Ramblings of a Redhead

Motherhood, Ministry, Marriage, and Messes along the way

A Letter to My Daughter on Body Image

My Dearest Baby Girl,

As I watch you while you sleep, all I can do is think about how absolutely beautiful and completely perfect you are. Your sweet, round cheeks, and your long delicate eyelashes are breathtaking. The tiny little hairs on your head stick up in all different directions, but I don’t smooth them down. You are a jewel. You are the apple of my eye, and more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed. You’re only seven months old, and already you have your Daddy wrapped around that itty bitty finger.

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I wish it could stay this way.

I wish I could shield you from every insecurity that you will have about yourself over your lifetime. But, I can’t. I can’t protect you from mean kids on the playground. I can only teach you how to deal with them, and to not be like them. I can only speak the truth to you over and over – the truth that you are a beautiful creation.

Sweet girl, let me tell you a bit about your mother. I’ve always struggled with how I look, but I’ve come to a few conclusions that I’d like to share with you. Knowing these things won’t save you from every doubt and worry about your appearance. You may still change outfits three times before you head to your first day of high school, but hopefully if I tell you these things now it may help you little on your way.

Last night I was flipping through some of my old college pictures, and my heart just broke. I was looking at this girl and remembering all the things she used to tell herself – how fat she was, how bad her makeup looked, how imperfect…etc. etc. I’m not sure what she was complaining about, because to tell you the truth, she looked pretty good back then! I wish I could’ve seen myself with the eyes I have now; I’m not sure exactly what’s changed, but maybe my new perspective is from being a mother.

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You see, the main problem I had back then (and still struggle with now) was comparing myself to other people. The first thing I want you to know is YOU ARE NOT ANYONE ELSE.

I will never, ever, never be a petite girl. It seems like I always stand a head taller than my friends. My shoulders are wide, and my hips narrow. I have red hair, and a fair complexion. I will never be blonde, and I will never have a tan. I may add to my freckle collection, but that’s about it. And, guess what? I’m okay with that! It’s nice to be able to reach things on the highest shelf, and it’s nice to be stopped in the grocery store by a random person who compliments my hair color. It’s nice TO BE ME. I can’t change those things, so why not embrace them? They are what make me one of a kind.

The second thing I’d like to tell you is to CHILL. THE HECK. OUT.

I mean really. If I could tell my college self one thing, it’d probably be this one. It is not that serious. I promise you, in ten years it is highly unlikely that anyone will remember your favorite outfit. In my lifetime, I’ve wasted so much time in front of the mirror, it’s embarrassing! Go out there and live life. Stop worrying about every little detail, and just enjoy your day! It’s not worth stressing out over. So what if a hair is out of place? So what if your eyeliner is smudged? You’ll live through it, and be better because of it. There are more important things to cultivate than your face, like, you know, your mind.

The last thing, and maybe the most important one is YOU ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS. And, so is everyone else.

Right now, I’m not 100% happy with my physical appearance. I’ve had two babies in the last three years, and could stand to lose a few pounds. I won’t, however, feel bad about this – I look this way because I have been blessed with the two most precious gifts! I do want to get rid of this extra weight, but for much better reasons than to be skinny or to look good. I want to be healthy. I want to be a good example for you and your brother. I want to spend as many years with your father as possible. It will likely take some time to reach my goals, and that’s okay! It is a process. Life is a process.

And, I’m sure I’ll never be perfect. Somewhere along the way our culture has told us that we should not look like mothers. I disagree with that. Motherhood is beautiful in and of itself. End of story.

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Baby girl, I want you to know that you are incredible. You are lovely. I hope I can help you navigate this journey to womanhood. It won’t be easy, I’m sure, but nothing that’s worth it ever really is.

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What I Want You to Know About Being a Fair Skinned Redhead

Guess what? My reader submission about my struggles and triumphs with being a red-head was published on one of my all time favorite blogs! I’m honored and excited. Check it out, and please follow Kristen. Her blog is amazing, hilarious, and inspirational!

http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/

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Seven Years: A Love Story

I fell in love with Jared Alan Thomas when I was seventeen years old. I’d had my eye on him for awhile, but he seemed to barely know I existed. He was busy with baseball, AP Studies, extracurricular activities, and oh yeah, a girlfriend. For a long while I pushed the possibility of him from my mind. I dated other boys, hung out with my friends, worked a part time job, and did well in school.

We had some close mutual friends that put us in the same location a few times toward the end of our Junior and beginning of our Senior years of high school. Secretly, I was nervous at all of these events, because gosh darn it he was just so cute.

He says I came to him at a time he least expected it. We took an English class together, and ended up sitting together many days. It was in this class that he finally took notice of little ole me. He had experienced a bad break up, and had set his mind to stay as far away from girls as possible. But, in the midst of this our friendship started to blossom. Eventually, (with a little nudging from one persistent friend) he asked me out on a date.

I vividly recall almost every detail of that night. He picked me up, wearing a cream sweater, blue jeans, and brown shoes. We went out to eat at a great restaurant in our home town that is sadly, now closed. I barely touched my salad; he ate his meal and the rest of mine. We talked for hours, until we were the only ones left in the restaurant and they were cleaning up for the night – like vacuuming the floor as a subtle hint for us to leave already!

He asked me probing questions about my interests, my family, my faith and I sheepishly answered each one. At the end of the night he walked me to the door, and asked if he could hug me goodnight. And thus began our dating relationship. He waited a month before holding my hand, and three months to kiss me – and he told me he loved me before that. He showed me what a God-honoring relationship looked like, and cherished me in a way that I really needed.

Before we began dating, we had chosen the same college so we continued dating through college years and became engaged. We endured long distance during Jared’s first semester of seminary and got married after I graduated with my B.A.

We’ve had our issues through it all, and still do. We are wired so very differently. I’m free-spirited, emotional, creative, and impulsive. He is analytic, logical, organized, and not afraid to speak his mind. At times we struggle to communicate, and to get along, but I wouldn’t trade our ups and downs for anything.

I laugh because I have all these old journals from high school and early college where I wrote endless entries on how marvelous Jared is, before I got to know any of his flaws. I made lists of reasons I love him, or things that he did that made me smile. I still believe that he is marvelous, but I’ve also gotten to know him in a deep and true way that can only happen when you get to the most undesirable traits of a person…oh, and he’s seen that side of me too. But, in honor of those old journals, and just because here is a list of (some) of the things that I love about my husband.

1. He cracks me up! He knows little things that are so funny to me, and we have spent many an evening rolling with laughter.

2. He’s so so so smart, and humble about it. He won’t volunteer this information, but he graduated third in our class in high school (without really trying), finished college in three years, has a Master’s Degree, and is working on his Ph.D. Yep, he’s the future Dr. Thomas.

3. He’s a great Daddy. He makes T giggle like crazy, and isn’t afraid to change a diaper or two.

4. He’s supportive, and a provider.

5. He’s an all around good guy.

6. He’s a pretty good cook.

7. He’s handsome – I love that dark hair and blue eyes.

8. He loves Jesus, and cares for people.

9. He makes the funniest face ever when he’s laughing really hard – his eyebrows get really pointy.

10. He puts up with me!

We’ve been together almost seven years, and it’s still an adventure! I’m excited to see what’s in store for us, and so glad I have him by my side.

I love you, J.

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One Year

As of Saturday at 7:56pm Turner is officially one year old.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year, I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by.

A year ago I was ginormously huge, waddling around extremely uncomfortable. I started having contractions on a Wednesday afternoon, and by 9pm was headed to the hospital. Let me tell you – those things are NO JOKE! I don’t think I’d ever experienced such intense pain. When I got to there, there were no beds available so I had to to stay in triage…for six hours. SIX. That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. That may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Trust me. Oh, and no drugs whatsoever until around five hours when they gave me something to “take the edge off.” Yeah, right.

Finally, I was admitted to a room and received a glorious epidural. Let me just say, I went into the whole thing without deciding whether or not I wanted one. But, after a couple hours, I knew. Oh, boy did I know. I was finally able to get some rest. The doctor predicted we would have a baby by around 1pm the next day. 1pm came and went, and so did 2, 3, 4, and 5. I wasn’t progressing very much at all. Dr. Moore told me we would have to start looking at the possibility of a c-section. This news DEVASTATED me. I did NOT want that. I broke down, and began to cry. She worked with me, and tried everything possible to kick start my labor. The fact was, I was having regular contractions but I wasn’t dilating anymore. I had to gotten to 8cm and stayed that was for hours and hours. Finally, she told me I would have to have the c-section. By that time, I was so utterly exhausted that I just wanted it all to be over.

The surgery was a pretty scary experience for me because I’d never had any type of operation at all. The medicine made me shake, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe because of the way I had to lie on the table. But, when I heard that cry I knew it was all worth it.

Jared brought our boy over to me so I could see him, and he was SO beautiful, and SO big. 8lbs, 11oz to be exact. The pediatricians at the hospital kept saying things like “He’s a big boy!…why?” Umm…I don’t know, seems like you’re the one with the M.D. Anyway, they measured his 14in head and said something to the effect of “Good thing you had the c-section, because that never would’ve happened!”

And now, a year has gone by. Turner went on ahead and turned a year old without even asking me how I felt about it. It’s so bittersweet to see your child grow up because it truly happens too fast. I’m blessed to watch it race by, though. And my oh my do I love that blue eyed boy.

I love this pic of him pointing at the cupcake like “I’ll take that, please!”

Some stats:

At one year you are 20lbs 1oz and 30 3/4 inches tall. You’re in the 85% for height and the 20% for weight. You’re tall and skinny! The doctor says that’s perfectly fine, and you’re very healthy.

You eat ALL.THE.TIME. some of your favorite foods are spaghetti, ham, pears, black beans, bananas, green beans, yogurt, & chick-fil-a nuggets. Really, you mostly eat everything, and I’m so thankful for that! I hope you stay a good eater for life.

You’re walking more and more. You take 8-10 steps at a time, but now you try to carry everything around with you and this makes you lose your balance. You also think you can drink out of your cup and walk at the same time, not so much.

You love your blankie, pacie, and music at bedtime.

You love blocks, cars, musical instruments, and balls to play with.

You only snuggle with me when you’re really tired or sick, the rest of the time, you’re on the move!

You’re a fantastic sleeper – naptime and nighttime.

You say, “Mama” “Dada” and “Uh-oh.” “Uh-oh” is your favorite word, and sometimes I wish I hadn’t taught you how to say it : )

You love to go on walks.

You rub your head and play with your hair when you’re bored or tired.

You’re such a sweetie-pie, and I love you SO MUCH!

Happy First Birthday, baby boy!

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Easy Breezy Summertime

It’s summer!!!

While summertime in New Orleans brings a whole lotta heat and humidity, we’ve been enjoying our relaxed family time. I so look forward to Jared being out of class, it makes me kinda really wish he was through with school forever, then we could maybe (probably not) have a “normal” life. I mean, what the heck is that?!?! 

T and I have been thoroughly enjoying the pool. I used to hate going to the pool, because of the shared water, and feeling so self-conscious in a swim suit. But, these days, I just don’t really care. I’m in the process of losing all this baby weight (more on that later), and everyone is looking at my cute kid anyway instead of me, so oh well! We have fun, and Turner sleeps well, like a baby afterward. I call that a win-win. 

After Turner goes to bed, Jared and I watch Burn Notice, or read comics, or play scrabble. LOVE this time together, during the semester I often feel very disconnected from him because his huge load of school work. I end of feeling like a single parent sometimes because he’ll have to go to the library just to get things done, so sweet T and I hang out without him. Enough complaining, this is the season we’re in and one day it’ll be over. 

This easy summer will soon be over, Jared has to jump on reading for his seminar and colloquium in the fall. He only has like 24 books to read, no biggie, right? I’m thinking this PhD thing is gonna be a breeze, right? 

I digress.

My family (minus Clint) has been visiting this week. We took Turner to the beach for the first time! We went to Long Beach Mississippi, and had a good time. MS beaches are NOTHING like the Carolina beaches I know and love (I’d love to be at Folly Beach or Pawley’s Island right about now) but there was sand and water, so an okay substitute. T loved the sand, and surprisingly did not try to eat it. He wasn’t a big fan of the waves, didn’t like the water coming at him. He had a good time crawling around in the sand, sitting in his very own beach chair, and munching on some watermelon. BONUS: Last night he slept straight through from 8:45pm-8am.

Photo-wise this was about the best I could do. I couldn’t tell what I was taking the sun was so bright!

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A Daddy-Day Tribute

Sunday will be Jared’s first Father’s Day. I wanted to write a little something to express my thanks to him, so here it goes.

Turner was the first newborn Jared has ever held. I contend that he must have held our nephews when they were tiny, but he says otherwise. Maybe Aimee remembers?

First of all, let me say fatherhood did not start off easy for Jared. Turner was born on August 18th. Jared’s semester began the 22nd. Not only did he have to go back to classes just days after the babe was born, but he was working a job at the time that dealt with online classes and registration. I won’t go into detail to tell you exactly what he had to do for fear of putting you to sleep, but let’s just say the first few days of each semester were the busiest and most stressful days for him and he had to be there. They really didn’t have anyone to cover him at the time. (Lucky for me, I had family in time to help out)

So, bless him – he had to go from class to stressful work and back home (not to mention he still had to counsel his clients!) to a hormonal wife trying to learn to breastfeed, and a screaming baby. He also got virtually no sleep. While I could take a nap during the day while T did, Jared did not have that luxury. Yet, he helped me out the best he could! Do I need to stress, this pregnancy was not planned – the timing of Turner’s birth could not have been worse. (Not to mention, I hope to never go through the hot New Orleans summer hugely pregnant ever again).

In addition to that, Turner was not Jared’s friend at first. If Jared tried to comfort him, or help me out in the night T was not having it! This was mostly in the evening/nighttime hours. Turner was okay with him during the day while he was happy but for comfort, or sleepy time I was the only one he wanted. This frustrated Jared because he’d do the exact same thing I would, and get the opposite response (a.k.a. screaming, crying etc.)

But, we got through that little bump in the road and now the boys are chums once again. Turner LOVES to play with his Daddy! He laughs at him, tries to steal his classes, throws his soccer ball back and forth, and is generally interested in anything Jared is doing (especially if it involves food). Jared is great with him, and I can see them throwing baseball, and running around the yard together in the years to come.

J has also been very patient with me as a mom. I’ve found myself overwhelmed at times, and I’m not a student and only work part time. He works very hard to provide for us, and for that I’m so thankful. I’m proud to call him my husband and the father of my sweet son.

Happy Father’s Day to my sweet Jared Alan. Turner is blessed to call you “Dada.”

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T’s Dr. Seuss Room: A Tour

Reading – the smell of the pages, the way they feel between your fingers as you turn the page, the curiosity you feel when encountering new words, and the “just can’t put it down” feeling, those things are heaven.

I hope to instill within my children a love for reading. As a child I loved Dr. Seuss; I loved the way he rhymed words and even made up his own. The illustrations are beautiful and fun, and overall the messages he conveys are great! I STILL love Dr. Seuss. For a long time I’ve known I wanted to give my first kid a Dr. Seuss room, and have been saving things along the way.

Here is what we were able to manage on our extremely low budget, and small space (please excuse the crappy phone pics, my “real” camera is in need of some AA’s:

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This hangs on T’s door. I made it with a gift bag, some ribbon and a sharpie. The quote is from Horton Hears a Who. I love it because we’re pro-life: especially after experiencing pregnancy first-hand, and I think Dr. Seuss was a little bit too : )

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The view looking into his room, Cat in the Hat is his friend.

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These are fabulous book ends I’ve had for years. I love love love them.

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A tiny portion of Turner’s library, my old collection.

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T’s crib and wall above. He has super-cute colorful bedding but I may still be too paranoid to let him sleep with much more than a small blanket (if that) besides, he kicks it off anyway.

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His changing table, and cute balloons hanging above. He likes to stare at them when he’s not trying to escape the torture of being changed.

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This was a project! We have a huge garage shelf in his room that stores all of the junk we can’t fit into the closets (luggage, Christmas stuff, etc). I wanted to cover it up, because it’s rather unsightly, we tried several things that didn’t work, so this was the solution. I think it turned out pretty cute, complete with Cat in the Hat’s bowtie : )

That’s it! I love his room, and there are some details not pictured: Colorful rugs, and storage bins and some other small fun things. Maybe one day I’ll post part II

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Whole Milk

**WARNING** This posts contains subject matter that may be disturbing to some readers, namely breastfeeding and all that comes along with it. Dad, feel free to return to ESPN.com.

We started the gradual process of weaning today. We gave Turner his first little sippy cup of whole milk, and he LOVED it. He drank the whole thing, like that’s all he’s had every day of his life. Success! I was nervous that this would be a painful process. We’re not out of the woods yet, but knowing that he actually likes milk made me feel better. Hopefully, the next two months will go smoothly.

Now, let’s rewind almost 10 months.

I always knew I wanted to nurse my kids if possible, and though I didn’t think it’d be easy, I didn’t know how painfully difficult it would be. And this is why…

Lies the Nursing Nazis tell you in the hospital when you’re weepy and vulnerable.

Lie #1 It shouldn’t hurt… at all. That is a pile of poo. Newsflash – those are sensitive parts, and umm they’ve got to get used to experiencing such demanding service. They’re going to be so sore it hurts to move, that’s a fact.

Lie #2 You must hold your child this certain way, at this particular angle. Yeah, maybe if I had six arms I could get a screaming baby into that position and still navigate everything else into place.

Lie #3 If your kid is crying after a nursing session, he must’ve not gotten enough and you’re starving him to death. Do I need to explain this? There’s about 1001 reasons why a baby might be crying, and if you’re feeding him on demand and he’s getting good “pulls” in, and you’re hearing him swallow, chances are he just might be a little cranky, or have a dirty diaper, or want to be held, or have gas…etc.

Lie #4 Don’t you dare use a pacifier, that’s the most dangerous confusing thing you can do. Turner loves his paci, and has never experienced “nipple confusion.”

Lie #5 You have no idea what you’re talking about, you couldn’t have been engorged and be in excruciating pain. Well, guess what? My mom, an RN was here to witness the whole thing and she begs to differ so TAKE THAT you mean mean lady!

Okay, so some of that was slight exaggeration; needless to say, I didn’t have the best experience with my lactation consultant in the hospital.

I almost gave up it was so difficult. Boys are hungry little fellas and those first endless weeks, Turner was screaming to be fed every two hours or less. I felt like I was just a giant boob, all I did was nurse. And it hurt, and was exhausting, and depleting. I needed help, and more people than I cared became privy to the “free show” in efforts to assist. Then, when I went to work (part-time) when Turner was 5 weeks old, I had to pump and boy howdy talk about uncomfortable.

Jared came home from work one day to find me sobbing in our bedroom about how miserable I was, and that I wanted to throw in the towel.

But, he encouraged me to stick with it, so I did. And, it has turned into a beautiful experience. I’m so glad that I didn’t give up because I know I’ve given Turner the absolute best nutrition, and it has allowed me to bond with him in an indescribable way. While I can’t say I’m sad about giving up the pump, and not having to find privacy if we’re out in public, I am a little misty about it all being over.

My baby is growing up too quickly.

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Me and Sweet T

Me and Sweet T

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What I’m Learning

They grow up too fast.

That’s something you hear your whole life, and you don’t believe it when you’re seven and not allowed to sit at the “grown-up” table.

You still don’t believe it when your fourteen and an eternity away from your sixteenth birthday and a driver’s license. Or even when you’re twenty-one and those final exams are killing you. You still don’t believe it later when you’re seven and a half months pregnant with your first baby, and you pray every night “let this kid get here already!”

But then, that kid enters the world and every time you blink he’s learning something new and growing out of clothes. Turner is almost nine months old now, and I can’t even describe how fast it’s zoomed by. I asked my mom if the rest of my life was going to go by this fast, and she replied with a resounding “YES!”

I’m enjoying this mommy thing so much, so much more than I ever thought I would. I adore my precious boy, and look forward to growing our family in the future. As he gets bigger and more adventurous, my fears compound by the minute.

After all, I’m preparing him to leave me. The mere thought…

How can I possibly send my precious, perfect, wonderful boy out into the world? How can I give him to some son-stealing girl and let him go on his merry little way?

I can because I have to.

I dread the day I have to dry his tears because some cruel child hurts my baby’s feelings at recess, and the day when he is that cruel child that hurts someone and I have to correct him. Or the day he’s crushed because he didn’t make the baseball team. Or even the day that whats-her-face declines his offer for a date with a snooty “no, thanks.”

I wish I could protect him from every pain and disappointment that life has to offer, but I can’t. More importantly, I won’t. Although, it won’t be easy or fun, experiencing those upsets are important. Sometimes, life is just hard. But, it’s incredibly worth it.

I will dry the tears, and kiss the boo-boos and encourage him repeatedly. I will try my best to mold him into a compassionate, caring child so that he’ll become a compassionate, caring adult one day.

And I know that “I don’t know nothin’ yet!” I’ve heard that phrase more than I care to, and know that it’s true. I know that I’ve yet to experience all the complexities of growing up from this side of the fence, and I know each phase will be different, none easier than the last. And, I know that it will become more chaotic and challenging as each new baby or child is added to our family. But, I also know that this is what God has called me to do.

He is shaping me, and equipping me to be the mother that my children desperately need. Although, I’m so scared of the pain we’ll experience along the way, I’m so excited to see what’s in store; I am so so so thankful I get to do this. I plan to soak up each day as much as possible, knowing that it just goes by so incredibly quickly.

: )

p.s. This is in no way hinting that we’ll be having another baby anytime in the foreseeable future. We do plan on growing our family, but don’t look for an announcement anytime soon.

Of course, thatis what we said the last time…

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