Saturday, September 6, 2014

How to get through a lice outbreak in 24 easy steps

I mentioned a few posts back that we had dealt with a lice outbreak. Since then I have received an influx of texts and personal messages saying "HELP!! We have lice!! What do we do?!" So I've  decided to embrace my newfound title of Lice Guru and put together a step-by-step "how to" for all of you.

So you found your first louse on your little darling’s head. Resist the urge to immediately burn down your house and swallow the vomit that just made its way into your mouth. It's ok. This is totally doable. 

1. Here's your shopping list:
      - Lice shampoo (we used Nix)  
      - Nit comb - DO NOT use the one that comes in the "kit" these are crap. Buy an additional comb.
      - Disposable rubber gloves (if you're squeamish)
      - Metal alligator clips
      - Detangler spray
      - Bubble bath
      - Plastic trash bags
      - Tea tree oil
      - Head lamp
      - A cupcake (from one of those high end fancy cupcake places)
      - 2-3 bottles of your favorite wine

2. Leave the kids with hubby, or grandparents, or a sitter and go shopping

3. When you return home lay all your goods out on the counter. Take a deep breath. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Say to yourself "We will get through this". Drink the wine.

4. Now start with the bedding. Everything (pillows, blankets, stuffed animals) must be washed and/or dried (on high for at least 20 min). It's the heat from the dryer that actually kills these little bastards so stick the big stuff in the dryer and start the first load of laundry. You will probably do at least 7 loads today so buckle up.

5. Pour yourself another glass of wine.

6. Bag up everything the quarantined child has touched in the last 48 hours. Yes 48 hours. Most of your house will now be in trash bags for the next 36 hours. I hope you bought 2 boxes.

7. Run the bath. Put extra bubbles in because darling daughter will be required to let the shampoo sit for at least 10 minutes which is an ETERNITY. 

8. Put 5-7 drops of Tea Tree oil in every bottle of shampoo in the house. You will all smell like that aisle at Earth Fare but it repels lice so suck it up. You’ll get used to the smell in time.

9. Explain to your child that “You have bugs in your head and Mommy has to get them out.” Flash the cupcake and explain that “If we can get through this I’ll give you this cupcake.”

10. Have another wine of glass

11. Massage the lice shampoo into your child’s hair. You may use the rubber gloves if you find yourself gagging again. Tie her hair up on her head in a bun and let her play in the bubbles for 10 (time it) minutes. Take this time to check/switch the laundry and finish your drink.

12. Shampoo the rinse and bubble the drains.

13. Set up a chair in front of your favorite Disney moobie. Put the lamp on your head.

14. Using the alligator lips and bubber rands separate your child’s sections into hair.

15. Open the next bobble of wine. Floor a glass. 

16. Using the metal tit comb, comb through all the hair starting at the scalp. Take a moment to reflect on the term “nitpicking” and realize you will never again be able to utter this word without conjuring this image.

17. Put another load of laundry in the dishwasher.

18. Why is your glass empty??? Frill it up again. 

19. When you’re done combing give your cupcake the kid.

20. Make the bed being careful of the shitted feet. Those damn things are squirrelly.

21. At this point gorfet the glass. Grab the bobble. You donwanna have to flush too mamy dishes anyway.

22. Put the lid bo ted.

23. Fimish the bobble.

24. When chubby gets home ask him to head your check. Relapse as he gently homes through your fair. That’s niiiiiiiiice.


-Smashford



   

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The straw that broke the arrow.....

So several weeks ago, I accomplished one of my not so great parenting moments.  I've talked about the stress levels in our house lately and SK has a really bad habit of picking stickers off of toys or taking her sister's baby toys.  It was one evening after work and Big Daddy was still at work.  I was trying to cook dinner, do dishes, feed the baby, and somehow manage to watch SK.  I had told her repeatedly to leave her sister's toys alone. She especially has a bad habit of peeling the decorative stickers off of her sisters toys.  I heard her small voice call out..."Mommy?  I accidentally did something bad." (which is never really an accident)
I went over to the couch and she had peeled off the stickers of one of her sisters toys...AGAIN.  Maybe it was exhaustion or maybe temporary insanity, but in my split second decision of ineedtoteachheralessonrightnow.....I scanned the room for one of her toys to try and prove a point.  I scanned the floor and there was an arrow to her princess bow and arrow.  Quickly, I say to myself, "I can bend that and show her how it feels to have people mess up her things".  Now keep in mine, I was thinking I'll bend it to show her and then bend it back.  And of course this entire conversation is happening in maybe 3 seconds flat in my head.  I grab the arrow.  I hold it up in front of her and I bend it while saying to her, "do you like it when I mess up your stuff??"  Sheer terror comes across her face followed by a blood curdling scream...."YOU BENT MY PRINCESS ARROW AND I'LL NEVER HAVE IT AGAIN...." Tears are streaming down her face and she's screaming screams that I'm sure the neighbors in the other culdesac can hear.  I ask her firmly, "how do you like it when I mess with your toys?  Do you like it???"  She's still screaming and yelling saying "YOU RUINED EVERYTHING AND THAT WAS FOR MY BIRTHDAY...NOT YOURS".  I again explain it is not nice to mess with other peoples toys and explain that we don't like it when she peels stickers off of our things.  I finally calm her down and realize that in my rage, I managed to not just bend the plastic arrow....no, my friends, I broke it in half.  &#$%.....now what am I going to do??  Of course she realizes that in fact I broke it, not bent it....again come the screams and wails of a dramatic 4 year old.  So I scramble to find the scissors, cut the sharp edges, grab some packing tape...a few cuts here and there, and voila...the arrow is in one piece again.  I proudly show it to her saying, "see, mommy fixed it!" and she replies, "mommy you are so mean...you broke my arrow and it's never the same ever again".  I tried my best to explain the lesson of how it felt for her when I broke her things and how it's not nice to do that to her sisters toys.  Eventually she did in fact, calm down...but I was left alone in my mom guilt feeling like I was the worst mom in the world for breaking the arrow because lets face it...she will never forget this day.  But the good news is that since then, she hasn't peeled any stickers off any toys.

If you look closely, you can see my tape to correct the broken arrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From Hell: The playdate

BEWARE THE PLAYDATE WITH THE EVANS' KIDS...YOU GOTTA BE SCRAPPY TO SURVIVE IT.


So I've decided to start a mini-series titled "From Hell" as so many of my experiences could easily fit in this category. So sit back and enjoy my first installment....which truly was the playdate from hell.

I have a very dear friend who lives about 2 hours away whose children are the same ages as my older two. She and I only get to see each other about once a year as the distance, the jobs, and the children make it hard to find the time. So I was thrilled when I received a text that she and her girls were coming down to see the new baby and have a playdate. (RJ is just enamored with her older girl.)

The day came and they arrived and we all headed up to the playroom. Everything seemed to be going perfectly. The kids were playing (albeit TRASHING the playroom) having a blast and we were catching up. (I didn't realize how much I missed adult conversations until this day.)

RJ and T (the two five year olds) were in RJ's room with the door shut when I heard the screams. I ran to the door and flung it open to find them both on the bed with hands around each other's throats literally choking each other. As I yelled for them to stop they twisted and rolled and toppled off the bed into a heap onto the floor. The wails came next and were soon followed up with the "I hate you's!"

At this point we decided heading to the backyard to play outside may be a better idea. So we herded them all out to the play gym. Again, things were going great. She and I sitting in my adirondack chairs with our feet propped up chatting while the kids ran around and played in the sandbox, on the slide, in the drainage ditch, etc. That's when it happened.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw her 3 year old fall off the third rung of the ladder and land in a heap under the slide. Being the mother of a boy who would classify as a category 3 hurricane I naturally didn't even flinch. 
"You're fine. Brush it off!" I called from my seat barely even looking in her direction.
But she didn't move. My friend, sensing something different, jumped up and ran to her. Scooping her up as the wails began. She carried her over to the chairs hugging her tightly and rocking her.
"Where does it hurt baby? Tell Mommy where it hurts."
"My tummmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy!" She screamed.
But that's when we saw it. Something just didn't look quite right about her arm. As we both stared at her wrist and forearm we realized it resembled an accordion. It was bending at the wrong places in the wrong directions more times than is natural.

We both immediately flipped into full blown fight or flight mommy mode. She scooped up C and began running to the front yard to put her in the car. I immediately grabbed her 5 year old and began dragging her to the car. It was about this time that T (the 5 year old) realized that her little sister was hurt- and hurt badly. Well.....banshee screaming does not even begin to describe the decibel level of T's cries. She began to hyperventilate shrieking at the top of her lungs as I buckled her in the carseat. Even C- the hurt one- began to look at her funny.

As my friend ran into the house to collect their things I feverishly tried to pull up the Urgent Care center on her GPS. (Remember they live 2 hours away and have no idea how to get around.) T was still hysterically screaming and my own children were running around crazy.

"GET IN THE HOUSE!!!!" I screamed to my kids as my friend jumps into the driver seat and peeled out of the driveway. 
"TEXT ME AND LET ME KNOW HOW SHE IS," I yelled as she sped away.

I took a deep breath trying to collect myself before I went back inside.

Finally I turned around and walked through the garage and into the kitchen. Standing there in the kitchen looking up at me and grinning was RJ. In her hands was a rotting maggot-covered carcass of a turtle who had clearly been hit by a lawnmower. The stench threatened to knock me over.

"Look what I found!!" she said excitedly. "There's all sorts of baby worms on it."

She barely had time to get the words out before i shrieked, grabbed the decaying mass with my bare hands and chucked it out the still open garage door into the yard.

"THEY'RE JUST BAAAAAAAAABIES THEY WON'T BE SAAAAAAAAAFE!" she screamed as she burst into tears. and in the same breath she looked down at her goo-covered hands, the odor so pungent it was almost visible wafting off of her hands. "THAT'S DISGUUUUUUUUUSTING!!!!!"

The next 20 minutes are a blur as I frantically tried to scrub the decaying flesh from her hands while simultaneously phoning the hubs to ask him to meet my friend at the ER to help her with her 5 year old while they casted the 3 year old. I'm not sure why but there was a time out for RJ during which I allowed DC to pick the TV show.

Screams erupted from RJ when her brother picked "Umi Zumi" (or howeverthehell you spell it). Followed with "I HATE YOU!!!!!"

Now she has never uttered such words to me before and for a moment we were both stunned as the words hung thick in the air- mingling with the still fresh smell of dead turtle. I will spare you the details and end with putting the kids to bed early and funneling a few beers like I was a freshman in college again.

And that my friends is the playdate from hell. Can you top it?
As a follow up I will tell you that C got her cast off and is in just an air cast now. And the turtle is continuing to rot in my front yard because RJ wants to take the skeleton to school for show and tell.

-Ashford

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I am Rip Van Winkle

I went to sleep and when I woke up I didn't recognize myself.
I'm standing in the dressing room at Target under the cruel buzzing UV lights staring at myself wearing what looks like my mother's tankini wondering when this happened. The stubborn last 10 pounds of baby weight clinging to my thighs. I look like a thirtysomething mom of three. And I am horrified when I realize I am.


I know we all say it but didn't you think you'd have it more figured out by this time? Didn't you think you'd feel different? I feel like a 20 year old trapped in this body I don't recognize. The wrinkles are beginning to crawl across my face. "Smile lines" from the laughter of all those years. I even found a grey hair the other day. Where did it all go? The time? Suddenly I find myself all grown up with a mortgage and a 12 year old Suburban we lovingly refer to as "the battering ram". 
I listen to '90s on 9 and have no idea who these bands are the Today show keeps promoting. I read potty training blogs over lunch and have decided that 5-7pm is now known as "Crappy Hour".
My closest friendships are maintained via text because who has time to talk let alone actually see people. My oldest child is starting kindergarten this year. KINDERGARTEN!!! I actually asked for a dust buster for my birthday and was thrilled when I got it.
What happened to the restless untamed me? The one who turned 21 at the Tropicana club in Havana, Cuba? The one who moved to the Navajo reservation for 3 months to "find myself"? The one who quit her job, packed everything into a Nissan, and drove 3 states away with no job, no apartment, and no idea what was going to happen?
You give up things when you have kids. You give up yourself and the person you thought you were. You become this new person. One who's greatest joy is seeing your 5 year old do the cheer from cheer camp or sing her vacation bible school songs in front of the whole church on Sunday morning. And quite honestly I was more proud that DC went poop in the potty than when I walked across the stage at my college graduation. In fact, I don't even remember anything about my college graduation but I can tell you down to the minute when he pooped in the potty.
Hubs keeps asking me "Where did my daredevil go?" All I can see is the outcomes now and what they mean for my kids-my lifeblood. I did not know it was even possible to love so fiercely. So completely.
I miss her every now and again- that barefooted wide eyed wild child who was going to change the world. I just didn't realize that my change was going to be on a much smaller scale. I have changed My World. And for now that's all that matters. And that's enough.

-Ashford

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Bright Light...

One year ago today we welcomed our sweet baby #2 into this world.  At 8:35am we were told "It's another girl!"  K doesn't know it, but we arranged with my OB to have her born via c-section on this day for a reason.  This was my father's birthday.  We all felt this was a way to honor him. 
 

The irony is over the last year, we joke that she has a lot of personality like he did-I believe she has a special connection to him, even though she's never met him.  Our sweet K was a bright spot in a long and trying year.  On  July 21, 2013 we were reminded of the circle of life.  It's hard to put into words emotions on a day like today.  So many "firsts" over the last year....her first smile, giggle, crawl, food, even steps.  She is my bundle of joy and energy, yet she is also my snuggle bug.  Yet also all the firsts of life without daddy.  We seem to all finally have settled into new routines and have found the new normal at holidays and birthdays.  I am thankful I've had the summer off to truly enjoy these moments with both my girls and have just finished 10 days of my mom being with us.  My heart is full....Happy Birthday K and Happy Heavenly Birthday Daddy!
 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life in 3D: The In Between

So RJ and I had been reading this book about a momma panda at the zoo. She was pregnant and the zoo keepers said they could tell she was getting close to having the baby because she stopped leaving her cave and started sleeping all the time. All I could think about was how much I could relate to that momma panda (and how much I wished I had a cave). I too had stopped leaving my house and used every spare moment to steal a nap. I also stopped answering my phone, cooking, cleaning, niceties, and pretty much everything else. I'm trying to remember if I even bathed the kids the last month. Pregnancy at 34 is no joke. I felt like I was 104.

But, as most of you know, KH was born on May 7th at 1:41 pm and weighed in at 9 lbs 14 oz. (I am woman hear me roar.) He is beautiful and he is perfect and he is mine. So then I spent the next (hate to say it) 2 months lying in bed snuggling. I am not kidding. Many a day I would get up and send the kids to day camp only to return to bed with my baby and not move for the rest of the day. I jealously guarded my time with him. I am painfully aware that this very well may be my last newborn and I am soaking up every possible moment with him. For those of you who have seen Lord of the Rings picture me in bed as Gollum cradling my baby hissing "My Precious" at anyone who tries to steal a moment from me.




It's weird- the newborn phase. Everything is hazy from the lack of sleep and the hormones and the lack of sleep. It's like you're not even a real person. I exist solely for the sustenance and protection of this child. This tiny, perfect, helpless little being that I created. It very much is living in between. Between pregnancy and being a real human being again. It probably took me a month to even notice my husband was still living in the house. At which point I could see in his eyes the desperation to return to a normal life. He wanted his wife back. But I wasn't ready to be back yet.


Don't get me wrong I was fulfilling my basic duties. I picked the kids up and took them to the library. I managed to get dinner on the table- at least for them- every night. I finally potty trained DC (well, mostly). I dealt with a lice outbreak (holy hell that's a story for another time). I cooked and cleaned and folded mountains of laundry. We had birthday parties, school programs, and swim lessons. There were 4th of July fireworks, Dinosaur exhibits, cheer camp and our first ER visit. But most of it was still going through the motions.


And so now here I am with a 10 week old and I am just starting to be human again. Although my two favorite hobbies are staring at my baby and counting the ounces of breastmilk in the deep freeze  I am trying. I have even enjoyed a few beers with my husband. Despite the fact that *gasp* that meant I had to pump and dump that liquid gold down the drain. I am starting to venture out again although I warn you I somehow manage to bring breastfeeding into every conversation. I usually follow that up with a conversation about pooping in the potty (or lack thereof).

I have noticed people backing away from me as I steer their innocent "How have you been?" into a full on discussion of my freezer stash. But I don't care. This is where I am right now and if you don't want to talk feeding schedules, lactation, or poopy swim my diapers (which are straight from the devil) then I suggest you just wave and act like you're getting a phone call. I've got 4 weeks left of maternity leave. Four short weeks until I will be forced to at least pretend like a member of society. Four glorious weeks to love my babies and enjoy the extra time with them. Until then, if you need me, you can find me with my head in the deep freeze calculating the exact number of days we have stocked or dreamily staring at my baby.




-Ashford

Sunday, June 8, 2014

One year later.......

It's here.  That day so many people said would come..and somehow they all said "it gets easier" or "the first year is the hardest".  Somehow, the last few weeks I have found myself disagreeing with that statement more and more.  One year ago today my father went home to heaven.  It still feels like it was yesterday-the emotions are as raw as they were that day, if not somehow even more raw now.  It seems like the last year has been somewhere between denial and lost somewhere in between.  I haven't taken his name out of my contacts on my phone because that would just be too permanent.  We've made it through all the "firsts"-which we have been dealing with on two different levels...the "first" words, steps, smiles of our sweet baby girl and the "first" holidays, birthdays, and regular days without daddy.  I've tried over the last 2 weeks to do things that would honor daddy.  I've cut the grass the way he taught me (which is no small feat for this grass allergic woman) and spent time with some of his favorite people.  Big Daddy celebrated with a Mcdonalds Fish Sandwich (which was his choice for his first meal home from the hospital). 

Grief is a funny thing.  For so many years, I've worked helping others deal with their grief without really understanding what they feel.  I've made the statement, "oh it will get easier...it just takes time".  But I'm pretty sure I've made a commitment to myself to never say that statement to a client again because I disagree with it.  I'm not sure it gets easier, in fact I think it gets downright harder.  The days turn into weeks, which turn into months, and slowly it becomes harder to hold on to the memories.  They lose clarity and they start to get fuzzy.  I watch our oldest child and I have thought so much lately about how long it will take her to lose her memories of her poppy.  Sure she can tell stories now, but time will continue to move forward and unfortunately they will become blurry.  She will only remember what we tell her about him.  And the baby, well.... she will only know what we tell her about him.  How is it that that makes it get easier?? 

To mark this milestone, my mother planned a small barbeque with the people who meant so much to daddy.  Today we celebrated and cried/laughed over stories about him.  I was reading an article the other day which was talking about "preachers kids" and the bad reputation they often get as the "wild ones".  But today I was reminded that we are actually the lucky ones.  We are lucky because our parent ministers to so many people throughout our life and in turn, we have one heck of an extended family.  They give back to us in ways that I never fully appreciated until I have traveled this journey with mom.  I watched in awe today as friends gathered, just as they did last year to celebrate daddy and more importantly love and comfort my mom.  

Last year for the funeral, I made a video to honor daddy and all of the areas of his life.  I invite you to watch and meet the man we loved so much and still miss dearly.  I watched it again today and I was reminded of how much fun daddy was and how much of his personality I do have.  One year later, I still am reminded of how much joy he had despite the scars that Vietnam left on him.  Truly he was a hero-more importantly he was OUR hero. 

video

Monday, May 12, 2014

When life gives you S@8#!

So I've been in a black hole-somewhere between hanging by a thread and trying to stay afloat.  On March 6, I was involved in a situation at work where my safety was threatened in a pretty severe way.  Of course I can't talk about it much (which is problematic for a "feeler" like me who has to talk to process).  In all my years as a social worker, I've never felt what I did that day.  I've sat face to face with kids who have in cold blood killed another person, but never was I afraid or felt threatened.  On March 6, I was afraid-we believe that someone had full intentions of hurting me if they could have found me.  I walked in the door at home that night after a heart wrenching discussion with my boss and by the time I got in the door, I fell to pieces in tears.  The poor Nanny was probably completely caught off guard, but the moment I saw my two precious girls I was broken.  A thousand questions raced through my mind.  So for two months now, I have been an emotional wreck.  The situations at work just keep coming and I feel like I am constantly looking over my shoulder at my surroundings.  I've had to sit in meetings and retell my story over and over and over.  And as I said earlier, I'm a "feeler".  I have to think and then talk, and do that over and over until I've processed fully my thoughts/emotions.  My supervisor tells me I have to stop stressing so much about it, but each day I return to work I have to deal with it again.  You don't really know the impact your career choice has on you, until someone questions you and your judgement or attacks your professional license.  I know I did everything I was supposed to do and did it very well, but it doesn't change the fact that people question.  People see and hear what they want to. 

At the same time all of this is going on, Big Daddy was under the most stress of his professional career in a new position with unrealistic demands placed on him.  SK had surgery on her ear and in typical fashion, it didn't quite go as planned.  Baby K was under weight and we were back and forth to the specialist in Greenville.  More bills came in the mail each day and it felt like we were drowning.  The dates with each other were less and less and any time we had together was usually when we were sleeping.Each day, it was like more and more crap was piling up on us and it was harder and harder to survive.  I would go to church and hear very pointed sermons where I felt like God was speaking to me, (our new minister preached an awesome sermon on how suffering leads to endurance which leads to character which leads to hope) but I would go home and somehow no matter what I heard I just couldn't believe those words.  We were beat down.

But last week, I had sort of an aha moment.  I was giving K a bath before bedtime.  I was getting ready to scrub the nasty cradle cap off her head and she looked at me with a very serious face.  I looked at her and said, "what is wrong...why are you so serious?"  and before I knew it, she looked up at me, and I realized that there was poop floating to the top of the bath water-and a lot of it.  and then she GIGGLED-the loudest giggle she has ever done.  And in that moment, I laughed and suddenly I realized, no matter how much S@*#  life gives us, sometimes the best thing you can do is giggle.  I need to stop stressing so much and laugh a lot more. Some expert somewhere said that laughter is the best medicine and they must be on to something.   And so with that, a new day has dawned in our house.  (and yes, she got another bath after the first bath!) 

video
 

Monday, March 17, 2014

How Bell's Palsy, Breaking Bad, & Baby #3 saved my marriage.

So it did. It happened to us. We got caught up in the busyness of marriage which led to only the business of marriage.


"Can you take the trash out?"
"Did you give the dogs their medicine?"
"Have you paid the power bill?"
"Can you pick the kids up from school tomorrow?"
"I will be out of town Wednesday next week, are you out of town the following Tuesday?"
"Call your Dad and wish him Happy Birthday."
"Can you deposit your paycheck?"


These were our nightly conversations. After working all day (usually out of town), scrambling home to get the kids before the school turned the lights out, getting them fed, bathed, and in bed. Then time for me to cook dinner for us, and to feed the dogs, and take them out, and then clean up their poop (because they are wretched wretched dogs who don't like to go in the grass and much prefer my living room rug), then to wash the dishes, and then finally was it time to talk. But that's when we had to handle the business and the logistics of the household. And by that point well frankly I'm spent and it's all I can do to pull on my sweatpants and grab the remote just to zone out and relax for an hour before going to bed.


I know I'm preaching to the choir here and that many of us are in the exact same situation (or have been at one point). But before you know it it's all you do. There seems to be no time for fun or conversations or "How was your day?" There's no end in sight to the monotony and the chores and the laundry. I began focusing on the inequities in our marriage (both perceived and real). I started keeping score- "well I changed 5 poopy diapers this week and emptied the diaper genie the last 3 times." It was a dangerous road and I knew it but I was barreling down it without the brakes getting angrier and angrier.


Our conversations became shorter and the questions about responsibilities more pointed. You could feel the acid dripping off of my words. I became a yeller. I was tending to the kids largely by myself and they could sense my exasperation. Like sharks smell blood in the water- they sensed my weakness and pounced. Each day was an absolute struggle.


This was around the time I found out I was pregnant. It wasn't an accident but it was definitely a surprise. "Great," I thought. "I guess we are gonna have to work this out." This was truly my mindset at the time. But I will say baby #3 gave us a goal. Something to work toward. My monotony was going to change in a big way in the next year.


And then hubby got a cold.


Now I know I don't have to go into the tirade about men and their ailments and what infants they become when they have the sniffles. We all know how they act. Well my resentfulness just began to fester and grow as he retired to the bedroom to lay down while I struggled through bath time and bedtime alone. In the mornings he (in my mind) refused to get out of bed while I took out the dogs, got both kids up, fed them both, dressed them both, took the dogs out, AND got myself ready all the while fighting the morning sickness that plagued me 24 hours a day. By day 3 I couldn't even look at him. I was seething. Thank goodness I had an overnight trip planned that week- if I didn't get away from him I may have smothered him in his sleep.


I returned late the next night and we exchanged courtesies and went about covering the business of the night. It wasn't until I was getting ready for bed that I noticed he looked a bit different. His eyes were bloodshot and there was something about his face that just seemed off...


When I questioned I was shocked to find out that he had lost all feeling in the right side of his face. He had gone to the doctor and had been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. Well, that sure did send me into a panic. I was googling and researching and making phone calls. I was concerned with the fact that he hadn't even mentioned it to me. Was this how bad things had gotten between us? Sadly it took a scary diagnosis to thaw my heart even a little bit.


Slowly over the next several days we began talking more and more. I asked each day about his progress. By the end of the week we were cracking jokes together and laughing at his predicament. The laughing only led to more laughing as he could only move half of his face and so he looked quite ridiculous.

As we laughed together I realized how long it had been since we had had fun. I was reminded of a conversation we had some months back where we tried to come up with things we had in common other than the kids. We tried and tried but really struggled with this task. We had begun dating when I was just 19 years old and we realized we had both grown up into two quite different people. Sadly, after 20 minutes of conversation there were only two things we could agree that we both liked. 1. The cheese dip at the Melting Pot and 2. a cold Bud Light on a hot summer night.


No wonder we were having a hard time.


Over Christmas break we got Netflix and began watching Breaking Bad. We had heard all the buzz and wanted to see what all the hype was about. Well, after one episode we were hooked. We watched episode after episode until it was 2 am!! It became a kind of obsession and every night we worked together to get all of our chores done as quickly as possible so we could climb into bed and find out what would happen next. We had found something in common again.


Slowly but surely as I grew bigger and the feeling came back to hubby's face we could feel the difference. Things had changed. We were a team and we enjoyed being with each other again. We remembered that we are people and not just worker bees and caregivers. A sweetness and an intimacy reentered our marriage. I was happy to be here again. Funny enough the better our relationship got the calmer I was. The calmer I was the less I yelled. The less I yelled the better the kids behaved. And the better the kids behaved the calmer I was. I felt like we found the sweet spot once again.


I have to admit as we started the final season of Breaking Bad I began to get anxious. As we watched the last episode I was gripped with fear that it would all slip away. What would we do now? Would we go back to the way things were?! I began feeling a little desperate. (Silly, I know but remember I have raging pregnancy hormones so I'm entitled to a touch of crazy now and again.)


I am proud to admit that my fears were in vain and we are still in that happy place. Don't get me wrong it's not all unicorns and rainbows but it's so much more than business. And thanks to The Walking Dead we still have a mutual obsession.


1999
2014   



-Ashford

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nailed it: Parenting Edition

As we got strapped into the car from preschool the other day I took a moment to read yet another "ouch report" for DC (he gets one almost every day). As I was reading RJ timidly calls out from the backseat, "Mommy? Is that the note from Ms Lisa?"


I immediately bristled. RJ has NEVER gotten a note home...Ever. "No honey. Was Ms Lisa going to send a note home today?"


She stared at the floor and sheepishly replied, "She said she was gonna."


My adrenaline began pumping and I could hear the blood beginning to rush in my ears. I tried to remain calm so as not to alert RJ to the impending danger. "Why was she going to send a note home honey?" I tried to sound as natural as I could.


She sunk lower in her carseat and mumbled "Because I was being disrespectful."


And without another word I jumped out of the running car (still parked in car line) and bolted into the front office leaving both kids helplessly strapped into their carseats. (Just for the record the front office was only about 10 feet away from my car and I could see them through the plate glass doors.)


"Did Ms Lisa leave a note for me before she left for the day?" I demanded.


After a few minutes of searching and coming up empty I decided to handle it in the morning. I returned to the car to question RJ the whole way home.


"I don't knowwwwwwwww what I did wrong," she kept protesting.


I will spare you the play by play but I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.


"Fine," I said. "Then until you can 'remember' exactly how it was that you were disrespectful to your teacher you will have no TV and no iPad." (She has quite the affinity for watching German and Korean cartoons on YouTube on my iPad.)


Of course this was met with screams of protest and enough tears that I thought we may need life jackets before making it to the house. However, I stood my ground. I refused to be manipulated and that type of behavior (disrespecting your elders) will not be tolerated in my house.


The rest of the evening was quite the battle as DC was allowed to watch TV and RJ was quarantined to the kitchen straining to hear the sounds of the cartoons playing in the den. I continued to question her throughout the evening but each time she was adamant that she "didn't know" what she did wrong.


That's fine I thought. We'll get the real story in the morning.


The next morning I hunted down Ms Lisa in the gym- RJ sheepishly trailing behind me, head hung, staring at the floor.


"Did you need to talk to me about yesterday?" I blurted out to Lisa as soon as I saw her.


She looked at me perplexed and didn't say anything. I could see her eyes searching for an answer.


I relayed what RJ had told me about being disrespectful and busting herself about the note that was supposed to come home.


Without missing a beat Ms Lisa burst out laughing. "No no no!!! That was another child! RJ saw me writing the note and asked about it but she didn't do anything wrong!!"


RJ looked up at us with a timid glimmer of hope in her eyes.


"Sweetie, you didn't do anything wrong yesterday! You are just fine! Now go play with your friends," Ms Lisa encouraged.


And there you have it. Yet another instance of my flawless parenting...you're welcome.

-Ashford

Friday, February 14, 2014

momversation hearts

So its Valentines Day.  I have put one child to bed and the other is ready but laying here watching a movie.  We've been cooped up inside for 3 days thanks to snowpacalypse 2014.  So Ive finally poured a glass of wine.  I kind of wish I could tell my 22 year old self that Valentines really is just another day.  I love Big Daddy and we have an awesome relationship, but we just arent really into Valentines.  We are one of those wierd sappy couples who try to celebrate our love at least weekly.  But I digress and probably make you sick with that.

Sk and I made vday cookies today-so we wouldnt all go stir crazy.  I had bought conversation hearts for her class but desperate times called  for desperate measures.  I let her plaster them all over iced sugar cookies.  (SUGAR OVERLOAD TODAY).  But those tiny little hearts started me thinking......who comes up with the sayings?!?

It led to a conversation with Ashford.  What is those crazy little hearts said what moms across America are thinking as they strive to make the perfect pinterest inspired cards for the classroom exchange.  Wouldnt life be a little more enjoyable if they said, "dont eat boogars" or "stop picking your nose"? Or "no feet on the baby";  "because I said so"; "wipe your own ass"; "use your fork".  Maybe even "are you listening?", "you flushed what?", "you got poop where?", "dont put that in your mouth", "we'll see", or "use your big girl voice".  Of course there is "we're late", "need sleep", BE QUIET!", and "sit still".  The irony is that as i type these, Im realizing that they might actually be appropriate for the kids AND the husband!!

So enjoy the romance this Valentines Day.  Im off to contact Brachs regarding their next big seller for Valentines!!

-Ziggy

Friday, February 7, 2014

So this is 34....


So this is it. The last year I have before I move up to the "35 and over" check box on medical and government forms. So how did I celebrate you ask? Well I started by NOT setting my alarm the night before. Crazy I know. In my defense my birthday was on a Saturday so I knew I could sleep in if only just a little bit...


6:20 AM: "MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYY I HAVE TO POOOOOOOOOOOOOP!!!!" the little voice wails out from the foot of my bed.
"Just go in Mommy's bathroom and let me know when you're done," I mumble back thinking this would give me just a few seconds more of sleep.
But the sounds that came next....oh the sounds. I'll spare you the details but it was enough for me to know that I had absolutely no chance of catching another instant of sleep.
I rolled my pregnant belly over and began crawling out of the bed.

SIDENOTE: I have reached the stage of pregnancy where getting out of bed involves all sorts of pushing, pulling, twisting, and grunting. It most always causes shortness of breath and due to a misaligned pelvis is one of the most painful things I have ever experienced.

I glance back at my peacefully sleeping husband who is still snoring a little, haul myself onto the floor in an orca-like fashion, take a deep breath and enter the bathroom.


7:30 AM: RJ comes running in with a brightly colored envelope yelling "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY!!"
I take note that the hubs actually remembered to get a card for the kids to give me this year and am slightly impressed. That is, until I open it.


It only takes me a second to realize that this is a stepmom card (a very sweet one yet still a stepmom card). I thank her and give her a huge hug stifling my laughter. I decide not to mention it to anyone in the family lest I make them feel bad.

7:35 AM: I cook an amazing bacon and eggs breakfast and force the family to sit down for "Family Breakfast." This only lasts about 3 minutes before both kids are whining and crying and we finally release them from the torturous experience that is "Family Breakfast."


9:30 AM: I drop DC off at Daddy's work so that I can take RJ to a gymnastics birthday party. She keeps asking if it is MY birthday party that we are going to. I try to explain to her that I am not having a birthday party and that adults don't always get birthday parties. She is mystified.


12:00 PM: I rendezvous with my parents (who have picked up DC from Daddy's work) at Chick Fil A. Unbeknownst to me my mother has picked up a Boston Cream Cake complete with a singing candle and has brought me a birthday present. They all sing Happy Birthday to me as the rest of the restaurant stares at the 34 year old in the corner having a birthday celebration in Chick Fil A.
 RJ is convinced this is my party.


The rest of the afternoon goes by just like every other Saturday. Hubby still at work, naps, sibling fights, dog poop on the floor, and doing laundry. I realize that this is it. This is my life. And for now, this is the best it's gonna get.
Now that might sound cynical off the cuff but I wouldn't have it any other way. I embrace my chaos. My children and my stories (crazy as they are) are what define me now. I never saw this coming but here I am and I'm in the thick of it.


5:30 PM: The hubs comes home and presents me with another amazing, heartfelt card and a gift.



(Yes, that IS a vacuum. In his defense I did actually ASK for said vacuum and by the time my birthday rolled around I had forgotten I had asked for the vacuum. So I was totally surprised and excited when I opened it!)

I will say that evening I did get a little taste of adult time when the hubs blew me away with a hot date (I am making him an appointment for an MRI because he clearly has a brain tumor but we'll save that for a day that's NOT my birthday).

First of all my present. This is probably now my most prized possession and I can think of nothing that embodies me more. I found this amazing girl on etsy (my new obsession) that can take children's artwork and put it onto jewelry. So I took a picture that RJ drew of me holding her and DC's hands and had it made into a necklace.
















[Here's a link to her shop if  you're interested. https://www.etsy.com/listing/150784109/child-artwork-bracelet?ref=sr_gallery_32&ga_search_query=children+artwork+jewelry&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all]


He had also driven down to the restaurant ahead of time and had a card and a bottle of wine waiting at our table when we got there.


Now you're thinking "Why would he have taken a special bottle of wine when you're pregnant and can't drink?"
Well, he has taken up the hobby of "brewing" his own wine (do you brew wine? make wine? I'm not sure what the correct terminology is for this) in our hall closet. Now this is another story for another time but I will give you the tasty little tidbit that now ALL of our winter jackets smell like fermented yeast.
Apparently he has been working on a special batch for months and months (possibly even before we knew I was pregnant) to give to me for my birthday. So although he was the only one that got to partake in the first bottle of "Lauren's Reserve" there are 30 bottles waiting for that glorious day in May when baby #3 makes its way into the world. (And maybe they'll even last me more than just a day.)

-Ashford
 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A letter to my firstborn.

Dear SK,
   Today you will turn 4 years old.  You won't understand much of this letter until you are older but I felt it was important to write.  4 years ago you made your daddy and I parents.  I remember laying in the hospital overwhelmed with emotions-not really knowing what to expect.  It was a long day of waiting.  They broke my water at 6am, but you were in no hurry to enter this world.  Even through your birth you showed us that you would do things your own way and in your own time.  I remember the Dr. checking me close to 7pm and she said, "I think the next time we check you, we will be ready to push"...."things are looking great".  However, when she came back about an hour and a half later, her face changed and I could see that something was wrong.  She asked me repeatedly if I had felt you move.  I politely reminded her that I had had an epidural since noon, I was feeling nothing at the moment.  She looked at the nurses and immediately my thoughts were racing to horrible things.  She asked me again, "did you feel the baby move?"  I not so politely said, "what is wrong-why do you keep asking me that??"  And she replied..."In 14 years of practice, I have never seen this.  I've read about it, but never seen it.  When I checked you last time that baby was head down and in position.  That baby is now breech-the baby has flipped and I just felt that baby's butt."  So the next words were, "we are going to have to do a C-Section" and she followed with, "I will never in my life forget your birth story-I will always remember this stubborn little baby".  And at 10:37pm, the dr. proudly held you up and announced "it's a girl!"  I can remember your daddy's tears and the overwhelming emotions as I suddenly realized he and I had made this tiny little person.


You have challenged us in ways I don't think either one of us ever imagined.  You stopped breathing when you were 2 days old, resulting in a week in the Special Care Nursery.  I remember your daddy very upset and ready to have us home with him.  He loved you in a way I don't think he was prepared for and he still loves you so much.  The truth is, I think he pretty much melts if you look at him just the right way.  For most of the first year of your life, you didn't really grow.  You were under weight and they were very concerned.  We cried lots of tears and we felt like every ounce you gained was like winning the gold medal in the Olympic Decathalon.  Finally at a year, after so many specialists we found out you had a rare severe milk allergy.  And suddenly with the right formula and elimination diet, you flourished.  Now at 4 years old you are as tall as most 7 year olds and you love to eat broccoli, brussel sprouts, and hot dogs. 

You are stubborn.  and truth is, you probably have the worst of both your daddy and I in that regard.  You have your daddy's temper and you do not like to be told "no".  You love the Disney Princesses and you love to color.  You color our world in so many rainbows and our house is covered with your artwork.  You say prayers at dinner and your sweet spirit prays for "baby Landry", "the people of the world" and for "God to live in this world" and I think we must be doing something right.  Every Sunday you make us sit on the front row in church (until you were born we sat in the back) and then you politely wave to us from up front during the childrens sermon.  You love to dress yourself and you hate to wear pants.  And you think we must always wear a bow-whether it matches or not.  You call your daddy "Mr. Pickle Pants" and he loves you so much he lets you paint his nails with marker.  You ask "why" 900 times a day and you do not like to be ignored.  You are honest and we get nervous when you say, "mommy/daddy, I have something to tell you..."  You love to catch fish with your daddy.  You love to cook with mommy.  You have already announced to us that you will be a "gamecock" for college, despite your daddy's attempts to brainwash you into being a part of the "wolfpack" family like him.  And we are all praying for your daddy as you get older, because you are already chasing the boys.....


I'm reminded that in a little over a year, you will enter Kindergarten.  You will go out into the big world and I will have to admit that you are growing up.  I will lose the control that I have tried to keep so much.  I will worry about whether or not you will accidentally drink cow's milk-despite that we have taught you to only drink soy milk.  There will be mean kids who tease you because you are tall or because you don't wear exactly the right thing.  There will be people who claim to be your friends, but will try to get you to do things that you know you aren't supposed to do.  You will do them and ultimately there will be consequences-and we will always love you, despite the fact that we will discipline you.  Our prayer is that we raise you with enough knowledge of the world that your mistakes are not deadly or irreversable.  The world will disappoint you and we as your parents will continually disappoint you.  But you must know that it is because we love you.  We want you to understand and grow up in a world where you aren't given everything you want.  You will have to earn things and work hard for your goals.  But the reward will be high-it's our prayer and hope that you will be successful one day.  We don't care that you may fail a test, a class, or anything-we only ask that you try your best.  We have committed to give you our best each day-even when it's the hardest. job. in. the. world. 



You are our first born.  You are our fire cracker and an independent spirit.  You challenge us daily and there are definitely some days where it is not easy to be your mom and dad.  But we made you and we love you beyond any love we ever thought fathomable.  In 4 years you have made us grow and challenged us in many ways.  You have made us laugh and made us cry.  And this last year, as you got your wish for a baby sister, you have made us proud as you have loved her and helped care for her.  (I'm quite certain there will come a day when you are going to regret that wish coming true :)


This last year has been tough for us all.  But you have been a rock star-we've moved houses, we gave you a sibling, and you lost your Poppy.  I worried a lot about the changes we made around you, but you took them in stride.  You are resilient and you have taught us a lot about accepting change.  You are tender hearted-you understand that we are sad about Poppy but you are wise and surprise us with your ability to know just what to say at the right time.  You are an amazing child and God gave us an awesome gift when we got you.  Happy 4th birthday big girl.  We love you beyond measure!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Out of my league

It's hour 3 of day 1 and I can feel my resolve waning. I'm beginning to question everything.
How did I end up here? I'm overwhelmed. Am I doing the wrong thing? Did I make the wrong decision? Am I screwing this up? I'm becoming angry at myself for not sticking to my guns and going with what my instinct told me. But I'm past the point of no return. There's no going back now. I have to power through. I swallow the lump in my throat, fight back the tears, and retrieve yet another pair of training pants from the cabinet.




I am trying to pinpoint exactly how I ended up here and I think back to the scene in the airport. It was the week before Thanksgiving and I had to travel to Dallas for the week for a meeting. As is my habit I phoned my mother from the gate to tell her I would be boarding soon. We made small talk for a bit and then she dropped the bomb. It started out innocently enough with a seemingly nice offer.

"Sweetheart, some Saturday we'd like to take RJ for you so you can have the whole day to focus on DC," and then she laid it out. "So you can get him potty trained."

The blood began rushing in my ears blocking out the gate attendant over the loudspeaker. The hair on the back of my neck bristled and adrenaline coursed through my veins as my body went into full scale "FIGHT OR FLIGHT" mode.

"I just don't think he's quite ready yet Mom." I measuredly replied. "Remember we took that quiz in the book YOU bought me which said we should wait a few months?"

"Had I known that quiz was in the book I would have ripped out the page before I gave it to you. You know I was talking to several young mothers at church who have boys his age and they are ALL already potty trained," she matter-of-factly responded.

I'm trying to gauge her but I'm getting mixed signals. Her tone is sing-songy but her words are fierce.

"I just don't think he's quite there yet," I offer. "You know I HAVE done this before with RJ. I'd be happy to take you up on the offer when we DO think it's time." I'm trying to end the conversation at this point and escape with minimal damage.

"Well sweetie," she begins sweetly. "You know the story about that man whose parents didn't teach him to read until he began to show interest? He was 7 years old before he could even read!!! You don't want THAT now do you?"

At this point I lose it. I don't even realize that I have jumped up from my seat and am waving my hand in the air. My voice escalates to an inappropriate level as I retort back. "WELL I'LL PROMISE YOU THIS MOM. I WILL TEACH MY CHILD TO USE THE POTTY BEFORE HE TURNS 7. FURTHERMORE I WILL MAKE YOU A PROMISE THAT HE WILL BE USING THE POTTY BEFORE HE LEARNS TO READ!!!!"

As I whirl around in my anger I see my entire flight is lined up to board merely steps behind me. And there they all stand, mouths agape, staring at me and my outburst. There is nothing left to do but finish my performance at this point. I hold my phone in the air and address the crowd.

"CAN I GET AN AMEN?!?!"

Thankfully they let me on the flight despite my erratic behavior but it has been eating at me ever since. Therefore I find myself soaked in pee on our 8th accident in 3 hours despite the fact that I am taking him potty literally ever 15 minutes. I am defeated.

Monday, January 13, 2014

34 Reasons why I'm crying right now

1. One of my acquaintances told me what they are doing for their kids for Christmas (taking them to Disney) and I am imagining how excited their girls are going to be on Christmas morning. (Please keep in mind that I am at work, in an account and this is a client I am talking to.) -A

2. My husband asked me how my day was -Z

3. My husband didn't ask me how my day was -A

4. I fell asleep nursing the baby and burnt a batch of made-from-scratch gourmet Christmas cookies -Z

5. My husband merely gave me an acknowledging head bob from the front porch instead of waving at me when I pulled into the driveway after being out of town -A

6. Publix was out of BOGO cereal and my coupon expires today -Z

7. My GPS just broke and I am in Warner Robins, GA.....how will I find my way home? -A

8. My friend with breast cancer shaved her head this week -A

9. I had lunch with Ziggy (who is a social worker) and inevitably an impromptu therapy session ensued -A

10. I couldn't find NBC on my hotel TV last night and missed Carrie Underwood in the Sound of Music -A

11.My favorite Thai place isn't answering the phone and I can't put in a to go order....and I'm staaaaaaaaaaarving -A

12. My favorite maternity jeans have a hole in the crotch and I can't wear them -Z

13. My baby is 4 months old and I'm still wearing maternity jeans -Z

14. I can't find my black maternity tank top -A

15. My husband just got diagnosed with Bell's Palsy and has lost all muscle control/feeling on half his face -A

16. I spent all weekend being mad at my husband because I thought he was faking being sick -A

17. SK just flooded the bathroom with 2 inches of water -Z

18. I've called 7 Hallmark stores in a one hour radius and every single one of them is sold out of the 2013 Polar Express Commemorative Bell Christmas Ornament -A

19. The pork chops I made for dinner taste like I put arsenic in them -Z

20. I just got to the mall, got both kids dressed in their Christmas attire and dragged them to the Santa line only to be told that Santa is going on an hour and a half break to feed his reindeer -A

19. My husband (trying to be funny) hid my breakfast bar this morning -Z

20. The live nativity scene got rained out AGAIN -A

21. I am supposed to make cake balls for work tomorrow and all I want to do is sleep -Z

22. My friend just went for her first OB appointment and found out that she miscarried -A

23. I just opened the icing I was going to use to make cake balls for my work and it's rotten -Z

24. They found cancerous cells on a mole on my friend's 2 year old -A

25. Holiday time is here and it's the first Christmas without my dad-Z

26. My 4 month old has the same allergy her sister did and wakes up in the middle of the night 4 times due to horrid gas. -Z

27. My mother just called and told me a friend's newborn passed away yesterday -A

28. My husband "sleeps" upstairs to avoid the crying 4 month old in the middle of the night. -Z

29. When we got back to the Santa line after his HOUR AND A HALF BREAK there were 35 people in line causing a 2 HOUR WAIT -A

30.  My husband felt bad about hiding the breakfast bar, so he put surprise muffins in my car at work to make up for it. -Z

31.  I just spilled breast milk all over the kitchen counter and floor -Z

32. It's Christmas Eve, we are leaving for my sister's house in 2 hours and hubby just called me from the family doctor to tell me he has the flu -A

33. I am now in the car alone with both kids driving to Charlotte to my sister's house to celebrate Christmas while hubby is sick in bed at home -A

34. It's day 4 of hubs having the flu and he still has fever (which means he cannot touch or be near the kids). I'm starting to lose my cool. -A



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Is it for YOU?


Angry.
 No furious.
 Enraged, seeing red.
Let's start by saying I'm the one who finds humor in everything. I'm the one who lets things roll off her back. I'm in sales for pete's sake. I DO NOT take things personally. But enough is e-freaking-nough. Each day I am astounded by the lack of common courtesy of human kind. As if this life growing inside of me negates the fact that I am a human being and gives complete strangers the right to say and do whatever they want to me.

So this is for you- random lady in the gas station that reaches out to rub my ever-growing belly. And you- the lab tech at the doctor's office who raises your eyebrows when I step onto the scale. And even you- the well-meaning acquaintance who asks "How much longer?" and then mimes a fainting spell when I reply "5 months". It's for every single person who has asked "Is it twins?" and then "Are you sure?" when I smile and politely reply "no". It's for the RN from my insurance company who calls to check in on me and asks every time how much weight I have gained. It's for the business associates who ask me how far along I am and then when they think I'm not paying attention whisper amongst themselves cutting sidelong glances at my swollen belly. It's especially for you- who predicted "It's a girl...they say girls steal your beauty." And even you- who asked me if my granola was gluten free (IT'S FREAKING GRANOLA!!! NOT A CHEESECAKE!!)

CUT IT OUT!!!!

Not only is it none of your business but it's hurtful. No maybe your one comment wasn't so offensive but add it to a full day's barrage of unwanted comments and it's just enough to tip me over the edge. Not to mention the fact that my hormones are raging to the point that I can't even tell right from wrong anymore. Which probably should scare you more than just a little bit....You who raised your eyebrow as I reach for a cookie (after eating a salad at lunch).

Maybe I am just a tad more sensitive now than at other times in my life (as is EVERY pregnant woman) but shouldn't that cause us to collectively act more compassionately? I am not the crazy one here. It's all of you who think your opinion is wanted/needed/acceptable. You- who have never even met me before. You-who know me but have never had a conversation with me outside of work. You- who I grew up with and have known my whole life (especially you....you should know better).



So on behalf of all pregnant women out there the next time you see one of us and think you have something clever to say. Just keep your mouth shut. I am telling you right now it's not clever and we have heard it before. If you must ask a question smile politely when we answer (and DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT raise your eyebrows). Ask before you reach out to molest our bellies with your nosy, boundary-challenged hands. Remember that we are still people and it hurts our feelings when you say things like "Wow, you're huge". (For the record that is NEVER an appropriate thing to say to or about someone, pregnant or no.) Also, please make an effort to look at our eyes when we speak...not just our bellies.

That is all. Thank you.

Now to climb down off this soap box without bowling over my ridiculously large belly....Could I get a hand from any of you?

-Ashford

Monday, January 6, 2014

Make My Life...

Seven years ago today I married my best friend with 250 of our closest friends watching.  It sounds pretty cliche to say I married my "best friend", but I did.  It all started 10 years ago with a "wink" on none other than match.com.  (we were on it before it was cool :)  I look back at those emails now and I have to giggle at how lame we were.  Did I really try to describe myself as athletic?!?  But those emails show a very honest portrait of how we were and still are.  We dated-at the end of our first official date he asked me, "Can I see you again tomorrow?" Later we broke up-and even though that month was long-he called me every day to "check on me".  Obviously we got back together-and have been together ever since.   I think about the last 7 years and I'm amazed at all we've been through.  Our love is most importantly, NOT perfect, but I think somehow we are perfect for each other.  We fit perfectly together.  What I lack, he makes up for and what he lacks I make up for.  We've always been excellent communicators who could talk our way through anything and that's probably the biggest strong point of our marriage.  So on this seven year mark, I'm reflecting on us. 

We've bought 3 cars, sold 2 houses, bought 2 houses and in fact, he's even managed to improve my not so great credit score.  We've spent our falls driving to Raleigh for football and our summers on the lake.  He saw me graduate graduate school (constantly telling me that he married me because I was a "difference maker") and helped me study for my licensure exams (both of them).  I love his vintage 1995 (completely covered in holes and almost see through) wolfpack football sweatshirt that he wears nearly every day or the fact that we all know he "can't sleep".  He's held my hand each time we welcomed one of our little girls into this world in those cold operating rooms and he held my hand when we said goodbye to my dad one final time, even telling my father, "I told you when I asked for her hand that I would take care of her, and I will continue to do that".  He's given up so much to provide for us and continues to try and give us the best that he can offer.  We've had knock down, drag out fights, and even gone to bed angry (because despite what the "experts" say, sometimes it really is better than trying to talk).  I know that I'm lucky to have found a man who was willing to take 5 weeks off for the birth of our second child-even though I'm quite certain most of that was so he could have a vacation from work.  I've even had to yank him off a bar stool by the ear one time, but I won't really go into that. I'm thankful that we found a church and I've seen him become a more godly focused man.  I love his willingness to still plan surprise dates, even if it almost always involves a coupon.  He's taught me the importance of saving money rather than spending every last dime.  I love the way he plays with our girls or how he tries to not cry when reading something sentimental.  Or the fact that despite his desire to have a little boy to coach football for, he ended up with two girls who he lets paint his nails and put makeup on him. 

Seven years ago I stood and took vows that both of us have meant every single day.  I'm thankful for a man who wept (but don't tell him I told you) during those vows because he meant every single word whole heartedly.


 We have seen our fair share of plenty and want-especially when we had to sacrifice so much to pay for SK's $100/3 days formula to help her grow.  And sickness and health-when we've been bedridden with bronchitis, dealt with significant food allergies in our girls, or struggled with other unspoken illnesses.  For better or for worse-did I mention the grumpiness nearly every morning because he "can't sleep?"  Or when he didn't get the promotion he was promised and he lost hope.  But 7 years later, I never knew that I would in fact love him more now than ever.  I love him for the man he has become and the man he will continue to be.  I am thankful to have my best friend by my side every day to share the happy and not so perfect moments with.  The man who can complete my sentence or can still give me butterflies when he puts his hand in the small of my back.  Our song 7 years ago is a little known Oak Ridge Boys song titled, "Make my Life with You" and I am still so grateful to "make my life with you". 


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Good Riddance.

Good Riddance.  That's the phrase I'm saying to 2013 (and the mouse in my mothers house but that's another days post).  As New Years Day is quickly approaching, I've found myself reflecting on the past year tonight.  2013 had some really great blessings for our family.  We sold our home and received a cash offer-against our agents initial reservations to list the home.  We were able to negotiate our new house and close literally hours before it entered foreclosure-truly an act of God according to our real estate agent and attorney.  And most importantly, we welcomed to the world our second beautiful daughter who has changed our world for the better.  I can not imagine life without her now.  Big Daddy was off work for 5 weeks and ironically we did not kill each other and remained happily married-in fact I think our marriage is stronger because of it.

But so much of 2013 is tied up in my mind and heart in a dark place.  Last January, my parents came to visit for our oldest daughters 3rd birthday.  We have an amazing picture of my dad and her moments before they left to return home. 
At that time, I had no idea it was the last picture I would have of them together.  My fathers health rapidly declined and as most know, he died at home on June 8.  I talked to my mom almost daily from January until his death-and still do currently.  So many times I would say, I'm going to come home and she would say it wasn't necessary.  I was pregnant and saving my leave time for the baby.  And all indications were that he would in fact get better.  Ultimately, he never did-he got worse and I in my own selfish ways did not come home until he was literally at deaths door.  As I've blogged about, he gave us a gift the day before by being lucid and being able to communicate with us.  But I've been left with a lot of regrets.  A lot of "what ifs"...what if I would have come home and insisted on talking to drs as I said I would do so many times...what if I would have been there before he stopped really communicating with anyone and could have said the things I wanted to really say....I don't think the outcome would have changed ultimately, but I think my grief would have been a little easier.  I would have been more prepared and I would have dealt with my emotions before it was too late, instead of living in denial.  As a social worker, we talk about denial a lot with our clients.  It's a powerful thing and I'm quite certain that it's pretty much been my best friend for the last year.  So for me, saying goodbye to 2013 is about new beginnings.  It's about making a choice to stop hiding behind my denial and emotions and deal with my grief head on.  It's about enjoying each moment, instead of just coasting through each day and trying to get to the next morning without being an emotional wreck.  It's also about being able to say to those around me, that contrary to popular belief I am not always in control and fine.  Two days ago-the day after Christmas, SK came to me in tears.  Her words-"I miss Poppy and I want to call him".  I sat down, took a deep breath and said, "we can't call him, he's in heaven-we talk to him in our prayers." With that answer her tears flowed more and she wept saying to me, "BUT I MISS POPPY".  My heart was literally ripping out of my chest as she went on to say, "ITS NOT FAIR!"  "HE'S MY POPPY-JESUS NEEDS TO GIVE HIM BACK".  Through tears, I said, "we all miss Poppy but he's not in any pain anymore."  She quietly said, "you're sad everyday?"  and I said, "I'm sad a lot-we all are, but he's in our hearts just like Jesus".  and her next response, "Why did Jesus take Poppy?"  I literally could feel myself sweating at the same time I had chills.  She was saying OUTLOUD all of my feelings that I've carried around for months.  It was like she was pushing me to face these feelings and thoughts and move on.  And I literally felt my. heart. shattering.

So I'm saying good riddance 2013-we had some good moments, but I'm ready to leave the bad in the past.  I'm ready for new beginnings.  A healthier me and in turn, I can be a healthier wife and mom.  I have spent so much time over the last 6 months just praying I don't fall apart if someone asks me how I am, or praying no one mentions their dad in my presence. I'm ready to get back to working out to help me feel better and of course lose this baby weight.  I'm ready to feel happy again instead of just going through the motions.  And in an indirect way, I'm ready to make my daddy proud and Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.  (his marine corps mentality would be proud).   So good riddance 2013-Cheers to 2014 and new beginnings and finding happiness. 

-Ziggy