Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Who's that girl?

I've been itching for a while now to write. It's like that little voice in the back of your head telling you it's time to start writing down your thoughts again, but I continue to silence it simply because a) I'm afraid I won't have the time b) I won't be consistent c) It won't feel like it did last time. I used to love blogging. It was such a relief to write it all down when we were going through both of the adoptions but now FIVE years later (yes, it's been FIVE YEARS), my life is in a different place. I have different things to talk about. I looked back through this blog before I decided to write this piece and realized that the last few posts I even wrote, I was really struggling with depression and even that seems so long ago. Then, I look at the picture above. I don't even recognize that girl. Not only am I about 40 lbs lighter now, but that woman was depressed, stressed, overwhelmed and struggling. Now, even though I still struggle with juggling all my different roles in life, I try my best to take it all in stride. I take my "happy" pill every morning and struggling with depression is a thing of the past but something I openly talk about instead of being embarrassed about. That girl in the picture has lost friends to suicide, cancer, a disagreement. She's had struggles in her parenting, in her marriage, in her weight, her self image, her finances and her overall health. That girl would have never dreamed of seeing a therapist and now I look forward to it. That girl didn't even have a passport. I truly don't recognize her and I thank God I don't.

Today, I feel strong. I feel blessed. I feel scared about what I know is ahead for me and my family but I also feel secure in God's will. I no longer am surprised by much. I no longer take things for granted (at least I try not to). I no longer try to hold back. I'm not embarrassed to cry, to openly share about my struggles and to love too much. I figure if it's the worst thing I do, I'm doing ok. Yes, I still stick my foot in my mouth. I also overextend myself which leads to stress and being overwhelmed, but again, I'm a work in progress. I try not to worry about what other people think of me. I try to do the right thing at all times even if it's the unpopular thing to do. I often think about what radical things I would do if I could (if our parents wouldn't kill us, we would move to Florida...) I often think about what I want to do when I grow up because many days I'm pretty convinced I still haven't figured it out. I think about if I should finish my degree, etc. and I figured that this would be a good forum to get all of those thoughts out. No one may read it and that's completely good with me. I just need to write. It's definitely time I stop silencing the voice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Then &Again

Today, I had a really good day. It could have been really bad but I discovered something today that I really think I am going to love.

My friend Natalie recently starting working at a cool store in Hendersonville called Then & Again. She actually went in to check it out and ended up getting a job all in the same day. She immediately called to tell me how cool the store was. I decided that on her first day I was going to stop by and wish her well and check it out, so I did. I FELL IN LOVE. They sell this amazing paint called Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and the whole store is filled with items that either the owner, Dawn, or her consignors have painted using this paint (there's lots of cool other stuff there as well).

When Natalie told me about a class they were offering on June 20th, I walked up front to sign up without realizing it was $150. Now, I don't know about you, but we live on a budget and don't just have $150 laying around, but I knew I had to do it. I was drawn to it. I wrote the check, called the hubs to apologize, and anxiously awaited today.

My sweet mother in law came and got the kids and I got my first real break since school ended. I actually got to eat breakfast by myself and arrived at the store at 9am. We got right to work as Dawn and her lovely assistant, Michelle, told us the history of Annie Sloan and the details on her paint. She has 30 amazing colors and then she sells clear wax which is a must and dark wax (which is basically a stain). We immediately started working on different projects learning painting techniques like tinting, blotting, dragging your brush, etc. I should probably take this moment to tell you that I have never painted anything in my life besides a wall (which I didn't enjoy and didn't do a good job at). Simply, I fell in love.

I also got a massive migraine that was blinding in my right eye.

I pressed on, texting my hubby to make an appointment for the doctor but continued to take notes, wax, stain, buff. Oh, I loved it. I loved it when I got to the doctor at 4pm and I had dark stain under my nails and random paint on my fingers. I loved the peace I felt turning a piece of plain old wood into something beautiful. I can't wait to get my paint on tomorrow.

So...tomorrow I am going to officially paint my first piece. I'll take before and after pictures and I figure even if I mess it up, I only paid $20 for it on Girlfriend's Trading Post (thanks Beth!). I hope if it turns out like I hope, I can refurbish a few pieces that I've picked up at yard sales.

Yes, I still have the headache, but I figured I should be doing something versus laying in bed so I wanted to blog about my painting experience today. I want to remember the first time I did something I think I am going to love. I'll keep you posted ;)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Radical-thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms: a radical change in the policy of a company.

I dig that word. Radical. I'm sure many people have probably thought I was a little "extreme in regards to traditional forms" at different points in my life. Like when I got engaged to Jonathan about 5 weeks after our first date. Or how about when we found out at 22 weeks that I was having identical twins. Yep, pretty radical. I'm sure it was definitely an adjective used when we announced we were adopting another kid in 2007 and there's no doubt it was muttered again when we did it again just 19 months later. Yes, it can be used to describe parts of my life, but is it really who I am?

Who I am? I've thought about that a lot the last few weeks. Over the past year and a half, I have struggled with the pits of depression. It's been bad. I look back over those last 18 months and often wonder who I was during that period as I know for me, I was even a stranger to myself. I faced a lot of dark days and made a lot of bad decisions, but I also learned so much about myself and I literally fought my way back. And it was a hard fight. Talk to someone who is real with you about depression and has really struggled and they will tell you that it's probably the hardest thing they have ever done. For someone like me that is totally a "glass half full" kind of gal, the fact that the glass looked empty and dirty for 18 months truly sucked. Depression is a very isolating disease. You don't want anyone to know what you are dealing with, how you really feel and you certainly don't want to be any more of a burden on someone when you already feel like the biggest pain to begin with. Satan can truly make you think that everyone is better off without you, that your mistakes are actually your successes, and that you will never get better. I'm proud to say I told Satan to stick it and I proved him wrong. 

What did I learn through the process? Well, first and foremost, I learned that I seriously think every person should be required to see a therapist at least once in their life. I found an amazing one that helped me get to the roots of what made me be depressed. She gave me tools to deal with the anxiety that weren't medication. She loved me for me and didn't judge. Second, I learned to stop feeling guilty about taking meds. I was convinced that if my relationship with Christ was more firmly rooted, I wouldn't be depressed and yet as my therapist put it, "would you argue with a diabetic because they had to take insulin?" Third, I've learned that although it seemed so daunting 5 months ago, I'm ok with talking about it. It's part of who I am and to be quite honest, I seriously think it's made me really put things back into perspective. Christ first, marriage second, family third, friends fourth. It's made me realize that no matter what kind of house I live in, no matter what kind of car I drive, and no matter what kind of clothes I wear, my JOY comes from the Lord, not in physical things in this world. 

I think that last statement has totally scared my husband to death. You see, I'm the free spirit in the relationship. AKA: I like to shop and spend money, a lot. I also tend to have hoarding tendencies with some things and yet purge things others might deem important. A few weeks ago, it's like a light switch was flipped. Not that I cared much what people thought of me before, but now, I REALLY don't care. I just want us to focus on what's important and shed the not so important stuff. I've started cutting back my spending, like big time. I've starting looking at the big picture on things that I used to not think about. I've started being more real, not only with myself but hopefully with those around me. I'm tired of being chained to depression and I'm determined to live a radical life that is centered on my relationship with Christ.

There you have it...probably one of the main reasons I haven't blogged and honestly, I don't know that I will from this point forward except a few random posts a few times a year. I'm excited about the possibilities in front of our family. I'm excited to be at a point mentally, physically, and financially that our family is able to jump into what HE has in store for us. I'm excited for the ride ahead. I'm excited to be radical again.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Girlfriend's Trading Post

In my pursuit to write something each day, I find myself struggling with topics. I was so used to writing about adoption that I thought when that part of our life seemed to be ending, I wouldn't have anything left to say. Part of me thinks that was probably a little bit of Satan's influence. I also realize that at times, it was hard to have so many people knowing your business. I have a hard time sugar coating things, but sometimes the realness is great to put down but hard to be asked about. Many times when I wrote, I felt like I was writing to myself, not realizing how many people read it. Then, when someone in public would question me about something I had written, I would be shocked...that someone read it, that someone cared, that someone had more questions.

I will never forget getting into an elevator in Nashville and a lady smiling at me. I thought, "oh, she's in a good mood" As I turned around to press the floor I was going to, she said, "your the adventures of breagirl lady, I love your blog" Yeah, it was creepy. Kind of nice, but creepy.

Anyhoo, in my pursuit to start writing again, I've decided to share my perspective on random things until I get back into the habit of writing each day. My sweet MIL Barbara is really encouraging me to write stories about Joshua, but I don't want to neglect the other kids (trust me, writing about Joshua is a full time job) but I might throw a few of those in there from time to time. For now though, I'll be writing random stuff. So here's my random topic of the day:

Girlfriends Trading Post

Now, I've been on facebook for a while. I've been on many boards where people sell stuff (New and Used Gymboree, Matilda Jane Addicts, and many other random ones). This was the first time I was on one for people who buy and sell stuff in the city where I live, Hendersonville. At first, I was honestly a little shocked at the concept because I felt like it could directly impact a lot of local businesses (consignment sales, used furniture stores, etc) and then you start to realize that people are going to use it whether you like it or not, so I started paying attention. I even started selling a few things. That's when I realized these women (including me) are nuts. Seriously insane (I say this with a smile on my face). So, here's the scoop on Girlfriends Trading Post.

Created by a friend of mine at church, she was looking for a way for local families to be able to buy, sell and trade stuff here in our area. Dealing with craigslist and ebay can sometimes be a nightmare, especially having people come to your home that you really don't know. She solved all those issues with this group. So far, I have only bought one thing, which I can't mention as they are Christmas gifts for my kids, but I have been selling like a fool the last few days. I've never seen stuff sell so quick in my life...and at great prices.

My husband is convinced you could crap in a bag and someone would buy it on there. I've seen people list cars, furniture, coupons, clothing...I'm pretty sure if you have it in your home, someone has one or wants one on GTP. Now, here's the best parts. The meet ups. Target has become THE go to spot for doing the "exchange". I get tickled when I am running to Target and see 30 cars at the outer limits of the parking lot with their trunks open. It seriously looks like these women are doing some major drug trafficking in the parking lot. Can't you picture these ladies in trench coats peddling watches that are underneath?

The few times I have met up, this is typically how the exchange goes. Yes, we know what the other person is driving, but we still question, "could this be them?" You smile at the other person, hoping to get a warm response and then you do this, "are you the one with the Christmas lights?" mime. I'm sure it's hysterical to someone watching. Pop the trunk, check out the goods, exchange the goods for cash (exact change please) and drive away with a few extra bucks. I typically drive straight to Starbucks to unload at least $5 of what I just made on a drink and my other new passion, the cranberry bliss bar.

Man, that thing is good. Really, really good. And, they are only available from November until January. It's a very exciting day for me when those suckers come out. They are the reason I will soon be selling my size 8 jeans on GTP because I will have gained so much weight.

Well, that's my rambling for the day. Be sure you check out the trading post and beware, you'll start to sell so much stuff, you might just sell off your hubby or children :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fast Car

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way

Man, every time I hear this song, it brings back memories. Memories of cruising Rivergate mall in my friend Cheryl's VW bug convertible singing at the top of our lungs, memories of listening to this song on "Love Songs" on the radio and wishing I could get away from the most recent boyfriend who had broke my heart, memories of being in college and having this on a mixed tape, yes tape.

So, this is Angie V. For those old schoolers to this blog, she has been mentioned before. A lot. We've been friends since I was 19 years old. We met at a Barbie collectors meeting. Yep, Barbies. I had a collecting bug when I was around 16 and that was when Holiday Barbies were THE thing that people lined up Toys R Us to buy. My sweet Granny was one of those ladies who fought to get me the holiday doll each year. Now as a parent, I personally don't line up for anything, but I truly appreciated that she did that for me.

When a local collectibles store announced in 1999 that they were going to start a club for people that collected Barbies, I was in. I was the first person at the meeting and was a nervous wreck. I knew NO ONE. Now, anyone that knows me knows I don't have a problem talking to anyone, even a wall, but I will admit looking back I was NERVOUS. As people started filing in, I became even more nervous as no one was sitting near me. I felt like the kid who is last to be picked in gym.

Well, guess who was late? Yep, Angie V. Guess where the only seat in the whole room was left? I bet you've figured it out. Neither one of us realized we would become the best of friends when we met that night. Neither one of us realized that she would be there when Granny died, when I had each of my children, that she would be at the airport when we stepped off the plane with Joshua. We also didn't realize I would be there when she lost her mom, Ms. Pat three years ago yesterday.

I'll never forget that day. We had just hung up from a quick chat (which we typically did about 6 times a day) and I had just kissed Jonathan goodbye as he ran to the store for milk. He got in the car and pulled away when the phone rang again. Looking at caller id, I saw it was Angie and laughed because I knew in our typical fashion, she had forgotten to tell me something. When I answered the phone with a "what did you forget!", I'll never forget her voice when she said, frantically, "Brea, I think my mom is dead"

When I think back to that night, those next few days, watching Angie struggle through the shock of loosing her sweet mother, I am reminded of how much I wanted to take my friend's pain away. I almost wished I could take Ms. Pat's place so that I didn't have to see the pain in everyone's eyes. I felt guilty missing her when I knew my pain of missing her was nothing compared to the grief Angie felt. And every time, I think of it, I think of Angie's voice saying it over and over again. Here's a picture of Ms. Pat along with Angie and her sisters, Margaret and Lisa

On November 20th, it happened again.

I grew up with Chris. We met when he transferred to our high school. He instantly became part of our group of friends and I was so excited when he starting dating my best friend since 6th grade, Kim. Chris' home instantly became the hang out spot. Someone in our group was always dating someone in his circle of guy friends, so we would hang out at his house, the guys playing pool downstairs and all the girls piled up in Chris' mom's bed. Sandra, Chris' mom, wanted to know everything about us. She wanted to know who we hung out with and why, who we were dating and why, where we were in our relationship with Christ. I bit my nails (have since I was 2) and I remember she always wore press on nails that she painted bright red.

After Jonathan and I married, we actually bought some property from Ms. Sandra that was right next to her home. We built our second house there. Anna would be playing outside and Sandra would walk over to chat. Anna says she remembers just swinging with Sandra in Sandra's back yard. She loved my children and still loved me. I remember sitting on her bed a few years after we married, answering the same questions: how was my marriage, how many children we wanted and so much more. She truly was interested and listened. Thinking back, I realize that back in high school, sometimes I think Ms. Sandra knew more about me than my own mother. Here's Chris with Sandra (man, I love this pic)
 Here's Laura with Sandra:
Here's some fun pictures of Kim and I. Yes, the first is from eighth grade (I think). Second is from our awesome trip to see NKOTB in Chicago:

As years have gone by, I've actually developed a very sweet friendship with Chris' younger sister, Laura. When she and her hubby Josh decided they wanted to add to their family through adoption, she called me. As we talked adoption, we also became friends. Sweet friends. It was nice to find someone as crazy as me that got adoption, especially transracial adoption. As time went on, I don't think I ever told Sandra what her children meant to me. I wish I had. I think she probably knew.

November 11th, Sandra was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. After a successful surgery four days later, things looked promising and Sandra was even moved to start therapies on Saturday, the 19th. On Sunday, the phone rang. I had been asleep with a migraine and had just woke up. As the phone rang, Jonathan told me something was going on with Sandra but he hadn't wanted to wake me. I saw that it was Kim and immediately asked her "what is going on with Sandra?" Kim said, "Brea, she died" in the faintest whisper. I was stunned. stunned. As I asked her what happened, I just couldn't believe this was happening. Sandra had a blood clot that took her very quickly. Chris and Laura's mom was gone.

Again, as I watched their faces over the next few days, I immediately wanted to take away their pain. I can't explain how it feels to be a friend watching your dear friends suffer. It didn't then and it still doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem possible that at 34 and 29 years old, Chris and Laura have lost their mother. Even as I type this, I'm not sure how long it will take for it to sink in. Again, I feel guilty missing her knowing that it sounds so silly when I know that I can't hold a candle to how much they miss her. I want to heal their hearts, I want their mom back.

It also makes me question how people go through a loss like this without faith. As I watched Kim, Chris and Laura at the funeral home, it really struck me at how strong they were. Yes, they are SO sad and miss her so much, but their strength can only be provided as something God given. Watching them process this grief, it has reminded me so much of what is truly important.

As I spent some time with Laura yesterday, I was once again reminded that the stuff of this world is just not important. As she, Angie V and I talked over lunch, it struck me how much both of them reminded me of their mothers. I know both Ms. Pat and Ms. Sandra would be so incredibly proud of their children and how they have processed their losses.

All that to say, I will remember so many things about those days right after Sandra died, but I will never forget Kimberly's voice when she called. The impact her beautiful voice would have on me. How much I would hurt for my friends. How much it would remind me of Angie loosing Ms. Pat. How much it would put my life back in perspective.

Laura encouraged me to write again, and I think it's time. It's time to start putting my thoughts down into something tangible, if for no other reason, so my kids can look back and see what an insane nut I was. I hope my kids speak the beautiful words that Chris and Laura spoke about their mother last week, "Well done, Mom, well done"

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way

Thursday, November 10, 2011


My friend Laura reference this blog on facebook today:http://www.livingdevotionally.com/2011/11/my-struggle-with-being-a-stay-at-home-mom/ and I have to say it's one of the most refreshing posts I've read in a while.

I spent a lot of time in the word this weekend, thinking and praying about the path my life is on. There are so many things that came to mind and I thought I would share a few with you:

1. Friendships: I find myself looking at the people I surround myself with and trying to figure out what God commands of us in these relationships. I want to be surrounded by people who are real and have the same values as me. I find that even though I don't mind confrontation, many times I am a total pushover and maybe don't speak my mind when I disagree with something simply because I don't have the energy to confront. I really want to get back to the basics of finding true, God centered relationships. The Lord has put many people in my path that are just that for me, but many times I think I get watered down on surface friends which in turn makes me slack on those true friendships. It's something I'm committed to working on.

2. My marriage: Jonathan is such a wonderful man, but I know I have seriously taken him for granted the last few years. With all the changes of selling the consignment sale, starting a new business, dealing with some emotional issues, etc. he has constantly been right there holding my hand and yet I have totally taken it for granted. Like the blog post above, I find that many times, I am so exhausted by life that at the end of the day, he is the one in the kitchen cooking dinner just so I can have some peace and quiet and not hear "mommy!" for 30 minutes. As I look around, I realize that this is so rare and I need to appreciate it more.

3. My children: I find that sometimes I spend more time being frustrated with them that I rob them of joy in the little things. I want to be more committed to getting down in the floor and playing with them, turning off the tv, and teaching them. No, I have no interest in home schooling, but I can still teach them by reading to them more, singing, and doing some fun worksheets and working on art. It's not that I totally neglect it, but I do certainly look forward to mother's day out and naptime more than I probably should.

4. My family: Again, this is an area that I struggle with in time management. I was thinking the other day about how little I've seen my sweet nephew, Baden. He's already 6 months old and I feel like I have missed so much. I need to make more time to just sit down with them.

5. Giving: Although we tithe like clockwork, sponsor a ton of kids internationally, etc., I think some of this has just become "habit". I want to make an effort to do something out of the box if for no other reason to teach our children. It's time to stop filling our house with stuff and getting back to the basics. We are doing some serious fall cleaning and I hope to literally be able to show the kids how giving stuff away truly impacts others.

So that's where I am right now...I know I will continue to struggle but it helps to have some accountability partners to remind me when I am slipping backwards instead of stepping forward.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What are YOU doing this weekend?

I think most of you know that I constantly have my hands in about 3 million different projects. I can't stand to sit still and I love a good challenge. That's why Candy and I started buying out children's boutiques a few years ago. At first, we were just buying out overstock from local children's boutiques and then word of mouth spread and suddenly, we were picking up overstock from boutiques all over the U.S. Then the economy went into the crapper and lots of our favorite stores closed their doors because suddenly high end children's clothing was not at the top of anyone's list of priorities. It forced Candy and I to reevaluate if we would continue buying and if so, at what price. At that point, we started buying Gymboree and people at the sales really seemed to love that. A few weeks ago, a great opportunity fell into our lap and we couldn't resist. $97,000 of high end boutique children's clothing. We were pumped until it arrived 7 days after we planned meaning we didn't have time to get it tagged for Encores North. So, here we sit with 2 huge pallets of children's clothing that we don't want to sit on. We tossed around a few ideas and decided that ultimately we wanted to give our friends the first opportunity to shop it. Candy works full time and I have the crew so we couldn't figure out the best way to do this and that's when we decided to do another yard sale. You see, three years ago when we were in the process of adopting our fifth child, we had this amazing yard sale where we sold all this new with tag boutique clothing for one set price. It went amazingly well! So, we are doing it again. This Saturday, October 29th from 7am-2pm we are having a MASSIVE yard sale. We will have random crap like any yard sale, but we will also have over 1000 pieces of new with tags children's boutique clothing. The best part? It's all $5 per piece. Yep, $5. Dress? $5. Pants? $5. 3 Piece Set? $15. There are some amazing deals here. Boys and girls, mainly sizes 2T-girls 16 and boys 20. Brands like ELand, Trish Scully, Baby Lulu, SPUDZ, Le Top, etc. etc. It is a mix of all seasons, but definitely heavier on Spring/Summer. Want to be the first to shop? We need LOTS of help this week. We are trying to get everything on hangers, organized, and ready to sell. Our goal is to have everything organized by sex and size on racks so it will be easy to shop. It will be held in my driveway and garage and although it will be cold, it will be worth it, I promise. I'll be updating this throughout the week with pics, so definitely check and TELL YOUR FRIENDS! We want this stuff GONE so our men will not be mad that our garages are FULL! More details to come, but get ready to get your shop on :)