“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

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.

Just . . . Stop

I am a self-proclaimed-crappy-journal-writer. When friends post blogs and pull lines or pages from previous journals, it makes me sad. Sometimes I can’t even read the blog. I have a few journals with scattered thoughts, tucked away in a box somewhere. But I do not possess notebook upon notebook. I have more than one, but only one or two that has actually been filled. Instead, all my thoughts are crammed into my head, and it’s no wonder I have a hard time shutting off my brain.

For background, I started out at a young age, writing anything I could write. I copied definitions from the dictionary, just to feel the pen or pencil glide across the paper. I started silly stories, wrote down the things that made me angry, and scribbled other nonsense that only an eight-year-old can dream up.

My scribbles were found, read and scrutinized. My stories were mistaken as a reflection of my real life, my angry ramblings were criticized, and my nonsense was taken out of context and almost ridiculed.

It was hard for me to write again, for a long time. And even though I have worked through a lot of the issues (although, not with the person who gave me the issues), I hesitate to journal.

I know my husband won’t go through my things or read my words, but someone else might, someday. What if I am brutally honest and write the things I am feeling while being pregnant, and my child reads it one day? What if I’m gone, and my words are found, but I can no longer defend my feelings or choices?

I was 14 when my aunt passed away, and her parents read her journals. I remember my mom telling me how upset everyone was by her words. That only increased my fear and anxiety.

I carry my journal in my purse but rarely try to fill its pages. I ache to write more, and the more I write little nothings, the more I want to write blogs, or dabble with the two main books in my head, or try to find a “real job” where I can write (in addition to, not instead of, my current job).

Yesterday I started to write more. It was glorious. I had started lugging my laptop to work again, but I know this will not be feasible when my stomach prevents me from seeing my feet. Sometimes I’ll send myself an email, filled with blog ideas, book excerpts or quotes I want to expand.

Maybe I should email myself my journal. Maybe that will help squash the fear until it’s completely gone. Will it ever be gone?

I won’t know until I stop being afraid. If I wake up every day and tell myself, “You are not afraid of your words being read,” perhaps I will start to believe it. Maybe it’s the same principle as “Choose to be happy, and you will be happy.” My inner snarky self is already laughing at me, knowing it’s hard for me to change.

I’m going to try anyway. I want to write about everything. The beach, working in bridal, basketball, being pregnant, my dogs, my loves, my life. The things I want read and the things I want to keep hidden. The good and the bad, the issues and the triumphs, the family who stayed and the family who flew away.

So I will. If someone reads it and gets offended, oh well. I will never be truly happy with all these thoughts in my head.

And maybe these darn headaches will finally give me some peace.

Weird, Wonderful and Mostly Weird

 

Fact: Women’s bodies were made to have children. Lesser-known-fact: Some bodies are just more “made” than others.

You know who I’m talking about. That pregnant friend you had, the one who glowed, smiled, laughed and giggled for the entire 9 months. Maybe she had morning sickness, but in the midst of wiping the vomit from her chin, declared things like “Even though I feel like crap, this is a miracle and I’m enjoying every minute. I wouldn’t change a thing and life is frickin’ amazing.”

Pregnancy is all about weird stuff happening to your body while amazing things are happening to your body. It’s awesome, strange, confusing and pretty cool. But mostly, in the beginning, it’s just weird.

I’m currently in the four-month-funk. Otherwise known as “constantly wondering if people know  you are pregnant or just think you had too much fun at Chipotle over the weekend.” I don’t really feel pregnant, except for all the yucky stuff. I feel sick every day, walking up stairs is equivalent to a 5K, and I just want to know if it’s a boy or a girl, darn it!

I know when I start showing for real, can finally paint the baby’s room and settle into the “everyone is going to touch my stomach” phase, I’ll probably feel a lot better. For now, at least I can have some fun with all the weird.

Every woman is different, so I’m sure there are some who have never experienced what I have, and there are so many factors I will never experience. But somewhere, I know there is another woman who can say “YES!” about one of my weirdnesses (I am fully aware that is not a word, but I like it) .

Eyebrows

What the crap happened to them? This isn’t an entirely new issue, since my eyebrows started rebelling around the age of 28 (I’m currently 31). However, hormones have turned them into a full-blown-experimental teenager. Some of them want to go up while others want to go down, and they never seem to want these things at the same time. I use my Revlon-eyebrow-wax-stick thing every day, but still find myself running to a mirror to check them out. Who runs to a mirror to check their eyebrows?

Pains

I read that you can feel the baby move extremely early, but most women aren’t aware unless it’s at least their second pregnancy. The closest thing I have felt to movement has been pain. The problem is, when the body feels pain, the brain immediately thinks “Something is wrong!” Since I have fibromyalgia, I have tried to distinguish between “normal” pain and “call the doctor” pain. When you’re pregnant, every pain is the latter. In order to not get blacklisted by your ob/gyn, learn to become BFF’s with Google and Babycenter.com.

Hair

I’d like to file a formal complaint on this one. I have said before that God gave me good hair because He knew how hopeless I would be at styling. Maybe my unborn child is testing my skills, because what was once easy peasy hair is now “Where’s my husband’s razor, because it’s all coming off!”
*Note* DO NOT do anything drastic to your hair while pregnant. You. Will. Regret. It. Thankfully I heard this advice before I hit the second trimester, and my hair remains ugly yet unscathed.

Face

I’m one of those strange women who longs for the complexion of her teenage years. Right around the time my eyebrows went on strike, my face started to become difficult. Again, the hormones have jumped the weirdness into high gear. But, it’s nothing that an expensive online “professional” skin care purchase didn’t fix. Who needs a college savings fund? *sobs*

Nails

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the good weird stuff! My nails are amazing. They are strong, grow like weeds and cling to nail polish like never before. Downside? I feel the “need” to take advantage and keep them looking their best at all times, but I royally suck when it comes to at-home-manicures. My nail salon couldn’t be happier.

All these fun weirdnesses have left me feeling rather abnormal. I know that the happy pregnant girls probably experienced something similar, but somehow managed to continue strumming their harps while they braided wigs for children with cancer. They never would have complained non-stop via blog.

The truth is, I’ve never been normal. But normal is boring, right? (That’s what weird people tell themselves to avoid crying into a pint of Phish Food.)

Mmmmmmmm. . .

Overall, I may not be the best pregnant chick, or have the best attitude about pregnancy, but I know I’ll be a good mom. Anyone who stresses, agonizes and obsesses over all this crap has to be good at the final product, right?

Don’t answer that.

I Just Can’t Resist!

This has been an eventful week. President Obama gave his two thumbs up in support for gay marriage while the entire state of North Carolina gave all gays the middle finger. (Interesting tidbit, courtesy of my smarty-pants husband: You can marry your cousin in North Carolina. But not if you and your cousin are gay!)

While this was happening, there were other fascinating events going on across the country, like breast-feeding. Since I am somewhat newly pregnant, anything regarding pregnancy, child-birth or kids in general has piqued my interest, at least more than it did before. You would have to be living under a rock to miss this story in Time Magazine.

I have only been aware of attachment parenting for the past year or so, but I didn’t know it had an official name until this week. I also found that if you want to create a black hole of chaos amongst women, start a conversation about breast-feeding, co-sleeping, vaccinations or “baby-wearing.”

And since it’s hard for me to stay quiet about controversial subjects, here’s my two cents (or maybe a few dollars worth . . .) on the topics at hand.

Breast Feeding

I am hoping breast-feeding works for me. I know it is best for the baby, it’s a great way to lose weight and it’s much cheaper than formula. However, if it doesn’t work, my child isn’t getting proper nutrition and I’m crying myself to sleep every night, I’m going to stop trying. I don’t think you are a bad mom if you don’t breast feed. I don’t think you’re a bad mom if you breast feed until your child is 6. I do, however, disagree with breast-feeding past the age of 1 or 2. Do you need my approval to let your child unbutton your blouse and suckle away? No, you don’t. Just like I don’t need your approval to have my opinions. I can disagree with something without thinking you are a horrible person (it’s a rare gift).

I feel that once my child is a certain age, it’s time to start weaning. Here’s why:

  • There are plenty of healthy ways to provide a child with nutrition.
  • I wonder what extended breast-feeding does to the psychology or personality of a child over the age of 2 (I said wonder, not assume, but I would prefer to not find out).
  • It is a serious commitment that will be difficult to keep up with while working full-time.
  • I only want to abuse my body for so long. (Yup, I said it! Go ahead and judge!)

That is how I feel, but I do not judge women who feel the opposite way. All I ask is for you to not judge me for the way I feel, and hopefully we can all get along.

Baby-wearing

I have zero problem with this concept, except when it gets to the point where the child is never put down. My concern is a developmental issue with walking or crawling at a later age. But if you want to hold your baby all the live long day, go for it!

I don’t feel like I can say, with authority, how I will handle the “cry it out” method. I would love to say “I’m strong! Cry, baby, cry!” But I’m a huge softie.

However, I crate my dogs, and there were many days I cried the entire way to work because they were crying in their crates. I hope this helps me be strong with a human child. Only time will tell!

Co-sleeping

I may appear slightly judgmental with this one, but I promise, that is not my intention. I think my problem is I just don’t understand it. This is coming from someone who sleeps with two 50-pound dogs. So believe me, I know there are millions of you who don’t understand what I do, and probably think I’m slightly crazy. That’s okay!

My reasoning behind the “Dogs-in-the-bed-is-okay, kids-in-the-bed-is-not” theory:

  • My dogs are not going to grow up and one day leave the nest. They will not be going off to college, or buying their own homes, or bringing little granddoggies home for me to meet.
  • My child, however, will eventually leave the nest and become an independent person (dear Lord, let’s hope so). I would like to start the independence early, like the first day (just with sleeping, I don’t plan on abandoning the poor kid).
  • I am too scared about rolling over onto the baby (they say you won’t, but I am Kaptain Klutz).
  • I need sleep, darn it.

I have several friends and acquaintances who swear by co-sleeping, and if it works for you, more power to you! You aren’t sleeping in my house, affecting my ZZZ’s, so I really don’t care. I will say, however, that not one of them had a husband 100% on board with the idea. In my life, in my marriage, I would consider that a problem that needed to be solved.

They say “Happy Wife, Happy Life,” and that statement is true. But if my husband isn’t happy, my house isn’t happy either. I spoke with my boss, and asked him, as a doctor, what he thought about all these things. The only solid medical evidence is this: Breast feeding is good for mother and child. Everything else is about what works for you and your family.

He had good advice, and it reminded me of the card he included with his wedding gift: “Keep doing all the things you did when you were falling in love, and you will stay in love.”

I loved that line so much! I thought it was wise, completely reasonable and perfectly attainable. Basically, the same thing applies when you have a child.

Wives, keep your husbands happy. Continue to take care of him, even after a child comes. He needs you.

Husbands, keep your wives happy. Give her a break, especially in the beginning, when she is sleep-deprived, self-conscious and wonderfully hormonal. She needs you.

And kids? If you have two parents (gay, straight, alien or purple-people-eaters included) who love each other that much, that they continue to always put each other first, you will have a happy, loving life, with a security that money can never buy.

Be confident in your decisions! There will always be someone who disagrees or judges. Aren’t we glad Breyers puts three whole flavors in the same container?

Can We Legalize Morality?

I was never into politics. The first time I was able to vote, I voted Republican, because that’s what my mom did, what my church leaders did, and what I really thought was the best decision for me. That ushered in the first year of George W. Bush, and I was too naive (lazy?) to really pay attention to what was happening to our country. When the chance rolled around to vote for him again, I faithfully remained a member of the GOP.

Thankfully, during his second term, I started to awaken inside. There were some who accused me of being brainwashed by my parents, and I fiercely defended my faith. It took years for me to see that I could keep the faith I held dear, the faith that had always come so easily, and still be my own person. A person who was smart, who could think for herself, who could listen to the little voice (voices?) inside that said something was clearly not as it should be.

John McCain made it easy for me to vote for Barack Obama when he introduced Sarah Palin as his choice for Vice President. But this time, I paid more attention, and I grew to really like Obama. Even my mom liked him! She too, was learning that being a Christian didn’t automatically equal Republican, and I was happy because I was doing something with her blessing, but didn’t require that blessing to make my own choices anymore.

For the upcoming election, I have been diligent in following all parties. Before it all started I knew I would vote for Obama again, but still, educating myself was important. Suddenly I felt like a politics-obsessed feminist, and I hated feminists! I watched, angry, as women who used birth control were called sluts. I watched, confused, wondering why men could engage in whatever sexual activities they chose and were not judged the same way. I grew increasingly impatient when Ann Romney chose to be an offended stay-at-home mom, then said she was happy that so many women had no choice but to work.

Through it all, I was aware that the fellow Christians I used to rally with now left me questioning my “religion.” My faith will never change, but the category I cast myself in has. I feel that simply stating “I am a Christian” is too vague, leaves too much open for eye-rolling, and does not fully explain the Man whose teachings I follow.

I remember a family in my church who removed the television from their home. They were tired of flipping channels when suggestive commercials came on, so they removed the object of concern completely. Whether you agree with this or not doesn’t matter. It was their choice and they weren’t harming anyone in making this choice.

Doesn’t that make more sense than to write to every network, every company, every advertiser that produces a program that you don’t agree with? How much time and energy does One Million Mom spend on condemning everyone around them, when they could be spending time with these precious children they are so determined to protect?

Maybe you think being gay is a sin. You are entitled to that opinion. Must you hate, ridicule, bully those who are gay? Is this worth launching a campaign, trying to “beat the gay” out of people? Wouldn’t it make more sense to love, live your life with a smile, and honestly answer when questioned about your beliefs? If someone wants to be angry at you for what you believe, that is now on them.

Maybe you think abortion is murder, that it’s an unforgivable sin. So don’t have one! You answer to God for your actions and your actions alone. Bombing abortion clinics, killing doctors, shouting words of anger; this does not prove that you serve a loving God. This makes people turn and run the other direction every time they hear the word “Christian.”

You know what shows you serve a loving God? Comforting the girl who just had an abortion. Putting your arm around your gay friend and showing them that you aren’t ashamed to love them, as a human being. Making difficult choices about your own life but standing behind those choices with integrity and strength.

I have chosen to never shove my faith down someone’s throat, but I don’t hide it either. I’m not ashamed, I will answer questions and I welcome a good debate. I argued with an atheist for an hour one day, and at the end of the conversation he laughed. He said, “I still don’t agree with you and I never will, but I respect you for not just throwing Scripture at me. You have actually researched these topics and your knowledge is impressive.” Score! One more person that could have an intelligent conversation with a Christian and not walk away thinking she was a total moron.

Can we ever legalize morality? No. It’s foolish to think we can. I know what the Bible says about sharing our faith, but I’m pretty sure it says nothing about doing it with a heart filled with hate. I have met so many who turn their backs on religion simply because of the religious folk they have encountered, and that makes me sad. They are missing out on a pretty awesome Savior, but their preview of Him leaves much to be desired.

We, as “Christians,” have become so focused on our path that we’ve forgotten Who we are following. If you follow the “Take over the world” mentality, doesn’t it make more sense to maybe use a little honey, instead of pouring vinegar over the open wounds of our struggling country?

Jesus ate dinner with the scum of the earth. He didn’t turn anyone away. He stopped the stoning of a prostitute, famously saying, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Until I can say without question that I am without sin, I will be casting no stones.