December 31, 2010

a new year's resolution (i think) i can keep

I've never been one to make "New Year's Resolutions."

It just always seemed silly to me to take the time to make a list of wants, desires, goals etc. for the new year ... I mean, if it has to be written down, is it really that important?! And why can't a person resolve to be better at any point during the year? Just because you don't start something at the beginning, doesn't mean you can't make changes in your life later on down the line ... It shouldn't be all or nothing!

But anyway, this year, I'm hopping on that New Year's bandwagon and starting 2011 with a major goal in mind.

Life has been so busy these past couple of months, and not just because of the holidays and their approach. My transition from stay-at-home mom to working mom has really been a challenge for me ... One that I hadn't really expected.

Maybe I was being naive and/or too optimistic in thinking that I could handle both roles with little interruption or effect on my mental state ... Whatever the case, I have found that each day that passes is dominated by one or both of my two jobs ... Sometimes in equal parts, sometimes not.

During the day, I find myself struggling to keep a child happy while fulfilling my many teacher's obligations. When Malcolm is occupied, even if it is only in small bursts, I answer emails, create "catch up" plans for failing students, grade papers, and even correspond via instant messages. During his naps (when all is blissfully quiet) I call students by phone, hold my "office hours" where students can be guaranteed to reach me, and run virtual classroom sessions ...

At night, once school is over and my husband is home, I am still "on the job," although my son (and not my students) becomes my central focus.

There is hardly a moment when I feel like I am not working at something.

There is hardly a moment for me to just breathe and do nothing.

So, one night over my Christmas Break (which also happened to be a "vacation" week for my husband), I finally put all of my thoughts and feelings about this dual existence into words. As much as he probably didn't want to deal with me and my weepy ramblings, I finally expressed to him that I'm feeling overwhelmed. That, although I love being a mother to our son, I find myself wishing for simpler times and struggle through the days to make everything work. That I need more help. That I need some time that is mine. Just for me.

This is not to say that my husband is a lump! In fact, I'm pretty sure he does more than an average husband (but correct me if I'm wrong) ... In addition to the more "manly" duties of taking out the garbage and keeping the yard presentable during all seasons of the year, he also hand washes all of our dishes (we, very unfortunately, do not own a dishwasher), does all of the grocery shopping, cooks delicious meals with the groceries he buys, takes care of our cats' litter boxes, and often keeps our floors clean by sweeping or vacuuming ... Not to mention all the time he spends entertaining Malcolm every night.

I know that I am very lucky, and that he also deserves his down time, but, even so I still yearn for mine. In only three months, my two jobs have really taken a lot out of me! But I take full responsibility ... I'm a perfectionist by nature, so I can't only go "half way." Everything has to be done impeccably, even to my detriment.

That is why, this New Year, I'm finally making a resolution:

I'm going to allow myself to be fully honest and ask for help when I need it.

No longer will I silently suffer and wait on others to reach out to me ... My family and friends aren't mind readers!

No longer will I feel guilty if dinner isn't ready (or even started!) when my husband comes home from work.

No longer will "not doing it myself" be considered a weakness.

If those closest to me catch on to the fact that I'm not Superwoman, that I can't do it alone (nor do I want to), then that is okay.

I can live with that.

And hopefully my husband can, too!

December 29, 2010

spoiled

Someone got a LOT of gifts for Christmas this year ...

A piano shaped like an alligator.

Multiple puzzles.

Clothes.

Croc winter boots.

A baby tool bench.

A plastic shopping cart.

Lots of play food.

Books.

Stuffed animals (including a "Pillow Pet").

An educational baby cell phone.

More light up, noise-making toys than I would prefer.

Not one, but two riding toys.

It's a good thing Malcolm won't remember this Christmas ...

The bar would be set quite a bit higher than I think we could achieve year after year!

That, and we'd seriously need a bigger house to hold everything!

December 28, 2010

the best gift

Although I didn't "get him" this year, Malcolm is by far the best gift I've ever received.

It is honestly difficult to describe just how much I absolutely love this little boy ...

Or how adorably cute I think he looks in a collared shirt and sweater vest!


Dress shirt: Kenneth Cole Reaction (thrifted for $2.00)
Sweater vest: Old Navy (thrifted for $1.00)
Corduroy pants: Okiedokie (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Faded Glory (thrifted for $3.00)

I wish it were practical to wear them all the time!

December 24, 2010

some digital cheer

Just a quick post to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

And to show off our family's first ever Christmas card!


I hope you get everything you asked for ... And more!

December 22, 2010

all i want for christmas

I was just saying to my husband how I couldn't believe it's been six months since Malcolm grew any teeth ... And lo! and behold, two molars magically appeared!

A Christmas miracle!

The funny thing is, I didn't notice that anything was happening. I just took a peek in his mouth one morning and there they were ...

Either this is a case of very poor parental instincts on my part, or a very agreeable and "go with it" attitude on Malcolm's.

I swear, this kid is something else.

All I have heard from other parents for as long as I have been one is how difficult teething is ... And, specifically, that molars are the worst! My sister-in-law told me horror stories of her daughter refusing naps and staying awake for twenty-four hours at a time! She told me how she wouldn't eat, she cried nonstop, and that even baby Tylenol didn't seem to work ... I was all set for a week (or more?) of complete and utter chaos ...

And, here, I have a kid that seems to laugh in the face of teething. Or rather, to ignore it completely!

Sure, Malcolm has been waking up in the middle of the night lately (something I probably should have taken notice to, since he is usually such a great sleeper), but he hasn't been cranky. And, while he isn't sleeping, he isn't crying or fussing either. It's the same old "happy noises" that I hear when it comes time for him to take a nap.

So, it could be worse.

Much, much worse.

I take back all the things I said in yesterday's post.

My son is a perfect angel and has definitely earned his spot on Santa's "Nice List" this year!

Bring it on, baby teeth. Bring it on.

December 21, 2010

the naughty list

With Christmas right around the corner, you'd think that Malcolm would be all about behaving like a perfect, little angel ...

It turns out he didn't get the memo!


Onesie: Baby Gap (thrifted for $1.00)
Corduroy overalls: Osh-Kosh (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Old Navy (gift)
Shoes: Faded Glory ($6.00)


Either that, or his very "boyish" skull and crossbone socks have sparked a little rebellious streak!

December 20, 2010

night light

This weekend, I made it a point to spend a lot of time just enjoying the dimly lit atmosphere of the living room.

Even with toys all over the floor, there's just something about a glowing Christmas tree that puts you in a peaceful state of mind.


It's definitely one of my favorite things about the season!

December 17, 2010

the fuzzy pillow

My mother-in-law made Malcolm this pillow for his first birthday.


Little did she know it would be the prop for countless adorable photo opportunities!

December 14, 2010

window watcher

Some days, Malcolm is just GO GO GO ... Tearing through toys, wandering the house, and generally making mischief in whatever way he can.

Other days, he is content to take it a little bit easier and quietly read a book or snuggle on the couch for a while.

One of his favorite things to do on a "slow" day is to stand by the window. With the Cleveland days being darker and more dreary this time of year, and the daylight disappearing faster, there usually isn't much to see. But, just recently, the sun was out and there was more room in front of the windows than usual ... We had made space for the Christmas tree, but hadn't brought it into the house yet.

Malcolm loved standing guard, watching the cars slowly moving down the street and the sun falling behind the trees.


"Where's Daddy?" I would ask whenever he'd step away from his post. "Is he coming home soon?"

And he'd go right back to his spot.


Tee-shirt: Old Navy ($2.00)
Long-sleeved onesie: Old Navy ($1.50)
Fleece pants: Athletic Works (thrifted for $0.50)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)

I couldn't imagine a nicer greeting, a more perfect homecoming, than seeing this little face waiting in the window!


It's almost enough to entice me into taking another job!

December 13, 2010

one of those kids

Last year, Malcolm was all about Santa.

He snuggled right up, looking quite innocent and adorable, and gurgled lots of gift ideas into his ear ...


This year, Malcolm wasn't so sure about the Jolly Old Elf.

Standing on his own, and taking it all in from a safe distance, he was all smiles until it was his turn to meet the man in red.

"Let's go see Santa," I said cheerfully, taking his hand to guide him ... But he wouldn't budge.

Instead, he clutched my leg and wouldn't let go.

After being carried over and gently placed on Santa's lap, his face took on a fearful gaze. He clutched at my shirt and squirmed toward me.

Who is this person?! His eyes screamed.

Not wanting a tearful photo, I joined him next to Santa ...


What else could I do?

I guess I'm going to have one of those kids on my hands.

The kind that likes to look from faraway, but doesn't want to get any closer ...

Maybe this will save us from the ridiculous mall lines if all Malcolm wants is to look from beyond the crowd of people.

December 10, 2010

getting ready for christmas

With the holiday season approaching, I find myself looking for ways to "get ready."

This doesn't just include the physical sense of readiness ... As in a cleaned and decorated house, wrapped presents, sent Christmas cards, or baked goods and the like. For me, at least this year, it also means a spiritual sense of "readiness."

I have said it many times before that I am truly blessed.

I have a wonderful, supportive husband, an adorable little boy, a family that loves me endlessly, indescribably awesome friends, a healthy body and mind, a warm home, and a good job (during which I can stay at home with the aforementioned adorable little boy). Truly, I don't think that things could get much better ... And I don't know what I did to deserve it!

So, this Christmas, I really wanted to get in the mood spiritually. To truly envelope myself in the feeling of the season, and what it really means to be Christmas.

No, it doesn't mean presents or gift giving.

Or delicious food.

Not even time for family and friends and fellowship.

Rather, Christmas means the coming of Christ into the world and into our hearts.

I have friends who are preparing for this most joyful of occasions by selflessly offering up their gifts for an even greater cause.

I read blogs where giving to those who are less fortunate is at the forefront of the season.

All around me, I see people becoming "ready" for this holiday by giving back in true Christmas fashion ... So, this year, I wanted to participate.

In my own attempt to "give back," I decided to donate my hair to Locks of Love this year.

It's something that I've always wanted to do, but never got around to really pursuing ... And, for once, I knew I could make it happen. My hair was getting long. Probably a little too long. It was time to just make the change and get it cut.

Short.

I honestly can't remember the last time my hair was this short.

If I had to guess an age, I'd have to say that I was around four years old ... And that was only because my hair was finally growing out (I looked like a boy until I was about three).

Ten inches is a lot.

It's both an adjustment and a big deal for me ... I'm totally outside of my comfort zone! But I know that it will be an even bigger deal to the little girl that gets "hair" this Christmas.

And that's what makes the whole experience worthwhile.

Even if it is completely crazy to reach back and feel my bare neck instead of a pony tail ...

December 9, 2010

what a difference a week can make

Just last week I began composing a post about how Malcolm is content to "walk" around the house on his knees (instead of his feet). I didn't get very far, but figured I'd have some time to iron it out ... The kids seemed like he was in no hurry to figure out the whole walking on two feet thing.

He was happy doing his little knee shuffle.

Not anymore!

This week, things are different.

Very different.

The usual 70/30 distribution of knee to feet walking has completely flip-flopped. Now, instead of shuffling around on his knees for a majority of the time, he is walking full force ...

Two footed.

Just going for it.

Sure, he still slips and falls or basically belly flops onto the carpet, but he's definitely getting the hang of it. And you can tell he's loving every minute of it.

Once he figures out how to stand up from a sitting position without the aid of a piece of furniture (or a wall, or a toy, or a person) we are in so much trouble ...

December 7, 2010

'tis the season

My husband and I are Christmas tree people.

Real Christmas tree people.

There is just something about a living evergreen taking up half of your living room that says the holidays are here!

So, this past weekend, we bundled up the boy and headed out to locate our tree. We kept it simple, opting to go to a nearby Lowe's instead of a "cut your own tree" farm or nursery. The selection wasn't spectacular (nor were the prices), but there was just enough for us to pick something that could make the long haul to Christmas and into the new year ... I insist on keeping our tree up until the Feast of the Epiphany, which happens twelve days after Christmas, and marks the end of the Christmas season (at least as far as the Catholic church is concerned ... Have you ever noticed that stores seem to mark the end of the Christmas season before December 25th has even passed? But that's not the point of this post ...)

Last year, Malcolm slept right through the tree-selecting festivities.

This year, he was wide awake and agreeable, as always ... You never would have guessed that he was bundled up in two pairs of pants and various other layers! He really seemed to enjoy himself as he clapped, pointed, and squealed his way through the aisles of trees in his stroller.



Shark Hat: The Children's Place ($6.50)
Mittens: Old Navy ($5.00 for a hat/mitten set)
Coat: Little Me (thrifted for $5.00 as part of a coat/pants set)
Jeans: The Children's Place (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Old Navy (gift)
Shoes: Stride Rite (thrifted for $3.00)

His happy little face brought me right back to the outings my own family would take when we picked our real tree each year ...

My sisters and I would run through the aisles of trees, running our gloved hands across the needles (to make sure they weren't too prickly), and shouting back to my parents when we found the "perfect one." My Dad, upon inspecting it himself, would take it by the trunk and hold it out an arm's length for us to investigate. If it passed the test, it would be strapped to the roof of our car and proudly brought home. After a day or two outside, it would be lugged into the house and adorned with the biggest modge podge of lights and ornaments you ever did see.

No, there will be no artificial tree for us, either ...

Just the 100% real (pine-smelling, sap-sticking, water-leaking, needle-dropping) thing.

We're not quite sure how a nearly-walking toddler is going to fit into the equation ... He won't be strapped into his stroller when we are in the comfort of our own home! But we'll make due.

Hopefully, when all is said and done, we will all be left with some pretty great memories.

December 6, 2010

validation

To quickly set up this post, I need to first explain the levels of organization at my virtual school ... At least as I have come to understand them.

Each student that enrolls in the high school is set up with their classroom teachers, a guidance counselor, and an adviser ...

Classroom teachers (like me) are the people that are responsible for running the courses, teaching the lessons in an online format once a week, grading assignments, and basically communicating with students and their families as often as possible.

Guidance counselors, much like those at traditional schools, help the students with their course schedules and force them to look beyond high school at the bigger picture ... Will they attend college? If so, which one? What graduation tests are required for admittance?

Advisers, although they also work with students, focus more on the parent end and keep track of a student's attendance and overall performance in the virtual school ...

So, all of that to say ... As my work day wrapped up on Friday, I received an email in my work inbox from an adviser that is assigned to one of my students. The email itself was super short.

Merely three sentences long ...

But the message inside was so, so much bigger:
Hi Emily. I spoke with student's mom today and she gave you a big compliment. You are the best teacher student has ever had.
That was it.

Short and syrupy sweet.

It's hard to explain the feeling that swept over me.

While I was (and still am) extremely humbled, I couldn't help but feel sort of undeserving at the same time.

I've only been "teaching" at this school for a little over two months.

I don't ever see these students face to face ... I am lucky if I get to work with them during a live, online classroom session or if I get to speak to them by telephone once or twice a month.

I can't say that I've ever seen this student at any of those online sessions.

I've never spoken to this student on the phone (although I talked with the student's mother at length before our Thanksgiving Break).

All I have done is answer a couple of questions through the school's email system. I have extended deadlines and offered alternate assignments to bring up grades.

I have done nothing that I would consider remotely above or beyond ...

To top it off ... THIS STUDENT ISN'T EVEN PASSING MY CLASS!

And yet, to this mother, I am the best teacher her child has ever had.

It's honestly small moments like these that pull a teacher through tthe doldrums that often encompass the educational system. It's moments like these that validate all the hard (and often unforgiving) work.

It's moments like these that tell me I've truly chosen the right career.

Maybe I'm doing an okay job, after all.

December 2, 2010

lucky shot

It almost looks like he's saying "cheese."


That is, if he could talk.

November 30, 2010

out and about

Although I'm not crazy enough to go out on "Black Friday," I always find that I am ready for a little shopping by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend. It's almost as if the food and fellowship inspire me to locate, purchase, and bestow gifts on those I love ...

Funny little trick, those holidays being so close together!

Last year around this time (as mentioned in a previous post), Malcolm was a lumpy little guy, more than happy to be pushed around in his stroller as he slept the day away. This year, he's more boy than baby and wants to see (and touch and taste) everything! This can, obviously, be a challenge when all you know is that you want to shop, but have no idea what you are looking for.

But, no matter how whiny or upset he may get at being unable to roam the store on his knees, at least he can look cute doing it ...

Here he is hamming it up back at home after a near meltdown in Target:


Sweater: Gymboree (thrifted for $3.00)
Pants: The Children's Place (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks (unseen): Circo (gift)
Shoes (unseen): Faded Glory (thrifted for $3.00)

My how looks can be deceiving!

I guess the alligator on his sweater reminded him of how affective "crocodile tears" can sometimes be ...

This is going to be an interesting holiday season!

November 29, 2010

spicing things up

Both my husband and I enjoy a good "burrito bol" from Chipotle.

One night, while cruising the internet, I decided to see if there was a knock-off recipe that we could try at home. Always one to save a little money (and do things myself!), I was happy to find a really good one that I adapted to our liking. While it isn't exactly the same, our modified recipe uses ingredients that are easier to find at the grocery store (or so says my husband who does all the shopping) and tastes really similar!

Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

For the Marinade:

1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 teaspoons of cumin
2 teaspoons of dry oregano
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 of a red onion
1/4 cup of vegetable oil

Combine all marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until well combined. Pour into a large plastic zip-lock bag, add chicken (we use 2-3 breasts which yields one dinner's worth and some left overs), and marinate in the refrigerator overnight ...

It will look a little something like this:


Cook the chicken.

In the summer, we use our grill ... But on cold, wintery nights, the griddle pan works just as well!

You can almost hear the sizzle!


Cook the rice (we double the following recipe ... We like our rice).

Cilantro-lime Rice:

1 teaspoon of butter
2/3 cup of white rice (NOT instant)
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 lime
2 teaspoons of fresh cilantro, chopped

Begin by heating the butter in a medium sized pot until it is melted. Then add the rice and lime and stir about a minute. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the water, about 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking and scorching.

As the chicken and rice are cooking, prepare the toppings ... We typically rinse and heat a can of black beans, pull out some shredded cheese (Mexican blend), fresh tomato salsa or Picante sauce, lettuce, and sour cream. We've also mashed up some avocados for guacamole in the past ... Basically, it's up to you and what you like on your "burrito bol!"


Eat and enjoy ... It makes me hungry just looking at it again!

Side note: Even babies like "fake Chipotle burrito bols" for dinner ... Malcolm is a big fan of the rice and black beans (and the chicken that hasn't come into contact with too much spice)!

November 25, 2010

so incredibly thankful

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I can't help but think of how far we've come since last year ...


We have gone from nervous new parents to seasoned pros!

Our cuddly, little baby of only one year ago has grown leaps and bounds and turned into a squirmy always-on-the-go (almost) toddler ... Right before our eyes!

While I look back at photographs (like the one above) and yearn to cuddle him in the rocker again, or soothe him to sleep at night, I also realize just how blessed we are to have him at all ... How blessed we are to have each other.

As a family, we have so little to complain about ...

We have our jobs.

We have our health.

We have our home.

We have our extended families.

We have our friends.

We have so many comforts and good things to look forward to ...

We are truly, truly blessed, and there isn't a moment that passes where I am not keenly aware of that fact.

I don't know what I did to deserve this life, but I am so thankful that I am getting the chance to live it!

November 24, 2010

waiting for words

For as long as he could make noise, I've been waiting for my little man to speak.

In many ways, I'm more excited for the moment he utters his first word than the moment he decides to make walking his sole mode of transportation.

I guess it all boils down to the fact that I want my son to inherit my braininess. I want him to do well in school, to take honors classes, to achieve high marks ... Maybe even become valedictorian (something I never got to do). I want him to be a thinker, to have the ability to problem solve rather than look for the easy way out. I want him to love learning, to get excited for the start of school each fall, to read because it's fun (and not because he has to). I don't want him to be one of those "Huh? What?" teenagers that just sits and stares off into space without a thought in his head.

While I'm probably setting myself up for (at least some) disappointment ... "Being smart" is not necessarily a conscious choice ... I know that Malcolm will become whoever he is meant to be and I will love him all the same.

Even so, as a mother, I feel that the milestones that directly impact this "smartness factor" that I so desire for my son are those that deal with language (and not more overtly physical things like walking or climbing or jumping). And, while my boy seems to know and respond to multiple words (hair, nose, feet, shirt, owl, bear, duck, blanket, up, milk, crackers, more ...), he just hasn't opened his mouth to say any just yet.

Sure, there are lots of "ma ma mas" when he is upset. Or "da da das" when he mutters to himself as he goes about his business each day. There are even grunts and squeals and squeaks to alert me to various changes in mood.

But there aren't any real words.

Oh, how I'm waiting for those real words!

One of my close friends recently said to me: "He'll probably start spouting out complete sentences one day."

Which would certainly be fine ...

But I'd still be happy with that single word.

Just one word to get me going ... To keep my dream of smart progeny alive.

But, like I said, Malcolm is Malcolm.

He is not me.

He is not his father.

He will ultimately be who he is meant to be and I will love him for it.

Smartness aside, I just can't wait to hear his little voice call my name!

November 23, 2010

when dad picks the outfit

The weekend (and Monday) flew right by. I barely had a moment to think, let alone sit down and compose a coherent blog post. It's really a shame, too, because this Sunday marked the completion of my husband's twenty-ninth year of life!

Happy birthday, Honey!

As part of my gift to him (Ha!), he was left with baby duty on Saturday morning. Since our Friday night had been hectic, Malcolm was put to bed before I had a chance to lay out the next day's clothes. Although I know my husband is quite capable of dressing himself, and therefore his son, I was curious to come home and see what he had come up with ...

The sweat pants may have been too long and the shirt a tad too tight, but the overall look was still cute and comfortable.

But the best part was that Malcolm slept for nearly three hours that afternoon ... I credit the warm, cozy pants!


Onesie: Old Navy (gift)
Sweat pants: Athletic Works (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)

There's something to be said for an outfit that is all about comfort!

Three hour naps certainly aren't a bad thing!

November 19, 2010

my little love dove

There are so many things that I want to remember about Malcolm's "babyhood."

(And, yes, I still consider this time of our life to be part of it ...)

If I'm being completely honest, the super-detailed notes and descriptions of events in his baby book are more for me, than for him. I know that as time stretches on he is going to change and things that happen today, won't happen anymore. Besides, I'm a scientist by nature and we are known for our meticulous notes!

Anyway, one of my favorite things that he currently does is "give kisses."

It all started months and months ago with soft things. No matter what the object or where he was, Malcolm would pop the thumb in his mouth and lean in for a snuggle the moment there was contact ... A fuzzy pillow, a stuffed animal, a cuddly sweater, his spotted blanket. It would happen every time.

It still happens.

It's totally adorable!

Then the leaning in for a snuggle carried over toward other things ... Usually pictures in books. If a character in a book was cuddling or sleeping, he'd lean in to kiss it without any prompting. Of course, if you asked him to "give the puppy a kiss," he'd do that, too. Much to his mother's delight!

Now, he gives us "kisses." All you have to do is ask and his whole demeanor changes. If he is being crazy, he calms down and his little face slowly gets closer to your own. There is no lip puckering, no actual "kissing" as you might recognize it, but he comes in all the same ... His little forehead resting against yours.

It gets me every time!

I know that, someday, he will resist my kisses (probably push me away before I can get within a good kissing distance) and be embarrassed to be seen with me ... But, for now, I can get all the kisses I want!

And I have the notes in the baby book to prove it.

November 18, 2010

behind the mask

I just want to spend a week like I used to ...

I want to lay on the floor and play with blocks.

To chase the boy around the dining room table.

To sit on the front porch when the sun is out and swing together on the porch swing.

I want to take a walk around the block (on the warm days).

To eat lunch together, taking as much time as we want.

To run out for a brief trip to Target or some other favorite shopping destination.

I want to have a moment to actually sit back and relax when the little guy goes down for his nap.

To catch up on old episodes of Bones.

To arrange a play date!

Sometimes I really want things to go back to the way they used to be ... When my biggest concern was what to start for dinner at 4:15.

I wish that things were that simple again.

Finding the time to be a mom and work from home simultaneously is really starting to catch up with me.

I'm starting to wear thin and I don't want to be a disappointment on either end.

I just want to spend a week like I used to ...

November 16, 2010

dino-mite weekend

You've got to love a sixty (nearly seventy) degree day in the middle of November! It was truly just what we needed to relax and unwind this weekend ...

With our weekdays being dominated by my sitting at the dining room table on my laptop and toiling away for a majority of the day, I know that Malcolm is just itching for a little bit of fun. Sure, we have plenty of time to play indoors in the evenings, but it just isn't the same as going outside and feeling that bright sunshine on your face.

I mean, look at how happy he is ... Ready to get up and go!


Tee-shirt: Circo ($1.50 on the sale rack at Target)
Fleece vest: Arizona (thrifted for $1.00)
Jeans: Circo ($4.00)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)
Shoes: Faded Glory ($6.00)

I like to think that he's aware of how adorably cute he looks.

I mean, who can possibly resist a layered dinosaur tee-shirt, a fleece vest, and some little baby tennis shoes? It's a far cry from the pajamas and sweats we lounge around in for the rest of the week ...

November 12, 2010

when the cat's away ...

I love coming home to evidence of fun moments gone by ...


I only wish that I was there to experience it with them!

November 11, 2010

fall back to sleep, please

I used to be a huge fan of the end of Daylight Savings time.

That extra hour of sleep was heaven.

"Falling back" was always met with open arms from me ... I practically looked forward to it like it was a holiday!

When Malcolm was born, other mothers would comment on how "babies don't care" about the end Daylight Savings. They would refer to schedules being disrupted, crazy sleep and wake patterns, and many other horrible things ... But I knew that I had nothing to worry about.

My baby loved sleep as much as I did.

My baby would relish in that extra hour of sweet, blissful sleep.

My baby would be agreeable, as always.

And, as I had predicted, Malcolm was a champ.

Absolutely nothing changed.

I was right.

It was no surprise. My baby kept right on sleeping ...

Unfortunately, things are not the same now that "my baby" has magically turned into a one-year-old.

Baby no more, Malcolm is still waking up at the same time he usually would ... As determined by the position of the sun in the sky (and definitely not the numbers on the clock).

While it's probably good for me to be up at 7:00 am (I know it could be much, much worse) to get a jump start on my work-from-home day, my body is just not used to it. I have been so spoiled by my excellent sleeper that these early mornings are making me wonder how I even crawled out of the bed for mid-night feedings.

Obviously, the days will roll by and we will develop some new routine.

Hopefully it won't be sabotaged by the beginning of Daylight Savings come spring time ... But I guess we'll have to wait and see!

November 9, 2010

good morning, little boy

There is something about a cute set of pajamas that make me want to hug and squeeze Malcolm until he can't take any more of it.

From the moment I saw these particular ones in the store, I knew we (I?) had to have them.

I even bought them one size too big so that he'd be able to wear them a little bit longer ...


Just like my former "favorite pajamas," I love everything about these:

The pattern of fat forest animals ...

The cuddly thermal fabric and how it makes his little arms and legs look so skinny ...


But, most importantly, I love the way Malcolm loves wearing them ...

I can hardly contain my glee whenever I ask, "Malcolm, where's the bear?" and he looks at me, excitement in his eyes, and then does this:


Thermal pajamas: Just One Year ($7.00)

He's turning into such a little boy!

November 3, 2010

unopened

My husband has been a little under the weather lately, so, this morning when I woke up, there was a pile of boxes from our medicine cabinet tossed haphazardly on the bathroom counter. As I brushed my teeth, I glanced over at them, reading about the contents of the various brightly colored boxes ...

Cold and sinus caplets.

Sinus and headache geltabs.

Extreme congestion nasal spray.

And, for good measure, infant gas relief drops.

Unopened.

Never touched.

I remember the drama that led up to the purchase of those infant drops ...

One night, while we had some visitors (I won't say who, although those that know me and my family/extended family can probably guess who was over), Malcolm was a little bit fussy.

A teeny, tiny bit fussy.

Barely even noticeable, really.

Since the kid hardly ever cried, let alone fussed, it didn't bother me too much when it inevitably happened ... Sometimes we all just need a moment to be cranky!

Unfortunately, it seemed to signal the end of the world to our visitors:

"He's gassy ... I just felt a little toot!"

"He's bloated!"

"His belly feels so full!"

"Is he having trouble burping?!"

"You really need to get some infant gas drops ... I can't believe you don't have any infant gas drops!"

"He's just fine!" I wanted to shout. "If you 'felt a little toot,' doesn't that mean he is able to relieve whatever gas he may have? And maybe his belly feels full because he just ate!"

Of course, as new mothers tend to do, I just sat there and took the onslaught instead. It would end soon enough, just like Malcolm's bout of fussiness. Even so, my husband felt the need to go and purchase a container of infant gas relief the next time he headed out to the drug store, just in case we might need it down the line.

Well, wouldn't you know?

It turns out we didn't, since they are taking up space in our medicine cabinet ...

Unopened!

I guess that means I was right after all.

November 2, 2010

my little peanut

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.

I love love LOVE it!

So, as you might expect, I was very excited at the prospect of having a child who could actually participate and dress up as something. Last year, Malcolm was a little over a month old, so his Halloween "costume" consisted of a black onesie with the outline of a skeleton on it and a pair of tan sweat pants.

I told everyone that he was a "skeleton wearing pants."

Not the most exciting costume of the year.

This year, I knew Malcolm had to be something cute ... And something that I could construct myself.

Many of my fondest Halloween memories come from the unique, handcrafted costumes my Mom would make for my sisters and me. I truly hope to carry on that tradition and create things that Malcolm will be proud to wear and remember as the years roll by.

Besides, who wants to pay $30.00 for a cheaply made, drafty costume (that falls apart in one evening) anyway?

So, for my first-ever attempt at a child's Halloween costume, I went simple.

Very simple.

Behold, my little Peanut ... Charlie Brown:




Onesie: Old Navy ($1.50)
Yellow Polo: Cherokee ($1.75 from the sale rack at Target)
Fabric/Supplies for Stripe: Walmart ($3.75)
Pants: Old Navy (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Faded Glory (thrifted for $3.00)
Football: Radioshack ($1.00)

I can't wait for next year!

November 1, 2010

baby genius

I've talked about it before ... Mothers have a natural inclination to believe that their child is the smartest, most adorable, best baby there is. Whether smack in the middle of all the growth charts or not, it doesn't matter. My baby is inherently better than your baby. He might be smaller, or thinner, or have far less hair on his head. He might even be crawling instead of walking, grunting or squealing instead of talking ... But there is something about him that makes him better.

Really. Truly. There is.

While I say this tongue-in-cheek, part of me does believe it ... I wouldn't be a proper mother if I didn't! Part of me likes to think that I've produced progeny that combines the best of me and the best of my husband ... So, surely, he must be awesome! Look into his little gray eyes and tell me I'm wrong.

Did you hear that? Gray! Really ... They're gray!

Now, that's special!

How many gray-eyed people do you know?

But anyway ...

Knowing how I feel about my kid, it is fun to see him through other people's eyes.

For example, my mother-in-law was so impressed that Malcolm was stacking boxes and blocks at eleven months old, she started bragging about it ... To everyone! Soon, the entire family was abuzz with the amazing news:

Her kids never did that, she said ... Never entertained themselves with constructive play until much later. Her kids were only into destroying things, not building them. Malcolm, surely, is ahead of the curve. He's so smart ... And coordinated!

She still talks about it today, over two months later.

Yes, she asks about first steps and first words, but she still gets excited when he starts stacking things. It's one of the first things she reports back on after he's spent a day with her. It's going to be his "claim to fame," the thing she reminds him of when he is older and wiser. The thing that sets him apart from all the other grandkids ...

"You know, when you were little, you started stacking things really early ..."

I'm glad Malcolm has that.

It's good to be special.

(For the record, I looked it up in one of the many baby/toddler books that I've accumulated ... There is nothing extra special about an eleven month old that stacks objects. It is perfectly normal. Let's just keep it our little secret, though. I like it that Grandma thinks our little man is a genius!)

October 29, 2010

fall-ing in love

I couldn't let the month of October go by without sharing a story ...

I met my husband in the spring of my junior year of high school. We hit it off immediately and became very fast friends (something, I told him, that would never change). As the summer came and went, we began spending more time together ... Hanging out on weekends, going to see movies, meeting up during separate vacations at the same place, having dinner with each other's families ... The list could go on and on.

For my birthday in September, he sent flowers and a necklace to me at school. Not only did this make me uncomfortable (I went to an all-girls' school, so gifts like this were cause for LOTS of attention ... Which I didn't want), it served as a huge reminder that this guy whom I merely considered "my friend" wanted to consider me something else entirely. Trying to shake off the strangeness of it all, the rest of September went by without incident.

Then came October.

I should note that both my husband and I have always loved the fall. Everything about it, even the dark and dreary days are met with open arms from both of us. There is no other season that makes us happier.

Maybe that's why I let my guard down ...

As the month began, we would meet up as part of a much larger group, driving out to various haunted attractions on Friday or Saturday nights. Somehow, despite all the different cars and drivers to choose from, we always ended up traveling together. This was fine with us, as barely a moment passed where we weren't joking or laughing about something ... Or singing along to the "Saturday Night 80's" the local radio station played.

By the middle of the month, the large group began to dwindle. A massive caravan of cars became one or two ... But that didn't stop our haunted outings. We kept going. Locating new attractions each weekend and making the trip to visit them, even if they were hours away.

By Halloween night, it was just us and a handful of friends. Although we probably could have fit into one car (or van), we drove separately. We were coming off of a long day together ... A pancake breakfast at church, a scary movie with a friend, a visit to his house, all capped off with one last haunted attraction ... A haunted forest.

To spare you the suspense, I went in holding onto the hood of his sweatshirt, but came out holding his hand ...

And the rest, as they say, is history.

That was Halloween 1999.

This Halloween, then, marks 11 years as an official couple. I say official, because (although, at the time I would certainly deny it) we were most obviously a couple from the very beginning. From that very first moment we spoke and hit it off, there was always something there. It may not have been romance, but it was a true connection.

One that would withstand many different obstacles and bring us all the way up to today...

It's just funny how the sights and sounds and smells of fall bring it all back ...

October 28, 2010

just call me superwoman (or crazy)

While this could be the title of a post about following through on popping out a baby the "natural way," I'm not going to go there ...

Maybe some other time.

Seven months ago, when I signed up for an internet class at Cleveland State University, I thought it would be my big chore of the fall. With daylight hours slipping into darkness, and cool, rainy nights to contend with, I figured I wouldn't mind spending hours each night holed up in the computer room, reading from the glowing screen and responding to the various requirements of the class.

Seven months ago, when I applied (and was hired) at a local tutoring facility, I thought that it would be something "to keep me busy," a mere escape from the house. A moment to myself where I could continue to hone my teaching skills, make a little spending money, and still maintain my role as stay-at-home-mom during the day.

Seven months ago, when I emailed that application to the virtual school, I thought I was only appeasing my husband. He was becoming more and more concerned about us "hitting a wall" as the money I had built up from my time at work slowly dwindled away. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that anything would come of that tiny little email, two page resume attached. I certainly didn't anticipate the whirlwind that would follow about six months later.

Today, I am somehow managing to keep my head above water. I am completing my class assignments on time, working my part-time job in the evenings, and falling into a rhythm with my full-time job(s) during the day ... But the really funny thing about it, is that all these commitments, all the busyness and stress-fueled activities, only serve to remind me of how important the quiet moments can be.

And how much I truly love them.

Of course, I couldn't do any of it without the support of my husband. Without him to watch the boy for a couple hours in the evening, or to feed him dinner, or give him a bath, my whole well-timed, perfectly orchestrated balancing act would cease to exist.

My superhero facade would crumble.

I guess that makes him Robin to my Batman ...

I always did have a little crush on the Boy Wonder.

October 26, 2010

clambake couture

Malcolm represented our entire family as he attended his second-ever clambake over the weekend (his dad and I went to a childhood friend's wedding, instead).

Since many of the people in attendance hadn't seen him in quite a long time (and some, never at all), I knew I had to send him off in style. After all, even though he couldn't partake in the seafood, he could look extra cute.

Here he is posing with the bags used to hold the unfortunate clams prior to their arrangement in the steamer:


Sweater: Wonderkids (thrifted for $2.00)
Jeans: Circo ($4.00)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Stride-Rite (thrifted for $3.00)

October 25, 2010

a year in pictures

Malcolm hit thirteen months over the weekend.

I figured that it was about time I put together a little retrospective video for him ...

October 22, 2010

the frustrated football face

This is the expression that all Cleveland Browns fans wear when their team takes the field ...


As you can see, Malcolm caught on quite early!

October 19, 2010

taking it all in

Sometimes, after being cooped up in the house all day, its nice to sit outside for a while!

Just look at that serene look in Malcolm's eyes ... He is positively enthralled by the smell of the crisp autumn air, the vibrant blue of the fall sky, the fiery leaves dancing on the neighbor's trees ...

Or, maybe he is plotting his escape.

It could easily be that, too.


Hooded sweatshirt: Old Navy ($8.00)
Tee-shirt: Baby Gap (thrifted for $0.50)
Jeans: Circo ($4.00)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)
Shoes: Stride-Rite (thrifted for $3.00)

October 18, 2010

making beautiful music together

Last weekend, Malcolm and I made a "surprise trip" to southern Ohio (with my mom) so that we could see some of our extended family ... But probably, more importantly, so that they could see Malcolm!

(I've come to grips with the fact that I am merely part of the entourage, just another "thing" that accompanies my son.)

As always, he was quite the trooper ... Making the drive with little complaint and being a perfect angel once we arrived. He is still really outgoing and accepting of all new people (no real signs of "stranger anxiety" just yet) so he loved seeing all the new familiar faces. I don't think he minded all of the extra attention, either ... Or the extra hugs and cuddles. He's turning out to be quite the sensitive little fellow.

Although he was a big hit across the board, out of everyone, my grandparents from Pittsburgh (his "Great Gram and Pap") were probably the most excited to see him. Thinking back, the last time that they have seen him "in person" was when he was four months old! Since then, they have really only watched him grow through the photographs I send their way ... Something that, while acceptable, really isn't good enough.

A piece of paper is no substitute for the real thing!

As a kid, I was also lucky enough to have one set of great-grandparents ... Yet I barely remember them. Like Malcolm, they were my mother's grandparents, and they lived out of town, so our visits were few and far between. I don't know if there are even any pictures of us together (if there are, I don't remember seeing them).

The morning we were to leave, I made it a point to have my camera ready. While the sheer quantity of photographs I take has dwindled, I know a precious moment when I see one.

And this was a precious moment:


They sat like that for what probably seemed like hours to a one-year-old, taking turns "playing" the xylophone. I truly hope that Malcolm has the opportunity to make many more moments like these with his "Great Gram."

And I hope that I'm around to capture them with even more pictures!

October 14, 2010

work in progress

When I made the switch from working woman to stay-at-home-mom, it was a little bit too easy. I mean, it took absolutely no time at all to adjust to being at home and caring for a little person full time. It was practically instantaneous ... Like taking a breath, it was something that just happened naturally and effortlessly, and felt for all the world like it was something that I was meant to be doing.

The one job that was literally made for me.

This new transition, from stay-at-home-mom to work-from-home-mom, has (already) proven to be a bit more challenging. Although my day-to-day routine has not yet been completely established, I am beginning to see what a "day in the life" is going to look like ... And it is going to be tricky! If being just a mom is any indication of the juggling act that one must perform, this working-from-home mom stuff is going to add about ten more flaming torches to my repertoire. It is going to be really difficult being torn between the duty I feel for two things at the same time:

My son and my job.

It's too darn bad that I'm so loyal and diligent in my endeavors!

About a week ago, as things were just getting started, Malcolm was crabbing and crying at my ankles as I typed away on my work laptop. Instead of reaching down to comfort him (as would have been the case on a normal day), I forced myself to keep working. It was only tired crabbiness ... He wasn't hurt, hungry, or dirty. He could wait. The tears running down his cheeks were merely of the crocodile variety ...

As I quickly glanced down at him, my heart shattered into a million little pieces.

He looked so sad.

What kind of mother would I be if this became the norm? How could I justify the paycheck, yet neglect the one thing that is worth so much more than money?

Suddenly, I felt as miserable as he looked. Turning away from the laptop, I scooped him up into my arms and sat down with him on the living room floor. As soon as he had my attention again, he was all smiles and giggles, his little nose crinkling up on the left side only.

Such a simple solution.

Like I said, mothering this boy is too easy.

That job was made for me.

So, knowing that I now have two important jobs, I fight to seek the balance between being someone's mother and being someone's employee at the very same time. Things are getting better. This past week, there have been no breakdowns (from Malcolm or myself) and a routine is beginning to establish itself. Naps are happening at more convenient times and "new" toys are being presented to keep someone occupied a little longer.

A transition is in the works.

Although it isn't going to be easy, I have a good feeling that we're going to make it work.

October 12, 2010

sunday best

There's just something about getting all dressed up on a Sunday that makes me happy.

Even if we don't have any big plans for the day, I love to put Malcolm in something that has been buried in the back of his closet because it is "too nice" for normal day wear. I have found (on more than one occasion), that this kid looks like he'll fit into something one day and then is too large for it the next ... So I'm not taking any chances with all of the fall goodness I have accumulated!

As you can see, Malcolm seems to tolerate my choices pretty well. I think he knows that when he looks SUPERcute, he can get away with just about anything!


Onesie: Old Navy (gift)
Sweater vest: KRU little (thrifted for $2.00)
Pants: Faded Glory (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)
Shoes: Faded Glory (thrifted for $3.00)

October 7, 2010

the one year photo frame

It was a shower gift, something that I hadn't registered for or even expected, but upon bringing it home, I was glad that I received it. Every baby should have a frame with room for twelve little photos, one for each month of that first year of life ...

It wouldn't be so bad for a nostalgic mother to look back at, either.

Once the then unknown baby's room was put together, I placed it on the bookcase, wondering if I'd even keep up with adding the monthly pictures. It seemed like a silly thing to do, at the time. It wouldn't actually be complete and fully presentable until an entire year had passed by! It seemed like it would take forever to fill up!

And now it's full.

Every night as I put Malcolm to bed, I can't help but gaze over at that photo frame. The changes from newborn to one month to two months and so on are staggering ... I can remember looking at that frame when he was only three months old and thinking that we had so far to go before he reached that year mark.

Time flies.


Before too long, we will have a similar frame filled with photos of him from preschool, kindergarten, first grade ...

October 5, 2010

crazy saturday

I used to say that I couldn't wait for Malcolm to start walking.

I think I've change my mind.

What starts out as a calm, peaceful moment of sitting and quietly playing with one toy ...


Quickly turns into a free-for-all of fast crawling and stair-climbing ...


Attacking mom (and her camera) ...


And then pulling up on anything within reach!


Layered shirt: Gymboree (thrifted for $4.00)
Pants: Carter's (thrifted for $1.00)
Socks: Circo (gift)

I'm really in trouble when he figures out that whole "balance" thing!

He's lucky that he is so darn cute!

October 4, 2010

whirlwind

I was so excited over how faithful I had been at updating this blog ... Even in all the hubbub of preparing for Malcolm's birthday party, I managed to get a post up for every single day of his birthday week.

Looking back, it's funny that, as I think things are falling into a nice, predictable rhythm, unforeseen events plant me squarely back at square one.

Within the span of a two weeks I was contacted about, interviewed for, accepted, and then trained for a job in which I will be able to work from home. Without saying too much (and boring you or potentially jeopardizing my new business relationship), I was hired at one of Ohio's largest virtual schools.

Yes, that's right, I will actually be continuing my career as a teacher ... But this time I will get to teach from the comfort of my living room instead of a school building!

While I'm excited at the prospect of starting something new (and I know my husband is excited at the prospect of a second income), part of me wonders if I've made the right decision. To say the whole thing was even a little bit expected would be a total lie. I seriously went from being completely content with my stay-at-home role to figuring out how things would function if I became responsible for working forty hours a week on top of it. In the couple of days that my home and work lives have merged, I can see that I've got my work cut out for me. While Malcolm is often content to "do his own thing," there are equally as many times that he wants to use his mama as a jungle gym.

As I compose this, the quote "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" keeps popping into my mind.

If this whole situation isn't the best example of "life" you've ever heard, I don't know what is!

So often, I find myself thinking (really thinking) that I'm in control of my destiny. That it is up to me to determine what I want to do or who I want to be. While I obviously do have a say, there are so many other things that are completely out of my hands. So many things that happen whether or not I want them to.

I know that as time moves on, I will fall into a new rhythm. One that incorporates the best of both worlds. As I have mentioned before, I never imagined that I'd be a stay-at-home-mom ... Now I can't believe that I'm turning into a work-from-home-mom.

We'll see how this goes!

October 2, 2010

a boy and his dad

Is it just me, or are they already starting to look a heck of a lot like each other?

September 28, 2010

birthday style

Malcolm's birthday party was this past Saturday. As you may have seen in yesterday's post (and in even earlier posts if you've been reading here for the past couple of months), it had an outer space theme.

In order to "blend right in" (or maybe because his mom is crazy) Malcolm started the day out in a space-themed onesie, complete with little rocket ship monogram:


Onesie: Okiedokie (thrifted for $1.00)
Jeans: Old Navy (thrifted for $2.50)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)

As the day and party progressed, Malcolm (in typical celebrity fashion) changed into his second outfit of the evening so there was no question as to who he was ...


Onesie: Carter's ($4.00)
Jeans: Old Navy (thrifted for $2.50)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)
Shoes: Faded Glory (thrifted for $3.00)

Hopefully everyone had a nice time ... I know the birthday boy did!

September 27, 2010

take me to your leader

Baby birthday parties are a lot of work ... Maybe even more work than the actual labor/delivery that the celebration commemorates!

In lieu of a wordy post, here are some photos of the atmosphere before the chaos (that took the form of our family and friends) descended on our home ...






*All cakes and decorations made (with love) by me.

September 24, 2010

a birthday letter

My dearest Malcolm,

Although your first birthday was yesterday, today's date celebrates the first day I woke up as your mother. Granted, I fell asleep a new mom (at around 3:00 am when all was said and done) that very same day, but that didn't take away from the strangeness of waking up and knowing that I had really and truly birthed you into the world ...

That you weren't just a dream.

You were here and you were mine.

All mine.

From the moment I knew you were inhabiting my womb, I loved you, yet I didn't fully understand what that all meant until I laid eyes on you for the first time ... You were pink and squishy and oh-so-angry at being expelled from your little cozy nook of thirty-nine weeks, but, despite it all (or maybe because of it) you were gorgeous. Unabashedly so. I was (and still am) amazed at how absolutely beautiful you looked after a long labor (for both of us) ... But I guess you could have had two heads or extra fingers and it seriously wouldn't have mattered.

I was so in love.

Complete and all-encompassing.

It wasn't gradual or slow-growing (like the romantic love that developed between your father and me), but big and loud and BAM! Immediate and instantaneous when I looked into your little, gray eyes.

Like a clap of glorious thunder at the beginning of a large, powerful storm.

Your dad and I often recall how strange and surreal it was falling asleep in that hospital room after you had been wheeled away to the nursery. Although there were only two of us in the room, we were no longer a couple, but a family ... A family with three members.


Mom. Dad. Baby.

We knew, from that moment on, that our lives would be different. We would be different. But we were so excited to take that journey with you. To figure things out as we went along. To learn and grow and become a family together.

To say that you have filled our lives with sunshine would be a tremendous understatement. Through each stage of your babyhood, through each milestone you reach, you have been a complete joy. It is such a trip to just sit back and watch you now, to see how big you have become in such a short amount of time ...

You have your own preferences, likes and dislikes regarding your toys, clothes, food, activities ... You make faces and noises to suit your mood. You constantly babble and chatter, getting all the more closer to your first "real" word. You laugh (Oh! How you laugh!) at pretty much anything. You are "on the go" nonstop ... Crawling, pulling yourself up on the furniture, throwing yourself back to the ground (and doing it all over again). Your personality is ten feet tall.

Yes, you are less a little baby now and more a little person.

You're a little boy ... Our little boy.

And we are so incredibly blessed to call you our son!

Not a day has passed since our very first one together, that I do not thank God for all that He has given us. By no means have a been a perfect person (friend, daughter, wife etc.), and yet I have been gifted the most precious, perfect thing of all ... YOU!

I will spend every day that I have appreciating and celebrating that fact. Life is too short. We need to make the most of it. In the blink of an eye another year will pass us by. And then another ... Before I know it (God willing), you will be grown and starting a family of your own ...

But, today, you are still my baby (albeit my one-year-old baby) and I love you exactly as you are. Dirty diapers and all.

I will love you forever and always regardless of how old you become and will never forget the way you changed my life on the day you were born.

The way you changed me.

I hope you had a very happy first birthday, my little love.

We (still) have so much to celebrate!

Love,
Mama

September 23, 2010

one year ago (part 2)

And the drama continues ...

At around 4:00 pm, I was given a real room, a nurse (Dawn, who was awesome) and, of course, a paper gown. After having a moment to settle in and get comfortable in my gown, Dawn hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff (for me), a heart rate and contraction monitor (for the baby), got an IV port ready in case I'd need any medications or fluids during the delivery, and then we went through a massive list of questions covering my health history and my plans for the labor and birth. She didn't bat an eye when I said I was going to do things naturally, but told me we'd have to talk with the anesthesiologist anyway, as it was hospital procedure.

When the anesthesiologist arrived, he was a bit more skeptical of my "natural birth" intentions. He took about fifteen minutes explaining the procedure and going through his memorized list of procedural steps and potential side effects with little gusto. I agreed to sign the paperwork, in case an emergency situation would require me to have an epidural, but mentally told myself that I wouldn't be seeing him again.

With all of our pre-birth "business" taken care of, Dawn got the room's bathtub ready for me ... and I (finally!) got in. By this point, my contractions were pretty strong and very uncomfortable, so the warm water and whirlpool jets felt really good and did a great job at easing the pain. Unfortunately, my moment was short lived because my doctor arrived at around 5:30 pm and wanted to check me. Begrudgingly, I climbed out of the tub and made my way back to the bed.

As she announced that I was five centimeters dilated and 80% effaced, I felt some pressure and then a gush of fluid. My water had broken ... No more whirlpool tub for me! Instead, I tried standing in the shower and using the shower's hand-held sprayer to soothe my back where the pain was becoming the most intense. This was by no means as helpful as the swirling water had been, so I had my husband help me dry off and return to the bed. I stayed there, squeezing his hand with each contraction until I felt like I couldn't sit still. Dawn brought us a birthing ball and I sat on it, bouncing and rocking through contractions. At some point, a nurse/midwife named Sue who had heard that I was attempting a natural birth, popped in and showed my husband how to apply pressure to my hips and massage my back with a bag of hot saline. It relieved some of my discomfort, but only when Sue did it ... My husband was either squeezing too hard or rubbing too lightly. My frustration was nothing compared to pain that was starting to become ridiculous (especially in my back).

I guess I should mention that, by this point, my parents and one of my sisters had made their way to the waiting room. They would page our room occasionally, calling for my husband to give them an update (which he would).

Up until about 8:00 pm, I felt like I was doing okay, for the most part. I was definitely hurting, but the pain was still manageable. I knew I was in trouble when I had a contraction during the singular minute my husband left me to get a pop from the vending machine. Without his hand to hold, I felt lost. The pain was so intense that I felt as if a vice was squeezing me in half. I wanted to scream, but Sue had told me to stay in control by "keeping my sounds low." When he returned he said that my sister wanted to come back and see me to say "Hi."

I vaguely remember thinking that she must be crazy and shouting "No!" at him.

From about 8:30 onward my memories of Malcolm's birth become fuzzy. I do know, however, that during most of that time, I thought that I was going to die. Sue was back and she and Dawn had me moving to try and alleviate some of the pain ... I was rocking on the ball, then on all fours, hunching over the inclined back of the bed. I'd have a small contraction, then a huge earth shattering one. I knew I didn't want the epidural, but I wasn't sure how long I could allow my body to just do what it needed to do. I'm not sure if I just wanted the assurance that things were progressing, or if I just needed something to distract me, but I remember begging to be checked again. Surely I had to be ten centimeters by now. It had been all day! They kept telling me that they'd check again if I felt an urge to push.

I never felt that "urge," but at some point I started lying.

"I'm feeling a lot of pressure," I would say when I could speak. "Can you check me, now?"

When they finally obliged, it still wasn't time. I was 100% effaced, but only eight centimeters dilated ... And the small and big contraction pattern wasn't helping. They gave me some pitocin to help even things out, so from then on, whenever I changed position, I had to fumble around without getting tangled up in my own IV cord. Before I was given the official "okay," I started to push just to survive. I know for a fact that I peed everywhere, but I didn't care. The act of pushing relieved the pressure in my back ... The pressure that was caused from my baby being posterior (or, as they say to make it sound happier, "sunny side up").

Back labor.

Lovely.

At around 11:00, it was finally time! The baby had turned to an anterior position (or so they had thought). I started pushing, first from my back with my husband and Dawn bracing each one of my legs. Then I was rolled to my left side to push. Then I was instructed to get on all fours again and lean over the back of the bed again.

My husband recalls how proud he was of me for being so agreeable and moving when they asked me to ... But, the truth is, by the time I was able to push I felt no pain. I'm not sure if I've just blocked it all out, but I honestly don't remember any pain once I was pushing. There was no "ring of fire" either. Everything about pushing felt good ... It was certainly frustrating and exhausting, but much more comfortable than my contractions had been for the past two hours or so.

It was 11:54 pm and I was on my left side again, legs braced by my husband, Dawn, and Sue, with a room full of nurses wanting to see the crazy woman give birth naturally when a head (finally!) emerged (looking up at his dad instead of down at the floor, like a good baby should) and a slippery body came bursting out. The sensation was really strange and surreal ... And I'm glad that I got to actually feel it happen.

"What is it?" I asked my husband, in disbelief that the baby had just entered the world. "Did they say what it is?!"

"It's a boy!"

So now he was here!

I had just pushed out a six pound, eleven ounce baby boy ... Without any drugs! Crazy!

I spent the next few moments watching my baby boy get cleaned and weighed as my placenta was delivered (I didn't look at it, but I hear they look like monsters) and I was stitched up. I felt a little shaky (and tired), but otherwise great.

Seriously. I felt great.

I was on such a high that I felt like I could literally do anything at that very second. As cliche as it sounds, I immediately forgot about all of the pain I had just experienced as soon as my swaddled baby was put in my arms for his first meal ... And I said as much to my doctor, who just chuckled at me. The little guy was so alert ... Absolutely the most beautiful, perfect baby I had ever seen. The feelings of love and contentment pouring out of me were so overwhelming that, to describe them here, wouldn't do them justice. I could have just stared at him and stroked his little cheeks for hours ... It was difficult to hand him over to my anxious family members when they were let into our room at around 1:00 am.

Malcolm Anthony.


I can't believe it's been a whole year since you arrived.