Costco and Kindness

A little over a week ago I went to Costco for the first time in my life. It wasn’t something that I had really ever considered doing and I didn’t go there to get myself a shiny new membership card. Instead, I was meeting a woman there name Janet.

Janet is what you might call “good people”. I  met Janet once 6 months ago and I could tell then that she was one of those people. That was the last time I saw her until our meeting at Costco. Janet had heard about our recent hardships with me losing my job and the trouble I’ve had getting any unemployment assistance as of yet. She also has a birthday this month and to celebrate decided to do 55 Random Acts of Kindness over the last couple of months leading up to her birthday. One of those acts included taking me to Costco for a shopping trip.

When I found out Janet wanted to take me shopping my first instinct was to decline. Josh and I are very independent people and accepting aid from others is not common or easy for us. But that felt like pride and since the universe had put this out there for me I decided I would be foolish not to accept it. On the morning of our trip I felt awkward and wondered if I had made the right choice. I reminded myself of the reasons this was happening—random acts of kindness, good people, karma.

So I went.

Kind is too small of a word to express what she did for my family that day.

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We are incredibly grateful for the gift she gave to us. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough. I cried a little on my drive home—car stuffed with food, toilet paper, and other things—overwhelmed by what this woman I hardly knew had just done. Josh choked up as we unloaded item after item from the boxes saying it was probably the most generous act he has experienced since a particularly difficult Christmas during his childhood that included presents for him and his siblings from the Salvation Army.

She asked for nothing in return except to pay it forward some day. Random acts of kindness in whatever form that looks like to us. That I can do. Maybe you could do one too. It doesn’t have to be grandiose—a simple smile can be enough to brighten someone’s day, trust me.

I hugged Janet before I drove away that morning and her parting words were “It will get better.” How can I not believe her?

Let Go

I suppose April 17th was bound to be one of those kind of days.

It was a Wednesday.

Wednesday meant I had a 9:00 class and 9:00 classes make for rushed mornings—with showers, breakfast, lunches, and school for the kiddo—and little time to do anything before class in an effort to get there with a few minutes to spare. So I was off to a difficult start.

When I opened my laptop to take attendance during my morning class it was was completely unresponsive. Just a black screen and a refusal to greet me with its warm comforting glow despite my efforts to revive it.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Turns out I had a blown graphics processor and while I was able to retrieve my hard drive and get all of my holycrapIdidn’tbackthoseupyet files, my laptop was inoperable. Spectacular.

And because I now had no laptop, I missed an email regarding a meeting I needed to be at that afternoon.

A meeting that would make my broken laptop look like a broken fingernail.

I ended up in that meeting 2 hours after it was scheduled and it was there that I found out I was losing the job I had been at for nearly 13 years.

Fuck.

Needless to say my emotionally unstable self cried hard in that meeting. And after that meeting. And in front of my students at the class I had that evening.

It was ugly.

I was stunned. I had a feeling the meeting wasn’t going to be necessarily sunshine and unicorns but I was not expecting to lose my job and all that came with it like insurance for the kids, Josh, and myself.

I needed to process what just happened.

There was no way I could teach my class that night.

I’m so thankful that class was an upper-level course comprised of a small group of women that had me as an instructor multiple times in the past. When they saw me cry as I told them I would get them started in the lab but had to go due to a personal issue, they that didn’t look at me like I was some sort of freak. Instead they stood up one after another and hugged me.

That may have made it even harder.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been finishing out the quarter knowing I would soon be unemployed from a job that was so much more than just a job. It was my career and the people within that institution had become family. I kept that my notice of unemployment to myself with the exception of a few family and friends. Sure, people knew—I was not the only one to find out that day they were getting laid off—and word travels fast but I chose not to publicly share my fate. I didn’t tell my students since finals week was just days away and I wanted them to keep their minds focused on the their present task at hand not my future.

May 3rd was my official last day.

I have no idea what is next.

I’m both exhilarated and terrified.

 

Ten

Ten Years of Marriage

The ham to my cheese.

Dear Josh,

Ten years ago today we exchanged vows and started our life together as husband and wife. I’m in awe that it has been a decade already. It hardly seems possible. And yet, here we are celebrating 10 years of marriage together.

Thank you for saying I do.

Our life has not been perfect—and some days it has been a real bitch—but having my best friend by my side through the bad as well as the good has made those rough times easier.

Thank you for laughing and crying with me.

So many of my favorite moments involve you.

 Our trip to Myrtle Beach in ’97 long before “intimate” was part of the vocabulary of “us”.

Our wedding. It was magical and amazing and personal and perfect. Right down to the very last song.

 Jamaica. Sunrises. Rum drinks. Beaches. So much food. Some day we will do it again.

Buying and fixing up our first home. It may not be our forever home but is our home of so many firsts. Moving will be bittersweet.

Becoming parents. The first time and the second. I cannot even put in to words how amazing this has been. Being a mom to our two boys is really my favorite thing in the world. Having you as their father? Perfection.

These are the big ones. The forever in my heart ones. But they are far from the only ones. The tiny everyday memories that make up our life together are just as important to me.

Making sushi together.

Waking up each morning with you, me, both the kids, and the cat in the same bed.

Trips to the zoo, the museum, the parks.

Sitting in the backyard with a cup of coffee on a chilly spring morning. Or with a beer on a warm summer night.

Road trips. Bike rides. Family walks.

No matter what we do together or where life takes us, you will always be the one I want to do it with.

Happy tenth anniversary, Josh. You mean the world to me.

Love,

Holly

Forget the Stroller, I’ll Wear My Baby Instead

I have fallen completely in love with babywearing. I’m even talking about babywearing at Curvy Girl Guide today.

Some might call it an addiction.

I cannot deny that logic.

I kind of—okay definitely—addicted to wearing my baby. So much so that I regret not discovering the wonders of babywearing when G-tot was a baby. Thankfully I discovered how much I love it while Huggy Baby is still small. Even better is that Huggy Baby loves to be worn.

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Double Hammock in a Hoppediz Chicago woven wrap

What I love so much about babywearing is the sense of closeness and security I feel with having my baby so close to me. Chest-to-chest and close enough to kiss is perfect for sweet baby snuggles. High on my back in a double hammock and he can see the world from my point of view and still snuggle up against me. Plus, when you wear your baby you don’t have to worry about finagling a stroller through crowds and tight spots or up and down stairs. At the park a few weeks ago Huggy Baby and I would have been stuck on the shore instead of skipping stones and exploring the dried up spots of the Maumee River with Josh and G-tot had we not been babywearing.

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Exploring the Metroparks

At the zoo

At the zoo

See, babywearing brings families together. Plus, the different carriers seem to come with sleepy dust. Huggy Baby is so comfy when he is worn that he falls asleep almost every single time. It’s magical.

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Sleepy Dust in woven wraps

It started with the Moby wrap which I wore sporadically for the first six months or so of Huggy Baby’s life. It was great but I knew I was barely scratching the surface of babywearing with it. Little did I know just how many options were out there when it comes to babywearing. Mei Tais. Woven wraps. Podageis. Wrap conversions. Ring Slings. Soft structured carriers.

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WAHM WC Mei Tai (left) & GMBB gauze wrap (right)

And then there are all the different types of carries you can do depending on the type/size/length of carrier you are using. Front cross carry. Poppins hip carry. Double hammock back carry. It goes on and on.

Like I said, I LOVE it.

I even belong to a handful of babywearing groups on Facebook (and on the internet in general) these days. These groups have been a valuable resource when it comes to learning about babywearing. Sure, it takes a minute or two to learn all the different acronyms for the carriers and carries I mentioned above. But no worries, the ladies in these groups are fabulous. So many of them are fiercely passionate about babywearing and are more than willing to share their knowledge with newbies and seasoned babywearers alike.

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Front wrap cross carry (left) & Rucking the big guy (right) in Girasol's Fire Rainbow woven wrap

And although I’m far from a seasoned baby wearer, I even made a little YouTube video on how to do a FWCC for a colleague who babywearing curious thanks to the influx of photos I’ve posted on Facebook.

Do you have any experience babywearing? Do you have questions about babywearing? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

Presents For My Boobs

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I feel like I owe my boobs an apology.

They have been work horses for years and I’ve provided them with very little support.

Literally.

When I was nursing my first son I knew nothing about good quality nursing bras. All I really knew was that my boobs were bigger and I needed something that would allow easy access for my sweet nursing baby. Regular bras were not going to cut it for very long. It is really awkward to try to get your breast out of a regular bra in an attempt to nurse your child. And not wearing a bra at all is definitely not an option for me. So weeks after G-tot was born—with breastfeeding firmly happening and working out well for the two of us—I went to buy nursing bras.

I was completely clueless. I had no idea what size I really needed. My budget was limited. I was a tired and probably a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I was a first time mom. Somehow I ended up with were two nursing bras that came in an ultra-generic size “large”.

They were the worst bras ever.

But I wore them for 17 long months.

My poor boobs.

When I had Huggy Baby I was determined to get better bras and burn the unsupportive rags I had with G-tot. Months went by and I still had nothing. At home I would wear my maternity tank tops just to avoid having to wear one of those bras already in my possession.

Then the marvelous folks at Leading Lady swooped in and saved my poor unsupported hard-working boobs with their fantastic bras. With their Find Your Fit assistant I was able to get a few nursing bras in my size with underwires, good shoulder straps and glorious support!

Not only are they supportive and in MY size—I mean seriously, what was I thinking buying a bra in a large?—they are pretty. The Black Lace-cup is totally sexy which is a huge bonus in a nursing bra. The square neck nursing bra cami would be perfect for summer. And I absolutely love the little printed pattern on the Baby Sees It bra.

I feel like these bras were kind of an “I’m Sorry/Thank You” gift to my boobs from me. They have been nothing but amazing when it comes to me having the opportunity to breastfeed my children. My boobs deserved better nursing bras .

And they finally have them.

Now I just need to grab some lighter fluid and burn those old bras.

*Disclosure: Leading Lady provided me with nursing bra samples. All opinions are mine.

29 Weeks

You guys!

Seriously.

This face.

I can hardly stand it.

Dimple

Smile

The cute. It burns.

9 Years

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Three thousand two hundred eighty eight days ago I recited hand written vows with my best friend.

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Four hundred sixty nine weeks ago we danced hand-in-hand in a huge circle with a slew of our closest friends to All Together Now by The Beatles as our last song of the night.

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One hundred eight months ago I married an amazing man.

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Sure, our relationship isn’t perfect. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we go to bed mad.

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But every morning a kiss starts off our day and I love him to pieces all over again.

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He  is the one for me and I am the one for him.

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I’m certain of it.

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He gets me. In ways that NOBODY else could.

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I’m so lucky he said “I do” nine years ago.

Happy Anniversary, Josh. I love you.

Two Two-Four

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This is my Mom.

I would have to say she is my most favorite lady ever. Over the past 35 years she has loved me, guided me, taught me, and cared for me in a way that has made me feel like I hit the lottery when it comes to mothers. She has been a friend, a disciplinarian, a cheerleader, and a shoulder to cry on when I’ve needed one.

She is pretty fantastic.

Today is her birthday.

And although I’ve already wished her a happy birthday on her Facebook wall and I will call her later to tell her the same since we live too far away to celebrate together in person, I want to tell her here too.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

You deserve every wish you have ever made as you’ve blown out the candles on your cake each February 24th.

Sunday Pinup

It seems that the entire internet has gone Pinterest crazy and I for one cannot blame them. The visual bookmarking beauty of Pinterest speaks near and dear to my creative side. I have a tendency to pin a lot of recipes, stuff to do with the kids, and art and design inspiration.

Even better than pinning is actually making the things I’m pinning.

So, I thought I would share a few of my pins this week that I’m eager to try or found just plain cool.

TARDIS!! I’m currently mourning the imminent passing of Doctor 10—one episode to go—and I’m sure this adorable bag would help ease the pain a bit.

Source: etsy.com via Holly on Pinterest

I will probably never do exactly this craft since we are not Altoid eaters in this house but I’m sure I could find another cute house for these sweet little mice.

Source: mmmcrafts.blogspot.com via Holly on Pinterest

Frozen Strawberry Mojitos? I’m willing to give them a try despite the fact that this drink screams summer and we have snow in Northwest Ohio this week.

Source: heatherross.squarespace.com via Holly on Pinterest

We have everything needed to make these this week already in the house. This pleases me.

Source: kayotic.nl via Holly on Pinterest

Yum. Nothing more needs said.

Source: bakedperfection.com via Holly on Pinterest

What did you pin this week? I’d love it if you would share your favorite Pins in the comments!

Happy Birthday To You!

Today is my Dad’s birthday.

He is celebrating his 59th. The fact that this is his last year as a 50-something seems almost impossible to me. For some reason my parents fall into this category of being perpetually in their late 40s or early 50s. Which is ridiculous since I’m 35. If I’m getting older they certainly are.

But… they have this air of youthfulness about them.

For my dad it probably has a lot to do with the fact that he still loves to hunt. He still loves his rock ‘n’ roll. He just refuses to grow old.

It is pretty spectacular.

I hope that’s hereditary.

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Happy Birthday Dad!