Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January Snow and Pregnancy


 
Loveys, it's snowing hard outside right now. I'm watching it come down in sheets. The kids are in school and I've been online working this morning, and now I'm having a cup of coffee and watching all this snow drift into my backyard. I'm thinking about how my laundry situation feels beyond my control. I'm thinking of Ashtyn telling me this morning that she wants lasagna for dinner. (I made lasagna for a friend of ours this weekend who's going through radiation/chemo. When I told Ash the lasagna wasn't for our family, she experienced deep disappointment and has wanted it ever since. :) I'm thinking I'll go ahead and make it for her tonight.)

I've got work issues on my mind. Jeff woke up not feeling great so he's on my mind. The dishes in front of me are on my mind (actually, I just moved the laptop so I don't see the dishes, we're all good.) I'm thinking about Night Crawler Lincoln, who will NOT stay in his bed as of the last month. It's killing me. Threats, punishment, what-have-you . . . nothing works! He keeps getting out of his bed. I welcome any advice on this subject. Maybe he's not tired enough. I told Jeff to stop at the store and buy Linc a CD player. Ash does really well with listening to music or a book on CD at night as she falls asleep. Maybe that will help Linc.

I'm feeling grateful that I actually got some sleep last night after several days of restless nights. The uncomfortable part of pregnancy is in full effect over here. I'm feeling heavy and tired and I have exactly 2 months to go! Jeff and I finally started talking about the nursery and my sister went with me to buy scrapbooking materials to get going on the baby book. I think there will be a baby shower in the near future, which should help with stocking up on diapers and all that. I am SO unprepared at this point. And that overwhelms me, to be honest. It's time to start the nesting phase and get things ready for this little girl who's coming whether Mommy is ready or not.

The snow has switched directions, but it's still coming down just as hard. My coffee is finished. I have a few more work issues to tackle this morning.

My to-do list feels very long, loveys.

Sometimes, when our to-do lists are rolling on the floor--we just have to stop. If I look at my list, there are usually only one or two things that need to be done immediately. The rest can wait. They can wait . . . if I can wait. If I can let them go. If I can just stop and breathe. So we prioritize one or two things that really need to get done, and we release the anxiety of marking off everything. One step at a time toward our goal. We cleaned our house from top to bottom last weekend. And today? Dishes need to be washed. Laundry needs to be sorted and folded. Beds need to be made. Toys need to be picked up. All that cleaning! And here we are again. And that's okay. It's just daily life. It will be here tomorrow as well.

For today, we choose what we need to do. Tomorrow, we do it again. If you're overwhelmed this morning, drink a cup of coffee or tea, think about your to-do list, choose two things you want to accomplish today, and get going on that. Let the rest go until tomorrow. Grace on you, lovey.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Brave

Loveys, yesterday was a bit rough for me, I'll be honest. I had a little time to myself this morning, which was desperately needed, and I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee, thinking about which verse I want to write on my chalkboard (and trying not to think about how I need to wash dishes and make lunch and sweep the kitchen floor and clean upstairs). It's after 11 already. How is it that whenever we get an hour or two to ourselves, it flies by as fast as a honeybee? I don't know. So our church, like many churches, challenged us to pray and come up with a word for the year. Something for us to hold on to. I went back and forth with the word that came to me and I think I'm finally ready to claim it.

Brave.

It's not a word I usually think much about. Maybe it's coming from my children. Ashtyn can be fearful of things; I find myself telling her to be brave a lot. When I prayed for a word, I was a little startled when brave came to mind. But maybe God is telling me to be brave. Maybe I'm fearful, like Ashtyn sometimes. Maybe this year will hold change for me--actually, I know it will. I've got labor and delivery headed my way in 10 weeks. And I can honestly say that those things scare me. I know I can do it. I know God will be with me. I know having a baby is a blessing and it's what I want . . . but labor and delivery are scary to me. But time and again in my life, I've learned that God gives us His grace when we need it. I know when the time comes, He'll give me grace and I'll be able to do what I need to do.

He gives us grace to do things we wouldn't think we can do.

What does it look like to be a brave woman?

I know that very well, to be honest. I come from a family with many strong, brave women. I grew up surrounded by strong, brave, purposeful women.

I think fear can creep into our lives and take hold of our hearts. I think it can happen slowly, maybe we don't even recognize it. We're afraid of not being perfect. We're afraid of making mistakes. We're afraid of not being enough. We're afraid of not being all things to all people--but we can't make everyone happy. We can't be perfect. We don't need to look perfect.

What do we need then? Maybe we just need to be brave enough to be who we are. Brave enough to accept that God's love for us is enough. Brave enough to be real--not pulled or swayed by what others think or say about us. Brave enough to embrace change when we need to. Brave enough to chase change if that's what we really need. Brave enough to love unconditionally (rather than being self-focused). Brave enough to jump in and try.

You know something I've noticed? Ashtyn can be fearful--but when she's charged with taking care of Lincoln, suddenly she's brave. I've watched them when we've gone to a park or playland. When she's holding Lincoln's hand and he's depending on her, she finds her strength. She can be brave. It's in her. I've seen it. So I tell her to be brave. And God tells me the same thing.

So that's my word, loveys. What's yours?



Monday, January 12, 2015

10 weeks and counting


Loveys, I've got about 10 weeks before this little girl is born.

That sort of sounds like a long time.

Then again, it sort of makes me start to twitch and my heart to race and then I panic.

There are many things to do. I've just spent all the hours of my morning working nonstop on book projects. Now that I'm taking a breath, I'm thinking of the fact that the baby's room is still a guestroom and needs a complete overhaul. The baby needs a name. The baby needs stuff, and my garage scares me. The baby needs her mother to get going on that baby scrapbook lickety-split.

On another note, laundry is piling up like Pikes Peak. The Bronco's lost and my husband is in depression. It's freezing outside and so I need to find something to make for dinner without having to go to the store. (I think the hamburger meat in the fridge is still rock-solid frozen.) My hair is not cool. I really need to go through my kids' closets and organize the clothing situation. I really want to take a nap. The nurse practitioner at my OBGYN office told me she wants me drinking only water from now on. I am so thirsty all the time! I went to the store two days ago--feeling parched. Came home with more Diet Dr Pepper, Gingerale, two bottles of cranberry juice, and a jug of sweet tea.

Lord, help me.

10 weeks left.

I feel very pregnant today. Heavy. Swollen. And like the bottle of Tums in my room is very necessary for my survival. But gosh, 10 weeks to go? My heaviest, most swollen days are ahead of me. I must prepare myself. Maybe a nap would help. I'll go see if Lincoln is acting the slightest bit tired. I'm hungry. Snack first, then nap.

Loveys, how is your Monday going? Are you pregnant? Are you sleepy? Are you swollen? If so, you are not alone. I'm here with you.  

Let's do this.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 . . . Here We Are

Happy New Year's, loveys! How was your Christmas? We had a very wonderful Brumble, Bruce, Hanson Christmas in Colorado. Lots of delicious food and fun times together. And a white Christmas on top of it all! It's been a white New Year's as well. We've had snow nearly all day and have stayed inside, taking down all the Christmas decorations. As much as I love Christmas, and I do, when it's over it's nice to get back to normal and to get back into the routine of things.

And we did have such a great Christmas; I'm truly thankful for time with family. We all enjoyed the Christmas Eve service at our church together. We saw the Hobbit one night, which I thought was great! I think of cold nights, with my family warm and snug inside by the fire, watching Death Comes to Pemberly and drinking eggnog and hot chocolate. Sitting out cookies and chocolate milk for Santa and singing carols. Sitting down to a fantastic meal of ham and dressing and lamb and vegetables and all sorts of delicious things. Watching Linc and Ash light up as they tore into presents. Drinking coffee and having a Downton Abbey marathon at Sara's house one night. Seeing my parents get to enjoy the kids and hearing the sounds of my family's voices all through my house--those are blessings and treasures that I'm grateful for, and to me, those are the things that make Christmas so very special.  


I can hardly believe we've crossed into 2015. The holiday season always seems to fly by in one big blur. Honestly, I didn't even make it to midnight last night. Honey Bear and I were out well before then. I have spurts of energy, which is great, then I crash and need a nap! But so far, Baby Bruce and I are doing fine. There's a lot to do and prepare for before her arrival in March. We haven't quite settled on a name yet. Honestly, we've had two names we thought we were sure of--then other pregnant friends announced their baby names and both were the names we had planned on! So we're back to the drawing board at the moment. I think we'll start working on the nursery sometime next month. I'm feeling a little behind with this pregnancy. I need to get going on the baby book and all that. Maybe I should make that one of my resolutions. I haven't even thought of resolutions this year. I suppose I feel that there will be plenty of change coming my way with the addition of a new baby, I don't think I need to add any more pressure for more change. So I'm just going to take the days as they come.

It's been a beautiful holiday season for our family. I am so thankful for friends and family to spend these life moments with. I'm thankful for the little kicks I feel from this baby girl as I fall asleep at night. I'm thankful for Jesus and Christmas. What are you thankful for as we dive into this new year, lovey? What are you hoping for, dreaming for, wishing for this year? While I'm not making resolutions, I do hope for those things that are important to me. I hope my children have a wonderful year and that they feel loved every day of their lives. I hope that Jeff and I continue to grow together and to love each other as we do now. I hope to spend time with friends. I hope to be someone who loves the people in her life well.

It's 2015, loveys. Who do you want to be? Who are you becoming as the years pass? What might this new year hold for you?

Chase dreams. Love well. Love selflessly. Breathe deep and enjoy life. Pray more.

2015 might just be your best year yet.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Three Days Till Christmas!


What. In. The. World. It's three days till Christmas. I'm STILL waiting on packages to arrive from Amazon and I'm starting to twitch. How are you, loveys? Shopping done? Groceries bought? Presents wrapped? I still need to go grocery shopping and wrap gifts and then there's the checking-the-front-porch-for-packages situation happening. Next year I am buying everything online EARLY. Hold me to it, loveys.

Anyway. So I have a houseful of family tonight and that's a very good thing. The Broncos game is on (of course) and the kids are somewhere. (I hear footsteps upstairs.) It was a meatloaf-for-dinner kind of night, with surprise dessert arriving via a package from my mother-in-law. I could have cried when I saw her lemon bars. Perfect timing. SO good. I just finished loading the dishwasher, and bedtime for the kids is coming soon. I might escape upstairs to watch a Christmas movie or something while the game is on down here. But it's so nice to have my family here. I was asleep when they arrived last night, so I was thrilled to wake up and have breakfast with everyone.

We've had snow all evening and it looks like a very white Christmas outside, loveys. Tonight we all sat in the living room and sang Christmas carols (followed by a concert by Ashtyn entertaining us with songs she's made up). Something good must have just happened because everyone watching the game is cheering.

We took some baby bump pictures this week, loveys, and that was so much fun. My youngest sister Laura has taken "baby bump" pictures for me during all of my pregnancies and I'm so grateful. We're closing in on the 28-week mark pretty soon. This has been a pretty smooth pregnancy. I'm hitting the uncomfortable stage, but that's to be expected. Here are a few of the pictures for you to see!

Christmas is just around the corner. I can't believe it! The kids have seen Santa. The family made it here. We're warm and snug inside despite the cold and the snow outside. Things are good. This little mama is tired and ready for some apple cider and a holiday movie.

Merry Christmas, loveys, from the Bruces to you!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Catching up with Christmas


Loveys, we're less than 2 weeks out till Christmas. That is crazy! This month is a blur. I've got authors coming into town, family coming into town, Christmas shopping to do, trips to the airport, cookies to make, school parties to go to, a visit with Santa that's in our future--and so on! My calendar is full, and I don't really mind. I'm super excited to spend time with my family this Christmas. We don't live near my parents or my youngest sister so we only see them a few times a year. It's the same with Jeff's family. So our times together are special to me and I want to treasure them. Plus, these days with my own little ones go by fast, so each Christmas is extra magical while they're small. Tonight we've got pizza on the menu, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas on TV, and gingerbread cookies to bake that we'll share with some of our neighbors! The tree is lit and the fireplace is glowing and I love nights like this. There's the church Birthday Party for Jesus in the morning for the kids and our friend's graduation party tomorrow night. Another party on Sunday and a trip to the airport.

Good grief. December can be hectic. So nights like this one--home with family--are good for the soul.

I was thinking of family and how I'm looking forward to seeing mine, and that brought to mind my sweet grandmother Mimi. I still miss her so much. When I was in college, I wrote this short, children's story called A Cardinal's Christmas. Mimi loved it. And she ended up giving me this beautiful cup that my great-grandmother, Taye, painted. My Mimi loved the holidays. I remember going to her house at Christmastime as a child. She loved for her family to fill up her house, and she loved to cook for all of us. I want to be like that. Those memories at her house are priceless to me. Looking back, I see the main gift she gave all of us--the gift of herself. What a blessing.


In the midst of holiday chaos, sometimes it feels like there's not much left to give at the end of the day. But giving of ourselves is something that goes beyond wrapping paper and bows. Giving our love, our patience, our time, ourselves--to those around us, I think those are the gifts that last and that make the most difference. I think of Mimi and Taye, chopping vegetables in the kitchen the night before Christmas, and I see the gift of love they freely gave us. Presents and smiles and Christmas magic and families together--those memories are part of me, they're part of all the love I received growing up, and that's what I want for my own children.

Ashtyn took a "tradition box" to school this week and shared one holiday tradition that our family has with her class. She shared the tradition of reading the Christmas story, and in her box was a little Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. How sweet is that.

What do you want for Christmas, loveys? There are the rather lofty (but very heartfelt) wishes of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. There are the practical wishes like popcorn makers and lotion and DVDs. Then there are those things we crave . . . peace for our family. Love and romance with our partner. Endurance to get through the season with everyone happy and healthy. For our children to know that there's more to all this than just wrapped packages. For our spirit to remember the wonder of the Nativity story. For the people around us to feel loved.

And we want to feel loved. There's something about feeling loved that gives us the endurance to go above and beyond. It starts with us. With giving the gift of ourselves, with loving the people around us.

There's a lot to do, I know. For me too. Work and family and dishes and shopping. And there's less than 2 weeks until the big day. I suppose I can let it overwhelm me, or I can embrace all of it and count myself lucky to have friends and family to love and share my life with. I've finally been feeling a few more kicks now that I'm 6 months along with this pregnancy. Each kick is a reminder that there's one more person to love. I think she really likes gingerbread cookies. :)

Merry Christmas, loveys. Take a moment to think of what your soul is wishing for this Christmas. I hope you're heart is filled with love for the people in your life.               

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Loveys, it's already December 8th. Doesn't this month seem to fly by? One week down, only a little more than three to go. Last night I had my annual ornament-exchange party. Success! This was my fifth year doing it, and I just enjoy it so much every time. The month gets so crazy that I'm happy to get one night just chatting with girlfriends over food and wine (in my case, sparkling cranberry juice).

Let me tell you what we did in case you're looking for party ideas. Before I forgot, I tried to snap a few pictures. I don't have any pictures of the first two years I hosted this kind of party. Tragic! I want to remember these fun times and who came. I had an empty portrait frame for the girls and I to use for pictures. So we started with chatting and eating, and I had everyone fill out MadLib pages. Then we took pictures.

The past couple of years, we've shared traditions and stories during the ornament exchange. There was some of that last night too, which is always fun and wonderful. But we started with sharing some of the history of the traditions of Christmas. I searched the Internet for the history of things like Christmas trees, stockings, gingerbread, poinsettias, the novel A Christmas Carol, the songs O Holy Night and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Then I printed off what I found and placed one page each in a Christmas card. We went around the room and each girl opened her card and read the story of the tradition to us. I love this type of thing because it involves all of us. Mingling and catching up or getting to know someone new is fun. But I love for there to be some point in the evening where we all engage together. After the "history of Christmas," we did our ornament exchange. Then we read the MadLibs that the girls had filled out earlier. MadLibs are always funny and fun.

To me, the best part of the evening is just having a houseful of friends. You guys know I'm six months pregnant at the moment. So I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself. I ordered a platter of sandwiches from the grocery store and picked up some pasta salad. I did make peanut-butter balls and cheesecake squares because those are easy, and besides, Christmas baking is so fun! (Jeff was thrilled that I made peanut-butter balls.) Friends brought bottles of wine. I threw together a veggie tray and put some lil smokies in the crockpot and voila! You've got a party. I love hosting these parties because we're carving out a little time during this busy season to make memories together. It was a warm and cheery night in the Bruce house!

The Jeffster helped me so much to prepare for this party. Last night, after the girls left, he came down (had some leftovers!) and then helped me clean up. I told him how grateful I was for all he did for me, and he told me that he's really glad I do things like host these parties. That touched my heart because it reminded me that he appreciates those things that make up who I am, that he loves me for who I am. And being loved just as we are is such a gift.

So last night was special to me. I love that Alyssa's ornament is now hanging on my tree (and Tracy's is on there from years past). I loved hearing about Nancy's extra-special Christmases and Jodi's favorite things about Christmas (and gasping when I heard that Myseesha is not a fan of Christmas music!). I loved giggling with everyone and sharing pregnancy stories (and grocery-shopping stories!). I loved hearing about Tara's father-in-law's special eggnog. The glow of the fireplace and the twinkle of Christmas lights and wine glasses all around--it's just a little Christmas magic with friends, loveys.