Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Custom Jewelry Giveaway

I am loving my custom Jack handwriting necklace so much! Andrew loves to grab it, too.

I asked Christine, of No Way Out Make My Day if we could do another giveaway for An Inch of Gray readers and she said SURE!

That means the winner can pick ANY item from her site, and she will customize it with your loved one's handwriting.

This is the one I have:

And here is one she made for a dear friend of  mine:

There are also options that combine inspirational quotes with handwriting. What a great gift for any daughter:

There are many more possibilities in her store.

Here's how to enter: 

For an extra entry, please share the giveaway on FB, twitter, or instagram.

That's it! 

Oh, and Christine is offering my readers 20% off any piece from her collection for the duration of the giveaway (one week)-- perfect for early Christmas shopping.

Just use the code ANINCHOFGRAY during check out in her etsy shop for 20% off.

Thanks, Christine, and THANK YOU for reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bleeding Out

The baby and I wait in the high school parking lot as school lets out. Upperclassmen head to their cars. Several of Jack's friends hop in together and pull away. One has a beard.

Our windows are down because the A/C is broken, and for some reason it's 80 degrees in late October. When the crying starts, everyone can hear it. I feel a bit like a freak. I'm the lady with the dead son and the new baby who is doing everything she can not to embarrass her living teenager in the high school lot. I stand outside the car in my too-short shorts and grungy t-shirt, and try to entertain him.

Little guy has been sick all week and has been a big ball of misery and need. Really, he's been sick on and off for a month, and his discomfort and our lack of sleep is wearing us down. Margaret sleeps on the floor of the basement to get away from the noise, and Tim and I take turns walking and suctioning and comforting.

We don't want Margaret to feel like she can't ask for help, like this ride, just because we have a baby now, so Andrew and I wait.

I try not to play the game of should's. Jack should be driving Margaret home! This should be his senior year! There should be more noise in our house, but not necessarily of the crying variety!

It's all so very disappointing.

It's not like I haven't known disappointment, with the early loss of my mother, and the surrendering of so many plans. One of the greatest disappointments of my adult life was not being able to purchase my family home when Tim and I got married. The timing and numbers just didn't work out. I was supporting Tim on my teacher's salary while he finished law school. Within just two years, we could have afforded the mortgage and then some, raising our kids across the street from the elementary school, just a short walk from the community pool. I so wanted to hang on to that drafty old house with the tin roof, and build a family in what I considered the best place on earth to grow up.

It's hard not to think that if we had somehow managed to buy that house, Jack would have lived. The kids would be at a different high school across town right now. And I wouldn't be sweating it out in this parking lot.

The crying continues. Is that poop oozing up Andrew's onesie? I free him from his carseat to change him on the front seat. As I do, I feel something on my leg. The irony is not lost on me that as I change his diaper-- and the poop that somehow ends up on his neck and his hair-- that I've just started my period, and have no way of taking care of my own personal hygiene.

Once you start guessing about the little things and the big, the questions get more cosmic than earthy like diapers and blood.  If a soul is meant to live here just a limited time before going on to the next phase, if our days are truly numbered in His book, would it have mattered if we'd lived across town on our own little acre, away from the storm, away from the creek? Or, would Jack's soul have crash landed into his destiny and found another way?

I don't know.

But I do know that I am at my best when I am grateful. Grateful for the time I did get to spend in the house that built me. Grateful for the chubby baby born out of sorrow, beating so many odds already in his life. Grateful for 12 years with Jack's physical presence, and grateful for the knowledge that our relationship continues. Grateful the the upperclassmen eventually empty the lot and I can hold and bounce Andrew, now clad in nothing but a diaper, until Margaret appears. And grateful for a teenager, who probably had a lot of her own stuff to deal with during this long day, who sees my wet eyes behind my sunglasses, and offers to bring Andrew into the house when we get home, so I can go to the bathroom in peace.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Makeup Eraser

Margaret reminded me that I was going to post about one of our favorite products several months ago...oops!

Better late than never.

She is my product girl and has introduced me to the likes of BB cream and eyebrow plumper. Her advice is usually spot on!

She also knows I love to save money, so when she asked for a $20 washcloth last Christmas, I was not enthused. She accurately pointed out, however, that we were spending at least $6 a month on makeup removal towelettes, so if the washcloth worked, we would actually save money.

Here it is:
Well, it works!

And at almost one year in, we have saved a bundle, reduced waste, and the cloth is still going strong. She uses different small areas of the cloth for 3-4 days in a row before it needs laundering.  It comes out of the wash perfectly clean and ready to use again. The cloth is chemical free, and although I don't know how it does its magic and sorcery, it gently removes all of her makeup using just water.

I am glad not to be purchasing disposable wipes anymore, or having raccoon-eyed makeup stains on our other washcloths and towels. The Makeup Eraser is available in stores like Sephora and Nordstrom, as well as on Amazon.

This is not a sponsored post; we just enjoy the Makeup Eraser and think you will, too. Affiliate link provided for your convenience.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Catch-up and new article up on FOR HER

We had a great weekend of beautiful weather, apple picking, photography, and Andrew adjusting to his crib. Tim and I even had a night out with friends at a comedy club where one of my dear friends performed. Margaret commented on how easy it was to get the baby to go to sleep, so I think our babysitting game is looking up! Here she is taking pictures at an old mill for photography class.

Today, Andrew woke up with another cold that I'm afraid could turn croupy, so please send prayers our way that he won't lose the ground he's gained in his crib and that he feels better soon! Exactly one month ago today is when he got sick last time, and we are still a bit of a mess.

BIG NEWS: I have a new article up today on For Her, a gorgeous lifestyle magazine. I wrote about a weird thing I did that helped our marriage. I hope you'll read it, and also check out the other great articles on For Her.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Found this little coupon recently that I guess Jack gave me at some point for a birthday or other holiday. "One date of your choice with Jack. Expires: never."

I sure wish I'd redeemed it so we'd have another memory together.

But what a "date" it will be when we are together again!

p.s. If you have coupons like this sitting around, I suggest redeeming them before the teen years. I tried to get Margaret to pay up for "70 minutes of snuggle time" last week but she was not interested! :)

p.p.s. Look at her grumpy little face in her two year old portrait! Ha!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Wall

We've hit the wall.

I wasn't sure when or if it would happen-- that feeling that if you don't get a good night's sleep you might lose your mind. When you stagger through the house like a zombie, communicating only in grunts and groans. When, in the darkness, hope is hard to conjure.

I thought I was pretty close to the wall this summer in Connecticut as I paced up and down a country road in my pj's at 5:30 am, a screaming Andrew in my arms. If I dared slow down, the screaming got worse, so I speed-walked, bouncing him back and forth in my arms, eventually watching a gorgeous sunrise I would have rather missed.

But that was nothing compared to where Tim and I find ourselves now. If you look at recent photos of Tim, he looks tired and gaunt. I look tired and whatever the opposite of gaunt is. Being tired makes me hungry.

For months 2-5 Andrew slept well at night. I didn't dare mention it here, for fear of the jinx. Even our pediatrician just had us nod at the 2 and 4 months appointments when asked about night-time sleep. He held up his hand to keep us from uttering the words, "He's sleeping well" aloud. Andrew got up once a night during that period, and that worked for us.

Then, at 5 1/2 months we started daycare, Andrew got his first cold, and it turned into croup. Naturally, the night-time routine would be disrupted. But now we are on week 3 of that, and we can't get our mojo back. His 6 month appointment is today, so the doc will tell us it's time to get rid of everything that used to work for us anyway: the tight velcro swaddles, and the miracle worker  Rock and Play that sits next to our bed and allows us to tend to him right away before he goes full-on ape-shit. Its womb-like, angled surface was awesome for a baby with reflux, and the proximity was perfect for quick feedings.

There's a perfectly good crib in his room down the hall. We will be introducing him to it now. So he'll be un-swaddled, un-angled, and without his mom there to pop in a pacifier whenever it pops out. We wish we could find a way to help him acclimate him to his new surroundings that did not involve screaming and waking up the whole house. Poor Margaret, who as a busy high schooler puts in 18 hour days with school, sports, and then homework, doesn't need to be kept up by crying all night long.

Most nights Tim and I take turns hiding in the basement with Andrew when he won't go back to sleep. I whisper-beg him to be content to snuggle up with me the way Margaret and Jack did, collapsing into my warm body in bed and falling asleep. I want to say, "What could be better than to sleep with mom? Win-Win." Nope. I wish he would let me rock him in the roomy recliner, so I could doze off, too. But he insists on more deliberate movement. The circular path around and around the couch. The bobbing this way and that, and walking up and down, up and down the stairs. Occasionally I slow down and try to get horizontal on whatever surface is nearby: bed, couch, floor. I eschew a blanket because I don't want him to think I'm actually going to sleep. Last night I spent some time with my right leg partially covered by a baby washcloth in an attempt to stay warm.

Sometimes, I give up and turn on the lights, place toys in front of him, and let him play. He sits up straight as a school master, and quickly finds his grin. The cries turn to coos within seconds as he gets down to the business of play. I smile at the cuteness, then wonder how much more of this we can take.

The thing is, I have PERSPECTIVE that I didn't have with the first two kids. I KNOW this stage won't last forever. We will get through it. I also know this isn't the end of the world, because we've been there, too. But I also have the perspective that sleep issues, while HUGE, are only the beginning of the parenting issues we will face with Andrew. Can I get an AMEN, middle school parents? That's something that first-time parents don't always grasp when they are knee-deep in diapers and onesies.

And that makes me feel more tired. And old as shit.

I've never been a morning person, but staying up all night with a baby makes me grateful for sunrise when it comes, and for the warm cup (or three) of tea that awaits, because that means the night is finally over.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

Happy 6 month birthday, Miracle Baby!

Monday, October 3, 2016


My sweet girl went to Homecoming this weekend. Andrew tried to dress up for the occasion in a Polo outfit, but he was popping out of his pants. I know the feeling, wee one.