Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Capturing Love in 2015

2015 has been such a contradicting year for me. There's been some positives and some set backs. The year did not start off so well. January was the month we lost the second baby we thought we'd be welcoming in 2015. April and August 2015 marked the expected due dates of the two pregnancies we lost. Whereas we were suppose to have a third baby for its first Christmas this year we do not. However right around the August due date we found out we were pregnant for a third or fifth time I guess depending on how you count these things. In November we found out we'd be expecting a baby boy, and now in December we've been faced with worrying about his health in particular with his heart. So our dream of having and raising three happy, healthy children has been the mountain to climb in 2015. That journey will continue into 2016. God willing we will have a baby brother to bring home with us in April (or May if he's late and depending on what he needs) and he will be healthy even if we have to go through some medical hurdles after his birth to get there.

Whereas that's been the tough part of 2015 watching the other two blossom as they turned six and four has definitely been one of the highlights. Every age I think I love the best. They both have such entertaining and loving personalities and in such different ways. Seeing the love your children have for each other is just one of the best experiences of parenthood. They have their moments where they fight but they really are the best of friends. They're both so smart and I don't what other way to put it but socially gifted. They do great in school and with their peers. We really have been so incredibly blessed with them. I pray they continue to blossom and thrive in 2016 and I know they will both be great big sisters to their little brother.

Job wise Nate and I both made changes that have given us our best, most enjoyable year of teaching in our 11-12 year careers. We've both had moments of wondering if we could stay in the education field but right now I think we've both found contentment with our careers, which when you spend so much of  your time at this point in your life at work and it's not exactly something you can go without, this has been a huge blessing of 2015. Hopefully this blessing carries through in 2016!

After struggling financially through 2013 and 2014 with buying our house and renting the other one in the city year #3 in 2015 has been the year I feel that we finally got our head above water! As much as we like to say money isn't everything; it is something though. The hard facts are when you're struggling with it, it's unfortunately like the first domino that falls that starts knocking everything else off balance. It's been a rough road at times to get to this point but I am so thankful that we finally made it here!

I would consider 2015 a successful year on the traveling front for us. After our upcoming trip for the holidays we again made it to both of our families at least twice, saw all seven great grandparents and all five grandparents, all the aunts and uncles and first cousins, most of the great aunts and uncles and second and third cousins, and friends that are like aunts and uncles. We were able to get together for three events in May, July, and last weekend with our Phi Psi friends, visited with our VA friends 3-4 times throughout the year, and of course spent several Saturday nights with our beloved Baltimore family. As much as I love traveling to new places part of it too is making the time for all these amazing people in our lives. I wanted to build a life completely on my own in my own individual way and that included where no one else was but in order for that to be successful in my eyes it had to still include the people that have always mattered in our lives. Too often we move on in our lives and when we do that we leave people behind. Making time and traveling for the ones we love is part of what makes not just this year but all the years prior successful. On top of the trips to MO,PA/NY, and VA we got in our wonderful beach trip to Alabama, along with a short stop in Chattanooga TN, camping in West Virginia, and the beach for the weekend in New Jersey.

Aside from the highlights and setbacks there's been the usual. With two houses it feels like something always needs to be fixed; however, the flooded basement did result in us getting to redo our basement into Nate's envisioned man cave (still minus the bar though). Oh and I did get a dishwasher in 2015!  Nate got his new truck which I'm sure is a highlight for him and luckily that gives us one vehicle under warranty while my car is I think possessed as I've never had the car in the shop as much as this one. We also had to say good bye to our Bette boy, our ten year old weimaraner that had been with Nate and I from pretty much the beginning. There are times we really really miss him and I love that the girls still bring him up; maybe they'll remember him. But I know he had a great life with us, and I love that he's now forever a part of our story.

Here's the thing I've learned. As we've moved forward towards our goals with work, the house, finances, and building our family there is no reaching perfectionist. I think when you're a control freak, list checker like me we tend to think once this is done or that is done it will all be perfect, just the way I envisioned. Maybe like those happily ever after moments we do get moments here and there of reaching perfection but if we keep looking ahead to when we expect something to be perfect we'll miss the moment that is. Because perfection isn't in what we think it is. It's not everything lined up perfectly. It's seeing the beauty in what is right here, right now.

I spend way too much time worrying about what is next. Even as much as I know that about myself, it's not the easiest thing to change. So sure I could get hung up on the struggles of 2015 and sometimes I do let myself but then I stop and I see right here, right now with where we're at in life is a great place to be. Sure there are things-good and bad- to look back on, and things ahead to anticipate in excitement or worry excessively about but I'm not standing in either of those places at this moment.

So no matter what you're leaving behind in 2015 or what you're expecting for the year ahead in 2016 let it go, at least for a little awhile, and be in the moment with the loved ones you have with you to celebrate this holiday season. And if  you have no one we'll be in Missouri, join the party, there's so many of us we won't notice the extra people. Just join the conversation and you'll fit right in. Happy holidays and wishing you a blessed holiday season and year in 2016!

With much love, The Glenns

                                                         Capturing Love in 2015


Friday, December 18, 2015


This time next week I will be headed HOME! I wish I could describe the feeling/the anticipation of going home when you spend months to a year away from there and only get a week or so at a time to enjoy the company of family. It has become one of my most favorite feelings just as the sadness of leaving is one of my least favorite feelings.

I am very fortunate in that I typically get to go home about every six months. Considering it's half way across the country and a two day drive I'd say that's pretty good. When I first moved out here I went home more because I could just jump on an airplane but now with two kids we rarely fly. With kids also came the much more work and effort it takes to leave town and across the country.

Even as excited as I get about the trip home I have really come to hate the amount of work that goes into getting ready to leave. Trying to catch up the laundry, packing and packing so much more crap the kids think they need than they really do, arranging pet and/or house sitters, cleaning becauseI like to leave a clean house so I come home to a clean house, remembering to check everything on the exit list (water turned off, all doors locked, barricades for pets, heat down or AC up, house keys distributed or hidden for pet/house sitters). Then there's the dreaded knowledge of unpacking it all when we return and the piles of laundry we'll have to do. So honestly anymore I kind of hate the before and after part of traveling home.

But man I love hitting that highway. It’s like escaping and a newfound sense of freedom. All those to do list that pile up at work and in my personal planners are left behind. There is nothing that has to be done for the next 7-10 days except enjoying time with my family. I even love how we’re all crammed in the car together. We can’t all escape to our own thing (even though sometimes I end up with my nose in book for the long ride) and the conversations with the girls are usually entertaining and who doesn’t love listening to little kids jamming to music in the back.

I love the open road. Just as I find the ocean good for the soul I find something very comforting in the open road whether the scenery is the mountains or the plains of the Midwest. I find beauty in all of it. I find myself reflecting a lot on the things I’m thankful for in my life on those long drives.

You get rid of the work it takes to get ready to leave and the dread of heading back home and all the work that follows a trip I love everything else. I love the drive itself, the time crammed together in the car, I love the quality time I get to spend with dear friends I’ve had since childhood and college, I love the running into old friendly faces that have known me since I was a child, and treasure all that time together with my family because once we get there it’s like we’re all together all day every day the whole time. I know my parents and sisters look forward to these few weeks every year just as we do. It’s completely worth the work it takes to get there and the sacrifice of relaxing off time in my own home.

So home we go in just a few more days.


Monday, December 14, 2015

It's All In What You Choose to See

I'm going to back track here to all the way back to last January's miscarriage because now almost a year later a series of events that took place are starting to make sense in their meaning. Shortly after I had the miscarriage in January I had what I call a visitation dream from my grandfather. The dream left me incredibly unsettled and as I explained in the post it was because the message he brought to me wasn't what I wanted to hear. Unfortunately, all I remembered when I woke was my feelings of unsettlement and anxiety but not exactly what the message was. I told my sisters I took it to mean that maybe we weren't meant to have any more children, and that's why the dream upset me. I thought about and overanalyzed this dream for days. To this day I still ask for him to come back and repeat the message because I hate the lack of clarity, but I'm starting to see it would become to clear me in its own time.

Oddly enough just as I shared the dream from my grandfather on the third of the month, after asking repeatedly for another message from God  I got it on the eleventh of the month. This time it came to me in the picture of a stork carrying a baby with the message "let your faith be bigger than your fears"  on a feed on the internet. As I mentioned in the post after I saw this the first time and Nate saw it too, I scrolled the internet for forever to find it again. To this day I still cannot find that image with that message on the internet. This gave me great comfort that in time we would have our third baby, and even though I still felt uncertain about the dream with my grandfather I let it rest for awhile.

As we moved through the summer and the months I anticipated becoming pregnant again, I was again overcome with this sense of anxiety and uncertainty.  I felt that it had something to do with being scared I'd miscarry again or scared of the change with adding a third child being the rough transition adding the second had been. At one point I mentioned to someone how part of the anxiety of the third was the emotional rollercoaster I'd have to put myself through, which I attributed to having two miscarriages.

However, as my thyroid tests came back great and the pregnancy progressed past the first trimester rather than feeling my anxiety ease it strangely became overwhelming to the point where I couldn't sleep. I also had a dream in which I dreamed he was boy but something was wrong with either the pregnancy or delivery but in the end it was all okay.

Now today now that I have some more definite answers, though not the ones I was hoping for, all these events give me hope. I think the message my grandfather brought me was to warn me this pregnancy would emotionally and mentally test me possibly even more than the miscarriage that broke my heart. I think he came to mentally prepare me. I think the my nagging anxiety prior to getting pregnant and in the recent weeks from the end of the first trimester up to last week was because I knew in the back of my mind what I'd been worrying about for almost a year was coming. I think the stork message about "letting my faith be bigger than my fears" and the dream with my little boy was the reassure that whatever was coming we would get through with it with him and be fine in the end. Oddly enough since I found out about the concern with the baby's heart last week I've actually slept better. The weird anxiety and panic attacks have disappeared. Even though I hoped for an all clear today I did not anticipate getting it. In fact we pretty much got the exact answer I told Nate beforehand that I thought we would get.

They're still concerned about his heart; however, it is not the lifelong congenital heart defect with no cure I was worried about. They can't even completely confirm anything really yet but what they currently see is a benign mass beside his right ventricular wall. She suspects if it's not just fatty tissue it's possibly what's called cardiac fibroma. Right now it is not causing any problems and his heart is functioning completely normal. The concern is if it grows it can cause obstruction with the blood and oxygen flow and other problems. I will do at least one more echocardiogram while pregnant and he will have one after he's born to confirm or rule out this concern. My biggest question that I want to ask is if it is cardiac fibroma what are the treatment options. I get the sense if it's not growing or causing problems they just leave it be, but what I don't like is it can grow rapidly and spontaneously. If they have a concern there is heart surgery, but honestly as scary as heart surgery sounds once he has it removed there's no further worry of something happening later. Even though they are not even 100% sure this is what the concern is, I plan on asking questions and looking into options now because I am a take action person, and if this is what we're facing in a few months I want a plan of action ready for him. We're working with one of the best hospitals in the country with Johns Hopkins. He'll get the care he needs if he needs it.

So it's all still a little scary or a lot scary depending on how you look at it. But I truly believe all these things/signs that occurred in the last year were put in place to reassure me at this exact moment. It's going to be a long four more months, but I truly believe in the end he will be fine. Getting him here is not going to be an easy road emotionally or mentally for me or my husband, and it may be a little rough and bumpy when he first gets here. But we will all be okay. I have faith because that's what I choose to see in everything that lead up to this point.

Friday, December 11, 2015

We Don't Know

There's often this meme that floats around on social media about how we can't know the unseen battles others fight. I would have to say that is probably the biggest thing my blogging journey has taught me. My parents raised us to not just be independent but I would say tough. They never babied us, and in the many studies I've had to do for graduate and undergraduate work on child development and psychology one of the other most fascinating things to me and Nate as he's done a lot of studying on this topic too is how we encourage emotional suppression in boys more than girls. However, I think this applies to not just boys but both genders. We see being emotional or crying as a weakness. I think girls and women in today's society feel just as much of a need to be tough. The majority of women I know are some damn tough ladies let me tell you. I see them in my aunts, in my grandmothers, my own mother, my sister, my cousins, my in laws, my friends, and the women I've worked with. They're all around me, and I'm sure they're all around you.

So you know what we do? I know what I've done to deal with my emotions. I know what I've seen others I know do too. And maybe you do it too. We deflect. I think at high points of emotional conflict I got really good at this. I attack, physically and verbally as a child, and now as an adult verbally in sometimes very condescending and rude ways. It's not that I don't ever get upset and cry but rarely in front of people. And the funny part is when I do it's over something simple and petty that is just the icing on the cake of the pile of everything that's emotionally draining me. I deflect with anger. I've seen others deflect with constant negativity. I imagine there are a million other ways we deflect and avoid dealing with our emotions. Because to put our emotions, our internal struggles out there is a vulnerable thing. Especially in our digital social media world where everyone's life appears picture perfect.

Even though I bounce around on this blog from stories about my kids, to my personal journey as a mother, reflections on marriage and relationships, to experiences in the classroom, to voicing my opinion on politics, and advocating for the things I believe in the one thing I've consistently tried to do is stay open and honest on here. Some days that's raving about how great my life is because it is a blessed life and honestly we all need to take moments to celebrate the life we've been given with the people that we share it with. My life is just as imperfect and flawed as the next person's, but we don't always need to focus on that. I know sometimes people get tired of hearing how great someone's life is, but I think it's so important to take time to recognize what is great in our lives. Otherwise imagine how lost we'd feel in our lives.

If you know me personally or followed me on here long enough you know it's not always unicorns and rainbows in my life though. On the flip side I've shared my struggles with finding balance in motherhood and my marriage, the battle of money and financial stability,  my struggles with this thyroid disorder that lead to my year long depression and then two miscarriages, my doubts about my career and raising my kids so far from my family, and now my constant fear and anxiety with this third pregnancy/baby boy. I could have easily suppressed all of this; never sharing any of it. To this day I still avoid talking about what scares me or upsets me face to face with my husband and even my sisters. I'm not to a place yet where I can let myself be that vulnerable, but deflecting those emotions in anger was going to destroy my relationships if I didn't change something.

So I allow myself to be vulnerable here. This is where I come back to the meme from the beginning of this post. As I've shared stories and I've shared struggles women of all ages and walks of life have come to me to share their stories and struggles. We don't know everything that goes on behind the pictures and posts we see online or what internal battles people are fighting that they keep locked away safely to cry over in the shower or on the quiet long drive to work alone. We see their money, their nice thin body or good looks, their awesome job, or their cute family, or whatever we think would make life better if we had that and assume they have an easy life, but we don't know what battles were fought that we don't see.

We see the tough woman who balances work and motherhood like she's a graceful trapeze artist, we see the woman who beats cancer and still goes about her every day life like nothing has changed, we see the girl who watched her father lose his battle to cancer and lives her life today with a smile on her face, we see the woman who dedicates herself to her fitness and dreams and being the best version of herself, we see the girl who suddenly and unexpectedly lost her sister but to this day still gives so much more of herself than she ever expects in return, we see the woman that handles the hospital tests, visits, and challenges her son must face with a dignity and grace we admire.  We see their amazingness in what they do every day, in their accomplishments, in their attitudes, and in the way they love and live life. But we don't know their fears, their never ending grief, their self doubt, their lack of confidence or self esteem, what keeps them awake at night, what brings the tears when no one is watching. We are not on their journey, but it doesn't mean that theirs is or has been as easy as it appears.

I'm incredibly thankful to the women that have supported my struggles and to the women that have come to me with their own struggles. I try my best to reach out when I see others' struggles because I know how helpful just hearing encouraging words can be. If sharing my experiences helps anyone with getting through their own internal battles then it gives everything I do on here a greater purpose than I ever thought my writing journey could be. We don't know the details of everyone's journey or battles but we can be kind to one another. Be a friend. Be a listening ear. Offer thoughts and words of encouragement and prayer. Even when we don't know what to say; I've found saying something is better than saying nothing. Be one another's ally and thanks for being mine. We all just need to know others are there and care.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

20 Weeks: Neverending worries and ready but not ready

I use to think Averi was going to be my kid that kept me up at night worrying. By age four we had the agonizing wait for testing on a mass they found behind her knee that thankfully turned out to be cyst, 21 day treatment for lyme disease from a tick bite, stitches to the forehead, and the time we had to almost call the fire department when she got her head stuck in the lazy Susan pulls a close fourth in four incidents in the first four years.

But this boy isn't even here, and I feel like all I've done is worry. Unfortunately, today's 20 week antamony didn't ease my neverending anxiety. The doctor was concerned about a thickened wall between the ventricles of his heart so we have to go see a pediatric cardiologist for a echocardiogram on Monday. It could be nothing or it could be some kind of congenital heart defect which can be a whole range of minor to bigger concerns. So another week of tossing and turning and weird sleep patterns.

I mentioned earlier I had a strange feeling but at the same time even though it seemed worrisome I felt and still do that it's all going to work out fine. Whether that is after next week or 15-20 weeks from now when he's here I don't know. I have been restless now for 17 weeks so any prayers that I'll finally have some peace and get to enjoy this last pregnancy at this point would be greatly appreciated.

Aside from this concern though baby boy (no name yet) looked great. He's an active little guy. He was moving all over the place and wasn't very cooperative. And he's still a boy! At this point they're about 10 ounces but he weighs 12 ounces. I have never been so ready for one of my babies to be here. With the first I think I was just in that first baby naïve bubble the whole nine months; with my second I was ready for her by the time I hit about my seventh month, but this time I think I've been ready since about 13 weeks! However, besides a few outfits we have NOTHING ready for him. Our baby stuff is just dumped in his room, and the whole room needs to be repainted and furnished. There's not even a crib in there yet. I may be ready for him but we're not actually prepared for a baby in the house yet. That will be our beginning of 2016 goal.

 I will try to pray more and worry less this week because my experiences have taught me that He does hear and answer our prayers.
I will continue to start my prayers with what I'm thankful and remember as much as I may want to complain about the physical pains of pregnancy and mental struggle of it this time I am incredibly thankful that after everything we have this little boy to welcome into our family in 2016.
There are many things I've had to work for in my life and this little boy is the little boy I almost quit on before he even existed but like everything else it may not be the smoothest path to get where we're going but like everything else there's no quitting. When the going gets tough you just get tougher, isn't that what they say?

If that dream I had is true just like the dream that he was a boy then it will all be fine in the end when him and I will finally meet in a few more months.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Pregnancy Insomnia and Anxiety!

This is going to be the longest pregnancy ever! However, before I launch into what is going on with me and this pregnancy if you haven't heard we're having a little boy! It really is almost too good to be true. As one of three girls who knows first hand the love between sisters, when I was pregnant the second time I really wanted a sister at some point for my oldest daughter. However, I wanted to experience a son too and having a boy in the house besides the Dad, which is all I had known growing up. My husband had said then during our second pregnancy if we were going to have two girls it'd be best if the second one was a girl too because then her and my oldest would be close in age at 2.5 years. He was right since this third one and her will be seven years apart! If you know us or read this blog much you know those sisters we're raising go together like peanut butter and jelly. I absolutely love raising sisters and love seeing how close they are and how much they adore each other.

So for this little boy to come into our lives now as the third child is really like a dream come true. However, this is where I get scared to share what's been going on behind my glowing excitement to have a son. In the past I've  experienced anxiety here and there; I think we all do in some ways. But this is like crazy, irrational anxiety. At least a few times a week I tell myself that, and then the few other times I worry that maybe it's intuition. It's like everything we've worked for, dreamed about in the last ten years is just within our reach- third baby which happens to be a boy after two girls, finances with this refinance we finally got cleared for closing if I don't go crazy Ang on them before Monday (whole other story), and Nate looking at moving forward with his promotion, and even if that last one doesn't happen for awhile both of us are in the best job positions we've been in in our careers. I'm so excited for all of these things. Shouldn't we be when our dreams are that close? Yet, it's like it's too perfect. It's like there's this dark cloud hovering over the horizon, ready to consume that hope and wipe out those dreams. I have this impending feeling something bad is going to happen. I pray every night please say I've just finally lost my marbles and this is the worst case of anxiety I've ever experienced in my life and not some horrible intuition of something that's to come. I'm a horribly impatient person when it comes to waiting though, not that it was a concern with the girls' pregnancies, even though with my second I was incredibly moody and irritable so maybe that ties into it somehow too.

Thankfully I've confessed this craziness to a few friends and weird pregnancy anxiety and insomnia I guess is a common thing. Along with that comes vivid dreams too I heard. The two dreams I recall the best was one in which it was quite symbolic of what this anxiety feels like to me so I prefer to interpret that one as telling me it's just anxiety, relax. The other was the one in which I dreamed we were having a boy before I knew we were and him and I were at home, both fine, but after a scary pregnancy or delivery. Maybe that's it. Maybe there will be  scary moment or maybe the scary moment is living with this crazy anxiety for five months and we'll both be fine in the end. The dreams actually reassured me that I'm just for whatever reason having crazy anxiety this pregnancy.

Anyone else have experience with pregnancy insomnia, anxiety, and dreams? I've been told to take some Tylenol PM which is on my grocery list tomorrow. I've also found the nights I've talked about it with people beforehand I've slept better so considered going back to my usual therapy of writing in here (just giving you possible warning!)