Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Carrie

This week is our chance to meet Carrie.  I met her through blogging and only know her as an online friend.  She started reading my blog a while back, which I thought was really cool because she didn’t even have any children at the time.  She recently had her first little daughter, and I’ve really enjoyed watching her take the transformative journey of motherhood on her own blog.  She writes honestly about her experiences.  This post is one of my favorites that she wrote about the challenging new life as a mother, and just this week she wrote another post where she said something I loved:  “… in all the gaps of me, Heavenly Father was there. He just filled in what i couldn’t do.”  Meet Carrie:

Hi! I’m teachergirl on the internet and Carrie in real life. I live in a smallish collegetown in the south where football AND basketball rules the community.  You don’t want to try to go anywhere on a football Saturday; of course, I wouldn’t dare, since I’m glued to my TV watching all the SEC games I can manage to get in.  I have been married for two years to the love of my life and my very best friend, musicboy, who is studying to become a high school band director (we’ll never be far away from a football game…) and we had our first baby, a girl, in April.  We met in Institute and became best friends; he left to go on a mission, I had hope that maybe he would date me when he got back, and he did! We were married 9 months after he got back. Letters for the win! :)

I’m the only daughter of an amazing single mom who managed to work, raise me, and go to college at night for most of my early childhood.  I was born in California, but moved to the South when I was in college.  I like it much better, to be honest with you.   I got married a little later than most (and robbed the cradle! my husband is 9 years younger than me) so while I was waiting for that dream to come true, I made a few more happen. I graduated last year with my Ph.D. in English, and now teach college courses (mostly) from home while I care for our daughter.  I love teaching (hence my online name) and am grateful that I had the opportunity to pursue so much education before our daughter was born.  I feel like I have really gotten to do all of the things that I wanted to do on my own, and now I get the chance to help our children and my husband realize their dreams.  I’m really thankful for that gift.

 What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

Baby giggles and smiles.  I’ll never forget how it felt when I got my first belly laugh out of our girl, for doing something simple like rubbing noses with her.  Cuddles. Being able to solve a problem faster because I know what to do.  Seeing her grow and do things she just has been working on forever.  Development is astounding.  Realizing that I just really LIKE my kid.  Rocking her to sleep.

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

Touch the Eiffel Tower (and visit Europe in general).  Serve a mission with my husband.  Own a home.  Be debt-free (oh student loans).

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

I’m a good teacher.  I cook pretty well, though I don’t do it as often as I should.  I’m a pretty great baker.  My husband says “mommying. baking. reading real fast. a very good friend and listener.”  [He got kisses for that. :)]

What are you loving lately?

–Finding mom friends. It’s hard for me, especially because most of the young moms that I felt a kinship to have moved out (the perils of living in a college town). While I love mom friends of all ages, I especially am loving finding a few (online!) who seem like, as Anne Shirley would say, kindred spirits.

–The peace I feel when I am putting in, let’s face it, even the most minimal effort toward scripture reading and prayer.  It’s like an amazing buffer against Satan.

–How incredible exercising makes me feel.  It kills the frustration in my life. It’s my me time…I’d been searching for it and I’ve finally found it. It’s lovely.

–The hint of fall in the air, even down here in the Sweaty South. It always gives me hope. I feel like it must be how Northerners feel about spring.

Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

Lately, the idea of steadfastness has been on my mind.  I have too many favorite scriptures to quote, but when I remember “Be still, and know that I am God,” it tends to seriously chill me out.  As I was waiting for my baby to come, that was the scripture that kept coming to mind.

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

I’m superguilty of spending way too much time on the Internet. I’m pretty sure it is my one way to reach out and find adults.  When the baby is asleep, I am working (usually) so I don’t know that i have “unscheduled” time. If I could have that, I would read. I would crack out my sewing machine and try to make something adorable for the Maggie girl.  I would find some sort of adventure for our family to take–more than likely, we’d go to the beach for the first time ever as a family.

Tell us some of your best mom-tricks  (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).

Well, I’m new in this mommy deal.  But the lesson I’ve learned the most poignantly is to trust myself.  That thing they say about mommy instinct is TRUE. I read a lot of books, about schedules and sleep and all manner of kid training, and they pretty much all made me feel like a failure because once she was born, we just sort of let her lead.  It hasn’t failed us yet, but there’s a lot of clamoring voices anxious to tell you that what you’re doing as a parent is wrongWRONGwrong.  It’s taken me the last five months to feel remotely comfortable about our choices.

Also? “I Am A Child of God” has magic in it.

Learning to laugh when the baby laughs is great therapy.  I’ve also found the merit of the 15 minute blitz. Now that we have an exersaucer, I can usually get 15 minutes out of her when she is independent and happy as she’s playing (yes, we’re in that phase).  It’s amazing how much you can get done.

Buy more than you think you’ll need if it’s a baby product. Nothing worse than running out of diapers/wipes/formula/diaper rash cream/etc when you really need it and look like the epic unwashed. Plus, there’s no more running to the store quickly. It takes me 40 minutes to even anticipate a trip out of the house.

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?

I’m my worst critic. I will often speak unkindly about myself while I will try not to speak that way about anyone else.  It’s something that I don’t like about myself, but I think it’s (a bit of introspective self-analysis here) a way of getting it out there before anyone else can. I think I’m secretly looking for people to disagree with me. Also, I’m always striving for perfection and rarely see how much I actually do accomplish–instead, I see what i have yet to cross off.  Wow, I sound like a bucket of fun, don’t I? :)

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

That Heavenly Father knows me by name and loves me no matter what. My first moment of feeling the intensity of the Spirit answering my prayer as a teenaged girl was when I asked this question for myself. So, I have never doubted it since.  That He keeps His promises–my life is a testimony of this. That when we put in the least amount of effort to show Him that we want to follow Him, the heavens open and we are blessed with so much more than we could ever possibly deserve.  That prayer works in any situation.  That we will always have sufficient for our needs.

If you were awarded an “honorary degree” in something, what should it be and why?

Multitasking and listmaking. At any given moment, I’m probably doing 3 different things. This isn’t always a good thing, but it’s necessary right now.  Even if I’m only DOING one thing, it’s likely I’m thinking about the next three that need to be done. I’m sincerely hoping that someday I’ll get better at being efficient and being in the moment more.

Give your best advice to a newlywed or expectant mom.

Newlywed: Spend lots and lots of time together.  Learn everything you can about that person, including how they deal with stress and life craziness.  Figure out what you expect from that person and then reconsider it–is it important that he replace the toilet paper roll? If so, please please PLEASE just talk about it. We expect men to read our minds. They just don’t and won’t and it’s too much of a waste of time to wait around for that miracle to happen.  Work hard. Play hard. Love each other a lot.  Cuddle every day.  Remember the little things.  Pay down as much debt as possible.

Expectant: Find moms that you respect.  They can be older or younger with kids grown and gone or just a few weeks/months older than yours. Find them and become friends.  You’ll need support. Line it up now.  You might be surprised at who you are guided to–ask Heavenly Father to help.  You really may be an entirely different mom than you think.  Be okay with that.  Recognize that you’re new to this deal and all of your planning can’t possibly prepare you for this person that you haven’t met.  Advice is great but please remember that YOU ARE THE MOM.  You know better than you think you do. Your biggest job right now, before the baby comes, is to take care of yourself.  Your biggest job, one that doesn’t ever go away, after the baby comes is to care for that little person. Take the time to get to know his/her language. It’s hard, but you’ll get there. When you feel like you have, when you feel the gentle tugging of your gut instinct and the Spirit, listen to it. It won’t steer you wrong.

If you could make a pie chart (graph) of your thoughts during the last week or so, what would take up most of the space?

Teething and related issues (including, but not limited to, a grunting crankypants, diaper rash, spit up, tugging at ears, and feeling for/looking at the new tooth): 52%

How on earth do I exercise/lose this stubborn baby weight/stop eating copious amounts of sugar?: 12%

Workworkworkmustdomorework: 28%

Laundry/dishes: 2% (they both were pretty piled up)

Naps/sleep, for me and baby: whatever’s left, and probably more. :)

Tell us about your blog:

My blog is called “just so long and long enough,” which comes from the e.e. cummings poem “i carry your heart.”  i love it and it describes the way i feel about my husband. when we got married, i started this new blog (i had one before that wasn’t anonymous, but decided that i wanted this one to be) as we started our new life.  it’s just the ramblings of me–i talk mostly about our daughter and my journey into motherhood. my frustrations, my joys, my wonder at her very existence–they’re all there. i talk a little about how hard it is to be a mom and to turn into a mom and still figure out who the heck you are, and every once in a while i’ll rant about students or about life in general. i think it’s a pretty good glimpse of where my head is at, though i have found myself editing it more because of who reads it.  tells me it’s time to have a journal again. :)

Please visit Carrie’s blog or give her a quick hello in the comments here.  Thanks Carrie for joining our Friday friend party!

Happy weekend, everyone.