Thursday, October 27, 2011

A New Venture

This announcement may come as a did to me.

This investment may seem like a risky one...believe me, I'm scared to take the first step.

This timing may seem like the worst possible in history of poor timing...but I'm willing to give it a try.

And, no, it's not another baby. Yet. :)

But it IS kind of like a baby.  My new venture is something new, growing, and slightly mysterious to me.  Right now it feels like such a tiny thing, a seed of possibility.  It's going to take a lot of time, nurturing, and goodness knows, there'll be a learning curve.  But, I'm ready.  Ready to see this new venture blossom.

I've decided to start my own business. EEK! Gasp. Gulp.  I can scarcely believe that I just wrote those words.

The background story:

Kyle and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.  When we got married, our life plans were as follows: Kyle would go to flight school while I got my graduate degree, we’d both work for a few years, and then we would start our family - a family for which we’ve always yearned.

But, when our first baby girl, Meggie, surprised us in my first year of graduate school, our plans unexpectedly - and joyfully! - changed.  I finished my formal training in community counseling after Meggie was born and then in the middle of my job search, found out we were having another baby girl, our precious Alice Virginia.

After much searching, thinking, and prayer, Kyle and I made the decision for me to stay home and raise our girls; a career path that I cherish and in which we whole-heartedly believe.

There's still this part of me, though, that misses being a part of the "grown-up world," that misses being around people like I was in the counseling field, that yearns to express some of my loves not always expressed yet at home - like teaching to a roomful of students, encouraging other women, connecting with people.  Really, a part of me that misses having a reason to dress up in the morning and put on make-up.

A part of me that wants to help contribute financially to our family, alleviate some of Kyle's burden, repay my school loan and get out of debt.  And, with Kyle's new orders to Corpus Christi, we'll be outside of driving distance to see our families. I’d like to be able to help afford plane fare for family trips home.

I'm already living out my biggest dream job as mama to the Meggie girl and my sweet Allie V, but I've just been searching for a little something on the side for me - a way to further bless my family, serve others, and glorify my maker through my time and gifts.  I'm not ready or willing to give up any day time with my girls, so I've decided to settle in on something for the meantime...

For all of these reasons, PLUS the bonus of getting a built-in excuse to dress up, wear gorgeous jewelry, and have a girls’ night,  I’ve decided to embark on a new venture as an independent representative for Premier Designs High Fashion Jewelry.

Why did I pick Premier? 

I love that they were founded twenty-five years ago for two main reasons: to help mothers who wanted to stay-at-home have the financial means to do so within flexible working hours and to support missionaries world-wide.  Premier jewelry is also a high-quality, trendy product that comes backed with a lifelong guarantee. 

I am excited to join my name to such a reliable, grounded, and passionate company, and excited to see where this new venture leads - to experience life that may not have been possible before.

Why now?

Well, I originally said, "no," to my first friend who approached me about selling Premier.  Then, I hosted my own party for another friend, saw her presentation, and thought: what if?  I did want to wait until we got all settled in Corpus, but this same friend suggested that I begin my business now while I'm still in a place where I know friends, contacts who can help me get started.

I'm taking her advice and starting next week - the same first full week as our house being on the market...and I'm freaking out a little.  Ok. Freaking out A LOT.  :)

But, freaking out or not - I mean, anything new is always going to be scary, right? - here I go.

Please feel free to email or FB me if you have questions - I'd love to talk more about this decision with you.  If you're willing, I could also use prayer.  I never saw myself doing something like this - sales is definitely not my natural inclination, but I feel confident that this venture is a good fit for my life right now.  Please pray that this new venture will be a blessing to my family; it is for them that I live, breathe, and dream.

I Love

I love the sweetness, the innocence, the pure delight of this stage of discovering hands and toesies.

And where they find that being together is better than being alone.

ever notice how my girls share the same hands? those long, piano-playing fingers.

And where, in the midst of realty appointments, photography sessions, stuffing everything personal into a closet, acid reflux issues, time-outs or rather, "tie-naps," single mothering, the searching for more feeling that often creeps in with young children, I find brief glimpses of rest, respite, contentedness.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Trips

I have to write this post TONIGHT because who knows when I'll have time to post again.  House officially going on the market this week. EEK.

K and I wrapped up the formal "getting ready" process on Wednesday night.  Thursday, the girls and I packed up and drove the four hours up to Manhattan, KS to visit Lauren and Andrew for the weekend. 

The drive, when my girls weren't screaming in the backseat, was glorious.  Once you make the exit off of I-35, you travel down this two lane road through dairy farms, streams, and countryside until Manhattan.  Meggie and I took turns pointing out fall leaves, cows, and trains.  The girl loves planes, trains, and automobiles.  Thankfully, she also loves animals - I like to think she got that from me. :)

Lauren had THE most comforting fall meal waiting for us when we got there, and after putting the girls to bed, we visited until the wee hours.

On Friday morning, Lauren had to work, so she suggested we try out a local zoo.  The girls and I got there right after it opened and had the best time.  The air up there was several degrees cooler than down in OK, and felt crisp as it entered our lungs.  We were the only ones there at first; Meggie and I both reveled in the freedom allowing her to run around - the zoo's exhibits were all clustered around meandering trails, natural Manhattan foliage.  The scarlet Maple leaves twirled around our feet.  Allie V fell asleep in the Baby Bjorn, her snores nestled into my chest.  Meggie ate fruit snacks beside Otters as they played.  She slid down slides on the playground while I nursed her sister and she didn't run away.  Allelujah!

I told Lauren at lunch later that the memory of that morning will stay with me forever; it was one of those parenting experiences that FULLY resonates with my many dreams of parenting - before I became a parent.  We had beautiful weather, more fun than discipline, exercise without exhaustion, a delightful time.  I will carry that memory to pull out during the tough two-year-old times.

We also went to Manhattan's Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, got local coffee for $2/cup, and listened to a bluegrass band while munching on homemade kettle corn.  The effect was enough to make me want to move to the "real country" and learn to make soap.  I was in small-town, college gameday, fall harvest heaven.

When we weren't about town, we let the dogs and Meggie play in the backyard while Allie slept on the sofa, visiting.  We love you, "Auntie Lauren and Uncle Ags!"
Haha. I don't know why this was the only picture we took all weekend, but it sure is funny.
Meggie had been playing in Lauren's car and when I asked her to take a picture, she flung herself at Andrew's hat. Lauren's laughing at my squirmy-worm. :)

On a Sunday two weeks ago, I also had the privilege of driving down to Dallas to welcome our newest family member.  Baby Maeve was one-week old and meeting her brought tears to my eyes.  Kaitlin and Adam came to visit us after both girls, so returning a welcome visit felt wonderful.  We've shared this pregnancy and birth journey together; holding Maeve in my arms was the fantastic culmination of our long waiting... Oh, new life! So precious.

Even though 8 lbs is no small baby, she felt tiny to me!

If I hadn't just had a baby, Kyle would've been in trouble! Whoo! Baby fever. :)

Irish, red-headed, beautiful girl.

Kaitlin has a soothing air about her; Maeve is soaking it in.

Love those one-eyed open moments

Little hands, precious heart.
And here we are together. This picture makes me LAUGH because both girls are looking opposite directions.

Me and Allie V (15 weeks). Kaitlin and Maeve (1 week).
 Kaitlin and Adam already seemed like old pros at this parenting business, and I loved being able to catch up with my Aunt Gigi.  Now, we're looking forward to our annual cousins Thanksgiving and seeing all three girlies together.  I adore the thought of Kaitlin and I snuggling our redheads together and caring for one another's babies as they grow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No Creativity Left

She turned four months old on Sunday and deserves more words than I have the mental energy to record at the moment.  We've been using every spare second - Every. Spare. Second. - to scour this place down for potential buyers, but I didn't want too much time to go by without sending out some Alice Virginia love.

Classic Allie. Love the drool. Teeth soon?

Her first time in the bumbo seat. Sitting on my bathroom floor as I put on make-up.  The light catching her just so.

My gentle spirit child. My loves to be held child.

My easy to smile, to soothe, to squeal child.
My sensitive soul. My wrinkled brow. My can't-get-enough-of child.
My peach-fuzzy-headed child.
And, oh MY, how I do love these dimpled hands and feetsies child.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chronicles of our Beach Trip: Alices from Many Generations

Gommy came to meet us at the beach.  My grandmama, Meggie and Allie V's "Gommy," is one of Alice Virginia's namesakes.  I mentioned it right after Allie was born, but she's named after two of our grandmothers who were named for THEIR grandmothers.

And Grandmama's grandmother Alice Allen was an identical twin. Who knows?  Maybe twins will crop up some day in our family?  That would be exciting.

Side note: Before Kyle and I got married, I used to tease him about having all girls.  I just kind of had this feeling that we'd be given girls to raise - which was a funny thought to me then as Kyle is such a "boy's"  But, I used to giggle and say, "oh, I just have this feeling that we're going to have three girls and then we'll have a fourth baby just to try for a boy and IT'S GOING TO BE TWIN GIRLS! Five girls! :)"  A total joke - although I would love a big family - but I just want it to go on record that I totally called it if, indeed, we do have a set of identical twin girls...bringing our total up to five.

Anyway.  Alice Allen's twin stayed in England while she came over to America. Had my great-grandfather, who then had my grandmama, Alice Jeffress.  She's where I get my middle name, Jeffress. :)

While we're discussing names, "Gommy" is an interesting one.  It comes from way back when my sister was little.  She couldn't say "grandmama" and "grandaddy" (these are my mom's parents), but she could say, "Gommy" and "Other Gommy."  Back then, Grandmama was "Other Gommy."  Now that she's the matriarch of that side of the family, though, she declared herself to be "Gommy" for the next generation.  Make sense? :)

So, Gommy, my Aunt Cecil, and Aunt Cecil's friend drove to visit us for one day while we were at the beach.  During their visit, we stayed inside and caught up on life, letting Gommy and AV spend as much time together as possible.  At the end of the day, Kyle watched both girls so that the big girls could go out for seafood and more quiet company.

When Gommy first saw Alice Virginia, she exclaimed, "Why, you're just a little porker, aren't you!"  All who know Gommy know that this sentiment was stated with a chuckle, teasing affection, and her Virginian vowels. We then had to explain to Aunt Cecil's friend, a native German, what Grandmama meant by "porker."

"It just means 'little pig' because she obviously loves to eat.  She's healthy in a baby fat kind of way."

"Oh!" Her friend agreed, "that's just what we call a (something I have no idea of how to write in German) - it means 'bacon cheeks.' " And she tweeked AV's cheek.

All the while, AV looked from one of us to another with her signature bewildered stare and then smiled - her tongue stuck out and hands clasped.  The women cooed, melting.

A treasured memory, one of my precious Alice's meeting another across the generations.
LOVE my Gommy and LOVE my little porker.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chronicles of our Beach Trip: A Walk on the Beach

Some of my favorite moments were spent in walks down the beach.  One of the reasons we decided on a beach trip for our first vacation as four was to give Meggie girl a safe place to RUN.  Y'all.  She can be like a high-strung, wild Chincoteauge Mustang sometimes, feet in a flurry of motion, and on the sands of the shore, she found home.  We enjoyed a brief reprieve from the ever-present fear that she might run herself into a dangerous street or away from us in the mall, and just allowed ourselves to let her live in the fullest expression of her being. Breathe.  Her free spirit galloping across the dunes, Allie's gentleness slumbering on our chests, we found paradise. 
It didn't hurt that we went in September and with the school-age crowd back to the grind, we felt like we had our own private beach. :)

Or that the sun peeked from behind thunder clouds most of the time, creating just enough shade to be. Perfect.  Our little family was sheltered from scorching rays and delighted in watching the clouds pour rain out over the water, dry on the shore.

Meggie took off chasing this bird.
But then did. NOT. like it when the bird turned on her.
not one bit.

So she gathered sea shells, instead.

I love her sandy toes.

The ones of us in the girls' flowerdy outfits were taken by my amazing friend, Katie. Post on her to follow tout suite. But, they are meant to be a Christmas card photo shoot, so you're only gonna get a peek at them, here. :)

I mean, is she for real? Just look at that hair! Au naturale, ladies and gentlemen.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chronicles of our Beach Trip: Visions of the Ocean

my absolute favorite picture. ever.
When I was a girl, my dad would take us way out into the ocean, past the breakers, just far enough where I would fear the sharks lurking a little.  This small fear felt delicious, like a nibble of rebelliousness that kept me bobbing my feet in the blue-green tide, but safe enough because my father was there with me.  Out there, he taught me how to ride the waves in, to kick my feet and begin to paddle when I felt the tide surging, to swim diagonally back to shore.  He would pick me up and toss me through the air.  When I landed, with an enveloping “WA-GOOSH” of saltiness, I felt the ocean for the living thing it was, again that fear of being outside normal boundaries licked at my toes.  We talked out there, too. 
One of his favorite stories to tell was of King Triton, a majestic creature who ruled a golden kingdom in the greatest depths of the sea.  I always knew it was make believe, we are a family of dreamers, but there was still a part of me that wondered.  What if?  That agreed to suspend disbelief for those stolen moments in the ocean with my dad, when it was just the two of us imagining a kingdom of mermaids beneath the waves.   

In his stories, King Triton ruled the weather, the dips, swirls, and colors of the ocean reflecting his shifting moods.  On days where the waves ripped across the sand and tossed us as we swam, he’d glower in an ominous tone, “Oh, King Triton is angry today.  Just watch those clouds rolling in. He is NOT happy.”  And we’d take guesses as to what would cause him such distress. 

Too much disobedience in the kingdom.  Not enough fish for his dinner.  Being spotted by a rogue ocean liner. 

Then, on the gentlest of days, sun shining just to warm and shells glistening beneath glassy surfaces, no froth, we’d smile, look out to the wide-openness and know, “Boy, is King Triton ever happy today!”

My dad’s stories of King Triton embodied everything that I adored about growing up in my family, with my father.  Freedom to dream, carefree, childhood fantasy, passion. I wonder if he remembers it this way, too?

the gorgeous view from our balcony
Going back for the first time with my girls to Carolina Beach, the exact place we used to go as a family, brought those emotions and that happy memory bubbling up to my consciousness.  I hadn’t thought about King Triton in a long time.  Challenges of adult real life often push the romantic dreamer in me out of the way.

In the first moments of reaching the beach, the four of us tumbled out of the car, threw on our swimsuits, and pursued the shore.  Meggie sensed our excitement, and we were both eager to see her first reaction to the ocean.  We clanged open the rusty gate to the dunes, mounted the salt-barraged, wooden steps, and looked out on the expanse of Atlantic.  The wind whipped our hair and salty drops flew into our wide-open, expectant mouths.  Practical Kyle, the feet to my dreams, set up our camp-out on the sand, but Meggie and I ran, full-tilt, baby bouncing on my chest in the Baby Bjorn, to the water.  I reached the edges of it first, the strong tide like raging tentacles across my toes and held out my arms for my first baby girl, who flung herself, willy-nilly into the froth.

No reservations, no hesitation, passionate, energetic, zealous for life, she tumbled headlong into the waiting waves. Fearless.  The seawater dripping from her ringlets, she giggled.

“Again! MORE!” she cried.

And my happiness, my love for her, my recognition that a little of those qualities come from me overflowed.

We stayed for hours. We jumped in the surf. We galloped across sand.  We pointed out birds.  We rested in the water. I nursed a baby on the beach.

Every now and again, she’d take a strong hold of my hand, look up at me, jump and squeal, “Here comes a BIG one!” and I didn’t even know she knew what that phrase meant, or that she must’ve been hearing it from us as it escaped our own lips.

She’d turn, then, fly up the sand dunes, go as far away from us as she dared, and come careening back down screaming, “Mommy, Daddy, HOLD YOUUU!” Leaping into our awaiting arms.

We tasted life.

With Kyle she discovered a new concept: seashells, a little part of her world opening up to new possibilities.

On the trek back to our beach house that night, Meggie blinked up at me, sighed, and murmured one word. “Fun.”  

A few days later, we were out on our last family stroll, dark clouds threatening to storm over the water and shielding us from being too hot.  Kyle, a sleeping Allie in his arms, and I walked on ahead thinking Meg was right behind us.  We turned around, several feet down the beach to call for her.  We saw her standing, facing the water, toes crunching a foothold on her miniature, shrinking island of sand.  She appeared pensive, her studious brow wrinkled in concentration, wind tickling her golden-brown ringlets.  She had her hands clasped, mouth pursed, head tilted to the side.  Of course, it was the one time I forgot my camera, but I’ll remember her forever there, just like she was.

I imagine she was having her own communion with King Triton, bidding farewell to that mystifying ruler of the seas, implanting in her two-year-old memory a vision of her first impression of the ocean.
getting ready. I love how Allie watches Meg.

Can we say precious, chubby baby? I think the heavens opened up and a cherub slipped out.

Allie was lulled to sleep by the waves in her "dune buggy."

Allie looks a bit bewildered, but she enjoyed the beach, too!