Our Thanksgiving 2017

If you watched my video last Friday, then you would know that our Thanksgiving holiday was quite a bit different this year.  Since it was just going to be Michael and me, we decided to try a new restaurant here in the DFW area.  There are so many fine dining restaurants here, even though we have lived here for almost 10 years, I still don’t feel like we have scratched the surface.  Mostly because when we find one we like, we tend to go back over and over again.

But we wanted to try something new, so Michael got reservations for a restaurant called Table 13 in Addison, TX.  Addison, to me, is kind of hipstery and the restaurants are always interesting.  Plus, this particular restaurant was suggested on lists with other restaurants we have enjoyed and it had good reviews.

Thanksgiving morning was spent in our PJs, watching the Macy’s Day Parade with the pups.  Teddy loves Jerzee.  Jerzee tolerates Teddy.  So, when the two dogs start snuggling, pictures are taken a lot.

After the parade ended, we got ready and headed down to the restaurant for our reservation.  It was packed, which is always a good sign.  But there was some mix-up with seating (people were taking longer than anticipated), so it took close to 30-40 minutes for us to be seated.  Also, quick note, the decor was….interesting.  It was mostly decorated with pin-up drawings of girls without clothes who were strategically situated.  So, not a place I would take kids.  Definitely had an adult vibe which I didn’t really pick up on with the reviews (plus, they had a special price that day for kids).

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They had their Thanksgiving special, which both of us got, but they also had other choices a la carte.  I feel like the a la carte menu was more their regular food, judging from how the meal went.

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So, the first course was a choice between their salads or lobster bisque (which were also starter choices on the a la carte menu).  I chose the lobster bisque which is good.  It was creamy, perfect temperature, and had bits of lobster in it that added to the flavor.

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The second course was a traditional Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and cranberry sauce.  All of it was pork-free, which was important to me because I have a pork allergy.  But after we finished the first course and our plates were taken, it took 30-40 minutes for the second course to arrive.  This was surprising to me because it was the special of the day, and that’s usually easier to get out than something else off the menu.  But maybe I’m wrong about that.  As far as taste, it was okay.  The one thing that really stood out was the cranberry sauce.  They added some kind of mint ingredient to the cranberries which complemented it very well.  But the rest of the meal was…just okay.

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The third course came out much more quickly.  It was a traditional raisin bread pudding with a pumpkin sauce and a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.  The center of the pudding was soft and absorbed the vanilla ice cream pretty well.  But the outside was a little crispy and I didn’t really taste the pumpkin sauce.  Again, it was okay.

Overall, I don’t think we will go back anytime soon, not because it was necessarily bad.  It’s just that there are so many other options in the DFW area to eat for the same price point that are better in my opinion.  Still, I’m glad I didn’t have to cook or clean on Thanksgiving day, which really made it worth it.

The rest of the evening, we just spent at home, hanging out.  I had a wonderful day with my husband and my pups.  I was truly thankful for the time we shared together!

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What The Holidays Are Like

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The Christmas season (which starts with Thanksgiving in my opinion) is probably my favorite time of the year.  There are bright colors, happy songs, and presents.  And my love language is Gifts, so any holiday season that includes giving and receiving of gifts is top notch.

But this is also a time of year that is hard for a lot of people.  Maybe it’s someone who has passed away this year.  Maybe it’s a job that was lost or financial struggles.  Maybe it was a relationship that was broken.

I’ve been reflecting on how this Thanksgiving has been for me and I wanted to share with you a little window into what I’ve learned about grief this year.

I learned that grief manifests in different ways.  In the moment, I didn’t even identify it as grief, but it was.  Everything was heightened.  There were moments I felt depressed and anxious.  I felt guilty when I wanted to be alone when I felt overwhelmed or when I wasn’t very social.  I got to see a lot of my family that I don’t get to see very much, but a lot of the time, I didn’t know what to say or how to start a conversation.  I’m so thankful for my family who has been praying and is so understanding.  Despite myself, we had such great visits with everyone.

My feelings were raw and exposed. There were moments of anger.  In fact, Michael and I had a very lively disagreement (ok, a fight) towards the end of the week that we worked through with grace and a whole lot of listening to each other (of course, this was days after the fight happened, but it was a process).  We definitely grew as people and closer to each other.  It was uncomfortable and hard, but I’m very blessed to have a man who is willing to work through the hard and uncomfortable.

I also learned that grief triggers in different ways.  I learned that young infants crying are a serious trigger for me during these heightened days of grief.  Somewhere along the line, Michael learned that too.  One day this month, we were somewhere and a baby started crying.  Michael was across the room, but he stopped what he was doing and looked at me (we were doing different things at the time).  I nodded to him, and we left shortly after.  Someday, I hope that this won’t be as triggering as I really do love babies, but for now, it is.  So we are just aware of our limitations.

Last year, we were just grieving the first anniversary of my first daughter’s stillbirth, and the days leading up to it were harder than the actual day, itself.  This year, the anniversaries were harder.  Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving was my second daughter’s due date.  When I woke up that morning, that was the first thought that entered my head.  I felt it.  I cried in the shower that morning.  That Saturday was the second stillbirth day of my first daughter.  I cried that day, too, which surprised me.  I wasn’t as ready for that as I thought I would be.

I learned that it’s okay to have conflicting feelings at the same time, which I talked about in the video I posted the Friday after Thanksgiving.

I had moments of happiness as we built memories together just as much as I was sad that my daughters weren’t there physically with me in those memories.

The biggest lesson I took away from this experience is that I’m not alone.  I have amazing people willing to walk through the hard stuff with me and extend grace and space when I need it.  Even when I fear the wind and the waves, God is still right there with me.  I can be in my grief and still say I am blessed.

Thanksgiving

This week is bittersweet for me, but I have a lot to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my husband who has stood by me through everything.  He is my best friend, the protector of my heart, my love.

I’m thankful for my family who has supported me and believed in me, even when I’m feeling insecure.  They have been my cheerleaders since I was little, and I’m so thankful for that support and love.

I’m thankful for my husband’s family who loved me and welcomed me from day one.  Your excitement for life is addictive, and I’ve learned so much from you.

I’m thankful for my community.  It comes in different shapes and sizes.  From people who have known me my whole life to those who have only known me a few months.  From the people IRL to those I’ve met only online.  I have been so grateful for the comments, hugs (real and virtual), and prayers.  You all are so awesome.

I’m thankful for God, his son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that guides me every day.  God gave me all of the things I have listed.  I  know that there are so many who live in darkness, fear, and hate, who need to know the love of God.  I pray that His light shines in my life, even in my darkest moments.  I’m so grateful that he continues to walk with me through this journey.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for listening.  Thank you for praying.  May you be surrounded by the people who love you today.  May you find joy and peace in your circumstances.  And may you know that no matter what is happening today, you don’t have to go through it alone.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A Trip Home

We visited my family for Thanksgiving this year, which meant traveling from Dallas, GA all the way to Atlanta, GA.  But despite the long trip, we really enjoyed the time we spent with my family.20151126_120702

The mantle in my parents’ house.  My mom has a crafty eye for decor as you will soon find out.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, this Thanksgiving day marks the first anniversary of the loss of our daughter.  My parents were acutely aware of this and gave me a lot of space to do what I needed to do.  Instead of being around a lot of people on Thanksgiving day, my mom created the entire feast for just the four of us (my dad, mom, Michael, and me).

Then, after dinner, my mom and I crafted.  By the end of it, we had mod podge all over our fingers, but I had a great time.  Plus, I got several neat decor pieces out of the project.  Below, I did the candles with the ribbon around them.  My mom gave me the frame and the ornaments that she did.

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On Friday, we didn’t do much during the day, except get our toes done, which is a semi-tradition, and one thing I hope becomes a real tradition!  There is a nail salon near her house that does spa pedicures for $17!  That is quite a deal to me!20151127_115108

The rest of Friday was spent taking down Thanksgiving and putting up Christmas.  And Saturday, we exchanged presents with my parents and my grandmother.  I don’t know if I’m completely ready for the holiday season, but it has definitely had a great start!

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions or semi-traditions that you want to make official traditions?

Do you celebrate Christmas at Thanksgiving with any parts of your family?

 

Grief, Loss, and Thanksgiving (Part 4)

I’ve been sitting, looking at the blinking cursor in front of me for a little while.  I have so many words to say, and yet, none at all.  A year ago tomorrow will be exactly one year since I found out I was no longer pregnant.  November 26th, Thanksgiving Day this year, is the day I went into the hospital and gave birth to my stillborn baby girl.

I’m only working one day this week.  And I have plans with family for Thanksgiving.  So I have things to do but I have no idea how I will be when I am doing them.  I know to give myself a lot of space and grace.  I’m taking it one day at a time.

I do want to take a moment to acknowledge some of the blessings I’ve experienced this month leading up to this week.  I’m thankful for a husband who does his amazing best to be there for me in the sad moments.  I’m thankful for random, loving texts from friends and family.  I’m thankful for a church community and a workplace that surround me with love.  I’m thankful for the SPCA who allow me to use their dogs for my own brand of therapy.  I’m thankful for my own dogs who shower me with kisses and snuggles just when I need it.

I have no idea how the rest of this week will go, but right now that doesn’t matter.  What matters is taking the next step, breathing the next breath, and living the next moment.  I don’t think I’m going to write again this week.  I want to give myself some time to just focus on the present.  I’ll be back next Monday.  So, Happy Thanksgiving.  I am so thankful for all of you.

Decorating for Thanksgiving

I want to show you a few pieces from my Thanksgiving décor, but first, I think it’s pretty obvious that Thanksgiving gets lost among the Halloween and Christmas decorations in the stores.  In one of the local Walmart stores, I think it managed to get an end cap in the crafting section.  And I kind of have a heart for the little guy, the overlooked, so that’s probably why I’m pretty stubborn about waiting until after Thanksgiving day to actually pull out the Christmas decorations.  I just want the holiday to have a moment in the sun.

So here are some of the pieces I put out this year.

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Just like Halloween, I think all of these are from Hobby Lobby, although I’m not sure where I got the bottles on the mantle.  I like the theme of scarecrows and pumpkins because it represents the harvest and provision that God gives to us in our lives.

Also, there aren’t a whole of songs about Thanksgiving.  But in one of my old children’s songbooks, I actually found one!  So I’m playing it on the piano this month to celebrate the holiday.

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Do you decorate for Thanksgiving, or is it straight from Halloween to Christmas?  Do you have any songs for Thanksgiving that I can add?

Grief, Loss and Thanksgiving: Part Three

Part 3: Thanksgiving

It’s been a week since I first got the diagnosis that I had lost our baby.  Despite the realities of our situation that I’ve experienced this week, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the silver lining blessings I’ve experienced as well.  I tend to describe my personality as an “annoying optimist,” someone who no matter what finds silver linings in any situation, no matter how crazy those may be.  It can be somewhat annoying, but it’s the way I cope.  Anyway, here are only a few of the amazing things that have happened this week.

The medical staff:  The clinic I go to has five different doctors there.  The one that I have seen the most, Dr. W, was the one that saw me for both miscarriage diagnoses.  She arrived right after I delivered last week.  She said when she saw it was me that Monday, she just prayed and hoped that the sonogram would show a healthy baby.  She even brought in another doctor in the hopes that she was wrong, because she wanted to be so wrong.  The doctor she brought in happened to be on call the morning after I delivered, Dr. D.  Dr. D said that she wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just taken care of physically, but emotionally as well.  She said 50% of women who go through this get put on an anti-depressant for a short period of time to help, and that I shouldn’t feel weird if I need to take that option.  Both doctors were such a blessing.

Not only the doctors, but the nurses at the hospital.  Nurses in the L&D ward are a special type of people.  Every single one had no problem staying there and talking to me when I needed to talk, even if it was just clinical questions to distract me from what was going on.  The day nurse was so positive and straight forward.  I never went into a single part of that experience without knowing exactly what to expect and what to watch for.  And it didn’t matter if I only met them once or twice, every nurse was patient and caring, never acting like I was a burden or an inconvenience.  They even said if I just needed to talk, they would be there with a quick push of the call button.

The community.  To say that I’m overwhelmed by the community here and online is an understatement.  There are so many people who were involved.  There’s Lori who came to visit the evening I got my diagnosis and at lunch on Wednesday.  There’s Tod and Candace who came to pray Tuesday night and visited Wednesday evening.  There were the myriad of texts, Facebook messages, and emails we received Tuesday and Wednesday from friends and family, and continue to receive every day (I may not comment back, but believe me, your words are cherished).  My family has also sent their words of comfort and helped where they could.  My mom handled all the pictures and birth stuff from the hospital (as well as being emotional support) which was very needed and I’m so thankful she was able to be here.

Also, my mom shared with me a box given to her at the hospital from a women’s ministry made up of women who had gone through what I had.  In it were notes, verses, a Bible, a journal, and other things to offer encouragement and support to me.  It was unexpected but appreciated.

And then this past weekend, Lori dropped off a basket of goodies given to us from families at church who wanted to do something.  She said it was overwhelming to see how everyone came together for our little family.  I completely agree.  We also received encouragement from our neighbors who were so excited for us and now offer us a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear.  We know that we are loved and that we are so humbled by this experience.

My husband.  There are no words for the amazing man that is my husband.  Throughout this entire pregnancy, he has been there for me.  In the first trimester, when I was sick, he came home after 12 hour days to cook and clean while I laid on the couch.  In the second trimester, he would talk about our baby or how beautiful I was, and he would work on nursery projects or find little gifts or gift ideas for the future.  And then when I lost the baby, he has been there for me every step of the way, handling all the details when I couldn’t.  He stays up with me, when I wake up crying, talking me through it, listening to me, and staying up until I fall back asleep.

This experience has already brought us closer, even more so than the one last year.  Throughout this pregnancy we had learned to become a team.  We have been there for each other through a lot of changes and ups and downs.  And I can’t imagine having anyone else by my side through all of this.  To say I’m blessed or lucky to have him in my life is a complete understatement.  I thought I understood what it meant to marry your best friend, but I had no idea until now.  And what really blows my mind, is that he lost a baby too.  He’s going through loss and pain as well and still stands strong next to me.  Even though the experience for him is different, it’s still the same too.  His strength and love are immeasurable blessings, and I’m so overwhelmed that I get to call this great man my husband.

My relationship with God.  There is absolutely no way I could be upright and typing without the strength of God in me.  All of the above blessings are gifts from God, and I know that.  I am reminded that I’m not alone in my loss even in the Bible.  Job lost all of his children, questioned God, and God answered him.  I know that God will answer my questions too.  Plus, there are a myriad of stories of women in the Bible who struggled with infertility – Rachel, Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth.  I know that God understands my grief, and just based on the amount of stories included in the Bible, I know he has a special place in his heart for women who go through this at any level.

Additionally, God has put women in my life that have been through what I have that I know are there for me.  I don’t think that was ever a coincidence that they are in my life.  This situation sucks, but I know that God hasn’t forsaken me.  Like I’ve said before, God doesn’t keep me from going through the storms, but he promises to be there every step of the way.

So, coming home on Thanksgiving day from this ordeal, I don’t think was a coincidence either.  God answered prayers that there were no complications and that the process happened quickly and with little physical pain.  We have a community around us, some we don’t even know, that have offered love and support throughout this ordeal as we heal both physically and emotionally.  And for these reasons we are truly grateful.

I don’t want to make light of this.  I’m still going through this every day, day by day.  Some moments are really hard.  Some are easier.  I imagine the easier moments will outweigh the harder ones eventually, but that’s not the reality right now.  I wanted to write all of this down now for two reasons.  One, to let others who may go through something similar have some idea of what to expect (although every experience will be different, even made with different choices, and that’s okay).  And also, so that I can remember where I’ve been.  I won’t be here forever.  And that knowledge along with the love and support around me helps me go through each day, each minute, each moment towards healing.