his job about a month before I was able to move up with the boys and the animals. Once we were back together again our lives were consumed by unpacking and organizing our house. We also were going back to Atlanta every weekend for various goodbye parties and wrapping up loose ends. Now that we’re on the tail end of our move, I’m ramping up homeschool and other kiddo activities so we won’t be hermits (even though I just want to hibernate like a bear right now until I’m not so weary).

Relocating can be tough, but hey, the high is 70° today, and it’s only early September. Watch out Asheville weather, I may fall in love!

IMG_20170817_195651_960Serendipitous.

The Johnstons and Too Much #Vacay

16 Jun

IMG_20170603_094828_608We were all excited to head out to the sunny and hot beach for a week of relaxation.

However, our first beach trip in two years reminded me of the Berenstain Bears book I read to Walter recently, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Vacation, a book I’ve had since I was a little girl, where Papa Bear envisions this glorious vacation for his family out in the woods, bought from a magazine ad. It doesn’t go very well, as you can imagine, but Mama Bear patiently takes pictures and remembers to bring along the canned food so they can at least eat. This was us in Florida a week ago, except I was Papa Bear. At least at the end of the story they always look back at the memories in the photographs and laugh.

I had blocked off time we really didn’t have to spend a few days in between jobs at the in-laws beach house in Longboat Key, FL. I wanted a break from our calendars and the planning and execution of my ever-increasing to-do list.

Before we could leave we needed to get some minor yard work done (the house is on the market today and we’ve been terribly busy doing home fixits!). Of course after that it took me much longer to pack than I had anticipated, and the drive took us 10+ hours. It was a big day of travel, and not so different from the two Saturdays before that we spent driving to and from house-hunting and brewery-enjoying in Asheville with both boys, and one time with Dave’s parents too!

We finally arrived around midnight and unloaded the car. Put the boys to bed. Unpacked. Settled down with a craft beer of course. At this point I was sincerely looking forward to some time at the beach the next day.

We woke up in the morning to gray skies and light rain. Mimi had a cold, so we were told to stay away, but we played in the surf anyway with her around lunch. She and Pop had flown down in her plane on Friday, the day before we got there, because the weather was supposed to be bad all weekend. It was nice to get out to the beach, and Walter loved the ocean. Afterward he showed off his new swimming skills at their pool. It’s so great to watch him swim like a fish!

IMG_20170604_111015683Rex’s first time at the beach!

IMG_20170604_112636596In his clothes don’t care!

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One look at the ocean horizon is instantly soothing to the soul.

IMG_20170608_190049239Replicating a 1985 photo of David and his dad.

Later, after a delicious nap, I woke up to “hurry up it’s dinner time.” We were supposed to go to dinner with the builders of Mimi and Pop’s beach home renovation. I had been loathe to have any plans the whole week, as my stress tank was quite full, but we happily got ready and into the car. When we arrived we found that the others had chosen a table with two benches. For a nursing mom, it’s necessary to have back support when you’re feeding your child, which I am known to do at the dinner table. And the builder and his wife had a 2 month old too! The restaurant had a little couch area by the elevators, and Rex and I kept the wife and her baby company for a bit over there. I found out through chatting with her that her best friend lives in Asheville, with whom she often visits and loves it up there. It was a good chat, and I’ve found that many people I meet or know have friends living in Asheville. That’s a good sign I think!

IMG_20170604_185213406Walter ate half my fish; it was yum.

Mimi left the next day to take Granny (her mom) to Granny’s brother’s funeral in Texas. The weather forced them to cancel, since they were going to fly the small plane, and good thing too because Mimi came down with a high fever and had to go to the hospital. She was tested and diagnosed with double viral pneumonia.

My mom had arrived at this point with her sweet dog Tashi. We went out to the beach after the rain stopped that afternoon, and we were greeted and attacked by a cloud of bugs at the dunes. There were definitely mosquitoes (hello Zika!) and something else that had white wings and hurt when it bit, maybe a flying ant? Sand fleas? I almost poked my eye out swatting them off when we got to the beach, and Dave did a great job keeping them off of Rex.

We then proceeded to play in the surf and my mom and I took a long walk while Rex slept in my arms. This was a glorious memory from the trip.

On the way back, we ran through the dunes to try to avoid the bugs, and then ran all the way to the street, yet I still had to swat them off of my mom and Rex literally the entire 10 minute walk home. They were trying to get at my mom through her shirt!

I must have gotten at least 50 bites over my entire body, but mostly on my lower legs. I have a very bad reaction to bug bites; if I scratch them they become huge and swollen. Like soft-ball size at times. Once during the summer before my senior year in high school, I was similarly attacked on the beach at night in Naples, FL and ended up being taken to the hospital by the Jewish mom next door “three calls away from the President” because I was down there without my mom and this lady was worried about me after talking to me out on our balconies — top floor pool view; — a couple steroid pills later I was fine.

Oh lordy did my legs itch for several days, and I knew better now than to scratch them. I woke up at 3:30am one night with my whole body on fire, and the best way I have discovered over the years to stop the itching, at least for a few hours, is to turn the shower as hot as I can stand it, and scald my skin where the bites are. It makes me too hot and feel sick when I do that, but cortisone cream only works for a little itch every now and again.

The fun times kept on coming. I felt like I did a thousand loads of laundry — everything was either wet or had throw up or sand on it! — and we still ended up going home with a trash bag full of wet and dirty clothes to do. The dishwasher also ran every day. I happily emptied it except the one morning everyone was sleeping in, and Pop unloaded it for us!

IMG_20170607_074035_616Rexy turned 5 months old! I had forgotten his special sticker tie so we had to improvise. I also left my hair straightener at home, which clearly is the best indication of the condition of my frazzled mind when we left.

IMG_20170606_161625010Mommy/boy pile.

My mom used the leftover vegetables from homemade pizza night (a tradition started in Longboat Key in 2012 with my good high school friend and her husband, who are finally having their first baby girl any day now!) and grabbed some chicken and sausage from Publix to make one of the most delicious pasta dishes I’ve ever had. We think it’s because she “burned” the onions during meal prep. A fortuitous mistake!

IMG_20170605_085456167We had some time to kill inside during all the rain. Walter created this awesome found object piece. We also watched WALL.E a lot!

IMG_20170606_132720_311Walter using his art to show what the storms were like at the beach. He got caught in the rain at least twice.

The storms got so bad at one point that I was literally walking around like a chicken with my head cut off, wondering where to go with the children to hide from the storm. Every wall seemed to be made of glass! It seemed like night outside although it was only late morning, and David was in the salle de bains and my mom was doing a sitting in her room. While hearing things whip around the house, wondering if a tree would come crashing through the wall of windows facing the canal, Dave came out to tell us where we should go and that a tree had fallen on the house. It turned out to be only one giant limb of this huge tree, and it crushed the edge of the roof, the solar panel pool heater pipes, a large portion of the fence, including part on the neighbor’s property, and also their new landscaping. The rest of the rotten tree was still standing, so Dave was worried about that falling too. Some other big trees came down in the neighborhood in the 50mph winds.

IMG_20170607_120957_179Our bedroom window.

IMG_20170607_131125024_HDRWatching the tree guys go to work.

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While Dave did his insurance claim/crisis handling, I put the baby down for a nap and my mom and I went to get our nails done. I thoroughly enjoyed the pedicure especially — I could get foot massages every day!

That night we took our folks out to dinner at The Beach House in Bradenton, a good 20 minute drive — oh, my guilt over how much time we spend in the car is heavy these days! Instead of having cocktails near the ocean, and sitting and staring at the view we tried so hard to get to to enjoy, since it was sunny for once, we sat inside in the AC with a minimal view, because it was too windy. Walter played in the surf both before and after dinner, totally soaking himself, and my mom bought him an awesome long-sleeve shirt. I really should carry around an extra set of clothes for all of us, not just Rex, these days.

IMG_20170607_200148_283Glorious boy in his element.

We stayed up late to make homemade peach ice cream, which my friend had done recently at our house on Memorial Day with the strawberries she and her kids had hand-picked. Because my mom insists on buying only organic food when she can, and we had stopped at Lane Southern Orchards for fresh peaches on the way down, the ice cream was heavenly. A redemption for my bad and sad mood.

IMG_20170607_214347228Some seriously good ice cream.

 

The rest of the short time we had down there was spent either getting tossed by the most violent waves I’ve ever seen in the Gulf, or “steaming” and “boiling” (per Walter) under the fierce Florida sun. The last day, before we drove back home, we went for a walk on the beach. Luckily Dave had left our second sunscreen bottle out on the beach the day before, because the sun had definitely decided to scorch away the storm clouds, and we needed to reapply (which later I think gave the baby a rash on his face from rubbing against me or his dad).

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Dave went back with the baby fairly quickly because he was worried about Rex overheating, and we needed to finish prepping for our departure. Walter had on a bathing suit, and I walked out in my clothes to bob in the waves with him. For a minute I thought Walter had a terrible sunburn, but it was only the reflection of his bright red life jacket, thank goodness. He did, however, have Mimi’s cold. I treated him to a ginger ale on the ride back, which he cuddled with while he took a nap. The ride home thankfully didn’t seem as long as the way down. When we got home, our pups and kitty were happy to see us after having been taken care of so faithfully by my BFF Jason.

IMG_20170608_191238683Looking rough on the last day, LOL.

In the midst of giant upheaval in our lives, moving away from everything we know and love, this really wasn’t quite the break I wanted. But it was still beautiful time with family, no matter what the difficulties!

Cheers to crazy memories!

The Echo

6 Jun

One reason I decided that I liked cardiologist Dr. McGorisk is that when he heard my son Rex’s name, he said, “Oh when he figures out what his name means, he’ll think he’s the king of your family!” and I said, “Well, Walter means ‘Commander of the Army,'” and he replied, “But still.”

I went in for the echocardiogram early last Thursday, bringing both my babies with me. Rex cried during the whole procedure. Walter said, “It’s probably because he is worried about mama,” and then sang “You Are My Sunshine” to him on repeat. A nurse came in to check on who was making so much noise, but then left without really trying to help Rex calm down.

I was trying to relax while laying on the table in the dim light, but it also hurt, because the lovely tech jabbed the wand into me, especially my stomach, trying to get good readings on the ultrasound. My heart actually hurt during a significant portion of this, and it never hurts. My mom later said when I mentioned this that “It didn’t hurt me when I got one recently, but maybe that’s because my heart is healthier than yours,” which may very well be true.

Even though I told him I needed this all to be done before June, he scheduled the echo for June 1, and I didn’t get to talk to him about the results. So we’ll just have to chat via phone unless somehow it is super serious. But the tech would have told me to go to ER if it was really bad. So I’m not worried.

Peace, love, happiness, and presence, y’all. Be safe out there.

Namaste+Alex+Greyby Alex Grey

My Heart Will (Hopefully) Go On

30 May

Life certainly doesn’t ever slow down. While we’ve been traveling to and from Asheville obsessively over the last month to visit and house hunt, I’ve also been taking a deeper look into my heart. This is not just psychological heart ache (per usual), but recently I’ve been to see the “family cardiologist.” My grandmother, my aunt, and my mom have all been his patients.

My mom’s mother is almost 94 and is still going strong. She’s at a nursing home and has been since her strokes the summer after Dave and I were married, so just about six years ago. She actually looks better now than she did Christmas of 2011. My mom’s older sister suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke over a year ago, and it’s such a miracle that she’s alive. She’s doing fantastic now and has really seemed to mellow out.

Four days after I had Rex, I couldn’t fall back asleep at 2am because I had a fever and my back hurt when I breathed. When I called my MIL around 7am, nursing a sleeping baby — and crying — to see if she could watch Walter so I could schedule a visit with my midwife, she told me that Pop would come get the 4yo and that I should go immediately in to the ER because I might have a pulmonary clot. This is a woman who usually dismisses my flus as mere colds. So Dave and I did as she said, deliriously tired with the tiniest of babies, and they took an EKG and a chest x-ray. The EKG read as slightly abnormal but the x-ray was fine. The blood they drew had elevated numbers, so both they and my MIL, who was an OB/GYN at Piedmont hospital for over 30 years, recommended that I should get a CT scan.

To make things more fun, they totally freaked me out when they said they were injecting me with a radioactive dye and that I shouldn’t breastfeed for 24 hours. My milk supply had just come in, so I didn’t have any saved up (hello, I had just left the other hospital!), and I was totally unprepared to feed my baby another way. Besides that I just cried because I had spent two years yearning for another baby to nurse, and here he was, brand new, and I had to give him up for a day.

We researched it as best we could — called the MIL, the ER doctor brother, Google — and were given the CT disclosure, and as best we could conclude, the stuff leaves your body in 15 minutes and isn’t a big deal. So we decided to ignore what the one nurse had suggested that started the whole debacle, and I continued to nurse Rex post procedure. Maybe his insides glow in the dark now.

The hospital then kept me somewhat hostage, denying me food and water in case of possible surgery, for about four hours after the procedure. I was a newly nursing mom, horrible postpartum hormones, body out of whack after growing another human being for the last nine months, and I couldn’t get a sip of water for about six hours total (wasn’t allowed it before the procedure also). The hospital I had just left after giving birth told me that I needed to drink 5 big cups of water and 2 cups of milk every day to establish my milk supply, and it wasn’t until I literally started crying and begged for the results and for something to eat or drink (I’ve never known hunger and thirst like when I’m pregnant or nursing around the clock) that they produced all three and told me I could go home. I did, at some point before this, sneak some water from the bathroom sink in the ER. God knows what diseases I could have picked up there doing that.

Right before they sent me on my way with my $900 bill, they described the irregularities of the EKG and told me that I should follow up with a cardiologist. Low and behold, I kinda already had one! I’ve read those stories of women in their thirties having heart attacks etc (and not knowing about it because the only sign was that they threw up twice or something like that). Well, I don’t want that to happen to me. So I made an appointment with Dr. McGorisk, who is this very lovely cardiologist at Emory with a to-die-for Irish accent. He knows what he’s doing and has the greatest glasses. When I told him that I was related to the Fleeman women, he brightened up even more.

Unfortunately, the repeat EKG showed that the irregularities were still there — even though I’ve been working out 2-3x a week recently! How very unlike me! — so I’m getting an echocardiogram this week, which he says is a much better diagnostic tool than the squiggly lines of the EKG. He’s not worried (as the results still fall within normal range), but my blood pressure was super high at the appointment. Hopefully that was related to white coat syndrome. I did wake up earlier than normal and drive through an hour of I-85 collapse traffic to get there. I have struggled with high blood pressure in the past (runs in the family on both sides), but it has usually been pretty good since I had Walter. I stopped regularly eating ramen noodles around that time, so that might have helped. But it’s something to keep an eye on.

I have been hurrying to get it all in before my husband quits his current really great job for our adventure in Asheville. I pretty much had met my out of pocket maximum for the year the first two weeks of January, and this new job change means our insurance is already starting over. I better not need a doc in the second half of 2017! Dealing with insurance (and then still owing a ton of money on top of our deductible) is a huge stressor for me. No wonder I (might) have heart problems.

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Huuuuge News

26 May

This is one of my top five biggest announcements of all time:

We are moving to Asheville, NC in less than a month!

Woah. Just woah.

Some people move around a lot (or at least once!), but I have never lived anywhere but Atlanta, Georgia. Well, except when I was three — my first memories of life are out in the desert in Claremont, California. But everything else in my life has been right here in this metro area.

This is why my brain has been so frazzled lately. I am trying to live life to fullest, transition us up there in the next few weeks, and all while needing to keep the house clean and running after two tinys.

I thought we were done moving for a long time. We finally just got settled in the new house and were enjoying our suburban life as a family of four, when this opportunity came to us. It was literally only a couple weeks after I said to Dave and my mom, “I want to live somewhere besides Atlanta,” but I was thinking of something like Alaska or Canada. Thank goodness we’re only going to be three hours away by car, not six hours by plane. The Universe knew I didn’t really mean that far away.

I’m nervous, but also really excited.

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It now feels like moving to East Cobb was a baby step for this move. I was very happy to get where we are now, but it had its challenges. I was pregnant, feeling terrible, and spent a lot of time being lonely. Moving 30 minutes away at times felt like an entire state away. But I navigated (and cried) until I got to a place where the boys and I are happy and busy — almost too busy!

Besides uprooting the great life we have here and leaving our beautiful home and yard and all our friends and family, one of the things that makes me the most sad about leaving is the diversity of East Cobb. I have been very happy to be a part of a really diverse (and not just black and white too!) community over the last year. We are sometimes the only white people at an event, like story time at our local library. Asheville, unfortunately, is pretty white-washed. I know the mentality is open-minded there, but still. I like being in a melting pot of culture.

However, I feel in my soul that this is the right move for us right now. Dave is very excited about his new career path. We met our realtor — and so far our only friend in Asheville — through our current next door neighbor, who has been super great to us ever since we moved to Marietta. I’m a hippie at heart who cares more and more about the earth, and I love the artsy, green, sustainable, local culture up there. I’m looking forward to this next challenge and all the opportunities we’ll have. I’ll really miss where we are, but sometimes you just gotta take a leap!

 

A Time for Renewal

24 May

In the past month, as Spring has come to the land again, we’ve been out and about celebrating with friends and family.

I attended my first Seder dinner, which might have been my single most moving religious experience yet. A new friend couple who live in Inman Park had us over for their first time hosting Seder at their house.

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It was a beautiful dinner with great friends.

The next day we drove up to Chattanooga to celebrate Easter with my in-laws. The rituals of Christianity are always interesting to witness.

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And it’s a great excuse to dress up to celebrate the rebirth of earth (well, in this hemisphere)!

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A couple weeks later we went to A Perfect Circle concert. Finally. It was my first time seeing this band live, although I’ve seen Tool seven (nine?) times and Puscifer three times. All three bands are led by Maynard James Keenan: vocalist, poet, musician, and guru. Seeing him perform is usually like “church” for me.

He started his show with giant black and white shadows of the band, then turned the primary colors to red and yellow (the first colors we supposedly see as infants after black and white), and then spent most of the rest of the show in purple light, which I imagine as a very complex and enlightened color.

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Keep it coming, world! This is fun!