Thoughts on Momma-hood

Photo by We Love Your Love Photography, (c) Colleen Shawk
Photo by We Love Your Love Photography, (c) 2013 – Colleen Shawk

I haven’t blogged since before Eloise was born.  In the meantime, the blog has gotten over 4000+ hits thanks to the post on the nursery’s chevron wall!  How nuts is that?

So, since the last post, we have continued to re-do the house, one room at a time.  We are nearly finished with our sun room.  I haven’t been taking “before” photos, because I don’t want to remember the ugly wallpaper when it’s all done!  But, I’ll write a post showing the different elements of my new voice studio/sunroom.

By and large, though, our lives have been completely centered around this beautiful little creature who has entered our lives.  We are captivated by her every moment – what a miracle she is!  It has been incredible seeing how much she can change day to day, and how much she has changed me.  Since we got our house and had our baby, I have been shocked by how obsessed I am with keeping our house clean!  In the past, cleaning was never on the top of my priority list, I’m embarrassed to say.  But knowing that she will be healthier and happier in a clean environment, not to mention that we’ve had many more visitors over since she was born, I am constantly cleaning!

I’m also staggered by how much just HAPPENS.  Like, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to nurse the baby because I had no frame of reference for my body producing milk.  And I worried I wouldn’t love her, because I was just meeting her.  And I worried I wouldn’t be able to function on so little sleep.  And a million other things — and it’s amazing because, everything just happened.  Just the way she was formed in my womb – these things were entirely outside of my control.

I have lots of posts I’d like to write soon about craft projects I’ve taken on, redecorating our almost century-old house, marriage, and motherhood, but I really felt that Eloise was due a post first since I’ve been long overdue to write.  So, expect more coming soon!

Everybody has an opinion // controversial post

syriaI was inspired by my friend Jim Baker’s blog post earlier today on the etiquette of social media in light of tense times (you should probably check out his blog anyway because it’s one of a very small handful I consistently read and it’s pretty great!)

I have been thinking a lot of my friends who live in Boston and how they might be feeling right now.  Some of them were at the marathon earlier that day.  My husband Mike actually completed his first marathon about a year and a half ago in Erie in right around the same finish time that the bombs went off.  Anytime you can fathom those most important to you being hurt (or worse) causes one to shudder.  This moment is one of those close calls for a lot of people, and a very sad reality for too many.  It is heartbreaking.

So what I’m about to say is in no way intended to diminish the reality of this situation – this is a bad thing and people are justified in feeling upset, scared, angry, and a host of other emotions.

The thing that nags at me is this: we as a country don’t respond to situations like this very well, especially in social media.  It seems like at first, everyone posts heartfelt messages of prayers and thoughts going out to people in a tense situation.  This is a good thing – people need to know in this situation that they’re not alone.  But then within a day or so, it becomes heavily tempered about political points of view, a sudden patriotism for some that seems so artificial or anti-patriotism for others blaming everything on the current leaders.  This is the point where we start to turn ugly.  What comes next, inevitably, are posts/comments treating whatever the tragedy as if it is the single worst thing that has ever happened in the entire world.

I’m bothered by each of these things for different reasons, but probably by the lack of perspective people have for what is going on in our world the most.  Millions of people spend every day in fear of terrorism that encompasses their every single day… and many of those people are living in fear because we are attacking them.

Senator Lists the Death Toll from US Drones at 4,700 People

We have killed THOUSANDS of people, including many, many innocent people.  The title of this article is a little misleading, though, because there isn’t really a count on how many people US drones have killed in the last decade – no one’s keeping track.  “Using the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s count, the U.S. has launched between 416 and 439 drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia since the U.S. first successfully weaponized an MQ-1 Predator a decade ago.”

This, in my opinion, is the worst thing in the world.  These attacks are happening and they’re happening as we continue to support them.

I’m really not trying to diminish what’s going on in Boston, or any of the other national tragedies we’ve experienced as of late – they are tragic and terrible and I hate them.  What I am trying to put into perspective is the reality that bombings like this are a regular thing on our planet and we only seem to take notice when it’s on our soil.

People in the Middle East where these attacks are happening spend every day living in a deeper fear than the Bostonians felt today, or than the residents of Newtown felt when school resumed.  But for some reason I’ll never understand, the social media response and the general vibe of our country is, “Who cares!  They’re not our people.”

Hold On // what I’m learning these days

Mike and I have been trying to buy a house for some time.  What we expected to be a slow process has sped up, and slowed down with many, many bumps in the road.  While we haven’t heard anyone say “Buying a house is easy!” or “My home purchase was so smooth and simple,” somehow we had the naive thought this might be.  But, nonetheless, we’re getting close to owning our home and we are very excited to soon be in the house we will bring our daughter to when we leave the hospital, and send our kids off to college from (we hope). 

In the meantime, I keep finding myself desperately hung up on some concerns that should be minor, but feel so major at the time.  One day it was that I didn’t know how we would afford the necessary items for our baby like a crib and a car seat, another it was concerns about childcare (well, that worry lasted a little longer than a day), and yet another it was that we were being totally irresponsible by trying to do everything at once.  And the thing I keep learning throughout all of this time is to HOLD ON.  Every single one of these worries was completely washed away in a few days after praying about it and releasing control.  Every. single. one.

Funny thing is, I knew they would be, even when I was frantic.  What I’ve been learning is the patience and waiting part – that just because something hasn’t happened in this moment, doesn’t mean it won’t happen.  This is big – I’m a glutton for instant gratification.  Something tells me that God is tempering me to be a parent, a better wife, and a better employee. 

{do tell!}

Have you already been learning this lesson in your life? How? 

Why I Stopped Blogging // A Whirlwind of Blessing

I haven’t blogged in a really long time.  It’s been 7 months since my last post.  Initially, I started this blog so that I’d have better odds at getting a job in my field.  At the time of my last two posts, I had secured a job and an entirely new life began in a whirlwind that still hasn’t touched down.  I lost the purpose for this blog.

Since that time, our life has continued to be in a constant state of change, and yet we’ve had a remarkable peace about it along the way.  We are pregnant with a baby girl who will be born in June.  We are shopping for a house.  Mike is working in a job completely different than he had planned to do when we moved here, and he’s incredibly fulfilled by his work.  My job has challenged and tested me from the first day, and I am truly thankful for the incredible people I work with and for the community we serve.  We have started working with the religious life ministries at AU (our alma mater) and I’m leading a small team of some powerhouse women who inspire and encourage me on a daily basis.  And with all of that, I still didn’t feel like I had a reason to write.

A part of me feels like no one would be interested in the day-to-day babblings of my life.  A part of me has been far too exhausted/busy to think about writing.  And more than anything, I worried that I craved the approval of others a little too much and needed to pull back a bit.  But, I feel inspired to write again.

So, as we continue to move through these ridiculous blessings and challenges that have come our way, I will be writing to help process this whole becoming a mommy/homeowner (read: grown up) thing and you are invited to come along for the journey.  It’s a crazy one!

Ron Clark, Before and After

Why Ron Didn’t Have to Die

Ron Clark, Before and After

Our good friend Ron Clark died a few days ago, just a week and a half after his 30th birthday. 

His blog and his incredible wife Heather’s blog chronicled his heroic battle against cancer since 2010.

Ron was the funniest, coolest, sweetest, most selfless guy we knew.  The world is way worse off without him.

Ron’s cancer was due to a rare disease called Von Hippel Lindau (VHL) that has no cure yet.  Coincidentally, May is VHL awareness month. (If you’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan, that’s the same disease Teddy’s husband had).  This disease is genetic and causes tumors to grow and can be very dangerous if unmonitored.  Ron’s previously treated and monitored VHL was left unattended due to a lack of health care/insurance coverage that would allow for preventative care.  While we can’t know for certain what would have happened, it is likely Ron would not have died a few days ago, or have spent the last year and half in a lot of pain if there was healthcare available that would have covered a yearly MRI scan to monitor his VHL.  THIS IS A FAILURE OF THE SYSTEM.

Please take a few minutes and read Heather’s very informative blog post about VHL and the frustrating lack of healthcare available until Ron’s cancer was terminal.  Then, join me in taking action by writing your representatives to encourage them to continue to press the issue of health care reform at the federal level so that this stops happening!


[Sidebar: This is likely to be my only political post, and I don’t really feel that this post is about politics as much as it is about basic human rights.  While I know that some readers might not share my thoughts on the necessity for health care reform, I still urge you to help raise awareness, funding for patients, and funding for research on VHL and other rare diseases.]

If you’d like to email your representative and don’t know what to say, copy and paste this message:

To the men and women representing me at the Federal level:

Ron Clark died a few days ago at the age of 30 from cancer caused by a rare genetic disease called Von Hippel Lindau. Ron’s untimely death could have been prevented if he had access to a yearly MRI scan to prevent cancerous tumor growth.  Unfortunately, because Medicaid would not cover this preventative care, and insurance with this preexisting condition was unaffordable for a college student whose parents’ insurance would not cover him, Ron was forced to go 7 years without a scan.  When his body became ravaged with multiple types of terminal cancer, his Medicaid covered thousands of dollars of treatment and care, but that money could have been better spent preventing his death.

I urge you today to continue to find a universal health care option so people like Ron don’t have to die young.  So people with rare diseases aren’t ignored.  So our taxpayer dollars don’t go to helping people die, but helping people live.

[You can read about Ron’s battle and the many frustrating and ridiculous obstacles he faced trying to get help on his blog ( and his wife Heather’s blog]