Easter memories

There’s a saying in my family, if it happens more than once it is a tradition.

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Well folks, we have an Easter tradition. Michael and I had just moved into our new home just before Easter last year and had my mom, sister, brother-in-law and nephew over for a meal and an egg hunt in the back yard. We did the same thing this year.

A tradition was born.

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There’s nothing fancy or extra special about it, but maybe that is what makes it special. It was a quiet (well can anything be quiet with a 6 month old, 2 year old and 3 year old… NO) low-key day but so much fun.

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Miles, 3, and Charlie, 2, boys played and hunted eggs in the back yard while my mom snuggled Owen, 6 months. Sarah and I “hid” eggs throughout the yard as Michael grilled and Chris, Sarah’s husband, helped wrangle the kiddos.

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This year we added some chickens and a new baby to the mix but it was pretty similar to last year’s celebration.

I loved it!

And Easter Sunday we followed a tradition too. Last year we attended Aldersgate United Methodist Church with my sister and her in-laws. Michael and I and the boys started regularly attending the church a few months ago and returned again this Easter Sunday, this time feeling a little less like strangers. It was a nice service and Miles, shockingly, was able to stay quiet throughout the more than hour long service.

The church has a tradition of its own, the children "flower the cross" at the beginning of the ceremony. Miles helped.

The church has a tradition of its own, the children “flower the cross” at the beginning of the ceremony. Miles helped.

I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to create and make memories and form our own traditions with my own little family and my extended family.

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Hope Easter was a great one for you too!

I used to be so much fun

There’s this app on my phone called TimeHop, it allows you to see what you were doing this time one, two, three, four, etc. years ago.
I both love and hate the thing.
Sometimes when something pops up from six years ago, I sigh and say, “I used to be so much fun!”
The features department is a small group and two of the four of us are in their early to mid-20s. They are a lot of fun still. And when I hear stories about all their weekend antics I’m like, “aww man, I used to do stuff like that.”
We rented a water slide for our "pre-rehearsal" cookout and did it without the water.

We rented a water slide for our “pre-rehearsal” cookout and did it without the water.

Bounce house for my 28th birthday

Bounce house for my 28th birthday

Seriously guys, I was a lot of fun. Here’s a few examples — for my 28th birthday we rented a giant bouncy house for the backyard for me and all of our friends. For my now-husband’s birthday (also the same night he proposed to me) we rented a giant inflatable water slide and played on it ALL night long with about 30 friends (dish soap even got involved.) We had parties for nearly every occasion, and my crazy friend Jodi usually ensured that fireworks were a part of every celebration. I even hosted a 1920s-themed murder mystery party where I transformed my house into a bordello.
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The squierrel I rescued and had to keep with me and warm until the wildlife rehabber could get him. He even went with me on a few assignments.

The squierrel I rescued and had to keep with me and warm until the wildlife rehabber could get him. He even went with me on a few assignments.

The antics didn’t stop at parties. I’ve kind of always been a bit eccentric. I had a pair of full-sized mannequin legs rescued from a department store that I’d transformed into a lamp complete with high heels and fishnet stockings. I had a room devoted to my accessories, yes a room — my shoe room. I had the space (a three-bedroom house for just me) and it was just silly enough to be something I’d do. I had an entire large Rubbermaid tote filled with adult dress up clothes (there were occasions). I went to “Rocky Horror” dressed up. We had mock fashion shows and photo shoots in the middle of the night. I could always find a reason to wear a boa.
I rocked those socks.

I rocked those socks.

My funky style still is showcased on special days.

My funky style still is showcased on special days.

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Michael and I used to do all kinds of silly things. He, of course, rolled his eyes through most of it but I know was having a great time. We “borrowed” an old office chair from the newspaper we worked for and stayed up until 7 a.m. reupholstering it before getting a greasy diner breakfast and then sleeping until 3 p.m. the next day. I forced him to go on plenty of adventures, including an alligator hunt where I ended up kissing a gator. Outings often included a picnic lunch. One date even ended with a tow truck — that’s a story all by itself.
Late night chair redecorating.

Late night chair redecorating.

Kissing a gator

Kissing a gator

The date that ended with a tow truck.

The date that ended with a tow truck.

I was the fun one at the office, making cake for everyone’s birthday, the center of every laugh fest and just the general goofball whose goal was to make everybody have a good time, especially when they were having a bad day. I did things like make silly kid crafts (with pom-poms and googly eyes) with a co-worker and then leaving one for every single person in the office in the middle of the night so they could be surprised the next morning. Or picking out a “spirit animal” for all of the people in the newsroom and leaving a stuffed version of it on their desk.
Birthday cake!

Birthday cake!

One of the infamous tots.

One of the infamous tots.

There were stuffed tater tots that lined my desk, which often were the subject of various kidnapping plots. I remember packing my car to the rooftop with supplies for ONE night at a friend’s cabin and my dog coming along, barely room to turn around.
Gear for one night camping and the dog.

Gear for one night camping and the dog.

Enjoying gumbo after having a drink at 9 a.m. during a traditional Mardi Gras celebration in South Louisiana with my mom.

Enjoying gumbo after having a drink at 9 a.m. during a traditional Mardi Gras celebration in South Louisiana with my mom.

Writing out all of this makes me wistful for those crazy days filled with silly antics. We had some epic times.
But, while I miss many of those things and would love to repeat many of them, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for my “crazy” times today. I LOVE being a mom. I loved being the center of my social circle throwing fun parties and doing silly things, but being the center of my boys’ world is so much cooler.
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And you know what, the other day Miles crawled up into my lap and gave me a giant hug and said, “You’re my best friend!” I just about melted. He was SO excited because I was going to be with him “all night long.” He tells me all the time that I’m the best and so much fun.
Miles painting in the nude.

Miles painting in the nude.

Swinging at the park with Miles and Owen.

Swinging at the park with Miles and Owen.

We do things like have dance parties in the middle of the living room rocking out so hard to “Yo Gabba Gabba” that we make the breakables on the mantle jingle. We make scented play-dough from scratch. I let him paint using his fingers! We go for bike rides. We laugh until our bellies hurt saying things like “poop trash” and “home” for still-unknown reasons. With less than 24 hours notice, I booked tickets for Christmas Eve at an indoor water park. I let him eat the occasional marshmallow and chocolate chip. I ride the spinny rides with him. I listen, I snuggle, I care.
Spur of the moment Christmas trip.

Spur of the moment Christmas trip.

Climbing in the tunnel with Miles.

Climbing in the tunnel with Miles.

We sing silly, crazy songs. We try to have mini-adventures each weekend doing things like going to festivals or the museum or digging around in the backyard. We are raising chickens, just because.
Unplanned swimming adventure.

Unplanned swimming adventure.

Playing in the dirt and rain.

Playing in the dirt and rain.

I am still that same old crazy, eccentric, giggly gal. When asking Michael to help me think of some of the silly things we did in the “old days” and some that we do today, this is what he said (cue waterworks):
“Just being quirky and off-center in general, that’s one of the things that first struck me about you, that you were willing to put yourself out there and not be afraid of looking goofy or whatever. It is one of the main reasons I love you. It’s still there, you just don’t have as much time and energy to show it off as you used to. That is to be expected. But that is what draws people to you. One of the things that first attracted me to you is your laugh, and the reason I fell in love with you is because you were a lot of fun and got me to do and experience things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.”
Awww! I don’t think I can top that. So yes, I guess I am still fun, it just looks a little different.
See, we can still have fun, even without the kids!

See, we can still have fun, even without the kids!

Family photo

Family photo

How has your “fun” changed with kids over the years? How do you make sure that you keep that fun still alive when things get crazy busy?​

Picking up, I mean out, chicks

So the chicken dreams have become a reality.

I think Michael is calling them his chicken nightmares, but that’s another blog post altogether.

Miles and I headed over to Rural King to pick out some chicks. I’d gone myself a few weekends ago and checked out the cute, tiny chicks there. And then went last week twice — once with Miles and once with my chicken guru/awesome friend Stephanie. The chicks then were still on the little side but looking much less fragile.

 

Meet our toddler chicks -- Mocalotive, Choo Choo, Stella, Olive, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little

Meet our toddler chicks — Mocalotive, Choo Choo, Stella, Olive, Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little

With Stephanie by my side last week — Owen sleeping snugly against my chest, oblivious to the monumental chicken lesson going on around him — I loaded up my cart with all the chick necessities. I grabbed pine shavings for bedding, chick feed, heat lamp and bulb, a chick feeder and water dish and a few other miscellaneous items. Stephanie loaded me down not only with supplies, but chicken knowledge.

I’ve done my fair share of chicken research (too much my husband says) but nothing compares to firsthand experience from my own personal chicken virtuoso. Stephanie said she’s excited to have her own personal chicken apprentice. We are going to establish our own chicken journeyman certification through this whole process.

So two weekends ago was filled with all the technical stuff — supplies and knowledge. When Saturday finally rolled around I was ready to get my hands on some chicks!
So back to heading over to Rural King … the selection of breeds was a little lighter than I’d hoped but there were plenty of chicks there ready to find a good home. And instead of being tiny, cute, itty-bitty chicks they were more like toddler chicks. Don’t get me wrong, they were still awfully adorable. A bit of me was a little sad but then I remembered just how fragile Stephanie had described the newborn chicks and the extra tedious (and sometimes icky) tasks that goes along with them. So I celebrated my decision to wait until the chicks were about four weeks old to pick them up. My biggest disappointment was kind of a trivial one — I really wanted the Ameraucana breed chicks because their eggs are a neat blue/green hue.

The two breeds that they had pullets (female chicks) in were Silver Wyandotte and Light Brahmas. Miles and I scoped out the bins walking around a few times. He excitedly dipped his hand inside causing the sea of chicks to run in the opposite direction. I found a chick box and started selecting our future little chickies.

My process was, as should be expected from me, a little different. I didn’t just grab the first three from each bin that I could then called it a day. I wanted Miles to be able to select a few.

I was too distracted by my tiny helper to get any pictures during the actual chick picking stage. But here they are ready to go home.

I was too distracted by my tiny helper to get any pictures during the actual chick picking stage. But here they are ready to go home.

“That one,” he excitedly said. “That one with the speckle, right there. That one, that one!”
So of course, I HAD to get THAT one. My hands darted up and down the metal tub trying to grasp what must have been the fastest, sneakiest of the bunch. Each requested chicken was more elusive than the last.

After he’d selected four, I wiped the sweat from my brow and decided that last two I would pick out. I overheard two employees talking about needing to separate a few chicks because some had gotten picked on. AWWW! So of course I mosey over there eavesdropping and then just butt right on in.
“Which two are the most picked on?” I asked, tears almost welling in my silly eyes. “Let me rescue them!”
They, of course, laughed at me causing my little monkey-see, monkey-do little guy laugh hysterically.

“Mama, you are SO silly!” he cried, practically rolling on the floor.

Kid, it wasn’t that funny.

Anyway, the high school kid employees go to great lengths (seriously, one of them even stepped in the bin to track down this poor, feather missing chick) to procure the bullied chicks for me.

Done!

I had my six chicks, a 3-year-old and said 3-year-old’s stuffed owl that he INSISTED come into the store with us. And no cart. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s like I’m a glutton for punishment.

So as I surmise the situation — three little cartons of live chicks, a squirmy kid who does not want to leave the chicken area of the store and a stuffed animal that said kid will now no longer have anything to do with — I start to come up with the most plausible out, bribery.

“Hey Miles, if we go home we can get a special treat!”

“What treat? Nevermind, I don’t want a treat. I want to stay here! I want to be with the chickens and the bunnies. I want to stay ALL DAY LONG!”

“When we get home we have our own chickens that we can play with.”

“But mom, there’s lots of chickens right here!”

Desperate I look around.

The yellow, painted chicken tracks leading from the front door back to the chicks catch my eye. Yes.

“Miles, let’s follow the duck path!”

“Oh, OK!”

Easy, peasy.

We miraculously make it to the car with six still-alive chicks and get everything back in the house and set up. Miles names two chicks — Mocalotive and Choo Choo; Michael begrudgingly threw two literary chicken names in the mix — Foghorn Leghorn and Chicken Little; and I used girl names that I loved when we were having babies — Olive and Stella.

Chicks in their mood lighting.

Chicks in their mood lighting.

The little chicks seem pretty happy. Right now they are cozy in an oversized tote in our basement complete with a red heat-bulb keeping them toast. Michael put together the coop Sunday afternoon as Miles played and Owen cooed in the sun.

So far all is good on the Doyle farm. I’ll update you when the chicks have made their way outside.​

The directions for assembling the coop were one page of pictures... no words. And he used all the pieces and lost no limbs! Good job honey!

The directions for assembling the coop were one page of pictures… no words. And he used all the pieces and lost no limbs! Good job honey!

The completed coop

The completed coop

Back at work

In one breath I can say, “Eight weeks isn’t enough time!” and “Oh my goodness I was so ready to come back.”

I returned to work exactly 56 days after giving birth to my newest joy and blessing and the little creature that ensures I get no more than three hours of sleep every day — Owen Michael. I loved my time home with Owen and older son Miles when he wasn’t at school.

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Those eight weeks were an amazing opportunity to bond with my new son and also to help Miles adjust to a different home dynamic. It was also a chance to see a whole lot more of my husband and to get our money’s worth from our Netflix account (I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many television series I consumed during those sleepless, long nights.)

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I had all these grand plans of the things I’d accomplish over maternity leave both in the way of tasks that had been put off and Pinterest-worthy activities we’d do as a family.
Wah-wah. (That’s the game show “you didn’t get it right” sound effect.)

Not much got accomplished beyond snuggling. I am nursing Owen so those first few weeks it felt like I didn’t really move much from the little nest I’d created for myself. I was grateful to have Michael there to refill my beverage and bring me snacks when I was tethered down by a baby who was hungry, needed comfort or had fallen asleep and looked too darn comfortable to move.

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Miles was always able to find his spot on my lap too so I would still be able to snuggle him while nursing Owen. Those quiet moments with both of my babies snuggled peacefully and closely to my chest were magical. That’s when I said — eight weeks isn’t enough time! I can’t go back to work. How can I leave this tiny baby and little boy who need their mama? How will I be able to focus on my work when all I can think of is Owen’s pursed little lips and shiny eyes? It’s not enough time!

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And in a lot of ways it wasn’t.

But, there were also days or moments when I was hunkered down in that little nursing nest when it didn’t feel like a cozy, comfortable retreat to snuggle and nourish my baby. Instead it felt like a prison. I wanted out of the house. I wanted to shower on a daily basis. I wanted to not have a baby attached to me 24/7. I wanted to be able to eat a meal while it was still hot. I wanted to be able to sleep more than the hour here or there between nursing, pumping and laundry. I missed my work and my co-workers.

Those are the moments when I would scream (in my own head of course), “I’m ready to go back!”

And of course when my maternity leave finally started to wind down I was feeling less and less ready. A lot of that stemmed from guilt — I was leaving my tiny, helpless baby in the care of someone other than me, really for the first time. Anxiety peaked the night before as I ran over the list of “how-tos” with my husband — who I know is more than capable. I’m lucky he is able to be the caregiver.

An additional factor is that just days after I return I’ll be taking over as the features editor as my editor, Linda Negro, and fellow reporter Roger McBain are both retiring. While out on maternity leave I interviewed candidates to find a replacement for Roger and I thought about (and if I’m honest fretted a little) about how things would work. So in addition to some guilt with my return, I’m facing a little doubt and fears of inadequacy.

The day finally arrived; I came to work. I just cried a little in the parking lot. I have an amazing group of friends and co-workers who surprised me with treats and gifts to distract from the stress of the day, and I kept busy and accomplished a lot. And while things were going well at the office, poor little Owen (and his daddy) were struggling at home. Owen refused to take a bottle. He’d taken about three up to that point so he was far from an expert but at least he knew what he was doing. But he flat out refused. He was hungry. Hungry babies scream.

So much of that first day Michael had a screaming, starving baby, and I worried from work. That night, Owen nursed for about four hours.

Day 2 I got a desperate text message from Michael: “This is not working. The longer I try the more upset he gets and the more frustrated I get. It’s not doing anybody any good. You might need to come home and feed him. I can’t do anything for him.”

That message broke my heart for both Owen and Michael. I hated the notion that my husband felt helpless to soothe and comfort our son, and I was devastated that my son was hungry and couldn’t stop crying.

My first instinct was to run home and nurse him. But I knew it wasn’t the solution. So we waited it out.

I called the pediatrician, the hospital’s lactation services, my mom and my friends. They all agreed that he would eat when he was hungry enough and that it was worse for us than him.

By 4 p.m. Michael texted a picture of a smiling, happy baby.

“I think we have a breakthrough — empty bottle, happy baby!”

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Happy and relieved mommy too!

So, is eight weeks enough? For this mom it might have been. I’m so happy to be back especially with the challenges and changes ahead. I’m not going to lie though, it certainly doesn’t come without sacrifice. But, I’m treasuring my time outside of home grateful that I’m able to support my family and my sanity.​

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Thinking healthy

Last week, I wrote a story about a very nice man, Larry “Ox” Townsend, from Henderson, who has recovered from a stroke he had earlier this year. It got me thinking about a few things, mostly that I need to start taking better care of myself.

I’m 35, staring down the barrel of 40, and some days I feel like I’m 80. Too much bad food, not enough exercise, poor sleep habits, too much stress – all those risk factors that I am sure affect a whole lot of us.

As Mr. Townsend told me his story, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

The main thing is food. I like food. I really like meat, and salty things, and spicy things and cheesy things and fried things. And sugary drinks. Pretty much all the stuff you’re supposed to stay away from.

Of course, as I type this blog, there’s a commercial on the radio for Subway’s new pastrami melt sandwich. See, I love pastrami. I am kind of obsessed with it, actually.

I haven’t even really started the “health kick” and I’m already feeling like it’s going to be an uphill battle.

It’s not like I haven’t tried before. I’ve gone on diets before, dropped 20 or 25 pounds and thought, “Hey this is not hard at all.”

But I’ve never really stuck with it. That’s the hard part. You start to think you have control, and hey, I lost all that weight. I can eat that whole pizza, just this one time. But then one time becomes twice, then three times, then before you know it you’re supporting the Tri-State pizza industry all by yourself and back to your old weight.

I know what you’re thinking. “Hey this guy is talking about starting a diet with Thanksgiving coming up, good luck with all that.” And you’re probably right.

But I think if I start slow, cutting down on the soft drinks …

(Down south we call them “cokes” regardless of whether it’s Coke or Dr. Pepper or whatever, but that’s another blog entry for another time)

… I think I can build up to a better overall plan. Cutting out a few things at a time, instead of just dropping everything at once and expecting a miracle.

With two little kids around, I need to do a better job this time. I’m not committing myself to a “full body transformation” or anything crazy. I won’t be doing P90’s or crossfit or any of that stuff right now. I just want to start eating a little better.

Now if they’ll just stop running that darn Subway commercial…

Beauty of pregnancy?

One week. I’ve got one week to go. At the time of this writing, this time next week I should be holding my healthy, baby boy in my arms.
I’ve been down this road before (the pregnancy one) and that old cliché about every pregnancy being different is oh so true, at least for this momma.

And any platitudes about pregnancy being a miracle or beautiful or joyful, pshaw! It’s painful, messy, a little gross and exhausting.
Don’t get me wrong, I am SO grateful that I’m able to become pregnant and sustain a pregnancy when there are so many people (close friends and family even) who haven’t been so lucky. But with all that being said, I can still be grateful and feel blessed but also annoyed and disgusted with it at the same time, right?

My mom, super human in a million ways, talks about how she LOVED being pregnant (even pregnant with twins!) She said she never felt as special as she did when she was pregnant with my sister and me. She was fawned on by strangers and just always felt that “special glow.”

I can easily say neither of those things are true for me. I’m a week from giving birth, and I finally feel (well I have the last two to three weeks) that a stranger could safely assume I’m pregnant, not just overweight. But, shy of a few teachers at my son’s school telling me they didn’t think I should go down the slide at Goebel’s Farm in my “condition,” I’ve not had anyone try to pat my belly or fawn over my glowing state. Maybe I’m not glowing after all.

I certainly don’t feel glowy. I’m certainly “shining” (or sweating profusely, however you want to word it.) Between the “sexy” thigh-high compression hose, my work’s disdain for an adequate cooling system and the furnace that is currently residing deep within my core (aka the baby) I am always hot (and typically sweating.)

So I’m crossing “glowing” off my list of pregnancy benefits.

Glorious hair and nails, this has got to be a myth. I remember being told that the prenatal vitamins would give you amazing nails and hair. Nope. Cross that one off!

Gorgeous baby bump — eh, not so much. I would classify what I’m rocking to be more of a baby lump. Seriously, I just look extra lumpy. I was wearing my regular, pre-pregnancy jeans until three weeks ago. There’s been no weekly belly pics; I won’t be posting any cool belly progression videos.

And I just haven’t felt good. When I was pregnant with Miles I was moderately uncomfortable, you know the way that anyone would feel when they are growing another human inside them. This time though by around three months pregnant my sciatica was so annoyed with this baby that it felt like someone was continually jabbing me with a knife in my lower back. So I started receiving chiropractic care (amazing results, by the way) that only added to the list of doctor’s appointments a 33-year-old pregnant woman with a pacemaker has to go to.

There was also the heartburn, OH THE HEARTBURN! Today for lunch I had a salad and plain boneless, skinless chicken breast. SALAD and CHICKEN people, who does that cause a fire of a thousand horses (or whatever that phrase is) to come trampling up my esophagus and into my throat?
I’ve worn a path between my desk and the bathroom for the frequent potty breaks that pregnancy demands. Between the gallons of water they recommend you drink to stay healthy and the tiny human dancing or doing a handstand on your bladder it almost feels as if moving into the bathroom would be the saner idea. Because this nice little waddle that my split pelvis (at least that’s what it feels like some days) makes between here and there is not all that attractive or efficient.

And then on a more serious note this pregnancy has been complete with its fair share of “scares.” I had what doctors called a subchorionic hemorrhage early on (I referred to it as that petrifying bleeding that had me convinced that something was terribly wrong). And then when I was about 7 months pregnant my body was possessed by poison ivy and ended up in the hospital for three days after passing out cold in the middle of a parking lot from a terrible reaction from the immune response to the poison ivy and the medication they gave me to treat it. And just about a month ago I had another health scare that sent me back to the hospital.

Needless to say, I haven’t felt all warm and snugly with this whole pregnancy thing. I’ve been anxious, uncomfortable, exhausted and downright annoyed at times. And I’m not even going to get into all the icky stuff that pregnancy brings. You have either been there and are shaking your head like, “she’s right,” or you can go ask your own mother, the mother of your children or another friend who has gone through this “miracle” of pregnancy.

When people talk about the joys of pregnancy they don’t talk about that stuff. They don’t mention days like my Sunday. I had been up until 1:30 a.m. “nesting” and my kiddo woke up at 4:45 a.m. with the lightning and thunderstorm and had and refused to go back to bed meaning his momma was wide-awake too. I was unbelievably tired, sore and downright unpleasant. And by around 8 a.m. Miles was also pretty darn cranky as he too was exhausted but wouldn’t slow down. I had tears of joy when my sister said she was going to drop by for a bit. I think she intended to be there for 15 or so minutes but ended up staying closer to four hours sensing my “on the edge” feeling.

That picture, the pregnant mom on the verge (or in the throes) of tears isn’t what people see when they think about pregnancy.

What do you see? How was pregnancy for you?​

One baby to another

I’ve talked about Project Reveal here a time or two. My recent absence from regular blogging can be attributed directly to this amazing nonprofit organization and my role in planning its first-ever event.

The amazing Stacey Godbold utilizing the photo booth and showing off the back of her dress!

The amazing Stacey Godbold utilizing the photo booth and showing off the back of her dress!

The organization’s creator, Stacey Godbold, and myself have been working on birthing the baby that was named Embrace Your Body. This baby was a fundraising event Friday night and an outreach event on Saturday. We certainly are not the only two involved; lots of other people played big and small roles in bringing this baby into the world. But I’m not sure if anyone else went through the “labor” that Stacey and I experienced with this amazing event.

I’m not going to lie though, it was pretty painful. Remember, I’m just three weeks shy of birthing another baby (this one actually is a human!) I was so tired and sore when I dragged myself home after 11 p.m. Friday night that I couldn’t even walk upstairs to bed; I slept on the couch.

Let me first say, baby Embrace Your Body came into this world at 7 p.m. on Sept. 5 at 56/58 Adams Avenue and was a healthy, happy and super inspiring gal. OK, enough with the metaphor … The event was fabulous. There were more than 200 people that came through the door; we raised a lot of money; we had a great time; and, most importantly, we touched and inspired a lot of people! That was the most important part of what we did.

One of the inspiring photos Erin took.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

One of the inspiring photos Erin took. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Two of the photos on display during the exhibit. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Two of the photos on display during the exhibit. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

The super-talented photographer Erin McCracken took hundreds of photos of women from the Evansville area of all ages, shapes, backgrounds and ethnicities back in June. And let me point out that these women were in their underwear! They were truly embracing their bodies and entrusting us. We narrowed the photos down to 24 and made huge prints (seriously huge — two feet by three feet.) Those photos were then displayed in a swanky feeling gallery space in Evansville’s Haynie’s Corner Art District. Add to that live music, a fun photo booth, delicious food, a bar, an amazing green lemonade and the inspirational words of Stacey and Erin and you have a perfect night.

We also made sure those that attended the event (and also supported us with their positive words, encouragement and donations) felt like they could be a part of Project Reveal. They participated in our interactive art piece that will forever be a part of Project Reveal and then also had the opportunity to either “embrace their body” or “reveal” something about themselves on luminary bags that meandered and glowed around the Haynie’s Corner fountain.

People walking to the luminary display at the fountain.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

People walking to the luminary display at the fountain. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries on display.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries on display. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

I’m not going to lie, when I walked outside and saw that at the end of the night my eyes got a little wet. It was beautiful. Not only was it just an impressive site seeing all the luminary bags glowing and the words written on them but it was validation for what we’d worked so hard to do.

Each of those bags represented someone that believed in something that I’d invested so much of myself into recently, something I’d made so many sacrifices for in recent months and something that I too really believed in.

Luminaries at the fountain. Picture courtesy of Project Reveal

Luminaries at the fountain. Picture courtesy of Project Reveal

It meant a lot that my mom, twin sis, family friend and boss all took their time (and money, this event wasn’t free folks, it was a fundraiser after all) to support me by showing up. There were other co-workers there supporting the organization as well. It really meant a lot.

I know my husband is so very, very tired of hearing me say, “I’ve got to work late tonight on Project Reveal,” “I won’t be home until 10 or 11 because of set up for the event,” “I’ve got to leave to do a radio spot for Project Reveal,” “We’ve got a Project Reveal event all afternoon, sorry I won’t be home.” But every time he said, “Go, have fun. It’s fine.”

Coworker Megan Erbacher posing with me and Erin McCracker during the event. Photo courtesy of Megan Erbacher

Coworker Megan Erbacher posing with me and Erin McCracker during the event. Photo courtesy of Megan Erbacher

Without him completely taking over all of the house maintaining and child care duties the last couple weeks I’m not sure what would have happened. I certainly couldn’t have done what I was able to do with and for the event.

I know I wasn’t the only one making these sacrifices. Stacey, mom of triplets who just turned 1 and a 4 year old, made even more sacrifices and put even more blood, sweat and tears into the planning. And Erin, who got married in the midst of all this event planning craziness, also was super dedicated and involved.

And the most important thing to stress here is that I WANTED to do it all. I’m the kind of person that likes to be involved in something. I want to channel my passion and energy into something I believe in. I hadn’t really had that in the last few years, especially since I’d had Miles. I’d get involved with specific events (I was on the planning committee for Relay for Life in Madison County, was on the Heart Walk team here, etc.) but had not really found a place where I really felt I belonged and could have an impact.

People enjoying the gallery.  Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

People enjoying the gallery. Photo courtesy of Project Reveal

But I think Project Reveal is it. The mission of the organization is to create a forum where “women can help other women by sharing their stories, strength and hope about a defining time in their lives.”

So until I hear otherwise from Stacey, she and Project Reveal are stuck with me.

But I have to say, now that baby Embrace Your Body has made it’s debut it is time for me to focus on the other baby I’ve been working on for the last eight-plus months — baby Owen. His debut (if all goes as planned) is in 21 days. It’s been hard to focus on preparing for his arrival with all the event details and deadlines. So now my focus is on this baby and back on my amazing and supportive husband and kiddo Miles.

If you want to learn more about Project Reveal visit projectreveal.org.​

Dear Decaf,

How I love you.
Your big, bad, older brother caffeine has been on my “no-no” list for a while now. Still, until recent times I used to sneak away with him for the occasional dalliance here and there. I know that cheating on you, my dear friend, isn’t kind. But he’s just such a tease. Sometimes I can’t help but give into his temptations and join the “dark side.”
But in the last few weeks, I’ve dumped him and all his velvety, peppy taunts for you, decaf. You are a leaner, meaner, modified version of your brother. You don’t pack much of a punch, but I’ll take your robust flavor and placebo energy boost any time. It hasn’t been an easy transition, but I appreciate your efforts to be there for me each and every morning.
Years ago I’d become dependent on your brother but now am happy with my morning routine of an iced version of you, oh lovely decaf.
So thanks decaf for sticking it out with me. I promise my dedication to you won’t waver this time (at least until this little munchkin makes his arrival in about 60 days.)
Love,
Abbey