Saturday, December 15, 2012

From Tragedy Comes Patience

Yesterday, when the news broke about Sandy Hook Elementary, it took me two or three hours to turn on the TV. I'm not sure what it was, if I was so hard at work that I put it off, or if I couldn't bear to think about it. Or, maybe I knew that once I turned the news on, I wouldn't be able to pull myself away for over an hour.

What is it about these details that we seek? I imagine that we think if we listen long enough, we'll hear the solution to the problem: We can prevent this with more security. It won't happen again if we outlaw guns. More mental health care will keep us all safe. After realizing that I had stood in front of my television, mouth agape and stomach queasy for longer than a half hour, I shut it off.

Then I returned 20 minutes later and turned it back on.

Off again. What do I think about? Always first comes the realization that one of those children could be MY child, lost forever, making my life ever dark, sad, and bleak. Then comes the faces of the children that I've worked with, the teachers that I have interacted with, the cop that I am married to that may all some day have to face this frightening and deadly situation.

What do I do?

What do any of us do? I've read all day on Facebook the ponderings of how we should be honoring these victims and how we stop it from ever happening again. My fingers have twitched as I've wanted to add my views and stances. But I've not typed a single comment. I just can't.

I don't have any answers.

So, this weekend, I've done the only things I'm capable of. I have smiled constantly at my daughter. I squeezed my husband extra tight as he headed off to the police station for work. I have been exceptionally patient with my daughter, as she has tantrums from exhaustion and missing her daddy. Any other weekend I would have snapped at her. Any other day I would have turned on cartoons and retreated to my office for a break.

Not today. Today is for hugs and kisses and building towers together. Today is for understanding frustrated feelings, taking deep breaths, and keeping my voice calm.  Today is about holding my daughter's hand, kissing her cheeks, and holding her tight. Maybe it's too simple.

But it's all I can do.

Maybe this won't last very long. Patience and the bitter sting of tragedy don't last forever. But for today, I honor all the lives that have been lost by being exceptionally patient and loving in this moment that I am blessed with right now.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Day at the Zoo

Dear Amelia,

Today I had planned for us to go to the art museum, but the weather was so nice (in the 50's on December 1st!) that I decided that we should head to the Toledo Zoo. We stopped at your grammy's work first to say hi. She was excited to see you.

You love animals and asked me right away if we could see the penguins. You also loved the hippo and the monkeys. We were there for almost 3 hours... a long time for a two year old! Excitement carried you through and you didn't get upset once. The birds in the aviary were a little overwhelming and you were a bit scared of them, especially the bigger birds. We ended our trip with some time on the playground. You are getting very brave about going down slides, and I even convinced you to go down the big tube slide!
Amelia watching the penguins eat lunch.

Mommy and Amelia by the new elephant exhibit.

It's hard to get her to pose by anything :)

Going down a 'big' slide!

I love taking the time for mommy/daughter trips while your daddy is working. You get really frustrated when he can't be here with us, which reminds me of how much you love him. I'm glad we can make the most of it and explore new places together. I have lots of holiday trips planned for us this month and hope that you enjoy all of them.

All my love,

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Now You Are Two

Dear Amelia,

Last Saturday you turned two years old. I was so excited to celebrate your birthday with you after being away for a two day conference. Your daddy had to work, but we went out to breakfast when he returned home from third shift in the morning. You had a cinnamon roll instead of cake, but were too hungry to wait for us to sing Happy Birthday before you ate it:
Mmm, cinnamon roll!
Opening your maraca- you also opened a Thomas the Train interactive book and a new outfit.
We also went to an indoor playland in the evening with our friends. You had a great time and were so excited to see Bela and play with all the new toys:
Vroom, vroom!

Playing with your friend, Bela.

This past year with you has been so very fun. Other parents warned me that toddlerhood could be very difficult due to the possibility of you running all over the place and getting into things. On the contrary, you were so cautious that I never had to worry about that. You are becoming somewhat stubborn and even more determined as you grow older, but you are always loving and give the best hugs.

Random things about you at the age of two:
  • You like: Thomas the Train, Sesame Street, Bubble Guppies and pretty much any movie. 
  • You tell me "Hit it, Mommy!" when you want me to put a movie in for you.
  • Your taste buds are much like your daddy's- you like french fries, chips, and other salty foods, as well as burgers, pasta and popcorn. You aren't  a very big fan of vegetables but like lettuce and peas.
  • Music seems to be something you are very interested in. We go to Musikgarten together every Monday, and you have a CD in the car that we listen to all the time. If I try to listen to regular music, you tell me "No, Mommy! Apples and bananas!", which is one of the songs you like the best.
  • You are very good at building, stacking, and organizing. 
  • We sleep together about 50% of the time, and I love your cuddles.
  • You say 'please' and 'thank you' all the time, and I am so proud of you for having good manners. You usually say 'EXCUSE YOU' when you burp, but if you fart, you say "POOP!" and giggle. We have no idea where you got that from, but we find it hysterical and find it hard not to laugh along with you.
There are 500 more funny and loving things that I could say about you, but our family is coming over today to celebrate your second birthday. I love you more than life itself. Today you will open many gifts, but YOU are the greatest gift I've ever been given.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Night Away

Dear Amelia,

Tonight I am away at a counseling conference. You are spending the night with your daddy. You and I have had a difficult couple of weeks with your canine teeth coming in and a cough that you have. It has left me a little frazzled. But, as your daddy predicted, I cried when I left this morning, and when I called this evening and you were crying on the phone from being tired, I cried too.

On a positive note, I spoke to you on the phone twice today and realized that this is the first time I've talked to you on the phone! This morning you told me "Hi, Mommy! Puppy! Puppy!!! Bye, Mommy!" and then this evening, once you calmed down, you said "I wuv you!" Twice. And it melted my heart.

Remember this- no matter how frustrated I become, or how thin our relationship ever would be due to anger, arguments, or anything else-- I am grateful that you are my daughter every single day and I love you with all my heart.

Hugs and kisses,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rough Week

Dear Amelia,

It has been a rough week. You are getting all four of your canine teeth and sleeping in your own room for the first time, plus you have a bit of a cold. You aren't sleeping very well because of all this. Although I also switched rooms and I'm in the bedroom right next to you, I love you so much that I worry that I won't be able to hear you if you need me. Because of this, I'm having a hard time sleeping too.

Since we are having trouble sleeping, I let you sleep with me last night. I loved waking up to your smiling face this morning and kissing your soft round cheeks as soon as you opened your eyes. You watched Elmo on my phone while I cuddled you.

Even though we haven't been sleeping well, lots of fun things happened this week. We played with the leaves outside:

We went out to lunch, where the owner of the restaurant was totally impressed with your language skills (you said "Highchair! Please?") and thought you were the cutest thing ever. And she's probably right:

And yesterday we watched your cousin Max while Auntie Becca had to work. You loved on him even though he pulled your hair and made you cry. I guess you returned the favor though because ten minutes later you threw your plush ball in his face, scaring the daylights out of him and making him cry too.

I love you very much. I'm glad I get to spend the rest of this Sunday with you. We will probably watch movies and go see Grammy and Papa.

Hugs and Kisses,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Change Is Good

It's been over a month since I've posted here. Certainly it is not because I've had a lack of anything to say. We have been adjusting to my husband working a different shift, Amelia sliding into her 'terrible two's', and enjoying the fall season. It provides plenty to write about, but I think that the truth is, at the end of the work day, I just cannot bear to touch my computer. I love my job, and I think I still enjoy writing, but after 8 hours of staring at a screen and having my toddler patiently wait for my attention, I haven't been motivated to post anything. I even briefly entertained the thought of abandoning my blog, but I just can't.

This has brought about a lot of thinking about how I can keep my blog, be consistent with it, and not feel like it is one more chore added to my plate. As with anything to do with mommyhood, this has been a challenge of balance, and I think I've developed a solution. Before I discuss this solution, however, I have a confession:

I am horrible at keeping up with Amelia's baby book.

Perhaps I'm not the only mother with this affliction, but on some level, I feel horribly guilty about it. I recall purchasing Amelia's baby book with a bit of dread, knowing that it would remain mostly blank. And, I was right. I think I filled it out here and there for the first few months. After that, I started shoving the medical updates with her growth written on them into the book, promising myself that I would write it all down during the upcoming weekend. I would have friends say "Oh, what was Amelia's percentiles at her last check-up? I'll have to look at my daughter's baby book to see how they compare!" With that sentence, my stomach would turn slightly queasy with guilt.

This is just not my strength in parenting. Things I'm good at- coloring, watching kids movies, ignoring obnoxiously loud toys. Things I'm not good at- keeping up with the baby book, keeping her thousand's of digital baby pictures sorted and backed up, packing up and storing her clothes as she outgrows them. Clearly I'm not much of an organized person; however, I want Amelia to have some kind of record of her childhood. Maybe she will hardly ever look at it, but I would feel better knowing that she has at least something.

So, my new resolution is to use my blog to write letters to Amelia, like this. I don't have the motivation to set up a new e-mail account, as this mom did, but I think that if I can write a short letter to Amelia here and there, it will be motivation to keep up with my blog and will give Amelia something to look back on. If I'm really motivated, then maybe someday I will print out the letters and bind them into a book. They will be all right here, waiting for me, unlike my scattered memories of when Amelia got new teeth in, or those check-up papers strewn across our house.

After all, my little Bean (yes, I've started calling her Bean instead of Peanut- apparently she is so deliciously cute that I can't stop nicknaming her after foods) deserves to have written accounts of how I love her so.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Manners, Manners

It has been a while since I have mentioned anything about Amelia's development. Mostly, I've been griping about work and failed weekend getaways. Never fear, Amelia is healthy and happy and well.... a talker. We saw early signs that this was going to be her strength, but it still amazes me daily that she can say so much and speak so clearly. I'm not sure that I can claim much responsibility for this. I have always talked to Amelia a lot and never really did much baby talk with her even when she was an infant. However, it often seems like my reading to her is infrequent and that she watches entirely too much TV since I work from home. The only thing that saves me from feeling guilty about the amount of TV she views is that she has probably gained a fair amount of vocabulary from it.

And, I doubt she learned the phrase "Oh, shit" from the TV. I will take the blame for that one.

In any case, her most notable speech development recently has been learning manner words. I have tried hard to model this from the beginning. My parents and family are big on manners. I rarely recall getting away with asking for something at home without saying "please". If I forgot to use that word, I either didn't get what I wanted or I got the evil eye and quickly rephrased my request. While I found it terribly annoying as a teen, it is certainly something that I'm grateful for as an adult, particularly when I am speaking with students (or parents) that are lacking in the manners department.

We started first with Amelia saying please when she asked for something. This started out as "PEEEESSSEEE?????", then went to signing please when she refused to say the word. This sign is supposed to be rubbing the middle of your chest in a circular motion. Usually she looks like she is rubbing both of her nipples, which I find to be fairly hilarious. We went on for a few months with her saying only this phrase, but me continuing to tell her to say thank you, you're welcome, I'm sorry, and excuse me.

I should note here that this sometimes gets me some odd looks. Amelia is rather petite, so although she will be two in November, she is still wearing mostly 18 month clothing. And, I think that people have this perception that if a child can't say something, then you shouldn't ask them to. I think they forget, though, that one day she will say those words because I've been telling her for months to do just that.

And now she is. Although not always correctly placed.

This became apparent last week when I sneezed and Amelia quickly said "Sorry, Mommy!" This was particularly funny because Amelia has had an increase in some mildly aggressive behavior-- towards me only-- since my husband started working a different shift. I have a variety of ways that I handle this, but my approach always includes telling her to say "I'm sorry"-- which she never does because she doesn't really understand those words yet. But since I view it as planting the seed to grow good manners and respect, I keep telling her to say it. And she is. When I sneeze. And also when she runs into the dog. But never to me when she hits me.

It's a work in progress.

Another phrase that we've been working on is "thank you". Growing up as an only child, I have heard the false belief that I must be spoiled, and therefore do not appreciate what I have. I'm sure people have realized from some of my posts that this is not the case, and it is of course important to me that Amelia be grateful as well. And she seems to be, as evidenced by her saying "thank-you-you're-welcome" when I hand her a cup of milk.

Finally, we have the words 'excuse me', which she says as "excuse you" because that's what I've been telling her. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to tell her "Say excuse me" instead, just as I have with all of the other phrases, but it does make me laugh when I sneeze and she says "EXCUUUUUSSEE YOU!!".

We are still working on 'bless you'. Parenthood. Always something to improve upon :)
Learning good manners is exhausting

Sunday, September 9, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

The last time I posted, I mentioned that I was getting the hell out of here. While I continue to LOVE my job, I am discovering that the first few weeks of school are insanity. Last week I worked about six to eight hours more than I had to (no, I don't get overtime) and had the persistent feeling that I was drowning. Add to that a husband that has just changed shifts at work, leaving me feeling like I'm a single mom with a grumpy, unavailable roommate, and let's just say that things in our house have been stressful. Even Amelia seems to be impacted, as she has been starting some minor aggressive behavior-- towards Mommy only. Good. Times.

So clearly, life has been challenging lately. I know we will get past it and things will improve. My initial coping mechanism was to escape, so as I said, Amelia and I went on a little getaway a couple weeks ago. We went to a local waterpark/hotel with my friend, Anna, and her daughter, Bela. Amelia adores Bela, and will often follow in her footsteps (for better or worse-- let's just hope Bela doesn't rob a liquor store some day. I guarantee Amelia would be her co-conspirator.) I thought that if Bela enjoyed the water areas, Amelia surely would to.


Amelia spent most of the time either sitting in my lap in the shallow end, uninterested in playing with any water toys, crying, or sitting next to Anna on the ledge of the pool. Much like an old lady. It was still fun in that we were able to spend time with good friends, but I wish that Amelia had enjoyed the main reason that we were there rather than having to work up courage to get within feet of the water.
Our lovely ladies, ready to head back home.

Last weekend, we packed up and attempted camping a second time. While it was fun overall and less anxiety producing for Amelia, the campground that we chose did not have nice boundaries like the first time we went camping. This led to a lot of me telling Amelia "No, don't go over there. No, don't get close to the road. Come back here, I can't see you when you are over there." Top that with some rain our first day, which made the majority of our site muddy (did I mention that we also have a large dog to watch and minimize the muddiness of?), and it just was not the grand picture of relaxation that I had painted in my head. As a result, we headed home after two days rather than staying the full three days that we had reserved.

Morning cartoons, camping style.

Molly enjoyed the camper-- please note that is MY bed, she was supposed to be sleeping on the lower section.

My little buckeye fan exploring a playground near the park.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the last two weekends, but I definitely have gained an appreciation for relaxing at home, where there are DVR'd cartoons for Amelia and boundaries that she is already familiar with. With working from home, I often think I need to physically get away to diffuse some stress, but clearly there are times where I am more at ease within the confines of our country home.

With that said, I have to say that this has been a nice weekend so far. We have enjoyed spending a lot of time at a local art festival, I made some treats for my husband's police department, and was able to make a nice dinner for him last night before his twelve hour shift. Apparently, all of this down time is making Amelia rather sleepy.
Zonked out at the art festival.

Here's hoping that all of my readers are having an equally relaxing weekend :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Great Escape

I don't know what happened to me last weekend, but I was super productive. I cleaned the majority of our house, including the bathroom, kitchen, coffee pot and disgusting area behind the coffee pot, microwave (inside and out), pulled weeds, washed, dried and put away a load of laundry, swept, and wrapped our spare change to put in Amelia's savings account... $37 worth. I also cleaned Amelia's room and then organized the spare room so I can start utilizing it as a craft room/office and complete projects like this more often:
My friend's wedding invitation and program are inside the ornament.

It was terrific that I could get all of this done because on Monday, Amelia started to seem a bit off. Fussy, poor appetite, impatient... something just didn't seem right. By Tuesday, she was throwing her morning milk up on me and sleeping a lot during the day:

We think it was either a little stomach bug or some sinus/allergy issues that were making her nauseous. This lasted all week- the week before students start at the online school I am a 12th grade guidance counselor for. You know what happens when you are a high school guidance counselor the week before classes start? You get several phone calls per day about schedules:
  •  Why did you schedule me for this? (You need it to graduate.)
  •  Why didn't you ask me what I want to take this year? (You were supposed to complete the scheduling survey in May.) 
  • Why am I a junior this year and not a senior? (You keep failing all your classes, we don't just hand out diplomas out, OK?!?)
Did I mention that I had three cavities filled this week too?

Yes. It's been a super week. I have to get the hell out of here. And I am, with these lovely ladies:
Amelia and her BFF Bela at our local county fair.
Let's get this party started...

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Weekend of Lemons Turned to Lemonade

Recently we purchased my parents' camper. Jon and I were very excited about this, especially after they showed us how to pop it up and all of it's features. We used to camp quite a bit before we had Amelia, but tent camping and babyhood does not really mix. Well, except for the folks that I witnessed with a pack and play in their medium sized tent. Brave souls. Anyways, a camper seemed like a perfect solution because it give Amelia a nice place to sleep, it stays drier than a tent, and we can bring Molly along now when we go.

August fifth was our sixth wedding anniversary, so we decided it'd be the perfect time to try the camper out for the first time. I worked all day Friday and then Amelia took a late nap, so Jon and I did too. It was 5:30 when we all woke up, but no worries-- the campground was only 45 minutes away and it wouldn't take long to pack everything up. I threw some clothes in a bag for Amelia and I and gathered the dog food/toys/leash while Jon pulled the camper out of the shed. We were minutes from departing when Jon discovered that the camper brake lights weren't working.

I could go into the fifty things that Jon tried to discover what was wrong but the bottom line is this-- we didn't leave Friday night. It got to be 8:30 p.m. and the lights were still not working, so I finally suggested going out to eat. Jon looked mildly frustrated and annoyed, especially since we had already paid for both nights at the campsite and had already passed the time frame to cancel and have our money refunded. I was rather surprised at my own reaction because in the past, I think I would have been pretty upset. But Amelia had spent an hour playing outside, and since it had been my first week back to work, I was just grateful that I was spending good quality time with her rather than being stuck at my computer.

I also have to give my mom credit for my calm, positive reaction. We've been going on vacation together every summer for the past decade. During that time, we've weathered storms while tent camping, lost the car keys while be six hours from home, and forgotten to pack vital items. Never do I recall my mom getting angry or frustrated about this. We always develop a plan B, and sometimes that ends up being more fun than our original plan.

The following morning Jon was still struggling with the lights and was about to give up. He had ordered a new part but it wouldn't be in for a few days. He was adamant that we go camping anyways, given that our campground was not too far away. It was tempting, but because Amelia was with us, I worried that someone would rear end us. I needn't worry though. We were saved by my migraine.

Yes. A migraine. During the weekend of our anniversary in the midst of trying to get the f*@$ing camping lights to work.

My doctor recently gave me a sample of migraine medicine to try, but I was worried about using it for the first time before we planned to be out of town, especially when we planned on having some drinks around the fire that night. So, Jon directed me to go inside and rest and he'd try one more attempt to get the lights to work. Amelia and I headed to the couch and threw a Disney movie in. We cuddled and relaxed, and alas, my migraine left. And...

Jon got those lights to work. Hallelujah.

With that, we headed to the campground. The camper popped up easily, Amelia and Molly did great staying within the boundaries of our campsite, and we went swimming in the lake. Things were going wonderfully and Jon's frustration had melted (assisted by a few adult beverages). And then?

It started to storm.

Not just any storm either. Not a nice little pop up thunderstorm that us Midwestern folk experience throughout the summer. A hail producing, damaging wind kind of storm. Or so I was texted by my family that was southwest of us. Jon and I nervously watched the radar on his phone (thank you, technology) and miracle of all miracles, the most northern part of the storm eased to mostly thunder and lightening. We laid Amelia down to sleep on one end of the camper and watched the lightening show through the camper windows on the other side. A rather nice way to end the evening, and Amelia slept a good 10.5 hours that night, which is a rare occasion for her.

The next morning? Rain by 8 a.m. We surrendered, drove home in the pouring rain, and went to a brunch buffet for our anniversary. It certainly was not the anniversary weekend that we had planned, but it was truly memorable, and I wouldn't have changed a thing about it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Luckiest Parents

I know. I've been a complete slacker about posting this month. Never fear, I will be returning to my stay at home job next week and chained to my computer most of my waking hours, so I'm sure I will have plenty to yammer about then.

I have about a bazillion pictures from our adventures so far this summer. We've been to Columbus and Cincinnati so Jon could update his police certification while Amelia and I spend some mommy/daughter time together, went to Lake Michigan with my mom, and down to my grandparents once. For only having one month off this year, as opposed to ten weeks, we sure packed that time with lots of adventures, so be prepared for an upcoming post that is flooded with pic's of my toddler.

Today's post, however, is about something different. We recently switched our insurance coverage to be under my husband's plan. This new provider requires a primary care physician to be listed on your card, but I had one problem-- I don't have one. I've probably gone to the doctor twice in the past decade (not including prenatal care). Although I had a short list of things I needed to speak to a doctor about, I hadn't gone yet, so this was a good push to finally see a physician.

I already had someone in mind to see, so Jon called and made all three of us an appointment as first time patients. Although Amelia has a pediatrician, I had been looking to make a switch since the one doctor that I loved left the practice, and the other doctors had misdiagnosed her hand, foot, and mouth disease this past spring as scabies. As far as I'm concerned, if I can google symptoms to self-diagnose but you can't see my daughter in person and figure it out, you're pretty much fired.

In any case, I was pretty apprehensive about this appointment. Jon had gone earlier in the week and simply shrugged when I had asked how it went. Men. I was hoping that he would rave about her, but instead he said "It was OK. She's young." CRAP. I just picked a female Doogie Howser for our family physician. On top of that, I'm terribly choosy about doctors. I feel this way-- you're being paid a lot of money to do your job. So, if you talk over me, are rude, perpetually late, or rush me through my appointment, I won't be back. Period.

Of course, switching doctors can be a huge pain in the butt. I was smart enough to ask Jon to bring home the new patient paperwork for Amelia and I so I didn't have to sit in the waiting room filling out fifty pages of health history and insurance information while keeping a toddler amused. Good thing that I did because it seemed to take me forever to complete those packets. Mine was not too terrible but hers was five pages of ridiculousness that seemed to be designed to make me feel like the worst mother ever. Here were some of the questions:

  • Is your water heater set to 125 degrees or less? How do I even check that??
  • Do you have the number posted for poison control? Isn't that what the internet is for?
  • Are your electrical outlets covered with safety plugs? Yes. They were. Until my toddler figured out how to pull them out in an attempt to jam my keys in the outlet. How else is she supposed to learn how to drive???
  • Do you have Ipecac in your house? Um... can't I just feed her a vegetable she doesn't like to induce vomiting?
  • Does your child take a fluoride supplement or drink fluoride treated water? No. My hillbilly teeth are a legacy that I plan to hand down to my child.
 After those questions came the asking me how many meals and snacks she eats every day, followed by asking me to break that down into servings of bread, meat/beans, dairy, yellow vegetables, green vegetables, and fruit/fruit juice. I sat there trying to determine what category goldfish crackers went under and if I get extra mommy points for my child sucking down water like a camel.

That was followed by about thirty questions related to Amelia's health history. Has she been hospitalized? Eye problems? Ear infections? Cancer? Genetic disorders? All I could really put down was respiratory problems once a winter and a spot of eczema that we haven't seen since this past spring.

And that's when it hit me. We are very lucky parents.

I have friends who have lost their pregnancies and friends whose children didn't make it to their first birthday. I really can't imagine their pain and loss, but I assume that it would be practically unbearable. It's easy to get wrapped up in the daily annoyances of parenting. Whiny toddlers, dirty diapers, no time to yourself, and carting kids around to errands that would be ten times easier if they were at home with a babysitter. What kind of smiles and laughter would we miss out on if they weren't in our lives though? These are the things I thought of as I completed that mess of paperwork. And then, I smiled for the rest of the day.

Amelia makes me a very happy and blessed mama. Every day.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wish Upon a Star

When I was in high school, I used to wish upon a star to marry my husband, Jon. Every shooting star I saw, I hoped he would ask me to marry him. Once, in a state of hormone-filled loved, I asked him to marry me.

He looked like I had asked him to cut off his left foot with a rusty saw. So I kept on wishing.

Two engagements and eight years later, we did get married. So no more wishing on stars, right?


Two years later, we tried to conceive our first child. Unfortunately, my body was a mess from taking hormonal birth control, and trying to get all of that junk out of my system was quite a challenge. After being so responsible during my early adult years, not getting pregnant and earning my bachelor's degree, then my master's degree, it felt like I deserved to get pregnant quickly.

I love children and I wanted to be a mommy in the worst way. I distinctly recall going to our local bakery one Saturday morning several months after we started trying to conceive. There was a mom there with her four year old son. She ordered coffee and a pastry and told her son to pick what he wanted. He chose a gigantic mint brownie and chocolate milk, as she smiled in a way that said that this was OK with her because it was a special morning. I looked on, wistfully, knowing that these were the moments that I ached for.

And then I cried all the way home and stuffed myself full of doughnuts.

That summer, there seemed to be many meteor showers. Jon and I would hear them announce one on the news and we would wait all day to spend the evening on a blanket, under the stars, pointing out the ones that streaked by to each other. Perfect moments to wish for my baby.

Nine months later, after we had tried for 15 months and I had started giving up hope that we would conceive naturally, I found out that I was pregnant.

Just like marriage, the beginning of motherhood was not easy. But, when I take Amelia out for lunch and she leans over to kiss me and pats my arm while saying "Aww!!", I remember that moment in the bakery and realize that my special memories of motherhood are being made, right now.

At that point, what was there left to wish for?

A job. For my husband.

My entire pregnancy, Jon attended the police academy at our local community college. He had already been in the Marine Reserves for six years and earned his bachelor's degree. During the police academy and the first two trimesters of pregnancy, he worked from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., then would attend the academy from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. No joke. In some ways, it was the perfect time for me to be pregnant, since Jon got to skip witnessing some of my hormonal swings and I could sleep my little exhausted heart out. And, with a baby on the way, the extra income that a police officer's salary would bring was welcome.

That only took 1.5 years of wishing on stars to accomplish. But it finally did happen.

Last week, on a nice evening after Amelia went to bed, Jon started a bonfire and we sat together, fingers intertwined while we gazed at both the fire's flames and the sky's stars. That's when it happened. I saw a shooting star.

And I had nothing to wish for.

That's not to say that my life is perfect. No one's is. Nor do I believe that all this wishing I do has resulted in our good fortune. I believe that prayer and spirituality, along with a strong marriage, have carried us through the past few years. It still does now, every day. When Jon is stressed over his new, much more stressful and demanding job, it does not seem like a charmed life. But, during that moment by the fire, I realized how much I have, and how very grateful I am.

Wishes do come true.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Little Break

I have been extremely busy at work lately. This has led to a lack of posting, exercising, and sanity. Although I am supposed to be on vacation, I still have schedules to enter for students and so, I continue to work. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, so Amelia and I went to Cincinnati last week with Jon while he took a class to update his police certification.

It. Was. Awesome.

Amelia and I woke up on Thursday and Friday, took her daddy to his class, went back to the hotel, and had a little breakfast. Then we got cleaned up, went shopping, headed down to Cincinnati (we were actually just north of there for Jon's class), had lunch on the river, then went to the children's museum on Thursday and the Newport Aquarium on Friday. Amelia was awesome the entire time and I was so happy to be off the computer and spend uninterrupted quality time with my little girl.

Pictures to come, stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The First Night Away

It's probably no surprise to everyone that I survived my first night away from my little girl. Really, it was not too terrible. Once I got over being misty eyed in the morning as I departed, and a few real tears as I went to bed that night, I remained upbeat and enjoyed my time away.

But do you know who struggled?

Her daddy.

The truth? I'm a little glad.

Since my husband neglects to read my posts recently, and I found this to be the most unexpected part about my time away, I just have to share.

You know that means this will be the first time he's read my blog in three months, but oh, well.

The daytime was fine. We texted each other and I tried to call during my breaks at the conference in attempts to be able to talk to Amelia. Of course, she was snoozing each time I called. Then when I reached my hotel room that evening, I called Jon and we had a nice conversation where he reassured me that all was well and I should enjoy my time away. So with that, I headed out for the night ready to have fun.

Jon called me again around 7:30 p.m., but of course, I didn't hear my phone ring being that we were dining at Dave & Buster's. I texted that I was eating and would call him later. When I called at 10:30, he was less than happy. At first, I was slightly annoyed that he had ordered me to have a great time but was frustrated that I wasn't answering my phone. However, the truth is my husband was not mad at me, he was nervous and worried. When I thought back to how many times I've felt that way when I've left Amelia with other caregivers, I couldn't help but to feel sympathetic.

With that in mind, I took a deep breath, told him all would be fine and was sorry that I hadn't answered my phone, and ordered him to drink a beer and relax. My friend informed me that Amelia stirred and whined a few times during the night, but all she had to do was roll over and rub her tummy (yes, my friend is a co-sleeper too, how convenient for Amelia!) and she was passed out again. They played in the pool during the day, and I was one happy mama to see my little girl in the evening. Clearly Amelia wasn't too miserable while I was gone though:

This is great news because I will be gone again later this week to go to a concert. This time Daddy will be in charge overnight so that should be an interesting adventure for him. Everyone cross your fingers that Miss Amelia sleeps in her crib all night!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seperation Anxiety

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. this morning.


Not because Amelia woke me up. Not because the dog had to go out. Not because some moron was squealing his tires outside of our house.

Because I'm leaving her. All night. Tonight. For the first time ever in 19.5 months.

Part of me is a bit excited. Part of is nervous. The other 75% wants to vomit all over the place.

It's hard to pinpoint my anxiety over this event. I've lined up her care, the friend she is staying with knows her inside and out and has a lot of the same caregiving philosophies that I do, and she is getting daddy time all day today. I've arranged for someone to let our dog out while Jon is at work, repeated to him five hundred times to bring enough diapers to my friend's house and to text me if he has questions.

And still. I can't sleep.

What is it about being away from our babies overnight for the first time? I told my husband yesterday evening that I know part of it is that I know how my brain works versus his. I am the manager of our household. I work from home, I care for the animals, I am the primary parent the majority of the time. Every whine that escapes our toddler's mouth has a purpose, and I know what she needs 99.5% (or more) of the time.  I can calculate in a split second when the last time she ate was, if she wants water, or if it's about time for a diaper change. If an impending molar is the culprit, I know. If she could have used an extra hour of sleep the night before, I'm aware of how that will impact her naptime within a half hour.

With all that said, I know that my husband and my friend will know what Amelia needs. It will just take maybe a few minutes more than it would take me. So, it's totally fine. She will enjoy her daddy time, her slumber party, and her playtime with her toddler friend tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I will be driving with the car radio blasting, eating meals without cutting food up into teeny tiny pieces and wiping strawberry juice off a toddler chin, and enjoying a bed ALL TO MYSELF without having to tend to middle of the night cries or being jabbed in the ribs.

Whether I actually can sleep in that bed is another matter.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Little Dinosaur

It's been over a week since I've posted last. I've been trying to formulate a cohesive theme this morning for a posting, and really, it's been a bit of a struggle. I'm frantically wrapping up a school year at the virtual school I work for, Jon has his new police job, and life just feels like a big blur. I had hoped that this weekend would be a time to relax, but instead it's been no different than the work week-- stress filled and hectic.

Rather than go on and on about how overwhelmed I'm feeling, I will share a humorous story about my sweet little peanut. She is going through the toddler phase of pretending to be various animals. Her favorite to be is a dinosaur. All I have to say is "Amelia, what does a dinosaur say?" To this, she replies "ROAR!!!!" It. Is. Hysterical. After we went to lunch Thursday with her papa for his birthday, we went shopping. She barked like a dog all through the store, and then when we got to the check out, the cashiers tried to talk to her, but she suddenly became bashful. In an attempt to get her to come out of her shell, I asked her to talk like a dinosaur, and she let out her characteristic loud roar. The check-out employees got a huge laugh out of it, and Amelia grinned proudly.

My daughter is so into these prehistoric creatures that it would appear that she is even dreaming of them. Yesterday we went for a walk before the heat of the day hit. I thought she has snoozing in her stroller, but suddenly I heard a sweet, softly spoken "Roar!" I laughed a bit, stopped the stroller, and peaked around the side to smile at my munchkin... she was out cold!

Oh, my silly little girl. She makes me smile when I get too busy to remember that life should be all about laughter and dinosaur sounds.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Shortest Week Ever

I've been meaning to write this post all week. Where in the world did the last week of May go? I think that last weekend was probably the shortest 'long' weekend ever and this short work week went by in the blink of an eye.

Last weekend we were busy, busy, busy! We went to my friend's wedding. Isn't she beautiful? It's maybe the first wedding I've ever gotten misty eyed at:
Amelia was pretty good during the ceremony and really enjoyed the bubbles that were used to greet the newly wed couple:
We attended the reception, which I was concerned might be a tad tricky, considering that our babysitter for the evening had to cancel. Ever the creative mom, I changed into workout gear, put Amelia in the jogging stroller, and we took the dog for a walk between the ceremony and reception. Worked like a charm! Amelia took a good 30-40 minute snooze and we were at the reception from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. My little party girl never cried or whined once!
I had no plans for Sunday except to clean the house for the birthday party we were hosting for my husband and father on Memorial Day. I did go to church to help my cousin with Mr. Max while she taught Sunday school. I had baby cuddles all to myself for over an hour, which was good because I had little opportunity to steal him away from his grandmothers during the party the next day.
Tuesday brought a short work week and the opportunity to babysit Miss Bela, pictured below with Amelia. Isn't she adorable??? I have a lot of cute little ones in my life! She is the daughter of the lovely married couple above, and her mom, Anna, watches Amelia all the time. For work meetings, appointments, dates, she is always there for us and loves Amelia like she is her own daughter. Therefore, I insisted that she let me watch Bela for the evening so her and her new husband could have a date night. We had a lot of fun, as evidenced by the cheesy grins you see.
Then Wednesday we picked up our first bag of CSA veggies. I was happy to see that our local farmer's market has expanded this year. Amelia and I didn't have time to stroll around because I was late to meet a friend for dinner; however, I couldn't resist waiting in line for fresh strawberries from a local farm. This was our CSA bag before I unloaded it:
Below is after! (the berries weren't included but they were so beautiful that I couldn't resist putting them in the picture):
 We paid our entire CSA payment in the spring, but if you divide it up, each week of vegetables cost $16. For that price, we got a head of lettuce, spinach, green onions, radishes, bok choy, asparagus, snap peas, broccoli and a cucumber! It's all organic and so fresh that it still had dirt from the fields on it. Last night to celebrate my husband's first day of his new job, I made a pasta dish that included broccoli, spinach, green onions, and asparagus. My husband noted that it's the first time he's ever had spinach that actually tastes like spinach! I can't wait to see what's in our bag next week :)

To end for today, I couldn't resist an adorable naptime pic of my little peanut. She is still doing terrific in her crib. It's been 2.5 weeks since we've been laying her down there for naps and bedtime, and she's been sleeping all night for about the past week. Last night was a bit rough when she woke up at 4 a.m. screaming and crying, but I'm pretty sure the next molar is working it's way through. Who can sleep peacefully when you have a sharp object pushing through your gums anyways? Here's hoping she will sleep well tonight because I sure could use the extra rest!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Patience Is A Virtue

I'd like to start off by saying that today I'm writing my 100th blog post! Yay! It's hard to believe that I've been writing on this blog for almost a whole year. I recall beginning last June, unemployed, depressed, and with little outlet for my complex feelings about motherhood and my life. I began blogging and it opened up a new world for me. There are times when things get hectic and I briefly ponder how long I will be able to keep up with it, but then something happens that inspires me and I run to my computer to write. It's also inspired me to write for other sites, like Random Blogette and Curvy Girl. This has not only brought new traffic to my blog but also has led to me finding some awesome writers that I'll be privileged to meet in person in a couple weeks at the Ohio Michigan Blogger Meet Up.

Onward with my topic today, which is patience. We've had a lot of wonderful things happen to us recently that have required quite a bit of waiting and praying. The first has been my husband's new job at a local police department. Jon has gone through years of military experience, schooling, and interviews to be able to begin his career in law enforcement. He has had many times where he has questioned whether it is worth it. He's made it to several second interviews only to be turned down. Jon turned his application into the particular department that has hired him two days after I had Amelia. That means he has waited 1.5 years for an answer from them. Through all that disappointment and hard work he has forged ahead and it has paid off. I am so proud of him.
Our family at Jon's swearing in ceremony
The other event that has required much patience is Amelia's sleeping arrangements. I have mentioned before that Amelia has never really been a 'good sleeper'. She seems to need less sleep than many other toddlers her age and sleeping through the night has taken a good deal of time. Frankly, I'm a little hesitant to discuss this here because I feel like I could be jinxing ourselves!

We have co-slept much of the time over the past year and a half with Jon sleeping on the couch (spare me your 'destroying your marriage' speech... it hasn't) due to Amelia's need for comfort nursing during the first year and snuggles since she has been weaned. Although it has been recommended to me upon several occasions that she needs to cry it out, due to my own personal feelings and beliefs, we have not gone down that road. That has required a lot standing my ground when speaking to others, many intense parenting discussions with Jon, and a lot of prayer and patience on my part. In the end, I've felt that Amelia has required a lot of response at night and that she would sleep on her own when she was ready.

Another piece of the sleep puzzle has been that our bedroom is downstairs while Amelia's room is upstairs. Therefore, when she wakes at night, we have to go through our dining room and living room, up the stairs, down the hall, and then into her room. NOT FUN. To salvage as much sleep as possible, it has simply been better for her to be in our bedroom. Recently, Jon suggested that we bring her crib downstairs and place it by our bed as he saw the signs that she could be ready for it (i.e., sleeping without being held and not waking much during the night). I felt that was a reasonable compromise and so, a week ago today we put her crib in our room.

Amelia has been up and down with how long she will sleep in her crib, but I would say that overall, this is a great arrangement for us and she is getting used to it rather quickly. Over the past week she has slept there for all her naps, and has slept at night anywhere from three to seven hours at night before she wakes up whining or crying. At that point, I scoop her up and we both sleep soundly until 7 a.m.

Last night was a particularly monumental occasion in terms of her sleep. We ate dinner somewhat late and were cleaning up the table and kitchen. Amelia looked at a couple books, then crawled under the dining room table and said "Night, night" while laying down. Jon and I looked at each other with disbelief. Jon shrugged and said "Worth a shot!", scooped her up, laid her down in her crib, sang a little song to her, and said "Goodnight!" while shutting the bedroom door. We could hear her babbling away in her crib, and I said "How long do you think she'll stay in there before she starts crying?" Jon responded "Five minutes." We continued picking up from our meal with our ears alert.

Alas, Amelia fell asleep on her own with no tears. Even more impressive? She lasted the whole night in her crib! I woke up at 5:30 a.m., made coffee and started up my computer and she woke up at 6 a.m. ready to start the day. Jon and I made a big deal out of it and I gave her lots of cuddles while she drank her morning milk.

I have to admit that patience is not always my strength. While I think I handle most of Amelia's bad days fairly well and have survived the past year and a half with very little sleep or broken sleep many nights, I can't say that it's always been a piece of cake. I do have to say though that being patient has definitely paid off. Going through this has taught me yet another life lesson on the value of being patient and sticking with what you believe in regardless of what would be easier or what others say to try to convince you otherwise.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fun on the Farm

Saturday morning my family had the opportunity to see the farm where many of our vegetables will be grown this summer. We have joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) through Riehm Farms and will be picking up our 'share' of vegetables weekly at a local farmer's market. I'm really excited that most of the produce that we consume during the next 4.5 months will be grown nearby and pesticide free. I first learned about CSA's through books like The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball and thought it was an incredible concept. It's great to know that my dollars will go directly to a local family business, my food will be chemical free, and I will be helping the environment because less of my food will need to be shipped across the country or even from other countries. Of course, we also get the additional benefit of our food tasting better because it will be fresh.

The first thing we were able to do was look around the farm a bit. We walked through the greenhouses and were able to feed some of their animals. I think that this is a great opportunity for Amelia to learn early where the food that she eats comes from (or SHOULD come from), and she was enthralled by all the fun stuff to look at and experience:

We were even able to select our own farm fresh eggs for breakfast, which were mixed with broccoli, onions, and asparagus grown right in the soil we were standing on, and served with potatoes. After that, Amelia had her picture taken (several times) on the farm's tractor and we went on a hayride:

I was really surprised that Amelia enjoyed the hayride so much because she has a fear of most things that are noisy-- motorcycles, farm equipment, sometimes even our dog barking-- but the ride was so bouncy that she kept saying WEEE!!!! WEEEEE!!!!! At least until she got too hot and tired, and then a little whining started up. Luckily, we were about done with our tour at that point and were able to hit the road before she got too cranky.

The farm has two more events for CSA members in July and September, so you can look forward to more farm inspired toddler cuteness then :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Busy Bee

I have felt so crazy busy lately! I am easing into the role of high school counselor at the online school that I work for, but while doing that I'm still doing the data entry that I've been doing all school year. Add to that a toddler, exercise classes, a house to clean, my friend's upcoming wedding, various appointments, and the newest bundle of joy in our family, and you've got one hectic mama.
Mikey was a big helper during one of my conference calls this week.

Somehow I managed to squeeze in making it to the picture appointment that my mom had set up for Amelia. Here she is trying to rearrange the seats at the studio in order to make them a proper toddler jungle gym:

 See the intense look she makes when trying to accomplish something? Cracks me up every time.

I was also able to go help my cousin with Mr. Max a couple days this week and it was, of course, terrific. I love his baby cuddles and his round head covered in peach fuzz. I could just eat him up!

Amelia was my little helper and was generally very good. She had a bit of a rough time the second day, but right before we left the house, I discovered why-- her first molar has finally popped through. Well, most of it. There is still a bit of gum tissue that it needs to push through and it seems to be causing her a fair amount of pain. Generally she has no problems when teething except for a bit of difficulty sleeping or a little whining, but she had so much discomfort Tuesday night that we had to give her a dose of Motrin and a popsicle before bed. It did not, however, prevent her from practicing her chess moves while we were helping with the baby, which I think thoroughly pleased my husband since he is a big fan of chess.

My favorite, the 'cheese!' look :)
And that pretty much concludes my week! So glad tomorrow is Friday. I'm looking forward to trying out my new kayak Saturday afternoon and celebrating my friend's upcoming wedding at her bachelorette party that evening. Good times! :)