Friday, December 19, 2014

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus...Kind of...

Santa. Kids love him, that is when they aren't screaming their heads off because you just plopped them on this strange man's lap in the mall. He knows when you have been bad, he knows when you have been good. You hope you're on the nice list this year and try to be good all year long so Santa will bring you something great.

I grew up with Santa. It was awesome. I would go to bed on Christams Eve after listening to my dad read "The Night Before Christmas" and setting out cookies and milk for santa and of course carrots for the reindeer. There were presents under the tree, but only a few. Then, I would wake up at the great hour of about 5am and burst out into our living room to see the most wonderous thing I could imagine. Presents, perfectly wrapped placed neatly under the tree. Often there was a "big ticket" toy assembled for me with a bow or ribbon on it. God bless my parents for those late night assemblies. Once it was a motorized Barbie Jeep, once it was a bike and once it was a baby doll crib. I would patiently stare at the presents until a semi-reasonable hour and then proceed to jump on my poor, sleeping and exhausted, parents and literally drag my older brothers out of their beds  by their foot with the proclamation that "Santa came! Santa came!!" It was more magical than a unicorn jumping on a cloud of cotton candy pooping sprinkles and glitter. I have absolutely no idea how my parents pulled that level of amazing off each and every year but they always did. Kudos mom and dad.

It would seem natural with such fantastic memories of Christmas and good ol' St. Nick that I would be taking that wrapping paper baton from my parents and carrying on our traditions. Well, I am...but I'm not.

When I tell people we don't "do" Santa they gasp in horror as if I have just drop kicked a puppy right in front of them. "But your children will miss out on all of the magic of Christmas!" "Why would you ruin their childhoods?!" "How mean of you!" they cry.

I promise I am not ruining my children. When we first had children, and even before, the topic of mythical holiday creatures had come up. Kenny and I grew up very differently in respects to these creatures. I had the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus but he didn't. I was fine with not doing the Easter bunny, although I will miss not carrying on my parent's tradition of creating bunny tracks with baby powder. I was also all for nixing the tooth fairy. That one is just plain annoying. Trying to keep a stash of cash in the house at all times in case of a loose tooth just sounds like too much bother. Then came the subject of Santa. Santa was mine. I loved Santa. No way was I giving him up. Kenny felt rather differently. It had been a point of disagreement for years between us but it's never really been much of an issue because our kids are so little. I have given it much thought and I have agreed to let go of Santa, but not completely.

When I say we don't "do" Santa. What I mean is I will not be telling my children that Santa is watching them from the North Pole. He does not send little creepy  mischievous elves to check on them and he does not come deliver presents to our house. They will still hear about Santa though. They will know him as a fun character, just like Mickey Mouse. They will know the spirit of giving, and they will most definitely know magic still exists. I will still make presents magically appear under the tree just like my parents did and our traditions will carry on through this next generation. I will still read them stories about Santa and tell them about the real St. Nick. They will sit on Santa's lap and scream while they have their picture taken. They will know it's pretend, but it doesn't make it any less fun. Their Christmas will still be filled with fun and lasting memories, they just might be a little different than yours.

I will tell them about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. It is because long ago a very special baby was born in a very un-spectacular way. Tucked away in a straw littered stable, under the watchful eye of farm animals and without fanfare baby Jesus was born. They will know this happy day for it's true meaning. They will know we are filled with joy not at the presents we received because we were "good" all year long and didn't touch the elf, but because we are overjoyed the Savior was born to save us.

When my kids eventually ask, "Is Santa real?" I will tell them the truth:
No, Santa the person is not real. The magic, and his spirit is though. There are real Santa's all over the Earth. Santa's who delight in giving, Santa's who help those in need, Santa's who spread love, peace and good cheer wherever they go. Santa's who make miracles happen. They just aren't always dressed in red with a belly like a big bowl of jelly. Sometimes they are your mom and dad, or a complete stranger.

Thankfully the kiddos are still so little they have absolutely no idea. We still have a few years and I know they won't be able to comprehend much of this for even longer. Still, even as an adult I know Santa isn't real, but that doesn't mean I don't believe. So when I say we don't do Santa, please don't look at me like I'm an axe murder. There will still be magic, there will still be joy, there will still be all of the amazing traditions. They will not be ruined, they will not miss out and they will not feel cheated. Conversely, I hope they will grow up to know the joy of giving, the value of love and the true meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Passed!


I woke up excited, nervous and surprisingly confident. I put on my scrubs, clipped my MCC badge to my shirt one last time. I rocked out to some Taylor Swift on my way, grabbed a pumpkin spice latte and reveled in the idea that this was the last time I would drive to MCC and sit in that classroom as a student.

My heart was racing, my mind was calm though. The previous night study session with some of my closest friends had told me I do know this stuff! I clicked begin and started answering. Question after question I kept clicking away. Analyzing, thinking things through. Reasoning why my answer was correct or eliminating others. I felt reasonably confident. There were a handful of tough ones that required some guessing but I thought for sure I had nailed something over the 76 I needed. Then the 150th question came. I answered carefully and clicked that submit button.

My heart threatened to beat out of my chest, I am pretty sure I was in a state of respiratory alkalosis from my hypervention, and I found my brain vaguely wondering what my ABG levels were. I always cover my eyes until the screen changes, I don't know why. The next screen shows me my score. The next screen would show me if I had succeeded. I opened my eyes and I'm fairly certain my heart stopped. Just stopped. It felt like ice had been poured over me. My mind raced through every thought possible: it was a mistake, I didn't study hard enough, the computer is wrong, the computer is right, this is just a really bad dream.

My world collapsed. The grade was too low. It was not the 76 I needed to pass. In that moment I did not pass nursing school. I began shaking and managed to contain myself just long enough to show the teacher my grade, grab my stuff and run. Run back to my car sobbing. I called my husband first. Poor thing. To tell him the news. At this point I had no idea what I was doing. My world was shattering and I didn't know how to pick up the pieces. I had just thrown away years and years of hard work, countless hours studying, about $10,000 in loans and then some, all the time devoted to this school by myself and my family, and lastly my job. I had just lost the job I not only loved but needed. That was a terrifying feeling. I had already used up my one readmission to the program so I couldn't just simply repeat the semester either. This was it: make it or break it.

I drove to my parent's house in some kind of blur. Truthfully I probably shouldn't have driven. I sobbed out the words "I didn't pass" to my mom. I stayed there for awhile, my mom comforting me and the kids blissfully playing around me. Completely unaware of the utter devastation in their mom's heart. I began the process of texting, calling and alerting the world to my failure. I've been known to be a little over dramatic, yes. In hindsight I would have waited to ensure it was the official result but being in the distraught state I was, thinking clearly was not happening. I decided to go back to the school and talk to my teacher, ask to go over my test, find out what the heck happened.

When I entered the room, most of the class was still there. My classmates embraced me and I found out there was not a single person in the class who got an 80 on that test and questions would be gone over with potential points being given back. I still didn't think I had any hope of course. I needed 5 questions to be given back to pass. The most I had ever gotten back on a test was 1 or 2. Our teacher assured us this was high priority and the heads of the department would be working on reviewing the test immediately. Until then I was hanging in this weird limbo. Everybody and their uncle was praying for those points back.

I didn't know what to do with myself. I didn't want to just go home and sit there. I was in no emotional condition to take care of my kids. So two other classmates and I decided to go see a movie to keep our minds occupied while we waited. We went to see Big Hero 6 which turned out to be perfect. The big marshmallow looking character is actually a nurse robot. Couldn't have been better.

During the movie one classmate checked his phone to see if the grades had been updated. He nudged my other classmate who checked hers, then I proceeded to check mine. I'm fairly certain the one other guy and his daughter who were in the theater thought we were insane, or just really into the movie. Once we saw that all three of us had been given enough credit to pass cries of happiness, shrieks of excitement and multiple high fives and hugs were being exchanged. I ran out into the hall and called my mom and husband to let them know our prayers were answered. I texted every person I could think of to share the good news: I had passed nursing school!

Yesterday I went through the lowest of low feelings only to be pulled up to the highest of high feelings. I was emotionally exhausted, physically I felt like I had just run a marathon. I have worked so hard to achieve this goal. Even if I did only pass with a "B" instead of an "A" overall. I passed. They don't put "R.N. who just barely passed" on your license after all.

I have an amazing support system that has carried me through this program and if it weren't for them I would never have finished. I only get 75 words to thank those people in my pinning ceremony speech but I will be doing a separate blog post to thank all of those I wish I could have fit in those 75 words but couldn't.

So now I am free. There are no more tests to cram for, no more clinicals to attend. I don't have any homework to do. I never have to set foot in an MCC nursing class again. It's weird and I still don't feel like it's real at all. I am sure by the end of the month when I've had more time of just being me it will feel real.

Until the NCLEX I am going to enjoy my two day a week extern job, I might catch up on some tv shows, crochet a few things, return to crossfit and even clean my house! The best part though: I get to spend more time with my awesome kids and family!!!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Two Year Journey

     My fate will be decided in just 27 days. That is when I will walk, or possibly be dragged crying (probably that), into my classroom at MCC for the last time as a nursing student. I will sit down, breathe into my paper bag, and begin the second biggest test of my life. The biggest being the NCLEX-RN. My nursing final is looming on the horizon and now that it is so close I am terrified.

     When I first started this career path I never could have imagined what a roller coaster my life would become. It truthfully felt like it would never end and now that the end is here. Well. Stuff gets real. I am really going to graduate and I really am going to have the distinct privilege of writing the letters R.N. after my name. Those two little letters mean everything. I have given so much to succeed in this program. Tears, a little bit of blood, sweat, and a rather large portion of my sanity and even larger portion of my social life. Not that the kids didn't annihilate the social life anyways, but I digress. Not to mention the money, oh God the money.

     So much has changed in these two years. I remember walking out of boot camp with my nurse pack all eager to begin. We celebrated our first assessment check off with fervor and went out for drinks to celebrate passing our bed bath check offs. Oh those were the days. We had no idea what was about to hit us. Now we've said so long to those check offs, we've passed our pharmacology courses, we've renewed our prescriptions for anxiety, and we are all hanging on to our sanity by a thread. Yup.

     Nursing school does things to you. When I see first or even second semester students I think, "Oh look at them all happy, bright and eager to learn! They'll learn." You can always tell the first semester student from the fourth semester. First will have this excited look on their face, whites pressed, chomping at the bit to get on the clinical floor. Fourth will have a look something like a zombie, whites clean enough not to be sent home, and finding any excuse possible to stretch out that lunch during clinical.
     I say this in jest (no I don't) we aren't that bad but there is a certain charm of nursing school that wears off after time. I'm no expert but it probably has to do with the inhuman amounts of work we are assigned and the library's worth of information we are expected to know. Again, not an expert.

     They say it is all worth it though. The constant stress, the feelings of sheer terror during every waking moment, the crying into your pillow at night as you recite your lab values. As the days quickly pass I find myself feeling as if I am ending a chapter in my life and beginning a new one. It's a huge change for me. Going from full time student to full time nurse. I don't know what I'm going to do with all my free time. Who knows, maybe the laundry might actually make it to the dryer before the mildew starts in. I might even have time to enjoy my hobbies like crochet again, but let's not get crazy. One thing at a time.

     There are few things in life like nursing school. It's the most grueling time of your life but it's also where you are molded, forged and forcibly stuffed into the mold of an amazing nurse. You form bonds that last a lifetime. There is no stronger bond that sobbing over the last test with your classmate while simultaneously downing a bottle of wine.  Ineffective coping anybody?
      I also have to say there is no better test to see who really will be there for you when you need it most. Without my family's support there is no way on this Earth I could even think about making it in this program. My husband has been supportive, positive, and encouraging every step of the way. Even when I am having a mental breakdown in his arms he is there to tell me it will be OK. My parents and my in-laws have been angels. Seriously. They are gifts from God. They have been taking on my two little tazmanian devil's for ridiculously long hours without so much as a grumble. My friends (that haven't been alienated from my hermit lifestyle) have also been my much needed support. Especially one of my former classmates, my nursing school mom, who has always been there to tell me exactly what I need to hear to keep my chin up. So to those who have been on this insane journey with me, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and I promise when you're on the sharp end of my needle I'll make sure to be gentle. 

     It's been a hellish nightmare at times, but it's all going to be over soon. Then life will shift once again as I try to find my place as a "baby nurse" in the big world. So, goodbye nursing school, it's been fun.

This is Roxas at my Nursing Boot Camp. Can you believe that?
 The day of my 3rd Semester Finals

Lucy chewing on mommy's ID badge

 My day in surgery rotation!

After passing our 3rd semester finals!
Good ol' clinical whites!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why I want to be a nurse

Every semester...they ask..."why do you want to become a nurse?" The answers range all over the map but there are several repeated over and over. "I want to help people" "I like medicine" "The money is good and it has job security"

All of those are true for sure but the answer to that question is so important to future nurses. It's an answer we should never forget, but unfortunately it happens.

The answer to that question when I was in first semester went a little something along the lines of me always being interested in the medical field because of my mom, and the desire I had to learn and be immersed in that fascinating world.

The answer to that question when I was in second semester changed. During my clinical experience I took care of a patient that was very ill when I was caring for him. He happened to still be in the hospital when I returned the following week. He was doing much better and I stopped by to say hi. He genuinely thanked me for everything we did to help him. In my head I was thinking, gosh...we didn't do that much. Then I realized. What seemed so little to me was huge to my patient. That moment sums up why I want to be a nurse. To make those little moments improve the lives of others.

The answer to that question once again changed. In third semester I found my calling. I had always said I wanted to work in one of a few places: labor and deliver, pediatrics, or the ER. We experienced all three during this semester and I learned so much about myself. I learned that I can't handle pediatrics. I learned the ER is just as awesome as I thought. I learned that the one place I want to be forever is by the side of a laboring mom. Getting the privilege of cheering her on, offering encouragement, and sometimes a hand to squeeze. To be a part of the process of birth is the most gratifying, beautiful, wondrous thing. To watch the faces of two new parents as they lay eyes on their child for the very first time. There is no better place to be. I will never forget the first delivery I attended as a student. I will never forget that baby's name or the look shared between his parents. I want to become a nurse because I genuinely love my patients. I want to encourage, I want to be there when a hand needs holding, I want to share my passion for all things pregnancy and birth, I want to make a new mom or dad's lives a bit easier, I want to be the ears that listen to fears and the words that soothe them, I want to be the one who reassures. I want to be the pillar in a new unsteady place. When you find your passion you know it. A part of your heart seems to physically ache when you are away from it. Every day I work I have to walk past the labor and delivery unit. I feel that pull, I know where I belong, I know where I'm supposed to be without any shadow of a doubt.

I'm in my first week of fourth semester now. It's the final one. It was not in school where I had yet another momentous experience, but at work as an extern. I met a patient who was me. A young lady who needed my help. A young lady who I understood so fully when nobody else could. She was me and I was her. I firmly believe I was put in her room for a reason and this was it. She knew she wasn't alone in the world and somebody else had walked her path before. The look in her eyes will never leave my brain. The look of being understood, finally. I held her hand, gave her comfort, helped her understand what she needed to do next. I hugged her. I cried with her. I listened to her. I may not have changed her life in just one day but I became a part of it. I hope my touch started a ripple. Of course I don't know what happened after she left but I know I still think about her and pray for her every single day.

 On December 12th I will be standing on a stage while somebody (I still haven't picked who yet) places a pin on me signifying my completion of the RN program. That little pin represents every tear cried, every minute spent away from my children and husband, every pound gained, every victory dance, every breakdown, every hour spent studying, several hundred gallons of coffee, and the blood, sweat and other bodily fluids on my shoes that were not my own. That little pin represents all of the hard work I have put in because I want to be a nurse.

These experiences can't really be put into words very well. They do not fit neatly into a little box of why I want to be a nurse because there is no way to confine what it is to be a nurse. These experiences and many more like them are exactly why I chose this profession. Nursing is a science and an art. It is a profession of compassion, skill and dedication. It can only be described in human experience and emotion, not words.

Friday, July 25, 2014

50 Shades of No Thanks

     The internet is buzzing with activity over the newly released trailer for 50 Shades of Gray (or is it Grey? I don't know). Women are practically lining up to be the first to see the big screen adaptation of the bestselling book. I won't be one of them, and if you have any respect for women as a whole you won't either. 

     I will admit, I read the books. In my defense I had no idea what they were about when I bought them. Seriously. I live under a rock. All I saw was a bunch of hype around this book, and heard how amazing it was. I saw it at every store I went to. I love to read and I hadn't sunk my teeth into a good book in awhile so I picked up a copy to see if it really was as good as it sounds.

     I got the book home and started reading. Then I realized what kind of book it was, no wonder nobody was talking openly about what it's content was. It. Is. Porn. Flat out...that's what it is. The gratuitous use of various slang terms for male and female anatomy as well as sexual terms belonged more in the pages of a magazine with the black plastic all over it than in a bestselling book sold at Kmart. If I were smart I would have stopped reading it once I reached the first page that made me look up and question myself as to what on Earth my eyes were seeing. I'm not all that smart sometimes unfortunately.

     I kept reading it because I had to find out what happened to the characters, I was already sucked in. There is a thin plot to the whole thing, and it is easy to become emotionally invested in the characters. I needed to know what happened to Ms. Anastasia Steele. There is a thread of a love story somewhere in all of the domination and masochism. I tried to look past the terrible things the main character, Christian (irony eh?), would do in the name of so called love. This was a mistake, because I kept reading.

     I later found out the book was a shined up version of fan-fiction written based on the Twilight series. Of course I liked the was Twilight with a twist. It's about a young, vulnerable girl who meets a strong, mysterious, and troubled man. They fall in love and the rest is history. Except...Edward respects Bella and would never intentionally hurt her. Actually he repeatedly tries to prevent her from getting hurt over and over and would rather deprive himself of the love of his life than have her be condemned to the difficult life that vampire immortality offered. He wants nothing more than for her to be happy. He does not desire to dominate her in anyway. Side note: Edward was also instant on no sex before marriage, they don't end up in bed until well into book 4 after the wedding. 50 shades...they are in bed by chapter 3. 

     50 shades...totally different story. Christian desires nothing more than to dominate Anastasia. He desires to inflict pain on her, he desires her submission for his own pleasure. At no point did I get the idea that he was genuinely, selflessly in love with her. I got the impression that he was more happy to have found such a vulnerable and weak woman to play his sick games and bend to his will unquestioningly.

     Curiosity is dangerous sometimes. I finished the first book and had no intention of reading the remaining two. Then somebody had to tell me how the series ended. Then I just HAD to know how these two characters who were obviously not in love
                                                       ********SPOILER ALERT********

end up married and having a baby. I mean really...this is not the kind of relationship which a child is a welcomed thing. Actually, he is furious and punishes her for it. No marriage should ever be what theirs is. 

     50 Shades of Grey is dangerous. Why? because it perpetuating a warped, twisted idea of love, not to mention it is very poorly written. Sure, there are people who might respond to this idea by saying, "but if that's what two consenting adults like then it's fine!" Whatever you want to do with your husband or wife is none of my business but that being is not painful, love is not vindictive, love is not meant to cause bruises and emotional scars. Love is not what Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele have. Love is a mutual trust, love is gentle, love is understanding. Christian Grey has none of those to offer.

     I read the books out of curiosity and it did me no favors. It did not sit well with my husband either, I mean I would be furious if he sat down next to me and started reading through the pages of Hustler. My sitting down to read 50 Shades was just as bad, but I didn't see it until I was honest with myself about what I was reading. I convinced myself it was a love story, but it wasn't. It was the complete opposite of what true love is. I had to be honest with myself and realize I shouldn't have read those books. I should have put it down the instant I realized what I had bought and never picked it up again.

     How such a book gained so much mainstream popularity I cannot fathom. Perhaps it is a symptom of our twisted culture in which women are told they don't need a man. So they look to books like 50 shades to provide some emotional and physical stimulation. Or perhaps it's our culture's twisted view on marriage. Marriage is no longer a living thing to be cared for, and nurtured. It is disposable, easy to throw out at the first sign of wear. Why work on an unhappy marriage when you can ignore the problem and find happiness in a fictional relationship instead? That's a whole lot easier.

     I learned from my mistakes of reading the books and I will adamantly refuse to watch the movie out of respect for my husband, my marriage and women. I can't unread what I have already read but I can be aware of what I allow in to my head in the future. I can be on guard for poisons which can come in seemingly harmless containers. Poisons which can wind their way in my life, subtle in their careful destruction.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Not In The Picture

     I've been putting together Lucy's yearbook, a little photobook with pictures from the past year of her life, and I came to a realization. I'm rarely in the picture. Sure I'm in the kids lives almost constantly, but if you looked at the photo evidence I seem to be missing. Browsing all of the pictures in this last year you see a happy daddy, grandma's and grandpa's, even uncles and aunts with the kids. Who you don't see is the person taking the picture: me.

     I noticed I only have two pictures of my little family all together. One of those is from Halloween and you can't really tell it's us. The other is our Christmas photo. That's it. Those two photos are the only family picture I have.

     I have tried to get more pictures of me with the kids but most of those are just terrible quality front facing cell phone camera pictures with a screaming or squirming kid. I cherish the few decent photos I have of me and my kids.

It's a problem a lot of moms have. Somehow we seem to get designated as the family photographer. I guess chef, maid, doctor, and negotiator weren't enough. We dutifully document every smile, birthday, holiday and happy moment. Only to exclude ourselves from the picture.

I love pictures because they bring back happy memories. I look through my pictures often and enjoy the happy times. I know one day I may not be fortunate enough to remember all of the happy moments. I may not be fortunate enough to tell my children and grandchildren about holidays and birthdays and fun trips but at least I could show them.

Of course the memories in our heads are the most important, and my kids will hopefully have happy memories of birthdays, holidays and summers spent together. The time I spend with them is far more important than photos documenting it. Still a part of me is sad they will one day look through the pictures of them as babies and perhaps wonder why mom isn't in them. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Mess Ups Make Me a Better Parent

Lucy turns one year old in just 30 days. Of course that sent my mind down the path of imagination. I imagine her as a sweet little girl going off to her first day of school, excitement bright in her eyes. I imagine her making the huge step from elementary school to middle school, and then I start freaking out. I imagine her as a teenager.

Of course the old joke among parents is always "just wait until they are teenagers!" I really can't wrap my head around being the mom of two toddlers much less two teenagers (HELP) but then I start thinking about my teen years. Maybe it is Lucy's approaching birthday that has me thinking about my teen years and growing up, maybe it's the "2000's Hit Pop songs" radio station I've been listening to but I have been thinking about my life as a teen often. Then I get scared.

I worry. I'm a parent. Duh.

I worry about the numerous times I messed up and will mess up. Without delving into deep detail because you reads this. I messed up a lot as a teen. Those years between ages 12 and 19 were filled with not only good choices but unfortunately they included some really bad ones too. Of course I never ended up in trouble with the law but I still made choices I regret. I made choices that forever altered my teenage universe. Even as an adult I have messed up. I've made choices that strained relationships, and tested my marriage.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and undo the bad choices. Travel back in time and change my fate. I wonder how my life would look then. I realized something though. Those times I messed up taught me lessons. I am stubborn (*gasp* NO?!) and sometimes I just have to learn the hard way. It is those mess ups which have made me a better parent.

I credit my not being a bum at the moment to two things:
1. My parents who actually cared enough to let me learn by making mistakes, taught me everything they know and guided me towards the right path.They kept an eye on me but let me venture out on my own to learn the only way I can. They trusted me (Lord only knows why) to heed their words of wisdom. They gave me support...even when I messed up. I strive to be as valuable to my kids as they were to me. Even if I didn't see the value then...I do now.
2. My then boyfriend, now husband. I've said it before but it is worth saying again. I firmly, 100%, believe God gave me the gift of young love to help me keep myself on the right path. Having a boyfriend who was not caught up in the drama of school, stayed away from the drug or party world so many of my friends were in, and genuinely cared for me made a very big difference in my life. I pray my children find a mate so perfectly matched to them as I have found because seriously...he puts up with far more than he deserves sometimes.

My mess ups taught me that messing something up isn't the end of the world. They taught me there are consequences to all choices and it's worth thinking about them before you make a choice. My mess ups taught me responsibility in taking those consequences in stride. They have taught me to learn from the mistakes I've made.

So now when I start having a freak out about my own children entering that trial by fire period of life known as being a teenager, with raging hormones and confused personalities attempting to figure themselves out, I know it will be OK. I know my kids are not perfect. They will mess up. They will probably give me gray hair. They will resist my advice, and then thank me for it in 20 years. Still...they will be OK. They will learn the lessons I did, and I will support them, love them and help them find the right path. With any luck though, they will make just a few less mistakes than I did. I can hope, right?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

10 Months!

Next month is Lucy's FIRST BIRTHDAY! I can't believe it. The year has gone by much too quickly. It really seems like she has gone from a newborn to this little person in record speed. She's sharp as a tack, and has picked up some "words", knows a few signs pretty well and is always investigating something. She is turning into a little lady right before my eyes.

     The past year has been tough in so many ways. The third semester of school nearly killed me, and then adding in trying to keep up a house, stay on top of bills, and feed my family I am toasted. I feel like I missed so much because I was so busy. I have pictures, but not as many as I like. I have some video but not nearly as much as I took with Roxas. If there is one thing I would do differently looking back at Lucy's first year of life it would be to write down more, document more and make more time for family. Now that things have settled a little bit I'm enjoying my time at home even more. I still work as an extern a few days a week which has been bittersweet. I love my job and caring for patients but I love being a stay at home mom too.

     We are getting ready to go on a trip to Colorado for a friend's wedding and we will be away from the kids for FIVE days. That's right. FIVE. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I look forward to not hearing, "mom, mom, mom, mooooooooooooom, mom, MOM!" nearly constantly but I will miss their cute little faces and nighttime snuggles. I will be praying for my parents who get the rough task of wrangling the two for those five long days too. That's no easy task for sure.

      Life is still crazy but at least it's a little less so, at least until school starts again in August! I've already started planning Lucy's party and I can't wait. I've settled on a Princess theme and my imagination is running away from me with all the great ideas I've seen on Pinterest just last night. It will be a fun time for sure.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

9 Months Gone

     9 months have raced right by and Lucy is growing up right in front of me at an alarming speed. She is so smart, sometimes it is scary! I'm not sure what on Earth I'm going to do when she gets older and realizes she is so smart.
     Now that school is out for the summer I have even more time to love on my little wonder girl and watch her learn new things. She is an ace at cruising and crawling, and now she even stands on her own for a few seconds at a time. She still doesn't have any teeth coming in but it's completely ok with me. I am in no hurry for her to hit that milestone. We are still happily nursing away and I'm thrilled about that. Roxas had weaned himself by this age and it was an extremely hard thing for me to cope with at the time. Lucy is showing no signs of giving up on her milk any time soon. She loves her food too though. If we are eating she absolutely has to get her hands on some of what we are having.
     Roxas and Lucy are adorable together, when Roxas isn't trying to beam her in the head with a toy that is. Watching them have fun and play together just makes my heart swell with love for both of them. Roxas loves to bring her toys and pacifiers. He even calls her LuLu, since Lucy is kind of hard to say for him.
     I'm excited to see what this summer brings, lots of swimming, planning Lucy's first birthday bash. So much to do and so much fun to be had I am sure.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hold up...he is TWO?

Two years. That cute little potato is now two years old. Woah. I mean just woah. I look back at pictures all the time (and usually end up crying) and wonder where the time went. I know it sounds so cliche but it's so true. I wish I could time travel back to some of the moments we've shared in the last two years just one more time. There is no question I love both of my kids to the moon and back but I would be lying if I said the experiences and memories were the same. Two years holds so many memories, and it's all over in what seems like seconds sometimes.

     There is nothing like the first time you see two pink lines show up in that window. Of course I was excited for Lucy's lines but nothing will ever be like that very first time. That very first moment of realizing you are harboring another life. The unknown, the joy, the fear, the wonder. It's all there the second time but just a little different.
     There is nothing like those first kicks. Oh my. The waiting, wondering and hoping. Every little twitch makes you wonder if that was this strange new person alerting you to their presence. Then, when you finally know you're feeling your baby move for the first time, there are no words for that. Just no words. You cannot possibly describe what that feeling is. 
     There is nothing like the first time you hold your first born child. To hold this brand new life, a physical miracle created with your body. It's an amazing thing. Counting toes, and fingers, praising God for this tiny life. The very first moment you become a mom. There is no comparison.
     There is nothing like those first 
     Roxas has grown so much. He transformed from this adorable little chunk into this tank of a toddler seemingly overnight. I don't know when it happened, because I had given him strict instructions not to grow but he didn't listen. Typical toddler. He is a whopping 36 pounds and a solid little tank. He's all boy, wanting to cause mischief and somehow remain adorable while doing it. He says so many words now it's hard to keep track of what words he knows. He has kind of his own language but the words are getting clearer and clearer each day. He runs, jumps, hops, climbs and can do so many things by himself. He's absolutely hilarious, and has a personality the size of Texas.
     Of course my rough and tumble little man isn't the snuggly baby in my memories anymore. I miss his cuddles and sweet newborn smell. I miss having my little baby boy in my arms. I know he has to grow up, and I'm happy he's growing so well. Still, it's like a little chapter of life closes every time he reaches some new milestone or finds some new skill. It's also like a new chapter begins too. I look forward to all of the amazing things I know he will be doing shortly. I'm excited to teach him and show him our world.
     Just sometimes I would love to go back to holding him for the very first time, smelling that sweet baby noggin, and reveling in our new parental roles.
     We had a nice party down at the park for Roxas. He had a great time playing with his friends and eating more junk food that I really care to admit. He got so many toys I think we might be able to qualify as a retail store now. Spoiled does not even begin to describe it. Of course he wouldn't just grab the cake with his hands. Oh no. Not my little OCD boy. He demands a fork and really he barely ate any of his cake. I don't know what kind of kiddo doesn't like cake, but apparently they exist and I have one.
     I'm amazed yet another year has waltzed right on by without me even noticing (wasn't it just 2013?!) and I've had so many new memories to preserve, and I'm looking forward to another year of watching my little guy flourish.


Friday, January 31, 2014

6 Months Went by WAY too Fast

     I refuse to believe the calendar is right...Lucy can't be 6 months old. It's just not possible. She was just born a few weeks ago it seems. As much as I wish the calendar was wrong, it's not, and my little princess is growing up!
     We are halfway through our first year with two under two and so far it's been quite the experience with many new challenges. Having two little ones is absolutely nothing like I thought it would be. Lucy has been such a different baby than Roxas it can be hard to believe they share the same genes at times.
     Thankfully I think Lucy is starting to get a little bit better about being a little bit less attached to me. Oh, she is still firmly Velcroed to my side most of the day but there are times when it seems she is becoming slightly less so. She will actually reach out for other people and be somewhat content being held by others, as long as I am within sight of course. She is even sleeping in her own room now! Well...most of the night. Truthfully I find it is a little harder on me than her. I miss snuggling up with her all night. She starts looking sleepy so I feed her, she drifts off, and then I lay her down in her crib. She pretty much always wakes up but after about two or three minutes she drifts back to sleep and stays that way until about 6am. It's been very nice getting a little more sleep but truthfully that's more so because I am not staying up until 4am every night doing random stuff like cleaning or crochet.
     Roxas and her have really become your typical brother and sister. He loves bringing her things and is always making sure she isn't left out of the fun. He's a sweet brother and I know he will be the best protective big bro ever. They have their squabbles over who gets to hold the snack cup or who gets what toy every once in awhile but those are quickly fixed and they both move on. I savor the ease of quelling these little tiffs now because I know it's going to get worse! I can already hear the cries of "But MOOOOOOOMMMMMM! He's touching my stuff!!" or "Get out of my room Lucy!!!".
     Both of the kids have been just growing like little weeds. I swear I can hear them growing. Roxas will be two in just about a month! Holy cow did that year fly by. He's such a little character too. He charms all the ladies he meets, and just melts hearts wherever he goes. He talks NON-STOP too. I understand about 40% of what he says and the rest...well it's a total mystery but whatever he is saying it's apparently very important to him. Lucy is almost able to sit all by herself, she still falls over after a few seconds but she's doing really great at it. I swore she was getting her first tooth last month but she's still sporting an adorably gummy smile with no teeth in sight. She loves to be on the move and I know when she's mobile I will really have to watch out because she will be into everything! Wiggleworm is her nickname and for good reason! She is never sitting still. She twists and turns and tries to hang upside down when I'm holding her. Honestly a greased up piglet would be easier to hold onto. She also has "go-go-gadget" arms, I am amazed at the things she can reach. It's almost like she sprouts extra limbs. Of course she immediately tries to eat whatever she grabs too. Her favorite thing to try and eat is paper, she LOVES paper! Her check up is on Wednesday so I'm excited to see how much she has grown. I'm sure it's a lot!
      Since she is 6 months old now we have officially reached the age when it's "OK" in my opinion to introduce solid foods. She has had little tastes of this and that but we haven't given her "real" food yet. I'm really in no hurry to do it either. Partly since we do cloth diapers and you don't have to rinse off exclusively breastfed poo! The other part is I'm paranoid about killing off my milk supply. With Roxas I made the distinct mistake of feeding him so much solids that he really backed off nursing and then once I got pregnant with Lucy it was curtains for our breastfeeding relationship.  This time I have learned from my mistakes, and we will be making sure solid foods are just more snacks as opposed to the main course for Lucy. I also have absolutely no intentions of making Lucy a big sister any time soon, so that element will be out of the picture this time too. I'm sure she will have a blast with her first foods though. There will be plenty of pictures for sure!
     Overall it's been a wonderful 6 months and I can't wait to see what the next 6 months bring. I started school again and it's one killer schedule. Bless my family who has agreed to be flat out abused and watch the little rascals for me while I go to school. Especially those 12 hour shifts, oy. Plus, because I enjoy losing my mind I interviewed (and hopefully landed!) an extern position at the hospital here. That will mean working two extra 12 hour shifts each week. On the very, very, bright side of that though: I get paid for it!!! Unlike the time I'm at the hospital for clinical duty through school. It will be rough having such a full schedule but the experience of it all is absolutely priceless. The extra cash will really help alleviate some of the heavy financial burden on our family too.
     It's a bittersweet milestone to be arriving at. I wish she would slow down the growing part but I am happy she is growing up to be a healthy little munchkin. I will be happy to leave the frustrations of babyhood behind but sad to also leave the little joys of it too. There is a lot going on in these next few months. Between school, the externship and Roxas turning 2 it will be a crazy year. Oh, and our 5 year wedding anniversary is next week too! It seems like just a few years but this May marks a full decade of us being together.  I really want to go to Disneyland for that milestone but we will have to see what kind of funds we have for it.
     Until next time, I will be working furiously on my mountains of school work and attempting to herd cats (also known as keep the kids from maiming themselves.)


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Feminists Have Completely Missed the Point

     I have read two blog posts in the past few days. One of them was a mom who wrote a post to herself, from herself, about reminding herself to allow her husband to love her. It was a beautifully written post and really hit home for me. She wrote it from a very personal place and although it was meant to really pertain just to her the message resonated with many mothers out there, myself included. Evidently her post ruffled a few feminist feathers. She was accused of promoting the "barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen" ideal of what marriage is. She was called names, and told her ideas were antiquated. This brings me to the other blog post I read. It was a shock piece written for the soul purpose of stirring up the internet. I'm not sure if the author really felt that way or if it was just a stunt to drive traffic to her blog but at any rate the opinion was put out there and unfortunately it is shared by many. Her opinion was that stay at home moms have an easy job, and should not be celebrated. Her post mentioned how having bridal showers and baby showers was ridiculous, that "anybody could get married or get knocked up." It was "easy" to her. She felt things such as a woman landing a CEO job, or backpacking across Europe should be the ones being celebrated and having parties. Since after all those things take hard work, unlike getting married or having a baby and maintaining a household. [insert HUGE eyeroll here].

     The latter blogger is what most would call a feminist. Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. On the face of it, this sounds pretty good right? Men and women are both humans and should be treated equally. Great. In this definition I would consider myself a feminist. I believe women should earn the same wages as men, I believe women should be considered for jobs that are typically performed by only men (so long as they physically can do them ie. Construction, or the Army). I believe women should have the same legal rights and be considered equal to a man in the court of law. See....I'm a feminist.

    Now, where these radical feminists miss the point is...they think every woman should WANT to become some powerful CEO career woman and to hold the title of mother/homemaker is shameful. Any woman who stays home with her children, cooks meals, does household chores and otherwise does "wifey" things is a failure as a woman. They call themselves feminists and hide behind the guise of standing up for women's rights. What they completely missed is it is every woman's right to choose how she wants to spend her life. They slam men, calling them lazy and declaring women don't need men to survive. True...a woman is perfectly capable of surviving on her own but if a woman chooses to spend her life with a man that is her right. No other woman has any right to tell her that her choice is wrong, she is somehow being controlled by that man and should dump him because he's just holding her back. I see SO much more husband and man bashing coming from so called feminists than any woman bashing coming from men. Yes, it exists. Yes, there are terrible misogynistic men out there that are terrible to women. There are also amazing men out there that want to love their wives, provide for a family and be loved by a wife. That doesn't make him a terrible human being.

     I am antiquated, yes. I believe in marriage, I believe in a wife serving her husband. Not because she has to but because she wants to out of love. I desire to make my husband happy and he desires to make me happy, it is equal. We have different roles in our marriage for sure. He goes to work and provides for his family while I stay home and keep the kids alive, clean the house, and cook the meals. Sure maybe my job isn't nearly as stressful as the high powered career woman but it doesn't mean it isn't a job. It's tough, not as tough of a job as a female soldier's of course but IT IS A JOB. I don't compare a woman working at McDonalds to a woman managing a fortune 500 company so how is it that some women feel it's okay to slam stay at home mothers for having an easy job compared to a business minded woman? It's not. Every job is hard. Every job has easy parts. You are entitled to complain about the hard parts and praise the easy parts no matter what your job is. Whether you are a CEO or an MRS. 

     The fact that the first blogger I spoke about had to issue a post explaining that her words were meant to just apply to her and she by no means advocated every woman should be a stay at home mom, or that any other job was inferior to that of a stay at home mom, is absurd. She had to defend her choice in life to be a loving wife. She had to explain herself to millions of strangers when really it shouldn't have been necessary. We are all women and we should empower each other in whatever choice that is. If you want to be a high powered business woman who stays single then you go girl! If you want to get married, have babies and be a wife then I say rock on lady! We all have incredible freedom to do what we like with our careers and just because somebody picked a more "traditional" occupation doesn't mean they were forced there by the all powerful men in the world.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How I Accidentally Became An Attachment Parent

I'm not one for labels, and my best advice to any new mom is simply: ignore the internet. Especially webMD, because no matter what you put in that symptom checker you will always get some life threatening disease. My kid has a slight fever...sorry he has speticemia and is probably going to die. Anyways...back to my point...

So when I found myself googling "getting my 5 month old to sleep in her bed" I was surprised to find myself not only violating my best advice but I found myself being labeled.  The whole reason I was googling this was not because I care she sleeps in our bed, not because it bothers me but because others acted as if it should. I allowed others to make me question my instincts. Another mistake. On the various forums I visited I was labeled a so called attachment parent, something I never considered myself as. I read article after article, blog after blog on both sides of the parenting style divide. When I plucked up courage to ask a question of the all knowing interwebs I was called names. Few of which were nice, but the one that struck me was the AP label.

I thought surely I'm not a crazy AP marshmallow of a parent. Nope, not me! None of that flimsy hippy-dippy stuff here!

I wear my baby in a sling/ergo/Moby because, as great as I am at doing almost anything one handed, I do occasionally need both of my upper limbs. Grocery store trips are a dream with my carrier. Lucy likes it and is happy while being held so I hold her. It just feels right.

I cloth diaper because I'm poor, and cheap...and oh my word have you seen how CUTE they are? What? What's that about the environment? Eh, go hug a tree hippy...KC [cloth diaper site] is having a sweet sale on AIOs [type of diaper] and I have to get them all! The poor and cheap reasoning comes into play for making my own laundry soap too.

I breastfeed my babes well...again..I am cheap. I will admit even if breastfeeding somehow cost more than formula I would still do it. Ummm...lowered chance of breast cancer? Weight just melts off? I can stuff my face with 500 extra calories? Baby gets amazingly unique antibodies protecting them from all kinds of crazy things? Temporarily look like you paid good money to fill out that top? I could go on and on but I need to? I'm also unabashedly becoming one of "those moms" who breastfeeds anywhere with no cover. Lucy just pulls the darn thing off anyways and I've gotten really good at using my wardrobe to make it where you can't see anything. Am I a crazy lactivist? Nope, I just like to feed my baby whenever or wherever she might need it. Because you know...I respond to her needs...because I was pretty sure that's what parents do. I'm not out to male a point or stand up for a cause, I'm out to keep my kid alive and keep her from screaming though your entire lunch meeting at Chili's.

I allow Lucy to sleep with us in our bed pretty much every night. Why? Because I like sleep. Sure I'm up at 1am right now (and I have an alarm set for school at 5am) but that's my own problem. Lucy is happily snoozing next to me, as is my wonderful hubby who can sleep on command it seems, a trait I envy. Lucy sleeps ALL night next to me. She might half wake up and want to nurse but I barely have to leave dreamland to pop a boob in her mouth and we both fall right back asleep. I've tried putting her in her co sleeper bassinet, 9 times out of 10 she wakes up screaming her head off. This leads to me not sleeping [again, I like sleep] She feels happy, safe and loved sleeping next to me, it's an easy and quick buffet [you can't tell me you wouldn't sleep next to the fridge if you could] plus I get sleep? What is wrong with that?! Sounds great. Sure, eventually we will work on moving her to her own bed but right now she has only been in this world for 5 months. You can't tell me you would be completely comfortable on an alien planet after just 5 months. No, you would still be weirded out by that blue fellow down the street and want to have a friend staying with you even if it's only so they can describe the attacker to the galactic police when the blue guy eats you.

Lucy is happiest in my arms, and happiest sleeping in bed next to me. So, I hold her, snuggle her and sleep curled protectively around her without moving an inch all night. Even though a lot of people have told me I should just let her cry it out, get some sleep for me, it won't hurt her. No, it won't hurt her but it hurts me. [See also: this child will NOT cry it out, she WILL cry for an hour or longer, yes I've tested it out]

Now, I've never read a single parenting book. Barely read parenting style or advice blogs [see the number 1 rule] but choose to instead parent on my instincts and prayer. I do what feels right for us, and for Lucy.

A lot of people would say how I'm parenting Lucy is too hard. Since when are children supposed to bend to our whim and be convenient? I was pouring over pages and pages of people bashing others for nursing babies to sleep, or picking them up when they cry because it's just so much work. Did I miss something here? Kids are hard work, like 100 times more work than a min pin hopped up on red bull. When did responding to your kids needs become some kind of fad or specific style of parenting. More importantly when did ignoring your kids become the thing to do? I thought responding to your kids was just called you know...being a parent, no label required.

Apparently I am a wimpy attachment parent raising some horrifyingly dependent kids. By listening to my instincts...I'm destroying humanity...human instincts=downfall of humanity. I don't get it. A lot of people criticized me for not just putting my foot down and forcing Lucy to sleep in her crib, or holding her most of the day, or allowing her to nurse on demand even if that means every 2 hours at 5 months old.

Do I do these things because I read a book about written by some doctor who has no idea what my kids are like? Nope. I hear my baby cry...I pick her up and feed/change/play with or snuggle her. Needs met=happy baby=happy mom. That little tidbit is from my brain and not some book or blog or magazine.

I was the sane with Roxas although not nearly as confident. I responded to what he needed. I relied on my instincts a lot of the time. I think he is developing into quite a nice young man if I do say so myself. My parenting responses with Roxas look WAY different than with Lucy though. Why? They are totally different kids! They have different personalities, different wants, needs and dislikes. Parenting styles are not one size fits all. Parenting is dynamic, like fluid, always changing to fit it's container. Parenting is always changing to fit the child.

Well you know what...go get my birkenstocks and granola. Because evidently I am a crazy attachment parent. You guys have a club or secret meeting place or something?

To me parenting is not a style, it is just what you do. You don't need a book, or a doctor, or a voo-doo priest to tell you how to be a parent. God gave you the best instructions ever: your instincts. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it because it's not right for you. If it feels right then go for it. This applies to hot topics like cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, babysitting and sleep training. Does is feel right for that kid? Then do it, If not then don't. Stop worrying about what kind of parent you are and just be the parent God made you. I don't care of you're a tiger mom, an AP parent, a crunchy mom, a honey badger mom, a ferber mom or whatever you want. Raise your children to be respectful, have empathy for others and to know and love God. If you achieve those things, in my opinion it's a very good step to raising productive members of society no matter which way you end up at those goals.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sleep. I miss you.

Lucy is high maintenance to the extreme and her sleeping habits are a glaring example of it.

Right now I'm sitting in bed holding a sleeping Lucy but I can't set her in the bassinet next to me because she will instantly start screaming. Sleeping with her next to me is out too, it's incredibly uncomfortable and I'm already sore from putting decorations away today.

It's frustrating not being able to just lay her down and catch some shut eye. I'm the only one awake in the house right now. I know a lot of people will advise the good old cry it out method. I won't be taking that advice though. Why? My instincts tell me not to.

With Roxas I was ok with the method. He would cry for maybe 15 minutes, if that and then he was out. It never sent my mommy senses tingling. Lucy on the other hand, oh boy. She will not stop crying. I'm sure eventually at some point she would become so exhausted that she would sleep but I don't ever want her to cry that long. She absolutely will cry for an hour or more.

My mommy instincts tell me to just keep holding/nursing her and it will eventually work out. They protest the idea of crying it out. It's a feeling I can't explain but just deep in the pit of my stomach I don't feel right about it.

So I may be a hippy dippy, cloth diapering, soap making, attachment type parent. I never thought I would be the person I am today, but I have to trust my instincts and hope they are more right than when I use them to pick lottery numbers.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hindsight is a Funny Thing

You know they always say hindsight is 20/20 and its so true. Our society is full of sayings referring to good old hindsight.

It has almost been two years since I first became a mom and there are so many things I've already changed about how I fill that roll.

If I would have known then what I know now...

I would have gotten help for my depression a lot sooner. I was in complete denial about how bad things were and I missed out on some serious bonding time with Roxas in those first three months. Of course I loved him but I didn't have the same bond and feelings I've gotten to feel with Lucy as a newborn. I love his goofy self to pieces now and we do have a great bond but therefore was a big difference in how I've bonded with Lucy.

If I would have known then what I know now...
I would have held Roxas more. Lucy is a bit of a diva and prefers to be held oh at least 23.9 hours per day. Sometimes it drives me nuts but really I do love it. I love that she wants her mommy, that she feels so safe in my arms. I feared spoiling Roxas as a baby, and he was content to not be held all the time, I didn't just toss him in the crib and leave him but I regret not holding him more. Putting the nagging piles of chores to be done aside and enjoying holding the tiny person I grew in my body.

If I knew then what I knew now...

I would have prepped better for milk storage. I was a bit lazy about pumping milk for when I went back to school and it became a huge source of anxiety for me. This time I've been super committed to pumping as much as I could from day 1. I am thrilled to have a chest freezer filled with roughly 350oz of milk for Lucy. Plus I keep adding to it every day. Having such an amazing stash has relieved my anxiety about not having enough milk for Lucy when school resumes. Having that weight lifted feels like a boulder has been pulled off my shoulders.

If I knew then what I had known now...

I would have written more down in a journal. My memory is about as good as a collander. I think I will remember that cute and funny thing the kids did forever...and I can't even remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday. I need to write more things down so I can look back and enjoy all those little moments one day when I'm old and gray. I try to write little notes in Lucy's baby book every time she does something super cute or amazing.

If I knew then what I know now...

I would have spent less on baby stuff. Oh boy did I kind of lose my head when it came to buying baby stuff. We really didn't need all that stuff! Then I was scrambling to use everything I bought because well...I bought it so I better use it. The only exception is I would have bought more cloth diapers!

I am sure the things I would have, could have, should have done mean little in the grand scheme of things but I've learned so much over the past two years. So what good is learning all these things if I don't change as a result.

As 2014 kicks off I'm setting a few goals I want to reach. One of which is to be the best kind of mom I can be.