"Which of my all important nothings should I tell you first?" ~ Jane Austen, in a letter to her sister

Friday, April 29, 2011

9

At 1:47 AM this morning, 9 years ago, this happened:


(Read the story of how that birth happened here). 

And, just like that, we were a family: 


Then we took him home and started the arduous task of raising him. It was tough, at first, with amazing highs and lows. The boy was dubbed "failure to thrive" after losing some weight and then he started refusing to nurse. We found out that I wasn't producing enough milk for him. I started pumping and pumping and pumping. And then I pumped some more. I was a dismal failure at it. The max I ever pumped in ONE DAY was 2.5 ounces. So, as if that challenge wasn't enough, the kid wouldn't sleep at night. I spent all day pumping and trying to feed him in-between his naps and then when the hubby got home from work I would try to sleep for a few hours and then, like clockwork, the boy was wide awake from midnight until 8 am. It took a month for us to start paring that down and, hour by hour, I was able to get him to go to sleep earlier. But, man, for awhile I felt like the walking dead.

Once we got over these speed bumps we were able to really just enjoy him. He was so sweet and we enjoyed him so much. He loved being swaddled very tightly. We called him our burrito baby. He was happy and snuggly and he looked like a little man. 

Here's a pictorial from his younger years:

8 weeks old. He can thank me for this later.
My little man
Look what's growing!
First trip to Disneyland
Kickin' it baby-style
And then, before we knew it (or had even considered it) he was a big brother:
He seemed to grow up so fast after that point. He just became a big boy in the flash of an instant:
Halloween when he was 4
5th birthday

Going to school!
And now, so handsome, so smart and clever. He's become so independent. He gets up in the morning and starts getting ready for school. He runs to the bus stop by himself. He gets his own band-aids. He does his chores and yells at his brother and brushes his teeth and combs his hair and reads. He started reading the first Harry Potter book this year. Oh my.


Look what I made. I am one proud mama today. (And most days, to be honest).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cleaning out my closet (it's a metaphor, people)

Cleaning out my closet. Metaphorically and literally. 

But first the literal.

As previously mentioned here, my bedroom was a freakin' disaster. We don't have enough closet or dresser space to hold all my clothes so, before the bedroom re-do, they would be folded (usually) and piled. In places. Like on any level surface.

I didn't accumulate all this on purpose. I didn't go out of my way to have all these clothes with no home. 

It's my weight, you see. I have gained and lost the same 30-40(ish) lbs twice in the last 5 years. That's a deviation of about 3 clothing sizes.

Also, I shop when I'm depressed. When I'm at the higher end of my weight circuit (like right now, dammit) then shopping is depressing too, but at least I think new clothes will look better/camouflage me better than my old clothes. It's a vicious cycle. 

So when we decided to do this bedroom makeover I knew I would have to do something with all my clothes. They needed to be seriously evaluated and a good chunk discarded.I'm mostly done with that. I have a huge black heavy-duty contractor bag full of clothes I'm going to donate. Some of them are very nice clothes and I was loathe to part with them but I need to be realistic, you know? I also have a storage box for stuff I absolutely want to keep. For when I'm thinner. The stuff I liked the most and couldn't part with.

The only thing still pending is a pile of dress pants & jeans. Pants really are the absolute worst for me. I can fit my mammoth boobages into most tops because, contrary to my weight, my frame is small. (Judging by my frame, I should be really cute, petite and tiny. The last time I was cute, petite and tiny was in 1997 when I was stupid, making bad decisions and incredibly unhealthy. But, hey, I looked FABULOUS!)

Back to pants. I hate them. I have short, fat legs. Always have had. Even when I was cute, petite and tiny. And I have a booty. Like for reals. I'm not talking about the "Baby Got Back" kind of booty (by the way, I have to tell all the big girls, like me, out there that Sir Mix-A-Lot is not talking about us. He's talking about J-Lo. He's talking about that Kardashian chick. Not the big mamas. Got it? I mean, I like the song too but it's not our theme song. Anyway I would prefer a theme song not relevant to my weight and personal appearance - like "I Will Survive" or "R.E.S.P.E.C.T." Just my opinion. Moving on.) Back to my booty. I've got one, it's not small and I hate pants.

So how many sizes of pants do you keep? I mean, when you really find a pair that fits and then grow out of them with the full intention of getting back in them then you should keep them right? But for how long??  (I LIKE run-on sentences. Deal.)

Well, I've kept a ton. I told the hubby last night if I could just lose 30 lbs again I would have so many more clothing options. I just need to have the will to lose that weight. I keep waiting for divine intervention on this one but I think I'm going to have to find the motivation on my own. I'm working on it. 

The thing is - I need to lose weight for my health, but I don't want to be depressed about it. That's not healthy either, you know? And having all those clothes in smaller sizes is just taunting me. It's not really motivating me - just making me sad. 

So I am metaphorically cleaning out my closet as well. I'm pushing those memories of the slimmer me out of my mind in order to accept who I am today. I'm not going to lie and say that I love the way I look. I don't. I hate it. But I need to accept that this is who I am right now. I will work on losing weight in my way and in my time and I can't be pushed on it. 

I can't have my weight struggle holding my happiness hostage. I do not want my weight consuming every minute of my life.

So, certain pants are being kept and tucked away for later days. I'll get back into them in the fullness of time. The other stuff I'm donating. Let someone else who is either on a weight upswing or downswing get the benefit of them. 

Attitude adjustment complete. This is who I am. Love me or don't. 


Note: I have some pics to add but they aren't with me. I'll try to add them to this blog later. No guarantees though because I'm picking up my momma in 4 hours and I have a little boy turning 9 tomorrow. :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Last week in Instragram & this week in sheer panic

Okay, before we get to an Instagram review of the week and a recap of our wild ride on Easter, let me just tell you about this coming week. 

My momma is coming on Thursday evening. Momma & stepdad, actually. So I have guests coming in 3 1/2 days.

Something you may or may not know about me - I'm a 90%er. I like to do jobs/projects until they are mostly done and then I lose steam and it takes me FOREVER to finish them. This is a problem for me this week because over the last two weekends we have been working on our bedroom re-do. The room itself is done. (Well, mostly. I need to pick up a bench, some storage options like a bookcase, and a couple of small, tall side tables - but it's mostly done. The furniture will wait a bit.) 

The problem is we put all that junk that was cluttering up our bedroom into my office. My office that also doubles as our guest room. Do you see where I am going with this?

I have 3 1/2 days to now make the guest room presentable. But I don't wanna. Because I'm a 90%er and I'm done with my bedroom project. Whine.

So - that's my week. Clean, clean, organize, organize. Then my parents are coming and it will be my son's birthday on Friday. I'm feeling the PRESSURE. I'm feeling a little panicky about it. Maybe that adrenaline will help me get it done. Fingers-crossed.

Okay, now that I've got THAT out of the way we've got some loverly pictures:

The beginning of the week was rough at work. Drastic measures were necessary:

Sangria
Then we did homework. This is my Autistic guy. When I see him doing so-called "normal" things really well I can't tell you how much my heart expands. The hubby's too. See his face? Proud dad.


Speaking of the Autism thing - my little guy has been afraid of dogs for about 3 1/2 years. That's about 1 1/2 years after we got our Labradoodle, Murphy. Murphy was a very active pup. And big. With gigantic paws. Bubba got scared and from then on Murphy had a weird half-life - all day outside and all night inside in his crate. Lately as my little bubba has gotten older we've been seeing improvements. He's not as scared as he was. It probably helps that he's taller than Murphy now. 

We started "Project: Integrate Murphy" last week. Starting with a bath and a haircut:



It's going pretty well. Murphy does have a tendency to eat paper though. He gnawed on the hubby's hard-bound Hitchhiker's Guide though and that was a big, fat no-no. He needs to work on his manners a bit before he's given carte blanche access to the whole house.

Friday the boys went to Hobby Lobby with me. I have started a love affair with that place. Largely because of the bedroom re-do. And partially because all the wall decor was 50% off. Yikes. 

Anyway, to reward them, and me, for their good behavior at the store I took them to U-Swirl for yogurt where I snapped one of the cutest pictures ever of these two boys together:
Brothers
I just died. 

Look how sweet they are? So, so misleading.

Saturday I busted ass to try to get my bedroom done. It's done-ish. Here's a preview of a later, date TBD, blog post about the room re-do:

Hobby Lobby purchase. Yep. Infatuation all the way.
We also dyed eggs on Saturday. I'm not artsy-fartsy with them. More of a traditionalist, I think. They are what they are:


Which brings us to Easter. We went to the in-law's house. They have 4 acres on which sits the old farmhouse, a guest house (currently inhabited by a visiting aunt & uncle), a big barn-like structure (for holding the RV, junk and cars. and more junk), old outhouses, an old pump house, old chicken coops, a playhouse, a wood pile, about 8 old undriveable cars, an olive grove, picnic tables, and, finally, a beaten earth track that will eventually have actual train tracks on it for my father in law's ride-on train. 

It's a fun place for 13 grandkids (11 of them boys) to play.

But before the playing we had the egg hunting:


And egg-inspecting at the playhouse:


And Papa took some of the littlest kids for a ride on the track in the golf cart:

Those are the 2 girlies. Twinsies too.

Then we had some boy cousin playing on the wood pile:

Old fallen trees are really the best places to play.
The hubby and I borrowed the keys to the golf cart and drove out to the back olive grove. We may have smooched a little. I can neither confirm nor deny, but this guy certainly thinks he's pretty clever:


Note: I cannot tell you how fun this was. I just can't. I don't have the words. It was like a ride at Disneyland except without all the safety restraints and perfectly imagined scenery. The hubby drove with swagger. Then he let let me drive and I was a tad more cautious. I want to do it again. 

On our way back we saw this band of pirates getting ready to attack:

That's my baby in the middle. With his stick sword.
And then we were caught:

My baby lost interest at some point during the charge and went the other way.
And during all this crazy driving and pirate attacks what were the little girls doing? 

Contemplating the crazy boys, of course. Just like women have been doing for centuries:

"Hmm, why would they get on the roof just to fall on their heads? Doesn't seem logical."
Happy Easter, Peeps.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A first birth story

Next Friday, April 29, will be 9 years since I gave birth for the first time. Most people would say that’s the moment I became a mom, but I felt like a mom from the instant I knew he was in my body. Even when the early tests came back negative I *knew* he was there. And I was right – he was. And he was precious and he changed my life. 

When I think back to my pregnancy, birth and the first few months of his life I’m filled with a mix of pride & happiness and shame, guilt & regret. 

Shame, guilt & regret? Yep. I could have done it better. I'm ashamed of myself for not knowing more or being more pro-active about knowing more. I hope I didn't screw him up too much. I would do things differently now than I did then. I should be clear - I didn’t actually do anything to hurt him (at least I hope not). But we struggled. Before, during, and after his birth there were difficulties. I didn’t know how to do it better. 

Before his birth I had borderline preeclampsia. I retained so much water those last few weeks I could probably float. I gained 40 lbs and the last 15 were all water weight in the last 2 weeks. I was on bed rest for 3 weeks.

During his birth I was unaware of the process; I was scared and exhausted. I didn’t know or understand what to ask for, or even that I could ask for more than what was being provided to me.

After his birth I was sleep deprived and emotionally drained and scared and inhibited and I didn’t know how to make it better.

I just need to remember this: When I knew better I did better.

When I knew better I did better. When I knew better I did better.

When he was born I was 26. I knew what a typical 26 year old knows about birth & babies. I took the birthing classes. I read books like What to Expect When You're Expecting. I joined an online message board for moms that were due in April 2002. Some of the moms were first-timers, like me, and some were more experienced. I put together a birth plan based on what I had read. I wanted to incorporate different birthing methods and positions in my labor that would ease my pain and help with the delivery. I was open to having an Epidural if the pain got intolerable because I had heard how horrible the pain was and I was scared. I felt as prepared as I could be for something that was still largely an unknown thing.

On Sunday, April 28, my due date, I woke at 7:30 am when I felt a trickle of liquid. I flipped myself 180 degrees out of bed to a standing position (in an insane desire to prevent the bed from getting wet) and my water gushed out all over the floor. (Sorry if that's TMI for you. If it is, then maybe you shouldn't read this post. Consider yourself warned). I woke my husband, called my OB's office and posted to my message board that it was my turn.

It was a couple hours before we headed to the hospital. I wasn't feeling the contractions yet so everything was calm. We got all checked in to L&D at the hospital and began walking the track to try to get things moving. We walked and we walked and we walked some more. 

After about 3 hours of this, and for reasons I can’t remember, they wanted to hook me up to a monitor. I should note that it’s around this time when my memory gets a little fuzzy. I don’t know why, but from about 1 pm to 9 pm I only have vague images or snippets in my mind of things that happened. I’m really, really hazy on a complete narrative of the day. Was it the pain? I don’t know. The Pitocin? The eventual Epidural? I just don’t know.

These are things I know happened:
  • I couldn’t walk around anymore because I had to be in bed due to the monitor.
  • I got an IV and, at some point, Pitocin, because I wasn’t progressing.
  • As some point the baby’s oxygen levels dropped so they put an oxygen mask on me.
  • I had the most horrible heartburn all day and, thankfully, they were able to give me Tums for some temporary relief.
  • I threw up several times. Probably throwing up the Tums since I hadn't had anything else. 
  • The on-call OB came to check on me and, when she noticed I was in pain she asked why I hadn’t asked for an Epidural? Well, because I didn’t know it was time to ask for an epidural. The contractions and level of pain had increased so gradually that it wasn’t obvious to me that I should be asking for an Epidural. I don’t know how else to explain that.
  • I had the shakes really bad before I got the Epidural. I think those calmed down after. At least I don’t remember them after. 
The next part of the process that I remember clearly was when I was starting to feel the pain from the contractions again. They were going to give me another dose of the Epidural but they realized then that I was at 10 and started preparing for me to deliver instead. Since they wanted me to feel the contractions (so I would know when to push) I didn't get more Epidural. 

I pushed for the next 3 hours. From 9 pm to 12 am. Pushed for about 30 seconds and then rested for 30 seconds. Rinse and repeat. For 3 hours. I threw up a few more times. The baby was crowning but that was it. That kid was not budging. 

I have to say, my L&D nurses were fantastic. There were 3 of them there with me. One down between my legs who seemed to be running the show (you know, other than ME). She was particularly nurturing and encouraging and I wish I could remember her name. There was another one up by my head who kept helping me sit up, rubbing my back, encouraging me, wiping my brow, etc. There was another nurse floating around supporting those two. 

My husband was on the other side of me and he was incredibly encouraging and supportive. I don't think I cursed at him even once.

3 hours. Pushing non-stop. No progress. I became incredibly worn out. 

They decided to let me rest and asked the OB to come check on me. She had been delivering another baby so I hadn’t seen her much. When she came and examined me she gave me less than a 10% chance of delivering naturally and recommended a c-section.

I was exhausted. I just wanted him to be born already. Please, please, just make it be done and put him in my arms already. 

I consulted with my mom and my husband. They were worried about me. They were worried about the baby. It was so easy to just trust the doctor and say, “ok.” 

I don’t want to regret the decisions I made then but I can’t help but think that I should have questioned that decision more. I should have asked if they knew WHY he was stuck and wasn’t there anything else that could be done? Was he in jeopardy or should we wait it out a bit more? I didn’t know enough to ask the right questions. And did I mention I was exhausted? We were 16 hours in since my water had broken and I think about 11 hours in from when the contractions had become painful.

I got more Epidural. Around 1 am April 29, 2002 I was wheeled into surgery. At 1:47 am this happened:

I had a perfect, beautiful baby boy. He was gorgeous. I cried and told him he was beautiful for the brief second they held him next to my head. I was happily exhausted and relieved. He looked just like a miniature man.

Then they took him away from me so they could sew me up. My husband left me too and I felt tired and alone and a little disconnected to what was happening around me. 

My husband washed him and fed him a bottle – because they needed to feed him, apparently, and I was in recovery and I couldn't breastfeed him yet, they said. I don’t know. I was annoyed they gave him a bottle, for sure, but I didn't have it in me to throw a hissy fit after the fact.

I was wheeled back to my room and had uncontrollable shakes for a long time. They kept piling warm blankets on me. Finally they brought my little angel in and I was able to breastfeed him for the first time. He latched on great and drank like a champ.

They told me later he was facing the wrong way in the birth canal and that’s why he had gotten stuck. He was “sunnyside up.” Even now, years later, I wonder how they didn’t know that? Or check for that? Couldn’t they have turned him over? 

So that’s my first birth story. That early morning as I was recovering from the surgery and he was laying in my arms I felt the most vulnerable I have ever felt in my life. I wanted to put him back IN. At least when he was inside of me he was safe. Outside of me anything could happen to him. That’s when I truly understood what people mean when they say it’s like your heart is beating outside of your body. 

The first few months were really hard – breastfeeding/milk supply issues, sleeping issues, etc. But I’ll save that for part 2. 

Here he is, almost 9 years later:


Thanks for reading. :) 

Monday, April 18, 2011

3 words: Chocolate Mug Cake

Warning: this post is for chocoholics. If you are not a chocoholic then you may want to go on your merry way until I get around to my next post about something that isn't about chocolate. It might be a while. 

A few weeks ago my husband sent me a link to a cake recipe he wanted me to make. This is unusual because, generally speaking, he doesn't like me to bake. I mean, he likes baked goods as much as you and I (well, maybe not as much as me) but he's trying to lose weight. I, on the other hand, am watching my weight . . . watching it stay the same. 

Moving on.

So this past Friday night the boys were asleep (or in bed, at least) and the hubby went outside to smoke a cigar (deplorable habit) and I wanted a little something. Just something dessert-like. With chocolate, of course. It's not a dessert unless it's made with chocolate. 

Then I remembered the mug cake recipe! Excellent idea. I tracked down the recipe in my email inbox and quickly skimmed the ingredients list. 

Whoa, what's self-rising flour? Seriously, I have to buy a special flour? 

Time to do some Googling.

I was happy to find out that it's super easy to make self-rising flour. Essentially for each cup of all-purpose flour you just need to add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix. Easy-peasy lemon squeezey. I made a cup of it and stored it in my pantry for future mug cakes.

I didn't have Nutella (or Justin's Nut Butter which, according to my friend Joni, is even better than Nutella and possibly better for you) so I ran to the store. At 10:30 at night in my comfy clothes. (Needless to say, Must.Have.Chocolate prevailed). No Justin's Nut Butter in my local Albertson's so I picked up the Nutella and whipped cream. Normally I make whipped cream from scratch but I was trying to make things simple and quick so I got a can. 

10 minutes later I was sitting on my sofa, turning on House Hunters International and eating chocolate cake out of a mug. 

I was, in fact, eating this very thing: 

Here's the full recipe & instructions:

Nutella Mug Cake

4 tablespoons self rising flour
4 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Nutella (or Justin's Nut Butter)
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil (vegetable or canola preferably)

1. Combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug (the large part is important if you want to keep your microwave clean). Whisk well with a fork until smooth. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 – 3 minutes. Time depends on microwave wattage. Mine took 1 minute, 40 seconds. If you cook it too long it will be dry. The top should look kind of wet but if you stick a toothpick in (or a finger, like me) then it should be cake-like inside. 

Like this:
See where I stuck my finger in?
2. Toppings. I topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup & a sprinkle of cinnamon. I have a suspicion that warm, soft caramel drizzled on top of the cake and then topped with whipped cream would be freakin' fantastic.

The recipe makes 1 very large serving. This is a perfect shared dessert with your honey if you are feeling all romantical. (If your honey is being a butthead then DO NOT SHARE. This is serious stuff, man). I luuuurve chocolate but I could only eat about half and then put the rest in the fridge for the hubby the next day (yes, the next day. Due to the previous butthead instruction). So on Saturday morning I told him what I made and he bee-lined for the fridge. He ate half of it cold but I think it was even better after I warmed it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.

It doesn't have a real Nutella flavor that I could detect. I wonder if playing with the amount of Nutella, or changing when the Nutella is added (like after it's all mixed up, or mid-cooking process) would provide more of that hazelnut flavor. Hmmm, if you try any variations please let me know. 

Enjoy!

(I should note that neither Nutella, Justin's Nut Butter or Albertson's knows me and I'm not endorsing any particular product or business. Except for chocolate. We are intimate friends).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flashback Friday

 
Engagement picture, circa 1999. Look at his long hair. Not to mention the lack of facial hair! Oh my. 

10 years later.

How come I think he looks better now but I think I looked better then?  So.Not.Fair.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Glasses & why I can't win

This is a complaint. Quick, with pictures and a request for YOUR opinion. You tell me if I should be annoyed or not. Because, I gotta be honest, I'm feeling a little annoyed. 

Today I went to the eye doctor. I picked out new glasses and I sent a pic of them to, uh, let's just say "someone close to me who has opinions. Lots of them."

These are the new glasses I picked out:


Awesome, right? I wanted a heavier frame and something a little funky on the sides. My last heavier frame was a little boring. I wanted something dramatic. I'm excited for them. 

BUT - I'm getting ahead of myself. First, some history. 

I had some heavier frames a couple years ago. I liked the heavier (by that I mean thicker, more pronounced. Not heavier in actual lbs) look but I didn't love the glasses. However, that someone close to me loved them. Thought they looked great. Here they are:

That cutie pie is my grand-niece.

When it was time to get new glasses I opted for a lighter pair. Only a half frame so that the glasses "disappeared a little" in my face and weren't so pronounced. Someone close to me thought I should stick with the heavier frame but I opted not to. 

These are the glasses I went with:

New glasses. Gigantic forehead.
I regretted it pretty quickly. I wished I had kept a heavier frame. These weren't funky enough. 

So that brings us back to today. I picked out that pair at the top, sent a picture off to someone close to me, and then proceeded to order the frames. I was just getting ready to pay for them when I received this text message:
I don't think your glasses should steal attention from your face. Everyday glasses should be somewhat neutral.
Um, for reals? I'm buying these right now and I get an objection? Via text?

So I went ahead and bought them. Tell me. What do you think? Would you have gone with the heavier glasses? And should I be annoyed at the last minute veto?

I think glasses are fun and funky and you can change them every stinkin' year so what's wrong with something outside the norm? Plus the new ones I picked out go well with my new, shorter 'do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Not quite wordless Wednesday

So, I mentioned in my previous post that I was having all kinds of fun with my new iPhone and the Instagram app. I've taken a few good pictures, a few scary pictures, and a few awww moment pictures. Now I'm going to share them with you.

Lucky, lucky you.

First, a mommy and bubba moment. Me, in my orange Life is Good slippers and my little guy,"Mom, take a picture of our feet!" Okay, buddy:


There are those little feet again, at the river this time. The water level was raised over the weekend and we went to check it out:

Climbing on fallen trees is important business, yo.
So is skipping rocks.
I went to a Tastefully Simple party in a small town called Star. Rest assured, it's not as shiny as it sounds. The Merc in town (short for mercantile, you see) sells food, automative and hunting supplies. What more could you need?
  
That's an awww husband & wife moment, isn't it?
After the party I enjoyed the scenery on the way back to my town, the "big city" in these here parts:


Back at home I set about re-purposing a room to accommodate some growing-up boys and their computer gaming homework needs:
Half way through. Tortoise Bob is happy to be in the sun.
After
I went on a date with my husband to a winery where we had good food and listened to a great singer. I had a hard time seeing the singer through this glass though:

(I love this picture so much I want to marry it. Or something.)

I watched my husband put together his new fancy-dancy turntable (thanks in-laws!):



I made cookies. Yum:
Dark chocolate and butterscotch. Swoon.

I lamented about my 80's style bathroom. I love my house, but I don't think hate is too heavy of a word for this rose pink & teal dysfunctional cold pit of hell that has missed any refurbishing the rest of the house has received:

Bathtub. Fits 24 1/2 people and takes 5,000 gallons to fill.
(Someone please tell me how to win a bathroom makeover. I'm begging you. There are roses on the tiles for pete's sake.)

Then, to recover from my bathroom mourning, I got my hair did:


So did my husband but he won't let me post the picture of his foil-wrapped, ahem, naturally blond (not gray, oh no) roots. In fact, this isn't a picture of him under the dryer. Nope, not at all:



I hope you enjoyed this journey through Instagram with me. I'll try not to make it too much of a habit but I make no promises. I'm in luuuuurrrvveee with my iPhone. You'll just have to bear with me in this heady, swoony beginning of a relationship infatuation stage.

Yours in iPhone bliss,

Stef

Monday, April 11, 2011

I have a couple things I need to get off my chest

You would think that would be a clever euphemism for reduction of my boobages but, no, I'm not talking about those things. Those are still somewhat valuable (though not nearly as useful as they used to be - but that's another post for another day).

Last week I found myself upset. It's to do with this whole blogging thing. So I stepped away from it for a few days to get perspective. It helped, and I'll tell you why shortly. Bear with me - I need to tell this in order or ya'll want to strangle me by the end. 

(By the way, the "ya'll" is Joni's fault entirely. Or my Okie ancestry. One of the two.)

Okay, so if you've been here before you know that I started blogging just a few months ago and I'm kinda haphazard about when I do it and what I post. That's just me and the way I am. It has to fit into my life; I'm not going to make my life fit around it. 

Early last week I had some time to really start poking around other blogs and see what other mom bloggers were doing. I started following some of them on Twitter and going to their blogs and all that. What you may or may not know is there are amateur mom bloggers (ahem, me) and then there are professional mom bloggers (like the gold standard, The Pioneer Woman). Let me tell you, some of those ladies are hardcore. They get paid for what they do and they compete and, to the crux of the story, they can be extremely catty. I'm not referring to the Pioneer Woman here; I think she has a "rise above it" attitude even though there is a hate site out there about her too.

Apparently there was some issue last week and Twitter was, forgive me, all "atwitter" about it. I kept seeing these cryptic posts about being mean and making fun of someone and how it was hurting the mom blogging community. Then I read this tweet by one of those professional types:
It's just easy to forget that twitter is like a high school cafeteria. Even if you're not at the table you hear what people say about you.
And then I was like, oh, yeah, yuck. 

Caveat: I am in no way, no how, ever going to be on par with those professional bloggers. That's not my intention. Seriously though, who would want that? Who would ever want to feel like they are in high school again? To get criticized and mocked and made to feel worthless. UGH. Also, I KNOW adult woman cattiness. I've experienced it. It's not pretty and it's hurtful. 

So, quite honestly, I was like yeah, I'm just going to cool it for awhile. Not that I was comparing myself to them because I SO wasn't; I just didn't want anything to do with it. It left a bad taste in my mouth if you know what I mean. 

So I hung out with family and friends over the weekend. I went on a date with my husband. I had wine at a friend's house. I cleaned out a room in my house. I baked cookies. I kissed my kids A LOT. (Oh, I also got iPhone 4 so, you know, I was busy. Plants vs. Zombies, Instagram, etc). It was a nice weekend.

Back to work today and I was asked twice why I hadn't updated my blog. It's been like 6 days and apparently I have at least TWO readers who were jonesin' for an update. And that felt good. And that made me think that yeah, that crap happens over THERE, with those other bloggers who are so successful that people make hate sites about them and have whole password-protected forums just to diss on them - but that's like another world from over HERE where I am. (Run-on sentence be damned. I never said I was perfect). 

If I ever get to the point where I have haters then I'll know I'm successful. 'Til then I'm happy. If one person wants to read what I have to say then I.Am.Happy.

So that brings me to the other item I need to get off my chest:

Both of the people who asked me about my blog today are lurkers. One of them literally IM'd me and said, "Can you post something new on your blog so I can stalk it?" 

Well, thanks for coming out of the closet on that but - DUDE - leave a comment, wouldja? 

OY. I THRIVE on comments. And I answer them. So, just do it. You can even tell me anonymously how awesome I am. I won't mind. Honest.

In closing, I just want to say that I love all two of you. Just don't ever make a hate site about me or I'll kick your ass. 

Hasta pasta! Mwah!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What in the H - E - double hockey sticks is wrong with me??

I can't get any freakin' work done! I don't wanna. 

I don't wanna pay the bills.

I don't wanna work on the stinkin' IEP paperwork. Seriously, kill.me.now. 

I don't wanna wash the dishes or fold the laundry.

I don't wanna do my work work. Even when I'm at work. Cuz, you know, I'm kinda over this whole working for living thing. I wanna be home with my babies - see. (Who aren't babies, but they're MY babies so, whatever).

I wanna write. I wanna be creative. I wanna bake stuff. 

I wanna read blogs and play on Twitter all day and marvel at all the awesome women out there. Can't I get paid (an exorbitant amount) to do that? Why not?

It's 8 pm - do you think the kids have noticed they haven't had dinner yet? I don't hear yelling, screaming, or painful starvation moans. In any case, I need to get my freakin' arse off the internets and do something productive. 

SO THERE. 

BYE. 

(I'll be back - don't worry. I knew you were worrried). 

P.S. I CAN say hell. See? Hell. But H - E - double hockey sticks is more fun, don't you agree?

A Love Story

Get a cookie & a coffee and settle in because this got long. 

I warned you here and here that there would be more to come from the phenomenal inspiration I have received from reading Elizabeth Gilbert's follow-up to Eat. Pray, Love called Committed.

There's a part near the beginning of the book when Liz (again, I call her Liz because we're that tight now) is first beginning her journey to understand the institution of marriage. She was in a village in Vietnam and she began speaking to a family of Hmong women about their marriages. She realized quickly there was a disconnect between her Western concept of marriage (for want of love & companionship) versus a more Eastern concept of practical/arranged marriages. As she further ponders this she says:
[the Hmong woman was not] placing her marriage at the center of her emotional biography . . . 
In the modern industrialized Western world . . . the person whom you choose to marry is perhaps the single most vivid representation of your own personality. 
 And this gem:
Your spouse becomes the most gleaming possible mirror through which your emotional individualism is reflected back to the world.
Read that last one two or three times to let it sink in. That is so true. So crazy, unbelievably true.  

As Liz next states, and I fully concur with, Western women cannot wait to share the stories of how they met their husbands. In detail. With pictures, if possible. It's true. Because we (we, because *I* am one of those women) consider choosing our husbands as one of the singularly most important things we will do in our lives. Until we have kids, or a divorce, it may be the SINGLE most important thing we do. We value choosing our partner much more than choosing a profession, a place to live, or a dog. Why? Because those things are fairly changeable and usually lacking in broken hearts and shattered crockery. Husbands & marriages, and divorces, especially, tend to be high in the broken hearts and broken crockery category. 

(I know this from personal experience. My husband still reminds me of his favorite cup that I threw at him and broke about 5 years ago when we were going through the hardest time we've had in our marriage. Yes, I throw things. These days I try to limit it to things that don't break or hurt if they hit their mark. Like pillows. It's who I am. My biological father was a redhead. Fiery. I have bad aim though.)

For these Hmong women their husbands play a role, or position, in their lives but have no bearing on their lives as a WHOLE. Not in the way that we Western women wrap ourselves up in our menfolk and then, later, when things get real or turn sour we have to unwrap ourselves and remember who we are again. For them, it appears that they remain who they are inherently as individuals without needing or even wanting validation as a woman, wife or mother from their husbands. (And vice versa for the husbands as well, it seems. (Bear in mind these are my observations from Liz's observations so there is a fair amount of interpretation happening here)). 

Liz is quick to point out that just because husband/wife roles appear to be be a little less all-encompassing than we expect in the West that doesn't mean that there isn't a notion of romantic love. Romantic love is everywhere and crosses all cultures. In their culture, however, it may not be tied to the actual mechanics and necessities of marriage. Interesting, no? I believe these kinds of "pragmatic marriages" can breed a type of love - especially those long-lasting marriages of many of our grandparents. It's just a different love than love born from passion first.

Love is love. Marriage is marriage. 

But we, the greedy Westerners, we want it all. Wrapped up in a pretty package with a bow on top. We don't really want to work for it. We just want it to appear - perfect and complete the moment we say "I will." 

I think there's a point in marriages - maybe it's the infamous 7 year itch - when they will either break or bond. Some of them may string out past the 7 years due to some efforts from one or both parties to keep things together - but generally the writing is on the wall at some point. 

But in other marriages this may be the point when the partners actually start effectively partnering. They start actually learning to listen, really listen, to each other and learn that marriage and love must be nurtured. A wife must water and fertilize her husband's love and he must absolutely do the same to hers. That can't be done without respect.

I think marriage years can be compared with individual growth in terms of maturity. So: 
  • The first 7ish years of marriage is like being a teenager. Instant gratification, I want what I want and I don't want to compromise. Classic teenager behavior. 
  • The next 7ish years is that really, really important time between being a teenager and fully-fleshed adult with responsibilities and decisions. So much growth and change in a small, compact time frame. If we aren't careful we grow too quickly. Other times we don't grow enough. It's a balancing act to make sure one does not outgrow the other.
  • The next 7ish, or more, may be the cementing of that mutual respect and maturity. At least that's what I'm hoping because we're heading there next. I'll keep you posted. 
What does it all mean? It means I'm a Western woman. I want LOVE with my marriage. I want to be the deliverer of his happiness and the nurturer of his soul - but I'm mature enough in my marriage to know that it CAN'T all come from me. It has to come from within him. Just like some of my inspiration, self-awareness, confidence, and individuality MUST come from inside me. Because I'm still me and he's still him and we just share each other.

And, since I'm a Western woman - here's our story:

It was '98 and I was 22. I worked at the student newspaper at my university. We had a cartoonist that I knew of - from reading the paper we issued - but I had never met. We called him the midnight cartoonist because he ALWAYS turned his cartoon strip in at midnight the day it was due. So I never met him until one day he came in during the daylight hours and our editor introduced us. 

He had long blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. Earrings. His face was red because he had just ridden his bike to the office and it was wet outside. There was a line of water that had kicked up from his back tire onto the back of his anorak type jacket. he was wearing holey khaki pants and had on leg pegged (due to the bike riding). He had a huge warm smile. 

I didn't see him again until January '99 when we had a class together. I smiled at him but he didn't remember me at first and I had to remind him that we both worked for the paper.

Then he started walking me back to the newspaper offices every day after class. One day I told him my BFF was coming to visit and asked him where should I take her? And did he want to go out with us? So, you see, *I* asked *him* out. I did it. 

So she came up and we all went out. At the end of the night he leaned over and told me how cute my freckles were. Then he kissed me.

The next day I left for Spring Break and thought of him most of the time I was gone. I came back A DAY EARLY from Spring Break because I wanted to see HIM. We spent every day together from then on. But I had already planned to move back to California in 2 months and I did. I moved away. Honestly, I kept telling myself it was just a fling. His hair was longer than mine for goodness sake! 

I was wrong. I moved back Cali in May of '99. He came to visit me in July. I went to visit him in September and he proposed. Scarcely 6 months had passed since we had started dating and we were engaged. WE JUST KNEW. It was another 4 months, and 2 visits, before he moved to California to be with me. We got married 6 months after that in July 2000.  See, proof:


And we lived happily ever after. 





*barf*  PUHLEEEZE. 

Remember, I throw crockery. AT HIS HEAD. (Once, about 5 years ago. And I missed.)

We live, more or less happily, and we try hard and we WANT to be married to each other. Should we ask for more than that? I don't think so. It works for us.