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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

This is an Intervention

Hello, my name is Valerie and I am a messy.
It's something I don't like to talk about publicly. Especially not on this blog. This blog is my creative space. My happy place. My place where I can forget about ugly, real parts of my life, and pretend like I didn't shove a huge pile of trash out of the way when I take a picture for the blog. But I need to talk about it now, and here's why:
It's ruining my life.

Well, THAT was dramatic. Let's get a little background and perspective before we continue on with this story.
I have been a creative, sentimental, messy person my entire life. As a child I drove my parents nuts with my messy room and unfinished projects and short attention span. My parents are and always have been very tidy, organized people. And I grew up in a mostly tidy organized home. So my chronic messiness and disorganization was always baffling and frustrating to them.
As I got older, it became baffling and frustrating to me. In college my dorm was a train wreck. When I moved to my own place I took mountains and mountains of stuff with me... and then again when I moved into a duplex with my bestie. The amount of stuff I had acquired and held onto is really kind of incredible. But even more incredible was I didn't know how to MANAGE all this stuff I had acquired.
And then I met my husband. A fellow messy. He would probably balk if I said he was 'sentimental' but he sure does have a TON of stuff that he wanted to hold on to-- even if it was serving us no purpose. So TWO sentimental messies married and moved in together, and the mess didn't double, it quadrupled. I still didn't know how to manage it. But we were both working full time and so that seemed a good excuse, and we could fake it pretty well.
Then we started adding kids in the mix... and with each new kid the amount of stuff multiplies exponentially. And we moved to a new (bigger) house and it was going to be awesome and more space and easier to clean and manage our stuff-- but that didn't happen. Our stuff quickly filled the space and took over. It just got out of hand.
Does this story sound familiar to anyone? Please tell me I am not the only person out there who stood in their living room one day in tears because the gravity of their mess was all of a sudden suffocating them!! Tell me I am not alone!
Here's the deal though. I am a reasonably intelligent, able bodied person. And it is not that I don't know HOW to clean. I know how to wash a dish, do a load of laundry, fold a bed sheet, pick up trash, scrub a toilet... I know HOW to do those things. But I didn't DO them. I didn't do them until the mess became so overwhelming that my brain would crash. And then I would attempt to do it all at once and fail miserably to even make a dent. I felt crushed by my failure, frustrated with myself for letting things get so far... I felt ineffective. I felt like a failure. I felt like, I hated being in my own house.
I couldn't have people over without a two day warning, I panicked if the doorbell rang. I apologized and cried every night when my husband came over. My tidy parents would come over and try to help clean my house, or they would make little jokes about what a slob I am-- I guess because it made them feel less uncomfortable??-- and I would cry when the left because people couldn't stand to be in my house. I didn't want to be this way. I wished every day I could change this about myself because I felt so inferior, so abnormal, so small. I felt RUINED.

Going through an intervention, trying to change yourself, get yourself healthy, you often here-- Admitting you have a problem is the first step.
Guess what. I have known my whole life I that I am a messy. I have never NOT known that. I've been admitting that forever. This admittance was getting me no where. It was not until recently, however, that I realized being a creative, sentimental, messy person is not the problem. The problem is not that I should be someone different. The problem is not that I don't know how to do the things I wish I would do.
The problem is I have never developed the right habits.
I don't need to change who I am, I need to change how I act.

It was literally just a few days ago I reached a big dramatic breaking point.
I had an intervention for myself. I cried for a little while. I told myself how my actions were affecting me; and how they were affecting my loved ones. I told myself it was time for change. I admitted my problem. I reached out for help. I bought a book and looked up some resources.
I wrote this blog post.
...because that's helpful, right?
Well, actually, it is helpful. This blog, you readers (all three of you), are going to be a part of this journey with me. You get to be the processing and accountability part of this journey with me. I know I am going to need space for both of those things if I am to be successful in this endeavor to control my mess...
So this is the story of my intervention, the story of my mess, the beginning of my journey, and the start of better habits and better life. Because I am done living in the bondage of my mess and fear that someone might find out about it.
In the months to come I'll be sharing about what I am doing, how things are going, maybe some failed attempts, definitly a lot of honesty. Ah, yes, brutally terrifying honesty about my life... about my mess. I'm calling this new phase in my life...
(because every blogger on a mission needs an official title for that mission, or blog series, or whathaveyou...)
Undoing the Messy.

Undoing the Messy, Step One: Big fat emotional self imposed intervention with accompanying blog post. CHECK!

We'll talk more about this soon... I promise.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chicken Bacon Pinwheels for Dinner

Um, am I the only one who gets stuck in a rut at dinner? Please say no.
I have limited ingredient options to work with to begin with (Due to my picky-like-a-toddler husband) but I feel like we eat the same 3 meals over and over again. The other night I was staring at my ingredients for one of those same three meals. and went-- we gotta do something here to make this more interesting.
So I did.
And It was a hit with the family! Sam gobbled his up and said, "Thank you for making this delicious meal for me, Mama!" (High praise from the child who has eaten little more than a few graham crackers to keep himself alive this week.) Wesley blew through three. Yes, THREE chicken pinwheels. And even Z commented that the chicken had really good flavor and this was a great meal. And Suddenly, there was a multitude of Angels! Praising God, and saying, Glory to God, and Peace on your dinner table!!!

...sorry. That retelling got a little dramatic.

So I took a picture of the well enjoyed meal and shared it's success on instagram. And then you guys were all, What is this delicious looking meat? Is that bacon? Can you make it for me? Can you tell me where you got the recipe?
I always cringe just a little when someone asks for a recipe that I made up on the fly. Because... What if I don't remember it perfectly? But due to high demand... I dusted off my brain and recorded the details for ya'll. Because I love you, so here you go:

Chicken Bacon Pinwheels with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

2 good size Boneless skinless chicken breast
1 lb thick sliced bacon
1/2 tblsp whole grain mustard
1/2 tblsp dijon mustard
1/2 Tblsp honey
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 tblsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat over to 400 degrees.
Whisk together mustards, honey, vinegar, and oil, taste and season/adjust ingredients to your liking. (My husband doesn't like his very sweet)
Pound out your chicken breast until approx 1/2 inch uniform thickness. Cut chicken into long strips the same width of the bacon, (approx 2 inches)
Lay down a strip of bacon place a strip of chicken on top (your bacon will be longer, and you want that), and smear a small portion of the vinaigrette, then starting on one end roll up the bacon and chicken snugly and secure the end of the bacon with a toothpick all the way through. repeat with remaining chicken.
Place rolls in glass baking dish, at least 1 inch apart. Brush (or spoon on...) tops of each roll with more vinaigrette. Bake for approx 30 mins, or until chicken is cooked through and rolls are firm. You may finish with broiler to get the bacon nice and crispy, if desired. (remove toothpicks before serving)
This made 8 pinwheels.
I served them here with butter and parsley whipped potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Much simpler than it looks, but kinda looks fancy, doesn't it??? Hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we did! Let me know how it goes :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Life Changing Coffee

I've been meaning to tell you all something really awesome I learned about earlier this year.
Something that is... life changing! Maybe I throw that phrase around a little too much. Hang out with me for a while, you are sure to hear it. So I was delighted to discover a company who also liked to throw it around... but for good reason.
...for good Coffee.
Life Changing Coffee.
If... you are not a coffee lover, don't tune out just yet. Because there is a lot to love about this coffee even if you don't love it in your mug.

Mission Arabica is a company launched just a year ago by a couple of guys who were looking to change lives... specifically the lives of impoverished third-world villages. They do this by helping establish coffee plantations, then purchasing their crop for a fair price, then selling that coffee and... Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Funds are reinvested in more villages... and more lives are changed.
Awesome, right? I mean, that's a reeeaaally simple, broad over view of what they are doing, but read up on the Mission Arabica Website it's really interesting and informative!
If you ARE a coffee lover... there is even MORE good news. Life Changing news. You can purchase some of the specialty grade Mission Arabica coffee and be a part of the process. And... it is GOOOOD coffee friends. Z and I have been enjoying it for a couple months now, and we are going through it like water! (Z is particularly fond of their Christmas blend? But I believe it is being discontinued soon because... well, Christmas is over. This is heartbreaking news.) Anyway. Clicky-click on that link above and stock up before continuing on.
I'll wait.



...Okay. Got your coffee? Here's some more good news for coffee lovers.
Coffee Recipes.
I mean, you knew that you could brew yourself a nice cup of coffee... you might know how to make a latte or even a frappaccino, if you are quite fancy. But did you know coffee could transform your Turkey? Your chilli? MARSHMALLOWS?!?! For real, Guys.
The Mission Arabica Recipe blog just launched a few months ago, and I have actually contributed a few recipes! If you are interested in checking out the recipes I contributed... hop on over to their site. The recipes are there in their entirety with pictures and everything for you. Because we love you.


Look, I know that I just admitted a loose affiliation with the company, but I hope you don't think that I am raving about them for some kind of personal gain, or compensation. Because I am not. And I wouldn't say such things if I didn't believe them. I just... believe in this company. I am impressed with the work they are doing. I'm impressed with their product. I am excited to be a even a small part of what they've got going on. I'm excited that lives are being changed... and I am even excited to have a good source for really quality gourmet coffee.
Anyway. If you find any part of this intriguing or exciting... I encourage you to check out their website, their blog, their recipes, subscribe to their emails. There's good stuff happening.
Life changing stuff.
(Forgive me, I just love throwing that phrase around.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A story (Or, the blogger's annual promise to be a better blogger)

 Let me tell you a story.
One that you are likely familiar with if you have spent any time in the blogging world.
A long time ago... I started a blog because I wanted to share some pictures and some ideas with friends and family. Then I started getting realy into it-- posting regularly. My blog got some traffic, some attention. And while I was never someone who made money off my blog (NONE, I promise) people began to assume I did? and also, I started to act like I did. I put a lot of my time and energy into this.

So now's the part of the story about losing my spark, or realigning my priorities, or blogging for the 'wrong reasons' (are there right reasons to blog for?), or also, I had kids and this became less important. Also, did you know I have two blogs? One mostly dedicated to my thoughts and rants and whatnot and one mostly dedicated to my craftiness and projects and whatnot... and while it seemed a good idea to keep those separate, two blogs? Who am I? What kind of time do I think I have?
Anyway... I dropped off the face of the earth for most of the last year. Did you notice? But I miss blogging. I miss writing. I miss having an outlet for my thoughts no matter how erratic they may be. I also miss getting to share stuff I make. Because creative people... sharing and exchange of ideas is what fuels us, am I right?

So this story ends with me trying to get back to it. Back to it with a little moderation. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You don't have to make money from your blog to sucessfully share ideas and participate in real conversations. In fact... maybe that's a little truer way TO share ideas and participate in real conversation. (Angry money-making bloggers don't shun me)
At the very least... I have DARN cute kids, I tell you! And you won't want to miss their antics and pictures. (Yay, mom-blogger!)

And dang it I need an eloquent way to wrap up this post, but I can't really think of one today. (Real life, friends)... so... I won't.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Mother's Day Tea Party

I'm an adult.
So giving my mom a construction paper card or something with my handprint on it is not appreciated as much anymore. Not even on Mother's Day. And I was trying to figure out what in the world to get my mom. She gets lots of flowers from her husband. And she doesn't need anymore 'stuff'. In fact she is currently in a season of life where she is trying to down-size the amount of 'stuff' in her house and life. So I decided it would be much better to give my mom an 'experience' instead of another 'stuff'. I decided to throw a tea party.
It was the right choice. A tea party with some of our best girlfriends was exactly what we all needed in our life and yet had previously been unaware of.
Here are the details:

I tried to keep things simple and elegant... this was a tea party, not a luncheon. So I reigned myself in and tried not to go overboard on the food. I am finding simplicity is valuable in many areas of my life... including entertaining. Less definitely can mean more... but that's a topic for another day. I found these lovely Strawberry Meringue Roses and they were not only pretty on my pink table, but a sweet crispy complement along side our tea. Perfect.
Also used this photo as inspiration to make tea cookies using this cream cheese sugar cookie recipe, then dipped them in dark chocolate. They were pretty heavenly. :) The tags on the 'teabags' served as place cards, with each guest's initials. There were also dark chocolate dipped strawberries... because... yum.
I served two kinds of tea, a White Ayurvedic Chai blend and an Herbal Citrus Lavender Sage, both from Teavana. Both lovely and delicious! Tea was served from a teapot that belonged to my grandma, and another that I found at a thrift store. I spent a few weeks collecting tea cups from thrift stores, yard sales, and HomeGoods. As well as borrowing from mine and my mother's (which was my grandmother's) china set. I had seven unique and beautiful teacups to set a beautifully eclectic table for tea.

As for the guest list, I invited 6 ladies, all of them mothers and good friends of both my Mom and I. I sent out formal invites about a week in advance. They were very simple, white with a pink rose (the rose was a picture I took two years ago on Memorial day touring a rose garden with my mom! So I had fond 'Mama Memories' even in the detail of designing a simple invite. I don't know if my Mama even knew that... I should tell her.) And the invite set the tone for the rest of the 'decor' which I kept very simple... white linens, white china, pink flowers. Oh... and some pearls and a cow.
I don't have a sugar bowl and creamer in my china set, but I do have a white sugar bowl, and this little white cow. My mom told me I couldn't put a cow on the table for formal tea, but I thought he was quirky and fun... I dressed him up with a little ribbon, and thought he looked quite dashing for formal tea. :) Everyone else agreed... or kept their opinions to themselves. One of the two!

The day before the party I ran by walmart and grabbed $30 worth of lousy bouquets. You know the kind they have smashed in mass into bins that are stupid cheap and not very appealing? But all you have to work with if you are on a small budget like me... 2 dozen roses and a dozen tulips. I came home and snipped boxwood, hosta leaves, and purple salvia from my landscaping... and put together tiny little bouquets for teacups for a centerpiece, and a corsage for each lady at the party.
The corsages were an extra fun touch-- and a special surprise that especially the older ladies enjoyed-- it was very nostalgic. (Why are corsages for mothers a thing of nostalgia? We need to bring that back! Lets all make a pact to dress up for our moms for mother's day, and get her a corsage, yes?) Most of the ladies held onto the corsage and wore it to church the next day as well... which is kind of what I was hoping would happen!
It turned out to be a simple, beautiful, relaxed morning of chatting with ladies, sipping tea, and feeling fancy! (And, you know, taking a million pictures of ourselves doing so!) Which is just what a mom needs, am I right? It was a great "experience" gift for my mama, and judging from the response... one that will hopefully become an annual event!
Happy Mother's Day, Mama. I hope you enjoyed your tea party and felt relaxed, loved, and celebrated! I love you so very much!
And Happy (late) Mother's day to each of you reading this! It is a day to celebrate Mamas, Moms to be, step moms, mother figures, want to be moms, foster moms, God-mothers, grandmas, aunts, daughters, new mamas, empty nest mamas, fill-in moms, dog moms, and anyone who has ever had a mom. Love to each of you on this special day of counting your blessings!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wesley's Birth Story Part 3: Happy Labor Day

(Continued from Part 1, and Part 2. Disclaimer: this is the labor and delivery part of the story, and while I have attempted to edit out the most gruesome details-- it's still a birth story. And childbirth is not pretty. So while I don't feel like this includes explicit details inappropriate for the public or even those with weak stomachs.. read at your own risk. Thanks!)

So here I was sitting in the hospital bed. They had hooked me up to the monitors. Baby was great, heart rate great, nice strong contractions coming about 3 minutes apart. They were not at all pleasant, but I was dealing. Concentration. Deep breaths. Focus on the end, Valerie. This is what you wanted.
This IS what I wanted. My husband looked at me like I was growing a third hand out of my forehead when I tried to explain it to him-- but even though I wasn't looking forward to the pain, and no one enjoys the pain, I wanted to experience the pain of labor. I wanted to experience my body doing labor on it's own-- because I didn't get to last time. And it was! It was doing labor splendidly on it's own!
As soon as the nurse saw contractions were that close together, she went ahead and checked my cervix. She told me an 8 or a 9 and 100% effaced. We were close.
An 8? or a 9? Last night I was crying because I was a three and not budging. Everything was going so quickly! She told me I was doing splendidly. She even complimented my calm as I slowly talked through contractions giving her all the info she needed to officially check me into the hospital. She went to put my IV in, and I asked her to wait until the contraction had passed, and she just kind of chuckled because she wouldn't have known I was having a contraction if I hadn't stopped her.
Don't get me wrong-- I wasn't breezing through those suckers. They hurt. They hurt like crap. They hurt like bad words I was screaming in my head that wouldn't be prudent to share on this family friendly blog. But I was in the zone. I was focused and feeling every second of this labor and feeling very in control of the situation-- which is funny because labor is pretty explicitly involuntary-- nonetheless. I was doing it. I was there.
Shortly after we got settled in Z asked do you want them to get your epidural? And I said-- no. I want to do this for a while. And the nurse kind of made a face-- "I don't think you have a while to do this. You are pretty much at your decision time, hun. Epidural now or not at all."
"I-- I want to do this for a while. I don't want the epidural right now, I'll tell you later when I am ready for it." And then I was in the zone for another contraction, and Zachary reluctantly repeated to the nurse who was shaking her head, "I guess she'll let you know when she is ready for it."
Now here's where things started getting fun.
If you read Sam's Birth Story you remember that I got all pukey when the pain got too intense at the end. I thought that was just a fluke and a reaction to the pitocin, but nope. Apparently, I'm a puker. You know what I hate? Puking. You know whats even worse? Puking with an audience.
All of a sudden the pain got intense and I yelled at Z, "I'm gonna puke! I need a thing!"
And he looked around for a 'thing' but came up with nothing, and grabbed a trashcan off the floor at the last possible moment before I started puking up that oatmeal. Mmmmm... oatmeal.
And then there were contractions, and puking, and more contractions and more puking and I was no longer in control of anything and I was crying and apologizing for crying and puking on everyone and the nurse came back in the room... oh boy.
She got me a clean gown and some clean sheets. Checked me again, 9 and 100% but my water had not broken, so I could still have an epidural, but once that water broke it was go-time.
"I'll let you know."
I got up to go to the bathroom, and a contraction hit and I couldn't stand or sit and I remember wanting to cry and wanting to scream and knowing that I was in so much pain neither was possible. I walked out of the bathroom and leaned on the bed, and said, "Okay, get me the epidural. I have felt all that I need to." And she said, okay, and hooked up my IV.
It was about 11:30. They finally got the epidural and I was trying to find a comfortable position when the back labor hit and I started puking again and contractions right on top of one another and why wasn't the epidural working for goodness sake??? Then a little alarm went off on the IV drip... and I was all, "Oh my gosh I'm dying! That's the heart rate saying I'm flatlining, my heart has stopped I'm dead I'm dead I'm dead." I was perhaps a little foggy and dramatic from the pain at this point, and the nurse came in and assured me I was in fact not dead at all, and my heart was fine, and that the epidural line was pinched in the case. She freed it and...
AHHHHHHHH! It was like choirs of baby angels singing to me as the instant, warm, tingling relief rushed down my legs. Then she got me some anti-puking meds, and more angels. Then I sat back in my bed and smiled. "Look how great this is going!" I giggled to my husband, who just rocked in his chair and shook his head at me.
About noon the Doctor came in and checked me. She said I was like a 9.5... there was just a little ledge up under the bulging bag that wasn't quite ready. She decided to break my water, then would come back in about a half hour and we would start pushing. Yay! Then she left.
"Wait-- wasn't she going to break my water?" I asked
"SHE DID" Z said. And the nurse laughed at me because I was completely unaware I was sitting on a soaked bed. Oh, HAY Epidural! Thanks for your services. My water breaking was the single most disturbing part of Sam's delivery. Didn't even know it had happened this go around.
Big brother Sam and Grandpa killing time in the waiting room.
We waited the half hour and the doctor did not come back. After 45 mins the nurse checked me. Still not there. I needed to labor down for a while. Okay. I listened to some christmas music. I chatted with my husband. (I think he answered about 15 texts from my mom-- is he here yet? is he here yet? is he here yet?) I looked around facebook for a while. I was getting bored and anxious. I knew we were close, I was ready for my baby!

A little after 2:00 the nurse came in and checked me one last time. It's a 10!!! Time to push!
We did a few 'practice pushes', and she was all, oh yeah, this kid is going to get here soon. Rest a few contractions. Don't mind if I do, thanks.
And then the room started filling up, the L&D nurse, the doctor's assistant, the intern that popped in for the show, the nursery nurses.
"Hey it's a party!" I said. And they all looked at me like I was a loon. "A birthday party? Because my son is about to be born?" (crickets...) Tough crowd. Anyway...
The nurses from the nursery did take that moment to come over and view how ginormous my belly was, and make bets about the size of the kid inside. Oh, I see, you are comfortable gambling in my delivery room, but not laughing at the laboring woman's jokes.
And then we were pushing and pushing and everything is going great, and there's the head, it's halfway here, "Oh, crap, stop pushing, the Doctor is not here yet."
Cruelest thing ever. Do they do that to every woman or just me? Because it's happened twice now. And we were waiting waiting waiting for the doctor. She's on her way...
I think it was about 3 minutes but it felt like at least an hour laying there wanting to push waiting for the doctor. I'm not really a screamer in delivery, not even a crier. But sitting there waiting for the doctor at the very most intense part of the delivery process was everything I could do to keep it together. I looked at my husband and said-- "This is not fun anymore." But my voice broke--betraying my attempt at light heartedness, and he just squeezed my hand, tried to be encouraging. I don't remember if he said anything in response, but I remember being overwhelmingly grateful he was there. My amazing husband. My strong, calm, patient, ROCK.
When the doctor slipped into the room, she barely got her gloves on and I was back in business one good push and BAM. There was his head. And push for the body and...
Baby cries!
Beautiful beautiful baby sounds. And my sweet, rolly, baby boy was laying on my chest and everyone gathered around us oohing and ahhing. Someone grabbed my camera and snapped this picture of Z cutting the cord.
Z cuts the cord
(See he's still in his work uniform? Classy!)
Then they wiped him off, and he snuggled down into my chest. His little cries ceased, and he snuggled into his mama whimpering like a little puppy dog. It was a beautiful and joyous moment. Pure perfection. A rush of adrenaline, joy, satisfaction, completeness.

It was 2:35. Just 7 hours after I woke with the first contraction that morning.

(Stay tuned for more details and pictures from Wesley's Birthday in part 4!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wesley's Birth Story, Part 2: Get me to the Church-- er, Hospital on time!

(continued from Part 1, This is a little text heavy, and maybe not all that exciting recount of the day's events... Just so you know. I warned you in advance, you are not going into this blind.)

I woke up Wednesday morning with a sharp pain in my abdomen. I shifted position, and glanced at the clock 7:20. Sam wasn't awake yet, I could probably sleep a little longer. I wasn't too excited yet, because I'd been having contractions for weeks, but these were kinda intense. I couldn't find a comfortable position to lay in anymore so I got up to take a shower. Might as well. But before I did I grabbed my stopwatch. A little under 10 mins apart. I felt like this could be it, so I went ahead and sent my husband a text, just as a heads up, I figured it'd be a few hours before we knew anything for sure.

I went and hopped in the shower. The contractions were really uncomfortable, but the hot shower felt good. I just stood there in the shower, letting it run over me. It relaxed me. I don't know how long I was in the shower, but when I got out, I grabbed my stopwatch again, because I was certain they were coming regularly now. 7 mins apart. This was moving too fast, so I must be wrong. I kept my watch with me and shook my head because each contraction came faster than the last. This can't be right. I've got hours to labor still.
I went and got Sam up. Usually we eat breakfast in our jammies but I went ahead and got him dressed. Contractions were making me really grumpy, but I knew I still had hours to labor before I should call anyone. I decided when I could no longer take care of Sam I would call my mom to come watch him while I labored at home. I was not going to call my husband and have everyone rush to the hospital just to spend all day waiting, or worse-- be sent home. I took him downstairs and started to make us oatmeal. Felt like I should carb up, and oatmeal was that perfect combination of bland and filling that made me think I wouldn't puke it up when things got serious. (spoiler alert: I was wrong.)
Two bowls of oatmeal in the microwave and me trying to push the kitchen counter through the wall with every contraction.  5 mins apart. Sam was patting my leg and saying, "It's okay mama." "Mama you hurt?" He was so sweet and concerned and I was gritting my teeth and clenching my fists trying not to smack his little hands away as he patted my leg. "Honey, go wait for your oatmeal on the couch."
It was 9:00. I couldn't deal with Sam anymore. I picked up the phone, and dialed my mom's school.
"Middle school office!" The chipper secretary answered.
"Hello, This is Valerie Pogemiller, I need to talk to my mother Judy S immediately."
"Okay... Oh! Okay! Oh my goodness, I'll patch you right through!" You could hear the excitement in her voice as she realized what this call was about. My mom had everyone in the school on high alert for weeks, just for this very call.
The phone rang in my mom's classroom, but the other teacher in the room answered, "Hello?" and I was thrown off.
"Um-- uh, hello."
(awkward silence)
"Is this Valerie?"
"Uh huh"
"OH MY GOSH! Is IT time?"
(And... another contraction hits)
"I think so..."
"Ohmygosh I'm so excited!"
"...I'm glad one of us is."
"Oh I'll go get your mom! Yay!" And I hear her all sing-songy in the background, "Juuuuudy! It's your daauuuughter!" and a few seconds later my mother's voice, "Hellloo?" (With that inflection you use when you answer the phone anticipating good news)
"Mama, I think I need you now!"
"I'm leaving now!"
And she was gone. She told me later that I had called during an all girls class, and she bounded out of the room to many cheers and squeals at a pitch only middle school girls can achieve.

Contraction having passed, I put down my phone, and decided I was going to go up and curl my hair. If I was going to feel terrible today I certainly wasnt going to look terrible. I left Sam watching a movie and munching some dry cereal (I forgot about the oatmeal I had made.)
I pulled some clean yoga pants out of the dryer and turned on my curling iron. Breathed through another contraction (Has it already been 5 mins???) And started curling my hair.
My mom must have sped all the way to my house, she burst through the door, "I'm here! Are you ready to go?"
Go? No, we've got plenty of time. I haven't even put on earrings yet. I can't find socks. I havn't eaten my oatmeal. My oatmeal! I forgot to eat breakfast. I need to sit down and eat some breakfast, then I'll get my bag packed and we'll head out in a little while--
CRAP another contraction.
My mom is watching me concerned as I lean my head against the wall and aggressively tap my foot untill it passes. "How far apart are they?"
"like... 7? or, um, 5 mins?" (lies. They were 4.5 mins apart) "I don't know, I am trying to keep my mind off of it." I think I was trying to fold some laundry or something at this point.
"Is Z on his way to the hospital?"
"No, I haven't called him yet."
"I think it's time to call him." She said firmly. And she was right, I was just putting it off because I wanted to make sure this was the real deal.
I remember standing at the top of the stairs dialing my husband when another contraction hit and I was crying because I was in pain, and excited that this was it, and scared that I had waited too long, and trying to remain calm because I didn't want anyone to panic or know I was panicking because then I would just NOT. Be Able. To Deal.
I don't remember much of the conversation with Z, surprisingly. Probably because it was all through the cloud of another contraction. I think he asked if he should come home and I told him to meet us at the hospital, and he told me it was perfect timing because he was just leaving the station... a few minutes later and it would have been a mess to get to him. I hung up the phone, resolved that it was time to leave for the hospital. My mom was a little frantic and had crammed Sam in his coat and they were waiting by the front door and bless her heart I think she probably wanted to smack me but we were finally loading into the car, a little after 10:00. And heading to the hospital.

This is when I went... maybe I should take pictures today? This is the only one I have.
Precious memories.
I had grabbed my oatmeal off the counter and was sitting cross legged in the passenger seat of her car timing contractions (4 mins or less), eating oatmeal, and chugging bottles of water. I was kind of manic nervous-laughing. She was shockingly calm, and alternately concerned mother and elated anxious grandma.
Z beat us to the hospital. He was waiting at the emergency room entrance when we got there. They took me to registration, and the lady asked if I was in labor. I nodded through a contraction. She asked how far apart, and I told her 5. (Lies, 3.5 mins) She told me to have a seat, and I told her I was more comfortable standing as contractions were easier to deal with that way. She started typing some things in her computer and watched me skeptically as another contraction hit, then called up to L&D, and sent Z to get a wheel chair to get me up there.
When we got up to the 6th floor and into a room, they had me change and hooked me up to a monitor. it was about 10:30.
"Oh, yes! You are definitely in labor." The nurse said. (3 mins apart)

Part 3 coming soon!