“WE were ON a BREAK!”

Could this BE any more hilarious?

Could this BE any more hilarious?

 

If you know me in real life, you know that “Friends” is one of my favorite shows ever (Erin, are you reading this? You better be).

Just kidding, I needed a reason to find this dude because I LOVE HIM

Just kidding, I needed a reason to find this dude because I LOVE HIM

Sometimes a break is the best thing you can do for yourself. Hey, look at the show. They end up together, don’t they? Ya never know.

I’m going through a tough time right now. I feel like I always seem to have something stressful going on, but this is a pretty big one. I don’t want to go into detail because I’m still figuring things out myself. But hey, if you believe in prayer, throw some my way as often as you like!

I’m the kind of person who “stress eats” when I am stressed out. Makes sense! But when I go through really hard times, I have a hard time eating. When I pull myself out of the funk and actually start eating, I still lose weight. That’s becomes the point where I think “Oh hai…you are stressed out like WHOA and need to figure things out. Life isn’t that bad! Get it together and it will be okay.”

I guess I’m the same way with writing. I may go long periods without posting blogs, but I’m still jotting notes, tapping ideas into my iPhone, spinning tales in my mind.

I’ve lost it all because I’m too sad.

One day I won’t be so sad, and one day I’ll write again. But this time, I’ll start with the journals, the notes jotted for me and me alone, the comfort of knowing that it’s okay if others read the words I write.

Until then, thank you. Thank you for always being faithful, for leaving comments that always made me smile, and making me feel that maybe, just maybe, I was good at this writing thing.

I know I’m a good mom, but when I’m this stressed out, I worry it will affect my Boo Boo. She is amazing! In fact, I’ll leave this melancholy blog on a happy note! You’ll get a picture of Baby Anna, and the lyrics to one of my favorite songs ever. It’s the kind of song that makes you happy and sad and seems to apply to your life at random times.

I dress her in pink, people still think she's a boy. I think she's beautiful.

I dress her in pink, people still think she’s a boy. I think she’s beautiful.

 

“Of all the things I still remember, summers never looked the same,

Years go by and time just seems to fly, but the memories remain,

In the middle of September we’d still play out in the rain,

Nothing to lose but everything to gain,

Reflecting now on how things could have been,

It was worth it in the end.”

~ September ~ Chris Daughtry

 

Nothing is forever, but thank you for giving me something to aspire to come back to.

~Jen

 

Dear Angel

Our Angel

Such a pretty little girl

On Friday night, I thought about washing the blankets on your dog bed. I tried again Saturday and they remain untouched. Before Friday, I wouldn’t even consider washing them. I wanted to keep you here, even in the smallest way possible. I guess I still do.

I call it your dog bed even though Fred enjoys it too. But you loved that bed, and while he would insist on being at the foot of our bed, under the covers and on top of my foot, you curled up alone. We would call your name and give you permission to jump on the bed. You stayed put. You needed your independence and that was okay.

I stared at the blankets and cried. I remembered telling Aunt Karen that I felt I would never stop crying. She said, “You won’t, but the time in between will become longer.” She was right.

I don’t want to stop crying when I think of you. I want to remember that you were that awesome, and you deserved to have someone mourn your absence. I still tend to dwell on the sadness, so I repeat my friend Khristina’s advice in my head: Think of everything we did do for you and don’t focus on the things we couldn’t.

But I miss you. I wish I could actually tell you that. Instead I’ll just write it here and hope it changes someone’s mind about pit bull type dogs. Maybe they’ll wonder how something supposedly so vicious could touch someone’s heart enough to make them write this letter on a blog.

If (when) we get a second dog, it will be in your honor. You were here for far too short a time but you enriched our lives and completed a happy family. Thank you for letting us be your humans.

I will miss you forever.

Smiling in her sleep...

Smiling in her sleep…

“They live and die for us. The pit bull deserves our utmost respect to be that loyal. We should all aspire to be more like the pit bull. Wearing our hearts on our sleeves, loyal to a fault and willing to die for those we love.” Unknown

Here’s a Few More of My Favorite Things

Did you sing the title in your head? Good job.

I’ve always liked doing “review” blogs, where I tell you about some awesome products and then judge you if you don’t immediately buy them.

Kidding, kidding. But now that I have a baby, I welcome suggested products and try to share the good news when I can. And with Amazon’s Prime Shipping, baby goods keep mysteriously appearing on my doorstep…

Baby nail scissors

31YjIw5Fk7L._SL500_SS500_I was convinced that I’d be one of those moms who just never groomed her child’s nails. I was that terrified of using nail clippers. When I was 14, the family I babysat for brought home Baby #2, and I watched as Mom cut her while trimming her nails. The baby cried…I mean, babies cry. But Mom? She was a mess. Apparently, 17 years later, the memory is vivid enough to terrify the bejeebus out of me.

Thank God someone came up with this. It’s almost impossible to cut the baby because of the rounded ends, and even when I did “get her” one day, she didn’t bleed or even react. Seriously, if you have a baby and you don’t have these, you’re doing it wrong.

Nose Frida

Sorry, I would have taken my own picture but all the gagging left me tired

Sorry, I would have taken my own picture but all the gagging left me tired

A close second to “Never grooming child” was “Do these freaking bulb syringes even work?” I felt like the biggest moron on the planet while trying to operate that thing and Anna was still snotty and congested. Then I read online if you cut one open, you will find it filled with mold because there is no way to properly clean. No thanks!

Then I found the Nose Frida! Okay I have a confession with this one. I don’t think I could ever actually do it. I hold Anna in my lap, attempt to keep her head still (which is a bit of a joke) and let the husband do the sucking. I turn my head and gag the whole time, even though the snot doesn’t come anywhere near your mouth. If you’re a single parent with a strong gag reflex, pay a friend to do it. Trust me, it will be worth it.

Battery Nose Aspirator

31wUFBZoJpL._AA300_If you tried to bribe your friends and $20-per-snot-sucking still isn’t enticing enough, just buy this. I actually have both and feel that they fix different problems anyway. The Nose Frida is great for the really thick, nasty stuff. The battery one is better for looser, clearer leakage. Just take out a small loan now because there are several items left on my list.

Frog rug

Could she BE any cuter?

Could she BE any cuter?

If you have pets and a baby, you know it’s a bit harder to adjust to a routine that works for everyone. Fred loves Anna, but he also thinks he can lick her entire face (and inside her mouth, gross) as much as he wants. We keep him extremely clean, and I’m not a germ-a-phobe, but I still don’t plop her on the floor. At one time, Fred has been plopped on every single inch of our living room carpet, and he may be dragging in dirt and other-things-we-won’t-think-about on his paws.

We found this on Amazon after I saw a picture on Facebook. This thing is great! It’s soft and his giant frog head is a nice pillow so Mommy can lie on the floor with Anna. She sleeps in her crib, so this is the only time we are ever lying down together, and it’s nice. She smiles at me, rests her hand on my face, and I feel like a million bucks.

I think she likes it

I think she likes it

Bath sponge

Not Baby Anna

Not Baby Anna

I don’t know if this is common for new moms, but I was pretty anxious about bath time. The first time they get a real bath, they are still so little and fragile. We were given a few baby bath tubs and could have just used one on the dining room table. However, I’m all about establishing the long-term routine early on, and I didn’t want to do one thing for a month and then be scrambling when she was in between the baby bath tub and the big girl bath tub.

My husband has a knack for research, and he found this! It was amazing for that first newborn bath, and is still great for the now squirmy-infant bath. Also helpful if you are a klutz like me.

Essie glitter nail polish

122211-essie

Stop. No. Do not put this on your baby. This is the section devoted to Mom, aka Wonder Woman. I read a lot (too much…) online, and since I had Anna, most of what I read is baby-related. In my opinion, moms don’t take care of themselves enough. I am a firm believer that I am a better mother when I take the best care of myself.

Everyone has different tricks to feel confident, and having a nice manicure is one of mine. However, they only last for a week tops and cost $12 a pop. As much as I would love to have the time and funds to make this happen every week, I don’t. I’m also pretty terrible at painting my own nails.

Essie is my favorite brand anyway, but did you know glitter is magic? If you mess up your nails before they are dry (taking the baby out of the swing because she woke up after 10 minutes instead of her usual 2 hours is a fine example), it’s glitter. It’s already an imperfect finish, so who cares?

Not my pic, but this is my new favorite color

Not my pic, but this is my new favorite color

In situations where your little one actually lets you complete a full manicure, here’s a tip if you are a klutz like me (have I mentioned this before?) and still manage to find ways to destroy your hard work; paint nails, apply a lot of top coat (the secret to a lasting manicure!) and jump on the treadmill. I find that I’m motivated to walk longer because I want that manicure to last.

If you don’t have time for a manicure and marathon-drying-session, try these. Alex calls them “Lee Press On Nails,” but they aren’t, I swear. They are nail covers, are easy to apply, actually stay on but are easy to take off, and protect your nails. Mine always feel stronger when I take off a batch.

Well, there you have it, friends. I hope this has been helpful and somewhat educational.

Why aren’t you on Amazon yet?

Evil, Stinkin’ Mommy Guilt

If you have a child and you work, you have Mommy Guilt. If you have a child and you don’t work, you have Mommy guilt.

Maybe you formula feed and have Mommy Guilt. Maybe you breastfeed and have Mommy Guilt because you can’t give as much attention to your other children. Maybe your child has colic, and you have Mommy Guilt. Maybe everything is going relatively smoothly and you still have Mommy Guilt. Sound familiar?

Moms are amazing. This is a pretty well-known fact, but it’s reiterated when you actually have a child. Men start to see it in the mother of their child, and women start to feel it after they carry and nourish another life, and then continue to nourish that life.

So why do we beat ourselves up? This has been on my mind for a while. I feel that, at almost 15 weeks old, Baby Anna and I have settled into a good routine. She randomly sleeps through the night (yay!), only gets up once a night if she doesn’t, eats like a champ but still has her slender, girlish figure, and is the happiest darn baby I’ve ever known. She is my traveling companion, my partner in crime, and my biggest reason to take care of myself, because I want to do my best at taking care of her.

But sometimes at work, I get a familiar pang and wish I could see her right. now. Not when work is done, not after I sit in traffic to go to daycare. Now. That thought almost always leads to, “You know, you really should just be home with her anyway.”

Wow! Where did that evil nugget come from?

Here’s some background; I have a good job. Actually, a really good job. My boss is flexible and doesn’t micromanage. He lets me leave early often and I pretty much run the schedule myself. Even if we could afford for me to stay home, I would be crazy to let go of a good job that pays well.

Plus, I remember the last few weeks before I returned to work. I was tired, overwhelmed and majorly lacking in vitamin D.

I have a chronic pain condition. It hurts to get out of bed. Carrying around my little pork chop takes a toll on my back. If I don’t have a reason to leave my house, I won’t…especially in winter. I also think I deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Truth

Truth

I’m a better mom because I work. Having a reason to set the alarm early means I feel better because I’m up early. Returning to work has helped me get (almost) back to my normal weight range, and sometimes it’s refreshing to be outside in the cold (don’t tell my husband I said that).

Yet, I still beat myself up for the things I don’t do. When Angel passed away, I did the same thing. I sang the “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda’s” and cried until I practically made myself sick. It took a conversation with a friend to point out what we did do for Angel. Her last memories weren’t of a shelter, or abuse, or a cold, wet floor. They were of love, a warm and comfy bed, good food, and the best fur-brother anyone could ask for.

Fred is a good helper when it comes to organizing laundry.

Fred is a good helper when it comes to organizing laundry.

Maybe we all need to do this more when it comes to our kids. Feel bad because your husband works  longer hours so you can stay home? Don’t. You’re home with your child. Feel bad because you’re at work and your child is at daycare? Don’t. You’re providing for your child. And if you’re blessed enough to have a similar situation to mine, you have an awesome day care and your little one loves going.

Healthy and happy...must be doing something right!

Healthy and happy…must be doing something right!

So stop beating yourself up. Creating a child, delivering a child and raising a child is a pretty big deal. Odds are, you’re awesome at it. Heck, maybe the most anxiety-ridden moms really are the best, because the crazy voices in their head make them try harder.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Shoot, I would deserve a medal.

Five Question Friday and a Shout-out to Dayle

I stole this from my friend Dayle, who has committed to blog every day in 2013. I realize blogs like this are meant to give regular bloggers a break, and I’ve had a break for…um….well a while now. But hey, I have to get back into the habit of writing, so I’ll jump at this opportunity.

Check out Dayle’s answers here.

 

Answer the questions in the comments or on your own blog (but leave a link)!

 

Five Question Friday

1. What holiday do you wish did not exist?

Valentine’s Day. It’s a silly Hallmark holiday, in my opinion. If you’re single, you’re depressed. If you’re married/in a relationship, you feel the need to do something special…but doing something special means spending more money than is reasonable. Dinners out are more expensive, the price of flowers is ridiculous, the menu is usually limited and you are crammed into your table, surrounded by a bunch of strangers who are entirely too close to your elbow.


2. What is your favorite romance/love movie?

I Love Trouble. It’s not a traditional romance movie, but it’s still a love story.

3. Do you make a big production out of celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Not at all. I would rather get flowers on a random day. And chocolate is pretty much a staple in my household.

4. What is something weird you did as a child? (or even now!)

Oh goodness. How much time do you have? To follow Dayle’s example (because this story is too funny not to share), I had an imaginary friend named Judy. When I went to my grandparents house, I always played behind one of the chairs in the living room. One day I came out from behind the chair and announced that Judy had died from drinking too much wine.

5. What makes you love your husband, really LOVE him, you know since Valentines is coming up?

He is my best friend and always makes me laugh. We have a goofy, silly relationship, which I never had before. I thought I wanted the traditional romance, but realized that everyone’s definition of romance is different. He makes me feel secure and safe. He cooks, cleans and never makes me feel like I have to do everything myself.

The family, minus Sir Frederick

The family, minus Sir Frederick

Oh Yeah, I Have a Blog!

Oh heyyyyyyyyyyyy!

It’s been a hot minute since I blogged. So long, in fact, that I’m now using grammatically incorrect phrases like the one you see above. Once you have graduated from “Preggo Brain” to “Mommy Brain,” you basically are grateful you can still form a sentence in English. You better get used to it.

But Baby H is here!

Anna Leigh, aka, Master of the Stink Eye

Anna Leigh, aka, Master of the Stink Eye

Er, well, she’s technically been here a while actually. Almost 3 whole months!

Fuzzy haired and quite happy about it

Fuzzy haired and quite happy about it

She is an absolute joy. We are very blessed with a baby who is a good eater and a good sleeper. What more could a mama ask for?

And even when she’s not at her finest, she is still relatively happy and easily comforted. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty tired. It’s worth it though, because she makes everything better.

Are YOU looking at ME?

Are YOU looking at ME?

But in the midst of all the happiness, we’ve also been dealing with sadness. Our female pit bull dog, Angel, was put down several weeks ago. She was increasingly losing weight and suddenly got very sick. She had always been a high-energy dog, but there was a change in her anxiety over the past month or so.

She was a little intense when Baby Anna came home, but not in the way you would think. I’m pretty sure Angel thought Anna was her baby. It was precious to see how much she cared. Unfortunately, I think her anxiety was just too much for her. If Anna cried, Angel cried, and sometimes when Anna was calm again, Angel still seemed to worry. But we still found our routine, and Angel was Mama’s little helper.

My girls

My girls

This increased anxiety combined with her sudden and alarming illness left us with a huge decision to make. She rapidly went downhill at the vet and started showing signs that sealed that decision for us. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, even with the knowledge that it was the right thing. Her anxiety had now changed her quality of life, and we couldn’t be selfish anymore.

It’s been less than a month and I can finally say that I feel some peace. I welcomed my beautiful baby into the world and within 2 months had to kiss another baby goodbye. I thought Angel would be with us for many more years, running next to her baby sister and always keeping her safe.

Safest baby on the block

Safest baby on the block

Some things are not meant to be. The day I picked up her remains, I cried harder than I had in days. It felt like she had passed all over again, but it gave me closure at the same time. I placed the beautiful wooden urn on our mantel and breathed a little easier. The pain in my heart had been so palpable, I thought with each passing day that it would finally explode. Now, Angel was home once more. Maybe not in the way I would have preferred, but it was the best it could be, and I accepted the peace it brought me.

Forever in our hearts

Forever in our hearts

Since then, I still have my moments, but I am thankful for the short time we had with her. Her last memories were not of a shelter, or of being abused and neglected. We used to joke that our dogs are better taken care of than a lot of children, and the truth is, we love our dogs as if they really were our kids. I will never stop missing her or loving her, and this ache in my heart will never fully disappear.

Thankfully I have this face to wake up to every day.

Anna5

When she’s old enough, she will hear story after story of the big sister who had to leave us too soon. How she diligently sat by her swing and alerted Mama to her cries.

And I will forever be grateful that we did this:

Fred, Anna, Angel.12/13/12

Fred, Anna, Angel.
12/13/12

Our forever babies.

When Everything Changed

My blog post about Maverick has been on my mind this week. For some reason, I couldn’t shake the image of him malnourished, neglected and mistreated. I know he is now healthy and happy, and his story has the ultimate happy ending; a human who loves him like family.

The concept of “family” has been on my mind as well. I’ve been thinking about how humans can neglect and mistreat each other to the point where you wonder how they ever could have loved you at all. Sometimes reading words that “family” has used to communicate with me leaves me almost gasping for breath, thinking “Do I really mean this little to them? Am I really deserving of this treatment, this disrespect?”

Then I look at my dogs. We don’t know much about Fred’s history, but we’re pretty sure he wasn’t abused. He was very skinny when we adopted him but he also has severe food allergies. Our thought is his previous owners couldn’t “figure him out” and didn’t put the time and effort into the attempt. As hard as those first few months were, we never considered giving him up. He was and still is our baby.

Angel’s story is a little different. She was bred at ten months old, which alone is animal abuse, in my opinion. After a week (?!?!) she was taken from her puppies and dumped at the shelter. Three weeks later, her puppies arrived at the shelter, weak, malnourished and dying. They were all euthanized. With Angel’s skittish behavior (it’s pretty apparent that she was neglected, starved and probably abused) it’s a miracle she wasn’t euthanized as well.

Fast-forward to today, and she is loving, loyal, happy and a completely different dog. She loves people, children and dogs alike. She bonded with my aunt during her recent visit and proved that love really can conquer all. She had every right to turn inward, hate all humans and lash out at anyone who tried to touch her. Instead, she shows me unconditional love every day and has restored my faith in that concept.

Unconditional love. I’ve written about it before because honestly, when I do feel it from those who truly know how to show it, I almost don’t know how to receive it. I feel like I’m always waiting for something bad to happen, for someone to walk away, for those nasty words to find their way back to my ears and my heart.

Maybe one day I’ll be like Angel and my faith in humanity will return. Maybe I’ll be able to read a story of an abused dog and not feel that rise of hatred toward the human who caused all that pain. Maybe I’ll fully receive that unconditional love without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The Truth about Pit Bulls ~ Facebook

What I know now is, the day Fred came home was the day I was forever changed. Adding Angel to our family just made my heart grow bigger. The lessons I learn from my dogs make me want to be a better human, a better wife and a really good mom. They make me want to pick up the broken and tell them there is hope, even when that concept seems impossible. Sometimes you just have to open your heart for the impossible to become a reality.

Just ask Angel, who is finally home, finally loved, and finally free.

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be…”

And so am I.