We Have A Plan

April 28th, 2016

Three weeks ago I shared that I was freaking out.

With a capital F.

A LOTTT has happened in the last few weeks and I’m starting to feel significantly less anxious.

Although I’ve got to admit this whole thing still seems incredibly surreal.  When I realize that it is, in fact, VERY REAL, I feel sad and anxious all over again.

On top of the crazy emotion of our move, I’ve recently been hit relentlessly with other sad and difficult circumstances, one after another.  It kind of feels like I’m stuck in a strong ocean current and I keep getting dragged under.

I struggle to get my head above water.

Breathless and eyes burning, I call out to God.

“Lord, I can’t do this.  My heart is broken.  I feel like a failure and a fool.  Help me to know how much you love me.  Help me meditate on that and not the sad circumstances or the harsh words of others.”

“I need you, Lord.  I need you.  Every hour I need you.”

The pain doesn’t disappear, but the head-under-water feeling dies down.  I choose to trust Him even when I can’t see Him.  I choose to believe He’s good even when circumstances are bad.  Little by little these things have built my faith.  They’ve anchored me when I feel untethered.  They’ve drawn me right to the heart of God which is where I want to be.

I’m now counting them as blessings and not curses.

When my heart isn’t reeling from all of that, we’ve been making strides with our upcoming PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to Maryland.

Andy got the ball rolling by handling the online portion of the process.  That included the selection of a moving date (June 15th) and things started to really ramp up from there.

We got home last night from taking a short trip to our new county to find a home.

Thanks to the good Lord and my friend Rochelle (who actually found this place online!), we landed an incredible home!  It’s everything I could have hoped for and more.  Quiet neighborhood, great (and close!) elementary school, lots of space and natural light, and even a local pool at the end of our block!

I’m honestly humbled to have found something so perfect.

This neighborhood library box is directly across the street from us on our neighbor’s front lawn!

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I mean, how cute is that??? It’s like something straight out of a fairy tale!

We are in the process of completing the lease, but once all the i’s have been dotted and t’s have been crossed, I’ll share a picture of our new home.

It’s a huge relief knowing when we are moving and that we have a home to move into, but there is still so much to be done.

The weeks are going to pass more quickly than I’d like them to.  My prayer is that I can breathe deeply, trust God fully, abide in peace, and stay present.

I’ve got my work cut out for me!


Freaking Out

April 4th, 2016

You guys, I am freaking out.

We could be moving NEXT MONTH and I have no idea what’s going on.

Andy finishes school THIS WEEK (where on earth have the past 4 years gone???) and then he leaves in a few weeks for his Navy Officer’s Training in Rhode Island for 5 weeks and ONE WEEK LATER he starts working as a Resident at Walter Reed in Maryland.

Somewhere in there we need to sell our house, find a new house, pack all our crap up and move our whole family to Maryland.

No big deal.

Except it’s a HUGE deal.

In the midst of all that there are graduation parties and weddings and a hundred and one other things that require me to be involved.  To be sane.  To show up.

And all I want to do is hide.

There are friends who have had new babies and I should be taking a meal.  There are friends I haven’t seen in weeks that I should be getting together with.  There are friends from my childhood that live nearby and want to hang out and I should be making time.  There are texts I should be sending and calls I should be making and important things I should be prioritizing, and all I want to do is hide.

So I’ve been hiding.

Laying low, doing just enough to get by and not always even that much.  I’ve been checked out emotionally with my kids and with Andy.  I’m hanging on by a thread with God.  I’m obsessing over every gram of carbohydrate, fat, and protein that I’m eating (when I’m supposed to be battling a food addiction…UGH) I’m not painting, I am watching countless episodes of Gilmore Girls in my spare time and I’m hoping everything works out, but fearing I’m going to mess it all up.

know it will all work out, but I also know I have to participate in all of it.  I have decisions to make and list items to check off and I’m overwhelmed.

I also think I’m grieving.  I think it’s finally setting in that I’m leaving my cute little house, and all of my friends and family and I’m not coming back anytime soon.

Everything is changing and I’m suddenly feeling very ill prepared for it.

So I’m hiding out and freaking out.

If you see me and I’m “off” this is why.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I’m hoping and praying I will snap out of it, but so far I’m just wallowing in it.

Stay tuned for updates when things actually start getting done and we figure out where and when we are going.  In the meantime, I appreciate the extra grace and mercy you may be able to extend.


Easter 2016

March 29th, 2016

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2016 Easter


Make-Your-Own Foam Hand Soap

March 14th, 2016

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, and I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed taking pictures and doctoring them up with titles!  This was a fun way to get back into that :)

Last winter Grace’s hands got SOOO dry and irritated.  They would crack and burn and get red and cause a lot of pain and discomfort for her.  She’s an avid hand washer which I really appreciate, but I was feeling so bad for her tender hands throughout the winter months!

I avoid antibacterial products like the plague.  They are unnecessary and cause more problems than they solve.  I could go on and on about this issue, but basically our skin is protected by good bacteria and antibacterial soaps and gels kill not only the transient (bad) bacteria that could harm us, but they also kill the resident (good) bacteria that protect us.  This leaves us vulnerable and it also contributes to the problem of antibiotic-resistent bacteria because.  I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

SO.  We don’t use antibacterial soap for hand washing, instead I usually purchase a run-of-the-mill honey almond hand soap from Target.  It was cheap and generic and NOT antibacterial.  I figured it was pretty mild, but the dry hands around these parts would beg to differ!

A long time ago Andy and I watched a documentary about Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and my eyes were opened to the benefits of gentle, natural soaps.  Since then I’ve grabbed a few bottles of his famous castile soap and I’ve even played around with making my own hand soap with it.

Usually it would be too watery when I tried to make foam soap, so I switched to using it straight up in a regular soap pump, but it has a thin consistency, so it would shoot out of the pump and splash people.  Annoying.

I let my whole “hand made soap” project fall to the wayside because it was simply inconvenient.

After getting into essential oils and seeing people post recipes for their own hand soap concoctions, I decided to give homemade hand soap another try.

This is the recipe I’ve been using and I really like it!  I first tried it with olive oil and that worked fine, but I didn’t like seeing a layer of greenish gold oil floating on top of each bottle, so I tried fractionated coconut oil instead and I love it.

The best benefit has been Grace’s soft, smooth hands!  She hasn’t had any dry skin or painful cracking since we started using this soap at the start of the winter season! YAY!

I recommend recycling other foam soap dispensers (from Bath and Body Works, etc) for your handmade foam soap, but you can also purchase these pumps from Amazon (Prime no less!) for $7.25.

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Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap can be found at Target, Trader Joe’s, and I’m sure many other stores, but it’s also available on Amazon (Prime!) for $19.99.  I know that price seems high, but it will last FOREVER.  The link I included is for the unscented version.  I used the peppermint soap in my recipe and there is also a lavender version.  If you’re hesitant to drop a bunch of cash on a giant bottle, keep your eye out for small sample sizes at Target in their travel/sample size bins!  I picked up a little bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile soap for $1.99 and because you only use 1/4 teaspoon per bottle of homemade foam soap, even the sample bottle will last a while!

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Fractionated Coconut Oil is simply coconut oil that is always in a liquid state (vs traditional coconut oil that is solid at room temperature).  I get mine on Amazon (shocker!) and it’s a Prime item that is currently $12.99.

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Essential oils can be purchased at health food stores, but it’s really important to note that not all oils are created equal.  Reputable companies like Young Living and DoTerra have stringent processes for farming and extracting their essential oils and therefore produce some of the finest oils available.  I’m sure you probably know someone who is a representative for one of these companies and if not, I’m happy to be a resource for Young Living oils.  Just shoot me an email at dailyrebeccablog@gmail.com and I’ll hook you up :)

For my recipe I used Lavender and Peppermint essential oils.  I love the refreshing scent of peppermint and knew it would coordinate well with the peppermint castile soap.  Lavender oil has incredible benefits and can be used to soothe burns, calm anxiety, aid sleep, treat acne, provide respiratory relief (asthma, allergies, etc), aid digestion and circulation, etc.  It’s one of the most versatile oils and I also happen to enjoy the smell.  The peppermint lavender combo is surprisingly pleasant!

**It’s worth noting that this soap can be made without using any essential oils.  Choosing the peppermint or lavender castile soap will provide a mild scented hand soap on it’s own.  Don’t let a lack of essential oil keep you from trying this hand soap if you’re suffering from dry, cracked hands!**

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Ok, enough chit chat!  Here’s the recipe….

foam soap

5.0 from 1 reviews
Foaming Hand Soap
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 8oz (1 cup) water
  • 4 tsp castile soap
  • ¼ tsp fractionated coconut oil (can sub olive oil)
  • 3 drops reputable essential oil (I used 2 drops lavendar and 1 drop peppermint)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a foam hand soap bottle, secure lid, and gently shake to combine.
  2. *I recommend making a triple batch and storing it in an airtight GLASS bottle*

 


Powerless

March 10th, 2016

This isn’t a post I’m excited to write.  I’m actually pretty embarrassed about it, but also relieved to perhaps finally know what the problem is.

I just started The 7 Experiment bible study by Jen Hatmaker.  I’m going through it on Tuesday mornings with a table of ladies at my church.  There are about 12 of us in the group and it’s nice to know we’re on this journey together :)

Especially since I didn’t want to do it in the first place!

As a table leader, I’m assigned to whichever study the admin people place me in, based on need.  Normally this is great and I’ve loved every study I’ve been assigned to over the last year and a half.  This session it felt like I drew the short straw!

There is only one (big) table of ladies doing this particular study and I’m the “lucky” table leader assigned to facilitate the group.  The other 2 studies being offered were my top choices and frankly it didn’t even dawn on me that I’d be doing this study.  When I got the notification, I may have thrown a hissy fit.

Ok, I did.

With regular life and homeschooling and Andy’s ever changing schedule and the upcoming move, it just felt like one.more.thing. to stress me out.

You see, this study is a series of 7 week-long fasts.  Food, clothing, spending, waste, possessions, stress and media.

It’s basically a guide to stage your own mutiny against excess in order to create space for God’s kingdom to break through in your life.

Ironically, I’ve been aching for more of God lately and less of me.  Sounds like this is probably perfect timing.

Plus, I lovvvvve Jen Hatmaker.  She’s honest, hilarious, down-to-earth, and very committed to loving Jesus with her whole heart.

Did I mention funny?

I recently read her book For The Love and laughed my way through it while also being convicted to love more and love harder.  So good.

After reading that book and getting assigned to this study, I promptly stalked almost every single Facebook post she’s ever posted as well as every blog post she’s ever written. Lol

What can I say, when I like something, I reallly like it!

Ok, back to being powerless…

because it’s always fun to talk about that!!!

Last week was the intro chapter of the study and it really laid the foundation for each of the fasts we are about to tackle.  She stressed the importance of them all being a heart issue, not just another thing we do to try to be better.  She asked us to read Isaiah 58:1-7 and I happened to read it in the Message translation and it captivated me.  Totally challenged my perceptions about fasting and guided me to God’s heart when it comes to fasting.  Check it out…especially if you’re participating in Lent.

She also challenged us to figure out where we stand at this moment.  Where our hearts are, what our perspective on our wealth is, and what kind of hold all of the excess in our lives has on us.  One thing in particular really stood out to me…

The first step to overcome an addiction in Alcoholics Anonymous is this: “We admit we are powerless over alcohol.”  Admission is powerful; a necessary first step.  Denial will keep us sidelined forever.  Ask Jesus to speak into this.  Don’t be afraid.  Remember: “He will not break a bruised reed, and He will not put out a smoldering wick, until He has led justice to victory.” Matt 12:20

My first thought was, “Powerless? OMG.  How dramatic!  I’m not powerless over anything.  That’s so weak.”

Good Lord have mercy on my wretched prideful soul!!!

My next thought was, “Am I powerless over food?”

I didn’t think I was.  I mean, I’ve been so disciplined in the past.  I’ve lost 20 pounds about 4 different times in my life.  (I’ve also gained it all back just as often. Ouch)  I did Whole30!  I lived the Whole30 lifestyle for almost a year! I can’t have done that and still be powerless over food, can I?

I related it back to alcohol.  Do I think an alcoholic can be sober for the better part of a year and then fall right back into it and find themselves sitting at a bar throwing back shots?

Yes.  Yes I do.

Then it hit me…I AM powerless over food.  I’m just like the alcoholic who has experienced sobriety for stretches (even long ones) of time and winds up in the same place.  Back to the bottle.  Powerless against it.

Oh boy.

Can you say humble pie?

This was really unsettling to me.  I hate weakness.  I try so hard to be strong in all areas of my life, but here I was standing face to face with a harsh truth.  A big blind spot.

When I mulled all of this over, I realized it’s no coincidence that I recently started tracking my food on My Fitness Pal and that I also ended up in this bible study and that the first week is FOOD!

As much as it’s humbling and uncomfortable to admit this, I really do feel like it is God’s loving nudge.  That He cares too much for me to let me stay in the dark about this issue.  That working through this will free me.  That this is all part of His good work in my life.

I’ll admit I’m nervous about this.  I like going to food to meet my needs.  I go to food when I’m happy, sad, overwhelmed, nervous, anxious, overwhelmed, angry, celebrating, coping, succeeding, failing, breathing.

I can’t give it up cold turkey.  I must pursue healing.

It’s not about weight or even health, it’s about my heart.

It’s about aligning myself with my creator and throwing off all that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles me, and running with perseverance the race marked out for me (Heb 12:1).

I’m ready, Lord.  Let me lace up my running shoes…


All the “ings”

February 24th, 2016

I sat down with my laptop the other night.  I really wanted to blog and I’ve had no shortage of things on my mind, but try as I could, no words would come out of my fingertips.

I kept staring a the blank screen and the blinking cursor and I had nothing.

So, I closed the computer and turned my attention to the movie my girls were watching.

As much as I may fail to blog consistently, I don’t fail to read blogs consistently.  I’m a huge fan of Newsify, my blog reader app, and it keeps me up-to-date on the 75+ blogs I follow.

A blogging friend recently shared a post of the various “ings” she and her family have been up to lately and I immediately knew that using her prompts would allow me to crank out a blog post and hopefully break my writers block.

So here we go…

Making: a bunch of watercolor paintings and a number of perler bead crafts.  I wrote a manifesto for 2016 (I’m so emo, I know) and one element of it was valuing and prioritizing creativity.  So far, this has been a year of more creative expression than any year prior and I consider that a major win!  I’m still nowhere near where I’d like to be with the watercolor painting, but I’m committed to painting often with the hope that I must improve with lots of practice :)

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The perler beads were a random purchase because I thought Grace would enjoy them.  She has!  They are too small and tiring for Avery, so she usually get about 1/8 of the way through finishing a piece before she gives up :(  They have larger beads and I really ought to consider getting a set of them to see if they are a better fit for Avery.  Also, I’m not very good at ironing them together.  I seem to push too hard and iron too long, but I’m always nervous they won’t stick together well enough if I don’t.

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Cooking: lots of random easy stuff.  I’ve been really uninspired in the kitchen lately.  I want to be cooking healthy, Whole30ish meals but then I’m getting tired of many of my standby recipes.  I need to branch out and make new things or make the old things a new way, but I’ve got a bit of the winter blues and I just don’t care about meal time like I used to.  We’ve had tacos, pot roast, white bean soup, pre-cooked (Whole30 compliant!) sliced beef (from Costco’s refrigerator section) served with roasted red skinned potatoes and garlic bacon Brussels sprouts, and a hearty dose of eating out too.

Drinking: not enough water.  I’m normally a water girl all day long, but lately I’ve been resisting my normal heavy load of H2O.  I seem to want coffee or tea over regular water most of the time.  Probably due to the brutally cold weather we had recently.  Also drinking wine at night..these winter days are getting me down.

Reading: Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love which was such a refreshing read for this 30-something control freak.  Having the honest and funny perspective of a woman who crossed 40 and can offer some perspective to those of us heading that direction, was awesome.  Plus, being reminded to love, really love, ALL kinds of people – especially those whom the church at large generally turns a blind eye to, was convicting.

And then there was this book.

What can I even say about it???  I was completely overcome by the stories of injustice contained in this book.  I was also overwhelmed by the gloriously beautiful work of Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer who has devoted his life to advocating for the poor and the oppressed and the “least of these” that Jesus talks about.  I think this book is a must read for every single person in the world.  My perspective has been changed forever and I’m grateful that Bryan wrote this book and shared these heart-wrenching tales with the world.

Wanting: SPRING!!!!! Also to have more patience with the kids.  It’s hard, they are so wonderful and amazing and draining all at once.  The girls are finally playing better which I LOVE, but Drew is in a hard phase and he’s mostly getting into mischief or walking around whining/crying.  Avery isn’t sleeping through the night lately and it’s KILLING ME.  Lack of sleep is my kryptonite.  Of all the parenting challenges, lack of sleep is by far the hardest for me.  Last night I went to sleep around midnight (stupid, I know) and I was woken FIVE times between then and 3:45am.  Avery was crying for water, then crying for no reason, then standing at the side of my bed, then crying from the couch where I put her, then telling me she was going to puke. Lord have mercy!  About 3:45am, Drew started crying.  Sometimes he’ll cry out just enough to wake me, but then he goes back to sleep.  Not last night.  The crying continued to amp up and I ultimately realized I had to get him up.

There I was, two out of three children AWAKE at 3:45am.  I’d had virtually no sleep at this point.  Grace and Andy were fast asleep, so I had to keep the two emotional young ones quiet and happy.  It was ridiculous.

I know this too shall pass, but oh my goodness it’s hard.

Looking: at rental properties on Trulia.com constantly.  It’s too early to find anything we’ll actually live in, but I’m addicted to looking at rental options in various cities, school districts, etc.  The phase we’re in right now is basically “hurry up and wait” since it’s too soon to make any plans.  I vacillate between forgetting about it all and living my life per usual, and getting caught up in wondering and worrying about where we will end up and if we’ll choose something we end up not liking.

Playing: Adele’s album on repeat.  The girls love it and frequently ask to listen to “Hello From The Other Side” so they can sing along and dance around the living room.  I’m a fan of the album too, but I’m starting to grow tired of hearing it over and over.  I’m even tired of the other music I’m generally into…I’d love to find a new artist/band to listen to on repeat.

Wasting: money on eating out.  My lack of inspiration in the kitchen, coupled with Andy’s light schedule this month and the dreary winter days, means we itch to get out of the house and that often means going out to eat.  I can hardly see my Whole30 lifestyle in the rearview and the scale continues to creep up which makes me depressed.  That makes me want to eat more.  It’s a vicious cycle that I feel completely unmotivated to break out of.  I guess I had better make peace with my muffin top and double chin…

Wishing: I wanted to eat healthy again and make exercise a priority.  I love the feeling of being active and eating right.  It gives me joy and energy and peace.  I feel like a better wife and mom and friend when I’m treating my body kindly.  I WISH I would decide to discipline myself to get back into that lifestyle.

Enjoying: the Armor of God Bible study by Pricilla Shirer.  I’m no stranger to bible study books, but this one has been particularly good.  It’s a daily homework format that also has a weekly discussion element and a video teaching component.  Pricilla is a dynamic but sincere speaker and I get excited listening to her preach.  I just finished leading a table of ladies at my church through this study and I’m starting up another round of it at home with some close friends I just did another study with.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it impacts me this time around.

Smelling: poop.  All day.  Every day.  Drew is pooping about 4-6 times each day.  Avery is good for one or two and so is Grace.  NONE of them can wipe their own poopy bottom yet, so coupled with my own, ahem, movements we’re looking at having to deal with about 12 poopy butts a day!  I’m over it.

Wearing: pajamas and stretch pants most of the time.  The weight gain has made many of my cute clothes rather uncomfortable, so I stick with casual comfortable stuff most of the time.  Grace loves to get dressed in some kind of summer outfit (tank top and short skirt) on a daily basis, but Avery is content to stay in jammies.  That ususally means she and I are in jammies all day on days there’s nowhere to go.

Feeling: like this post has gone on long enough.  Like it had a pretty whiny tone.  Like I am in some kind of winter funk and I need to snap out of it.

That’s all for now.  I’m hoping this post broke through some of my writer’s block and I can get back to writing more regularly now…


Things I’m Loving Lately

February 4th, 2016

It’s that time again!  I’ve got so many favorite things at the moment that I just HAD to round them up for a post!

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Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Palette

Let me start by saying I KNOW this is a ridiculously expensive eye shadow palette.  It’s crazy.  I received this as a Christmas gift from Andy which is probably the only way I can justify having it.

Let me also say I think it’s worth every penny! All 6,200 of them! Lol

This palette is entirely comprised of matte eyeshadows.  No satin finishes and no shimmers.  This is really good for those of us who aren’t 25 anymore.  It’s also great for those of us with hooded eyelids.

::raises hand::

These colors are all highly pigmented, they blend beautifully, they are laid out in nicely coordinating quads (neutrals, cools, and warms from left to right) and they just plain rock.

Youtube has a bunch of great tutorials using this palette, so you can figure out what to do with it if you do get one!

Modern skinny jeans

Denizen by Levis – Modern Skinny Jeans

These are from Target and they are AH-MAZ-ING.

My friend Rochelle turned me on to these and I’ve since convinced my sister and another friend to buy them.  We all have very different body styles and these work for all of us!

Sadly they aren’t available online, so you’ll have to go to the store, but it’s worth it!  They are so stretchy they could almost pass for yoga pants, they don’t lose their shape as you wear them, they stay nice and slim at the knee which is perfect for wearing with tall boots, and they are only $27.99!  Check them out, you’ll be glad you did!

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Mossimo Supply Company Long Sleeve Pullover Cozy Tunic

Speaking of Target…this sweatshirt is currently in stock and it’s incredible soft, cozy, comfy, and even a little stylish!  It is lightweight but warm.  It’s long enough to cover your booty which allows you to wear it with leggings, it has a cute cowl neck that isn’t so bunchy it bothers you, but it adds interest to an otherwise super casual top.  I have this in the purple color pictured, and also in the light heather blue.  In-store they have black and heather gray too.  Consider sizing up because it’s not very generous in the bust area…I normally grab a Large, but picked this up in XL and it’s perfect.

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Rusk Speed Freak Blowdryer

Another expensive beauty item, but also very worth it!  I had this on my Amazon wishlist and my mom generously gifted it to me for Christmas this year.  I’d been hearing how a good blowdryer could really make a difference in achieving the look and texture you’re going for, but I’ll admit I wondered just “how good” it could really be.  I mean, it blows hot air onto my head…what could be so special.

OH MY GOODNESS.

Having a quality blowdryer makes a huge difference!  My hair was so smooth and it laid so nicely after I finished drying it, you’d think I used a flat iron! The heat is very even and the power of the airflow is so strong that it gives wonderful results and in much less time than I was spending before.

I have a lot of fine hair and that usually means it takes a long time to dry and it can look fuzzy rather than smooth, but not with this guy!

I’m sold.

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Starbucks Floral Double Wall Traveler, 10oz

I have a weekly ritual of filling my travel mug with hot coffee right before I leave the house on Sunday morning for church.  Sipping my morning cup of Joe during our church service makes me happy.  I think I’d feel naked without my coffee on Sunday mornings.  I’ve been using a handsome stainless steel travel mug bearing the logo of the last company I worked for, and I’ve enjoyed it.  The seal was good, I’d smile thinking about my old job and it did the trick.

But I was seduced by this gloriously feminine mug from Starbucks!  I’d seen a gold polka dotted one in the fall, but couldn’t justify the $20 price tag.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it, but by the time the I was ready to fork over the dough, it was gone!  Not available in stores or online (unless you were willing to pay upwards of $50).

Womp womp.

I kept my eye out for other mugs I liked, but none of them sparked joy.  I’d either like the design but it would have some goofy saying on it, or they weren’t girly enough for my taste.

So, you can bet your bottom dollar, I snatched up this beauty the first time I saw her!

Pinks, reds, green leaves, gold accents.

::swoon::

I LOVE it and my Sunday morning coffee might taste even better out of this beauty :)

It’s on sale right now for $15.96!

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Iris – a documentary about the life of Iris Apfel

My year as a Netflix Stream Team member is over, but that doesn’t mean I’m over my obsession with Netflix.  It’s my favorite way to watch anything these days and I was intrigued when I came across this film.

I’d seen Iris before, her iconic round glasses having imprinted themselves into my memory.  A girl I followed on Instagram mentioned the documentary and I decided it would be the next thing I watched.

What a fun and inspiring woman!  She clearly has a loud and unique sense of style, but there’s something so fabulous about it.  I’m sure plenty of people think it’s “too much” but honestly, why is that a bad thing?  It’s really an art form and it’s captivating.

Toward the end of the film she talks about how she doesn’t like “pretty” and she’d rather be interesting.  Beauty fades with time and if that’s what you put all your stock in, what’s left?  Interesting lasts a lifetime.

Something about that perspective really touched me.  I’ve got a big personality and sometimes feel like I’m “too much”.  On top of that, I’m often drawn to bold and gaudy fashion.  In recent years, I’ve started consciously choosing more muted and subdued colors and styles.  I think I’ve always associated those with being more mature and as having more class.  I know style evolves over time, and that my tastes are bound to change, but I don’t want to lose my flair just because I think it’s “too much”.

Iris inspired me just last week to wear my cowboy boots twice and to commit to finding the perfect red lipstick.  Life’s short, be interesting!


Watercolor Painting!

I’ve fallen hook line and sinker for watercolor painting.  It started with another blogger I follow who began posting her beautiful creations on Instagram.  The colors and fluidity and challenge of creating something that I like have all captivated me.  I’m not even close to being as good at is as I’d like to be, but I’m having fun trying and I’ve convinced myself that enough practice has to make me get better at it.

Right?

I think I’ve always believed people are born artistic or not artistic and I fall into the latter category.

I’m not so sure anymore, so I’m going to practice a lot to see if I can disprove my own theory!

I’ve started by finding flower paintings I like and trying to recreate them.  It’s helping me learn about how the paint works and what various techniques yield.

One of my favorite things about this new little hobby is that there’s so little set up and clean up!  Just rinse the brushes and put everything away! Awesome.

So, tell me what YOU’RE loving lately!


Hemp Heart Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

January 27th, 2016

Costco samples are awesome.

Besides keeping the kids happy, they allow me to try new items I might normally pass by.

By now we know I’m pretty into food and health, so I’m always reading blogs and articles about nutrition and healthy recipe alternatives.  In my reading I’ve come across hemp hearts, but had I not been able to try them I’m sure I would have been skeptical about buying a bag of them.

Costco had sample cups of them a while back and I was intrigued by their soft texture.  So many “seeds” are hard and crunchy, so these were very different.

If I had to compare them to something, I’d say they taste kind of like raw almonds.  Fresh and slightly nutty, but softer and more raw-tasting than roasted almonds, yet they have more “chew” than a raw almond.

I mostly appreciated what they offer in terms of nutrition: complete source of protein (supplying all the essential amino acids) 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoons, and a really good source of healthy fat which keeps you full and satisfied between meals.

Trader Joe’s had a reasonable sized bag of them, so I grabbed them the last time I was there.

The easiest way to eat them would be to sprinkle them on top of things like yogurt, smoothies, salads, etc.  I plan to add them to my Whole30 banana breakfast where I slice bananas and top them with nuts, cinnamon and coconut milk.

I thought it would be cool if I could incorporate them into some kind of healthy treat for the kids.

Late afternoon they are always begging me for a snack to tide them over till dinner.  I’m usually anti-snack because it helps the kids be appropriately hungry at mealtimes, thereby causing them to eat more of their meal.  I’m convinced perpetual snacking is one of the main causes of picky eaters.

Why on earth would you eat your chicken and asparagus when you’ve been filling up on goldfish crackers and granola bars all day??

But I digress…

A quick Google search yielded this recipe for hemp heart cookies.  They sounded good but I was missing a couple ingredients and wanted to make them taste like traditional oatmeal raisin cookies.  I modified that recipe and came up with my own Hemp Heart Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

hemp heart cookie closeup

I was pleasantly surprised by how much they taste like the “real” thing!

I feel much better offering these to the kids for a snack because they don’t contain any flour (yay for gluten free!) or refined sugar and they’re full of nutrient- dense foods that will fill them up and nourish them :)

Win/win.

Here’s my recipe…enjoy!

hemp heart oatmeal raisin cookies

Hemp Heart Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Old-fashioned Oats
  • ⅔ Cups Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 3 Tbsp Hemp Hearts
  • 3 Tbsp Raisins - I used golden raisins
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds - or flax seeds
  • ⅓ Cup Nut Butter - I used almond
  • ¼ Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • ¼ Cup Almond Milk
  • ½ Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Splash Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350* F
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix together dry ingredients (oats, coconut, hemp hearts, raisins, chia/flax seeds, and cinnamon)
  3. In a separate bowl stir together nut butter, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla extract until well combined
  4. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture, stirring to form a dough, dough will be very chunky and loose
  5. Use a small scoop or spoon to portion dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet - the cookies are not very sticky, so do your best to press them into balls
  6. Bake cookies for 10 minutes
  7. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container to maintain freshness

 


Avery Is Three

January 19th, 2016

New Year’s Eve marked my Avery Jane’s 3rd birthday.  The whole world celebrated that night :)

table surprise

I was super excited to decorate her dining room chair with balloons in her favorite colors and Sophia The First who reigns supreme as her fave princess at the moment :) Grace even made her a birthday drawing and wanted that to be on display too.  One of the sweet moments that I want to remember more than all the tears Grace shed that it wasn’t her birthday.  Oy.

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We had traditional sprinkle pancakes topped with whipped cream and she was happy as a clam about that!

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Not that you can tell at all from her face! LOL This girl’s camera “smile” is absolutely hilarious.  Totally reminds me of Chandler Bing from Friends:

chandler's smile

We opened presents right away.

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So “happy” about her Sleeping Beauty playset LOL.

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And also really excited about getting Elsa and Anna plush princess dolls to go with the Ariel and Rapunzel she received on Christmas morning.

Pink and white cupcakes followed Avery’s choice of pizza for dinner.

My mom was able to join us for the celebration which made it even more special.  She also spent the night to watch the kids while we went to a NYE party later that night…thanks mom!

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My brown eyed girl :)

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Pink (strawberry) ice cream was the perfect accompaniment.

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She ended ate all of her ice cream and only the frosting from her cupcake, but she was a happy camper.  Especially when she was sporting her cute and girly new Cinderella outfit from grandma.

The kids had a fun night with my mom while Andy and I partied it up at our friend’s NYE murder mystery dinner.  He was Cheque Penné, a successful but quiet banker, and I was Yuna Verz, an extremely intelligent astronaut.

Photo Dec 31, 7 01 45 PM

I thought our parts suited us well ;)

Avery had a huge family party last year to celebrate her 2nd birthday, so this year we planned to do a small friend party instead.

Unfortunately our plans were thwarted by the worst stomach bug to ever tear through our family!  We spent the better part of about five days sick as dogs.  It was so awful!

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By this past Friday we were all healthy again, so we had the little pizza party after all!

snow bunnies

Our friends happen to love our backyard (kids are so funny!) so we planned a little outside time before the pizza party kicked off.  You can’t tell from this picture, but it was actually raining and it didn’t phase them one bit.  Oh to be a kid again…

As expected, Avery tired of the outside play before the others so she came inside and started working on her personal pizza.

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Everyone had their own lump of dough…

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And we had sauce, cheese, mini pepperoni and diced bell pepper for toppings.

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Avery chose to make an “A” shaped pizza and got to work loading it up!

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It was so fun to watch her meticulously place little pepperoni pieces along the lines of her “A” in neat rows.

The other three girls opted to make heart shaped pizzas.

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The pizzas went into the oven and the girls disappeared upstairs to play while their creations were baking.

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Next time I would make sure everyone added a LOT more cheese.  The amount they used seemed to melt into the sauce and crust during the bake time.

It didn’t seem to bother them too much though :)

pizza collage

To be honest, this party snuck up on me a little and I didn’t plan well enough to make a cake or cupcakes from scratch :(  That’s something I actually enjoy doing, so I was disappointed.  A chocolate cake mix and tub of frosting came to the rescue and I thought a heart shaped cake would be fun.

Without thinking, I made two round cakes and planned to turn them into a heart once they cooled.

To make a heart cake you actually need one square and one round cake.

Oops.

Dr. Gould suggested I cut the round edges off of one layer to make a square and go from there with the heart.  It was far from perfect and I could have used more chocolate frosting, but it turned out ok and Avery loved it.

Oh to be a kid again!

heart cake

I was actually a little embarrassed to bring the cake out because I’m generally much neater about my cake creations, but when Grace saw it she gasped and told me it was “so beautiful”.  What a peach :)

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She’s so serious!! LOL

Reminds me of this donut picture…

Photo Aug 26, 9 28 10 PM

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Avery’s friends gifted her with a fun popsicle set, a really cool zoo book and a sparkly bracelet.  She’s been enjoying all of them since the party!

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In my (limited) parenting experience, three years old is a tough age (#threenager) but I’m hoping we have a great year and no matter what, I know it will be awesome getting to see my little Avery Jane grow up and delight us all with her wonderful spirit.

I love you, sweet Avery.

September 19, 2015

Photo Credit: Jenn Anibal

 

 

 

 

 


Round and Round I Go

January 17th, 2016

Discouraged.  Overwhelmed.  Frustrated.  Filled with dread.

Not exactly the glowing feelings of hope and joy I was experiencing on New Year’s Day.

Where did that all go?

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The truth that refreshed my soul is still as true today as it was that day, but I’ve slipped back into unbelief.

Why does this happen?

One step forward, two steps back.

Clinging desperately to truth one day and gobbling up lies the next.

I’m weary of it.  I’m tired and I wish my Heavenly Father would see that and swoop me up into His arms.

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Just last night I was pouting about this to Andy…we desperately need a date night but cannot seem to sort out the logistics to make it happen, so weeks pass one after the next and we remain deeply entrenched in child-rearing and whack-a-mole.

Last night we planned to eat a nice steak dinner after the kids went to bed as a sort of “date night in”.  Sadly it didn’t play out as we had hoped.

Drew didn’t go down to sleep easily and ended up crying through our whole meal.  We brought him out to sit with us while Andy finished eating and I basically sat at the table holding him and pouting.

WHY OH WHY can’t things go according to plan ONCE IN A WHILE.  Why ON EARTH can we not seem to spend some nice, quiet, child-free time together??

Why OH WHY won’t this cranky baby boy GO TO SLEEP??

After many more tears, Drew ended up succumbing to the sleep he so desperately needed.  Andy made a Moscow Mule for himself, but my stomach was upset and I had a raging headache, so I couldn’t stomach the thought of a cocktail.

There we were on our “date night in” and already a fussy baby had spoiled it and now I felt like crap.

Thanks a lot, God.  This is just spectacular.

I KNOW I was being a spoiled brat about the whole thing.  I truly do.

In between my pity party, I was condemning myself for being so ungrateful.

“Poor little middle class stay-at-home suburban mom doesn’t get a night out and has to stay home in her warm and comfortable house with her exceedingly sweet and patient husband eating filet mignon.”

Pathetic.

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If I even take 10 steps back from myself and look at my life and circumstances, I’m tremendously grateful.

But somehow I get so deep into the forest that I cannot see the trees.

I’m leading a Bible Study table at church on Tuesday mornings and we are working through Pricilla Shirer’s book Armor of God.

So far the focus has been on the spiritual warfare that’s being waged all around us and the importance of prayer in fighting the things we don’t see.

I’m quite certain the emotional turmoil I’ve been experiencing is more than just parenting woes and seasonal depression.  In the moment it’s hard to recognize that, but I know it to be true and I’m working on remembering that there’s much more going on that what I can see.

It’s as though the enemy is like the Wizard of Oz…”Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

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If I don’t acknowledge him, he has a leg up on me and can wreak even more havoc.

Pricilla says,

That’s why he works so hard to beat you down with discouragement.  Rag you into discontentment.  Lie to you about who God is, causing you to doubt the Lord’s all-good intentions toward you.  Hammer you with accusations that place a burden of shame and guilt on your shoulders too heavy to carry.  Trick you into thinking your situation will never change, and that God doesn’t hear you or care when you call out to Him.  Soon your fire of passion starts to burn low.  You grow lackluster.  Disinterested.  Low in spiritual fiber.  Your spiritual armor goes unworn and unused.

Yowsa.

That all sounds a little too familiar.

She goes on to say,

Maybe you kind of don’t care anymore.  You’re not even sure you want to.  But through prayer, you can get your “want to” back.

YES.  I want to get my “want to” back.  I don’t want to be lulled into spiritual apathy.  I don’t want to give up and settle for just surviving.

But man is it often tempting to give up.

I have no tidy little bow to wrap this all up in.  I really don’t.

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I’m feeling better today than I was yesterday and a WHOLE LOT BETTER than I was the day before that.  Church this morning was a really good reminder of truth.  It’s important for me to show up each week just to be reminded that God is good.  His ways are perfect.  He loves me more than I could possibly comprehend.  He hears me when I call out to Him.  He has won the battle and the victory is irrevocable.

I’ll probably start to forget those things again tomorrow when my day ramps up and parenting threatens to hold my head under water.

I’m not going to give up though.  I’m going to keep calling out to Him however weak my voice may be.  I’m going to keep believing and keep begging Him to help my unbelief.

 


Hello 2016

January 2nd, 2016

Relief and hope swept over me this afternoon as I stood at the kitchen counter watching puffy flakes of snow falling outside my window, texting my neighbor back about borrowing an onion.

“Yes I’m home and I have one!”

She’s a blessing to me.  I’ve lived next to her for the better part of of a decade, but in this past couple of years, I’ve really understood how generous and caring she is.

It was a simple exchange.  I’d been lazing on the couch scrolling through New Year Facebook statuses and blog posts and I think something inside me was shaking loose.

When her text message came across the top of my screen, I swelled with excitement.

It was only an onion, but it was really so much more.

Connection with God and other people are, I believe, the most important things in our existence.

For the past six weeks or so I have been in a funk.

Frustrated, bored, bitter, anxious, cranky, antisocial, pessimistic, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, and disconnected.

There have been good days peppered in, but my spirit has been feeling flat.

I would dread the morning and long for night.

Watch precious moments and blessings pass before me and know I was missing them.

Beating myself up for that and for “knowing better” but still feeling low.

On the couch today, phone in hand, something inside cracked free.  I jumped off the couch to grab that onion, and I stood at the counter waiting to hand it off to my neighbor’s husband.

I saw him round the corner of the empty rental that separates our two homes.  I opened the side door and was greeted with a blast of cold, snowy air and his friendly smile.

We exchanged pleasantries and he was on his way.

An ordinary moment, but extraordinary too.

Rewind…

On Christmas Eve my oven was full but I still needed to bake a pan of potatoes and get to a party on time.  Not knowing what to do and feeling frustrated for not having planned better, I decided to bust out of character and ask for help.

Yes I, Rebecca Grace Gould, voluntarily asked someone for help.

Alert the media.

LOL

I texted my dear neighbor to see if she was home and her oven happened to be free on one of the busiest baking days of the year.

Her response?

“I am and what temp?”

Something about her response moved me.  It was as if she was saying, “My oven is your oven.”

Sweet community.

Connection.

Using her oven that evening was as simple as using my own.  I cannot tell you how that impacted my heart.

We live these isolated lives.  We are constantly around other people but we remain lonely little islands.  We have our headphones on or our nose buried in our phone.  We barely look at the barista or the grocery cashier.  We don’t know our neighbor’s names and we look into our children’s eyes for often less than a minute a day.

We don’t connect with others.  We don’t give and receive help from one another.  When we do, it can be contrived or complicated.

When it’s messy or painful to connect with others or live in true community, our tendency is usually to stop.  To withdraw.  To solidify our resolve to be independent.

Instead we should press in, give the benefit of the doubt, realize we’re on the same team, love deeper and give more.  We should not isolate ourselves and hoard our gifts and affections.

I’m guilty of this.

When I’m disconnected from people and I’m living in painful community rather than soul-hugging community, I’m tempted to give up hope.  To believe the lie that I’m on my own and no one understands or cares.

This leads me down a rabbit hole of melancholy.

I end up in a funk and I struggle my way through each day…hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel and fearing it won’t ever come.

I don’t answer my phone or respond to texts.  I don’t like anything on Facebook and I turn down invitations.  I want nothing more than to be alone and drown my sorrows in solitude.

That’s a miserable way to live for very long.

I’ve uttered some short prayers.  Lacking faith.  Forgetting God’s promises.  I’ve been too lazy to try harder to reach out my hand for His help.

He hasn’t gone anywhere.  He’s been there all along.

I’ve grumped at my kids for being ornery or ungrateful or any number of other unsavory things and yet I stand before my Heavenly Father the same way.

He doesn’t grump at me.  He doesn’t compare me to Himself and act shocked at how I’m responding to the world.

He knows I’m a child.  He knows I don’t have the capacity to see all He sees and know all He knows and to understand the grand scheme of things the way He does.

So He smiles at me and embraces me and offers me more grace. More love. More mercy.

A very wise friend shared a similar analogy with Andy last night and it stabbed him right smack in the heart in the very best way.  Andy understood that perspective and related it to parenting and to his relationship with God.

Today I internalized that perspective of God and how He Fathers us and it allowed me to extend grace to myself.  Something inside my stubborn dark funk began to shake loose.

Then my neighbor texted and unknowingly encouraged my soul by extending uncomplicated community to me.

We belong to each other.

We were made to be connected to one another.

About little things like an extra onion and big things like heartache, pain, triumph, and victory.

God reached down to my snowy bungalow today and lifted me out of my mud puddle.

2016 is here.  It feels fresh and new.

will screw up and there is grace for that.

will forget truth and God’s promises, but there is grace for that.

won’t live up to my manifesto for the year, but there is grace for that too.

I’m ready for this year.  I’m thankful for a renewed sense of joy, hope, and expectation.

Let’s do this thing called 2016.

 


The Results Are In…

December 18th, 2015

You may have noticed it has taken me a couple of days to weigh in on what happened Wednesday with Andy’s residency match.

You guys, there has been so much to process!

I wish I could explain it, but I’m sure I can’t exactly.

You know I’ll use about 900 words trying though ;)

Rewind to Tuesday night…around 10pm.

Andy came into the living room where I was sitting and let me know his Army friend told him the results would actually be online at 0001 hours (12:01am) and we wouldn’t have to wait around all day Wednesday to learn our fate.

This made us both incredibly excited and nervous!  We planned to stay up (of course) and log on the second the clock struck 12:01.

We had to distract ourselves somehow so we grabbed a couple of beers and a card game and set about killing time.

Before we knew it, the time was upon us.  Andy grabbed his ancient Macbook (which is SOOO SLOOWWW) but had his login info stored, and we logged on.

It took forever and we were practically shaking.

I snapped this pic right before we logged on and although we look normal (albeit orange as Oompa Loompas!), we were in fact frantic.

With trembling hands we clicked into the status area and it said…

No data.

WHAT???

We refreshed the page…

No data.

AGGGHH!

This continued on for several minutes.  Andy texted his Army friend and learned he was having the same problem.

Phew! It wasn’t just us.

We changed browsers but didn’t have the password handy because Andy had the site set to auto-populate it.  He tore through our files looking for the info.

No dice.

We finally found the info in our internet settings and tried the site with another browser.

No data.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

Our life is hanging in the balance and there’s no data!

Finally Andy’s friend texts that he got his info…his first choice too!

YAY!

I was so happy for him and just knew Andy was going to get a good outcome.

About 30 minutes after originally logging onto the site, we refreshed again and it populated!

Specialty: TRANSITIONAL

Location:

Our hearts beating out of our chests, we read the words and had no idea what they meant.  I immediately asked Andy what that meant and he had no idea either.

We just sat their stunned and anxious and a wreck.

I kept asking him, “What does that mean??” and he kept telling me he didn’t know!

Oh my goodness you guys.  It was so stressful.

I immediately decided to Google it.

Thank you sweet Jesus for Google!

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Google seemed to have a clue what I was asking, so we poured through the search results and pieced together what this all meant.

Andy did not get an OB intern year.

He did not get a Family Med intern year.

He did not get Civilian Deferred.

He did not get a GMO tour.

residency options part 2

ALL of the things we had tried to mentally prepare for were not even what ended up happening.

So what DID happen?

From what we could tell, Andy did not get one of the 10 OB spots, or even a family medicine intern year, but rather a transitional year which is a year that rotates you through a bunch of specialties.  Because the location was blank, it looked like Andy would have to track down his own placement for the year.

That was BAD NEWS.

He had two local civilian interviews just in case he got Civilian Deferred, but they only had 3 year family residency programs, so as much as they liked him, he couldn’t do a transitional year at either of those hospitals.  He would have to pound the pavement to find a hospital that DID have transitional years available and he’d have to apply for one of them late in the game.

We’d lose our military salary and health benefits for the year.  It looked like Andy may even become a less desirable candidate for an OB spot after this kind of intern year.

We were crushed.

Then our minds started reeling about how he could possibly be in the bottom 50 of hundreds of Navy med students (the Navy took on 50 more students than residency spots PERIOD last year – DUMB). How could he with all of his outstanding scores and recommendations and interviews come in so dead last in this selection process?

One of my exact statements was, “Do the other students who got spots poop rainbows or something??? What makes them better than YOU??”

It was a very hard night.

We grieved and hugged and prayed and shed tears (me).

I felt like God forgot about us.  I felt like He was looking over His shoulder like, “Oh yeahhh, I was supposed to do something there, wasn’t I?”

I know that is not true.

That’s the voice of the enemy whispering to me that God isn’t good.  That He is holding out on me.

The same voice that Eve heard in the garden when she had everything she could have ever wanted and needed and the serpent convinced her that God was holding out on her by forbidding the fruit of that one tree.

“You better take things into your own hands, because God is holding out on you.”

LIES.

I know it.  I believe it.

So we asked God for peace.  We told Him that as hard as it was, we were going to trust Him anyway.

With as much uncertainty as there was, we were going to trust that He had a plan for all of it.

After very little sleep for me and practically none for Andy that night, we woke up on Thursday and the news hung heavy in the air.  Andy went down to shower before work and he came back up quicker than he should have.

Turns out he logged into the system again, kind of like looking in the fridge over and over hoping something new and delicious will suddenly appear when you’re hungry.  You know how that is, right?

AND THIS TIME THERE WAS MORE INFO.

Location: Walter Reed Naval Hospital – Bethesda, MD

OMG!

Again I was asking, “What does that mean?? Is it for real? Will it disappear?”

I peppered Andy with questions and he didn’t know why the new info was there now and not the night before, but another one of his military friends experienced the same thing…no location at midnight but it populated Thursday morning.

This news was for real!

We are moving to Bethesda, MD in June!

The relief that washed over us was palpable.  We were not stragglers having to carve out a way for next year.  Andy was not in the bottom 50.

In fact, Bethesda, MD was our first choice location for an OB intern year.  They only have 2 spots, but from what we can gather, even though they didn’t give one of those to Andy, it seems they didn’t want to let him go, so he got a transitional intern year there.

It’s a fantastic facility.  It’s where they took President Reagan when he was shot (fun fact).   It’s near DC and it’s only about 8.5 hours from where we live in Michigan, so it won’t be too hard to drive back to MI for visits as we adjust to living away from our friends and family.

Getting this news was like entering Oz and having our world turn to color.

The emotional roller coaster we had been on in those 12 hours was harrowing.

Getting a bit of good news was so wonderful.

But I have to be honest, we are still grieving a bit.

Andy really really really wanted to get an OB intern year.  We would have happily gone to any of the 3 locations for him to have one.  Doing a transitional year makes us nervous.  We don’t know how this will factor into him ultimately getting an OB residency.

He may still have to do a GMO tour.  He may not get an OB residency and have to switch specialties (which is so sad to me because he’s worked so hard and done so well and may not get to do what he really wants to do).

Next year at this time we will be frantically logging into the site again to find out our fate again.

For now we are trusting God and processing the news and researching the areas in and around Bethesda.  We are hoping and praying that Andy will make a fantastic impression this next year and they will just have to have him in their OB program for the following 3 years.

If you’ve made it this far (I’m sorry this was SOO LONG) thank you for caring about our journey.  Thank you for reading my ramblings and for caring about our story.

I’m excited to see what God has for us and I’m excited to blog about all of it :)

bethesda heart

 

 

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