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.


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, 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?

 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!!)


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 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?


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  (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.