Friday, August 14, 2015

A Little Piece of My Heart: Conner's 1st Birthday

This week has kind of sucked. And not for the normal reasons of a sucky week like sleeping past the alarm clock, losing my corporate credit card somewhere in the abyss of my dirty car or stressing about media deadlines at work. Tuesday, August 11th was not only my mom’s birthday, but it was the due date for the baby that we lost. In my mind, it would have been his (or her, although we feel it was a ‘him’) 1st Birthday.

As I silently struggled through the week, I wondered if I was normal. Do other miscarriage mommies mourn like this? Am I too upset? Who can I talk to that will understand?  And then I decided that I was sad and didn’t care what anyone thought. On Tuesday, I literally couldn’t get out of bed. I was paralyzed with sadness. I then felt guilt about this sadness, because if this baby would have been born- I wouldn’t have my beautiful little Charlotte. So, my emotions are all very confusing and hollowing and lonely. 

After the miscarriage, we named the baby Conner. This week, I prayed for God to show me Conner. In Heaven, is he whole and healthy? Last night, in between getting up with my teething little Charlotte, I saw him. Conner has brown hair and chubby cheeks. He has big brown eyes like his big sister. A huge smile with two little bottom teeth. His chubby legs are just beginning to walk. We talked for awhile and couldn’t decide if he likes trains or elephants more. While this entire encounter could have been a figment of my imagination and broken heart, I choose to believe it was the beautiful gift of a few minutes with my happy baby boy.

Today, I’m glad August 11st is over. I feel joy for my beautiful daughters and joy that I am a Christian, because my faith gives me the knowledge that my son is in the very best hands. And that we will all be together one day in Heaven. I’ve decided that every year in honor of Conner’s birthday that I will do something kind for another family. This year, Conner’s birthday gift was delivering meals to my friend Hillary who is busy with her three children, including her daughter Livie who has many health struggles. I loved Conner through loving them. And it felt right. The perfect way to honor his short life.

Over the past few years, losing Conner and watching both my parents conquer cancer, I’ve learned to be a more loving, forgiving and compassionate person. I’ve learned to put my phone down and enjoy life. If you’re struggling through a tough time, please know that you’re not alone- and that there are many people to talk you through it. It’s okay to be sad sometimes.

Happy 1st Birthday, Conner! And Happy 8 Months to my Charlotte. Life is a funny thing. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Goodbye, 804.

Around my pre-teen years, my grandparents made the decision to invest in a beautiful little condo at Panama City Beach. I’ve grown up coming to this condo and within these walls are many of the best moments of my life. However, nothing is more special than the balcony. On the 8th floor balcony, you literally feel as though you’re sitting on top of the ocean. The smell of salty air is thick and, if you listen carefully, you can hear as each special wave gently laps the sandy shoreline. In summary, it’s pure bliss. Heaven on earth.

On this balcony… Oh, this balcony. A lifetime of memories. It’s hard to even put it into words. On this balcony, I’ve giggled with my best friends over Ms. Newby’s hunch punch. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. I’ve dreamed. I’ve wondered. I’ve argued. I’ve contemplated. I’ve smoked cigarettes (sorry, Mom). And, eventually, I grew up. Jason and I slept on the balcony underneath the stars. We talked about our hopes and dreams for our future. The balcony saw my marriage piece together. Held the steps of my firstborn as she stared out at the Gulf for the first time. And, now, it’s my last time sitting on this balcony. Just me and my 6-month old second born, Charlotte. Just a year prior the balcony held my fears as I was cautiously expecting this little girl following a miscarriage.

Oh, this balcony. The sound of these waves. I’ve left my heart here year-after-year for the waves to swallow and carry onward.

I say goodbye to unit 804 as our family prepares to occupy a larger condo on the beach to fit our growing family. It’s a new adventure full of bunk beds for little ones and larger dining spaces for family dinners. A perfect turn of the page for our next chapter of life.

Goodbye balcony, 804. And… thank you.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Equality: Hear My Take

The issue of marriage equality is something I’m especially passionate about, and I invite you to read my opinion. As many of you know, I grew up in the bridal industry. Like the fashion industry overall, the bridal industry is a wonderful melting pot of diversity- different races, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations. While I was raised in a conservative Christian family with traditional values, the people that surrounded me within the bridal industry taught me to love everyone just as they are with no judgment. I am blind to differences, and I love that about my upbringing.

As I’ve scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, I’ve seen so many people post comments against gay marriage that come across as brash, hateful, judgmental and condemning. I invite those of you who may not know many gay people (or any gay people) to think about the subject differently. Please contemplate this simple question… in high school, remember dying to have the latest fashions so that you could fit in? It is human nature to desire to belong and fit in.

Gay people don’t just wake up and decide that they want to be different- that they want to go against the societal norm. Until now, the gay population had to accept the fact that if they “came out”, that friends and family who they loved might be shocked or disappointed. They might not be blessed with children. Finding a “normal” executive job might be difficult. And, most of all, they would never be able to legally get married. Being gay meant living with a sense of rejection. And who would voluntarily jump up and down with his or her hand raised for that kind of life and treatment? It’s who they are.

Throughout history, various cultures have tried methods of teaching, medications, counseling and even hypnosis to reverse the desires of a gay person. Do these methods work? No. You cannot pray away the gay. Randy Fenoli from Say Yes to the Dress New York explained to me one evening at dinner, “Mollie, I was weaving together colorful pot holders with my mom, while my brothers were outside wrangling horses on the farm. I was always different.” This resonated with me then at age 10- and now.

So many of you desire to have a fun “gay guy friend.” You want a gay man to dress you, to help select fabulous shoes and to laugh at during your favorite television shows. You’ve had a gay man beautifully style your hair or apply make up for a special occasion. Has it ever occurred to you that this gay person, hidden underneath layers of humor and humility, wants and deserves a life that is secure and validated?

I have countless gay people in my life. And not to generalize, but my gay friends are sincere, witty, kind and understanding. Why? Because they’ve known a lifetime of adversity. My daughters have legally married gay Godfathers, because I couldn't ask for better people and servant-minded role models for my girls. 

One day, when I get to Heaven, all of God’s word and the manipulation of His word will be made clear. I do know that His greatest commandment is love. I choose love. The Supreme Court chose love. And guess what? #LoveWins today and always. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mom 2.0 Blogger Summit: My Top 5 Favorite Brands

“Mommy, are you at a hotel AGAIN?!” Caroline is ready for Mommy to get home, and I’m extra ready to be back snuggling with my girls. However, April has been an incredible month- both full of business trips and full of inspiration.

This week, PR Manager Sarah Tuck and I have been discovering gorgeous Scottsdale, AZ and enjoying the amazing summer-like weather. I’m currently wrapping up my time representing our company, Mohawk Flooring, at the Mom 2.0 Blogger Summit. To say I’m inspired by the summit is an understatement. I’ve met so many incredible, entrepreneurial moms who are raising families while amplifying their individual voices in the digital space. They’re making their own schedules, building relationships with America’s leading brands and, most of all, paving their way with content that makes other people’s lives richer.

I absolutely love experiencing what other brands are doing to engage with moms. Here’s a list of some news products and campaigns that stood out at the Summit:

In recent years, Lego has been working to amp up their brand presence, particularly with the Duplo brand for kiddos between 2-5 years old. I love giving these affordable sets as birthday gifts to Caroline’s friends. I’ve posted a picture of an adorable new Frozen castle set for ages 6-12. I can totally see Daddy and Caroline putting this together on a Saturday morning. Let it Go, Lego! 

Homemade baby food. The idea of it sounds so rewarding, wholesome, exciting. But, in reality, I don’t have time to make homemade baby food everyday or even every week. Beech Nut has a solution!  They’re offering up baby food that is all natural, organic and homemade. The colors are so vibrant and fresh. And the ingredients in the jar of carrots? ONLY organic carrots. Beech Nut has a new customer in me, and I can’t wait to find this great baby food at Publix for my Charli.

Caroline is very picky about her vitamins. And I’m very picky about the vitamins I give her. She prefers a tart taste. And I prefer to give her vitamins that contain tons of nutrients and that are all natural. SmartyPants are sold at Whole Foods, and I also found them on Amazon. Your kids can still only eat chicken fingers and still receive awesome vitamins!

Out of all of the mom campaigns I encountered, Similac’s message resonated with me the most. Many of us have seen their new Sisterhood of Motherhood video. Click here to check it out if you haven’t seen it- and grab a tissue. It’s SUCH a powerful message. Both of my girls were/are Similac babies, and I’ve always been more than pleased with the quality of their formula. But their new campaign hits home on a deeper level and has inspired me to write another blog post on the subject later. Mom’s, let’s STOP judging each other. We’re a sisterhood.

Our #winetime Mohawk Flooring booth was a huge hit this week. All Mom’s use the expression “I need a glass of wine!” to signify that they need a break or need to have some fun. We ran with this theme and encouraged the bloggers to share their biggest challenge in keeping their houses clean and take a fun photo with our giant wine glasses! At the heart of our booth, we shared the stain and soil resistance story of our SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet with built-in stain and soil protection. The PERFECT carpet for busy families with kids and pets!

There were so many more big brands at the summit this week. Dove hosted a Beauty Lounge and encouraged bloggers to share their #beautystory of love and acceptance while enjoying makeovers, massages and skin consultations. I’m heading there now to the “curl bar”!

Have a great weekend friends!