Thursday, November 11, 2010

What Zoe Is Thankful For

Instead of reading a bedtime story last night with Zoe, I sat with her in her bed with a pen and notebook and asked her what she was thankful for.

* Note: Everyone in Zoe's life is very special, but I think it really says something if you were listed individually because it's really hard for a three year old to not want to list every single toy instead of actual people. I know... because I had to suggest after baby dolls that maybe we think of some other things.

The following is the list (with some extra commentary) as she told me:

"I'm thankful for....

Mommy.
Snow White.
Daddy.
Kitty cats.
Cameras.
My baby dolls. And I'm thankful for my panda., and...
"Let's not just list toys, OK?"
Alright.
I'm thankful for water.
And Max and Bailey
Butterflies.
And Grammy.
Aunt Sadie.
My Grandpa.
Nana & Baba.
Daddy's friend, Sam... he's nice.
(She just met him yesterday)
Cheryl and Chuck-Chuck.
Ellie. Eleanor.
MaryEllen.
Chelsea.
NIki.
Noe...write down Noe, Mama.
(She hasn't seen Noe in like, a year - but she talks about her constantly.)
Molly.
Meg & Adam.
(She calls Meg her "Big Sister".)
Tinkerbell... who came to our home. (Our friend, Natily)
Disneyland.
All princesses, really.
For being on stage. The big, big stage.
My cousin, Kristina.
(She's decided Kristina is her cousin.)
Aunt Alison.
Aunt Ashley and Uncle Justin.
My baby, Oliver.
(HER baby. How cute is that?)
I'm thankful for playgrounds.
My school.
My school friends.
Our house.
Peaches and pears. Daddy doesn't like pears.
"Your daddy likes pears!" Well, I like pears.
I'm thankful for pear juice.
And food.
Like... strawberries.
Strawberry Kiwi juice - because I like to drink it every single day and right now, please.
"Not now."
OK.
Finnegan.
For my nice, nice mommy.
(I think she was thinking of asking me for juice again.)
Sunshine.
Flowers.
All my dresses and costumes.
Music.
I'm thankful because I like dancing.
All the single ladies, all the single ladies. Put your hands up!
I'm thankful for singing.
And China.
And Japan.
And what country are we in again?
"The United States."
I'm thankful for the United States.
For.... stars.
And books.
My crayons.
And Molly.
(She really misses Molly hence listing her twice.)
I'm thankful for dance class.
And Miss Jennifer.
And Miss Viv.
Miss Kim because she has a sweet little baby, did you know that?
"Yes. He is sweet. She's nice too, huh?"
Yes. I'm thankful for Miss Kimmmm and Miss Linda....
And I'm thankful when I'm playing games with Jack...
"LOL! Yes. Jack is fun, isn't he?"
Yes.
I'm thankful for my nice warm bed.
And glitter...
For my hatsie hatsie hats.
I'm thankful for my books.
And for bubble baths.
I'm thankful for shopping.


What about you, my mommy? What are you thankful for?
"How about we talk about that tomorrow night?"
OK. Good night, my mommy. I love you. I like making lists."
"Me too, baby. I love you."

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Spirit of Giving

I posted this on facebook Saturday night and as of Sunday morning, I had people committing to give 13 turkeys* (or their equivalent) to shelters in their area. I thought I'd go ahead and post this for you all to participate as well.


Daniel had only known me a week or so and he was giving me all the money I needed to pay for a (full course load) semesters tuition at Bakersfield Community College plus money for books. He saw that I wanted to go and he went to his parents for help so that I could. In the nearly eight years we have been together I have watched him hand over spare change all the way up to a twenty dollar bill (because that was all he had) to people who asked him. There was a time when this completely caught me off guard. Twenty dollars, to a stranger, who might end up using it for something silly. He has always treated the people he is handing the money over to with a dignity that I think they are not given often enough. He is always humble to their exclamations of "God bless you!" and "THANK YOU!"

My husbands generosity and kindness are two of the things that made me fall in love with him. His trust and faith in people are also high on that list. Once when I pointed out that the people in the Target parking lot who have "no money to get gas for their trip to see their sick aunt in L.A" were probably pulling a scam. His response was, regardless, they probably needed that ten bucks more than we did. He was right, I'm sure.

Daniel has taught me to be more trusting of people. We don't have a ton of money. We live paycheck to paycheck like most people. We have to budget and we get stressed every time we sit down to pay our bills, but we are in a much better situation than so many people, so we try to help when/where we can.

Since being pregnant with Zoe, I've made a specific effort to pay it forward to charities. Something about being blessed with a child when I never thought I'd be able to get pregnant at all has made me want to be even more charitable. It is very important to me that my children grow up wanting to help others so even at their young ages, I enlist their help in picking out toys for toys for tots,etc.

This year I was invited to take part in a friends goal to get 34** turkeys donated to local shelters by Nov. 16th.

"You could drive the bird down to your local shelter or donate the cost of a turkey ($12) to a shelter's website."

My family is donating 2 turkeys - one for each child.

Family Portrait

I thought I'd extend this goal/invite to friends Jennifer and I don't necessarily share (and to whomever reads my blog) because I think it's important to make a commitment to help people in our communities. Also, I thought if I can't wish you a Happy Thanksgiving in person, this is something we can all still do "together".

If you'd like to participate in the turkey-a-thon, just comment below or on my wall (and I'll let my pen pal and new in person friend, Jennifer know) with what you plan to give and if you'd like, the community*** that you are giving to.


Thank you, friends and... Gobble GOBBLE! ;)

Hugging

* - I have a lot of vegetarian friends who wanted to participate, but not by giving meat. What I suggested to them is that they give what they want/can: Other food items, clothing, coats, money, time, etc are all just as needed (if not more so) than a turkey.
** -Last I'd checked, my friend's tally was at 16.
*** - I've had people offer to send me money so that I can donate to my community. While I appreciate their help, the truth is - in every community there is someone in need.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kids Are Silly

KNOCK KNOCK! Knock Knock!


Who's there?! WHO'S THERE?


PUMPKIN! Pumpkin.


Pumpkin, who? PUMPKIN, WHO?!


PUMPKIN HEAD! Pumpkin HEAD! Ah ha ha ha ha!


AH HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Loss

I’d been thinking for a while that it had been too long since I’ve written either of my children a letter. For those of you who have been reading my blog (or my facebook notes) for the past few years, you might remember that this was at least a monthly occurrence with Zoe that dwindled a bit when I was pregnant with Finnegan and then pretty much stopped completely once he was born. At least, the public postings stopped. I’ve continued writing my love letters to my children - notes about how much they’ve grown or changed, letters about significant events in their lives, etc. But the last few months had seemed especially hectic and I had stopped writing even the private ones. I had resolved to start again a few weeks ago. And then TWO weeks ago happened and spinned our world upside down and I could barely think in complete sentences to try to explain to either child what was going on.

So on our drive to Texas two weeks ago today, I decided I would write a letter to Zoe and Finn. I’ve put it off til now.

My Dearest Zoe and Finnegan,

This is one of the hardest letters I have ever written to you because I do so with a heavy heart. This is not one of my love letters to you where I tell you funny anecdotes about the silly, cute, smart things you do on a daily basis. This is sad and it breaks my heart - but I feel like I need to write these words while they are still fresh because I want you to understand the loss we have experienced. So here goes...

Two weeks ago today, we were starting our long journey to San Antonio to be with Grammy Donna and Aunt Sadie. On October 5, 2010, your Grandpa Rick passed away suddenly from a heart attack. He was 60 years old and it was entirely too soon.

Despite your young ages (Zoe, age 3 and Finnegan, 22 months) it was important to your Daddy and I that we try to explain (to at least Zoe) what had happened. We told you that we wouldn’t get to see Grandpa Rick anymore. We explained that he had gone to “adult heaven”, which is right next to “Doggy Heaven” so he is able to visit with Buffy and all of our friends and family that are watching over us and waiting for us with him now.

I think one of the hardest things for your Daddy and I is knowing that you both really did not have enough time with Grandpa. We didn’t have enough visits and we always thought there would be more time to fix this. We imagined that one day we’d move back to Texas and you’d see Grandpa all the time. It makes me sad that you will not know him like we did. I thought if I could write to you now about Grandpa that you could read this later and feel closer to him.

So I’m going to begin at the beginning.

I knew I loved your Daddy within a month of us dating, but it was really a couple months later when he took me home to Texas to meet his family that I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I think we’d been in Grammy and Grandpa’s kitchen for less than an hour and I felt like I was a part of their family right away. Both of them opened their home to me and made me feel welcome. I laughed with them and listened to old stories and saw what great people they were and I felt like I belonged. I watched your Daddy interact with his parents and I saw how much they all loved and enjoyed being around each other.

I wish I had written down all the funny stories/good times so that I could tell you about all of them.

I do recall a toast... no, a PRAYER that first night where Grammy referred to me as your Daddy’s “lover” (one day you will understand and you will be a little embarrassed that I am telling you this) and despite us not quite living together, mentioned us having children someday and we all laughed so hard (Grandpa included) that there were tears in our eyes.

I remember that your Grandpa Rick took us on tours of downtown San Antonio, the Riverwalk, and the Alamo. He knew and loved history. If he saw tourists who looked like they needed directions, he would help them. I seem to recall he even stopped everything he was doing to give a guided tour to “strangers” once. But your Grandpa Rick never really met a stranger. He was your friend the moment you met him. He had a way of welcoming everyone and making them comfortable. He liked to talk and he liked to listen. He had a great laugh and a smile that lit a room.

Grandpa Rick hated cheese, but liked pizza. He grilled a great steak. I used to eat raw oysters with him.

On one visit to Texas, I stayed with Grammy and Grandpa for a few days while your Dad went on a camping “Bachelors weekend” at Leaky. Some people might dread staying with their boyfriend’s parents alone, but I had a blast with them. We hung out in their kitchen and out on the patio. We walked around downtown and spent an afternoon cleaning out a storage unit. We went to a pub and your grandparents got me drunk on Guinness (when I had a half full glass, Grandpa would order another for me and then tell me to drink up so the 2nd and 3rd wouldn't get warm) and asked me if your Daddy and I were thinking about marriage (we were, but I didn’t tell).

On one of Grammy and Grandpa’s visits to California, (the visit where they met Nana & Baba for the 1st time and we celebrated my 28th birthday) they came to see me and Daddy in our closing performance of West Side Story. In one of the last scenes, Mommy & Daddy got to dance together - seeing us on stage dancing, brought tears to your Grandpa’s eyes.

Your Grandpa was a strong man. He was optimistic and realistic and he liked to solve problems. He used to say “I don’t get sick. I make people sick.” He also made people laugh, especially me. He was a big John Wayne fan and he loved his state, Texas. He and I had a running “competition” between California and Texas. I think we always looked forward to telling each other what was better about “our” states.

When your Daddy called Grandpa to tell him we were getting married, your Grandpa said “Well, I figured.” It was no surprise to him. I think he was very happy that we decided to tie the knot in San Antonio and I know he enjoyed playing host to all of our guests. The morning of our wedding, Grandpa got up early to give your Aunt Alison and Aunt Sharon a tour of the Alamo. There were all sorts of things that needed to be done to get ready for the reception that evening, but he was more than happy to share some Texas history with some Californians.

Grandpa Rick was so excited to be a grandfather. He loved you both so much and was so proud of you. He was so great with both of you.

- When I was about 7 months pregnant with Zoe, we had to visit Texas for an emergency. Grandpa Rick made sure I rested, ate and was taken care of. I was carrying “very precious cargo” and he told me it would be OK if I went ahead and gave birth to Zoe in Texas.

- He visited California with Grammy Donna for each of your first Christmas’.

- The 1st time he changed Zoe’s diaper, he put it on backwards.

- He gave Zoe the Spurs hat off of his head because she wanted it.

- He sat with Zoe and watched hours of Baby Einstein while Mommy and Daddy went to movies and Grammy Donna, Nana and Baba were sick (he just shook his head that all these people were sick but him - remember, he didn’t get sick).

- Zoe was Grandpa Rick’s “Zo-Shmo”.

- When we visited San Antonio just before Zoe’s first birthday, he was so happy to show off his grand-daughter. Zoe, he carried you on his shoulders at Fiesta and took you to your 1st parade. He made you laugh big belly laughs.

- When he came for Finn’s first Christmas, he sat up with Finn for at least two nights so Mommy and Daddy could get some sleep. For Grandpa, Finn fell asleep and stayed sleeping for most of the night. Grandpa was magic.

- He helped Grammy, Mommy, Daddy and Zoe make a gingerbread house. We have a video of it and I’m sure you will see it many times growing up. That was a good day. It felt good to be together for the holidays.

- He had mastered the diaper changes and bottle making and both of you were so happy and comfortable in his arms. I imagine you must have felt very safe and loved when you were with him.

- He made you both homemade fries and burgers (that you loved) and he always promised he’d make you more when he saw you next. He loved getting to talk to you on the computer and you both made him laugh and vice versa.

I wish I could tell you more stories. I wish I had taken more pictures of each of you with him. I wish I had pushed for us to make the trip to Texas more. I wish there had been more time and that you each would have your own special memories of your time with him.

Your Grandpa Rick called me “Babe” and he made it a point to give my shoulders a good squeeze when he saw me. He was the best father in law I ever could have hoped for and I felt so lucky to have him in my life. He really was like a father to me and I always looked forward to seeing him. He loved your dad so much and was so proud of him and I know that he was proud of me and loved me too. He was easy to talk to and supportive of our dreams. He encouraged us to do things, (like travel and work abroad) even if they scared us a little bit. I always felt safer knowing I was a part of Rick’s family.

As much as it breaks my heart that he’s not here with us now, that you won’t grow up with him in your lives... I feel like you both will be watched over by him. And Mommy and Daddy promise to make sure you grow up hearing stories about your Grandpa, about how much he loved you and how proud of you he was (and is).

I love you both infinitely,
Mama

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Mental Health Day

This last week has been hard on me. We're coming up on a year since our car accident and I'm struggling with how much it is still a part of my life and my nightmares. I wrote a long piece reflecting all of that, but decided to only share it with my facebook friends. Honestly, I am embarrassed that I am still so affected and I didn't want to air too much of that here. But I am affected, and there was a lot of stress and panic attacks punctuated by a whole lot of tears and frustration this week. Sometimes, that wreck seems like it all just happened a month ago.

I've also been struggling with who I want to be, what I want my focus to be. Free time comes rarely with two young kids. I adore being their mama and they make my world a better place, but there are certainly those days where I feel like I need more. Like there is more I need to be striving for and accomplishing.

Tuesday night I told Daniel that I felt like I was having a breakdown. That if I didn't have some time to be myself, by myself that I felt like I was going to lose it. I hated that feeling. He said "OK" and he quickly figured out a way to make it work.

I slept in Wednesday. I took my time getting ready. I listened to David Gray loudly and drove where my car seemed to want to take me. I had no plan, but I ended up downtown and sitting in a local coffee house. I drank a soy latte and got back in the car. I ended up parking again and walking around a block and into an old antique store. I took some pictures along the way. I asked if it would be alright if I took some photos inside and was told to go right on ahead. With every image, I felt myself become lighter. My shoulders relaxed and I stopped feeling guilty for needing this time. I'm not sure how long I was in that first store, but when the time seemed right, I moved on.

Reflection

My camera was out of it's case as I walked through the next store. Something about the environment or the merchandise made me less inclined to take any photos except of this dress:

Vintage Dress

I did so quietly and went on my way. An old man running the store asked me what I was up to and I told him I was just strolling through. He wanted to know what I was photographing. I told him I'd taken a picture of a dress that I thought might work as a costume, but other than that I was about to put my camera away. He seemed skeptical.

"So you've just been taking pictures of things on the street?"
"Pretty much."
"But why?"
"To feel like I'm doing something. For art. For me. Because I keep seeing things that I think are beautiful, or interesting."

His expression made me think he thought I was crazy, but it amused me. I really was just doing all of this because it made my heart feel good to do it.

I ended up getting in my car and driving again. I drove to the local museum and walked the grounds, taking my time, playing with angles and sunlight. Aside from a few people here and there, I was alone and I liked the solitude. I sang softly to myself. I thought about this last week and the toll it had taken on me. I sat on benches and listened to the sounds of the park. I imagined the history the buildings, trains and equipment. I felt sorry for them in a way, once so full of life - now away from their original homes collecting dust and spiders. I looked at the bright side: They educated. They allowed me the venue to see them all at once and focus on them through my lens. I promised myself I'd bring Daniel and the kids back and that I'd come alone again too.

Sunshine

From there I went to the Padre and sat in their bar for a sandwich. I played with my iPhone camera and discreetly got my big camera out a few times. I hope to bring Daniel back with me sometime soon. I keep thinking it would be fun to have a stay cation there, just the two of us.

Truth be told, I've been daydreaming about taking a trip alone with Daniel somewhere. I've also been thinking I'd love to go on a weekend getaway by myself. I keep having to tell myself that there is nothing to feel guilty about wanting either of those things. I keep telling myself that taking these little breaks will make me a happier person and a better partner/mother.

What I do know, is that I was so happy to come home to Daniel and the kids Wednesday night. I felt like I had things to share. Despite all the walking around, I felt more energetic than I have in a while. We ended the day watching a movie as a family. Daniel and I took the couch while the kids shared a blanket on the floor. All I could think about was how lucky I am.

And I didn't think about our accident once, all day.

See the entire set of photos I took HERE.

Friday, September 10, 2010

So, here's the thing

Keeping up with blogging is hard work when you've got 2 kids (a PRESCHOOLER and a toddler, no less) running around. I know there are all sorts of Mommy Bloggers out there doing it and doing it well. I admire those women immensely because I have a hard time finding the time.

Hi there

You know, with all my time playing those damn games on facebook.

Ahem.

Factor in that our accident just put me in a really bad place and it's taken me a while to want to sit down and write more than a few sentences at a time in a status update. For a long time, I was more comfortable with my "audience" being people I had actually met in my life along with a few blogger friends that I just admire and adore.

But I've missed some of the connections I'd made. I missed that feeling of accomplishment when I published a post and put it out there for whomever to see. I've missed keeping up with my blog roll and reading what you guys have to say because you all inspire me and make me laugh.

So I'm planning a comeback (AGAIN. I know.) I've updated my links (apparently quite a few of my favorite blogs are no longer blogging). I've been checking in and noticing that while I've been away, a lot has happened in everyone's lives.

I'm still trying to figure out a few things. What I want my life to be. What I want to focus my attention on (besides my family). What I want my online identity to be.

I was chatting with a long time blogger friend about an hour ago and as we were saying our goodbyes, I told her I needed to "go stare at my blog and curse." That's pretty much what I was doing before I decided to write this post. Lots of staring and cursing (quietly because oh my goodness, Zoe is a word sponge/human parrot) trying to figure out what I want to do with this space. I have a domain name I purchased a while ago. I have some ideas. I have no idea how to execute... which is sort of amusing and irritating considering I've been blogging on and off for seven years.

And now, back to staring and curing and trying to encourage Zoe that she doesn't actually have to hurt her brother to play "nurse". *SIGH*

I don't know why it's hard for me to focus on my writing....

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Where Did The BABY Go?

It's a little bit surreal taking your first born to her first day of preschool. Where she will be away for six hours, learning and growing with people and children who are (not yet, at least) friends or family. Watching her walk to her classroom and then through the gate and then the door, it was like I was literally watching her grow up before my eyes. For an instant, I flashed forward to the first day of kindergarten, high school graduation, college graduation, wedding day, the day she tells me I'll be a grandmother (EEK!). And the next thing I knew, she was telling me she'd see me later and that she loved me. "Bye bye, Mommy."

When we walked into the preschool director's office, my eyes welled up.

Zoe is not a baby anymore! She's not even a toddler. How did that happen so fast?

We've been promising Zoe preschool since we started potty training her. She's never been intimidated by the idea of leaving us and going to school. She was so determined, that potty training ended up taking much less time than we thought it would. Turns out, we weren't quite ready to follow through with our promise right away (neither financially or emotionally) and so we let some time pass.

She asked to go to school if not every day, then at least every other day. We kept telling her "Soon. Soon you'll go!" and every time she would do what I've begun to call the Flashdance dance and squeal with excitement. "I can't wait to go to preschool!"

A new preschool just opened up less than five minutes from our house, and I took it as a sign that it was finally time (because, you know, her asking every other day wasn't enough of a SIGN) and we went to check it out. Last Friday I picked up the registration paperwork. Last weekend we found her a special "Big Girl Starting School" outfit. She picked out a backpack and a lunchbox. Yesterday was her first day.

It felt like I would never fall asleep Monday night. I had 1st day of school jitters. I dragged myself out of bed at 6am. I was nauseated just thinking about her going to school even if I did know she was going to love it, it was going to be great for her, yada yada yada. I might have teared up a little, but I pushed it aside so Daniel and I could make her lunch together. I included a little note.

Lunch

And then we woke her up, got her dressed and brought her out to eat her breakfast. She was all giggles and squirms and exclamations.

Someone is a little bit excited to start preschool!

We took two cars. I drove the kids in the van and Daniel took the truck so he could leave straight from there for work. We loaded Finn in his stroller and snapped a few pictures.

Ready and excited

Me and my big girl

Finn definitely knew something big was happening and he was excited for his big sister.

Finn's excited too

I snapped a bunch of pictures of her walking.

My creation: WALKING

Of Daniel opening the gate.

Education: HERE

And of her in her classroom

She got right in there.

Finn was upset at first that we were leaving her behind, but he got over that soon enough and enjoyed his day. I think he loved the one on one attention he got with Cheryl and then me. Yesterday alone, he said 3 new sentences clearly and his vocabulary has grown just in the last 24 hours (Amazing, I tell you!)

When I went to pick up Zoe at 1, she did not notice me for almost 5 minutes because she was so engaged. When she did see me, she jumped up and gave me a hug and refused to leave. She was proud to show me her art she'd made, she couldn't wait to come back Thursday. She was quick to tell me someone had pushed her in the tummy and she had to tell them "Please don't push my tummy. That makes me sad." and that her favorite part was "the babies". I drove her over to Cheryl's to trade kids and I'm told she slept the entire 3 hours she was there - and then she was in bed at eight.

I think preschool is going to be good for all of us. I'm so proud of my girl.

POSE!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Beautiful Girl

This morning (once I realized Zoe was being more quiet than usual) I found my daughter in my bathroom. One of my lipsticks was in her left hand, fully extended and ready to apply all over her face, no doubt. The rest of my makeup lay scattered on the floor haphazardly. Pieces of my jewelry were strewn about her person: bracelets on her arms, multiple necklaces draped over her neck and a few over her princess crown and kitty ears that she’d decided on wearing earlier. In her right hand was a large clump of more jewelry... I’m not sure exactly what she had planned for it. She looked like she was either a pirate, a burglar, or perhaps an over accessorized beauty queen. When our eyes met, there was a moment of hesitation before we acted. I simultaneously wanted to grab my camera and scold her for the mess. She wanted to run with her loot while explaining why she had to have all this stuff. Zoe was faster than me.

As she raced passed me and through the door into my bedroom, she yelled out “I just wanted to be beautiful, my mommy!”

And that was where I was frozen in my tracks. This was the second time in as many days that she had said this to either me or Daniel. I answered the same way Daniel had yesterday:

“You were beautiful the day you were born.” and then I added “I know that you’re having fun playing with mama’s stuff, but do you know that you do not need the make up and jewelry to be beautiful?”

She stared at me and then quickly gripped the jewelry to her chest.

“No. I NEED it. I need it to be beautiful.”

“You are beautiful! And you are smart and funny and talented. And you know what else?”

“Nooooo.”

“You have such a kind heart and make people so happy, THAT is what makes you beautiful. You shine from the inside out.”

“Like the sun?”

“Yes. Almost exactly like that.”

She smiled at me and looked down before looking back up to tell me that I was beautiful too, but could she please just wear my jewelry now? And also... she needed her sunglasses right away “because the sun is bright!”

Beautiful Girl

As we picked up my things off the floor and put the jewelry away, I wondered to myself what more I could be doing. Should I not put makeup on around her? Have I made her think that I only feel beautiful with makeup and jewelry? Maybe I’m just over thinking all of this.

I realize that when she was going through my stuff she was not specifically thinking she needed it all to “be beautiful”. I know that what she wanted was to play with my stuff and be like her mommy and that when she was caught red handed she was searching for a “because” that would excuse the mess she’d created. I know that she might be learning that the beautiful button gets a reaction from Daniel and I. We just want so much for her to know that there are more important things, and that her beauty is all encompassing.

I want to spare her all the insecurities I ever felt/feel about my own appearance.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No Cookie For Me

No cookie for me

The cookie pictured is old, but I still considered eating it. Because it's a cookie. I love cookies!

What I did instead was look in my fridge and pantry. I decided I was going to choose at least one vegetable and make it yummy without adding too much. I chose mushrooms and sauteed them up. I scrambled up an egg. I mixed them together, added a little bit of cheese and some salsa and added it all to a whole grain tortilla. It was delicious and it took me five minutes.

Take THAT, fast food.

And then there was the cookie.

I decided instead of eating that damn cookie, (because I was full... and it's a cookie. I've broken up with cookies.) that I was going to play with it a bit. I know, I know: Don't play with your food! And I know, "Throw it all awayyyyyyy. bad bad" ;) But it was a little bit therapeutic to take that cookie and do something creative with it. It made me laugh. And I need to keep a sense of humor about all this. And I sort of like testing myself - especially when it results in me making the better, healthier choice.

So the cookie and it's mate are gone. Thrown away, never consumed but enjoyed all the same.

No cookie for me. And that's a GREAT thing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Empty House

Thursday afternoon I told my mom we wouldn't be coming for the visit I had just suggested a couple days prior. It was the killer cramps I'd been having, plus the run down feeling and Daniel having been gone on a work trip for 24 hours and counting. Or maybe it was my recent decision to eat better paired with this overwhelming desire to just relax and focus on me for a bit. Regardless, the idea of sitting in a car for an extended period of time and then trying to make health food choices while traveling no longer appealed to my mind or body. I was tired. I needed to relax. I wanted to enjoy our house, just the 6 of us (I'm including the dog children) for a few precious days after having house guests for the last two weeks.

And then Saturday around noon, my two kids jumped on my bed for ten minutes straight, screaming at the top of their well developed and OMG! healthy lungs, with no abandon. When they saw my face contorting with frustration and ugh, pain - they giggled. "This is fun!" Zoe squealed in delight. I looked over at Daniel who was doing the best he could to just sit and read a book while all this was going on and I asked him how he'd feel about the kids visiting my parents for a few days.

I think he was a little shocked and excited and sad, all at once - but he nodded yes, so I hurriedly called my mom before I lost my nerve.

The was some deliberating and some negotiations and then trying to figure out the logistics of it all, but we worked it out. I quickly called our friends to cancel our plans 30 minutes before we had planned on meeting and then asked if they'd be willing to watch the dogs last minute. I ran around the house packing up the kids for an adventure at Nana and Baba's house and shoved a few things in a backpack for a quick overnight stay for me and Daniel - just to get everyone settled.

We got back to Bakersfield yesterday afternoon - 24 hours after we left. We listened to a book on tape on the ride home and stopped for vegetarian sandwiches at Whole Foods. We saw a movie and ate some healthier Mexican food. I had a margarita. We went home and relaxed in our quiet living room. I had some wine and snacked on berries for dessert. It was delightful. The best part is, we have two more nights of this. My parents bring the kids back to us Wednesday afternoon.

Don't get me wrong, I miss the kids - very much so. The house feels too quiet and I'm honestly a little lost without them here with me right now.... but, and there is a HUGE but: I needed this. If not just to catch up on our date night deficit, then to focus on me a little bit.

These few days are an excellent opportunity for me to focus on the changes we're making as far as food choices too. We've committed to cutting red meat and pork from our diet and we'll be limiting poultry as well. After talking to a few friends, I'm no longer specifically counting every single calorie and every ounce of water - I'm just aware. I'm looking at the ingredients in foods and eating less in general. But I'm eating a ton of fruit and veggies. I keep my water with me and drink as needed. I know I'm filling it up repeatedly during the day and that's all that matters. I haven't looked at a scale, but I do know I feel lighter, if that makes any sense. I've been told by some friends that I can still eat meat - that I can still have my ice cream in moderation. Sure. They're right. But I don't want to. I know what works for me. From my experience of quitting smoking 7 years ago, cold turkey - I know that it doesn't work for me to just taper down. I need to replace that need with something else. I replaced cigarettes with food and now.... now I'm replacing some of the foods that were my weakness with foods that are healthy*. The thing is, searching out foods that are better for me and my family is fun. I'm loving getting to talk to people about it and looking at healthy cookbooks. I've told Daniel repeatedly that he doesn't have to give up meat and pork like I am. I've told him he is free to eat whatever he wants when we go to restaurants and/or he's at work and that I will be fine as long as he encourages me to stick with this. He's told me repeatedly that he wants to do this with me as much as he can and that means the world to me - to have him be my partner in this.

I feel very lucky.

*- Felt a little hungry as I was writing this. Grabbed a banana instead of the crazy pink frosting sugar cookies that are in eyesight. They're from last week and probably are way stale now, but there was a time when that would not have mattered and I would have eaten them anyway.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Big Changes

So, I’m not sure if any one ever reads these posts anymore... but hello. It’s been a while. I’d recap what I’ve been up to, but I’ve decided to just leave that up to mystery. Ha.

What I will tell you is that sometime yesterday I made the commitment to myself (and out loud to my husband) that it’s time for me to get back on track with healthy eating and trying to be a healthier person overall. I’ve been down this road before - I had some successes and then maybe because I had those successes, I was able to get pregnant with my son without any extra help (fertility drugs). Because of gestational diabetes, I was able to maintain my weight through strict management of my carb intake. I felt better about myself.

And then we had our car accident and my way of dealing with the stress was to eat. I ate entirely too much. When I was sad or upset, I turned to unhealthy foods. I started a ritual of eating ice cream nightly. Every. Single. Night. A huge bowl. And sometimes I’d have seconds. It was gluttonous and crazy and irresponsible. But it was comforting. I know it sounds crazy, but that ice cream was my salvation. I would sit there with my bowl (or bowls) after the kids had gone to bed and disappear. I didn’t think about my stressful day or medical bills - I just focused on the chocolate chip ice cream and I was content.

I’ve gained 15 pounds since September 27th and when I look at myself, I hate what I see. When I think about the example I’m setting for my kids, I want to cry. And I know that my weight has had a impact on my health and has definitely played a part in my continued pain from the car accident.

Last January, I had my chiropractor suggest that I have a gastric bypass. It hurt my heart to sit there and have him tell me that I would never be able to lose the weight I needed to, on my own. He told me I was going to waste my youth - that he would “bet” that I was “pretty hot under all that weight.” And in those moments in his office, I suddenly felt the ugliest I had ever felt in my life. I told Daniel about it right away and he is 100% supportive of whatever I want to do. We made an appointment with a surgeon to discuss my options, but the consultation was postponed because the doc was backed up and we never went back. The idea of having surgery scared me and I was concerned about not being able to get pregnant for at least 2 years after the procedure. That would mean if we decided we wanted a third child, we’d have to wait and then I’d have to be very careful with my eating and undoubtedly gain some weight back. So we sat on it.

And I ate more ice cream.

Which brings me back to last night.

As I was sipping on a glass of wine and nibbling on a piece of feta and an olive, I told Daniel that I could eat this and be happy. And then it was like a slap in the face: I could and SHOULD be eating better.
“I want to make some changes and eat healthier.”
“OK. It would mean giving up your ice cream.”
“Right.”

And then there was this silence as I considered that and processed what Daniel had said - what he had obviously said because he’d been thinking it for a while. I felt like I was sitting in the Chiropractor’s office again. “I bet you’re pretty hot under all that weight.” I felt my face burn with shame.

“You must hate the way I look.”
“No. I love the way you look. I love you. No matter what.”

There were more sweet things said... but I’ll leave those between us. The point is, I was transported back to my home and pushed the Chiropractor’s words out of my head for a bit.

After dinner, we ran to the store to get some healthy snacks and a water bottle to track water intake.

Later, as Daniel slept next to me, I signed up for an iPhone app that gives me a calorie budget to help me get to my desired weight. It can track carb and fiber intake. It alerts me when I need to snack and it tracks calories burned based on the exercise and amount of time spent exercising.

I haven’t given up on the idea of a gastric bypass or lap band. Daniel and I decided not that long ago that we won’t be planning on any more kids - so my one concern is... no longer a concern. I do want to see what kind of progress I can make on my own though. Just admitting to myself and putting out here for anyone to see is a huge step.

So, I guess this also means I’m back. Back to blogging, I mean. I’ve missed this outlet, certainly... but I also know that if I do not put myself out there and share what my goals are, I will back away slowly and go buy a gallon of ice cream. Help me not do that, OK?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Finnegan

Finn. Finnie. Little Man. Baby. Baby Boy. Baby Brother. Brother. Big Boy. Monkey. Wiggle Worm. Snuggle Bug. Mr. Serious. Mr. Destructo. Demolition Baby. Handsome. Stunt Boy. Flirty Finn.

At this point, Finn's vocabulary is limited. He says "Mama, Daddy, Baba, Banana, Up, No. Yes. Uh-oh. Baby." And a whole lot of gibberish that we don't really understand yet. Sometimes I swear he's repeating everything he hears and someday it's going to just come out crystal clear.

Loves books, just like Mom, Dad and sister

He's often mistaken for being shy. I think by comparison to Zoe, that is understandable. He will not run up to strangers and introduce himself like she does. Instead, he will stare intently until he is noticed and then bat his eyelashes. He will hide his face and then look back at you quickly to make sure you're watching him. He's got a smile that will charm just about anyone. His eyelashes are ridiculously long and thick.

I don't think I ever realized how active a one year old could be until I had Finnegan. He went from sitting up to crawling to walking to running so fast, we never knew what hit us. I've called Zoe my monkey since she was in my belly... but Finn? Finn is truly a monkey - climbing all over us, his sister, the dogs, the fireplace, the sofas. If we don't know where he is, good places to check are on top of our dining, kitchen and end tables. I've caught him trying to scale bookcases. Finn is fearless. He does not hesitate to slide down a four foot high slide. He stands on top of his cars and tries to use them as skateboards. Every day he gets a new bruise and every day I consider buying him protective gear. When he gets hurt and cries, I am sure he does so out of frustration. He is a dare devil.

Despite all the dolls and dress up clothes around here, Finn is all about being active. He loves playing with his soccer ball and his trucks. I imagine he will be the athlete... or maybe he'll be in a band? He loves all instruments, the louder, the better. He loves pushing around the toy vacuum cleaner... I'm looking forward to taking advantage of that someday. Finn is more interested in playing with Bailey and Max than Zoe ever has been. If he's not standing on a table, he's kicking back with the dogs in their bed, chasing them around the house, or trying to play tug of war with them.

Toy tester

Finn is strong. My tough guy. He likes to play wrestle with his sister and often wins. He can lift things his own size and bigger. He will push chairs, trash cans, full laundry baskets around the kitchen. If something does not budge, he will yell at it as if that will help. Even though he is younger and smaller, he sticks up for his sister - he has hit and yelled at two kids when they bullied Zoe.

Zoe likes to introduce Finn to everyone we meet and even people who wouldn't even notice us if it weren't for her yelling out "Here's my Finnegan brother!" which sounds an awful lot like "Here's my stinkin' brother!" and always leaves people a little perplexed. I always repeat what she says and she and Finn just look at me like I'm crazy for repeating what's already been said. Zoe also likes to tell strangers that Finn does not listen to his mother and that he is shy. She likes to call him her "little bug" and "little rascal" and he seems to love everything she says and does.

Leading the way

I'm glad we had them so close together because I am sure that is why they are such great friends. It is not uncommon for them to be walking around the house holding hands. They hug and kiss and cuddle on the couch together. It is their favorite thing to get to go in and wake each other either in the morning or from a nap. Recently, when he was getting tired and ready for his morning nap, he stumbled over to his sister and gently put his head on her lap while she rubbed his back. At night when they're both getting tired, they like to pile on top of me... I think they enjoy those quiet moments sharing me. I do not doubt that they will grow up to be partners in crime, already they've mastered a "divide and conquer" technique at the park that succeeds in wearing me out beyond words but seems to entertain them endlessly.

Sometimes, I forget to write about Finnegan. Not because I love him any less, but because his sister is so much more vocal than he is right now. But my boy? He adds to the love and the laughter in this house, more than I thought was possible. He is full of energy and curiosity and possibility and I can't wait to see who he becomes. I'm already so proud of who he is.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Day Without Kids

I've been sans kids all day because I'm dealing with a stomach bug. I've got to say, if I didn't feel so horrible, it would be pretty great.

And I feel a little bit bad for typing that. Except, I don't... not really, really bad anyway.

I think I put unrealistic expectations on myself.

Since having Finnegan, I have only been alone for a hand full of days. Since having him, I rarely get breaks. I am rarely not attached to one or both kids. And this might be too much information, but it is a rare treat if I get to go to the bathroom by myself.

Before you say, that's what being a mom is... I know. I know, and I love it. But everyone has their breaking point. Everyone needs to take a day here and there to relax. Hell, not necessarily an entire day - I'd take a couple hours a week! Being a stay at home mom, despite what some people may think - is physically and emotionally exhausting. While I love what I get to do and I am eternally grateful that I am able to stay home with my children, some days all I can think is "I need a day off!" and sometimes it's all I can do to get through the day without bursting into tears.

Because that feeling makes me feel like I must be the worst mother in all the world. Who would not want to get to be with these kids all day, every day?! They are sweet and funny and such amazing little beings. Every single day they do something that makes me think this is so worth it. I get to watch them become who they are going to be. And I can't help but think I must be an asshole for wanting to get to go out with my camera or sit and read a book or write because look who I get to spend my time with! Not everyone gets to do this.

And so I feel shame. Like I must not being doing this right. Because if it's hard, then I must not be a natural, right? Except I know that's crap.

Last night I was curled up on the couch feeling miserable. Zoe walked up to me:

Are you OK, Mommy?
I'll be OK, honey. My tummy just hurts.
Aw. Can I read to you?
Yes, please.


She goes to get her Princess and the Frog book.

Can I sit with you?
Yes, I would love that.


So she "reads" the story. The last page shows Tiana and Prince Naveen after they've gotten married. They're about to walk underneath all the swords:

What are they doing here, mommy?
They just got married.
Married.
Like mommy and daddy.
I need to get married!
Well, someday. If you want to. When you fall in love with the right one.
Well I love you, Mommy.
I love you, baby.


Sometimes I need that reminder, you know? That even when I'm feeling physically ill and feel like I'm just not good at this, I have these two babies who wouldn't have any other mommy than me.

I guess that's why I'm writing this. Because being a mom isn't all about the funny, sweet moments. Even if it is a lot of that - it's also the headaches and kids running around like wild things. It's about wanting to pull your hair out some days. It's about knowing your limits and dealing with what you have. It's about time management and taking advantage of bedtime. At the end of the day, all you can do is be the best you can.

Daniel just got home with the kids. I just realized how much I missed them today....

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bella the Great

bella_the_great-first_clouds_8zfr

A few months ago I saw some posts on facebook from multiple friends about a couple trying to save their home from foreclosure by starting their own publishing company and children's series based on their now four year old daughter, Bella. I was touched by their story and their creativity in finding a way to supplement their income. I was drawn to the concept of Bella the Great - an imaginative and adventurous little girl, (much like my own) and her sidekick Iago, a stuffed bunny. As I navigated their website and saw the lovely illustrations created by Jonathan Ashley, I got excited about getting to not only share Bella the Great with Zoe and Finnegan, but with my friends and family as well. I had to resist the urge to purchase the coloring books and t-shirts I wanted because we're on a tight budget ourselves these days, but I quickly pre-ordered the first book:

Temp-Web-Bump-Bedroom-Balle

Bella Goes Bump in the Night

Moments later, I was messaging Derek and telling him how inspired I was by his story. We quickly became facebook friends, exchanged messages and later connected with each other's spouses. I shared my interest in pursuing my photography and writing and he and his wife became my cheerleaders and gifted me with the services of a designer to build a merchant site for my photography. Since then, I have gotten to know them more through messages, posts and photos and I am so grateful to have connected with two people who are filled with so much "Love and Light". I do not doubt that I am a more optimistic person by having them in my life. It is amazing to me that despite Derek and I growing up in the same town, going to the same high school and sharing many friends past and present, we didn't know each other at all before all of this - I'm just happy I get to be friends with him and Gina now.

When I first read about Derek and Gina, Daniel and I were just starting the process of buying our first home. When we signed our loan documents and committed to 30 years of payments, I couldn't help but think of our friends and what they are going through. Now that we are homeowners, (as of April Fools, ha) I am even more sympathetic and invested in helping them get their story out there. I have so many dreams for our home, I can only imagine what a nightmare it would be to be faced with losing it. Not a day goes by without me thinking of my new friends and hoping people are as touched by their story as I am.

So, here's the deal: Derek and Gina have a Bella the Great website. It tells their story and has an online store for you to pre-order from the Bella line. Please, check it out. They're on Facebook - become a fan and help me spread the word! Help my friends and get a beautiful book, coloring book, poster, or t-shirt (or hey, the entire line!) in the process - everyone wins...

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Waiting Game

In front of our house...


If all goes well, we should get news that we are "officially" homeowners either today or tomorrow. Even though the paperwork has been signed, the homeowners insurance policy written and purchased, and the check handed over to the title company, I'm not letting myself celebrate until I get someone in charge to tell me it's official. I'm waiting anxiously for that phone call.

Maybe I'm showing what a pessimist I actually am. Ha.

But on the positive side, I'm excited. I told Daniel the other night that there was no one else in this world that I'd rather go (further) into debt with than him. And that is true. So true, that I find myself walking around the house spending money we don't have. You see, we're buying the house we've been renting for almost three years. While we could have painted or made whatever changes we wanted to if we'd discussed them with our friends, (the current homeowners) I just didn't want to until it was really ours.

I'm thinking I want to paint. I want new carpeting and maybe wood floors in the front of the house. I want to build some custom bookshelves in the master bedroom. I want a new refrigerator... and more energy efficient washer and dryer. I want shelving in the garage and fancy closet organizers in the kids rooms. I want a swing set, or a fort, or something in the backyard. I want to get more shade for our covered patio and maybe plant a tree to commemorate becoming homeowners.

And I want all the funds to make that happen.

But in the meantime, a girl can dream... and try to talk Zoe out of a pink room.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Safety First

Since our wreck in September, it is absolutely impossible for me to not think about what happened at least once a day. I know that might sound excessive and it doesn't exactly sound like I've moved on... but it's true and I mostly have. Mostly.

I still get headaches. I still have flashbacks. I still hear the sounds associated with the accident, all of them. I still feel nauseated when I see an accident on a television show or movie. It's hard for me to talk about what happened without getting emotional, and I never know if I'm going to get angry or cry about it, or both.

Last Friday we had to take Zoe for a CT of her head. We've known since November that we needed to do it, but the doc said we'd could hold off for a bit because we knew it was going to be traumatic for all of us. And then it was like we were sick for 3 months straight because, all four us... we pretty much were sick November til oh, right now. So anyway, we'd been told they would use conscious sedation before they gave her the IV for the contrast, but when we got there they said that they only gave the sedation thru the IV. I'm not going to write about what it was like to have to see Zoe go thru that because I don't want to remember it, but what I will say is that all I could think while we were there was that we wouldn't be going thru this if that man had been paying attention and had stopped for the red light. I was angry all over again.

But I'm trying to find the positive where I can and believe it or not, I am able to.

Zoe has learned from our experience that bad things happen but that there are great people out there who will be there to help us. She points out police officers, ambulances and fire trucks and tells us they are on their way to help people. She also points out when other drivers are not being safe and need to slow down. We talk about "being safe" every time we drive and I plan to keep that up. I hope that she will always respect the men and women out there protecting us and keeping us safe. I hope that she will never forget how important it is to be a responsible driver.

Driving Miss Zoe

I've become more aware of my surroundings and an even more defensive driver than I used to be. I've also become passionate about telling our little story to whomever asks because I hope it will spill into their consciousness when they consider taking a phone call or text, speeding, drunk driving, or running a red light. More than anything though, I've become a little bit obsessed with keeping my family safe and educating others about car seat safety. There's a certification that I'd like to get someday, when the wreck is not so fresh with me... but in the meantime, I do what I can to educate myself online.

This evening we ordered a new car seat for Finnegan. He's outgrown his Peg Perego infant seat, so we're upgrading to one just like Zoe's: the Britax Advocate CS. We were kind of excited about him getting to be front facing now that he's over a year old and over 20 pounds, but I'd remembered reading somewhere that it was best to keep your child rear facing for as long as the convertible seat will allow. In our case, this means Finn could be rear facing until he's 35 pounds providing he doesn't sprout even taller than the limitations.

As Daniel and I were discussing this, I couldn't help but try to remember what Zoe had weighed on September 27th. Was she under 35 pounds? Should she have been rear facing? Would being rear facing have saved her from getting glass in her forehead? Would we have been worse off if she'd been rear facing? I had to remind myself what everyone has told us repeatedly: Her car seat and that we were using it correctly is what saved her from more serious injury or worse. We did everything we knew to do. We turned her front facing because we had read that we could after 1 year/20 pounds. There's no point second guessing now, especially since our outcome was so favorable.

I look forward to the day where I stop second guessing what happened. I'm tired of imagining all the horrible things that could have been, but I'm determined to do everything I can to help ensure my family's safety... and get people to become as passionate about car seat and drivers safety as I have.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sugar & Spice

Zo and Fi

So, last night after I'd finished reading some bedtime stories to Zoe and while I was singing her some of her favorite "nigh-nigh" songs, we heard Finn crying. The crying a mama hears and knows that her baby is hurt*... but I didn't rush in because I knew he was with his Daddy and was being taken care of.

Zoe had been nearly asleep. She was at that stage where she was petting my hand as I sang and sort of fighting the inevitable like she's done since she was an infant. She would open her eyes and stare at me when I'd stop singing and then when I'd start again, her eyes would sort of move side to side like a Cylon and then roll back a bit before they closed. Yes. THAT tired. No, it's not creepy, it's endearing.

Anyway. Finn's tears startled us both a bit, but I had her needs to think about too so I tried to soothe her. Zoe wasn't having it though. She sat up straight and looked at me:

"Finnegan's crying, Mommy!"
"I know. But Daddy has him. He'll be OK."
"No. He's CRYING. He needs you. Go to him, Mommy!" - nudging me to get out of her bed.
"Will you be OK?"
"Yes. Go to him. I, OK."
"You're such a good big sister. Nigh-nigh, baby."
"Nigh-nigh, Mama."


She's such a sweetheart.

This morning when Finn was playing with a toy that Zoe didn't want him to have, she put her hands on either side of his head and pulled him backwards. BY HIS HEAD! When we asked her why she did that it was: " Because I want it."

Sometimes it's not easy being the big sister. Sometimes it's not easy being the little brother either. I'm bracing myself for the day when Finn can fight back - and holding on to the memories of how sweet they can be together. It will get me through the next 15 or so years, right?

Helping




*- He'd been climbing and hit his face on our end table. There was a red mark on his face, but I think his ego was bruised more than anything. I took him from Daniel to calm him and he fell asleep within minutes. He's fine now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Goodbye, Buffy (the Family Dog, not the Vampire Slayer)

Buffy was my parents dog. They got her as a puppy around the time I moved out of my parents house the first time. We joked that them getting a sweet little puppy was their attempt at getting me to not move out but I don't think that was really the case... even if it is a shame that didn't work. Ha. Not really, truth is those choices are what shaped me into who I am now as a person: a wife, mother, friend, etc.

But that's not what this is about. This is about Buffy.

Buffy smile

Buffy was the 2nd Buffy my parents have had. The first passed away when I was a baby, I think.

Buffy the 2nd seemed to always have a smile on her face. She had big brown eyes that could melt your heart. She was a big girl and we joked affectionately that she was part dog, part cow. Despite her large size, Buffy thought she was a lap dog. Shaking hands soon turned into her throwing both arms around you. Buffy never met a pair of black pants she didn't cover with her long hair and she never met a treat she didn't devour in 5 seconds. When Buffy was really happy she would sort of hop - back paws would stay on the ground, her booty and tail would shake and her front paws would skip up and down. Buffy liked to get as close to her loved ones as possible and she loved giving kisses.

When I moved back into my parents house in 2002, she and I shared the living room floor. She would throw herself down on the ground next to my sleeping bag and arch her head back to "kiss" my nose. I spent quite a few nights curled up next to her sleeping and quite a few morning with her trying to climb IN my sleeping bag WITH me. We used to joke that Buffy was like my kid sister. She loved me and I loved her.

KVB-E & Buffy


Buffy also loved our Nana. And even if she sometimes drove Nana crazy, Nana loved her so much. Buffy liked to stay close to Nana especially when Nana got sick and I know that she felt a true sadness when Nana left us. She was as much Nana's girl as she was my parents.

Buffy didn't like my ex husband, I don't think. She stayed clear of him whenever possible - but she adored Daniel. She liked to sit close to him and looked up at him with so much love. She used to run to me when I walked in the door, but that honor went to Daniel too.

Buffy was intrigued by Zoe as an infant, but Zoe was a little bit intimidated by her. I imagine she looked like a giant. As Zoe grew older she still stayed a little apprehensive, but she always said hello to her and would ask about her and include her in her nightly song about all the people she loves.

Buffy tolerated Bailey and Max. Bailey was pretty much indifferent - if you're not going to play, she has little use for you. But Max, I'm pretty sure Max was in love with Buffy from the moment he met her.

Secrets between friends


My parents had Buffy for 15 years. They got her when our dog Ramsey was getting older and needed a young pup to add a spring to his step. And today... they're going to put her to sleep. She's lost her spring in her step. Her hip creaks and she does not do that hopping thing anymore. She has trouble standing and trouble sitting and trouble laying down. And even though I still see that little puppy when I look in her eyes, she is old and tired and not enjoying her life like she used to.

So, I'm sad. I'm sad for my parents and for me. I'm sad because she was another link to Nana that is leaving us. I'm sad because the last time she was here I did not cuddle with her and give her attention because I was so sick. I'm sad that I'm going to have to explain to Zoe that Buffy isn't going to come visit us anymore and we don't get to visit her - but that she'll be watching over us with my Nana from now on.

Profile of Buffy

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A letter to a friend:

One of my oldest and dearest friends is due this Monday with her 1st child, Oliver. She and I have had a lot of conversations about the crazy/rude things people say to expectant parents and about parenthood and I wanted to write her a note for her to be able look back on. I remember how anxious I was in the days before Zoe (and even with my 2nd, Finn) and I wanted to send her something to help put her at ease and put a positive spin on this motherhood "thing". Being a mom isn't easy, but I truly think focusing on the joys and gifts of motherhood is the way to go instead of trying to scare people who have already decided to be parents.*

Here's the letter:


2-3-2010

Dearest Ashley,

I've been thinking a lot about you and Justin lately. I've been thinking about this great adventure you both have been having these last nine months and how very, very soon your adventure and your family will expand. Today you are just five days from your due date and since your son could be joining us any day now, I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a few things.

When people see an expecting couple, they like to give their two cents... as you know. They like to tell you "Just you wait!" and "Your life will never be the same again!" Sometimes people just laugh like the joke is on you: "You'll see!" In a way, this is natural... we want to relate to each other, we want to commiserate and share our life experiences. I think that people don't always hear themselves as these words are coming out and they don't realize how negative they sound.

After 2 kids and almost 3 short years of motherhood, here's my take on it:

Just you wait.... until you see your son for the first time. When you get to kiss his forehead and feel his skin against yours. Just you wait until you hear his first cry, his first coo, his first hiccup. Just you wait until you hold him in your arms and you are overcome with joy and emotion at this embodied miracle. Just you wait until he looks you in the eyes and you him. Just you wait until you get to share him with the world and feel this extreme sense of pride. Just you wait until you get to see your husband be a father, your parents be grandparents.

Your life never WILL be the same again. It will be even busier. As much as you and Justin love, adore, and respect each other now... that will grow exponentially as the two of you learn to parent this little man you are bringing into the world. Every time I look at my husband holding our children or playing with them, I fall in love with him even more - and there was a time when I didn't think it was possible to love him more than I did.

As a mom, you will face things you never imagined and even the things you imagined won't be exactly what you thought they would be. You will experience love unlike any love you have ever felt in your life. You will become fiercely protective. You will be more empathetic. You will relate to other women, other mom's, your mother more than you ever have before. You will laugh when your son laughs and sometimes you will cry when he cries. Even more now than ever, you will be inspired to do more great things and make a difference in the world. I'm especially excited about all this because I think you are such an amazing woman and I know that you will just thrive in your newest role .

You'll see... that you will become an even stronger person. You will learn to manage your time like a pro. You'll see that as nice as sleep is, that there is nothing that compares to holding your child and getting to know their personality and being there for them when they need you. You'll see that it will all go by so quickly... it will seem like the first year goes by much faster than these last nine months have gone.

Now, I'm not saying that you won't face stressful days. You and I both know that I have cried and not known how I was going to get through the day or do all the things I wanted or needed to. But those are fleeting moments in the grand scheme of things. When you face those stressful moments, remember the joyous ones and look to the moments you will get to experience as a mom: his first words, crawling, walking, watching him with Louie, seeing who he resembles physically and personality wise. Those things more than make up for the crying and the multiple feedings and the crazy diapers.

I am so excited for you and Justin. I think that you two are amazing people and together, an awesome team. I know that your son is so very lucky to have you two as parents and I am so looking forward to seeing you be a mother and getting to know the person Oliver will become.

I love you, sister. If you ever need me - I'm always here.

Keely


* - Not to say that I don't think it's OK to warn my daughter about how hard it is to be a mom so she doesn't end up being a mom before she has experienced life and is emotionally and physically ready.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Health Update

We found out this morning that Finnegan has pneumonia.

An hour later, Daniel was at the doc. He has bronchitis.

Less than an hour later I was on the phone with the pediatrician requesting Zoe get a chest xray too. Call it mothers intuition or just common sense, but it seemed like Z had more than a common cold.

An hour later I was at the Pulmonologist.

THREE hours, 2 breathing tests, and 2 chest xrays later, we know that my pneumonia is improving but likely to turn into bronchitis. The bad news is my lungs are at 50% capacity. The good news is... that's better than 0. The doc is trying to figure out why this is happening to me. Pneumonia should only affect me by 15%... 50 is bad. The other news is that he wants to check me for Valley Fever again next week. He says despite last weeks results, it's just too early to know I don't have it. He also says he'd rather I have VF because he knows how to treat that. Look at me! I'm so *mysterious*.

As soon as we finished there, we took Z for her chest xray. She doesn't have pneumonia, but she does have bronchitis. 

So 2 and 2... and we're all on antibiotics. Party at my house! Ahem. NOT!

The best part of my day (because I'm looking for some more positives): I ran into someone I hired when I worked at Pier One. She had no retail experience when I met her and the other managers didn't want to hire her... but I pushed for it because she was a single mom of 2 and needed a job - and I knew I could train her. She worked there for 5 years. She became a manager. She put herself thru school. She was the tech who took Zoe's xray. I was so happy to see her and feel like I had a small part in helping her get to that point.

Silver lining. :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Closed

Just heard the news that an old favorite restaurant has closed it's doors.....

Daniel and I had our 1st kiss in the Woody's parking lot. We went there after our 1st rehearsal for Commedia del Arte. Surrounded by new theatre friends and trying to figure out how we were going to get to know each other, we both "coincidentally" left at the same time. I guess you could say the rest is history.

In the seven years we've been together, Woody's was a mainstay. It was where we went after rehearsals, auditions and shows. It was where we hung out with new friends and brought our out of town friends and family. It was where Daniel and I pretended to be "just friends" but held hands under the table... and years later brought our 1st baby and then our second.

"Zoe, this used to be your mommy and daddy's favorite place."

We had our favorite servers: Brad & Cathy... the two of them used to fight over who would get our table. We even invited them to our engagement party. But they're long gone now. Last we saw Cathy, it was at the Riverwalk park - she was married and has a toddler. Brad became a manager and then... not sure. There was a sweet guy with dark hair that used to be their bus boy, who we loved...

We had our favorite menu items: Corona, Strawberry Lemonade, Mozzarella Sticks with ranch, potato skins and chicken strips. I liked some mixed drink that I can't remember the name of, but that I suddenly have a taste for. It might have had the word "Cowabunga" in it, but I'm not sure. But it was fruity and strong and sooo good. I used to get the Cajun Chicken Sandwich, until I got one where the chicken was raw.

Woody's was our comfort place. Where we went when I was so, so sick - just so I could feel like I was getting out somewhere. It was where we would order To Go, pick it up and take it back to our little house on Chester Lane when I was too sick even for Woody's but didn't want Chipotle.

The last time we were there - both kids in tow, we said we'd never go back because the food had lost it's luster, the service was no longer what it used to be and the bathrooms were disgusting... but I sort of imagined that we would anyway. Because it was once our "Cheers" and how hard is it to screw up Mozzarella Sticks?

When I told Daniel they'd closed down, he took my hand and said, "They can't tear down our love, honey." It's true... but it's a little bit sad when the places you went to so much as a young, new couple start disappearing. When the family is better, Daniel and I need to hurry up and go to Mama Tosca's and relive the night he proposed before we can't do that anymore either.

Sickness, Cubed

Zoe woke up last night crying, coughing, wheezing and gasping for breath. When we'd gotten her to calm down and felt confident that we did not need to rush her to the ER, she and I settled into the guest room. I held her as she tossed and turned. She slept, I did not.

Daniel took Finnegan to Cheryl's this morning, as planned and left Z with me. She and I stayed huddled in the bed feeling miserable together. She's running a fever now and goes to her doctor in a half hour.

My husband was supposed to be able to work this week, but now he's home again to help take care of Z and take her to her appointment since I still feel like hell. Walking across the room takes my breath away.

I STILL don't have any of my blood test results or info on my CT Scan. What I do know, is that I'm not pregnant... not that I thought I was - and that the site of my TB test looks normal so far. I called my doctor's office at 10am and they said they'd call me right back. Um. I haven't heard back.

Daniel is now sick too. He's coughing and looks horrible.

It's like there's a plague on my house.

And now we have ants.

Insert many curse words, HERE.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In Sickness

Last Monday night, we loaded up the family and went to Urgent Care. I wasn't feeling right and knew it would only get worse if I didn't get any meds in my system as soon as possible. Finn was being especially cranky, not eating as much and coughing. We were seen fairly quickly. The doctor said I had a bacterial infection and prescribed antibiotics. Finn was sick, but not that bad off, so we'd wait to give him any meds - just continue monitoring him. I thought we were on the road to recovery.

Monday night I started running a fever. I felt even worse the next day and by Wednesday, I was trying to get a hold of my doctor's office to get in as soon as they'd take me. They made room and saw me just before 10am, I was in x-rays ten minutes later. Turned out, I had pneumonia.

Four days later, I'm still as sick as I was that morning. I'm taking strong antibiotics, doing breathing treatments 4 times a day, and I keep my rescue inhaler close at hand. Daniel had to take the entire week off to help take care of me and the kids. I can barely get up to walk across the room, let alone chase two toddlers. My parents got here last night and are watching the kids so I can keep resting and Daniel can try to catch up on some work. They'll stay thru tomorrow evening and when they leave, they'll be leaving behind food for us to just heat up and eat. Cheryl is going to take both kids from us Tuesday-Friday while Daniel is at work, and we're going to hope for the best.

Thankfully, we are getting the help we need.

The hardest part about all of this is stopping myself from doing things around the house. I want to rush to the kids when they need me. I want to clean the kitchen and pick up all the toys. I need to do laundry. I feel bad that my husband is doing everything. I'm anxious to be back to myself so I can start contributing again.

As of now, we're waiting for some test results that we will hopefully get tomorrow. My doc thinks this started with something else. We're checking for Valley Fever, which seems to be the most likely culprit. Friday, they did a CT scan of my lungs to "search for other pathogens" and they did a full blood panel. Monday, my Dad will take me to get tested for TB.

I'm ready to be well again. I'm tired of this.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dear Finnegan,

On this day one year ago, you were just eleven days old. So little and new to our family but already we had all fallen in love with you. I remember thinking then, as I do now, that you were meant to be with us at exactly the time that you came into our lives.

You see, when Daddy and I decided we'd like to bring another child into this world, we had no idea how fast it would happen. We were sure we would need help like with your sister. We imagined the "process" would take several months and we'd get pregnant again after maybe a year of trying. Well, you and fate had other plans because you were conceived 2 months after our "let's have another baby" talk. In fact, I had made an appointment with my doctor to talk to them about my trouble getting pregnant and had to change that to a prenatal appointment. This is why you are called our "budget baby" by the way, not because you are at all less expensive than your sister to take care of.

When you were in my belly, you were so active I was sure you were going to be this wild child with tons of energy. I was right and wrong. Unlike your sister, who is currently very vocal, you like to sit back and observe things. You speak softly as you go about your business walking and crawling and taking things apart. You sit in my lap and play with my hair and sing softly to me and you quietly sing yourself to sleep in baby talk. Like your sister, you are very curious and very, very, VERY expressive. I think you started arching your eyebrows from my womb because you were giving us those sly looks right away.

While you have a more reserved approach to interacting with new people, you make up for it in your activity. Like when you were in the womb, you like to be moving constantly. You started walking 3 weeks ago and 2 weeks ago, you started running. You like to throw your arms up in the air as you walk/run. I'm not sure what that's all about besides being adorable, but it's definitely not helping you with your balance or knocking into things. It's a miracle if we get through a day without you knocking your sweet little head on a table, bookcase, or a wall. I'm considering getting you a hard hat or maybe wrapping our walls and furniture in blankets and pillows to keep you safe. Not to say that you seem at all affected besides the scratches and bruises - you might protest for a few seconds, but you always get right back up for more. I think you want to keep up with your sister, you love her so.

It brings your daddy and me such joy to see you and Zoe together. You watch everything she does and you seem so amazed and entertained. You follow her all over the place and just laugh at her when she plays with and sings to you. I had worried that because you were so close together I was depriving you both of alone time with me and your daddy, but I know now that you both are thriving getting to be so close in age. That is not to say we don't have our bad moments within a day. You two get impatient with each other and there is sometimes pushing and not wanting to share, but there is mostly hugs and kisses and playing happily.

Yesterday we celebrated your 1st birthday with some of our friends and family. The house was full of people who loved you and I was so proud of you and to get to share our little family with them. You sat back and observed a lot of the time, but you also mingled, played and ate some cake (very neatly, I must add). When it was all over, and the house was picked up, you lay down flat on your back and just passed out from exhaustion. I imagine it takes a lot out of a little boy to celebrate their 1st year twice (we had a small party, just the 4 of us, for you and your Daddy on New Year's Eve).

I love you, baby boy. You really do complete our family.

Mama

Monday, January 04, 2010

Long Time

Wow! I honestly had no idea that I'd not written for over two months.

I'm not sure if it was that thing that happened in September... or maybe it was the holidays, or my family of four being sick for almost the entire month of November, but I just didn't make the time and I've missed it.

A lot has happened. Good things.

I'm driving again. I'm doing it very cautiously and I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I'm in a car, but I drive when I need to.

That's my big news, really.

Other great things happened:

Finn started crawling, finally. And then the furniture walking and then... 2 weeks shy of his 1st birthday, he walked. At 1 year and 4 days he is cruising around the house, keeping up with Zoe and RUNNING! It's amazing and scary and wonderful to see such a little human being running and laughing maniacally. He's a hoot.

We had both sets of grandparents with us for Christmas and that was perfect. Both kids had a lovely Christmas and just soaked in all the attention they got. Daniel and I even got to go out and see a movie: Sherlock Holmes, so good.

Family photo


Instead of doing a recap of the last couple months, I'm just going to tell you that you'll be seeing more of me in 2010. I didn't make any resolutions this year, but I am seeking more balance in my life and I've noticed that writing and venting makes me feel healthier and happier.