I went viral, but not the good kind

I think the past few weeks have been trying to kill us.

After the saga of my in-law's visit and all three of us getting sick at once, we've been dealing with things like health insurance problems, humiliating myself at Mops after a rare case of word vomit, a difficult well-check for Gracie, and our realtor retiring and forgetting to tell us.

And then on Thursday, I had the first inklings of another migraine. It hit me hard Friday morning, and by the afternoon it had morphed into vertigo. I found my anti-vertigo medicine just as I was getting to the point where I was going to start throwing up and not be able to stop. I started feeling a little better, but I woke up Saturday worse than ever. James had to work an illegal amount of hours both days, so I was stuck at home with a toddler while completely unable to hold my balance or walk in a straight line, not to mention that the migraine still hadn't left. By Sunday, I realized this was probably more than a migraine and vertigo when I was so weak I couldn't get out of bed, random parts of my body were tingling, I had shooting pains in my legs, and a host of other strange symptoms. I spent the entire day in bed, staring at the wall because my brain was in such a fog I felt like I couldn't think. Every time I tried to fall asleep, the neighbor kids would start screaming outside, or Gracie would scream downstairs. My only saving grace was that James was watching Gracie, cooking, cleaning, bringing me meals and medicine so I could stay in bed, and even went to the library to replenish my book stash. He is a saint. But mostly because he made a late night emergency donut run.

I woke up Monday feeling a little stronger yet sicker than ever.  The room was spinning wildly and was getting worse by the minute. I took some more vertigo medicine, but it only helped a little. I can count on one hand the times I've said "I need to go to the doctor," and this was one of them. I have massive doctor anxiety, and I would rather die at home than drag myself to a waiting room to a hear a doctor tell me what I probably already know. By 9:30, James was already leaving work to take care of me since I was shivering on the living room floor while Gracie drove her 1980s Fisher Price plastic tractor on my head. I called my doctor only to be told (and please read this in the pretentious french accent of Michel from Gilmore Girls) "I'm sorry, but we are completely booked." Also, my mom who was supposed to be on the way to visit, texted me and said her car wouldn't start.

Cue all the tears.

I wound up in urgent care, and thankfully a kind nurse let me lie down in a dark back room so I didn't have to stay in the waiting room. I waited there for an hour while the bottom half of me was cold and the top half of me was hot, my face was tingling, and my right ear was hot. The doctor eventually walked in, asked me three or four separate times if I have a rash or a runny nose, listened to nothing that I said, told me I have a virus and I'll probably be sick for another week, and then handed me a prescription for the exact medicine I told her three times I've been taking and it's not helping.

Cue all the tears.

James was able to stay home for a few more hours so I could rest. When James left to go to work tonight, Gracie threw herself on the floor in despair and cried for ten minutes. She was not the only one upset to see him go. Gracie and I struggled through a difficult few hours before bedtime, and then James called from work to say he's sick too. While I'm still quite dizzy, I'm feeling a little better tonight. Which is actually bad news, because I guess now I have to go to my dentist appointment tomorrow morning.

Cue all the tears.


reading rainbow

It's been awhile since I've done one of these! I went through a reading lull last month and needed a little break, but I've been hitting the books as hard as ever the last few weeks. These are mostly books about motherhood and faith, since those are two areas I've been struggling with. I decided to spend a couple months reading books that would encourage me in those areas, and that's exactly what they did. There are a few novels scattered in, so fear not! And please, as always, tell me what I should read next.

Let Me Be a Woman by Elizabeth Elliot--5 stars: I don't think Elizabeth Elliot wrote something I'm not in love with. This book wasn't what I was expecting, but it was wonderful nonetheless. It's a biblical look at womanhood, but it's comprised of letters she wrote to her engaged daughter, telling her what it means to be a Christian wife, mother, and woman. She also wrote about the importance of singleness, so there's something for everyone. I was encouraged, challenged, and uplifted. 

For fans of: theology, marriage, faith, conviction 

Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily Freeman--2.75 stars: I had really high expectations for this book, but it fell short. First of all, I love the premise. It's about finding joy and contentment in a small life, which I am ALL about. There were a few sections that I wanted to read over and over, because they were so good. However, I had two main problems, the first being her writing style. It felt like she was trying to imitate Ann Voskamp with that flowery, fluffy, ethereal writing style and I HATE IT SO MUCH. That's just my personal preference; I know some people love it. Freeman gets lost in her own metaphors and can't find her way out. There are two big metaphors she uses throughout the whole book, and they never once made any sense to me. It felt overly cheesy and corny, and I think it really took away from the meaning of the book. My second problem was her theology. I read it several months ago so I can't remember specifics, but some of it was a bit off, and she quotes a few people and Bible translations with wonky-at-best theology. If you're the kind of person who is constantly busy and trying to figure out how to slow down, this might be a great book for you. I've got 99 problems, but having a jam-packed schedule isn't one of them. However, just know I can't wholeheartedly endorse it due to some theological issues, but there are some good takeaways in it.

For fans of: pithy one-liners that don't always make sense, flowery writing, having someone tell you it's ok to sit down and take a break

Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman--5 HUGE stars: THIS. THIS is what I wanted from Simply Tuesday. There was no mystical writing, just concise but powerful words that nearly brought me to tears over and over. She writes like a modern Elizabeth Elliot. Let me be clear--you do not have to be a mom to relate to this book. The title is a bit of a misnomer; the tie-ins to motherhood were very occasional and almost felt forced. She doesn't limit motherhood to biological children, but to adoption and even to friendship. She pulls every type of woman into this book. This book was more of a reminder of what our time on earth is for. The first half was an overview of the Old Testament, and the second half covered the gospel (I think...it's been awhile!). She helped me understand parts of the Bible I've always struggled with, and the conviction was unreal. I want to hand this book out to everyone. Everything is biblical, and her theology is spot-on.

For fans of: the Bible, theology, Biblical mothering, conviction, Elizabeth Elliot

The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee--2 stars: This was for my online book club, and...meh. I should've known when I saw that it was YA. I despise almost that entire genre. The last thing I want to read about are angsty, hormonal teenagers who do stupid things. It takes place in Australia in the 80s (which took me almost the whole book to figure out). Rose needs a dress for her school's harvest festival, and has an old, creepy woman make it for her. People are convinced the dress is magic, or the old woman is a witch, or both, or something. I don't know. And there's a murder. I read it a few weeks ago and I don't even remember the details of the murder. The only parts of this book I liked were the scenes where the woman was teaching Rose how to sew. Everything else was pretty terrible, and there were some disturbing themes. I don't recommend this one at all.

For fans of: creepiness, cranky teenagers with daddy issues, having flashbacks of your high school Homecoming 

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic--5 stars: Overall, I LOVED this book. It was a breath of fresh air, and I agreed with 98% of what she says. The essays are only a few pages long, often entertaining, and had some great advice and ideas I never would've thought of. She makes a big case about writing this book because she feels like she's drowning in motherhood, but I did not get that vibe AT ALL. Sometimes it felt mildly annoying that she seemed to have it completely together, and I felt a little stressed out that she had a million creative solutions for every problem that I never would've thought of. But still, highly recommend. It's challenging, but in a good way.

For fans of: feeling like you're failing as a mom, encouragement about motherhood, reading stories of other people's toddler disasters

Surprised by Joy/The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis--4.25 stars: When I grabbed this from the library, I was only looking for Surprised by Joy, but this book had The Four Loves as well. Surprised by Joy is Lewis' memoir about growing up atheist and eventually coming to believe in God. It was beautiful, funny, powerful, and just as wonderful as I hoped it would be. I read most of The Four Loves, and parts were very good, but it was a little too deep and philosophical for what I wanted at the moment. I wasn't feeling it, so I returned it without reading the last chapter. No regrets.

[Sidenote: I had this book for about a month, and every time I read it or said it out loud, I read The Four Loves as "The Four Loaves," like loaves of bread. I was confused for weeks about why this book about love was titled about bread until one night my brain finally corrected itself. I laughed for a long time.]

For fans of: Surprised by Oxford, faith, theology, Christianity, reading about boarding school life in Victorian/Edwardian England

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner--4.5 stars:  It's the 1940s, you're 15 years old, and your little sister is waiting for you in your flat as you walk across London. A few blocks from home, the air raid sirens go off. It's the beginning of the Blitz, and your little sister disappears without a trace. Dun dun dun. This book follows two sisters, Emmy and Julia, from the beginning of the war when they're evacuated to the countryside to live with strangers, through the war and after. This book was so good. It flashes between the war and modern day, when an old lady named Isobel is telling her story for the first time of surviving The Blitz to an American student at Oxford. I couldn't put it down, and I didn't want it to end. It's slightly tragic, yet beautifully redemptive. I had tears in my eyes as I finished it.

For fans of: WWII, the 1940s, mysteries, The Nightingale

I'm currently in the middle of Rise of the Rocket Girls, and I am LOVING it. What are you reading?


the next thing you know, she'll be sneaking out of the house at night

Life has been a wild ride lately.

And by that I mean my in-laws were just here.

They drove up from the Carolinas through the remnants of Hurricane Matthew, loaded with stories of flooding and disaster. My world never fails to implode every time they're here. I don't know what it is. Usually it involves me being sick, but this time James and Gracie were the sick ones. Gracie also stopped sleeping. Just stopped sleeping. She was up past midnight one night, and I was so frustrated that once she fell asleep, I was up the rest of the night. The next night my insomnia showed up, and I got maybe two hours of sleep. I slept about a combined total of 4 hours in 48 hours, and I had the privilege of entertaining my MIL and her mother while James, that lucky son of a gun, got to go to work. Entertaining them was not difficult as they wanted to spend their two full days here exploring the same mall. I half-dozed on mall couches while they tried on clothes and gushed over every store they saw, claiming they never see stores like this in North Carolina. I smiled and nodded, knowing full well they have two equally impressive malls 45 minutes away from their homes.

They were very upset with me when I had to spoil their fun and pull them away from the mall since it was past Gracie's lunch and nap time. They don't believe in naps or bedtimes, and told me that such strict rules of this kind will only cause her to rebel as a teenager. They clucked their disapproval and rolled their eyes when either one was mentioned. Gracie chose that day to betray me and refuse to nap. My MIL rewashed my clean dishes, telling me she doesn't believe in dishwashers with her mother echoing the sentiment in the background.

It was a long few days, but I'm glad Gracie got to see her southern half of the family. They were very sweet and bought us all some new things, and James' grandma left a delicious caramel cake with us that she made. I dove into it mouth first every evening once they were back at the hotel. The cake helped drown out the buzzing in my head from a full day spent with two loud and chatty women who sound like Paula Deen and refer to PF Chang's as "Jackie Chan's."

The morning they left, I woke up with a cold. Gracie woke up the next morning overcome with mischief. She started climbing the stairs when I wasn't paying attention. I got lax with the baby gate since she never showed much interest, but now she zooms up the stairs whenever the urge hits and I'm not looking. She pulled all the toothpaste out of the bathroom drawer, and had me literally jumping out of the shower mid-shampoo when I thought she was squeezing toothpaste on the floor. Turns out, I just need to wear my contacts in the shower. While sitting in her high chair, she pushed a dining room chair over, causing it to fall on a bookshelf, which pushed the cookbooks over, which knocked a frame off the wall. She threw her shoes and socks on the floor in the grocery store, tried to climb on the stove and dump the salt out of the salt shaker, pulled things out of the fridge, and was thisclose to figuring out how to unlock the front door when I told her it's not time to go outside. She's also on the verge of unbuckling her carseat. If you're wondering, the answer is yes. Yes I did buy myself a donut at the grocery store.

All this toddler mischief is probably because I made her take a nap today. All those rules will make a child rebel, you know.


2016's most frightening halloween costumes

Audrey Hepburn and Cat, 2009

Do you like horror movies? Is jumping out from behind a bush and scaring your neighbor the highlight of your day? Do you like all things spooky and terrifying? Have I got a trick or treat for you! I've just so happened to compile a list of 2016's scariest and spookiest costume ideas yet. Witches, ghosts, and goblins have nothing on these. These costumes are perfect for your creepy Halloween party or to scare the pants off paying guests at a haunted house, but whatever you do, don't wear them while taking your kids trick-or-treating; you'll give kids (and adults) nightmares for years. You may even be arrested for inciting panic.

1. Gluten. There's nothing scarier in 2016 than the naturally-occurring protein in wheat. Guaranteed to make your friends scream and run away in fear.

Related ideas: refined sugar, carbs, non-organic fruit

2. The comment section of YouTube or any major website. You just cringed, didn't you? Good, that's the reaction we're going for.

3. The Presidential candidates. Either one. They're both horrifying.

4. Cleaning products not made from essential oils. Dress up as a bottle of Clorox and everyone in a five-mile radius will immediately be diagnosed with cancer.

5. WebMD. Everyone in a five-mile radius will immediately be self-diagnosed with cancer.

6. Clowns. With all the murder clown sightings this year, a clown costume could convince even the staunchest gun control advocate to pack some heat.

7. That person on social media constantly hawking his or her wares or diet program. Do you have a minute to talk about essential oils? Lularoe leggings? Jamberry nails? Maybe if you tried #whole30 or Advocare or not feeding your kids puffs or formula your life would magically improve and you'd lose the baby weight and also world peace. This costume is guaranteed to make your friends tremble and search for a safe zone.

8. The list of shows and movies leaving Netflix on the first of the month. Heart beating out of your chest! Sweating! Anxiety! This costume will cause it all. Is your favorite show on the list? Is it safe? Is there time to watch that movie one more time?! THE CLOCK IS TICKING.

What are you dressing up as this year?


God bless the broken road that led me straight to zofran

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you who prayed and thought about us on our drive home. So many of you reached out to me all day long, and I felt so loved and like I wasn't alone. I could truly feel the prayers. Earlier in the week, I spent half a day playing phone tag with the pediatrician's office who was rude and very unhelpful and gave me advice like "make sure the car isn't too hot." Solid advice, but clearly they've never traveled with a violently sick toddler. Telling me to put the carseat in the middle seat (where it's been for 18 months) is like telling a pregnant woman with HG to eat some crackers and ginger. It will only give her more to throw up, and you'll be dropkicked in the face.

Anyway, after my last post, I did indeed go back to the coffee shop and drown my pre-roadtrip anxiety in an apple cream cheese muffin and a pumpkin spice latte (don't judge me)(it put Starbucks to shame). I spent the rest of the day biting my nails and trying to give myself a pep talk by repeating "I can do hard things" over and over like a psycho.

Another pediatrician, who will probably be receiving chocolate and flowers from me, prescribed the lowest of the lowest dose of Zofran for Gracie. I always feel twitchy giving her medicine, but desperate times, you know? It was also weird to give her the medicine I took while pregnant with her, but it also gave me confidence that we would survive, because I swear to you that medicine saved my life.

I'm pleased to announce it saved me again, because THERE WAS NO BARF. ZERO PUKAGE. Every time I heard a faint cough, water sloshing in the sippy cup, or smelled something rank from the farms we drove past, I had an immediate panic attack that she threw up. But she never did! She slept from central Illinois all the way to Indianapolis. She was fussy for much of the drive when she was awake, but it didn't bother me even slightly, because anything compared to the drive there felt like Christmas morning. I just felt so overjoyed that the medicine worked, we were on our way home, and I wasn't reliving the worst day ever.

About an hour and a half from home, I had to pull off to quash a meltdown and grab all the toys and books from the backseat and put them back up front so I could pass them back whenever she whined. I happened to pull off at the exit for a GIANT candle store. Seriously, gigantic. There's a Goliath-sized candle out front that has to be at least 20 feet tall. Next to the store, there's a large, round cage full of peacocks and a pumpkin patch next to the parking lot. It was the strangest, most delightful place I've ever been. Since I was feeling a little loopy from driving all day, I decided to go inside. I walked around for roughly ten minutes and never once found the end of the building. It went on forever. People were racing around, sticking their faces in candles the size of my thigh and filling up carts with Christmas garland and more candles. There were Christmas trees, a restaurant, a bakery, and a woman screaming in the bathroom because she dropped her phone in the toilet. I know what you're thinking, but it wasn't me. The experience gave me just enough stamina to finish the mind-numbing drive down I-70, where I cried tears of joy when I realized I was 10 minutes from home.

I came home to a clean house, open windows, and a pizza from my favorite place down the street. I was on cloud 9. I've been unpacking and decorating for fall and so glad the drive is over that I don't even care that my kitchen flooded when James gave Gracie a bath. And again last night when I bathed her and forgot about the previous bath. As long as she's not throwing up, I AM GOOD. LIFE IS GOOD. WE'RE ALL GOOD.

Zofran for President.