Friday, November 13, 2009

To blog or not to blog?

To blog or not to blog--that is my question of the day. So many of my friends have tried to get me to blog for years. I have attempted it several times, but I just haven't had the self-discipline to keep on it. I actually started this blog towards the end of my pregnancy with Emma Brooke, but I only wrote a few posts.

Will and I then had our odomsonmission website/blog while we were in Vancouver. I did pretty well with that one when we first arrived in Canada, but after things got busy there, I wasn't as good at keeping it up either.

Why am I attempting again? Well, there are several reasons:

1) I am now a full-time stay-at-home mom, which actually gives me a little more time to write.

2) God has blessed us with friends and family that live all over the world! We've been using facebook to keep up with many of these loved one, but I have realized that my status updates were getting a little long, and a blog might be a more appropriate place to let others know what is going on with us.

3) I graduated from Gardner-Webb University in 2003 with a double major in journalism and Spanish. While I kept up with Spanish pretty well over the past 6 1/2 years, writing is a love that has all but died. Since I am now at home, I have thought about trying to rekindle that passion and try my hand at freelance work. What better way to re-hone my skills than by starting a family blog?

So, there....for those who have asked or for those who don't really care. That's why I have re-started a blog. We will see how long it lasts this time!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Top 10 Things That Made Pregnancy More Comfortable:

10. Belly Band
I didn't use this as much as I thought I would, but it did come in handy a few times. You can wear it over your unbuttoned or even unzipped pants, and they will stay up. This was helpful when my regular pants were too small but maternity pants were still too big. Towards the end of pregnancy you can pull it over your belly to cover it when all your shirts are too small. You can go back to wearing it over unbuttoned/unzipped pants after the baby comes but you still have some weight to lose.

9. Under-the-belly pants

These were MUCH more comfortable than the ones you had to pull up over the belly. You have to keep pulling the over-the-belly pants up when they fall down, but the under-the-belly pants stayed put.

8. Naps

I was pretty much exhausted for 9 1/2 months, and I couldn't have made it without a nap here an there--especially during the first trimester!

7. Tums

Heartburn is a common symptom of pregnancy--no matter what you eat! There were a few weeks that I just kept a plastic bag full of tums in my purse to take with every meal.

6. Crocs
These were a lifesaver for a teacher who had to be on her feet most of the day! These also helped support my back. I had back problems before I was pregnant, but I didn't have much back pain at all during my pregnancy. I think part of that had to do with the fact that I wore these almost every day. I got some cute maryjane-style ones in black and brown.

5. Maternity Camisoles
So many maternity tops are low cut, and these help to keep things modest! Regular-sized camis will eventually get way too short as the belly grows!

4. Gaucho Pants
I had three pair, and I was able to wear them the entire pregnancy! The even neater part is--they weren't even maternity! Since they are stretchy they "grow" with you. I wore mine before, during, and after pregnancy! These were perfect to wear home from the hospital, as, although I was much smaller than when I had been admitted, I was still nowhere near my pre-pregnancy size.

3. What to Expect when You're Expecting
This book was an excellent resource to go to when I'd have some strange symptom that I wanted to make sure was normal. The chapters are divided up by each month of pregnancy, and they give details on what an expectant mom should be experiencing that month. There is even information for the first few weeks postpartum as well. I kept this one on the nightstand!)

Like What to Expect, this website was a great resource for making sure what I was experiencing was normal. It saved many unnecessary phone calls to the doctor. The site also has a weekly newsletter you can sign up to have sent to your e-mail. The newsletter details the development of your baby up until that point and includes a pic of what the baby looks like at each stage of development.

And for #1........

1. Experienced Mothers

I wouldn't have made it without a host of wonderful friends who were already experienced mommies. Thank you, Ashley, Amy, and MayMay!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Baby Emma's on the Way

Any time now I will go into labor, deliver a baby, and be a mother. When I look back to that life-altering day in October when I took my first (of seven--all positive) pregnancy tests, I can hardly believe the time has almost come.

As surprise (though planned, it happened FAST) turned to excitement and excitement gave way to fatigue, that first trimester seemed to drag on forever. I guess I would work in a daze because I can't really remember how I made it through each day. I would come home, sink into the couch until Will got home, get up and make something for supper(I can't even remember what--we probably didn't eat much those first few weeks), and then go right back to sleep--only to wake up the next morning feeling exhausted.

Second trimester brought renewed energy, and at first, when I still wasn't showing, I almost felt "normal" again, except for the occasional and delightful little flutters that my baby used to remind me she was there. Those kicks and punches and somersaults became stronger and stronger, and in week 19 we found out Baby Odom was a GIRL! That day in itself brought a flood of emotions, as we watched God's little creation growing inside me--moving all around, breathing, heart beating....But I was afraid Will would be upset. I thought he wanted a boy, and I had been building up that I thought the baby was a boy. So, despite Will's reassurance that he was thrilled to be having a little girl, I cried all the way home. Not that I didn't want a girl--I really, really did--but I think all of the emotions that came with the realization that we were really going to be parents and there was no turning back hit home at once. And I cried. After I dropped Will back at work, I turned on K-Love and the first song on the radio was "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman. It was a new song, and it was the first time I had heard it. The whole song is from the perspective of a father to his little princess daughter, and I felt God's reassurance that Will would love having a little girl.

The last trimester has had its ups and downs. There was the dizziness and black-out spells and shortness of breath that had my doctor send me to see the cardiologist--all for her to tell me that my blood pressure was probably dropping when I stood up and that I needed to drink gatoraid. We stopped by Kroger on the way home and stocked up. Needless to say, my wedding ban got almost too tight to take off about a week later (extra sodium will do that!), so we had to make a trip to Kohl's to get a nice 3-stone CZ for $7.99. Along with the trip to the cardiologist, there's been the steady weight gain (no doubting my state of being with child) and anemia (325 extra mg iron/day!) and two diabetes tests (I passed the second one!) and a rhogam shot (since I'm O-) and endless phone calls to the insurance company (gotta make sure I get those benefits!) and a hernia (I see the surgeon on Thursday--though I'm still praying its NOT a hernia) and carpal tunnel (I get to wear these "cool" little hand/wrist braces at night!). Really, compared to a LOT of people, I've had a very good and low-maintenance pregnancy. I think that maybe God allows all these strange things to happen to our bodies towards the end, so the desire for the baby to come will outweigh all the nervousness that accompanies the impending labor and delivery.

I tried to take advantage of as many pre-baby opportunities as I could while pregnant. We took took several trips--we flew out to NC at Christmas, where we spent time in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington, and we flew out to NC/VA in March for Shannon and Javier's engagement party and a week in Richmond for IMB candidate conference. Though I had been sick with the stomach virus right before we left (which was the ONLY time I hugged the toilet the entire pregnancy!), we had a wonderful time. God continued to confirm our call to missions, and we enjoyed time spent with family and both old and new friends.

In April, we took our final pre-baby vacation--our "babymoon" is what I called it. We got a really good deal on the Hyatt Regency hotel downtown, and the view from our room was excellent. It was a whirlwind, long-weekend trip, where we visited Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium, the Varsity, World of Coca-Cola, and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. In between these activities we were able to meet up with my good friend Kara from college as well as my friend Mary. We relaxed in the hotel room at night and watched National Treasure II one night. We enjoyed the time together, though I was a little sentimental about it being our last vacation before becoming parents.

The end of April my mom and sister Shannon flew out for a whirlwind shower weekend! Will's family as well a few friends gave us Emma Brooke's first shower on Saturday, April 26, and Longview Heights gave us our church shower on Sunday, April 27. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of the many wonderful family and friends that God has given us here in Mississippi (it's hard to believe how many close relationships you can make in a place you've lived in less than 4 years!). On Monday, May 5, some sweet co-workers and friends from Hope Sullivan Elementary gave us a shower there as well. The Lord has truly blessed us with providing for our baby girl!

The first week of May we went to what will probably be our last concert for a while when Casting Crowns came to Southaven. It was a lot of fun, but I sat down for the whole concert. I was relieved when school got out on May 23. It has been getting harder and harder to get around with such a big belly!

Though I thought I would just relax after school got out, I can't seem to sit still for long as I wait for Emma Brooke's arrival. I keep going back and forth from wanting her to be here and wanting just a little more time before she comes. I've cooked and frozen a few meals for us to eat after she comes, but I still have a few more I want to do. I've washed clothes for her to wear the first week she's home, and I've read up on getting her on a feeding/sleep schedule. I had lunch the other day with a lactation consultant friend to discuss breastfeeding. I've been trying to keep on top of laundry and keep the house clutter-free, as at any time a potential buyer can come by to look since it's on the market. I've read and watched a video on giving birth, but I still feel clueless. Last night I actually started reading a non-pregnancy/parent book--Shadow of the Almighty, by Elisabeth Elliott. It's Jim Elliott's biography, and missionary biographies are my favorite genre to read. It seems like it's been so long since I've read a book on anything else but pregnancy and parenting, so I decided now might be the only chance I get for a while to try to get my mind on something else. I've gone to the pool a few times, and I am hoping I can a few more times before the baby comes.

The bags are packed, and the car seat is installed. We aren't setting up a nursery since we are trying to sell the house, but the guest room closet and dresser are full of baby girl clothes, blankets, burp cloths, toys, diapers, wipes, etc. Emma Brooke's pack 'n play,which will serve as her bed as we travel from MS to VA to Costa Rica to Mexico over the next year, is set up next to our bed. Everything seems ready, but am I? Is Will? We will see in a few days or a few weeks--or even a few hours. Now we just have to wait....

It's been a long time since I've posted, and I am guessing next time I post I will be a different person. I will be a mom.

Friday, January 25, 2008

mourning with those I don't even know...

In my Bible study today, I was asked the question, "What is one trait you like about yourself?" I took a minute to think. There are talents that I used to possess that I feel I have let gone waste (writing--for example), but one thing I have not lost is my tendency to easily empathize or sympathize with the hurting. I'm a softy, I guess--sometimes overly sensitive. I put myself in others' places, trying to wonder how they must really feel.

That hurts in times like these.

At church on Wednesday night I found out that friends of mine had just lost a dear friend from college and seminary in a car accident. I never met Amber Mathenia, but now I know that she was a 28-year-old missionary to Ethiopia that was home on furlough. She and her husband had an adopted 4-year-old daughter from Ethiopia, and they had just completed a domestic adoption of a six-month-old boy. Amber's husband had been on a 2-week trip back to Ethiopia, and she was killed the night before his return.

"Please pray for my friend who is just now getting off a plane and learning that his wife died yesterday," our youth pastor announced in church Wednesday night. Oh, how my heart ached for him and those babies and their families and their friends.

I thought about Courtney. It's been over 8 years. Wow--has it really been that long? In many ways it feels like it was yesterday. It was her death in a car accident that changed my life forever.

That day had started out so normal--I was so innocent, so naive. I was returning to my dorm room from the shower when the phone rang. It was for me. I will never forget that moment. I was wearing a yellow bathrobe, and I had a towel on my head. Brantley, my roommate, was sitting in a chair, and I fell down to her when I heard the words, "Courtney is dead." Dead? Dead? How can it be? Hurt, maybe. But, dead?, no, no....NO!

And so today I think about and mourn with and pray for those dear friends and family of this sweet missionary who I never had the privilege of knowing.

Courtney has spent every day face-to-face with Jesus since Dec. 9, 1999. She has held his nail-scarred hands. She has looked Him in the eyes. She has kissed His cheek.

When I worship my Lord, I am joining Courtney in what she spends every minute of every day of eternity doing.

I pray that Amber Mathenia's family and friends may, too, know the joy of knowing their loved one is in the very physical Presence of our her Savior amidst their mourning of her passing from them.

Oh, Lord--please be near to the Mathenia family now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

How I found out I was pregnant...

Sometime last summer--in between trips to Argentina, NC, GA, and China, Will and I began seeking the Lord about when to start a family. I had always wanted to wait later--at least one more year until I was 28. After all, my mom did not enter motherhood until she was 29, and I never felt like she was old or anything. I knew the decision to go ahead and have children would change my life more than any other decision I had made in my adult life--even marriage. (I do take care of Will, but I don't have to change his diapers.) I was scared of the responsibility that would entail. I was selfishly holding back and trying to buy more time in my little world of married-without-children. But this nagging feeling had been creeping up since the summer that perhaps it was time...

So in August I officially went off of birth control. And by September, I was pregnant. I actually found out I was pregnant in October--October 11th to be exact. For a couple of days leading up to it I had gotten this feeling that perhaps I was....but I wanted to wait a few more days to find out for sure. But then I couldn't take it anymore. After work that Thursday I opened my bathroom cabinet to see if I had any pregnancy test. Sure enough I did, so I set about to seeing if I was indeed expecting a baby. After taking the test, I placed it on the floor and waited for the pink line or lines to appear--two meant pregnant and one meant not. As I washed my hands, I glanced over to the test. TWO LINES! Can't be, I thought. I picked up the test and examined it more closely. Sure enough--two lines. There's no going back now, I thought. My life has changed forever.

I set the test down on the bathroom counter, quickly slid on my shoes, and bolted out the front door. My mind was centered on one task--getting to Walgreens down the street to verify this test with at least two more. I started up the car and put it into reverse, but then stopped when I realized in my rush to get to Walgreens and amid the rush of emotions, I had left behind my purse. After re-entering the house, grabbing my purse, and locking back up, I jumped back into the car and headed back toward Walgreens. As I walked in the store, I nervously scanned the aisles for the pregnancy-test section. Ah, I had found it. I looked over my shoulders to make sure no one was around before I began examining the boxes upon boxes of tests. If someone walks by, I'll flash my wedding ring, I thought. As if complete strangers would bother to see whether or not a 20-something woman looking at a pregnancy test were married or not. Finally, I had found one. I decided to go ahead and purchase two.

Back at home I went through the same procedure as earlier two more times. Hold the stick out and pee. Wait. Look at the stick. Almost faint when I see the results. This time I had bought digital tests. Instead of two pink lines I got the words 'pregnant' or 'not pregnant.' Test one: Pregnant. Test two: Pregnant.

It was pretty much for sure. I was with child.

After spending so much unplanned time taking pregnancy tests, I was running late for a hair appointment. I quickly found a gift bag in the closet and threw the three pregnancy tests in. I was formulating a way to creatively tell Will in person. But first I had to go get my hair cut.

My hair appointment went fine, but I was dying to tell my hairdresser. I'm pregnant, I kept thinking. And nobody knows. We had had some mutual friends who had given birth to their third child a week before.

"So, Erin, when's it your turn?" Teresa asked.

"Well," I started....then turned bright red, then burst into tears.

"Are you? Are you pregnant?!" Teresa asked.

"Yes, no, I think so, but I don't know." I got out in between sobs. "I took three pregnancy tests, but I'm not sure if they're right. Will doesn't...even ...know....yet!"

"Well, you need to get on out of here and tell him!" Teresa laughed.

Once she finished my hair that is exactly what I did. I felt so nervous, although I knew he would be thrilled. I called and told him I had a little surprise out for him in the parking lot. A few minutes later Will came outside, and I handed him the little gift bag. "What's this?" he asked. He reached inside and pulled out on the of pregnancy sticks. It was a digital one, and, unfortunately, the word "pregnant" had already worn off, so it was just blank.

"There's something else in there," I said. So, Will pulled out another test, and this time the evidence was clear. He looked at me in disbelief, and then disbelief turned to utter excitement. He picked me up and twirled me around in the parking lot and kissed me.

We were going to be parents.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Sunday, September 2, 2007

She has the most beautiful caramel skin and springs of coffee-colored curls fall just below her shoulders. She is not exactly shy but not exactly boisterous either. Her smiles are frequent, despite the amount of stress she's under with a new home, a new school, a new language, a new culture, a new country. But her big chocolate eyes--though crossed most of the time--never cease to twinkle when someone says her name. Estefania hasn't had the easiest time adjusting to her new life in the U.S.A. Fresh from Mexico, the first day of first grade proved much more difficult than just the normal first-day jitters. Estefania needed to use the restroom. She knew she needed to go. She knew where the restroom was. She knew she had to ask the teacher permission to get up to use the restroom, just as she had in Mexico during kindergarten. But she didn't know how. So she held it. And held it. And held it. And finally she could hold no more. Estefania wet all over herself, and it embarrassed her so. "Oh, how do I tell the teacher? Oh, how do I ask her if I can go to the bathroom?" Her teacher noticed sometime later, as Estefania rose from her seat to line up to go to the cafeteria for lunch. She called in the ELL teacher (me) to call Estefania's parents (for they didn't speak English either, and I was the only bilingual adult in the building who could communicate with them) to inform them that their child would be arriving home wearing clothes borrowed from the school supply closet. To make matters worse, Estefania repeated the accident a few days later. From either a mix of nerves and excitement or the sheer fear of disobeying the teacher by getting out of her seat without permission, Estefania wet all over herself a second time. This broke my heart for this precious little girl. Can you imagine how it must have felt to know she needed to use the restroom but not be able to get up to go because she did not know how to ask if she could? Though I've now taught her how to ask this simple question (she says, "I go to bathroom?") she will remember the embarrassment of the incident for the rest of her life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So I decided to start a blog...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Okay, so I have made fun of online journals for years. My sister has had a xanga site since college, and though I have enjoyed the benefits of keeping up with her via this insightful albeit impersonal way of communicating, I never thought I would start one myself. Who wants the whole world to have access to all of their personal thoughts, emotions, dreams, etc.? This is what I thought of blogs or online journals. But I've recently been rethinking the whole premise of "blogging," and I've decided that one of the beauties of this type of medium is that the writer alone decides what information to share and what to withhold. And at least the writers are writing, right?

You see, this is primarily the reason I decided to begin this blog--to write. From first grade through college I wrote--all the time. I wrote short stories, I wrote poems, I wrote news reports, I wrote features, I wrote--my favorite--creative non-fiction. I could go on and on. But then something happened just over four years ago: I graduated from college. I moved to a foreign country. I became a teacher. I moved back to the States a year later and continued in the "real" world. And my writing...stopped. Just like that. I was so busy living life that I simply let this one particular passion go. It's almost embarrassing.

So I've decided to start a blog. About what? I guess just about life. Sometimes it may not be that interesting, but to be interesting and entertaining is not my goal--at least not here. I simply want to re-hone my gift (or what I once thought was an area in which I had some talent).

No one may ever read my blog, and, really, that may be better. Perhaps this will just grant me ground to tread on until I am ready to enter the world of authorship once again.