Tuesday, December 27, 2011


This was Liam's second Christmas, you would think we learned our lesson last year. Nope! Joe and I thought that we were doing a pretty good job of not going overboard with the gift-giving to our little guy. That is until yesterday when we tried to find places for everything. We missed the fact that we were not the only people who were going to be spoiling him this season, and now I am almost sick about how much he has. Joe and I stuck to about 5ish gifts, but so did everyone else. I have a huge family (7 siblings and two sets of parents, plus quite a few aunts, uncles, and cousins) and Joe also has two sets of parents, so between our families and friends Liam ended up with the equivalent of his own toy store! Wonderful for him, quite the chore for me! At this point, he has three rooms with space for his toys (his bedroom, the living room, and now our office). He is too little to have so much, and that is why we will be spending some time this week going through his old toys and donating them to kids who don't have so much. I am so appreciative of our amazing family and friends who love our little man as much as we do!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Opportunity to Educate

Tomorrow is my last day at work for two and a half weeks. I absolutely love my job, but it can be so exhausting! The kiddos are crazy, the staff is tired, and all of our attention-spans are waivering. To those people who say that teachers should not get so much time off, work ONE week in our job and we will see what kind of break you want. Last week I read an article in our local paper written by a community member who was upset that their child is not in school enough "due to teachers taking so many breaks." My first response is "I'm a teacher, not a child care provider" and second, "What breaks!?!" Sure, the calandar says that I get a few days for Thanksgiving, two weeks for Christmas, and a week in the spring, but do you really think that I do not work during that time?! If you do, you obviously have never done this job. To the outsider, it may seem like a regular 8 to 3 job. Well, the short answer is hell no!
Every free day that we get, I either bring a huge stack of grading/planning home with me to work on during my "break" or I work twice as much the week before to get it all done. Sounds like what the average worker has to do. Also, other than the above mentioned breaks, all other days off are either- unpaid holidays, workdays (yes, I do work), grading days, conferences, or (thanks to the current budget) furlough days.  Of course, most people say "Hey what about the summer?" Well, most of us teachers spend our summer in trainings, taking classes to further our education, still planning for the year to come, working in our classroom, or occasionally, we take a day for our family.
It's also important to remember that we get no vacation time throughout the year, really only have from mid-June to mid-August "off", and we do not get paid for the months we do not work. Also, imagine being in charge of 60 11 and 12 year olds (and I only work part-time), then you actually have to earn their respect, teach them something daily, and communicate with their parents. I'm sure that most people are thinking "No way!" Now think about doing all of this for less than what the average college graduate makes, eventhough you have a masters degree to pay for. So.... stop complaining about how/when I do my job! Unless you have been a teacher, you have no right to talk about how "little" we do, because no one who has been a teacher would ever say that! They know better!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Turkey and Insults

Last Saturday was Joe's work Christmas party. It was held on a boat that traveled down the Willamette river, while we ate. It was one of my least favorite of his Christmas parties. They are usually a great "adult" night for Joe and I. We get a chance to eat food we wouldn't normally choose, go out to a resturant that we wouldn't normally go to, and talk to other adults for an evening. This year was crap! The boat seemed like a nice idea, but the windows fogged up almost instantly, so we either had to spend all evening wiping them down, or just not see any of the scenery (which was the reason they choose the boat in the first place). Then there was the food! A week after Thanksgiving and what did they have?! Thanksgiving food that was not as good as Grandma's. The company kind of sucked too. We got stuck sitting with Joe's know-it-all (but really is an arrogant idiot) of a co-worker. A direct quote from this man, to my husband and I at dinner was "I'm the only person in this whole company who actually knows what their doing. No one else works at all!" Ass!
Anyway, the topper of the night was when we were talking to another couple about Liam and their kids. About five minutes into the conversation, the wife asked if we had thought about schools yet. My son is 19 months old! When I told her that he would be going to the public schools in our community, she had a look of utter shock on her face. She asked if we had even looked at private schools, because "they fill up fast." I said no and that I work in the school district as a teacher and know them to be very good. Again, a look of shock. Not only was I insulted by the obvious issue with our parental education choices, but also at her lack of respect for the career that I pour my heart and soul into.
I should take a minute to explain, most of the people that Joe works with are very well off. They don't worry about money like most of us do. I'm sure that she has never even considered sending her kids to public school. In fact, one of the things that we talked about was the fact that her youngest daughter (who is 3) has to be in two preschools, because one is well known for "excellence in play" and the other is purely academic. Good for you! My son gets excellent instruction in play at the in-home day care that he attends, he will get his academic education from his father and I for now, and public education when the time comes and he will live!
Sometimes having lots of money doesn't make you a better parent, co-worker, or dinner guest.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Visit with Santa

I love the holiday season! I always have, and probably always will. But I love it even more now that Liam is starting to love it too. Everyone says that Christmas is for kids, I think that kids make it Christmas. For the past, I don't know, 10 years I have enjoyed the season, but it just isn't the same once you are "grown up". Now that Liam is getting into it, it's exciting all over again. I have had several people ask me if I really think that Liam knows what's going on. I don't think that he completely gets it yet, but a huge peice of evidence, that parts make sense to him, happened yesterday.
We spent the day at the Portland Christmas bazaar. One of the main attractions this year, was that Santa was there. I was a bit worried about how Liam would handle a meeting with the big guy. Last year he was too young to really notice who was holding him, so I didn't think that we would have a repeat of the calm that took place.
Liam is also a bit of a shy guy. He tends to be reserved and calm when meeting new people. He is not the type of kid to let strangers hold him. But what did he do when he saw Santa? He RAN to him, crawled onto his lap, and smiled big for the camera. None of this behavior is like him.
This leads me to believe that he has already figured out that Santa is a nice guy, who brings him gifts. Why else would my shy, reserved, stand-offish 19 month old, let a complete stranger in a weird outfit, hold him?! I know he's a smart guy (as all parents know about their children), but even this was shocking. I walked around with a huge smile on my face for the rest of the day. My son shocks and suprises me daily, and this was one of the best so far!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Good Feeling: Gone!

Am I a horrible wife, who is complaining and throwing a fit for nothing? I don't think so, but I thought I would get someone else's opinion just to be sure.
About two months ago, my husband and I went through our entire house looking for blankets, hats, and gloves that we no longer use. The plan was to donate them to a shelter downtown so that the items would go straight to those who need them the most. My husband works downtown and OFFERED to take them in for me. About a month and a half went by without the piles and bags leaving his trunk. Finally, last week he came home and proudly announced that he had donated them. I was so happy. He remembered, and we were helping the people who need the help the most (especially at this time of the year).
Tonight while watching the news, a commercial for the salvation army came on and I asked him if that was where he took the things. He said no, that he had taken them to the Goodwill on the way home from work. I'm livid with him! I know that donating to Goodwill is a good thing to do, but I wanted to give them to people who can't even afford Goodwill. I wanted to give them to people, not have them pay for them. I wanted people who sleep in the cold to be a bit warmer because of us.
I spent the last few days feeling very good about our donation and about how our unused items would make someone else's life a tiny bit better, and now I feel like that was taken from me! We obviously can't get them back to give to a shelter, so I'm left with frustration and anger at my husband. I offered several times to take them in myself and he said that he wanted to. We discussed our plans several times, so I know there was no miscommunication. He was just being lazy and wanted me to stop "nagging" him. So am I wrong to be angry?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Change in Perspective

For the past four days, Joe and I have been a bit concerned about whether or not I received a shot after Liam's birth that could cause complications for later pregnancies. I'm RH negative which is problematic when you are carrying a baby that is RH positive. Your body can actually attack a RH postive baby without proper vaccines. The issue usually doesn't occur until the second pregnancy because your blood needs to mix with the babies blood in order for your body to create the antibodies that are harmful to baby. This doesn't usually happen until birth. This is why you are supposed to get a Rhogame shot within 72 hours of the birth, to help stop the production of those antibodies. If you don't get this shot your body will make the antibodies and they will be waiting for your next pregnancy. If the new baby is also positive, the antibodies will attack it and can cause death and other serious complications.
When looking back in my hospital records there was no record of me getting this shot and I have no memory of it being given. I called my doctor to ask her about it, but of course she was out for the day. So I called the hospital, but they would not release the information without written consent and then the records would be mailed to me. How much stress can you take?! Without it I would have about a 50/50 chance of having a baby that my body would reject. The thought of putting my husband, son, family, and myself through those odds was so scary! I had already decided that if I did not receive the shot, I would not have anymore children. I have an amazing son who I love more than anything, and I can not imagine thinking that I was about to get another one and then loose it because my own body hurt it. There is absolutely no way I could deal with that!
The records finally came in the mail last night, and after hours of searching pages of records I could barely understand, we finally found it. A record of the shot being given (it was the very last thing, on the very last page of the stack that was sent to me). I feel a great deal of relief and I know Joe does too (even though he says he was never worried). Thinking that there was a possiblilty that I wouldn't be able to be pregnant again, the my son wouldn't have any siblings, that we would never get to use the cute baby names that we finally agree on, all made me realize how much I do want another baby. There are still a few things that we need to do to prepare, but I learned a lot about how I really feel about a second Baby Brooks and about how heart-broken I would be to know that it wasn't going to happen.
Sometimes you need the option to be taken away to really realize how you feel.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stealing Candy from my Baby

Being home all day has increased the power of my sweet tooth. I've been trying to steer clear of the waiting candy that was left over from Halloween. I've done a pretty good job too, until a couple of minutes ago. I had just finished doing the dishes when my son's candy bowl caught my eye. Yummy treats poking out just high enough for me to see them. Now Liam has his own bowl for the candy that he got while trick-or-treating and Joe and I have been really good about leaving his candy alone. We have our own, and we want to make sure that he gets what he worked for.
Well, all that 'good parenting' stuff went out the window when I saw a banana Laffy Taffy! I love those. After eating the delicious candy, I did feel guilty for a couple of minutes. But then I realized that there are reasons why eating that particular piece was actually a good thing for my son. Reasons: he is too little for candy that is that chewy, it's not good for his little teethers, he still has a lot of candy to choose from, he doesn't even like real bananas-so I bet he wouldn't even like it, and I could go on and on. But I will spare you the long, drawn out list. Really, I'm a better mommy because I ate my son's candy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Abnormal and Irritated

About a week ago, a co-worker stopped to talk to me about my bald head. To my surprise, she knew that it was alopecia and not the usual assumption, cancer. After talking to her about her son and the difficulty they have had trying to find support for alopecia sufferers in our area, I've been on a bit of a mission to set something up in the Portland metro area. To help with this, I turned to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. to get information on how to start.
I tried to network with other alopecia sufferers to see what they do and just to talk about this disease. But guess what!? Almost anyone who says that they are associated with alopecia is trying to sell magic hair creams, hair transplants, wigs, or dermatology services. I find it sickening that when people who suffer from such a stressful disease, try to reach out to others who know what they are going through, they are bombarded with ads telling them that they need to be fixed!
I'm not saying that everyone who has alopecia should go without a wig, or stop trying to find a cure. I too wore a wig to hide the bald spots for a long time and I still might be tempted to try anything that has had success and is not as invasive as most alopecia treatments are. It took me a long time to come to terms with alopecia being a permanent part of my life, and I have no intentions of going back to the person who was afraid of what others would think.
There should be support for those of us who are fine with being hairless and in fact, are proud of it. I think of my lack of hair as I do any of my other physical traits. It is as much a part of me as my blue eyes and short stature. I don't want to hide who I am and I don't want to be made to feel like I'm alone in these thoughts. We alopecia sufferers need a place where we can feel comfortable to be who we are. Wig or bald, patchy or totalis, confident or stressed, we all have the right to be who we are without others telling us to be 'normal' (as if that were a real thing).

Baby Fever

There are pregnant people everywhere! I friends who are pregnant, co-workers who are pregnant, and there is always a healthy helping of women with baby bumps when out and about. I don't know if this is why, but lately I can't stay away from the "when's the next one coming along?" or the "Liam needs a baby brother or sister." Joe has been ready for a while, but is patiently waiting for me to "come around". Don't get me wrong, I want at least one more kid in the future, but I also feel no rush. I love my son more than anything and right now I feel like he is more than enough. Sure, eventually I will be ready too, but why is it that the second your baby is born everyone wants to know when you'll be popping out the next one. I think that it is funny how my husband was the first to bring up another. Of course it's easy for him to say "on to the next!" when his body doesn't have to recover from pregnancy, labor, nursing, etc.
I had a pretty easy pregnancy and I think my son is on the easy end of the little one spectrum, but it is still a lot of work and I'm not sure I'm ready for double. I'm also a bit concerned about how easy Liam has been. I'm sure that he is just tricking us into having a second one and they will be a monster! I know I will love the new baby just as much as my first (even if he or she is a monster), but why rush it? We have some goals that we would like our family to reach before baby number two comes along and I don't think that this is wrong of me.
I want to take Liam on a real family vacation just the 3 of us, since once the next one arrives this will not be an option again. If possible, I would like to move/remodel so that our house is better set up for two. Also, I would like to be financial comfortable. I don't mean have all the money we want, I mean have our budget/work situation figured out, since this is a major reason for stress at this point. I just started working part-time and I would like to enjoy the extra time with Liam for a bit. And finally, I want to be able to have a baby on our schedule. With Liam we had to get pregnant at a very specific time to maximize my maternity leave, which was extremely stressful for both Joe and I.
Now even I go back and forth on whether or not I'm ready. There are days when I see my pregnant friends and think that I miss it and I'm ready to go through it all over again, but then there are days that I'm not. Until there are more 'ready' days than 'no way' days, I think I'll stick with the one I have. But keep posted. I may change my mind, but I will do it when we are all ready- Joe, Liam, and I.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Evil Naps!

Over the weekend I was so tired from a long, exhausting week that I took a nap a day. Now, I never to do this! I hate taking a nap because I always feel terrible afterwards. That groggy feeling is far worse to me, than just being tired. I also hate taking naps because I never get to choose when I finish them. The few times in the past that I gave in and went to sleep, either Joe or Liam decided when it was time for me to wake up (never has it happened that I was actually ready). Needless to say, my body got attached to the mid-day siestas and I HAD to take another one today. And guess what!?! Not only did Liam wake me up for good, but Joe called and woke me up half-way through. This is horrible! I hate this feeling and now my body is working against me. I need a way to get out of the evil pattern that afternoon naps have put me in.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An Old Lady vs. Embarrassed Driver

Joe told me a story yesterday about something that happened to him earlier. He was taking a walk while on a break at work and he had to stop at a crosswalk to let traffic pass. While he was waiting an elderly woman (he estimates as being in her 80's or 90's) walked up and also waited for the cars to pass and the walk signal to change. When it did, they both starting walking across the street. When they were almost to the other side a waiting car lurched forward just a bit. Apparently, the elderly woman began to scream (not mutter or yell, but scream) obcenities at the driver while flailing her arms in the air.
The driver was not the only one who was shocked. This little old lady, hunched and a slow-mover, was using some pretty rough language and was livid that the driver has "almost hit" her. Everyone around stopped and watched and the driver looked like he was about to pee himself (according to Joe). But what was Joe doing?! Trying his hardest not to begin laughing hysterically, worried that she would then turn on him.
This got me thinking about old age and how a-like it is to being young. It is what I would like to call the bell curve effect of life. When you are young you can and say anything that you think. No inhibitions or worries about others' feelings. Old age seems to have this same effect on the elderly. They don't care what they say or who they say it to.We also deal with these outbusts in the same way. We do one of two things when a child/older person says something we find rude or out of the ordinary. We either snicker as quietly as possible because we know we should not condone their actions, but it is just so cute we can't help it, or we give them a stern look and try to explain to them why what they said was wrong. Either way, they continue to say what they want.
I want to be that way when I'm older. I have spent a lot of my life not saying things, and I would like to think that someday, I will be able to say whatever I feel without a care in the world! I don't want to do this because I want to hurt people. I want to do it because I know that I can say exactly what I think, and my family and friends will just right it off as the words of a "crazy old lady".

Friday, November 4, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

Many years ago, when I was still in high school, I was approached by a woman at a fair. She gave me the look that I am so used to and before she began to talk, I was already preparing myself to tell her "No, it's not cancer. I have Alopecia. Then I would explain what Alopecia is and she would say, "Oh, well, I have a friend/family member/acquaintance that has cancer.....yada yada yada. But this conversation went differently than most had. She asked me if I had Alopecia and told me that her young daughter (who was hiding in the distance) had it too. She explained to me how excited she had been to see me and that she couldn't wait to tell her daughter that we shared this wonderful auto-immune connection. I was so confused! This had NEVER happened before. In the 10ish years that I had been dealing with Alopecia, I had never met anyone who didn't think it was cancer, let alone someone who actually knew what it was like.
The little girl and I struck up a friendship and went to dinner/lunch a few times. She was very shy and very sweet. The last time that I saw her and her mom, she told me that I had been her greatest role model. That before me, she thought that alopecia was something to hide from. I was so proud and touched by these comments. Then I went off to college and we lost contact. I was reminded of her today, when a new co-worker walked up to me with that oh-so familiar look and a "Can I ask you something?". Again, I prepared the usual answers, but again, I was surprised. She too asked if I have Alopecia and when I said yes she told me about her son who also has it.
She too, made comments about how excited she was to talk to her son about me and how I show it off. She talked a lot about the Alopecia conventions that are all over the U.S. and about how much support there is at them. We talked a lot about the lack of support groups here in the northwest, which made me think, once again, of the plans that I have had in the past to get some sort of group together close to home. This is now my goal. I want to help those who struggle with this disease. I want to help them see that it is nothing to be ashamed of and to help educate those "cancer questioners".
For me Alopecia has been a blessing, not a curse and I want to help others see it that way too.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Agony of it All!

I hate this time of year! The next three months are going to be horrible! The holidays are the busiest and most taxing for me. No one thinks about me or how I'm feeling right about now. They are running around enjoying holiday parties and treats and then use me when they feel guilty. I can't believe that there is a whole bag of Costco candy in the cupboard, do they really think that that is a good idea? They always get too much candy and I think that they do it on purpose just to torture me!
Not only does everyone rely on me to make them feel better about themselves, but they never think about the difficulties and pain that they cause me in the process. I don't know why people always come to me anyway. I'm not good at comforting people and I tend to make everyone feel worse when they visit me. I wish that everyone would take a second, think about what their doing, and learn some self control, because someday they will wear me out and I won't be able to comfort or (in most cases) frustrate them any more. But guess what?! They will just replace me anyway. That's me- abuse me and then replace me. What a troubled and tormented life I lead!

These have been the thoughts/feelings of my bathroom scale.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pain has it's Advantages

Yesterday, I had one of my tattoos touched up. It is so funny how the things that bring us so much joy once they are here for good, tend to be the most painful, excruciating things to get through. This is true with tattoos, child birth, weight loss/exercise, job interviews, (in my experience) cooking, school....and the list goes on and on! Strange! Another weird connection- you tend to forget how grueling the process for each of these was. You only remeber the "good" parts- your beautiful baby, the slim jeans, the amazing job with benefits, etc., until you are in that situation again and then it all comes rushing back!!
Moral of the story: nothing worth anything comes without discomfort.
"The pain passes, but the beauty remains." - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Dilemma

Happy Halloween! A bit late, I know. But I hope it was a good one anyway. Over the weekend Joe and I experienced one of those unexplainable parenting situations. On Sunday Liam went down for a nap, completely healthy. In fact, he was feeling better than he has in weeks: no runny nose, cough, fever....nothing! But when he woke up two hours later he had this horrible cough. Yesterday when I picked up Liam from daycare, his cough had gotten a lot worse. I was already planning to call the doctor, but decided to take Liam home for a nap and make the appointment for the afternoon. Well that didn't work! When we got home Liam said that he wanted some milk, so I was in the process of pouring the milk when he started to cough. He coughed so much that he couldn't breathe for a second, which made him upset, which made him cry, which made it so he couldn't breathe....and so on. So long story short, I took him the the doctor right then and there and was told that he has croup. If you don't know what croup is, it is inflamation in the windpipe that mades it difficult to sleep, eat, and is accompanied with a "barking", horrible cough. They gave him medicine and I took him home for a nap.
The dilemma comes with the fact that it was Halloween night and Liam (and yes, his parents) had been looking forward to his first real trick-or-treating experience. Should we take him or not? Well, he didn't feel the greatest, but the doctor said cold air could help the cough! I took today off to stay home with him, but he looks so cute in his pirate costume! What to do? Well, we took him and it was great! He had so much fun and the cold air really did help his cough! He slept better last night than he has in a week or so.
This was the first real situation where I had to weigh the "parental" decision, with the "but I want to go!" decision, and the child in me won! I am so glad that it did. We made lots of memories and Liam actually seems to feel better (which I am sure, is due more to the steriods that they gave him than the cold walk we took knocking on strangers doors). Hey, if my delusion helps me justify taking a sick kid trick-or-treating, oh well! The scary thought is that this won't be the last situation where I have to weight the "want to's" with the "should do's", and I just hope that I don't make selfish decisions at the wrong time. Being a parent is hard!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


This morning I got a text from my childcare provider explaining that she has the stomache flu and that she won't be able to watch my little guy today. She also explained what symptoms she was having and then ended with "TMI, I know." I thought that this was interesting, because I just realized that there is no such thing anymore. Once you have a kiddo you want to know ALL the info. It is almost imparative that you know everything that could be heading your way. Once your dinner conversation (with friends, mind you) consists of how many BMs your child is having a day and whether or not they are "normal", there is no going back! TMI doesn't exist to mommies.
Not only do we want to know all the facts, but we are no longer the squeamish, delicate young ladies we once were. Now we are tough, willing participants in conversations that once would have made us roll our eyes in disgust and made our stomaches lurch at the thought. Poop, vomit, rashes, snot, drool, etc. all topics that I actually enjoy discussing now. Weird! I guess I am over the TMI phase of my life. : )

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'll take one time machine please!

The longer I am a mommy, the more I wish we could have lived in the past. I know that the 50's wasn't all "I Love Lucy" and "Leave it to Beaver", but there are things about that time period that really make me wish I lived then. I would love to live in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. Where everyone watches out for you and your family, and you really get to know your neighbors. I know that these things are possible in this day and age too, but it seems like our goals and expectations are so different. As I have discussed before, we got rid of internet and cable (I have internet at work, so I'm not completely cut-off), but sometimes I think I would like to do even more.
Joe and I have been tossing around the idea of getting rid of our cell phones and just go back to a home phone. The idea that people can't get a hold of me twenty four hours a day, seems almost magical! Now I know that cell phones have their good points too (safety, convience) hense why this hasn't been done yet, but there are also so many up sides! I'm not someone who goes crazy about every little thing that they say will give you cancer or make you sick, but the research about cell phones and the possible side effects of using them are pretty compelling to me. Also, I think about the money we would save. Home phones are extremely cheap and cells are not.
We have also discussed down-sizing to one car. Since Joe's car is already paid off, this really wouldn't help with a car payment, but the money we would save on car insurance and gas would be great. This idea is less plausible since I can't give up my car since I transport Liam to and from daycare each day and Joe would have a hard time without a car since he works at 5:30 am and not many busses run that early. But I still think that it could be do-able.
Going back to a much simpler time seems so inviting! We spend far too much time and money on things that don't matter in the least. People went without three cars a household and cell phones for a very long time, and I'm sure that we could go without as well. Now if I could just convince my pesky husband!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hard times? Whatever!

I have been working part-time for about two months now and will be receiving my second "small" paycheck next week. So guess what?! In the past month we had to have a tree trimmed (when I say trimmed I mean hacked to pieces), an electrician out, and now someone hit my car! Last week Liam and I went to Joe's work to have lunch with him. We parked in the parking garage across the street and were gone about an hour and a half. When we went to leave, there it was……a series of scratches from the tire to the end of the car along the bumper. It looked terrible! We looked everywhere and no note, so when I was leaving I told the attendant and they said that no one talked to them. What a jerk! I can't believe that someone would hit a stranger's car and just leave! Well, I guess I can, there are people who do a lot owrse. But still, Jerk!
Joe took the car to a body shop that very day and they buffed-out a lot of the damage, but the bumper still looks horrible. They also told us that because the area that was damaged is part of a piece that circles the whole car, they would charge over $700 dollars to fix it. We really can't afford to pay that much and I don't really care whether or not we have a scratched car, but we are still making payments on it and the scratches definitely bring the value of the car down. Luckily our insurance will kick in as an un-insured driver and the deductable is only $300. But what else can possibly go wrong! I feel like my part-time situation is being sabotaged! We haven't had to do anything to the house since we moved in (except a new washer and dryer), until the last month.
Whatever! I'm home with my baby boy and everything else will work itself out! Right??

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's important?! Oh, how to decide!

I'm a couple of months in to working part-time and I absolutely LOVE everything about it! I'm the best teacher I can be (when at school), I'm the best mom and wife I can be (when at home), and I'm not absolutely exhausted like I was last year. I know that this is what is best for my son, my students, and for me. But, is it what's best for our family in the long run? Since going to part-time the pay checks are looking pretty small. Shouldn't be a surprise, huh? Well it wasn't, and we are doing great with our budget. But lately I have been thinking about all of the other things that I, Joe, and (some day) our kids will want to do. I know that everyone wants things and that there is always something that would be better, but I can't decide if one or two of those "wants" are worth going back to work full-time next year. The scary thing is that next year my school district will most likely make me choose to come back full-time or give up half of my position and become part-time permanently. Both of these options scare me! I do not want to go back to full-time, and now that I know what it's like to have less stress and more energy and time with my little guy, I don't know if I even could go back. But cutting back my hours permanently is stressful too, because then my options for full-time in the future are gone until budgets get better.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Saturday Morning Funny

So we have been trying to go without cable and internet at home for about a month now. Everything is going very well and I'm suprised at how easy this has been (for the most part). We will see how things go once school is out and I can't check my e-mail daily. Anyway, Sunday morning Joe was "relaxing" on the couch and Liam was napping. I was so bored, so I tried out the Saturday morning tv line-up. Needless to say, there were not a whole lot of choices! I decided on an info-mercial (for no particular reason). It took me about ten minutes to realize that they were trying to sell me hair products that give you volume and shine. Oh man! I spent a small chunk of my Saturday watching someone try to sell a product that a bald person, like myself, would NEVER need. The worst part about it was that they almost had me sold. It did make the model's hair look nice and it made me forget that I would have no use for it. Man, they were good! I know that this is soooo random, but hey, I thought it was funny!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Grass May Be Greener

Joe and I have been talking a lot about making some major changes in our lives. Although we have a wonderful life, great family and friends, and enjoy our jobs, we feel as though there may be something that is missing. For this reason, much of our "adult time" has been filled with discussions about how to fix that, and what we could possibly do differently. The biggest change that we have considered making is where we live. For about a year now we have talked about relocating, and as this year has progressed the conversation has become more serious. We love Oregon and it will always be our home, but there is always this nagging question of whether or not we would be happier somewhere else.
We have in no way, decided on anything yet, but the conversation has been persistant. The older I get, the more this area seems to not fit my plans and hopes for the future. I know that there will be issues anywhere that we live, but what I truely want is not happening here. I want to live in a tiny town with land and neighbors that you actually talk to. I want my son to go to a school where everyone watches out for him and knows us too. I would love to spend more time outdoors (and so would Liam), but having 9-10 months a year be cold, rainy weather doesn't make that easy.
I have always wanted to venture out of this area to see what life would be like somewhere new. Now Joe and I feel rushed to figure this out. We both agree that we want to be sure and settled by the time Liam goes to school. We don't want to move him around or make him start over in a new school, so we have four years to wiggle with. Luckly, my profession is everywhere. Even though there may not be very many jobs for teachers right now, there will be at some point and I can always sub until there is. Joe's work is a bit harder. Because he is a trader and there are not a lot of investment firms in small towns, finding a job will be far more difficult for him.
As I said, we have not decided on anything yet, and still have a lot to think about and/or do before this would ever be a possibility, but I would love the opportunity to spread my wings and try something new. Having a fresh start and getting a blank slate is extremely appealling right now, and picking up and moving is about as fresh and blank as you can get!
The idea of it being a short term move is what is intriguing us at this point. If we could some how, have the option to try out someplace new for just a couple of years, that would be ideal. But so far, nothing has dropped into our laps, so we will just have to wait and see what the future has in store for us! Hopefully, warmer weather, friendly people, history, and culture.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Learning from the Young Ones

Why do I work with kids? Why do I have massive amounts of patients for young people when I can barely stand to be around most adults? Well, for two reasons: one- I was born to be a teacher and we tend to like being around small humans, two- because kids say what adults want to and then move on. They are the most honest and forthcoming people and I appreciate that more than anything else that they do. I have alopecia totalis, this means that for a great deal of my life, I have been completely bald. You would think that this would cause some stress/uncomfortable situations with the population that I work with. But on the contrary, they are the most amazing group of "co-workers" that I could ask for.  Kids truely do not care what you look like, just whether or not you give them the respect and support that they deserve. If you do this, your appearance will mean nothing.
I didn't exactly know this when I began teaching, but it was a welcome suprise! Most of my first day jitters included being nervous about how they would react. I have always been around kids and had just thought that those particular children were beyond their years and special, when they ignored my lack of hair and acted like I was a normal human being. Now they were special, but I have come to understand that the young mind is amazing and that kids are far more advanced than adults in the concept of caring about people for who they are and not what they look like. I learned my first year, to just explain my situation fully, not in "kid" language. They appreciate being talked to like adults and respond accordingly.
Although there were months on end where my students acted as though I was the most normal personal in the world and like they had forgotten that my bald head isn't the norm, they were also so comfortable with the situation that they would throw in a joke here and there. "Wow, Mrs. Brooks, you must save a lot of money on hair products!" or "Do you want to borrow my hat, it's cold outside." became fairly common comments. Wouldn't it be nice if adults would follow their lead? Kids have never made me feel uncomfortable about being bald and different. If they care enough about it, they will just ask, whereas adults will stare and whisper, thinking that they are being disgreet. Your not! I notice you! Stop!!! Take a tip from the 5 year old with you, and just ask! It still blows me away how easy it is to be me when kids are around! I have worked so hard to be comfortable with me, hair or not, and it has seemed to rub off on my kiddos. They too love me for me, and that is amazing!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All Wrapped up with a Pretty Little Bow

So many things are coming up and even more things are coming to an end. This is a time for change in my family. The school year is coming to a close, meaning that in just a few weeks I will get to spend every minute of my day with my amazing son! I can't wait to wake up to a calm, quiet morning, go for long walks, take trips to the park and the zoo, play in the backyard with Maizy, and visit Joe at work. I absolutely love my job, but being a teacher would not be possible without the, much needed, time off. During the school year it is like having 100 sons and daughters, who have "other" parents as well. Although there are days where teaching is exhausting, every day is also extremely rewarding.
Just yesterday I was able to praise a student for doing great on a project, who I think may have never heard the words "I'm proud of you" before. The look of shock and then excitment that crossed his face was priceless and I will never forget it. I have had many moments like this throught the three years that I have been teaching, but this particular moment is so important because I have worked so hard this year to be better at what I do. Every year I learn so much more, and every year I grow as an educator. I'm proud of what I have become and who I have helped.
I'm also very excited for a mini-vacation that we are going to take with some friends. It will be so nice to get a change of scenery for a few days. It will also be nice for Liam to socialize with other little ones (not that he doesn't at daycare). I hope that the weather holds out and that it is as relaxing as I am hoping for. I'm also excited because a good friend of mine is going to have a baby! We are so excited for them and can't wait to meet the new addition to the posse. Another little one in the group! We are growing so fast! Pretty soon there will be so many of us that we could start out own football team (which I'm sure the dads would enjoy).
Things are going well at home as well. Joe and I are one payment away from paying off one of our student loans, we are eating healthier than ever, going on regular walks with Liam and Maizy, our families are all doing well, and I'm experimenting with a few possible hobbies. We are making it a point to expand our comfort levels: with food, activities, interests, etc. We have been in a bit of a rut for a while. Eating the same things for dinner, watching the same tv shows, even siting in the same places day in and day out. Now this may not seem like an issue, but we are tired of being boring! This doesn't mean that we are going to be on the go all the time, or that we are now going to go the opposite way, we still have a 1 year old at home and a very limited budget, so things will still be low-key. Just new and different!
I plan to take a few classes at the Y this summer. Luckily I have a few co-workers and some neighbors who have been trying to motivate me to do something active. During the summer, when I won't feel so guilty about leaving Liam for an hour or two, is the perfect time to get started. There are also big changes with Liam. He is now a confident, consistant walker. His personality is definately coming out more and more each day. He is turning into a kid! I can't believe how fast time goes and how quickly they change. So right now, CHANGE is my word, and change is good!

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm Lucky that I'm already Bald!

Life is stressful for everyone. We all have times where we feel like our world is falling apart and we don't know how to fix it. The past month or so has been this time for me. There are so many reasons why I have been worried, exhausted, and on the brink of tears non-stop. I pride myself on being a strong person, who deals with things on a daily basis that others can't imagine. Don't get me wrong, I know everyone has issues, but mine are out for the world to see and sometimes the world seeing is all that I need to feel uncomfortable and sad. But I have moved past those feelings and have come out of it a very strong, self-aware person. I also know that I am a good person, who works hard to be caring and thoughtful of other people and their feelings.
But lately, knowing all of these things isn't enough to keep me together. I have been feeling pressure from so many places, that it is hard to even keep track! Because I am a third year teacher and budget cuts are looming, I don't know if I am going to have a job next year. With a one year old son at home and a degree that puts me into a very limited field (that isn't doing well anywhere) this is putting a great deal of stress in my everyday life. I'm so worried that I won't be able to support my son. There is a bright side to this issue though. If I make it through this year, I should be fairly secure. Also, if I am laid off then I always have subbing, and with being a teacher in the district for so long, I don't think that it would be difficult to find jobs. But the job security and steady pay checks are what I need now.
Also, I have had a great deal of personal stress associated with the relationships that I have. I have grown into a different person in the last year and so have a great deal of the people around me. Someone who I once thought was a dear friend, has said very hurtful things about me and my family and when I try to talk to her about it, she ignores my pleas. I just want to move on, but she has been holding me and my feelings hostige, by spreading hurtful words and then refusing to talk about it. I still stand behind every action that I have taken in this situation and I trust in my heart. I can only do so much, at some point it is up to her.
I still care about this person a lot, but I care about myself and my family more, and that is why I have given up on any change by her. I have to move on with my life and be a parent, a wife, and a friend to those who want my friendship. I can't worry about those who don't. I have realized in the past couple of days, how close to that black hole of depression I am and I refuse to go down it. I have decided to speak to a counsilor and work through the things that I can't change.
One thing about stress is that it can cause physical issues as well as emotional ones. In fact, alopecia has been directly related to stress. For this reason, I am so greatful that I have already lost all of my hair, because I am sure that I would be bald by now anyway. When I get really stressed I can "feel my hair falling out". My scalp teangles and I just know that my body is reacting. I have felt that a lot lately, but lucky for me, there are no effects!
I need to start thinking about the wonderful support group that I do have. The many friends that have stuck by me without judgement and do not cause drama. I need to surround myself with people who are with me through the long haul, not just when I follow their directions and do what they say. I need to pour every ounce of energy that I have into the students that I serve and my family who is the only reason that I am sane. I love you all and thank you so much for all that you do!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A True Mother's Day

Being a parent is the greatest gift I have ever been given and I love every second of it, but I have also realized that not everything is hugs and kisses, love and happiness. Yesterday was my second Mother's Day (however, Liam was only 2 weeks old last time and I really can't remember a thing about it). So this year's Mother's Day seemed far more "real" to me. When I went to bed, I imagined suprises, love, and fun. Although the love was present, the rest was more realistic than I had imagined.
Joe and I were woken up many times that night, because Liam is teething again and couldn't sleep. If you have never been around a teething toddler, they are not quiet and are hard to make happy. Then Liam decided to wake up (for good) at about 5:30. This was not what I expected! He then hit me in the nose with the remote control and laughed when I cried out in pain. My husband made me a delicious breakfast and gave me gifts. They were not much, but we had agreed to that and the flowers that were sitting on our kitchen table and the card (that Joe never gives) was so sweet it made me cry!
The weather wasn't great so we were stuck in the house most of the day. We then went to my mom's where I helped my sister work on her senior project until Liam was so crabby that we had to leave so he could take a nap. Once home I took a relaxing bath and Joe tried to take a nap. But the second that I got comfortable and so did he, Liam woke up and Joe became the crabby one. Later that night we went to dinner with my family. This was the best part of the day! Beind surrounded by people who love me and who I love back, was a wonderful way to end the day.
So even though the day was no fairytale or cheesy commercial where the mom sleeps in and is brough breakfast in bed, gets fancy jewlery and is wisked off to get a mani pedi, who cares?! I had a real mother's day. I earned this and I am happy with it. I do have some hopes for the future, but I couldn't ask for anything more than to have an amazing husband who cares about me more than I ever thought possible, the most adorable son who everyone loves, and family and friends who make me feel good about myself, even when I find it difficult. Thank you to everyone who was a part of making my mother's day a true day about being a mom!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Purging and Gaining at the Same Time

Joe and I have been talking about our priorites a lot lately. Since getting pregnant, they have changed a lot. However, some of our actions have not changed to fit our new priorities. The major area is spending "quality" time with our son. Being a new parent is a huge change and it isn't always easy to make it as quickly and painlessly as we hope. Before Liam was born and even still today, Joe and I are TVoholics. From the time we get home, until we go to bed the TV is on. We are not always watching it, but it is on. When we are bored we turn on the TV and flip through the mindless channels until we find something "interesting enough" to watch.
We want Liam to grow up being active and feeling like we want to interact with him and sometimes we don't know if that is the message that he is getting. My beloved internet is also been named as a distration from what is truely important to us. I spend hours a day on Facebook and here on my baby blog. No matter how much I love these sites and the interactions that I have with people on them, it is no substitute for time spent with my baby boy, who is growing up far too fast.
Once we agreed that watching tv and the internet should not be as much of a priority as it is, the only solutions that seemed worthwhile was to get rid of it. When you are addicted to something, the best way to quit is cold turkey. Because of this, we have canceled internet, cable, and our home phone hoping that this will enhance our lives by refocusing our goals, lives, and actions. This is also perfect timing for us to make this kind of decision as there has been a lot of stress associated with my online social interactions lately and we could always save some money here and there.
I'm extremely nervous about this, which tells me that it is the right thing for us to do. When you fear not being able to spend hours staring at a screen (either one), then your daily life may need a boost. I thought this morning about the idea that when I look back on my life, I won't say that my best memories were watching CSI or posting a meaningless comment on Twitter, so why should I let those things take up so many of my hours?! I may be back soon, but I hope not. I hope that this is a learning/growing experience for our whole family and that it brings us memories, better relationships, and more moolah in the bank account.
I really hope it isn't as bad as I think it will be!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Itchy Eyes and a Healthy Diet

Liam had allergy testing last week to see if there are foods as well as other allergens that he should stay away from. I was not suprised to find that he is allergic to something, but I was surprised to find that it is eggs. I'm allergic to almost anything in nature (except, thankfully, food). I expected to find that he was allergic to dogs, cats, pollen, grass, trees, mold, or almost anything! But I was not prepared for eggs.
It is very frustrating to see my son when one of these reactions occur. He is so uncomfortable and I know exactly what he is feeling. It is also frustrating because I did everything in my power to make sure that he wouldn't have any allergies and especially not to food. I nursed exclusively for six months, only adding food to his diet when told they were no longer an issue and one at a time, I continued to nurse (w/o using formula) and am still currently nursing a few times a day. My son didn't have milk until after his first birthday (yet it still seems to irritate his eczema) and we never gave him eggs exclusively. This amazing considering that Easter was the weekend before the tests were done!
The only time that Liam has been exposed to egg at all, is through me and when mixed in a recipe like bread. Now we know that his reactions cohensided with eating those foods that contain egg in the recipe. Because Liam is allergic to eggs and seems to have issues with dairy, his diet is extremely limited. He is already very small and is only in the 8th precentile for weight. All of these things make me very worried about making sure that he has a well-rounded and healthy diet. We know that there are a variety of specialty foods at stores like Whole Foods and New Seasons, but our funds are going to be limited and we really need to find a sustainable way to get him all the nutrients that he needs without breaking the bank. Obviously, we will do whatever we need to do to make sure Liam has what he needs, even if this means no extra money and/or finding a little something extra during my summer breaks. But again, sustainability and a well-rounded, healthy diet are what we are looking for.
We have recently cut out all un-needed expenses: stopped putting money into our 401k, are in the process of canceling comcast cable, phone, and internet, and are trying to pay off a student loan that will free up a little bit of money on a monthly basis. We have also talked about putting in a garden to help with grocery bills and have cut our eating out and costly activities to a minimum. We are not "hurting" for money, in fact right now we are doing just fine. But I will be 1/2 time next year so things will already be a bit tight. I hope I don't sound like I am complaining! Because I am NOT! I'm so excited to be able to be home with my son more and it's a choice that we made as a family, but it will be an adjustment.
So if you have egg/dairy allergies and have any suggestions for us on how to make sure Liam has a healthy diet or know of some good deals, we would love to hear about them!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Major Accomplishments

As you probably already know, Liam turned one over the weekend. This is a day that I have feared and hoped for, off and on for the past few months. I have feared my son getting bigger and bigger so quickly, but I have hoped for it, because the day would signal the accomplishment of my biggest and most important parenting (and possibly life) goal so far- nursing/pumping for the first year. I tend to be someone who makes goals and follows through sparatically, but when Liam was born, I said that I would do everything in my power to make it nursing exclusively for the first year. When I said this, I was serious about the goal, but still had doubts about my ability to follow through.
Nursing was no problem for the first four months, as I was a stay at home mom over the summer and was always with Liam. The first major hurtle came when I went back to work in September. At that point I talked to a co-worker who is very "nature-focused" and who I thought "If anyone could do it, she could." When I asked her how long she was able to nurse, she said through the first year. Confidience up! But then I asked if she needed to supplement with formula and she said, "Oh ya. There was no way!" Confidience plummeting! I began to doubt my abilities again.
At that point, I said that if I just made it to 6 months I would be happy. October (6 months) came and went and the pumping/nursing was still going strong. Then I said, "Just through the holidays." They came and went and I was beginning to really think that I may have a chance. Then the tough stuff hit. In January, I went back to work after a two week x-mas break and started taking classes for my reading endorsement. The classes required me to work with two students (outside of class time) one on one. The only time this would work was after school and during my prep period (AKA pumping time). At first things were ok, but the further into the calendar year I got, the harder it was. My milk started to stall and not drop soon enough for me to get prepared for the huge group of screaming students to enter my room.
I was so scared that I wouldn't make it after all of this time. Although I knew it wasn't true, I thought that I had gone through all of this trouble for nothing. As spring break approached, I started just hoping to make it until then. With less and less milk, more and more stress, and even less time to pump, it seemed almost impossible. But spring break came and for a whole week Liam and I focused on nursing. The next three weeks were touch and go. Some days were very good and others were so draining that I thought it was over. But here it is, a few days into Liam's second year, and I am still nursing (no longer pumping at work- thank goodness!) and I am so proud of myself. I have NEVER felt so accomplished and I am glad that this is the goal that made it.

*Disclaimer- If you don't want to read about boobies, you should stop reading now!

A friend who is about to welcome her little guy soon, asked if I would post some tips. I don't know how much help they will be, but here they are:

1. Set a good schedule- try to spend as much time nursing exclusely before going to work. I know most people can't help this, but the longer you have, the more your body seems to respond and setting up a good schedule helped me.
2. Don't get frustrated- your milk supply will vary a bit everyday. Some days you will produce a lot and others you won't. Don't dwell on the not so great days, it will all even out if you stick with it.
3. Start pumping and freezing milk ASAP- the more milk in the freezer, the better. If for nothing else, a night out with the hubby.
4. Do whatever you need to do, to be comfortable (with pumping and nursing). Being comfortable and relaxed helps your milk drop quickly and will ensure that your little one won't get frustrated or impatient.
5. Get a good pump. I recommend Medela. When at the hospital, we were told to get a Medela pump. We ignored them thinking they were too expensive. But if you are really committed to this, you will need a good reliable pump and will most likely, eventually go get one anyway. So save yourself the time and money and just get one first.
*The next few tips will be about pumping at work
6. Be honest and straight forward with your boss- it's the law that your boss has to give you a time and place to pump. Use this to your advantage and try to create a plan early.
7. Make sure that your pumping area is comfortable and warm- being cold is not helpful when trying to produce milk and being in a stressful situation doesn't help either. I know this because I had to pump in my classroom (where two walls are windows, one of them to the hallway where students are constantly around).
8. Lock the door! Even with a massive amount of dicussion with my co-workers about what the screen in the corner of the room and lights off means, I still had a couple of almost interruptions (even when the door was locked).
9. Your favorite music and some water to drink can help to set the mood. A comfortable chair and a dark room is a nice way to prepare.
10. Set up a system for getting your pumping equipment to and from work. I took everything with me on Mondays, washed out the pieces after each pumping session, and left the pieces in my classroom until Friday. Then I would take it all home and put it through the dishwasher. To do this, it would be easiest to have two sets of everything (although not financially ideal) pump, cups, tubing, bottles, etc. Leaving one set at home and one at work would relieve a lot of prep and worry. But I wasn't able to do this and had to take the pump itself back and forth.

I hope that these tips are helpful to someone, if not, I tried!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Dairy of all Kinds

My son had his one year check up today where we were told that he is only in the 8% for weight. He has always been "little", but this is a big change from his last appointment. I have been worried lately about his eating habits. He has been refusing food and not wanting to eat anything except veggie crunchies or goldfish. We have been working on the switch to real food for a couple of weeks and at the beginning he was very receptive and loved eating what mommy and daddy had, but now he refuses everything. This alone would worry me, but we are also going through the process of figuring out whether or not he is allergic to dairy products. He has eczema (thanks to his mommy) that seems to get worse when he eats dairy and recently he is getting a red, itchy rash around his eyes too.
To make things even more interesting, I have stopped pumping at work and we are trying to switch to some other sort of milk (cow's, soy, or rice). Wow! What a wonderful situation! Allergies, food, breast pumps and milk(s). The doctor told us that we should hold off on dairy for a week or two to see if things get better and to use soy milk in the meantime. Then we will try cow's milk again to see if there is a reaction. After having to have a dairy-free diet for just a week, I can't imagine what it would be like for Liam if it were a permanent situation. I had no problems with cravings, it was just so hard to find dairy-free products. Almost everything has dairy-even things you would NEVER think would.
I can't help but be sad that I passed these wonderful genes on to him. I have eczema, asthma, alopecia, thyroid issues, allergies to almost anything natural (except food, thank goodness). I know that at least now, Liam has eczema and it is highly possible that he also has ashma and allergies. So far, no sign of anything else, but it took until I was 5 years old for me. I am trying so hard to think positively, but it is harder and harder the more that comes up. Knowing how hard dealing with all of these issues can be, makes it so difficult for me to be so powerless to help him. I guess that is a lesson for a new mommy- we can't fix everything that they go through.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Parties and Steps

Today was Liam's first birthday party. Because it's April, the weather is unpredictable, and we invited upwards of 60 people, we decided to have his party at the local YMCA. His party was wonderful and full of love and fun. He was so happy the whole time! I don't think that it was the gifts or the cake that he found so exciting, but the attention and support that he felt from everyone who was there. We were all so happy to be there and everyone truely wanted to celebrate him and the day that he became a part of our lives. I realized that this is the most important thing that we can hope for, for his future- people who care about him and are happy to be there for him in celebration and in sadness. I realized just how many of those people we have around us and how important they are to our health and happiness. This list is not limited to only the people who attended the party, but extend for miles.
Although, a first birthday party may seem like a big enough "step" in one's life for one day, Liam doesn't roll that way! He decided to starting walking too. He took his first steps about a month ago, but actually began to take more than one or two steps at a time and is looking sturdier and sturdier. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments, but I know that this is one that will have lasting consequences for mommy and daddy. Today was a busy, happy day, but it also brought a surge of calm and excitment for the future. I believe that I am starting to see things more clearly and that the things that should be focused on are coming to light more and more each day. It is so easy to get caught up in things that don't really matter, but today was what life is all about. Family, friends, celebration, and growth, what else could you ask for?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On a Speeding Train

Today is my son's first birthday! One year ago today, I met the LOVE of my life. When that day began, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that I would love the little person who had been growing in my belly, and I knew that my life would never be the same. But the meaning behind these words is not even close to describing what happened the moment that I looked in to my little man's eyes. I heard the song "Beautiful Boy" by John Lennon the second I saw him and the words in that song describe so much of what I feel. My life is so different and I would not change one single thing about it! My life before Liam was wonderful and perfect for who I was then, but my life would no longer be complete without him. In fact, he IS my life now and I am so proud of that!
When I was pregnant I knew that things would change and that I would "miss out" on some of the things that I enjoyed, now I know that what has changed is me and what I now enjoy. Making my son laugh, watching him learn, seeing him sleep, and coming home to his excited panting and reaching is now all I want. This has been the case for a whole year now and I can't believe it. There are times when it feels like Liam has been here forever and I can't remember who I was before him, and then there are times when the day he was born seems as if it were yesterday. Today, I have experienced both feelings multiple times.
It is the most amazing and sad feeling to be at this point. Amazing because I love who he is becoming and what he has done to change me, and sad because I am not ready for him to grow up and it is happening right before my eyes. Being a parent is the hardest, scariest, and most rewarding thing that I have and will ever do and I am so proud of how naturally my husband and I have fallen into the jobs. I know that I will and have already made many mistakes, but we are learning fast and my son's happy, calm demeanor tells me we are doing something right. Everyone (even strangers) comment about how happy and relaxed he is and although I can't take full credit, I know that the way we are with him has something to do with that. As we put my son to bed tonight, I couldn't help but get teary-eyed and be a little sad that the first year of his life is already over, but I know that if he has improved our lives this much in one year, just imagine how happy we will be when he is grown. I love you more than anyone and anything my sweet boy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trips to Live By

This past week, my husband, my son, our doggy Maizy, and I went on our first family vacation. We visited Union Creek Resort in Union Creek, Oregon. Joe and I have been looking forward to our quiet vacation since we booked it a month ago. The trip started out a little iffy and ended with a longing for more time. We chose this specific vacation spot due to it's remote and peaceful location, but we soon realized how remote and peaceful it would be. The drive to Union Creek took about 5 hours and with an 11 month old and a very active dog, this was a challenge all it's own. When we finally arrived, we were so happy to be out of the car, stretching our legs, and getting settled.
We unpacked and took a little walk around the resort which includes a resturant, lodge, gift shop, creek, and a small group of cabins (which is where we resided for the duration of our vacation). After this, we went to Becky's resturant for something to eat. By the time we went back to the cabin, it was only 5:30 and I began to worry about the boredom that was looking inevitable. Another reason why we picked Union Creek, was that there is no distractions of any kind. No TV, no cell service, and only a few other occupants at the resort. It took some time, but we grew to love the quiet, laid-back feel. We spent hours, hanging around our one room cabin.
As I said before, the first day was an interesting one. Between the initial shock of nothing obvious to do and the unexpected guest and late-night trip that would come that night, we had no idea what we were in for. The evening was long and when Liam finally went to sleep Joe and I played card games for a while, but Joe soon took advantage of the silence and went to sleep. I on the other hand, found it too quiet and layed in bed for a while trying to sleep. About 10 pm, I heard what sounded like someone trying to open the window in the bathroom. I thought that I was just hearing things and laid there listening. Then the sound moved to the roof and a scratching sound began as well.
Finally, I woke up Joe and we laid listening while my utter fear continued to grow. Eventially, I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed some of Liam's things and Liam and said we had to leave. Now, in hind-sight, this was silly, but at the time it seemed the most rational choice. When we finally left the cabin, Liam, Maizy, and I got in the car and Joe walked around the cabin looking for what was making the sound. He found nothing, which freaked me out even more. We drove to the lodge to talk to someone there, but it was closed and the owner had left for the night. We were left to fend for ourselves and there was no way I was going to take Liam back into that cabin. So we drove. The nearest town was about 15 minutes away and once we got there it became clear that there were no options for us there either. It was a tiny town with one house with rooms for rent and we were sure they didn't take dogs. The next town was more than 30 miles away and it was after 11.
Eventially, Joe talked me into going back to the cabin, explaining that we had no other choice. It took a lot of convincing, but we went back, got Liam back to sleep and I laid in bed the rest of the night listening on constant guard. The next morning, Joe talked to the owner and was told that they have a friendly raccoon that enjoys the company of the visitors to our cabin. Now, I have no idea why this wasn't mentioned to us before, but I felt a lot better knowing what/who was hanging around in the dark hours of the night.
This being the first night, of our first family vacation, you may think that it was a total disaster. On the contrary, though the first night was stressful and scary, it is now a funny story that we can tell Liam over and over when he is older. That is the funny thing about family vacations (I have learned). They will never be perfect, unless they are imperfect. Without that scary, stress-filled night, we might not have had any real memories to pass on. But after that night, the rest of the vacation passed far too quickly. We found a stuffed raccoon in the gift shop as a souvenir of our time there and took so many pictures that there is no way we will ever forget any of it.
Although at the beginning it didn't seem that spectacular, this trip was the best one that I have ever been on. Liam smiled the entire vacation which is apparent in every picture that we took, this alone makes me sure that our vacation was a huge success. I will never forget the time the four of us had, just us (except for the raccoon), in the quiet and snowy woods.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Separation Anxiety for all!

This past week has been difficult for both Liam and I. Earlier this week, I dropped Liam off at daycare just like any day. Everything went as usual until I started to leave. That is when Liam decided to cry as I left. He has never done this before and it broke my heart to go. I spent a good ten minutes trying to decide whether or not I should just call in to work and stay home with him. But after working with young kids for so long, I know that this would only make matters worse later on. So I went to work feeling like crap and worrying about how long it would take him to calm down. (I found out later that he was back to normal in seconds)
This happened again the next day as well. It was almost worse the second time, because I was dreading it all morning. Luckly, he was fine by the next morning, but we will see what happens this week!

As if his separation anxiety wasn't enough, last night we tried to have Liam sleep in his crib in his own room. It took about an hour longer than usual to get him to calm down and go to sleep. Sitting down stairs listening to him cry on the monitor was torture! About ten minutes into it, we got him up and he nursed and we tried again. He was quiet for about 15 minutes and then was unhappy again. So my husband went up to calm him down and ended up staying with him for about a half an hour until he was asleep. I spent the entire evening listening to the monitor like a crazy person.

When Joe and I finally went to bed ourselves, I stopped in to check on Liam. He was fast asleep and looked so peaceful that I thought that it would be no problem to go to sleep. But we moved the monitor into the bedroom with us and I continued to listen for over an hour. At that point, Liam woke up for his first feeding. He ate and went back to sleep like usual, but again I laid awake. I finally fell asleep and everything went as usual. He woke up twice more to eat, but had no problem going back to sleep and neither did I. I hope that this situation isn't the same as at the daycare, where day two is worse than the first.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A New Outlook on Life

Warning! The following is corny! Read at your own risk.

Let me start by saying that my life is not going to change because of a movie, however my outlook on it might. I spent that last two and half hours watching a wonderful movie called "Julie and Julia" which I am sure many of you recognize. I enjoyed this movie for many reasons: one- it was entertaining and funny, two- I learned a great deal about Julia Child, and three- I realized a lot about myself and what I want out of life. For those of you who did not read my last blog, I lost a very important person recently- my grandmother. She had a fasinating life which was filled with toughness and love, but at her funeral yesterday none of that was discussed. The person who was in charge of talking about my grandmother didn't know her at all (as most don't) and instead of talking about her wonderful life, he used the occassion as a chance to talk about his work in Africa and his beliefs in hell. Wonderful, I know. But this is another story. The point of mentioning this is, that it made me think of how short life is and about how important it is to make it worth living.
Then to my suprise, there was this engaging movie on tv this morning that not only reminded me of the feelings I had yesterday, but also inspired me to do something about it. I know that we have all heard and probably said this before, but my life is going to change. I don't expect this change to happen today, but instead, slowly and with great focus and thoughtfulness. The movie as well as my grandma have inspired me to do many things, including, but not limited to: cooking, blogging, traveling, being a better person without judgement and cynicism, to be a better mom, teacher, wife and friend, to continue to be healthier and exercise, etc.
Everyone says these things, I know. What is different about this for me is that I don't expect it to happen overnight and I know that I will make mistakes along the way. But if I plan to take it one day at a time and focus on what is really important, I know that I can do it. I plan to look at everyday (yes, even weekdays) as an opportunity to be better- to live life. I think that my New Year's resolution has just clicked a couple of weeks late this year. The weird thing about it though, is that it is not just a resolution for this year, but for the rest of my life. It is a resolution that can not be measured in push ups, number of friends, days, or dollar signs, but in my feelings and my experiences.
Yay for me! I have finally figured it out. Not all of it-if I had what would I do with the rest of my life? But I have had an epiphany. Everything seems to have clicked and I now have a focus. Or more accurately-many. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Months and Pounds

Since becoming pregnant, my body has changed drastically, many times. First I gained massive amounts of weight in a very short amount of time (which obviously is normal when you are pregnant). Within weeks after Liam was born, I dropped about 20 of the 50lbs that I gained. It then took quite a while for the next 20lbs to be shed. The past couple of months have been spent trying to loose the last 10lbs. There have been a lot of ups and a few downs, but I am almost there! I told myself when I got pregnant, that it would take me nine months to gain the baby weight and I would give myself nine months to loose it. Liam will be nine months next Sunday.
Being a new mom who works makes it very difficult to loose the baby weight. I have been trying to eat better and I know that nursing has helped- A LOT! But when it comes to finding time and energy to work out, it is out of the question. Because I already get up at 4:45 am, there is no way I am going to get up earlier to work out. After work is also not happening. I get home from work about 4pm and Liam goes to bed about 8pm. This is the only time I get to see him throughout the day and I don't want to miss any of that time to go to the gym or go running. Not to mention the guilt I feel even thinking about it. And then there is after Liam goes to sleep. He goes to bed about an hour before I do and by that time, I am so exhausted that I can hardley manage to get off the couch.
Looking back on all of this, I am so shocked that I have made it this far toward my goal of getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight in 9 months. For those of you who haven't had a kids yet, I know that 9 months sounds like a lifetime and as though this should be no problem at all. But you are mistaken! It is very hard. The first couple months is easy because what you loose is a mixture of the weight of the actual baby, the fluid needed to keep baby healthy and the water/bloating that pregnancy adds to your body. But after that, it is all you.
I also never thought too much about how having a baby will actually "change" my body. Even though I am extremely close to my pre-pregnancy weight, I do not see my old body in there anywhere. In some ways, I love my new body, but there are a couple of new developments that I wish I could erase. I am hoping that with a little exersice (when I have more "me" time) I will be able to tone up a little and begin to see a body that I recognize a bit more. Oh the changes that a baby brings! They are never ending!!