Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Puppy Love

First, before I start today's post, did you catch my article on Curvy Girl Guide yesterday? No? Go there now, then come back, I'll wait...

OK, moving on. Today's topic is this:
Adorable. And let me tell you, I can imagine it's taking Molly a lot of effort at this point to love our kid. Our sweet Amelia has gone from petting Molly nicely and crying with a pouted lip when we tell her "No", to grasping fistfuls of fur and smiling at us when we tell her to be nice. Also, you may not know this, but our dog seconds as an obstacle that's meant to be crawled over. Amelia enjoys vaulting herself over at least a couple times per day, squealing as she does so. Molly avoids moving until the whole thing is done and then looks at me pathetically, as if she's ashamed that her life has come to this.

This patience with our one year old is why I am continuing to walk Molly on a semi-consistent basis, despite the dropping temperatures and whipping wind. When I don't walk her, she gives me the same sad look you see in the video. I equate her walks in the country to my mommy time and feel like she will probably lose her sanity if I don't take her.

So, you can see she's pretty much the best dog ever. A big lover. Gentle as can be. I think.

Yesterday, this happened:
Yes, that's my barn and indeed it's missing part of the roof. No good. Long story short, I contacted our insurance, they suggested a local construction company, and two hours later they were out to put a temporary tarp up to prevent our barn from becoming flooded.

Two men came to my door at about 4:30 p.m. with papers for me to sign for the work to be done. Molly barks in her typical defensive manner, I let them in while saying "Don't mind her, she's nice". The first offers his hand, she sniffs and lets him pass.

The second man? Not so lucky.

Molly blocked him from entering our kitchen and growled a growl that sent shivers up my spine. I told her to stop, it's OK, and she was not convinced. It was only a five minute interaction at most, but that man didn't make it past our kitchen. At some point, Molly ceased the growling, but as the men attempted to leave, this guy attempted to pet her again.

Are you stupid? My dog doesn't like you. If you lose your hand, I don't know what to tell you.

Molly apparently felt the same because she growled again, lower this time as if to say "Listen, buddy, I'm really serious. This is my mom, and my baby, and my dad isn't here to defend them. So if you even think about touching them, I will rip your testicles off."

I felt proud and freaked out at the same time. I can remember maybe one other time where Molly has not  immediately cozied up to someone new. And even that time, I know it was nothing like this. I was entirely freaked out until they left because I know she sensed something that wasn't right. I told Jon about the whole scenario when he came home and he showered her with love. We've always assumed that she wouldn't hurt a soul, but now that this has happened, I wouldn't bet on it. We're so blessed to have a dog that loves us and protects us.

Have you ever had an experience like this with one of your pets?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Disrespected Turkey

I typically don't use my blog to vent. I find it too easy to get in the habit of griping about life, and who needs that kind of negativity? But... today I'm going to. Because this drives me nuts.

Shopping ON Thanksgiving.

To be fair, I'm not a fan of shopping. I find it frustrating and stressful, and I always worry that I shouldn't be spending money (this is what happens when you are in charge of bills in your household). Despite that, I understand Black Friday and the rush people get from finding specials and fighting the crowds. I would rather poke my eyes out with a fork, but I get why many people like it. I guess.

This year people are pushing it a bit farther and shopping ON Thanksgiving. Now, maybe this is not the first year that this has been a trend, but I think it's certainly getting more publicity. Folks are leaving shortly after their holiday meal to find their holiday deals and I think it's ridiculous. Shoppers can't stay home ONE DAY and relax? Or just shop on the internet? I really don't get it.

I do realize that not everyone is blessed enough to have family live nearby or to have halfway sane family members to spend time with. But other people do, and they want to stay at home and enjoy them, not sell sweaters and televisions on a holiday.

I think that perhaps this subject may get under my skin a little more because my mom is a nurse and has had to miss every other holiday with us for as long as I can remember. Obviously doctors and nurses can't just stay at home, and I have a lot of respect my mother's career. She has always worked in geriatrics, and now she works as a hospice nurse. So this year for Christmas she'll be caring for dying people while others are at home opening gifts and eating ham. She never complains about it, just takes it in stride. But I'm pretty sure if she had to work at a department store, it wouldn't be as fulfilling to miss the holidays. And, she's not the only one that misses holiday celebrations, we have to miss celebrating with her.

Oh, and one more thing that gets under my skin. I have read posts on facebook for nearly a month complaining about people enjoying Christmas things prior to Thanksgiving. Complain, complain, complain, about Christmas lights, music, decorations, yadda, yadda, yadda. Generally I kind of feel the same way, but I've started viewing Thanksgiving and Christmas as one big holiday season. And, I pretty much missed out on Christmas last year as I was shushing, rocking, nursing a very colicky newborn the entire season. I have catching up to do.

In any case, as I scrolled through my facebook feed on Thanksgiving, pretty much the same people that had vented about Christmas decorations being out too early were bragging about the great deals they had snagged on Thanksgiving. REALLY?!? It's super awful for me to enjoy Christmas music a week before Thanksgiving but OK for you to necessitate workers missing a holiday so you can shop? This makes no sense to me.

What do you think? Should retail stores be open on Thanksgiving?

** Now that I've ticked off probably half my readers, I'll try to reel everyone back in with this news... I'm being featured on Curvy Girl Guide this Tuesday! Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Here's the List

I've been pondering since the weekend about what to post this week. While I had almost decided on several grainy cell phone pics of Amelia cuddling with her daddy and sleeping along with a weekend recap, eh, that sounded boring. As Facebook has been flooded with people's daily gratitudes during the month of November, I've decided I should post my own list.

I should add here that although I rarely make a written list of gratitude, I do try to reflect at least once a day on what I'm grateful for. My cousin writes a daily list and e-mails it to several of her friends, and I generally am obsessive about checking my e-mail until she sends it. Partially because it is a way for me to stay connected to her even when both of our lives are very busy, but also because it is a good reminder of the small things in life that help people get past bad days, tragic life happenings, and grumpy moods. As soon as I read it, I think about what I am grateful for, and because she sends it early in the morning, I can start my day feeling grateful and remember to be this way during the day.

For instance, when Little Miss Grumpy Pants will not sleep through her whole nap and I am stuck holding her while I'm trying to work one handed? I take a deep breath and look at her soft features, her slow and peaceful breathing, her pudgy little arms, and realize that I will miss this cuddling some day. What else am I grateful for?

  • My daughter is healthy and happy. I really take this for granted until she catches a cold or flu, or until I think of the many people I know that struggle with infertility or have had children that have passed away. She drives me a little nuts some days, but she is a blessing and we are so, so fortunate that she is well.
  • I have awesome parents. They do an immense amount for us, from providing Amelia with clothes, diapers, and toys, to babysitting and listening to me gripe when I feel like I being pushed over the edge by motherhood. They are terrific, loving grandparents and let me know often that they are here for me anytime.
  • I have a wonderful marriage. It is not always easy, and we go through our up's and down's like any other couple. I have really been reflecting lately how good of a husband and father my spouse is. He is kind and makes me feel like the most beautiful woman alive. He appreciates my cooking and ability to do 50 things at once to keep our home up and raise our child. He apologizes when he's wrong, and he tells me I'm a good mom frequently. Watching him cuddle or tickle Amelia melts my heart and I'm so grateful that we are raising our daughter together.
  • The rest of my family is awesome too! It would take me all day to go through each and every one, but trust me, I'm blessed with a great family. When people complain that they have to deal with family gatherings during the holidays, I have no idea what they are talking about. I look forward to stuffing myself and then laughing around the table after a good meal.
  • Employment. I think this is a huge thing that I took for granted a year ago, and I really try to be thankful for it every day. Luckily, so far my job is making this easy. I had a few qualms about working for an online school, but it's only taken me a couple months to be amazed at the teamwork and positive attitudes that I witness every day.
  • Wonderful pets. I know, some people are not into animals, that's fine. But we are, and we pretty much have the best ever. As our daughter has been edging on abusive towards Mikey (our 8 year old 13 pound cat) and Molly (our sweet, obedient 3 year old golden retriever), I'm reminded every day that we are lucky to have them. I don't have to worry about Amelia being hurt by one of them, and she is growing up knowing how to be kind to animals.
  • All the other standards to be thankful for: a warm house, food on the table, clean water, a safe area to live, transportation. I list it off like it's nothing, but all it takes is turning on the news to be extremely grateful for any of these things.
I really could go on and on. I've been thinking of tons of 'small' things to be grateful for every day. However, I have onion rolls to start baking and a daughter to play with. So, I leave you with a picture of three of my loves and a wish for you to have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with gratitude.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Big Cake Smash

I know you've all been on pins and needles waiting for a first birthday recap. First of all, any girly girls slash party planners out there that get all thrilled about first birthday parties because they are a terrific excuse to adorn your baby in tutus, lace, and pink EVERYTHING, don't get too excited. Also, there was no theme, no Sesame Street, Dora, glitter, fancy decorations, none of that. I don't do frivolous unless someone appreciates it and guess what? Amelia wouldn't because hello, she's ONE.

I know, I know, how did God give us a girl when I was going to squander away all the chances to be excessively girly? When it's time for her to learn about make-up and high heels, I will need to designate another family member to be in charge. Otherwise, she will be a plain Jane like mommy.

I have to say that it was a really good day. Some little girl slept horribly awful the night before (sure, we can pretend she was excited about her party, but the truth is she's a terrible sleeper 99% of the time), and mommy was exhausted in the morning. But I had to plow ahead and get the house cleaned and bake a cake, so I slugged down a pot of coffee and got to it. Luckily my husband devoted his entire morning to helping out and continued to clean when I took Amelia's morning nap with her. The downside was that I was still taking a shower when guests started arriving around 11:45, but Amelia and I were in a better mood so it was worth it.

As a side note, I have to say that her birthday in November works out for us fabulously. My husband's and dad's birthdays are in the summer, and we always have their party at my house. So now? Super clean house twice a year. That means I can be a negligent house cleaner the rest of the year.

I think the rest of the recap should be told in pictures since there were enough cameras in the house to feel like we were the Kardashians.

We ate lunch first and I don't have pics of that because hello, we were eating lasagna and who has time to snap pictures when you are stuffing your face with italian goodness?

Afterwards, the opening of gifts:
Not too sure if she should really be tearing things up...

One of her favorite gifts, her phone. Have I ever mentioned the girl likes to talk?

Another favorite gift, her weeble house! Mommy likes to play with it too :)

She's smiling here, but she is not too thrilled with her baby doll. When it giggles she throws it across the room. Not a good omen for if she ever has siblings.

"Did you see how many presents I got?!?"

I can't resist posting an adorable daddy and daughter pic!

Molly waiting for the cake smash, knowing that Amelia will share with her.
Sticking her fingers in the ooey gooey pumpkin caramel cake.

She wouldn't eat any until Mommy fed her a little piece.

Finally eating a little.

This is what she does when she's finished eating-- she's smashes her food all over her tray. It drives me crazy!

Of course my dad had to take a pic of me restraining her from any further cake smashing.

Looking drunk while drinking her milk.

Many family members noted that Amelia was fabulous during her party and I have to agree. We had guests over for four hours, and she didn't fuss or whine once. I had originally thought about having a huge party at our church and adding our close friends to the guest list, but like I said in the beginning, I'm not a pro at party planning. And, I had read that such big parties can overwhelm little ones. I'm really glad that we stuck to our traditional family celebration at our home where Amelia was content and happy. It was a terrific celebration :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We've Returned to the 21st Century

You read that title right. You didn't know that we were living in the stone ages in my household did you?

I mean, we totally believe in birth control and all that. No Duggar situation going on here.

However, even though we are doing our part to keep the human population down, we've been living without cable. For four years.


Four years of no Food Network, no Monday night football, no Intervention or Hoarders. No Keeping Up with the Kardashians. No DVR.

You ask how I survived that long. Well, first of all, I'm a big nerd and I love to read. It was an adjustment at first, but I simply made more trips to our local library. And, when you are sans 500 channels and re-runs you, GASP, can be more productive. If you want to, that is. Otherwise you can rent movies and watch cooking shows over and over on PBS Create. Or, just sleep.

Oh, glorious sleep. Sleep where you are totally out on the couch by 9:00 p.m. and after you go to bed at 11:00 p.m. you don't stir until 9:00 a.m. Oh, sleep, how I miss you.

Sorry. Sleep is my favorite fantasy.

Anyways, maybe you're asking, why did you finally get cable then? (Actually satellite because although we can see a major university from our house, we can't get cable where we live. In the middle of corn fields. Just like Children of the Corn.) Well, perhaps you recall me telling that I got a new job where I work from home. It's still fabulous, but let me tell you this-- I adore anything childish, including any kind of cartoons, but I reached a point last week where I thought I was going to throw something big and heavy at our brand new fancy schmancy TV if I had to watch the same episode about earthworms on the Cat and the Hat Knows a Lot About That! one more stinking time.

And so, now we have satellite TV. Mommy gets whatever prevents her from destroying major household items.

Only two days into having several channels again and my memory is returning of what living the glorious life with cable is like. Here are some highlights:  
  • Commercials suck.
  • DVR's make them better.
  • Even the TV shows that my husband and I like are completely different (Ahem, no I do NOT want to watch the Science or Military Channel with you, husband. Thanks so much for the offer, though). Opposites do attract.
  • Not only does TV watching waste time, but so does scanning through the 120+ channels that we have, which I do about three times before I recognize that nothing is on, so I might as well turn it back to Disney.
  • My daughter likes Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. Don't tell her dad. 
  • She also likes to dance to the theme music for Pulp Fiction, and I believe that this makes me the cool mom.
  • Hoarders makes me feel better about my house.
And now, it's time for me to find where Amelia hid the remote control so we can watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse all day. Happy Thursday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Numbers

Today is November 7th, and what I call my secondary anniversary. Fourteen years ago I sat in my parents driveway in Jon's black Dodge pick-up truck as we debated if we should 'go out' with each other. You know, like, be boyfriend and girlfriend and stuff. Fourteen years seems like a crazy long time when you put into perspective that I'm 30 years old. That's half my life, people. Not to say that it's been one seamless relationship without any breaks, but mostly, we've been a couple since high school.

All day I've thought about what kind of mushy things I could write about our relationship, but blah, isn't that boring? Then this afternoon I just could not stop thinking about fourteen years and how many events, emotions, celebrations, and upsets that includes. So here are the numbers...

In fourteen years, we've:
Been engaged twice
Married once
Shared one apartment and one house
Owned five different vehicles
Had five pets
Earned three college degrees
Attended one funeral
Attended many more weddings
Gotten in countless fights
Forgiven each other just as many times
Been separated by military trainings and deployment three times
Had one beautiful little girl

Christmas 2010
Happy secondary anniversary, darling husband <3

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy 'I've Kept My Daughter Alive for a Year' Day

This is it! Today is our daughter's first birthday. It amazes me that a year ago she looked like this:
And now we have this:

I recall that on her first New Year's Eve, things were getting a bit easier as a mother and I made this New Year's Resolution: to keep her alive during the coming year. My husband half laughed, half looked concerned as if I were making some threat on her life, but let's get real here: when you are a new mom, you feel like every noise your baby makes is going to equate to doom. Any little gasp, wheeze, sigh, or scream means something could be wrong. And heaven forbid if they are QUIET, because then you fear that the baby has stopped breathing (thanks so much, SIDS campaign).

Maybe instead, I should call it Happy 'I've Kept Most of My Sanity for a Year' Day. I've mentioned before, Amelia had colic in her early days and all in all was pretty high needs for the first four to six months. For the first two months, I held her constantly because she would cry if put down. I held her as I put dishes away, as I slept, as I made our frozen meals for dinner. I cried during cooking shows because it felt like I was never going to enjoy creative time in the kitchen again. During weeks two through six of her life, she would have evening/early morning screaming fits that would last for two to three hours. I would circle the dining room table, singing, shushing, bouncing, rocking, until finally I would burst into tears too and my husband would wake from his slumber before heading off to work, take her from me and order "GO TO BED". I would nod miserably, feeling like a failure as a mother and wondering if this was her disposition now, what would it be like as a toddler?

I must be doing something right because as Amelia nears toddlerhood, this is generally our girl:

A happy, silly little girl who adores her mama and who is too busy to sleep well but so worth waking up throughout the night for. She loves her books and Sesame Street, as well as her dog and kitty, and can say 'hi', 'dog', 'kitty', 'book', 'Daddy', and 'abcd'. A squealing, giggling little bundle of energy that will scream as you walk towards her in hopes that you will chase her down and tickle her.

And so, in summary, I've not only managed to keep her alive during the past year, but also managed to raise a fairly happy, very healthy little girl. This indeed is something to celebrate.

Happy birthday, Amelia May. Mommy loves you.