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One Week In

18 Oct

Today my second son is two-weeks old. The fact that my maternity leave is 1/4 of the way over puts me into an indescribable panic that I’ll wait to analyze some other day. What’s heavy on my mind today is the fact that this closes out my first week home alone with the kiddos. To say that it has been hard and stressful doesn’t begin to cover it.

I can’t quite put into words what it’s like to have a life that doesn’t feel like your own. I have had, literally, about an hour each day that I was conscious and able to do something for myself. Most of the time that hour was spent doing something like taking a shower, or remembering to eat lunch. Every other second of my days have been spent playing with Child #1, feeding Child #2, doing laundry, washing dishes and, whenever possible, sleeping.

On the one hand I feel as though I have no right to complain about these things. This was the choice Husband and I made when we decided to have another child. We knew it would be hard. I knew it would be hard. And really, it’s not even as hard as it could be. There are plenty of people out there who do this completely on their own, without the help that I have gotten from my husband and family. On top of that, Child #1 is pretty self-sufficient, and Child #2 has really been an easy baby overall. Could this be even more difficult than it has been? Absolutely. But that doesn’t change the fact that, for me, it’s been very hard.

Which is why last night I may have had an emotional breakdown. It was 9:00, and I was folding laundry while I waited for Child #2 to wake up for his 9:30 feeding. Husband told me he was going to go take a bath and read his book, and he asked if that would bother me. The answer, of course, was “Hells yes, that will bother me.” Not that Husband isn’t working his ass of. Not that Husband isn’t more than deserving of a couple of minutes to relax. Just that my best friend sent me a link to something that’s apparently hilarious three days ago and I still haven’t had a second without a child attached to me to look at it. Just that I can’t sleep or eat when I want to because my boobs are always on call.


Honestly, I think I was just exhausted and needed a good cry. I’m not depressed, I’m not that overwhelmed, and it’s not unmanageable. It’s just hard, and sometimes I need to vent about it. In the end, Husband wound up taking his bath. He also took today off of work and let me sleep in. His presence is also why I’m able to finish this blog entry. I feel a little bad that my tears of tiredness guilted him into staying home, but I’m glad he’s here. Once again he reminds me of how smart I was to have chosen him to be the father of my children.

I always knew this was going to be the hardest week, and I know next week will be easier. We’re developing a routine of sorts over here, which makes me happy. I feel like I have an idea of when I can be productive and when I can’t be. My goal for next week is to get all three of us dressed every single day, and even venture out somewhere all together. It’s time to be done whining. I’ve only got six weeks of leave left, and I am going to enjoy them.


On being artsy-craftsy

24 Jun

I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV lately. I’ve also been spending an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest. Collectively what these two hobbies have done is made me wish that I had millions of dollars and a helluva whole lot more creativity than I actually do (and I consider myself to be a fairly creative person). In order to convince myself that these two hobbies are more than a complete waste of time, I’ve decided to put forth an actual effort into being more artsy-craftsy. I began my efforts with a couple of Father’s Day creations. (Author’s Note: Yes, this entry would have been more relevant a little closer to Father’s Day, but I just now uploaded these pictures so deal with it.) 

My father is near impossible to buy for. It’s something that I’m convinced he inherited from my grandma (may she RIP). He claims to have no artificial wants, which is why his birthday list usually contains things like socks and stamps. This year for Father’s Day, he only requested that we set aside an evening to watch an old movie. An easy request to grant, but I still wanted something to physically give him, so I crafted this little gem.



The idea to give him an actual ticket was my own, but the handy-dandy template came from this site. You can’t beat the free price, folks!

Along with that, I saw all sorts of cute Grandpa gift ideas floating around on Pinterest. I took the wording from several projects I saw, but decided to create my own artwork to give my dad. I had been meaning to give Illustrator a try for quite some time, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Let me warn you: Illustrator is effing hard. As in extremely difficult if you’ve had no previous experience. I’m generally a technology-savvy person, but I struggled a lot (as is evidenced by my mismatched corners on my was-supposed-to-be-a-chevron-but-turned-into-a-zig-zag-design). Still, I think it turned out pretty cute, all things considered, and my dad certainly liked it.


Then there was the matter of what to get Husband. He’s not as difficult to buy for, and has plenty of wants/desires, so I got him a certificate to play a round of golf with the person of his choosing (whom was not me, btw). But, I wanted him to get something “from” Child, since it was Father’s Day and not Husband’s Day, after all. Once again, Pinterest smiled upon me and gave me this idea of filling a six-pack of bottles with Husband’s favorite candies and dressing it up cutesy-style.


Just a couple of tips in case someone reading wants to try this idea. For starters, it takes a lot longer than you might anticipate to get everything cut out and glued. The blog instructions says you can use a hot glue gun, but I struggled with that and wound up taping it; the spray adhesive would have worked better. It also says that both the IBC Root Beer and Cream Soda varieties work. I chose root beer, since I don’t care for cream soda and didn’t want to let the pop go to waste. The only drawback to this is that the root beer bottles are brown; the clear cream soda ones would have looked a bit nicer. And lastly, it takes more candy than you might think to fill those bastards. At least two of the movie theatre sized boxes of each candy variety. So, while it looked like a cute and semi-cheap DIY gift idea, it wound up being about a $15 – $20 venture. Was it worth it? I’m not so sure. Husband sure liked it, but I don’t think I’d attempt to do it again.

Overall, I’d say my foray into the world of arts and crafts was a successful one, although I clearly have a lot to learn. It’s a good thing I have a whole nursery to plan and decorate…

Normal Can Be Amazing

31 Dec

Husband and I were fortunate enough to have a date night this weekend, during which we went and saw Les Miserables. (IT WAS AMAZING – in spite of Russell Crowe – but that’s neither here nor there.) Before the movie actually began, we were forced to sit through a barrage of advertisements. I’m normally pretty good at chewing my candy loud enough to save my eardrums (and brain) from the onslaught of jingles and slogans, but this time there was one that I couldn’t help but notice. It was an advertisement for Mini Cooper cars, and it began by highlighting the humdrum lives of most individuals before switching to showing how owning a Mini could make one’s life exciting. The slogan was: Normal Can Never Be Amazing. (The commercial in question plays automatically when you visit this site if you’re curious.)

Firstly, I take issue in general with the word “normal.” What is “normal?” What’s normal to me most certainly is not what’s normal to everyone, or anyone, else. But, that’s another blog entirely. Let’s pretend, for an instant, that we can agree on a stereotypical concept of normal. My life, for example, would be considered by most to be normal. I was raised in a suburb by a mother and a father with a younger brother. I graduated high school, went to college, got married and had a child. I have a house, a dog, a cat, a car and a job. To use a line from Nicholas SparksThe Notebook, “I am no one special, just a common man with common thoughts. I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me, and my name will soon be forgotten.” That’s me in a nutshell. Pretty much as “normal” as they come.

If the Mini Cooper folks had their way, I would be dismayed about this. I would agree that yes, my life can not be amazing. Clearly the answer to this is to purchase a foreign and freakishly tiny car. Fortunately for me and my wallet, I could not disagree more. My life is normal, but it is also amazing.

Agreeing to spend the rest of your life loving and cherishing another, in sickness and in health, is an amazing declaration. Love is amazing. Seeing the little plus sign appear for the first time on a pregnancy test is many things. Scary, exciting, thrilling and yes, amazing. Prenatal tests that come back with the actual word “normal” printed on them are about as amazing as they come. Don’t even get me started on the sound of a child crying for the first time or the sight of a baby taking his first steps. All of these things are astounding, breathtaking, marvelous, miraculous, spectacular, stupendous, wonderful, wondrous and absolutely without a doubt amazing. They are also, blessedly, normal.

The appearance of this commercial in my life is timely. My students and I have had several conversations lately about what the difference is between something that’s ordinary and something that’s extraordinary. (Thanks to Patricia MacLachlan and her books for the fodder for this discussion.) The answer, I think, is nothing. Things that are ordinary are extraordinary in their frequency, endurance and presence in our lives. Normal lives are amazing because they exist at all. My life is amazingly normal, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


On Anniversaries, Idina Menzel, and Savoring the Moment

9 Jul

Today is Husband and I’s seventh wedding anniversary. Seven years ago, we got married in heat so intense in it made my bridesmaids look like this:

I had told God I didn’t want to be cold on my wedding day. He listened.

Husband and I went out and celebrated on Saturday by going to see Idina Menzel in concert.

She was sick (poor thing), but magnificent none the less. Later that night while Husband was snoring and I was still trying to fall asleep (I envy his ability to fall asleep within seconds of hitting the pillow – lucky bastard), I was struck by just how fitting it was that we had seen her, of all people, for our anniversary.

It was Husband who took me to see Rent for the first time back in 2002. The date was significant because it was our four-month anniversary (back when we counted our anniversaries by months), and it was the first time we had done anything “fancy” together. (Our dates typically consisted of dinners and renting movies; we were not, and still aren’t, very high maintenance people) I loved Rent before I ever saw it live. I loved the music, the message, and the cursing. How many musicals do you know that say “shit” within the first 25 words? I loved it even more after I saw it that day. The clothes, the dancing, and the power behind those words. And to experience it all with the boy I had crushed on for over a year? Priceless.

Us on our way to Rent for our fourth anniversary.

Idina spent some time at her concert on Saturday talking about Rent and Jonathan Larson‘s message, and how it became especially pertinent after his tragic and premature passing. Rent encourages us to live our lives to the fullest, treat each day like it could be our last, and not waste time regretting things we cannot change. This is a philosophy that I buy into whole-heartedly, although within reason. I’m not going to blow my savings account on the off-chance that I’m not around tomorrow to spend it. But, I do believe in trying my hardest every day to be the person I want to be. I believe in taking chances and putting myself out there. I do believe in savoring every single second I have with those who are important to me.

What fills me to the brim with happiness is just how many of those moments I have savored, thanks to my incredible husband and our wonderful marriage. Moments like this…

and this…

are ones that fill me with a joy I hadn’t thought possible before I met Husband. He is my everything, and together we’ve created a life that’s as close to perfect as I think you can get.

So here’s to us, Husband. Thanks for the first seven years, and I can’t wait for the rest! I love you!

For more gag-worthy sentimental mush, see last year’s anniversary post here.

Culturally Stripped: An Identity Crisis

22 Jan

This past week was a short week at the school where in teach, in part due to MLK’s birthday, but also because there was a day of staff development. Now normally, staff development is a necessary and beneficial, but not always enjoyable, activity. But this time, I participated in a particularly challenging activity that really made me question my own cultural identity and how I define myself.

The activity went as follows. To get a sense of how difficult this really is, I encourage you to participate in the activity as you read each step.

Step One: On a piece of paper, write down six things that you think are essential to your identity and things that define you. Things like your skin color/physical traits, race, language, religion/faith, being a parent, being a son/daughter, being a wife/husband/partner, family heirlooms, food, peace, vocation, freedoms, rites of passage, privileges, etc.. When given this task, I wrote down the following six things: Mother, Wife, Daughter, Teacher, Writer, Freedom of Speech.

Step Two: Cross off one of these things. If you were forced to give up one of these parts of yourself, which one would you give up? For this step, I crossed off “teacher.” As much as I love my profession and I think it’s played a huge role in how I view the world, of all the things on my list, I felt teaching was the least essential to my being.

Step Three: Cross off two more of those things. If you were forced to give up two more parts of yourself, which ones would you give up? This is where it really started to become difficult. After some deliberation, I eventually crossed of “daughter” and “freedom of speech.” I decided that while being a daughter once shaped me, it’s no longer the main focus of my life and while giving up my freedom of expression would be difficult, I’d do it if I could keep my husband/son and still write (even if the topics would be censored).

Step Four: You guessed it. Cross of two more of those things. If you could only keep one of the essential parts of your identify, which one would you leave yourself with? Despite the fact that these were only words on a paper, crossing them off was somehow painfully real. How could I choose between my husband, my child, and my need to express myself through the written word? Eventually I chose to cross off “writer” and “husband.” I told myself that realistically, I would sacrifice anything for my son. This is true. However, I know that if I had to give up writing and my husband, I would absolutely not be the mother that I would want to be. But, similarly, if I had to give up my husband and child, would I be the writer that I want to be? I doubt it.

It was fascinating to have conversations with my colleagues about their decisions. When faced with giving up faith or family, most chose to give up family, citing that they knew their faith could get them through anything, even the loss of their family, whereas if they gave up faith and then something happened to their family they’d be left with nothing. Touché.

This made me question my own choices. What if (God forbid) something did happen to Husband and Child and I no longer had the ability to write? Then who would I be? What would I become? Thank goodness this isn’t a choice I actually have to make and that will probably never be forced upon me. Whatever life brings, I don’t think I’ll be forced to give up the badge I wear (sometimes bashfully) that says, “I am a writer.” *Wipes brow* Thank God, Harry Potter and Everything-Else-Holy for that.

But the whole point of this exercise is that there are people who are forced to strip themselves of bits of their identity every day. There are students who are asked to give up parts of who they are every time they enter a school building. Perhaps it’s that they must speak a language other than their home language to communicate. Perhaps it’s that they are told to do things that would be disrespectful or taboo in their cultures. Perhaps assumptions are made about their beliefs and their choices, and perhaps these assumptions are wrong.

These are issues that as an educator I was aware of, but I must admit I have not been proactive about fixing them. If I am so fortunate as to not have to whittle my identity down to one element, then why would I expect this of my students? I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to realize this, and I’m proud that I’m taking steps to better myself as an educator and truly get to know my students.

Reasons Behind the Struggles

2 Jan

I’ve never been a believer of fate or destiny. I don’t like the idea that my life is predetermined and that no matter what I do or say, I can’t change the outcome. I believe that the choices I make matter, and that I can change the future with the actions that carry me through life. That being said, I also believe that everything happens for a reason. If something seems hard, pointless, or heartbreaking now, it’s all to make me stronger or shape the choices I make in the future. When I reflect on the things I’ve been through that were difficult and a struggle, if enough time has passed I can see how these things ultimately made my life different, and usually better, when all was said and done.

If it weren’t for my family’s insistence that math and science were the keys to professional success, I never would have taken calculus as a sophomore in high school. Consequently, I never would’ve been seated four desks ahead of the gorgeous senior who would later become my husband.

If it weren’t for my parents’ demand that I get a job to help pay for my car and cellphone when I was 16 (something that seemed completely unfair at the time, but now makes perfect sense), I never would’ve taken that job at Sears where that gorgeous senior happened to shop one day (nearly two years later) when I was working. And, if  it weren’t for the failed boyfriends and the chances I took on romance, I would never have been confident enough to flirt shamelessly with that gorgeous man when he wandered by my register, and he probably wouldn’t have asked me out for our first date.

If it weren’t for the nearly two years it took for my husband and I to conceive our child, I am positive that we wouldn’t have found ourselves with the beautiful blessing that is our son. We have the perfect imperfect child, and I know that he was worth every day we had to wait.

My life has been more difficult the past four or five years than I ever could have predicted it would be, for a myriad of reasons. It’s been an emotional struggle and I think in many ways it’s forced me to grow up and mature much more quickly than people in their early-to-mid twenties typically do. To be completely honest, there are a lot of days when I don’t see the point in that. I feel robbed, I feel frustrated, and I feel hopeless. What gets me through is thinking that five, ten, fifteen years from now, I’ll look back on these times and realize that yes, it made me stronger, and there was a reason.

Life is not pointless. There is meaning behind every heartache and every difficult step we take forward. Sometimes we just have to wait a little while to understand it.

Reasons to be Thankful

24 Nov

While it’s natural every Thanksgiving to give some thought and reflection to the blessings in our lives, I feel more inclined to do so this year than any other. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and the joy of the holiday season, here is the shorthand list of things I am thankful for this year.

  1. Both of my parents being alive
  2. My son – I mean, have you seen him?
  3. My husband, for everything
  4. My brother being happy
  5. Sunday nights – you know why
  6. The best pen pal I’ve ever had (even though I’m a little slow on my end)
  7. Having a job that I love

And I think I’ll stop there. Seven seems an odd number to end a list with, but I think anything else I could add would seem petty and small compared to the role that the aforementioned things play in my life.

May everyone be so lucky as to have a list of reasons to be thankful that is as meaningful as mine. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!