A Grateful October 15th

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I’m happy to report that since my last blog entry, the sun has been shining on Willis Hill. I truly wish I could hug every neck who read my blog, called, who messaged me, sent texts, and prayed over us after I shared the news of our miscarriage. Your kind words of encouragement eased my heartache and gave this ole gal a much needed smile. To those who shared their stories of loss: hear me when I say, words will never be enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The Invisible Mom’s Club surely is a phenomenal group of women and I’m lucky to know you. I’m praying for you just as you have for me.

Tonight, lights shine. The Wave of Light event honors the memory of so many Heavenly babies by mimicking a continuous wave of light around the world. Until this year, October 15th was just another ordinary day for me. In 1988, Ronald Reagan declared the month of October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. In 2002, three women- Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown, and Tammy Novak- campaigned for the recognition of October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (PAILRD). Fast forward to 2014 where the glow of the Willis’ lantern illuminates the kitchen. Our light shines symbolizing hope and honoring the short life of our first baby. I pray my words have contributed to the goals outlined by Robyn, Lisa, and Tammy. I, too, believe families shouldn’t have to grieve in silence. For me, telling you proved to be my greatest therapy. Sometimes words are never enough, but sometimes they are….

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Today

September 28, 2014. We were expecting you today.

Instead, my arms are empty and you’re flying with the angels.

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In March, Jason and I suffered a miscarriage. Sharing our loss with you, here, feels far too personal. However, writing is my therapy. And I think I’ve been silent long enough.

The day I found out I was becoming a mother, I had attended a surgical consult to remove my gallbladder. Perfect timing, huh? I was so anxious to end my year long battle with cholelithiasis, I scheduled surgery for the following month. That night, God intervened. Well, it had to be Him because the idea to take a pregnancy test doesn’t normally just pop in and out of my thoughts. Turns out, He was right. That faint second line surely changed the game. I hollered! Jason laughed. We both cried! We were inconveniently, gloriously pregnant!

I cancelled my surgery. I continued to have debilitating gall bladder attacks. Already miserable, the pregnancy nausea began. Closely followed by the vomiting. I was the sickest I’d ever been in my life. But I was happy. Deliciously happy.

We attended our first prenatal appointment. We heard the baby’s heartbeat. I finally gave Jason permission to shout the news from the rooftops. We were in awe of this baby.

So happy until…… Our midwife advised of a possible complication. Our baby may or may not have fluid in his/her lungs. Everything “looked perfect” except for the possible fluid. Questions were answered, we were reassured and asked to follow up in two weeks for another ultrasound. In that painful moment, I knew. I just knew.

Those two weeks were agony. I spent the time bargaining with God. I begged; pleaded for His mercy and His healing hand. But deep down, I knew our destiny. Naively, I believed waiting would be the worst part. But the pain that awaited me…… This pain marked me and I’m afraid I’ll never be the same.

The follow up day came and I couldn’t look at the ultrasound. A moment I’ll never stop regretting. I just held Jason’s hand and stared at the ceiling. All the while, I tried in vain to catch my breath. Silence deafened my ears. No cardiac flutter. The heartbeat had vanished. Our baby was gone.

The following day, surgery would remove my gallbladder and our Heavenly baby from my body. The unfailing sickness I’d come to rely on would disappear. We would no longer be pregnant. The plans made were null and void. All that we are left with is a memory and ultrasound photos displayed on our refrigerator.

Dark, dark days clouded Willis Hill. I recovered from the surgery and went back to work, guilt-ridden. The months since our loss have flown by. The grief, however, still remains. Jason was, as ever, my rock. If you know my husband, then you understand how much he longed for this baby…. How much he deserves to be a Dad.
How he keeps it together, I’ll never know.

I’ve learned that I have to keep moving and carry the guilt the best way I know how. I’ve found peace in knowing my child is in the arms of the Lord. Jason and I continue to be grateful for this tiny life we once knew. We mourn our loss, but we are hopeful that we will be blessed again.

For now, it’s one foot in front of the other. Hope fills the holes in my heart and I’m certain that I must keep trying.

God knows, I’m tough enough.

Psalm 91: 2

1800’s Mill and Maggie

It’s quite hard to believe that I’ve had my Nikon for two years. When I bought my camera, I envisioned one photo. Two long years later, I had the chance to take it.

Jason still had to report to work this morning. At 8 am, sharp. I would have been up with him, worrying about his drive in, if it had not been for my closed eyelids. Lucky for me and the rest of Habersham county drivers, my employer closed our office.

Around noon, I decided to go back to bed for one of my notorious “short” naps, but Jason called and said he had finally been sent home. So, the Willis’ had themselves a glorified snow day. Mrs. Willis has endured many a “snow day”, but the Mr. rarely gets to partake since his employer works in and through all climates, no exceptions. Not even an F5 tornado can shake those boys!

By 3 pm, the sleet was really coming down. Jason advised that we only had a small window of time before the roads would be too icy for the 4X4. I suited up, stepped in my Muck boots, and slowly made my way down the mountain, camera bag strapped to my back. Jason was at an arm’s length, ready to catch me if I slipped. My frozen cheeks were very ready to get this photo session over with.

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If you’ve ever driven down Hwy 197, you’ve seen this old, old Mill. According to someone, not certain who, it was built in the 1800’s. The same 1800’s when Laura Ingalls and her prairie dress roamed the Midwest. I’ve always admired the Mill and begged for snow every Winter just to capture these photos.

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After I snapped pictures and worried Jason slap silly with my “we’re trespassing” talk, we got back in the toasty truck and drove home, which is less than a mile down the road.

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When my chauffeur turned back onto our road, I started dreading the walk back up the mountain. “Why did I decide to do this?” I asked my husband. Never mind that he agreed to make the walk for the second time today, just so I could click a camera button.

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Every snow or ice, we park our cars in the pasture, which was directly behind me when I took this photo. The “pasture” part of the driveway is flat and perfect for parking our cars. Once parked, we start the long haul to the top. Note: the top of this photo is not the top of our driveway. It keeps going. Fifteen steps in, I started cursing.

Finally at the top, I felt a little better about the walk, and took a picture of what we had conquered.

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And turned around, and snapped another picture of what was left…

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Once Part 2 is behind you, a slight curve opens up to Paradise….

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Finally, the last leg… Can you see the roof in the distance?

Once at the top, you keel over from exhaustion. And then hurry and take other necessary pictures in the yard before frostbite sets in.

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Finally, watch the Maggie-girl chase her laser in the snow..

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And take one more photo, you know, for good measure.

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At last, you head indoors and kick off your boots just to endure another 3 hours of snow and ice News coverage you just witnessed, first hand. Because, well… your husband refuses to watch anything else and continues to give the same excuse of wanting to know when the next few inches are coming in.

If I see Glenn Burns or hear “accumulation” again, I might snap.

I’ve been ready for Spring.

P.S. We normally scale the mountain on a 4 wheeler, but ours is conveniently out of commission.  Again, I’m ready for Spring…

Sewing Flop

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So this happened today. I can’t decide if I like it or not… but I’m leaning towards not.

Is this a summer babydoll dress? A casual nightie?

Is the heart too much? After all, Valentine’s Day is in February. There isn’t a lady this side of the Mason Dixon Line who’d wear this on Valentine’s. Unless said lady completed the ensemble with black leggings and a crop jacket since she is likely one of those layer freaks. It’s ALL about the layers down here.

This retro floral fabric was cut for the pattern I’ve been working on forever procrastinating. Not before transferring every last pattern marking, I found the pattern size FAR TOO small for my plain-jane dress form. After all, most patterns I have are to fit Grandmother’s petite 1960 frame. Frustrated, I went another direction. I pleated the waistline of the (open-front) skirt to accommodate a bust-line. I shimmied the skirt up the dress form and styled with a frilly trim. I added the heart because well… I’m just in a weird mood today.

I snapped a few photos of the impromptu dress and turned my nose up. The heart was killing me. I had to get rid of it.

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My wardrobe does not consist of hearts. No jewelry. No print shirts. No heart shaped accessories. But bows…. Bows are everywhere!

The moral of this story is:

When your dress pattern starts to suck (the life out of you)… improvise. Realizing you’d never step out in public in what you just created…. go ahead and post it on your blog for the world to see… and pray someone else would want to wear it.

Then cry a little. And admire those carefully created pleats and smile. And then go back to your millinery research and decide that type of sewing is more your calling.

Over and out.

Benefit’s Erase Paste

First of all, you should know that this is not a beauty blog. However, this is a beauty “blog entry”. Note: I am not being paid by anyone to write this because frankly the quantity of my blog readers remain in the single digits. 

My love affair with Benefit started when Ree Drummond, the matchmaker, featured They’re Real mascara on her blog. Apart from my love for her cookbooks, I look to her for beauty advice because she is also a fair-skinned redhead. After reading her post, I drove straight to Ulta, paid full price and swiped some on my lashes right there in the car. They’re Real mascara is truly, I repeat TRULY, worth your investment. You will not get through your front door without a flood of compliments! I now watch for sales as $23 per mascara tube far exceeds my budget for a makeup product. If you cannot afford such, Maybelline’s Colossal Volum’ Express is a close second.

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Based on internet research, you either hate or love Benefit products. When a “sometimes” beauty vlogger, Alli Trippy, featured Benefit’s Erase Paste on her YouTube channel, I knew I had try it. Her makeup is always flawless… plus, she’s a straight-shooter so I knew I could trust her judgment.

The Erase Paste is neatly packaged in a tiny pink box. Do not be dismayed by the appearance that you aren’t getting enough bang for your buck. You are getting more than enough! A minuscule amount goes a long, long way. I predict my jar will last me 6-12 months.


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Also included are technique instructions for proper use and a teeny spatula. I began by scooping the product out with the spatula but found that I scooped too much. When the instructions say “tiny”, they mean it. Honestly, I stopped using the spatula to help reduce waste. Apparently, I don’t understand the meaning of tiny. My jar now looks like this.

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You can still see where I used the spatula along the rim and then began using my middle (birdie) finger. You can also see my foot at the bottom of the photo. Sorry about that. Naturally, the finger method works best for me.

Erase Paste does wonders for my dark circles that surfaced last year. It also conceals my skin imperfections and blemishes. Again, it’s pricey but I believe it will not disappoint. Note: I don’t attain to be a makeup guru. In my family, that coveted title will always belong to my sweet Mama. I sincerely wanted to share this little pink jar with you and hope you have the same results. And if you cannot afford such, I also use CoverGirl’s Smoothers Concealer stick daily. Truthfully, it covers my really annoying blemishes much better than the Erase Paste…. Did I just say that?

And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Name that movie! The rest of the day will be dedicated to ridding my home of all Christmas remnants and filling my crock-pot with chili ingredients. And tonight… my idea of a fashion show comes on television at 9 EST- Downton Abbey! Are you ready for life without Matthew at Downton?

Hopefully, my next post will feature the current dress pattern I’m stitching together. It’s darling! Until then…

Love,

Jordan

Hello, 2014!

Jason was in his tree-stand at precisely 6:45 am this morning. Which means, I awoke the very second his alarm clock sounded at 6:20, felt my way across the bed until I found his back and immediately started tapping. Ummm excuse me, Sir. The alarm. The exchange is normally sweet until after the fifth minute the alarm continues to shriek. I don’t recall what I finally said to him but I’m sure it wasn’t my sweetest moment.

The good news is deer season is over today. The bad news is my husband also hunts turkey and coyotes—and the piles of camouflage will continue to hinder my view of the dining room floor. Unless he shoots one tonight, Jason did not get a deer this year. He’s not very happy about it and I don’t really have an opinion. I did not grow up hunting or am a true pioneer woman who demands a year supply of deer meat in her freezer. I’m a beef girl, anyhow.

However, he did shoot a coyote on Thanksgiving, which turned out to be a very exciting day. Deer or not, I still enjoyed the precious moments of “me time” while he enjoyed Mother Nature and Father Time.

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Before I began this blog entry, I took the time to look back on the year’s blog posts. To say that I am blessed is an understatement. 2013 was very good to me.

I met my beautiful niece, Jersey, in April. Look how she’s grown since. P.S. I chose this picture out of hundreds solely for the wrists. Look at them. My gosh, I love her.

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I turned 27 in June, the age in which I finally realized what it meant to grow older. Not sure why this hadn’t happened before.

My tiger lily bloomed after waiting three Springs. You should know that the lily was transplanted from Jason’s Granny’s garden– to his mother’s– to ours. Watching the bud open overnight was a moment of true happiness for me. I hadn’t killed it.

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I sewed my biggest accomplishment to date.

I fell in love with countless characters who narrated their story to me.

Maggie and I watched the sunrise in Garden City Beach, SC.

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I experienced the colors of Autumn as any woman should. In the foothills of North Carolina, with her mother, and two wine glasses.

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Jason and I celebrated three years of marriage over a steak dinner after a long day of work.

I learned how to knit. I also learned how to crochet.

Christmas was very special this year; Mama and Daddy were whole again, with both their girls home on Christmas Day.

Jason and I celebrated New Year’s Eve “in”. Some time around 11:15, I fell asleep in the crook of his arm. I woke just in time to watch the ball drop, get my kiss, and go to bed. Some party animal I am.

Happy New Year, everyone. Cheers for auld lang syne (Do you think of Sex and the City or When Harry Met Sally when you hear that song? No? Just me?).

I have a feeling 2014 will be a momentous year.

Love,

The Willis’

Merry Christmas!

My kitchen smells of Heaven. That or Ree Drummond’s lodge. Whichever.

Maggie is snuggled beside me, worn out from Christmas morning excitement. Jason is relaxing in his recliner, hogging the television. Doesn’t he know Ralphie’s on? Fra-ra-ra-ra-ra Ra-ra-ra-raaaa.

Our Christmas Eve was spent with my in-laws. We snacked on fudge, vegetable trays, and hot wings! My thoughtful mother-in-law even made me nut-less fudge. After our bellies were full, all the gifts were exchanged, the wrapping paper mountain was cleared, we said our goodbyes and headed to the Hill. After all, Maggie-girl was waiting.

Our faithful watchdog has been very good this year -not without a few dramatic moments of eating things she shouldn’t, but otherwise the best dog. Santa brought her a fluffy new bed, a new polka-dot collar, a ball, and a new laser pointer.

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So far, Christmas Day activities include: cooking, Maggie chasing the laser, more cooking, a video game or two, baking, and a little more laser.

Later on, Jason and I are spending the evening with my parents. This year is already so very special, but I am very much looking forward to eating Christmas Dinner with our sweet Jersey.

Off to finish icing a cake– Daddy’s favorite.

Wishing your family the Merriest of Christmases! I am thankful Jesus is the reason for the season.

XOXO  Jordan

P.S. I HAVE to add: my husband got played this year. I am writing this to you from my NEW laptop. I agree that I’ve been good all year, but not THAT good. I also unwrapped PW’s new cookbook. Isn’t he the sweetest?

P.S.S. I was on my treadmill at 11:45 last night. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Is this thing on?

Hello? Anyone listening? In the famous words of my Grandmother, “well I declare!”
I declare the blogging break complete. I’m back.

I still don’t have much to say other than I’m alive

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… and Christmas-time is here. The time when you can say anything, do anything, admit anything, or believe anything. All in the spirit of Christmas, eh?

Love,
Jordan

Anna

Y’all, I was Lucy two years ago. Simple tasks like threading the machine proved to be a great difficulty for me. The only sewing experience I could recall was my 9th grade Home Economics class (very likely called something even more politically correct these days).

As an adult, I stitched my first stitch for an apron that turned out hideous. I admit that I haven’t made anything that ugly in quite sometime and I thankfully no longer feel like Lucy. I have been busting at the seams (ha!) to show you my latest sewing venture. I also want to continue to encourage others to try sewing. In my book, practice never makes perfect but you get pretty darn close. More than likely, one day, you will create something more beautiful than you’ve ever dreamed if you just try. I hope the following is proof.

This sewing story begins with Anna. Anna is the daughter of Sandra, one of my co-workers. When Anna asked me to make her wedding reception dress, I nearly had a coronary. My immediate thought was “I’m very flattered, but….” I stopped myself and replied that it would be my absolute pleasure and never looked back. I had plenty of time to worry about flopping the whole shebang, but I knew I’d never get to worry had I not said yes. Worry wort, I am.

Anna, Sandra, and myself met at our local JoAnn to browse (and hopefully purchase) fabrics. Being what I define as fabulous, Anna stayed true to form and chose a Butterick pattern- B5882 to be exact. This was my sign from God that I could truly do this. Gretchen Hirsch a.k.a. Gertie, the pattern designer, was my first sewing influence I discovered in the blog world. I’ve read her book-cover to cover, I read her blog entries daily, I’ve taken her online courses, I know her style, etc. etc. Fabric and notions were purchased excitedly and I made haste to Willis Hill, phone glued to my ear immediately calling Mama to tell her the Gertie-pattern news. I studied the pattern, Gertie’s favorite vintage techniques, boning, and hand stitched lining for three days. When I felt confident (enough), I cut the fabric and began sewing. I didn’t complete the dress without bumps in the road and a few curse words. Anna’s first fitting was too big, so I ripped many a seam, took in those stunning princess seams and started again. I didn’t know it then, but the dress fit perfectly. When I arrived at her reception last night, words couldn’t describe how proud I felt. She was stunning!

I’ve babbled enough, so I’ll just finish the rest of this post with pictures. Enjoy!

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Thank you, Anna, for having faith and allowing me to make your dress. The minute you traded your Steve Madden wedges for your cowboy boots last night sold me… we really are kindred spirits. May you and your husband be blessed with abundant, loving years together.

Love,
Jordan

Mama’s Birthday

Recently, to celebrate a very special birthday, Mama and I spent a leisure weekend here.

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The Dillard House is 35 miles due north of Willis Hill. I love “getting away” for the weekend without the never-ending ride home. According to Mama, I’ve stayed at the DH before but was far too little to remember now. Man, were we ready to eat fresh vegetables, clink our wine glasses, and soak in precious minutes with no laundry, no barn chores, and no men.

Due to my apparent inability to make reservations correctly, we stayed in a charming farmhouse the first night and a mountaintop cabin the next. I was certain I’d booked the farmhouse for the weekend, but had actually chosen one night. The second night we stayed in an itsy-bitsy-teensy-weensy, one bedroom (with a loft!) cabin which turned out to be pretty cute.

After the check-in drama, the clouds opened up. The sun shined…. right onto this sign. A gift.

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Later on we would learn that this sign is bogus. 12 Spies wine tasting is not 1.8 miles, nor 2.6, nor 3.4 miles “that way”. We were probably a bit late, which was likely a blessing in disguise.

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The farmhouse hallway made me giggle. The house was very old, but had been refurbished and styled appropriately. Did I mention the roof was red? And had a wrap around porch?

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We spent the first evening, side by side in rocking chairs. Being the horse whisperer Mama is, some friends joined us.

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After ordering our takeout vegetable plates from the DH, we ventured up the road (charming farmhouse was 4 miles from the state line) to Sky Valley and Scaly Mountain. We found this.

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On Saturday morning, we loaded up and said goodbye to the farmhouse. We spent the day shopping, thrifting, antiquing, junking (so many choices!) in Dillard and Franklin. We bought zilch. The Ward girls can smell a tourist price tag from a mile away. However, we did attend a wine tasting in one of the furniture stores and walked out with three bottles of wine. Pretty decent shopping day, I’d say.

Continuing our streak of luck, we left the furniture/wine store and attended a soiree on the Dillard House lawn. After making quite an entrance (tires squealing on the wet pavement), we filled our dessert plates with cheese, fruits, ridiculously fancy crackers and filled our wine glasses to the brim. Sadly, the wine was terrible compared the sweetness we’d just experienced. However, I deeply enjoyed watching the various folk gathered around white linen tables, using fancy utensils, and eating expensive cheese in the foothills of Northeast Georgia. I remember telling Mama that it must be awful to live a life with tasteless food just to keep up with the Joneses.

We hightailed it out of there to meet our dates and to bathe ourselves in garlic (okay, not really). Mama G’s Italian Restaurant in Clayton, GA has become a favorite of Mama’s and rightfully so. We think it’s delicious and are never dissatisfied. We ordered matching plates of tortellini alfredo and split pieces of birthday cheesecake with our husbands. Sending the men home, we headed straight for the teeny cabin. It was time to get our Ya-Ya on. If you are lost on the term “ya-ya”, treat yourself to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Many memorable moments of my adult life have included Mama, Jenna and ya-ya. Enjoy!

Being the dog whisperer that Mama is, another friend joined us for the cabin party.

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After burning through a few glasses of wine and a box of sparklers, we turned in. Mama says she slept well. I listened to roosters crow most of the night from the loft. Maybe Mama is a rooster whisperer, too.

The Sunday morning sun ended our getaway weekend. We headed home with a few more memories to add to our book and plenty to laugh about.

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My Mama. I couldn’t love her more.