On being lonely, a year and half after a move.

There’s this crane that always sits on the edge of our dock. Every day I see her multiple times a day by herself just looking out on the water. I finally had to do a little research on cranes because I was so curious if it was normal to have a crane be alone for so long. It’s not, as it turns out, and yet there she sits-by herself for the last year and half.

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For anyone who has moved somewhat recently you know when I say I’m lonely that it doesn’t mean that every hour that passes I lament moving here. Most of the time I am caught up in our day-to-day life, one that wouldn’t look a whole lot different if I were still in Iowa actually. Wake up, meditate, hustle kids to school, teach a few classes, grocery shop, dog snuggle, Snapchat lunch and dog snuggles, homework, post-school activities, husband snuggles and bed. All the same no matter the state.

Anytime I cried myself to sleep thought about how badly I’d miss my sisters and friends before we moved to Michigan, I would tell myself that in this stage of life we really didn’t see each other much anyway. It’s the ebb and flow of life, right? I think perhaps nowhere besides motherhood do you feel that so succinctly. When my kids were little I needed my girlfriends in a desperate sort of way, in a bring-me-coffee-and-come-over-quickly-so-our-kids can-play-together-and-we-can-speak-about-anything-but-kids kind of way. It’s no coincidence it was during that flow of life that the idea for the first Wine to Water event was borne.

But this ebb? Even in Iowa a good portion of my friendships were handled via long text conversations while seated at a baseball game. Some of my best friends live on the west coast and I only see them once a year yet we make up for lost time as soon as we are together again. That was all the proof I needed to believe I would be ok not living close to friends and family.

What I failed to realize, though, was that I was able to enjoy my long distance friendships because I also had no distance friendships. I couldn’t possibly have foreseen that when the vast majority of my friendships were on the long distance side, it would tip the scales and send me reeling-even 1.5 years later after the move.

I couldn’t possibly have known that investing all of my time into creating friendships that were deep, powerful and so very life affirming would make it so much harder to see women in my new state and have to talk about stuff like the weather or our kids (we are so much more than mothers, no?). Though I haven’t dated since I was 19 (!) I imagine dating feels remarkably like trying to make new friends without the additional perks of make out sessions and free dinner-and really, who wants to be dating without those?

I went to an acupuncturist a few months ago. When she was doing her typical assessment she hovered her hands over my heart and said simply, “You have deep sadness.” Even after I tried assuring her that I felt pretty great she interrupted me with, “You have deep sadness, it is not my business whether or not you choose to acknowledge it but it’s there and it’s undeniable.”

I’ve always been one of those “make the best out of any situation” kind of people. I recognize that it can often be annoying but it’s kind of my set thermostat. Only recently have I realized there are some cases where that might be a crutch with which I lean when I’m too scared to admit that I’m a little sad, maybe a little lonely. That even though life is terrifyingly good in so many ways, I just miss the hell out of my support system. Perhaps that’s why when the acupuncturist told me I had deep sadness the first face I saw in my head was that of my sister’s and then in quick succession my best friend and other sisters.

I’ve been lucky though, to have made a few friends here who are my kind of people. I was at lunch with a few of them the other day when I turned to one and said, “I’ve always been teased about how quickly I eat but the first time we had lunch together we finished at the same time and I knew we were going to be friends.” And it was true. Though I buffered the sentiment in a joke, what I was really saying was, “You have no idea how good it feels to have so much in common with someone geographically close to me again.”

But I’m realizing that being happy and hopeful about certain aspects of life in MI doesn’t negate the fact that I cry every time I leave Iowa to head back home. Spending time with those I miss the most almost makes it harder, which honestly surprised me to learn.

Zach will sometimes make comments about the time I spend on my phone texting/checking in with social media. I admit it’s gone up over the last year, though I’m currently doing better about putting it away thankyouverymuch. I have no problems admitting I maybe overuse it as a way of staying grounded to a life now gone, that checking in with the people I miss on social media gives me a false sense of being there being in their lives in a more tangible way than I currently am. It’s a long cry from sitting next to them sharing a plate of chips and guacamole and a bottle of wine but for now I’m giving myself time to ease the transition.

I know if my life were a romance movie I would be looking deeply into Zach’s eyes telling him that wherever he is-is home for me, and it’s partially true but it’s missing the big picture. Because most women know in any happy family photo if you zoom out you’ll see the best friend who just helped with hair and make up, the sister who just dropped off the one kid with the suspicious looking chocolate mustache and the various other women who all played a part in making the woman in the center of the picture smile broadly with her chest proud. If you look closely enough you’ll see the tension between the woman and one of her little children and then, upon even closer examination, you’ll see one of the friends quietly lifting mom’s arm to put around the shoulder of that child. Bridging the gap of humanity and brokenness one encouraging word at a time.

The longer I live the more I’m convinced we were never made to live in isolation. If the last year and half has proven anything it’s that naiveté really does favor the young. So even though I’m sure it will get better, today I’m just admitting that it’s hard. And maybe I’m just a little too old for this shit. 😉

This morning after my meditation I was slower to open my eyes than usual. I could hear the kids starting to wake up and I just wasn’t ready to enter into the madness quite yet so I sat there and just breathed in the silence. After a few minutes I heard a weird bird call that wasn’t familiar so I opened my eyes to place the visual with the auditory and there she was-the crane on the edge of the dock.

Though this time there was another one with her.

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Ian Matthew

Last Mother’s Day weekend when my parents were visiting us for the first time in Michigan I got a FaceTime call from my sister. I knew immediately she was calling to tell me she was going to be a mom. I knew because 1) I know her in a way I know no one else and 2) she and I share a mutual hatred for phone convos so to go above that and FaceTime me could mean only one thing-baby news!

My mom and I did what we do best-cried-and she did what she always does when we do that-laughs awkwardly. What I couldn’t say then due to all the feels was that I knew Kara was going to be a phenomenal mom and that I was so incredibly excited for her (and for me!!!)

Around 4 months later I got a call from my brother (who, as it happens, hates phone calls with the same white, hot hatred that his two sisters do. Text people, text!) asking if I had heard from our sister, that he heard something was wrong and she had to go to Iowa’s major hospital in Iowa City. I started immediately crying, because…above, and spent a few frantic minutes trying to get ahold of Kara.

Once I did I could hear in her voice something was not ok. It turns out at her 20 week ultrasound the doctor found something called a “double bubble” on the baby which can sometimes mean the baby has Down Syndrome (DS). Once Kara and her hubby, Matt, went to their follow up appointment the doctor said they were over 90% sure their baby had DS and that it would need surgery soon after birth. My sister is a woman of few words (it’s been told that I’ve taken them all from both of my siblings, probably some truth to that) so even though I could hear all of her feelings in her voice I also knew something that perhaps in those moments she had forgotten-she is bar none the strongest woman I’ve ever known. You know the expression “0 f*cks given”? My sister was the one that inspired the phrase, I swear.

I digress…Personally it was a weird dichotomy, I wanted so badly to be there for my sister in whatever capacity she needed but I was also still really excited to be getting this new niece/nephew. I have enough friends who have either given birth to or adopted children with DS so even though I didn’t know what it was like intimately, I had “watched” the other kiddos grow and was just really excited.

Over the next few months I watched as her belly grew and the excitement for the wee one grew as well (they did not find out the sex of the baby, much to my chagrin). I have many nieces and nephews but I must say there’s something different about having it all come from my sister. The woman I watched nurture her Cabbage Patch babies now nurturing a human life, so amazing. I watched as her heart softened a little bit every day, even as she grew more physically miserable. A week before she was set to be induced I texted, “I would like to be with you when you have the baby but if you just want you and Matt I’ll understand that too.” I assume because she knows me so well she knew what I was really saying was, “Come hell or high water I will be right outside the door whether you like it or not.” Sweet sister responded with, “If there is any way for you to be there, I would love it.”

Almost one month ago I posted this on Facebook:

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Kara was being induced because she had roughly triple the amount of amniotic fluid of an average pregnant woman and also because she is a strong woman and told them to take that little sweet cherub the fekk out. 🙂

After a drive that took about 1.5 hours longer than normal and ended with me drenched in sweat I arrived to find she was already having contractions. I also found her toenails were in terrible shape and seeings I’ve birthed 2 children myself and knew for the next day or so she’d be staring at her toes-it was time to take care of business.

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We weren’t supposed to get to Iowa City until 8 but with the weather and her contractions Kara, Matt and I decided we should head there early and just see what’s up. And by “Kara, Matt and I” I mean “Kara and I” as Matt just laughed and loaded the car with all of our bags.

By the time we got there her contractions were picking up and due to miscommunication the nurses assumed she came in because she was in labor and not because she was supposed to be induced a few hours later.

I’ll just say here that watching my sister in labor might actually be worse than experiencing labor. Granted, it’s been 8.5 years (the actual f*ck?) since I was in labor, but I really do stand by that. So hard seeing those you love in pain, even if they did bring said pain upon themselves willingly. 😉

My parents came a few hours later and while my dad tried to get some sleep in the waiting room, my mom and I watched as Matt supported Kara by primarily staying away. We both repeatedly commented on how great they both were doing.

Then things started to go downhill a bit for the baby. Heart rate dropping, needing to switch Kara side to side, give oxygen, etc. I could tell the moments that were relatively standard for a woman giving birth and the moments that were not (based mostly on the speed with which nurses/doctors came in and also whispering. Whispering is not good). It became clear after awhile that the baby wasn’t doing well so they took Kara back for a C section and left Matt with Mom and me to get in his gown and mostly just stare awkwardly at each other because…fear and nerves. A few minutes later a nurse ran in and then ran out just as quickly so before I could say “give Kara a kiss! Tell her I love her!” My 6’4″ brother-in-law, squeezed into a gown fit for a 5’4″ man, was off to become a daddy.

My dad had returned upon hearing things went downhill so he, my mom and I looked at each other and remarked how terrible we all looked. I guess that’s what sleep deprivation, anxiousness and lack of sustenance will do to a person.

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42 hours later (maybe it was 30 minutes, it felt like 42 hours so I’m sticking with it) Matt came in with a big ole smile to announce Ian Matthew had been born and both he and my sister were doing well. After showing us a few pictures, off he went to the NICU to hang with Ian while we waited for Kara.

Once we saw that she was ok my dad and I drifted out claiming an aversion to puke and moseyed on over to the NICU, hoping to get our eyes on Ian. Though it didn’t work out that time it was incredibly relieving to know Ian was out, he was ok and that I would get to put my hands on him in a matter of moments.

Matt was there the first moment I got to meet Ian but then Matt went to check on Kara so I got a few quiet moments alone with my new nephew.

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I cried, obviously, because he was just absolute perfection and also because I prayed over him and I always cry when I pray. I am supes good at being Christian. Anywho, while I was crying a sweet nurse came in so I explained myself by simply saying, “I’m his auntie.” She asked if he was my first niece or nephew and after I said no, that I had many I’ve cried over, she said simply, “Yes but this must be your sister’s. Feelings are bigger when it’s our sister’s baby.”

Perhaps that’s true, I just knew the big feelings over his health-which was shaky-and his tininess, made him look so incredibly helpless. It is a testament to how much I love Zach and my own children that I didn’t immediately move in and surgically suture myself to Ian. Sometimes that’s how much it hurts to love someone you know who will face some difficulties-it feels easier to just physically make sure when they do face those difficulties that you’ll be right there to face it with them.

I was trying to take pictures when that same nurse said, “If you give me a second he’ll be without his wires completely while I change them out.” Oh boy the excitement of knowing I would get to see what that little face looked like without all the tubing! It did not disappoint.

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I also happened to notice he had a certain turnout that his auntie has been relentlessly teased about for decades. Granted, his might have something to do with being squished in a womb for 9 months but I’m going to go with it being the first sign of him being a sprinter like his auntie. 😉

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When I got back to Kara’s room I noticed she wasn’t doing well. Though I never had to have a C Section, none of her symptoms seemed “normal” to me. It was really pretty scary, honestly. So for the next day Matt stayed mostly with Ian and I got to take care of my sister. As nerve racking, tiring and sometimes gross those hours were together I will tell you they felt so very holy at the same time. It’s been hard living away from my sister so to be able to share those hours with just the 2 of us is something I will never forget and always be incredibly grateful for (particularly because she made it out of them and is just fine). When I texted some of my friends about how she was doing I got so many responses with something like, “You are so lucky to have such a great relationship with your sister.” I knew it before but I definitely know it now. It’s a blessing I’ve done nothing to deserve to be sure.

The next night while a nurse was helping Kara I snuck out to give a quick kiss to Ian and see if Matt needed anything. In my few minutes there I’m pretty sure I talked Matt into going rogue and holding Ian, and if we had time maybe I should hold him too? At that point there were no secrets between my brother-in-law and me (that’s what happens when you spend 2 solid days, every hour together. Poor Matt. Oy vey.) so he just gave me a look that said, “You know how I would normally feel about this but I’m too tired to argue with you.”

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I wish there were words to describe how sweetly Matt took care of both Kara and Ian in those first few days. I mean really how do you talk about a man who is so sweet and easygoing jumping into action and becoming almost stern when doctors and nurses are talking about his son’s pending surgery or his wife’s bodily fluids? You just don’t. There aren’t any.

Since my sister was so sick for a full day she didn’t really get to see Ian at all so Matt took on the sit-and-stare duties of babies in the NICU usually shared between mom and dad. Every time Kara became aware of what was going on she lamented the fact that she couldn’t sit upright enough to visit Ian and so Matt came regularly with new pictures and videos that eased her pain.

Finally, over a day after giving birth, Kara could sit up long enough to be wheeled to the NICU. I cried. She beamed. It was as awesome as you are assuming it to be.

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Though she had already started feeling better, once she got to hold him it was as if she found a new determination to do it again. Ahhhh motherhood, bringing out the strength in women they’d never known since the beginning of time. She turned the health(ier) corner and never looked back.

Though I tried to coax Ian’s eyes open every moment I was with him, I first saw them when he heard his mama’s voice. Sweet little peanut hadn’t gotten the memo that auntie’s care more about those things.

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After an echo showed Ian’s heart was good and ready for his stomach surgery, Kara and Matt geared up for another round of emotional eating staring at each other. He sailed through surgery with flying colors and even though they learned of a follow up procedure he’ll need done within the next few months, everyone was happy to hear he was as strong and relatively healthy as we knew he would be.

Sadly, I had just a few short days with the new family as it was time to head back to Michigan with my family and my job. I got one last time to whisper how much I love him and how proud I was to be his auntie before I left. (Notice the vein in my neck. That is the cry vein. It is enhanced in that moment for obvious reasons.)

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It’s been almost one whole month and I’ve not been able to visit them again. The good news is both Kara and I have gotten over our disdain of FaceTime so I’m able to “see” him that way and make sure he never forgets this obnoxious voice of mine. We have plans to visit him in a few days ( 12, to be exact) and though all of my kids are excited to meet him it’s Dailah and me who are counting the moments until we leave.

I don’t know a lot about what the future holds for Ian in terms of his abilities or his Down Syndrome but I do know he has incredible parents who will navigate the waters of special needs parenting with the best of them. In my time as a special needs mama I know 2 things: 1) It will bring out a warrior not yet known inside my sister as she sets up meetings and appointments and champions Ian’s education and health and 2) It will be more rewarding than anything she has ever known or dreamt of in the past. Every new milestone becomes a miracle.

And I think we all know once we’ve witnessed a miracle, life in itself becomes inexplicably sweeter and fuller.

Love you to the moon and back my Ian Matthew. 12 days.

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*After 3.5 weeks in the NICU, Ian has been released from the hospital and is doing well. Hallelu!

Let Us Be Women Who Love

I have so many posts to write about the move and so many feelings but this post has been on my mind since Zach walked down to the house from his office at Abe Lincoln and said, “So you ready to move to Michigan?”

Before moving to the Quad Cities I was a self described friend of boys. I didn’t have a whole lot of really close girlfriends because I felt like I just didn’t get along with women at the time. In hindsight I know it’s because I had been too scared to let women in. Nothing gets by women, you see, they ask questions and tend to genuinely care about where you’re at in life-at least the ones I’ve since come to know and love. And it can be really scary letting people in. Really, really scary. It’s also beautiful too but at the time I was young and let the fear win.

It’s hard not to reflect on my decade in the Quad Cities without devoting so much thought to the women who have forever changed who I am because of who they are. The women who have inspired and encouraged, loved and challenged me. The ones I called in the dark days and the ones I called to celebrate a large (or small) victory.

In my reflections it’s become quite clear to me that I have both large and small players. Obviously I have my soul sisters, the ones with whom I tell everything but I also have the smaller players. The women I see in my classes every week or the ones who text me the most perfect texts at just the right times.

I regret waiting so long to open my heart to the sisterhoods I now appreciate so very much. I do not exaggerate when I say that in so many ways these women (and many more who are not pictured) have saved me on more than one occasion. These women understand that when we help each other up, we help ourselves too. What a tremendous blessing.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth now with extravagant Love.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who make room.

Let us be women who open our arms and invite others into an honest, spacious, glorious embrace.

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Let us be women who carry each other. 

Let us be women who give from what we have.

Let us be women who leap to do the difficult things, the unexpected things and the necessary things.

Let us be women who live for Peace.

Let us be women who breathe Hope.

Let us be women who create beauty.

Let us be women who Love.

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Let us be a sanctuary where God may dwell.

Let us be a garden for tender souls.

Let us be a table where others may feast on the goodness of God.

Let us be a womb for Life to grow.

Let us be women who Love.

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Let us rise to the questions of our time.

Let us speak to the injustices in our world.

Let us move the mountains of fear and intimidation.

Let us shout down the walls that separate and divide.

Let us fill the earth with the fragrance of Love.

Let us be women who Love.

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Let us listen for those who have been silenced.

Let us honor those who have been devalued.

Let us say, Enough! with abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding.

Let us not rest until every person is free and equal.

Let us be women who Love.

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Let us be women who are savvy, smart, and wise. 

Let us be women who shine with the light of God in us.

Let us be women who take courage and sing the song in our hearts.

Let us be women who say, Yes to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.

Let us be women who call out the song in another’s heart.

Let us be women who teach our children to do the same.

Let us be women who Love.

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Let us be women who Love, in spite of fear.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of our stories.

Let us be women who Love loudly, beautifully, Divinely.

Let us be women who Love.

-Idelette McVicker

The Concrete Jungle

I have ridiculously generous parents. By “parents” I am, of course, referring both to my biological parents and my in-laws-I very rarely differentiate.

My sister-in-law, Kait, has lived in Brooklyn for close to a year now and since I love her so much, I’ve been wanting to check in on her. She also started interning for one of my favorite non-profits, The Adventure Project, and had been working tirelessly on their annual Gala.

Much to my surprise, my in-laws were paying attention and (after singing Happy Birthday 2 months early) announced they were sending me to New York to visit Kait and to go to TAP’s gala. Did I cry? Yes. Are they amazing? Yes.

Related note: My husband is also amazing. Even though camp season is gearing up and he’s getting busier and busier he encouraged this stay-at-home mama to jet off to the Big Apple while he held down the fort with our 5 children, 4 pets AND THE 2 GREAT DANES WE ARE DOG SITTING FOR MY PARENTS. Sainthood-he deserves nothing less.

My time in NYC was spent doing very non-touristy stuff-which I loved. (Though I did say hi to this beautiful lady as I was taxi-ing to Kait’s restaurant).

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Saturday we went to a new bar near her place that was really cool. I watched as she got hit on by multiple men wearing the same size jeans I do.

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And we celebrated my being in NYC (and out past 10!) with a glass of my favorite whiskey.

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Sunday was really crappy weather but we managed to walk around Brooklyn and visit flea markets, second hand shops, etc. We also caught a comedy show that night (Kait is seriously way cooler than virtually everyone I know. She hosts a comedy show out there and also co-runs this hip-hop blog with a friend of hers.) and I tried a few different Brooklyn lagers.

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Monday was the day of The Adventure Project Gala. I have this weird compulsion that I want to be helpful if there’s an opportunity for it. So Kait and I got to the TAP offices at about 9am. From then until 6:30pm when the event started we were helping set up and whatever else. I met some really great people during those hours-those who work for TAP and those who work for partnering organizations as well as other volunteers like myself. Then the gala started and I proceeded to enjoy the free cocktails and time socializing.

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I also caught up with a few women who I traveled with to Haiti, which was so fun.

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After the gala we helped pack everything up and take it back to the TAP offices. Then Kait and her friends decided they were hungry and one really wanted Korean food. All this resulted in me being up until 4am. Yikes. But Kait’s friends are as amazing as she is, so it was so enjoyable to be around them and share that part of her life with her.

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After not enough sleep, Tuesday was our day to finish stuff up at TAP and then explore the city. First we walked around the Highline, which was absolutely amazing.

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Walked through a Chelsea flea market where I found a coat that I’ve been dreaming about and lusting after since. I mean, seriously. SOMEONE MAKE THIS FOR ME!

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After a few days in the concrete jungle I had a serious hankering for earth. I get that I’m a bit of a hippie but I had no idea just how much until I hadn’t been able to touch the actual earth. You know, put my hands in some dirt, feet in grass, etc. So off we went to Central Park. We played frisbee with one of Kait’s friends and I did a bit of yoga. But mostly, just enjoyed the sights.

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We ended the night at a restaurant where we talked about things ranging from comedy to racism. One of my favorite things about Kait is she chooses friends who challenge her and encourage her to continue growing as a human. Love that.

Travel back home was complicated (seriously, I would love just 1 time of normal flights) but the end result was that I was home with my family.

The next day at home was spent teaching my classes and going to the kids’s school where they were all awarded various things. All day I was struck by the realization that I am so infinitely blessed to be able to experience NYC with one of my favorite people in the entire world and then to come home and experience life with my other favorite people-all in the span of a week.

What a lucky lady I am.

Girls Girls

Remember this post about Dailah not getting a familial sister? I mentioned that building a sisterhood with friendships will be important for her but what I didn’t mention is that it’s been a lifesaver for me too. Even though I have ridiculously amazing sisters (3 of whom I got to spend time with yesterday, which would explain my overall jovial mood!) I also happen to have friends who have become like sisters to me.

My brother-in-law went out of town to kill innocent turkeys hunt so my sister thought she could pass the time by having us over for a spa night complete with wine and other girly drinks.

One of my greatest friends is a literal beauty school drop out which bodes well for spa night. First, the drinks.

Ashley (“Hot Pocket” as we call her or just “HP”) came up with a Pinterest creation that was waaaay too delicious.

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I can’t actually think of any situation that isn’t made better with these 3 and an alcoholic drink.

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Of course we did “normal” spa stuff like pedicures and manicures.

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But we also did things like bleach my hair (going back to blonde, what can I say? It just feels right.) and this:

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Waxing. facial hair. Ladies, when did this happen? I’m completely aware that I have more testosterone than your average lady. I mean, literally, my blood contains more than the average female. This explains lots of things namely my strong jaw line 😉 and all of the facial hair. Thank God I have a bestie who doesn’t judge, just gets her wax out and takes care of binness.

I’ve been really lucky to have close girlfriends my whole life. I’m a lobster (Friends, anyone?) with anyone I’ve once called friend. I’ll be praying for them and hoping for their happiness all the days of my life. But at this stage in my life my friends/sisters feel more like a lifeline than any other time in my life. Marriage, parenthood and life are made all the better with friends. The really rough times are a bit easier with these people too.

So thankful for these people I’m not even going to worry about the fact that I just posted a picture of me getting my mooostache waxed on the interwebs.

Sisters

Sisters

As soon as I had Dailah I knew I wanted a sister for her.

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My sister, Kara, and I are just 2 years apart and though we weren’t always super close growing up (she looooved reading books by herself in her room, I looooooved hassling her to come play with me) our relationship is now one I rely on daily.

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I see the boys interact with each other and want that for Dailah. She typically plays with the boys pretty well but every once in awhile I’ll see her alone in her room playing with Barbies having to shift from one spot to the other, changing her voice as she goes so that she can successfully act out a scene.

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The boys ask for friends to come over or stay the night but not like Dailah does. Daily Dailah has a new note for me, “Mommy I know I ask all of the time but can (x) PLEASE come over and play with me?!?!?”

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My girl is a social butterfly. When the boys discuss new concepts they learned in math or the book they read in english, Dailah talks about who said what and who got sent to the reflection room. She physically looks like Zach but behaves so much like me sometimes that it takes me back a bit. A few days ago Dailah told me she has resorted to developing an imaginary friend to talk to because Binyam listens really well but doesn’t talk very much.

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I told Zach wanting a sister for Dailah was one of the reasons I wanted to be a foster parent. Of course it wasn’t the main reason but I thought it was a way that we could give her a person to play with (preferably a girl) and maybe, if it was the right fit and the child’s parents experienced termination of rights, we could adopt her. Zach told me it probably wasn’t a good idea to do anything just because I wanted a sister for Dailah.

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Obviously he was right in the sense that it would be a pretty horrible reason if it were the only reason, but the reality is I love girls. Dailah is so much fun. Two nights ago Zach and I were going on a date night and, after seeing what I was wearing, Dailah went in to help Zach figure out his outfit as well. She helps me pick out all of my accessories too but she also loves to learn about cooking and fashion. Dailah is the only other girl in our whole family, she and I share a little something extra because of that fact.

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Though our relationship can one day be like friends and confidants, I don’t believe it should be that way now. It seems unfair that the boys have each other-best friends in every sense of the word-right in their own home and she has no one.

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I wish you could’ve seen how excited she was that we got a girl kitten. A girl. kitten. “We have another girl in the family, mom! Aren’t you so excited!” It doesn’t take much to excite Dailah, for that I’m thankful.

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I think it’s safe to say having Miss A around has been kind of a wake up call for us both. Yes, she’s a girl and yes, she’s of age that they play well together some of the time, but it’s just not exactly what we were thinking.

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Clearly I know no relationship is perfect but I’ve heard Dailah changing her tune a little bit, “Mom, I guess my friends at school are kind of my sisters, right? And Adley Sue and Tayehu (her cousins) are kind of my sisters, right? And Eli, even though he’s a boy, he’s like my sister because he’s my best friend.” Yes, Dailah, they are just like your sisters.

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I told Zach I realize that I don’t want a sister for Dailah, I just want another Dailah. She is so much fun. If I could twin her I would. The three of us would get into some real shenanigans. But I can’t, so there’s that.

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Last night I was thinking about my best friends. With a few exceptions, they are all my sisters. I have one biological sister but I have four sisters-in-law that I’m really close to. Close to in a way I didn’t think was possible before I married Zach. With my brother’s wife I often talk to her way more than I talk to him. Though I love him dearly, I’m often more excited to see her than I am to see him (only because she likes to talk as much as I do. heehee)

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Zach’s sister is nothing but a soul sister of mine. I like to think of her as a better looking, smarter, taller version of myself. I’m not sure I would’ve stuck with Zach this long if his sister weren’t part of the package. 😉 (In below picture she is right next to me). The women Zach’s brothers married are equally amazing. I look forward to the days when we’re all together and can often be found “encouraging” Zach to make that happen. I love how easily we slip back into conversation even when we haven’t seen each other for a bit. I had no idea I would find actual sisters in my marriage, but man what an extravagant blessing.

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I wish I could look into Dailah’s eyes and tell her that she’ll find sisters throughout her life and have her believe it. I wish I could tell her sisters are often not found in the family you grow up with but in the relationships you build throughout life.

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As I look at my life I realize sisterhood isn’t a place you’re born into but a place you build. I want her to learn how to develop a sisterhood wherever she finds herself. I want her to learn early on how to encourage other women, how to build them up and root for their success. I want her to learn to invest her time in strong female relationships so she’ll always have someone on her side who will tell her when she’s being ridiculous but also tell her when she’s all she was made to be.

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I love my sister with everything, but I also happen to believe even if we weren’t born into the same family we would’ve found each other anyway. Though we are two very different people, we work.

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So I’ve taken the pressure off Zach and me (somewhere Zach says, “Hallelu!”) to provide this for Dailah. Because I know her and I know how smart she is, how funny and beautiful. Because I know everything about her I know she’ll have no problem finding a sister herself-she just won’t find it in her home. And finally (I think) I’m ok with that.

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