Thursday, July 22, 2010

Serenity now, insanity later.

We just got back from what I would definitely call the most relaxing vacation I've ever had. I can't remember the last time I'd felt so relaxed. It was easy for us to go because Kaylee is so attached to all of her grandparents and practically pushes us out the door when we drop her off. We knew she'd have a great time with them, and vice versa, so we had no worries about being away.

Plus, there's something to be said about just having time as a couple and not having to worry about changing diapers or trying to deal with a breakdown over whether or not we should really watch Barney or the Wiggles or Veggie Tales. You know, the big, big, taxing, stressful life decisions that two-year-olds struggle with...

I was so excited to go out to restaurants and not have to worry about public meltdowns, bathrooms with no changing tables, or not being able to fully enjoy a meal not cooked by me while enjoying an actual intelligent, adult conversation because a certain someone was dead set on escaping the high chair and subsequently chucking crushed Saltine crackers off the table. *Deep breath*

We got to the bed and breakfast and I start settling in, unpacking, and being so delighted at the fact that, at least for a couple days, life could be a little bit like it used to be. Just the two of us.

You know how you always hear parents talking about how they finally get to go out on a date without their kids, but then all they end up talking about is the kids? I knew we'd miss Kaylee, and of course we'd think about her and talk about her, but what I didn't realize was the little things during our trip that would bring her to mind. As I unpacked, and throughout our trip, I found things.

Things like this...

Lovely golden glitter glue on the bottom of my Nikes, which (I'm willing to bet my life on this) appeared as I was trying to prevent this...

  ...from getting any worse (thats' the same golden glitter glue - on my hardwood floors).

To be honest, I left that glitter glue on my floor for a while. I actually thought it was kind of cute. But I never realized I had glitter glue on my freaking shoes until I was unpacking on our trip. That one thing brought back such a fun little memory. And let's not forget the spare (clean, of course) diaper I found in my purse or half the plastic Easter egg that was also floating around in there.

As if being away from her in itself wasn't enough to make me think about Kaylee, I had cute little things like this popping up the whole time we were gone.

So the trip was awesome, and it was a much-needed getaway because I have a hard time sitting still, and this trip reminded me how important it is to actually do just that. Sit still. Sit still and do absolutely nothing.

I even put down my book a few times when I was sitting outside, just to take it all in. All that fresh, quiet country air with cute little chirping birds...

 ...little bunny foo-foos hopping everywhere...

 ...the butterflies...

...the incredible views...

...the red adirondak chair that oh-so-badly wanted to make my home its own...

and the Jack La Lanna stair stepper placed directly beside it (wth, right???)

 ...the bellowing cows, and the far-off monsoon storms - oh, those fabulous monsoon storms with all their lightning and thunder!

But, from the moment we drove up to that cozy little place...

...I knew I better enjoy every single second while it lasted because as soon ask I got home, I'd see the laundry that hadn't been done, the bills that needed to be paid, and it would be time to referee time-outs and to be on diaper duty again. I knew the peace would be fleeting.

I braced myself when it was time to leave. I still felt relaxed, but I'd have been kidding myself if I thought it would continue once we got home. I couldn't have been reminded of that more clearly than this morning.

As soon as Kaylee walked out the door from story time at the library where she behaved perfectly, it was mere moments before I was ready to shout, "Serenity nooooow!" (Seinfeld fans, there's a treat for you at the end...) because she turned into an absolute crazy person.

Seriously. You can even ask my dear friend's five-year-old who said something to the effect of, "I don't know if she has brakes, but she sure has a gas pedal!"

While the serenity was nice while it lasted, I am glad to be back home with my little firecracker, even if the serenity is a bit lacking for the time being.

Plus, the view of the monsoons from my front porch isn't so bad, especially when I consider that what seems, at times, like insanity at home really isn't so crazy afterall. It's actually quite enjoyable.


And, for any of you who cannot get the image of past Seinfeld episodes out of your head after reading, "Serenity nooooow!" this is for you...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

There's a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza.

Since I've been out of the blog world for what seems like so long, I forgot until just now that today is Writer's Workshop with Mama Kat . One of the prompts this week was to write out your bucket list - 100 things you want to do before you turn 100. I easily came up with 50 before my brain decided it was time for me to go to bed. Actually, as soon as I wrote the above sentences, I remember that I want to have a chicken coop - hence, #51, which then led to numbers 52 and 53. I'm sure I'll come up with more later. But, this is a pretty good start.

1. Learn to swim.
2. Find a type of sushi that actually tastes good.
3. Go to Italy.
4. Once I can actually swim, swim in the ocean.
5. Learn to grill food on the bbq.
6. Plant and harvest a garden.
7. Learn to drive a stick shift.
8. Get my BSW license.
9. Become an obstetrics social worker.
10. Have another baby.
11. Take my daughter to the places I grew up.
12. Ride a hot air balloon.
13. Drive a convertible.
14. Go to grad school.
15. Learn to play the violin.
16. Move to a house with a fenced in back yard that my child can actually play safely in.
17. Take a painting class (preferably a Bob Ross class - seriously)
18. Take a pottery class.
19. Read all of Barbara Kingsolver's books.
20. Ride in an authentic gondola. With an authentically handsome gondolier.
21. Find a really, really good wine that I love.
22. Become a public speaking advocate/educator for postpartum mood disorders (in the works)
23. Go to a new bed and breakfast every year.
24. Go on a horseback ride in the woods.
25. Buy a pair of totally hot pink high heels, and actually learn to walk in them. Without breaking my ankles.
26. Successfully stop biting my nails. For good.
27. Answer the door with my husband as he holds a shotgun while letting Kaylee's first boyfriend in the house to meet us for the first time.
28. Win a radio contest.
29. Adopt a family at Christmas.
30. Play bingo with old people.
31. Show my husband Mt. Rushmore when the faces are not completely covered in fog.
32. See a crazy meteor shower.
33. Watch lightning bugs.
34. Buy a buttload of lady bugs and let them go in my future garden.
35. Stay up half the night finishing my child's science fair project the night before it's due, just so I can truly appreciate what I put my own mom through.
36. Go on a weekend getaway with my very best girl friends.
37. Spend entire day. ENTIRE day at a spa. Pedi. Mani. Massage. Facial. The works.
38. Get published. In something other than Blogger or a college newspaper.
39. Own a hammock.
40. Play a game of Super Mario Bros. 3 without uttering a single cuss word.
41. Get a cat.
42. Figure out a way to not be allergic to cats.
43. Raise a happy, confident, assertive, brave little girl.
44. Touch a dolphin.
45. Introduce Kaylee to all of her great-grandparents.
46. Participate in a "Beat the Blues" walk for postpartum mood disorders awareness.
47. Go to New York City.
48. Teach Kaylee how to fish.
49. Camp at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
50. Make baking soda volcanoes with Kaylee.
51. Have a chicken coop and sell fresh eggs to my friends and family.
52. Take a self defense class.
53. Try at least one new recipe every month.

Mama's Losin' It

A summer of books

I've been zipping through books like crazy this spring and summer, and because the beautiful Angie asked, I decided to share some of my favorite books that I've read these past couple months.

If you're looking for a light, easy, very fast read and you're a fan of authors like Fannie Flagg, definitely check out Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore. I'm a huge Fannie Flagg fan. If I ever had another life, I'm pretty sure I was a Southern girl in it. I love the vernacular, the culture, the accent - all of it. This book is absolutely charming. You'll fall in love with the characters, and the writing style is just delightful. I think I read it in a single day.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen: A Novel

I know I'm way behind the times on this one, but I just read Marley and Me. I can't see the movie because I don't want to cry. Plus, I'm big on reading the book before I see the movie. This, again, was a really easy, quick read, and it's not just a story about a dog. I just fell in love with the family in this book. I was expecting to finish the book and be all sad, but I wasn't. It's such a positive story. Loved it.

Marley & Me

 Next up? Julie and Julia. LOVED this book. Saw the movie first, actually, and I was a big fan. But, I really liked the book even better. Julie Powell is hysterical - she's one of those authors where you can tell she writes just like she talks. This book was highly entertaining and a really fun, easy read.

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

I mentioned a while back I was struggling with the whole concept of church (still am, but I'm making some forward strides...). I recently read If the Church were Christian, and it was very fitting for my struggles. It deal with some of my huge frustrations with the church in general, and it focused on how different church would look if people actually acted the way they supposedly believed. I didn't agree with everything in the book, but I really, really liked the overall concept, and I feel like the author made some excellent points. Very thought-provoking. It was also a really quick read - I think I read this one in a day as well.

If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus

I've recently read two books by Jennifer Weiner. Wasn't a huge fan of Good in Bed, but Little Earthquakes was definitely something to write home about. I got into the book very quickly, and I could definitely relate to it at this point in my life. It was all about adjusting to life as a new mother. It was a refreshing read.

Little Earthquakes [LITTLE EARTHQUAKES] [Mass Market Paperback]

And most recently...I've broadened my horizons into the romance novel genre. I was given the opportunity to review a new trilogy by Tessa Dare, and I'm hooked. The first in the trilogy is One Dance with a Duke, and the second one is Twice Tempted by a Rogue. While I liked the first one better, I must admit I can't wait to read the third one. I won't go into too much detail because I'll actually be reviewing the second book later this month and giving away the entire trilogy. I was expecting a bit of smut and a generic storyline. But really, the books have a few steamy scenes here and there with really good story lines, surprisingly enough.

One Dance with a Duke  Twice Tempted by a Rogue

I'm currently reading The Poisonwood Bible, and next up after that is a Philippa Gregory book.

Read any good books this summer?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jumping back in

After a nice, long break from the blogging world, I finally decided it's time to start writing again.

I've had a lot of things that needed my attention and focus, so I chose to give the blog a bit of a rest so I could put all my energy where it really needed to be.


Making sure my child doesn't break her neck while moving the dining room chair to the back of the couch in order to show me her sweet new skill of doing a summer sault from the chair onto the couch. (And I thought putting her in gymnastics was a good idea...)

Facilitating approximately 85,276 time-outs and 46,724 tantrums - 26,000 of which were in public (terrible two's are the bees knees, folks).

Going to therapy. Oh my GOSH I am such a huge fan of therapy now. I think everyone should go. Just for fun. Seriously. My therapist can work wonders in just 50 minutes.

Reading like a fool.

Supervising my child while she dangles off the kitchen counter, hanging by her tiny little fingers.

Cooking up some delicious goodness in my kitchen.

Trying to make sure I don't turn my head long enough for Kaylee to climb up on the dining room table where she subsequently squeals and does a crazy combination of dancing and stomping.

Working, working, working. Have I mentioned I've been working my butt off?

Enjoying my little family. Dennis has a part-time job this summer, but we have had some great days together - going to the park, the zoo, Costco, whatever. It's been so nice to just relax and spend time together.

The writing bug just left me for a while. It was time for me to dig a little deeper and deal with some of my own junk. On my own. And I just didn't feel like putting it all out there.

So, I'm back. Hopefully on a more regular basis.

And, some goodies to look foward to...a guest post from Dennis in the near future, and a couple book giveaways - one of which is a fabulous romance trilogy, and the other is the new cookbook by Aviva Goldfarb which has quickly risen to the VERY top of my all-time-favorite cookbooks. Ever. So healthy, so easy, and SO yummy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My letter to new mothers

Today, you can find me hanging out over at Katherine Stone's blog, Postpartum Progress. She's kind of a big deal.

She writes the most widely-read blog in the U.S. on postpartum depression, and she is a tenacious advocate for women who suffer from postpartum mood disorders. Katherine is a survivor of postpartum OCD, and her blog is all about promoting awareness, education, and info on the latest research, programs, and legislation.

She's fiesty and she's honest, and she is an amazingly inspirational woman who works tirelessly to shatter the stigmas that surround postpartum mood disorders.

I think I probably nearly peed my pants with excitement when she invited me to be a part of the 2010 Mother's Day Online Rally for Moms' Mental Health. It's an event in which she posts a new story every hour on the hour from survivor moms, social workers, nurses, doctors, and experts about postpartum mood disorders. Each post is a letter to new moms, and I am honored beyond words to be included with so, so many amazing women.

So, please go check it's the link to my letter to new moms - Sera: On surviving postpartum depression

And while you're there, please check out all of the other amazing stories that you will find as part of today's rally.

And may all of you mamas be ridiculously spoiled this Mother's Day. You deserve it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

From sleepless nights to potty training: Reflections on my two-year journey as a mother

It's the night before my sweet little Kaylee Bug turns two years old.

I came in here to write after spending a short while with her before bed, where we read her favorite new book - Ladybug Girl, and she asked to say her "pears" (prayers) - prayers in which she frequently thanks Jesus for things like Captain Feathersword from The Wiggles, as well as other important things like candy, Costco and Grandma.

After the reading of the book (and my refusal to read the book again), the pears, and the stalling, I succumbed to her request of "Mommy yay down, too?"

So, this little mommy yayed down, too.

And, in those little moments, I realized how far we'd come in two years.

We made it through postpartum depression and anxiety, an overwhelming sense of when in the hell am I going to figure this whole motherhood thing out (answer = uh, never), very sleepless, unpredictable nights, the horror of teething, so many firsts, so many laughs and tears and holycrapIamgoingtoLOSEit moments.

We've made it through so much. And while I will always remember those really, really hard times - the belief that I would literally never sleep again, the terrifying panic and worry, the worse-than-contractions-kind-of-pain I had after giving birth, the insane sleep deprivation, the unbearable irritability, our 9-month battle with breast feeding, Kaylee's refusal to take naps for her first 12 months of life, multiple trips to the ER and a stay in the children's hospital, and did I mention the sleep deprivation? - I can honestly tell you that I don't have anywhere near the vivid imagery of those events that I did months ago. The emotional pain of those struggles fades more and more as time goes on, believe it or not, and I thank God for that.

When I look back on the last 2 years, those really sucky moments are not what stands out most to me anymore. For the longest time, I couldn't get past those haunting memories. I felt like they were so deeply etched in my mind, and for the longest time, I had a hard time believing things would get much better, or that it would ever become easier for me to look back and not have those be the most dominating memories I had of being a mother.

Will I ever completely forget what that junk was like? Oh, heck no. I will always remember how real and how difficult those days and months were. But now, I'm able to see myself as an even tougher woman for actually surviving all that. Those were bumps in the road that helped me grow, helped me learn more about myself, and helped to stir up a passion in myself to help other women who are either in that boat now or who have been there in the past.

Now, when I play that little slideshow in my head of the past 2 years, I see things like Kaylee taking her first steps in our office, and then later that night, taking more steps out in the living room after Dennis bribed her with a cookie.

I see her enjoying her first bite of cake, courtesy of my Dad.

I see her running all the way across a soccer field, just to get to the dirt border around the outside so she can play in the dirt and rocks instead of the soft grass.

I see a little girl who decided all on her own that it was time to start potty training, and who pretty much always thinks it's okay to just sit all the live long day on the toilet and "go potty more!" only to get off the toilet, state matter-of-factly, "Don't pee on da floor" and then proceed to pee on the floor.

I see her jacking a can of V8 out of the fridge and toting it around pretending to drink out of it as she walks around the house, and then saying, "Ahhhhh" after she's finished with her pretend drink.

I see a little girl who knows her ABC's and sings the Ippy Pider (Itsy Bitsy Spider) song all on her own.

I see a little girl who uttered, "Dammit!" in Wal-Mart today after I dropped a box of pasta off the shelf.

I see all the times Kaylee's face lit up each and every time Uncle Colin and Sarah came home from college after she'd gone months without seeing them.

I see my spunky little smiling, energetic, funny, smart, absolutely beautiful baby girl.

And, finally, I see myself as a damn good mother.

I no longer see a failure who still can't keep the house clean, who occasionally swears and loses my patience and struggles to stay sane some days. I no longer see a mess of a mom who never had it together.

Now I see a woman who balances a marriage, a job, friendships, family, being a mother, and trying to have some time to myself, among other things like oh, paying the bills and planning meals and countless other super-fun responsibilities.

I see a woman who still swears and loses my patience and struggles to stay sane, but now I see that as normal, rather than seeing it as a character flaw. I still don't have it together many days, and I know I will never "arrive" at a place where I'll have it all together. That'd be a load of crap. I see a mama who does her best and who realizes, more often than not, that that's all I can do.

Forget the pressure to be the perfect mother, to have a clean house, and to be Pollyanna. Screw than, man. It's just not me.

I see the way my daughter has turned out, and I know I've done okay. And I know I will do okay.

While I may not be proud of everything I do and the way I react to everything, I realize that's just fine. And I realize that my daughter needs to see that. She needs to see her mama as human. As imperfect and sometimes messy. As one in need of a daily happy pill and some time to myself, and a good, healthy dose of Grey's Anatomy once a week.

We made it.

We made it two years. And while she tries my patience like no other, she just keeps getting more fun.

Fun enough to give me the crazy notion that it's finally time to do this whole thing over again.

God help me...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The day my kid said "Dammit."

It's a day all of us parents dread. We hope and pray it won't happen to us, but deep down, we all know it's just a matter of time.

It's the day our child says their first cuss word. You swear up and down you'll watch your mouth around your child and you will not be THAT parent, the one whose child says bad words.You vow to be a better parent than that. You will always set a good example. That's what you tell yourself.

But, really - that's probably what you told yourself. Before you had kids. Because before we have kids we all swear there are certain things that we'll never allow, but then we end up allowing them anyway, because you learn to pick your battles, and you learn that while Barney may inspire you to chuck things through your picture window, he can also be your best ally when it comes to taking a shower or getting 30 minutes of quiet time to yourself when you're standing on the brink of insanity.

So, some months ago, one of us opened the hall closet only to find that a crayon had been shoved under the door such that when we opened said door, the crayon scraped a huge streak of color across our lovely hardwood floors. The adult in question uttered, "Dammit!" upon seeing the bright red streak on the floor. Pretty much immediately, Kaylee said it, too. Plain as day. Great.

Dennis tried to fool her into thinking it was "rabbit" and not "dammit" that actually came out.

Then came an oh-so-innocent sounding string of, "Dammit! Rabbit. Dammit. Dammit. Rabbit. RABBIT!"

Not exactly a redemption there, folks.

At first we really reacted to it. "No, Kaylee! We don't say that!" and on and on. We tried to correct her, but we found it actually made the situation even worse. She loved the reaction, and she'd just cock her head to the side, turn up the cuteness by about 76 notches, smile that irresistible smile and then whisper it..."Dammit?"

So, we changed gears. We consciously made the choice to become terrible parents by actually deciding to ignore her when she said it. I know! Despicable, right? If you want to take away my nomination for Mother of the Year, I'm sorry to tell you you're too late. I'm pretty sure I lost it on January 1st (dammit).

Anyway, ignoring it has seemed to work best. But, we can definitely tell when Kaylee's about to say it. She'll say, "That's a bad word! Don't say that!" And then we know a tiny little "dammit" is just around the corner.

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not writing about this because I'm all proud of my child's newly expanded vocabulary.

I'm writing about this because I'm not perfect. Dennis isn't perfect, and we don't have a perfect child. We're just doing the best we can, and if that means that our nearly-two-year-old sometimes utters "dammit" (always in perfect context, by the way...), then oh well.

We feed her. We love her. We bathe her. We play with her. We do the best we can.

And that's good enough for me.

This post is loosely based on writing prompt #4 from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, going on all day long over at Mama's Losin' It.