Marriage and the Phlebotomist

Marriage

Getting my blood drawn ranks right up there with vomiting on the list of things I hate.  After putting off some follow-up blood work I needed to get done for far too long, the dread had become more all consuming than my distaste of the procedure. So I decided to pull off the proverbial band-aid last week, which is why I was found dutifully sitting in a crowded lab office.

My fellow blood-letters were mostly from a previous generation. The powerful scent of aftershave and Chanel No.5 filled the space not taken up by walkers and puffy jackets. They make conversation with each other about their Power Ball lottery losses, raising gravely voices over the morning news playing on the TV above our heads. While I decide whether to distract myself with Instagram or let all the ambient noises lull me into a false sense of security, I hear my name called from around the corner.

A woman my own age ushers me down the hallway. She reminds me of a girl I knew growing up. Her trim, athletic figure looks enviably good in scrubs; their plumb hue complimenting her unadorned olive skin and bright eyes. We turn into an empty room. I slide off my jacket and take a seat in the chair trying not to stare at the lone vial of someone else’s blood standing sentinel in the collection tray. The phlebotomist asks a few preliminary questions. When I tell her my birthdate, she looks up and smiles, “I’m a five too.”

Pleasantries aside, I push up both sleeves and we begin the banter that always ensues when I give blood…

“Do you have an arm preference?” She unwraps a needle and gets some tubes ready.

“No. I tend to be a difficult stick.”

“What’s your dominant hand?”

“Right,” I reply.

“Dominant sides generally have bigger veins. Do you mind if I do your right arm?”

I clench my right fist and she feels around for a few seconds.

“I think I’ll use a different needle.” The cold sweat begins.

She goes back to the drawer and unwraps another package. Taking off a glove, she hones back in on a spot in the crook of my right arm.

“Well, I think I found one. It’s a little rolly. I bet most people don’t find it because they won’t take off their gloves.”

I can feel my face blanch at the mention of rolly and I don’t hear her finish the sentence. I’ve already been doing deep breathing to keep my heart rate normal, but the thought of her having to fish for my rolly vein makes me feel nauseous. I don’t want to experience the two things I hate most in the same day.  

I’m not sure if she sensed my panic or if she was just being courteous, but she turned around to close the curtain separating the room and the busy hallway, muttering something about privacy. I am thankful that if I do happen to pass out vomit there will be only one witness my shame.

“You’re doing great.” I let my eyes drift away from the glove boxes I’d been staring at over my left shoulder and look at her in surprise. I hadn’t even felt her put the needle in.

As she attached the last vial to be filled, she asked what I had going on the rest of the day. She worked steadily – sliding the needle out of my arm, holding a cotton ball to the puncture site, taping the cotton ball in place –  and listened quietly as I explained I’d be hanging out with my 3 month and two year old.

Her next question took me by surprise.

“Do you like being married?” She paused and before I could answer, added, “Marriage kinda scares me.”

“It’s good. I really like it,” I said lamely.

I’m not sure if she felt a special camaraderie with me because we shared the same birth month or I looked like someone she could confide in, but she continued her line of questioning.  “Marriage kinda scares me. I’ve just been hurt really bad, you know? How did you know he was the right one?”

I stared at her for a moment, wondering how we jumped from what I’d be doing this afternoon to how I knew Tim was the one. While she threw away needles and added my vials of blood to the collection tray, I replayed June 10th to October 30th, 2011 in my mind as quickly as possible, searching for a decent answer. I wasn’t sure I actually had an answer.

Was Tim the right one because he met all the criteria on my list? (Yes, I had created a physical list that I still possess.) Was Tim the right one because our relationship survived a week long camping trip with his family? Was Tim the right one because both of us happened to be available at the same time?

My brief replay of history didn’t yield much fruit, but this felt like one of those God-ordained opportunities to have a meaningful conversation and I didn’t want to blow it. I wish I could say I came up with a profound answer that gave this woman hope and enthusiasm for future relationships. In actuality, my response was lacklustre and riddled with the religious jargon I was meaning to avoid. I slid my jacket back on and walked into the hallway a little reluctantly, feeling like I had indeed blown it.

How do you explain to someone that marriage is created by a God who loves us and wants to be intimately involved in our lives; that marriage is hard and doesn’t preclude you from getting hurt; that marriage is less about finding the right one and more about finding a person who always points you to the Right One

I guess you say just that.

Here’s to hoping she becomes my regular phlebotomist.

My first Stitch Fix box!

My wardrobe has gone through major renovations over the past couple years. Between babies, reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (a wonderful bum-kicker of a book)and moving, I’ve purged the majority of my clothing because it didn’t fit properly, wasn’t my style anymore, or was one of multiple black sweaters…

Since my pregnancy with Kennedy, I’ve had my sights on doing Stitch Fix to bolster my sparse closet. Thanks to some Stitch Fix bucks my in-laws gave me for Christmas, I received my first fix this week. This is by no means a style blog, but I love looking at other people’s Fix posts, so thought I would share the contents of my box and my Stitch Fix experience!

If you have no idea what Stitch Fix is, here’s a brief run down:

Stitch Fix is a personal styling service. You fill out a detailed style profile online that gives your stylist an idea of your size, preferences, needs/wants, and price point. Once you schedule a Fix, your stylist picks five pieces and sends them to you with a styling guide that will give you ideas about how to incorporate those pieces into your wardrobe. You get to try on those items in your own home, cogitate on their cuteness, and decide whether you want to keep them or send them back. The pieces you don’t want get put in a prepaid bag and dropped at the post office. The styling fee is $20, which gets applied to any item of clothing you keep. If you decide you want all five pieces, you get 20% off your entire box.

I asked my stylist for a chambray shirt (mine doesn’t fit super well) and some black leggings (I continue to wear my maternity leggings that have weathered two pregnancies and have a growing hole in the bum region.). Katie, my stylist, wasn’t able to snag a chambray shirt but gave me another chambrayish option and included some black leggings. I could tell that she had checked out my style Pinterest board because there were lots of stripes and plaid.

Evella Boatneck Top

Market & Spruce Evella Boatneck Top (Medium) $64

This was my stylist’s solution to the chambray shirt. It looks like a layered chambray button up without the bulk because it’s one top. I thought it looked too businessy when I first tried it on, but liked it way better the next day when we took the photos. The fabric was thick and I love me some horizontal stripes. If it fit like it looks in the big photo, I would have kept it. However, I had to hold the fabric of the bottom back (top right photo) to get it that way. I think a small wouldn’t have fit so well in the shoulders/chest, but might have been less bell like on the bottom. Returned.

Plaid

Colibri Plaid

Market &Spruce Colibri Plaid Printed Tab-Sleeve Shirt (Meidum) $48

Love the plaid and the colors of this light, airy top. The bottom scoops even lower than the front which I loved. Again, didn’t feel like it was anything special on the first day and then liked it so much better when I styled it with things that I already owned. I decided to send it back because it wasn’t very practical for Winter (100% rayon). Gosh, I’m already regretting that decision… Returned.

Fun fact about the lace dress in the first photos: I wore that dress to leave my wedding, sans tights. It is shoooort. Not sure what I was thinking. Embarrassed emoji face.

Tiffina Top

Loveappella Tiffina Knit Top (Medium) $54

This top was an instant yes. The photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s the perfect mix of neutral, basic and fun details. The length is awesome and it’s wonderfully soft. Kept.

Rune Porter Legging (Medium) $38

When my box came, I was in the midst of some weird stomach bug. Had I not been on a Gatorade and toast diet, these leggings probably would have created some muffiny action. They were a nice weight and I liked that they were made in the US. Even if they were a large, I’m not sure I could have spent $38 on leggings. We’re not at a point with our clothing budget for me to prioritize quality over price on every item. Returned. 

Margerie Strip Cardigan

Market & Spruce Margerie Stripe & Dot Open Cardigan (Medium) $68

Apologies for the bum shot… I wanted to highlight the cute gathered detail on the back of this wonderfully soft (are all Stitch Fix pieces SO soft??) cardigan. The shoulders/arms were a little big. It made me feel shlumpy. Other than the white shirt combo, I was also having a hard time picturing what I could wear this with from my wardrobe. Returned.

~~~

Overall, i was really happy with my box and thrilled with the experience. My next Fix is already scheduled for the beginning of February.

Some final thoughts about Stitch Fix:

  • With two kids under two, I don’t have a ton of free time to shop (especially by myself). And as someone who gets major decision fatigue, I love that Stitch Fix gives me access to stylish clothes without crowds and endless options. I can try things on in my own home – yay for nice lighting and unlimited time in front of the mirror.
  • The process of filling out the style profile was beneficial. With their prompts, I was able to identify some distinct dislikes and some definite loves. Plus, knowing more about your style preferences is helpful when you do go shopping.
  • You get three days to decide if you’re keeping the pieces. I made some snap judgements the first time I tried on some of the items (I’m looking at you boatneck top), which totally changed the next day when we were taking the photos. I love being able to physically see how a piece of clothing will fit into my current wardrobe. Makes for wiser purchases.
  • And finally, having your sweet husband take photos while you try not to pose awkwardly is a very stretching experience…

Have you tried Stitch Fix? I’d love to hear about your experience or answer any questions.

What I’m Reading

Apparently I had a thing for red covers… I’ve read a decent amount since our sweet little Kennedy arrived, though I probably should’ve been using that time to sleep.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy!

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

I’m increasingly getting in touch with my crunchy side so this memoir made my inner earth-mother really happy. At one point in reading, I asked Tim if we could get a cow… Kristin gives up the city life for a farmer she just met and his dream of offering a full diet CSA from land he doesn’t own yet. I loved this book.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Masterfully written historical fiction about Sarah Grimke, an early nineteenth century abolitionist, and the life of her “human present” (household slave) Hetty. Kidd weaves a captivating and hear breaking narrative using both women’s perspectives.


Emma (A Modern Retelling) by Alexander McCall Smith

Part of The Austen Project which recruited world renowned authors to reimagine Austen’s six novels, McCall’s Emma was just so-so. Emma is my favorite Jane Austen novel (if you could actually pick such a thing…) so I had high expectations. Some of McCall’s modern interpretations didn’t sit right with me, but I was curious enough to keep reading.

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

Katherine Reay is a delightful author. Her ability to seamlessly weave classic literature into her own works is endlessly readable. I devoured her first two books (Dear Mr. Knightley and Lizzy and Jane) and this one was no different. However, I’m much less familiar with the Brontes and Gaskell, so connected a little less with the characters in The Bronte Plot. Still a great read.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks

I’m not sure I would actually recommend this to anyone because of some questionable content, but it was a fun and light-hearted read perfect for my postpartum late nights. If you’re a fan of Kate and William, you’d love this book.

Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans by Michelle Tam

Our effort to eat more protein, more vegetable, and more healthy fats led me to Nom Nom Paleo at the end of Summer. I’ve made a few of her recipes with success and love their podcast. I was pleased that one of our local libraries had their cookbook, but most of the content can be found on the blog so I wouldn’t spend the money to have this on your shelf.


Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts On The Go by Diana Rodgers

We aren’t Paleo, but this cookbook (also borrowed from the library) gave me a ton of good ideas for incorporating more meat and veggies in to my diet.

What are you reading?

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What I’m Reading {Summer 2015}

Please don’t be alarmed by the length of this list. If pregnancy is the kryptonite to my writing, it seems to have the opposite effect on my reading habits. And this list is really what I’ve read from April thru August, not just over the Summer.

I kept my commentary pretty short since there are 29 books listed, but I’d love to hear what you thought if you read any of them or have recommendations! I also didn’t really describe what many of the books were about because this post would have been ginormous, so the links will take you to Amazon if you want to know more about one in particular. (Amazon links are affiliate.)

My Fall plans look like rereading Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, which I haven’t read since high school, in preparation for Katherine Reay’s third novel, The Bronte Plot, due out November 3rd.

What I'm Reading

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh: Lovely, complicated story of forgiveness and family that made me want to surround myself with flowers.

Food A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan: Abandoned midway.

Longbourn by Jo Baker: I know Austen fans are split on this rendering of Pride and Prejudice. I fall in to the Nay camp.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple: This had been on my list since Shauna Niequist talked it up last year. An engaging and humorous read.

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist: Reread. Loved as per usual.

Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Colllins: The setting of this particular novel is reminiscent of the little towns a wee bit North of where we lived in Idaho (Brandilyn lives very near where Tim and I used to live in Coeur d’Alene), which made for fun reading. I have to be careful though, with this type of novel, since the murder aspect can get in my head.

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott: So many authors I respect love Anne Lamott, so I jumped on this for 25 cents at a thrift store. Struggled to get half-way and then didn’t want to waste precious reading time on finishing.

Miracle at Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado: My first encounter with Lucado’s fiction. Kind of predictable, but good characters and a really neat perspective on spiritual warfare.

The Secret of Mirror Bay by Carolyn Keene: I’m a huge Nancy Drew fan and still pick them up every once in a while for a light, quick read. This one is set in Cooperstown, NY which is 20 miles from where my parents live.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Incredibly well-written. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn: What would happen if it were illegal to use an increasingly large number of the letters in our alphabet?… Lots of fun for the English major types.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: First but won’t be my last of Rainbow Rowell.

The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith: Loved everything about this book. I’m a horrible unpacker and avoid putting decor up because it may not be perfect or the best place to put it, so The Nesting Place was like a needed and beautiful kick in my decorating bum.

Rules of Civility by Amor TowlesWas on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. Left me kind of depressed, though it was well-written.

All Dressed Up by Scarlett BergFun, light read that felt like a mash-up of Robin Jones Gunn and America’s Next Top Model.

First Impressions by Charlie LovettAlso on MMD’s Summer Reading Guide. Jane Austen + mystery + antique books = loved it!

Bossypants by Tina FeyI expected to love this one because I think Tina Fey is quite funny. Abandoned half-way. I’ll stick with Mindy Kaling and Ellen DeGeneres.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie KondoI’ve done some simplifying before, but the KonMari method of evaluating everything you own by asking, “Does this give me joy?” really seemed to resonate with me. People get up in arms about the oddities in this book (which do exist, mostly due to cultural differences), however, I think it’s worth looking past. Since reading it in July, I’ve tidied our books (never thought I’d do that), clothes (even the hubs jumped on board!), our files, the kitchen (another one I didn’t think needed any work), my hard-copy photographs, and various boxes from the garage. We’ve taken endless loads to Goodwill. I’m much more mindful of what we own and what we purchase.

The Road to Yesterday by L.M. Montgomery: A nice collection of short stories from an author I love.

Well Fed & Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan: Though we don’t eat Paleo, these two cookbooks have provided amazing inspiration and recipes for cutting back on sugar and preservatives while amping up our protein and vegetable consumption.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee: Our son’s middle name is Atticus. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of TKAM and the Finch family. I’m not sorry I read this (mostly from a literary history and criticism stand point), but it’s definitely not going to be for everyone.

Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster: Finally read the book that Dear Mr. Knightley a fantastic read) is loosely based on. Quick and very enjoyable.  The movie, with Fred Astaire, was great too.

All Things New by Lynn Austin: Lynn Austin is a reliably good Christian fiction author. Her novels are always well researched and engaging. Having recently read Go Set A Watchman, the Antebellum setting of this particular novel was timely.

Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle: Wasn’t the best mom-memoir I’ve read. (Surprised by Motherhood is one of my favorites.) I wouldn’t be opposed to reading one of Melanie’s other two books – one on marriage, the other on friendship.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: Fantasy isn’t generally my genre, but I really enjoyed this book (another from MMD’s Summer Reading Guide).

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer: I apparently had something going for epistolary novels this year… Utterly lovely book written in letters. Wonderful characters.

For The Love by Jen Hatmaker: I don’t want to be too nit picky about this book because I adore Jen Hatmaker. Let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite of the three books that I’ve read (plus her blog). It was good, I think I just had REALLY high expectations.

Second guesses and sweet tea. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

“Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles…” I’m channeling my inner Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof reference, for those non-musical people) because I haven’t posted anything in these here parts for months. Sweet Scarlett Berg did this interview at the beginning of the year and I’m just now getting it out to y’all. Blogger. Fail.

This Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing series officially wrapped up in January, but I wanted to sprinkle a few more here and there because I always need this type of encouragement. Scarlett is the author of All Dressed Up (Robin Jones Gunn meets America’s Next Top Model), a fun read perfect for the last few beach days of Summer.  I connected with her through Katie Eller, a previous Perspectives participant.

I read Scarlett’s book earlier this year and enjoyed it. I’m hoping to do a recap of all my reading since my February Quick Lit post soon, but in the meantime, enjoy what this author-momma has to say!

And if you’re new to the series, check out the archives for all 21 interviews!

Perspectives Scarlett

Why do you write/blog?

I’ve had a desire to journal for as long as I can remember. My journaling over the years became more a part of my prayer life and continues that way today, yet it’s only been fairly recently that I discovered that I like to write fiction stories, also. I think this passion grew out of a need to escape some of my own personal struggles. At the time I began to write creatively, my father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and my husband and I were also facing what was to be a long road of infertility battles. Writing became a daily distraction to the intensity of my own day-to-day pain of struggling with loss and disappointment. I had never even thought about writing a novel. As I wrote each day, the unfolding story became a place I wanted to visit, and I became increasingly invested in the characters as the story continued to expand. It, truly, became a fun process and has now grown into a deeper passion for me.

How long have you been blogging/writing?

I’ve been “journaling” for over 20 years, but writing creatively around six-seven years.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

This season of my life is the most amazing, wonderful, chaotic and utterly exhausting time I’ve ever experienced. I never realized how much one little person can change your life. Andrew, our son, came to us through the precious gift of adoption.  Often times I find I want to lavishly express my joy and love for him through writing. There are also days that I’m so overwhelmed by all that God has done for me that I’m speechless to write anything.

Scarlett Berg

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

In addition to being a wife and a mother to an extremely active toddler, I also continue to work full-time as a registered dietitian.  My day is packed with regular employment responsibilities and activities, and just finding time to write can be difficult.  I find, now, I write more in segments than with fluidity of thought.  I’ll type notes or jot down a thought on whatever I can find—computer, paper, grocery list, and even my trusty little iPhone.  It seems these days there is a phone app for just about anything, and I’ve found that to be true for writing as well.  I often use the app on my phone to compose notes or even to write potential new story ideas.

What is your blogging/writing battle cry?

God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). It’s been easy to second guess my writing skills at times because my educational background is not in language arts, creative writing or English, rather in nutrition.  I had to let go of the fear of failing in my own limited perfection and remember the truth of God’s love for me.  He gently reminds me that I can accomplish anything that He has purposed in my heart to do!

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

My faith is the substance of all I hope to be and it is the driving force of my life. Writing is an expression of the creativity and love God has placed deep in my heart. Motherhood—a miraculous gift of God’s goodness and favor! The three interweaved together have given me great joy and remind me that all things are possible with Christ.

Scarlett BergA Southern girl, North Carolina is where Scarlett Berg calls home. She attended college in the beautiful mountains of Appalachian State University. Her favorite things are snuggling with her precious little boy and sharing tender laughs with her husband.  Being raised in church, you could say that she’s known Christ all her life, yet still discovering His fathomless grace and immeasurable depths of love. One thing she knows is true, when God is the center of her heart there is nothing they can’t accomplish together.

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