Retreat

I’m back from an amazing weekend with my chorus. We had a weekend-long retreat at Lake Guntersville, Alabama state park lodge. We sang, we worked our asses off on our contest music, we played games. We laughed, we shared meals, some of us drank way too much (that might have been me) Saturday night and woke up with an epic hangover on Sunday (also me). We. Had. Fun.

I was feeling anxious about the weekend away from Josh & Nellie, and also just a little nervous about how it’d go since I’ve been so absent from the chorus lately. Turns out I had no reason at all to be anxious or nervous. Everyone was, as they have always been, loving and accepting of me. Like I’ve been there every single Tuesday for the past year. The view from the lodge was breathtaking. I failed and only got one picture:

The chalet I stayed in with my quartet was great. I stepped into the shower on Friday and could have stayed all night. No hurrying to get done before naptime, nothing to do and nowhere to be… It was awesome.

I needed this past weekend. It rekindled my love and excitement for barbershop singing and I am so pumped for competition this March. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about in all of this, read this post and this post as well to get caught up.

I loved my weekend away, but I have to admit every time Josh would send me a picture of Nellie I would almost cry. When I swept her into my arms upon arriving back home yesterday, I breathed her in and covered her with kisses. I didn’t want to put her down but alas, my sweet little toddler wriggled free and wanted to crawl all around after a few minutes of snuggling. We took her out to the local Greenway to enjoy the unseasonably warm day we were having. It was great to be back in my family’s arms. My voice is absolutely wrecked from all the singing, laughing, and hollering I did but it’s worth it. I can’t wait for March!

Randoms

I just have some random, unrelated things to babble about today, in no particular order.

  • First, thank you for all the amazing feedback and support in regards to my post about anxiety. I feel more empowered than before to take charge and do something about these feelings I’m having.
  • I switched my commenting system to IntenseDebate. Somewhere in the import, some comments got eaten. I don’t know why most of my comments were imported but some were not. I’m frustrated, but for now I’m sticking with I.D. because I like the system. You’ll notice that pretty much all of my posts after December have 0 comments, which depresses me because it makes me look sad and friendless but the comments are there, somewhere, in cyberspace. I re-imported and everything is fine now. Yay!
  • Have you read that Cora’s Law is in the process of being passed in Indiana? Cora’s Law would make it mandatory for newborns to be given a pulse oximetry test to screen for a potential CHD.. And it’s all thanks to Cora and her amazing mother Kristine! I am so proud of Kristine for fighting so hard and tirelessly making sure that Cora continues to save lives!
  • I’m going away for the weekend. Friday through Sunday. I’ll be off on a chorus retreat, barbershopping my butt off. So, internet silence from me. I know you’ll miss me terribly but please try and carry on with your daily lives. This is going to be the longest I’ve ever been away from Nellie. Eeeeeek.
  • My 12 in 11 project is going so well I’ve finished 2 books this month. I read The Hunger Games and on Sunday I bought Catching Fire. I finished it last night. I’m not obsessed or anything. I certainly didn’t look up mockingjay pendants on Amazon or anything like that.
  • Seeing bunches of Blissdom Tweets makes me feel geeky & spazzy and anxious for August, when I will be attending BlogHer ’11. I can’t wait!
  • I tried watching The Kids Are All Right last night with Josh. Great acting, boring as hell. I don’t get why it’s nominated for an Oscar, and I’m usually down with the Oscar Noms. It was like watching someone’s real life, except without any really great drama. I turned it off before we got to the “conflict” of the movie but I read about it on Wikipedia and I was like, meh. Whatev.
  • Abrupt end to the blog post.

Anxiety

I’ve suspected for about as long as I’ve been aware of such things that I suffer from mild anxiety. Feelings of not wanting to go back to school after a few days’ absence, feeling worried and anxious when I’ve forgotten to do something important, etc.

Since having a baby, it has gotten worse. Amplified. My anxiety is full-blown and takes my breath away sometimes. I started feeling kind of weird about it when I worked my Telemarketing Job From Hell. One day as I was texting Joshua I started breathing fast and feeling like I wanted to just run away. I wanted to spring from my chair, sprint down the stairs and run as far as I could. I actually retreated to the bathroom to breathe & cry for a few minutes.

The anxious feelings come out of nowhere sometimes. Right now as I type this, there is a ball in my stomach. It’s a squirming, writhing feeling that is twisting itself into a big uncomfortable knot. I feel overwhelmed. I feel helpless. I feel anxious.

But about what?

I don’t know but I fucking hate this feeling. I have these anxious feelings more and more often and I can’t really pinpoint a trigger. They just happen. I’m starting to wonder more frequently if I need to seek some sort of medicine for the anxiety because as I’ve said, it’s always been there but since I had a baby and my hormones went HOORAY LET’S SMASH AND RUIN THINGS it’s been so much worse.

I know that my anxious feelings have led to a decline in my hobbies; when I get to feeling anxious I don’t want to go to chorus. I don’t want to really do anything but not feel anxious anymore. I just wish I knew where the hell these feelings came from.

Am I totally alone? Am I the only one with squirmy, knotted things living inside their stomachs for absolutely no fucking reason whatsoever? How do you deal with this shit?

Memetastic Award

So, I’m not huge on blog awards these days. When I got my first way back when, I almost shit my pants. I was like HOLY FUCK, SOMEONE GAVE ME AN AWARD. Then I got more, and there was like this big bloggy love award party which is great, but then I stopped doing them because when I’d pick who I wanted to pass the award to I would seriously feel anxious because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving them out. It was just a big fucking headache so I stopped.

HOWEVER.

This award is too epic and hilarious to NOT share. I’m honored to be the recipient of this beauty:

This amazing piece of internet art was given to me by The Mom Adventures.

Here are the rules & shit:

1. You must proudly display the absolutely disgusting graphic that I have created for these purposes (put it in your post, you don’t have to put it in your sidebar, I think that would seriously be asking too much). It’s so bad that not only did I use COMIC SANS, but there’s even a little fucking jumping, celebrating kitten down there at the bottom. It’s horrifying! But its presence in your award celebration is crucial to the memetastic process we’re creating here. If you need a higher resolution version… I totally have one!!

2. You must list 5 things about yourself, and 4 of them must be bold-faced lies. Just make some shit up, we’ll never know; one of them has to be true, though. Of course, nobody will ever know the difference, so we’re just on the honor system here. I trust you. Except for the 4 that you lied about, you lying bastards! But don’t go crazy trying to think of stuff, you’ll see by the example I’ve set below that we’re not really interested in quality here.

3. You must pass this award on to 5 bloggers that you either like or don’t like or don’t really have much of an opinion about. I don’t care who you pick, and nobody needs to know why. I mean, you can give a reason if you want, but I don’t really care.

4. If you fail to follow any of the above rules, I will fucking hunt your ass down and harass you incessantly until you either block me on Twitter or ban my IP address from visiting your blog. I don’t know if you can actually do that last thing, but I will become so annoying to you that you will actually go out and hire an IT professional to train you on how to ban IP addresses just so that I’ll leave you alone. I’m serious. I’m going to do these things. Starting with the 5 of you I’m about to pass this award on to.

Here are my lies (and 1 truth):

  1. One of my hobbies includes juggling baby geese.
  2. I cannot drive a stick shift.
  3. I have an irrational fear of cotton balls.
  4. I’m on my second marriage.
  5. My best friend in middle school was a street-wise cat named Manny.

Other Lucky Recipients

I’m tagging some people, please don’t get offended if you’re not on this list. If you’re not here, it clearly means I hate your rotten guts.

  1. Salt Says
  2. Me As a Mommy
  3. Blahggy
  4. Mommy, Lost in Translation
  5. Stay at Home Babe

If I didn’t tag you, you can send your hate letters to gtfoverit@gmail.com. I love a lot of bloggers and I’d be here all effing day if I tagged all of you bitches.

I’m out. Have a fantastic Sunday and don’t take the lord’s name in vain. Or something. I don’t know. I’m leaving now.

Big Mama on Campus?

My friends, I think I might have lost my damn mind.

On my daughter’s 1st birthday I found myself standing in the shower when an idea ran headfirst into me, climbed up my body, burrowed into my brain and has been nesting.. Sleeping.. Growing. This is an idea that I haven’t entertained in a very long time and one that is overwhelmingly big and scary.

The idea?

Going to school. To college. Pursuing a career that can help sustain my family. I love my job, love where I work but at the same time, my family is only going to grow and expand, and so are our expenses. It’s not fair of me to expect my husband to do all of the financial contributing and advancing and so the idea took seed.

I started to think about what I could do with the rest of my life that wouldn’t suck my soul dry or drive me insane and what I came up with was teaching. Specifically, small children. Preschool/Kindergarten age. I don’t think I can handle a mass quantity of children any older than that.

Then I started thinking about all of the steps I’d have to take to get to where I’d like to be. The financial commitment. The time commitment. The fact that I want a second child sooner than 3 years from now. I’d be looking at possibly a 5 year commitment to furthering my education. Most people my age are done with their degrees, or are almost done with their degrees.

I sought the advice of my husband first, asking him if I was completely batshit for even entertaining that. However, my husband is amazing and asked me how anything I wanted could possibly be batshit? He then told me that he’d stand by me no matter what, and support me if it’s what I really wanted. I expressed concern at how difficult it would be and how overwhelmed I was. He told me that if anyone could do it, I could do it.

So I’ve decided to take small steps. Baby steps. Take it one little piece at a time and try not to look at the big picture so much but focus on small goals that I can set for myself and reach. I asked my brother for some advice because he is wise in the ways of college and higher education. He too gave me his full support, and suggested I make a list & timeline of small goals and long-term goals. He also reminded me to keep in mind what sort of time and emotional commitments I wanted with other things. Family, chorus, work, etc. I knew I sought him out for a reason.

So, there you have it. I’m entertaining the idea of chasing a degree in early childhood education. The idea is thrilling, exciting. I worked on a college campus for almost three years and I can remember walking around the grounds on my lunch breaks with my iPod playing and watching everyone. I would see them walking to and from classes, stopping to talk and laugh. I’d see them hunkered over books, notes, also listening to iPods.. And I wanted to join them. I wanted to be taking notes, reading books, and learning again. Does that sound crazy? I wanted to be a part of their world.

It’s also completely terrifying. I mean, it’s really scary to me for some reason. I think it’s because it’s such an unknown thing to me. Will I have the time to balance work, school, Nellie, my husband, chorus, and potentially having another child? Josh and I made a loose plan for baby #2, plans that will probably be implemented within the next year. Clearly going to school pregnant, and then with a newborn won’t be easy. In my heart I know I can do anything I put my mind to. I’m very determined, and I’m pretty good at getting shit done when I decide I want it done.

It’s a big step. But it’s a step to my family’s future. I want my kids to look at me and be proud. I want my kids to look at me and realize that if I can just up and choose to start at the beginning when it comes to college at the age of 27, then they sure as hell can do it, too.

Deep breaths. One foot in front of the other. Baby steps.

Nellie Turns 1 :: Pictures

The Birthday Girl

Nellie & Mommy

Birthday Decor

Adventuring & Exploring

CAKE.

We had a wonderful birthday celebration for Nellie at her Gran’s house. We invited only close family. In fact, the people who first saw her on the day of her birth were present at the celebration of her first year of life. You can see we didn’t go all-out with themes, favors, cupcake toppers, etc. We felt like it would have been more for us than her, and we will probably concentrate more on having a themed birthday party with other kids there next year.
Nellie was hesitant about the cake at first, but as you can see she dug in after a while. She even shared with her mama. Nellie got a lot of great presents. I made her smash cake and it was… Um.. Failriffic. See?

Click for Sound Effect

Yyyyeah. It’s a sad little cake. It looks better than it did when I first made it, if you can believe it.

Nellie’s custom birthday onesie was made by my awesome & crafty friend, Rachel. She has also made Nellie various adorable hair bows, and even a hair bow holder. Because she is the bees’ knees.

My girl is 1. I can’t believe it. Her birthday was absolutely perfect.

Nellie Rose : 1 Year Old.

On January 20th, 2010 at 4:15 PM my life changed forever. A 7 lb 2 oz wailing child with a head full of dark hair came into my life and made me a mother.

Her name is Nellie Rose and today, January 20th, 2011 she turns 1 year old.

Here is a slideshow of her 1st year in pictures, set to music. It’s 15 minutes long and I understand if you don’t watch it all. It’s more for her when she gets older and for me and her daddy. But if you make it all the way through, thank you.


Some 1 Year Stats

  • 21 pounds
  • A little over 26 inches long
  • Wearing size 12 month clothes, but rapidly growing out of them
  • Pulling up and has brief moments of unassisted standing
  • Can say “mama” “dada” and sings “la la la la”.
  • Dances while sitting down.
  • Sleeps through the night.
  • Bottle-free; drinks from a sippy cup.
  • Is on cow’s milk.
  • Has four teeth (two top, two bottom)
  • Loves graham crackers, chicken, potatoes, carrots, green beans, yogurt, mandarin oranges.
  • Hates avocado, peaches, apricots.
  • Claps.
  • Raises arms when asked, “how big is Nellie?”
  • Gives kisses when asked.

It’s hard to believe that our daughter has been here for a year. The past 365 days have flown by almost as if they didn’t exist. I’ve been a mom for a year now. It hasn’t always been easy. It’s actually been pretty hard at times. I’ve laughed, cried, been frustrated, been sad, felt lonely.. But it’s always been worth it. When I see my daughter’s face light up with a grin, or when I get her going in a giggle fit, I could explode into a thousand pieces with happiness. The love I feel when I watch her sleep takes my breath away. As I remember the day I gave birth to my Nellie, I feel tears in my eyes. I smile thinking of all the memories that we have yet to make, and all the adventures we have yet to embark upon.

To my Nellie Rose:

Happy Birthday, my darling girl. I still remember how it felt to have you kicking me from inside. When I kiss you, I find true happiness and peace. Your laugh fills my soul from corner to corner. You have no idea how much I love you, darling babe. Thank you, thank you, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for choosing me to be your mother. It’s been an honor and I promise I will continue to do my best. You make me proud every second of every day.

One Chapter Ends..

And a new one begins. The Baby Chapter in my daughter’s life is coming to an end and her Toddler Chapter is about to begin.

Here I sit, on what I can consider my daughter’s last night as a baby. She’s not walking yet but she’s still a toddler. Tomorrow, I’ll have a toddler. The 7 lb 2 oz baby  that I gave birth to just one year ago is now a crawling, standing, babbling little girl. How did it go by so quickly? Did I stop and enjoy the little moments enough? Will I remember what it was like to cradle her in my arms and listen to her newborn grunts & snuffles a year from now?

I felt okay with everything until today. I really did. It’s just a birthday, I’d think. I’m blessed she gets a birthday.
And I know how blessed I am. I have a living child for whom to throw a party..

But about midday, I began to feel sad. And weepy. I looked at a few of her newborn pictures and almost started to cry. My child is almost a year old. I, like so many mothers before me, am running the gauntlet of emotions. Pride. Love. Sadness. Joy. Fear. Trepidation. Longing. It’s so hard, and confusing, and wonderful. I don’t know if I’m going to make it through her party tomorrow without crying.

We’re having a very small family party at my mother-in-law’s house. I’ll be armed with my camera, ready to capture every sweet moment.. Every smile, every taste of cake. Forever caught on film for me to re-visit as she grows. Today, I kept running through the last hours of my pregnancy in my mind. In a matter of hours, I’ll no longer be able to think, This time last year I was ____ weeks pregnant.

I’m excited for the new chapter in Nellie’s life to begin. I’m also sad for the one that is about to close. That stage of my baby’s life is gone forever. New adventures, memories, and moments await us and that thought makes me smile and anticipate what is yet to come.

But as I gaze upon the photos of  my daughter just moments after her birth, my heart can’t help but break just a little bit for those precious times that only exist now in my memory.

Keep me in your thoughts tomorrow, my friends. At 4:15 PM tomorrow, my child will officially be 1 year old.

Bye bye, baby. Hello toddler.

Wordless Wednesday: 1 Year Ago


January 19th, 2010. 40w2d. Less than 12 hours before going into labor.

Thicker Than Water

Over the weekend, my older brother D and his girlfriend E drove down from Wisconsin to visit. The last time my brother saw Nellie was in March when she was about 8 weeks old. It’s always nice to have members of my family come to visit me, but the visits go by so quickly that once they leave, it’s almost surreal. Like it’s hard to believe they were actually here. But of course, they were here.

Whenever a family member of mine visits and then leaves, I find myself looking around at the aftermath and feeling wistful & sad. A glimpse of a Chinese food takeout box brings back memories of the night we sat around the table laughing and eating. The leftover chili that my brother made reminds me of the three of us watching the Miss America pageant on TV and making fun of it for two hours. I think about our trips to Starbucks, and E pushing D into a huge pile of snow at Rock City.
It brings to mind the old quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened”.
I always forget how refreshing it is to be around my blood relatives. I love my in-laws and they are family to me but there’s just something about surrounding yourself with people who have known you since birth. People who share your DNA. People who fit into a place in your heart and soul like only those you’ve grown up with can. I’m an odd person. I have an odd sense of humor and when I’m with my family, it’s like I make a little more sense than usual. I only get to see my blood relatives once a year – if I’m lucky – so I cherish the time we get to spend together.

I find myself looking back and feeling happy that it happened, but sad at the same time because I know it’s going to be months before we get to have fun times and make new memories again. It’s harder since I’ve had a child. I want my father and my brother to be a part of her life as her other family – Josh’s family – are. I want them to be around for her birthdays, for holidays.. And just because. I haven’t mentioned my mother, and that’s because she and I have a pretty strained and complicated relationship. She lives in Chattanooga but as I said before, our relationship isn’t great. Maybe another day when I have a lot of emotional energy & the fortitude to go into it, I will. Let’s just say I don’t crave her company like I do my other family which is frustrating, because she lives so close.

I have my family here in my husband, I do have a blood relative here, of course… And that’s my Nellie. My daughter. She’s more a part of me than any other person on the face of the planet. She possesses a piece of my heart and more than just a little bit of my soul. When I get to feeling sad, or lonely, or longing for my Northern relatives all I have to do is look into those eyes, gaze upon the chin dimple that she inherited from me and realize that she is my blood. She’s my everything. I still miss my other family members terribly, but she helps soothe the sting quite a bit.

My Heart.