May 31, 2012

Getting Crafty: Nursing Covers

A few months ago when my husband and I started putting our baby registry together, I came across these really adorable nursing covers at Target and immediately added a few to our registry. (Nursing covers are basically like frontal capes, or short, wide aprons that cover you up while you are feeding). When my husband saw that these were about $30 each he thought they were a little bit ridiculous (just in price) and encouraged me to remove them from the registry so that only important items would be listed. He said, 'Heather, my mom could make those for you and it'd be so much cheaper.' Oh, hello. I forgot that I'd be soon living with the woman who made my wedding dress, is re-upholstering our gliding rocking chair that we found on the side of the road in Massachusetts (score), and has knit us about a bajillion baby sweaters, caps, and booties since she found out we were expecting. You're right, honey! Sounds like an easy project for your mama.

We went to JoAnn's Fabric last week and picked out a yard each of some cute patterned fabrics that were on sale and spent just a few dollars on the 'D-rings' that hold the straps in place/allow you to adjust the fit of the cover around your neck. Last night, my mother-in-law asked me if I wanted to learn how to use the sewing machine and help her with the project. The only experience I'd ever had with a sewing machine was learning how to make straight runs in 6th grade home-ec. We MAY have made small pillows, but I can't quite remember. That's how long it's been since I'd touched a sewing machine. But she sat me down, taught me how to thread it, and basically just got me started. Eventually I was soaring! We used a pattern from a website called 'Bliss Tree' as our inspiration, but we decided not to use the corset boning and chose to make the covers reversible. I'm really happy with how they turned out! I made two, so we basically saved $60 and I now have a new obsession in the making with sewing. Can't wait to find my next project!

Getting started! About to cut my fabric...

Making the neck straps!

Flipping the cover right-side-out after sewing the two pieces together

Ironing to get sharp corners and edges

Sewing the hem, my favorite part :)

Ta-da!

The two finished covers
Hoping to make these craft projects a regular part of this blog. I have some fun ideas that I want to work on before the baby comes, so hopefully I will have time to complete them and post in the next few weeks!

Love,
Mama Bird

May 28, 2012

Permanent

Over the past several years, I've experienced SO much change. My close friends and family members have always joked with me about when things would finally start to settle down with all of the adjustments I have been through since I started college. Those who are close to me have watched me move to Massachusetts to study theatre at a small Christian liberal arts college, join a touring children's theatre company, study abroad in Italy, go through a period of darkness with depression and a deep questioning of my faith after a traumatic event in my life, move into a time of understanding myself and the Lord better through a season of coming back into the light, head to New York City the day after college graduation, meet the love of my life, work a series of temporary jobs before finding a long-term position at a university back in Massachusetts, get engaged, get married, and find out just a month later that we would be expecting a baby. I have moved 7 times since graduation. I have had the chance to sing at jazz clubs, audition for national tours and off-broadway productions, plan a beautiful low-budget wedding, live with my best friends, and explore all of these changes through writing and acting. I have come to realize that I value education in the arts more than I value being in the spotlight as a performer. I have discovered what is important to me in a church family and in a deeper exploration of faith. I have learned what it means to love and be loved unconditionally.

I have loved over the past several years writing from various coffee shops of whatever location I'm living in, or from the train on my morning commute or in my travels. In the top of each new journal entry, I've made a consistent habit of putting the date in the upper left hand corner, followed by my current location in the upper right hand corner. Whenever my location could not be pinpointed, I would write 'In Transit.' My husband recently asked me (without knowing about this tradition) why I ALWAYS write 'In Transit' when I journal. I realized that the constant change of where I am in life has had a very nomadic feel, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. I am reminded constantly that God never gives us more, in temptation or trial, than He knows we can handle. When I look at everywhere He has led me and all of the changes He has brought into my life, I am confident that there has been purpose to every step of the journey. Everything I have experienced over the past several years has deepened my faith, enabled me to meet my husband, and now prepared me for the role of being a mother (which is something I never could have seen for myself just two years ago)!

This morning I found myself sitting in my favorite place in the house (the corner of the wrap-around porch facing the old farmhouse that my husband's grandmother lives in), drinking coffee, and eating fresh fruit and a danish. As I opened my journal to write this morning, I surprised myself by writing today's date and our location in Virginia, rather than the 'In Transit' of so many mornings in the past couple of years. There is a permanency to this place that we find ourselves in life right now. I'm getting a Virginia license this week and becoming an official state resident-- something I've always been hesitant to do through all of my travels and changes of years past. I picture my little boy being able to run around in the fields of this farm or down by the stream and imagine and play. I have needed this quiet and stillness so desperately, even though it feels odd and like I should be doing something or getting ready for another change. Granted, we have a big one coming very shortly (hey little guy!), but we are here for an indefinite amount of time and we are finally settling into that reality. Though I know I shouldn't get used to anything being permanent in this life, as my track record has proven that the unexpected can occur at any moment, I am sincerely thankful to discover what it means to truly be still and rest for now.

May 26, 2012

The Simple Things: Settling In

As I mentioned last Saturday, I'm going to be posting once a week about the things I'm thankful for, or the little (and big) ways that I'm seeing God's faithfulness to us. I have a lot to be thankful for this week!

-The hubby getting a job and making it through the first few days of training
-Seeing the nursery really start to come together
A tiny glimpse of the progress in the nursery...
-Getting to spend a lovely afternoon with my mother-in-law, having lunch, talking, and shopping for fabric and craft supplies
-Having the chance to do some baking this afternoon! Yay, I've missed you baking :)
-Washing, organizing and folding all of baby's clothes to get ready for his arrival (6 weeks and counting!)
Ah tiny things!
-Receiving such a blessing in responses from what I shared in my last post about trusting the Lord in times of uncertainty (thank you friends for your honesty and vulnerability)
-Finding several Old Navy gift cards in the process of moving and discovering their delightful maternity section! 
A muumuu? Not sure, but it's perfect for this hot Southern weather!
-Realizing that the baby gets really excited and can identify his papa's voice/touch. Baby will be asleep and relatively still, but as soon as my husband comes over and puts his hands on my belly and bends down to say hello to our little guy, he will start moving again. It's pretty remarkable!
-Remembering how much I love and admire Regina Spektor as a musical artist. So good!
-Spending an evening with good friends over a wonderful dinner, much laughter, and rich conversation
Happy :)
 Looking forward to another new week and all of the lessons and blessings that lie ahead :)

May 22, 2012

Oh, to step out in faith :)

Our marriage so far has been truly showing us that the Lord's plans are ALWAYS better than our own. A few months into marriage, we were still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that we'd be having a little one much sooner than we would have planned, and were trying to figure out whether we should stay in Massachusetts (far from family, higher cost of living, unsure about how we would provide for our little family) or move closer to family (without having jobs lined up, but lower cost of living, and me being able to stay home with baby full-time).

During college, a mentor/great friend of mine lent me a book called 'Ruthless Trust' by Brennan Manning. It made a huge impact on me at the time, as one of my greatest struggles is remembering to place my trust in God (rather than myself, those around me, securities of this world, my desire to have control, etc.). When my husband and I were really struggling with our decision about whether to stay or move, and what would be best for our child, we pulled out 'Ruthless Trust' again and started reading it together. We were both particularly impacted by a passage in one of the first chapters: 

When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for 3 months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. "What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States. “Pray that I have clarity.” She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of." When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you will trust God.”“We ourselves have known and put our trust in God’s love toward ourselves.” (1 John 4:16). Craving clarity, we attempt to eliminate the risk of trusting God. Fear of the unknown path stretching ahead of us destroys childlike trust in the Father’s active goodness and unrestricted love.

The week that we realized we were clinging to clarity and not trusting enough, we got on our knees and gave up our control to God. As soon as we were able to give up our desire for God to shout the answers from the mountaintops or give us a huge 'sign' we wouldn't be able to miss, we started getting answers right away. We found out that my husband's sister and brother-in-law would be moving to Texas in early May, leaving the basement apartment open. My midwife asked me if there was any possible way I could leave my job sooner than July, as the stress levels I was experiencing were starting to become unhealthy for myself and the baby. My husband had been applying for full-time jobs in both Boston and Virginia, with little to no success, but for the first time, we sat down to look at our finances and the level of income my husband would need to be making in Boston vs. Virginia in order to meet all of our bills and monthly expenses (in order for me to be able to leave my job and stay home with the baby). The difference was astounding. We started to realize very quickly where the Lord was leading us... and started sharing the news with family and friends that we would need to move to Virginia in the next few months.

It has been scary to step out in faith and trust that the Lord would provide for us, especially in lining up all of the details about healthcare, finding a new doctor 8 weeks before our son is due, the hubby finding a job, and leaving our friends and church community that we'd established over the past few years. But so far, the Lord has been proving His faithfulness and has gone above and beyond in providing for our needs every step of the way.

Which leads me to the exciting news that after MONTHS of applying for jobs and not getting so much as a first interview while we prepared for our move, my husband had two interviews last week, and was offered a job yesterday-- within ONE week of being here. The Lord is so good. It's a full-time barista job at Starbucks, which will be a great transition job as we get settled and need some income to help provide for bills/baby's basic needs, and will enable him to keep looking for more permanent options in the meantime. We are so blessed to get such a quick answer to prayer!
This morning I am reflecting on the passage in Proverbs that reminds us: 

To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue... In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. (Proverbs 16: 1,9 NIV)

May 19, 2012

The Simple Things: The First Saturday

When I was little, my mom taught me how to keep a gratitude journal to remind myself of all of the blessings God had provided for me in any given day. I've journaled for the past ten years or so, but my times of making these lists of blessings have come in waves. Sometimes when I'm feeling down and I talk to my mom on the phone she'll make me list 5-10 good things in my life before she'll let me hang up. It always works (at pulling me out of the rut, helping me remember the bigger picture, or just bringing a smile to my face again)!
Me and my beautiful mama at sissy's graduation last weekend
 With all of the changes and transitions that my husband and I are walking through right now, I thought it would be a good idea to make a list, at least once a week, of the simple joys that I see and feel around me in our new life. So each Saturday, I'll be sharing with you the pleasures and blessings I've soaked in for the week, starting with this peaceful Saturday afternoon in May.

-Sipping sweet tea on the porch
-Hearing the laughter of my husband and father-in-law from the basement as they paint our little boy's nursery (it's a beautiful minty blue color called 'Sweet Nothings')
Cute little roller! They let me paint a small area so I could feel helpful :)
-Having the chance to write again!
-Dreaming up creative projects now that I am out of work and have the time
-Southern home-cooked meals
-Love poured out from family members providing for some of our needs (a crib, a new mattress for us, a car seat, groceries this week)
-Receiving tons of texts, calls, and even mail from dear friends and family this week to see how we are settling in (the Lord knew what I needed!)
Lily and Buddy sending us some love
-Catching up on sleep-- finally!
-Feeling my son's feet pressing up against my stomach to remind me that he is growing stronger every day
-The sound of all of the birds and cicadas singing on summer (I feel like it's already here in Virginia!)
-Fresh lavender beginning to bloom
-The rolling hillside and beauty of the fresh cut grass on the farm (so excited to find myself nestling into this landscape)
Arick is excited to be here too!

What are you thankful for today?

Love,
Heath

May 18, 2012

A letter to our little bird (50 days and counting)...

Dear baby,
Feeling you move is the best part of my day. No matter what kind of day I have had, your little sighs and squirms and rolls and punches make me stop for a minute and look down at my growing belly and smile, and thank God that you are being knit together inside of me. I truly can't wait to hold you, to see you, to kiss your soft little cheeks and forehead and fingers, and rock you to sleep each night, to teach you, to cry with you, to love you and learn from you each day of your life, sweet boy. Just seven more weeks until our adventure together starts. 
Love,
Mama


Today marks 50 days until our little bird is due to enter the world. We just arrived in Virginia a few days ago, and there is still a lot to do in preparation for baby's arrival. We are going to be living in the basement apartment of my husband's parents' house on a farm-- so different from anything I've ever known before! I feel excited at the possibilities of how to decorate the nursery and set up our new home. I am anxious to learn from my mother-in-law, the ultimate Southern mama who cooks, quilts, cans, gardens, sews, crochets, knits, and is an all-around wonderful teacher as I embark on my new journey of motherhood (and staying at home full-time with baby!). I am having more and more trouble sleeping through the night as my body prepares for baby's arrival-- especially as I lie awake thinking about when he will come and what I'd still like to accomplish before he gets here. However, I know he'll be loved and this home will envelop him with sweetness whether his nursery is finished, I've done all of my reading on how to prepare for delivery, or I'm fully 'emotionally ready' by the time the Lord says it's time.

So, baby, here's to 7 more weeks of me and your papa giving up our control over the tiny details and our expectations of how things will be before and when you come!

Letting You Fly...


My entire life I have been drawn to the bird as a beautiful symbol of different ways that I viewed myself and the world around me. When I was about twelve years old I remember writing one of my first poems. It was about a little bird that was caught in a tree but didn’t know how to fly yet. During college, I very seriously considered getting a tattoo after a semester I spent abroad in Orvieto, Italy—the first time in my life I felt that I truly was able to fly. I imagined imprinting an image on my body to symbolize that significant period of my life, with an open bird cage (to represent the bondage of sin, depression, expectations of others, my struggles with the desire for perfection, baggage that I’d carried with me, etc.) and a bird flying away from the cage (learning what it meant to walk in grace, coming out of the valley of depression, acceptance of myself, forgiveness for past hurts/pains, etc.). When my husband and I got married last October, we FILLED the hall where we held the ceremony and reception with hundreds and hundreds of ivory origami paper cranes. My dear friend Chelsea and I spent months folding their wings, their beaks, their gracefulness, and we strung them around the room, filled mason jars, and adorned the tables with these beautiful birds that to me represented the sweetest love and greatest hope I’d ever known. 

(photocredit: Kristen Scott, http://www.the2654project.com/)
I am now 33 weeks pregnant with our first baby, a sweet little boy. One of the songs I’ve found myself listening to a lot during pregnancy has been Ingrid Michaelson’s ‘Highway.’ She sings about a child, her little bird, who has grown so much yet she finds herself having trouble letting him/her go. I find myself thinking about how fragile a baby bird can be, and how my job as his mother will not be to keep him in the nest or pin down his wings, but to spend his life teaching him how to one day spread his wings and soar. I can imagine that this will be the biggest challenge I’ve yet to face. This blog will hopefully be a place that I can share my wobbly first attempts of flight into motherhood, the joys of raising our little boy, and navigating the new life we are stretching into in Virginia. Please fly with me, dear friend, as I learn how to gracefully open my hands and release this baby bird into the world around me.