The day after Valentine’s Day

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Can I just tell you that I hate valentine’s day? Even now that I’m married and have a guaranteed date. Still hate it. Think it’s stupid. But I try to make something of it. I got up and made heart-shaped cinnamon toast for my family. That was about all I did to acknowledge it. Then we all just went about our day.

Can I just tell you about the WORST Valentine’s day that I ever had? It was February 14, 2010. I had been dating this guy for a little over a year. And I told him I didn’t want to go out, because I didn’t want Nadia to have to go to a babysitter. So he said he would be happy to bring me some food. He didn’t promise, but said maybe he would even cook me a steak dinner, at my house. I was excited to have a nice low-key date. I put on a dress (gasp) and a little makeup. I even took the time to shave my legs…which, for those of you that really know me, you know this is a HUGE effort.

So, my boyfriend shows up about 7:00. I’m starving, because he’s an hour late. He didn’t bring me any food. He came in and sat on my couch and started watching the winter olympics. Ugh. I asked what he wanted to do for dinner, and he said he wasn’t hungry; he had picked up a burrito on the way over and ate it in the car. WHAT??? I was furious. But I am not good at confrontation or yelling or anything, so I just decided I would not eat and not make a big deal out of it.

So, he watched the olympics, and I sat next to him on the couch, Facebooking. A friend from work popped online and sent me an IM. “What are you doing online? Aren’t you out on a V-day date with your boyfriend?” So, I told him what happened and we chatted a bit more. Not long after, I asked my boyfriend to leave. And told him not to bother coming back.

The next day was a holiday from work, President’s Day I think. Something like that. So Nadia and I hung out at our house. My friend came over, and I told her the whole story about my horrible Valentine’s day. And about my cute co-worker and she said I should call him and ask him to go out for a coffee/drink/beverage/appetizer….whatever…and she would stay with Nadia.

So I did. And he said yes. And after dinner, I didn’t want the night to end.

I was afraid it would be awkward to see him at work the next day, but it wasn’t. And so we made another date for a few days later. And within a few weeks, we were inseparable. And within a few months, we were engaged.

So, all these years, I thought February 15th couldn’t come soon enough. Just to skip over the stupid holiday that fell on the day before. But now, my February 15th is the day that I celebrate, and happily anticipate, for a good reason.

Happy Anniversary Tony!

The mama in me wants to brag a little

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My little pickle will be 13 months old tomorrow! This is one of those silly, mindless posts that lets me tell you all about how wonderfully smart and advanced my little man is; not because you care, but the mom in me likes to think that you actually do care about how awesome MY child is!

Anyway, our little guy started walking one week after his 9 month birthday. Not just taking a few steps at a time, but really walking! Like from one side of the room to another. After he started crawling at 5 months and pulling up to stand at 6 months, I knew walking would be an early milestone, but I was both amazed and quite saddened when it actually happened.

When he was 10 months, I was chasing him around the soccer fields while Nadia had practice, and he was kicking the ball around with me. He loves soccer. He loves to steal other kid’s soccer balls; he even tried to take a ball away from a man taller than me! Right about the time he turned 10 months, he also started climbing the playground equipment at the park. This is terrifying for a mama!

Nadia didn’t walk until about 13 1/2 months, but she was quite the talker at a very young age. Nicholas doesn’t talk nearly as much as Nadia did (as in, real words–he babbles and gives some pretty intense speeches, but we don’t really know what he is saying). But I do think, especially for a boy, that Nicholas has learned to say quite a lot. Here is a list of his words, trying to list them in the order in which he learned them:
sissy, ball, dada, brush, pretty, hair, mama.

Yes, sadly, mama is at the end of the list. :(

At 11 months he started learning animals and the sounds they make. He loves cows, and when he sees one he says “booo” (can’t say m’s very well). He also loves dogs and his whole body moves when he tries to bark. Kitties say “maaaaa” in a sweet little voice. Trucks, cars and motorcycles say “broom broom”. He can point at objects or go get them and bring them to you if you ask him to. If I ask him, “where’s the kitty?” he will say “maaaa?” and go get his kitty and give her hugs.

He still loves nursing and sometimes just nurses so he can sit in my lap. He’s not hungry, he’s not thirsty, just needs some mama cuddles. And I am happy to provide. He has started eating more real foods. He loves raisins, apples, yogurt, crackers, beans and celery. A few days ago, he tried hummus and was a huge fan of it!

He still hates baths, so we try giving him a shower instead. And he still hates sleeping. We let him sleep with us, but occasionally even that doesn’t work either. Oh, how I wish that boy would sleep!

His daddy says he needs a hair cut, but that’s one little milestone I can control, so I’m holding off until his hair is unbearably long…hopefully I can wait until 18 months; but it’s looking like it may only be a few weeks at best.

Happy 13 months to my little guy. He makes my days and nights longer, but definitely makes life a lot more interesting.

 

My Dear Grandma

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I started this post a while ago and I was not able to finish it, because it made me too sad, but today seemed like a good day to finish, so I did.

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I just recently got back from a trip to IL to visit my mom and dad. I took Nicholas with me, and it was nice to visit family. It would have been even nicer if we didn’t get sick while we were there, but at least we got to spend some quality time together. The day before I left, I was feeling a little better, and wanted to go see my grandma, so we went to visit her in the nursing home.

Grandma went into the nursing home a little over a year ago, and her health has not been good since. I was able to have a good visit with her last February (2012) and she was able to meet and hold Nicholas. When I went to visit her, I remember thinking to myself that her body was old and worn. She did not look well physically; which may seem like a strange thing to notice. But the modern culture of women tend to be obsessed with body image, and I just remember thinking that my grandma was beautiful, despite the obvious signs of age and fatigue, despite the fact that her hair wasn’t fixed the way she would have wanted it to be. She was beautiful because of what those wrinkles depicted — a happy simple life; the love she has given to her 7 children, 26 (?) grandchildren, and (I lost count) great-grandchildren. And the love that still radiated from her warm smile, even though she wasn’t sure who I was- she just knew that she knew me. And she still loved to see her great-grandchildren. Nothing brought a bigger smile to her face than to see her babies.

My daughter was able to visit with Grandma Olyta over the summer. Nadia would go to the nursing home with my mom and paint Grandma’s nails, and visit with her. I am glad they had that time together.When I think of my grandma, one of my most cherished memories is from when my daughter was just a few days old. I was home with this helpless little newborn, alone, and I hadn’t the slightest idea what to do with this little infant. But I called my grandma and she came to help me. She knew just what to do. She held my baby in her arms and rocked her and comforted her. It was so natural to her to know how to care for a baby, and in comforting my daughter, she calmed me and showed me how to love and care for this little baby.

As I said earlier, I was able to see Grandma in the first part of December. Not as much as I would have liked. The day we were well enough to go see her, she was too tired to wake up. She layed in her bed, napping. My mom and I talked to her, but she would just flutter her eyelids. She couldn’t wake up. I leaned over her bed and I let Nicholas touch her hand. He held her hand for awhile and looked at her. He smiled. He patted her. And I held her hand too, knowing full well it may be the last time I got to see her.

As I stood there, holding her hand, I couldn’t help but think about how small and fragile she looked, like a newborn baby. It is strange how in life we revert back to similar stages of infancy as we age; our teeth fall out, we forget how to walk, our food needs to be pureed, and sometimes we even have to wear diapers again. And we need to be held. At that moment, I wanted so badly to pick up my grandma and cradle her in my arms, just like she has done to so many of us, and so many of our children. I wanted to rock her, and comfort her, and tell her everything would be alright. Just like she has done for me, and my daughter, and so many other children in her life.

It was tough to walk out of her room that day. She has poured so much love over so many lives, and I just wish I could have spent more time holding her hand and comforting her. But I just had to remember that I would see her again some day. Some day. And that I should honor the lessons she has taught me. And give the love to my family that she always has given to her family, recognizing that each and every one of us is special.

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My grandmother passed away this morning. Today would have been my grandpa’s birthday. I like to think that they are having an awesome birthday reunion party in heaven right now. Tonight I will celebrate with my family, too, and make a chocolate (grandma) cake with rhubarb sauce on top, and talk about memories of our grandparents.

 

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My little boy is almost one…

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It is hard to believe that my little man is almost 1 year old already! Just a few more days. I remember this time last year, all too vividly. I was miserable, and growing more and more impatient by the day. I was SO READY to give birth. He was SO CONTENT to stay in my belly! And, so, his personality has been from day 1.

I have never really shared my birth story, and I thought some of you might like to hear it. Then I started writing it and realized it was too personal for now, and I’m not ready to share that amazing experience publicly. I will say that the path I took through my pregnancy and childbirth was an extremely eye-opening experience, and has led me to feel empowered as a woman. It is amazing what our bodies can do. It is also amazing how “modern medicine” seeks to take this power away from us. But that is another post entirely.

Every aspect of life is a journey, and parenting my darling son has definitely been a journey. Just over the past year, I have not only become more empowered as a woman, but I have also learned so much about my partner, and my daughter. My son has truly tested my patience to its maximum limits. My daughter was a pretty “easy”, “textbook” baby from what I remember. But my dear sweet son is what some would describe as “difficult”, “bad”, “fussy”. I have used these terms on occasion as well to describe him, but the more I read about the psychology of the infant/parent connection, I try so hard not to label my son with any of these terms. He’s just being “Nicholas,” and that is that.

The more I read about how to help my son be a better baby, I realized that it was me, not him, and I needed to find a better parenting style. I was a semi-attached parent, but I am becoming more of an attached parent, learning that it is okay to hold my baby all day, so I often put him in a baby carrier and do my chores with him up on my back. I learned that schedules sometimes just don’t work. Naps will happen if/when they happen. I nurse my baby on demand. Even if he isn’t hungry, sometimes he needs the comfort of his mother. And just because he turns 1 on Saturday, does not mean I have to start weaning him. He still doesn’t eat much in the way of solids, he isn’t ready to wean. Neither am I. And that is okay.

Most of all, I’ve learned over the past year that just because a book says to do something, or a doctor says to do something, it doesn’t mean it is best for your baby. Only you as the parent can know what is best for your own baby. Trust your gut. Do what you feel is right (while also practicing some common sense). There are things I did for my daughter that just don’t work for my son. For example, she slept through the night from 6 weeks on. Nicholas still has yet to sleep through the night. We didn’t have to “baby-proof” the house with my daughter, but when my son was 5 months old, he was on the move already and didn’t understand any boundaries. We HAD to baby proof for safety.

Probably way more information than any of you want to know, but I think it’s important to understand that just as all adults are different, all babies are different. And after almost 12 months, I think I have finally figured out my Nicholas, and how to properly respond to his needs. And he is an overall happy boy, that loves his sissy, and that loves to sleep (yes, he finally sleeps!!!) with his head on mommy and his feet on daddy.

IMG_5600 photo3 photo6 Pickle

December Events Rundown

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It has been awhile, again, since I have written anything. Still, thoughts have been swirling around in my head. So much to say…hope I can get some of it out.

I finished yet another semester of my Library Science program. It’s pretty fun and I am excited about the new career prospects. I got great grades again this semester. Not sure how that’s possible when I feel like these deadlines are justout of control sometimes. And just when I think I get it under control, a kid gets sick, or the laundry is piled to the ceiling, or even better, my computer crashes! Agh! Always something going on. Anyway, I have a month off and I am all too excited to see what kind of trouble I can get myself in to. (Which involves nothing any of you would consider fun. I am looking forward to cleaning out some of our storage areas.)

I went “home” to be with my momma after she had knee surgery. The day after her surgery, we all got the stomach flu. It was TERRIBLE! So, between that, and chasing after a busy toddler, I am not sure I was much help. Anyway, it was really nice to be able to spend some time with my mom and dad, and it was nice for Nicholas to be able to be at their house and get to know them a little better. It will make their stay here at Christmas that much more enjoyable.

After I got back here, I was kinda in a funk for several days. Thinking about all of the thoughts I had while I was there, reflecting on my time spent on this trip, and my time there as a child, and moving here, and the decisions I have made…oh, so many thoughts. Anyway, I think I’m finally back in the swing of things here at home.

And now Christmas is upon us, my most favorite holiday (dripping with sarcasm)! I am trying to enjoy it. I think I can, I think I can. But honestly, I’m already ready to take down the tree. I am tired of trying to keep the busy toddler away from the tree. He loves it. And every single ornament and every single light bulb on it. He wants to pull every single one of them off. Some of you might say, “just don’t put the breakable ornaments at the bottom where he can reach them!” and to you, I say, “It doesn’t matter. He will pull the entire tree down on top of him. Yes, he is that strong!”

I hope the next week goes by quickly. On December 26th, that tree is going back into the box. And I won’t miss it. At All!!!Photo on 12-20-12 at 9.19 AM

Motherly words of wisdom

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There is someone from my past I have been thinking about a lot lately. Her name is Valerie. She did a lot for me in a very short time, and I reflect fondly on my memories of her; especially when I think about my journey of motherhood. I only worked with her as my boss for a few years, and after she moved away, we kept in touch by writing good old-fashioned letters, through the U.S. mail.

The last letter I got from her was right before my daughter was born. I don’t remember much about what the letter said, but these words of wisdom that she offered have stuck with me since then: “Being a mother is the most rewarding and the most heartbreaking thing you will ever experience.”

When I read these words in her letter, I hadn’t even begun my journey of motherhood yet. I remember thinking that those words were a way to describe her journey. Surely it isn’t like that for every mom. She wasn’t normally a pessimistic person, but those words didn’t seem very encouraging either. I tossed them aside as much as I could, trying to be excited to be a new parent, and not get too overwhelmed.

But even when I was in the hospital after giving birth, those words kept popping into my head. “Being a mother is the most rewarding and the most heartbreaking thing you will ever experience.” Valerie was so wise, and she always knew what to say.

But this just didn’t seem right, not until I got home from the hospital with my daughter. My mom stayed with me for a day. Then she had to go back to work. I remember when she left that morning. I cried. I told her she couldn’t leave me alone with this baby. I didn’t know how to take care of her! What would I do with this baby all day? My mom reassured me that I would figure it out. And I did, but I also remember hearing Valerie’s words in the back of my head. Maybe I hadn’t realized the rewards yet, nor had I realized any heartbreak, but I had realized what an important job I had ahead of me, to raise another human. It seemed impossible, especially since I didn’t think of myself as an adult yet.

I can’t say that my daughter has really ever truly broken my heart; not like I have broken my mom’s heart. Not yet, at least. But I know it’s coming. Sure there has been some heartbreak. My daughter has told me she hates me, she has told me kids pick on her; all those normal things that make parents hurt for their children. But the journey has also been so rewarding with her. Getting to watch her learn new things, and seeing her grow into a young lady. It is worth my time and patience!

“Being a mother is the most rewarding and the most heartbreaking thing you will ever experience.”

As I have “evolved” as a mother, I now have found some truth in this statement. It takes so much restraint from me now to not give these words of wisdom to a blissfully unknowing expectant mother. I don’t think of it as a warning, but as letting them be aware of what lies ahead. And how serious of a job they have ahead of them, and how rewarding it can be, but also how truly heartbreaking it can be.

I hope I never have to experience the heartbreak that Valerie has felt as a mother. I hope that my children can lead perfect lives, and never get sick, and never get hurt, and that they will always be happy. But I know that at some point in their lives, I won’t be able to control their happiness or the things that happen to them; but the rewards have already been so great. I am glad I didn’t cast Valerie’s words aside when I first read them. These words have become so real to me; they help me see the good in stressful situations. These words come to me when I am overwhelmed and I remember how rewarding my job is, and how I should cherish these precious moments before their lives get too complicated.

Thanks and Giving

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Today, like nearly every day, I was sitting in the rocking chair, nursing my baby boy, hoping he’d let go soon; I am pretty sure he had already been asleep for 10 minutes! I tried easing him away, he starts suckling again. He’s not ready to let go. But then I think, instead of being anxious to get up and do my own thing, I should appreciate this moment more. What can I do to appreciate this moment?

I looked out the window, a little bit of light was seeping through the closed blinds and I could see a very obstructed view of outside. It looked windy. I should mention that I didn’t have my glasses on either, which caused the view to be even further obscured. I saw a series of leaves floating past. They looked like white dots. Snow? No way! It seems that even in San Diego, we have a change of seasons. Even though it hasn’t gotten below 60 degrees here at night yet, Autumn is certainly making its presence known. The days are shorter, the warm/cold air is a bit more crisp. I could hear the rustle of the trees through my still slightly opened windows.

I started thinking, “I should be thankful.” It’s almost Thanksgiving. Everyone I know is posting on Facebook what they are thankful for each day in November. I am thankful for a lot of things, but I still have to remind myself that every day is a gift.

I am thankful that I didn’t give up on myself when things got so hard. I always wondered why I was here and why my presence was just wasting oxygen on this cruel Earth. I didn’t really understand until now. (Sometimes I still have to remind myself that being here is a good thing!)

I am thankful for a gift (in disguise) that I received almost 9 years ago. I struggled to find meaning in such a tough situation. And then I finally got to lay my eyes on her; this beautiful creature that was given to me for some reason. Seeing the world through her eyes makes life fun again.

I am thankful that my parents never gave up on me.

I am thankful for my friends that are always there for me.

I am thankful that I moved to San Diego to be with my friends, so I could meet my husband.

I am thankful for my husband.

I am thankful for my new baby boy, and the family of blessings I have here.

My life seems to be like the changing seasons, but I feel stronger now. I no longer feel like those leaves blowing around in the wind. I am more grounded and stable. And now I can follow my own passions, with love and thanksgiving as my roots.

And that is what Thanksgiving is about, my friends.

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