Happy Thanksgiving

Last Thanksgiving I wasn’t feeling super thankful because 2014 was a crappy year. Sure, there was excitement from all the babies born and on the way, but overall it kind of sucked. I was ready for it to be over and I vividly remember thinking “next year can’t possibly be any worse.”

2015 tricked me into thinking it would be fun. Then the hits started coming…a car accident, Hannah’s surprise diagnoses, the stress of living on one paycheck during tax season and an oil-heated winter, a serious health issue with a family member, and many other less serious problems that felt like globs of icing continuously piled on a shitty cake that we didn’t want.

It couldn’t have been any later than April when I was started dreaming of 2016. I wanted a new year and a fresh start. We were still neck-deep in our grief and sorrow and anxiety and at the time it seemed like it would never end. I wouldn’t have believed someone if they told me that 2015 would be our best year. The year that we would learn and grow and love more than we ever thought possible. The year that we would have so much to be thankful for, more than I sometimes think we deserve.

In honor of Thanksgiving, here’s a short list of what I’m thankful for…

I’m thankful that Pete and I have parents who will drop everything to help us, and that Hannah has four grandparents that love her to the moon and back. That her aunts, uncles, and cousins are so good to her and give us so much love and support.

I’m thankful that my friends still like me even though I’m terrible at keeping in touch and for still invited us to hang out with them. That the kindest, strongest, most beautiful woman in the world is my best friend and that she always says what I need to hear.

I’m thankful that Pete and I did not let this year break us, and that we love each other more every day, and more importantly, that we still like each other. He puts up with my sassiness and silliness and has the sweetest conversations with Hannah.

I’m thankful that Gamy is the best dog ever, and quickly forgave us for bringing home a tiny, but loud, human. Her interest, patience, and tolerance with our friends’ kids makes me excited for the future shenanigans between her and Hannah.

I’m thankful that Hannah’s daycare teachers take great care of our baby, and that they’re helping us reach her developmental goals. When I hear them say they love Hannah I know that she is in the right place, which means after three months I finally stopped wanting to cry after drop off.

I’m thankful that my employer doesn’t make me feel bad about missing work for Hannah’s appointments, and that my coworkers love Hannah and ask about her very often. Their prayers helped carry us through surgery day.

And finally, this kid.

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I’m so incredibly thankful that she is alive. That she survived creation, pregnancy, birth, and surgery. That her heart is healed and that she’s thriving, and learning, and makes my heart explode daily.

I’m thankful that she has my eyes, that she’s already a comedienne, and that she smiles with her whole face.

I’m thankful for the excruciating love that I have for her. I’m thankful that she is ours. That she changed my world and that I have the honor of being her mother.

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Our Weekend: Flag Football, Buddy Walk, and a Sick Baby

We had beautiful weather this weekend, even though there was a hint of Fall in the air. It was the first and last time this year that I got a little bit of a sunburn!

Friday after work, Pete met up with me and my coworkers for a game of flag football. I chilled on the sidelines with Hannah and Gamy and two girls from another department. It was fun to relax and talk to people I don’t interact with much during the week. Pete had a blast playing and was sore for two days. Hopefully they’ll play again before it gets too cold to be a spectator.

Saturday was our first Buddy Walk experience! We carpooled with Pete’s mom and met up my parents, my friends Meghan, Steph and JP, and their son Lucas. As soon as we arrived I realized how underprepared we were. Teams were setting up their tents, grills, tables of food and we had blankets and chips & dip. It was amazing to see how large some of the teams were and how many supporters there are in a smaller state like Connecticut. The top team raised over $10,000 for the CDSC and our little team managed to raise $1150!

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Hannah fell asleep during the actual walk and continued to nap through lunch time. We ended up sitting on the far end of the field, away from everyone else, because we had no chairs and the picnic area provided some much needed shade. After my parents and our friends left, Pete, Grandma, Hannah, and I went for another walk to enjoy the sunshine, then did a lap around the field to check out the bounce houses.

Unfortunately the Buddy Walk wasn’t all I wanted it to be. I had a bad morning and was in a really crappy mood by the time we arrived. I already have a hard enough time meeting new people and couldn’t work up the strength to introduce myself while I was fighting my own negativity. I wanted the day to be about Hannah and meeting members of the community but instead I was focused on outside distractions.

On Sunday Pete went fishing and I stayed home with the sick Banana. After spending a week trying to fight off her first cold, Hannah finally surrendered and has been sick since Wednesday. Last week was the worst, with congestion that was affecting her ability to drink a bottle, a temperature just under 100*, and a couple restless nights. I’ve noticed a big difference since we put a humidifier in her room but the new cough she has makes her sound worse. I hope I’m not under reacting to Hannah’s cold but she seems to be handling it just fine. She still wakes up with a smile, still wants to play and roll around, and still sings to me after school. She’s fighting it like the little warrior that I know she is.

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Paradoxes & Crying at Work

Since I started writing (long before actually starting this little blog) I feel like I’ve been on edge and my emotions have been on high alert. For weeks months I haven’t been able to shake this feeling that I’m constantly being pulled in opposing directions. Lately I’ve been blaming it on the blog but I know it’s more than that. Last week I recalled a part of The Happiness Project where the author described a similar feeling. I searched the bookcase and my desk looking for the slim blue book before realizing I donated it, surely assuming I would never need it again. I quickly downloaded the book and swiped through pages until I found the passage I was thinking of.

It was time to expect more of myself. Yet as I thought about happiness, I kept running up against paradoxes. I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously— and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition.

I decided to make a list of my personal paradoxes that are wearing me down…

I want to be Super Mom and have all aspects of life on point but I want to lay in bed all day and only worry about eating cake.

I want to push myself to have a career I’m proud of but I take comfort in the security of my current position.

I want more hours in the day to tackle the never ending to-do list. I want more hours at night to get more sleep.

I want to dedicate time to my physical health but I don’t want to sacrifice my time with Hannah or my evening routine preparing for the next day.

I want to spend more time with friends and family. I want to spend more time alone.

I want Hannah to be given extra attention. I want her to be treated like any other child.

I want to be better but I’m afraid to leave my cocoon of mediocrity.

No wonder I’m always on edge, half of me wants to strive and half of me wants to settle. I have dreams of achievements, being a game-changing advocate for Hannah, being a better role model for her but I’m too tired, too scared, too complacent to change my strategy.

The last few weeks have been especially stressful with multiple doctor appointments, Hannah starting daycare, managing my back pain, going out of town for a wedding, and being unusually busy at work. All of the internal and external pressures finally made me crack on Wednesday. For the first time in over three years I cried at work because of work (there were plenty of tears shed for personal reasons). It took one obnoxious comment from a coworker (made behind my back, of course) to finally push me over that edge. I tried to hold back but the tears busted through. 

As much as I hate crying in public (ugly crier) it felt so good to release those pent up emotions. With my new-found awareness and clear head I feel like I can tackle these paradoxes and try to find a better balance.

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Celebrating 4 Years of Marriage!

Today is a very special Throwback Thursday. Today, Pete and I are celebrating four years of marriage!

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When I was in college I never imagined I would be where I am now at 30 years old. I didn’t expect to be married, let alone be a homeowner and mother to the world’s best dog and the most amazing little girl.

This last year tested us physically, financially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. There were days that I felt broken and defeated, but through the veil of tears I could always see Pete, arms out, ready to pull me back together. This year made him a stronger man and he helped make me a stronger woman.

I look forward to every new day with him. Days filled with laughter, silly conversations with Hannah, bickering, being pushed out of our comfort zones, and a whole lot of hugs. There is no one better suited to be my partner in this crazy journey.

Part of the toast I made at my sister’s wedding has become my favorite piece of advice to myself…

As the years unfold, continue to look back on today and remember what brought you to this moment. No matter what life throws your way, let the love that has bound you together make you strong and there will be no obstacle you cannot overcome.
For better or worse. That was our vow.

The Best Way to Start a Long Weekend

On my way to work this morning I realized the English muffin and yogurt I packed for breakfast were not going to cut it. My body was demanding some serious calories after an amateur dinner of a tablespoon of cheese wrapped in a tortilla and dipped in salsa. I was running a little late thanks to an incredibly messy and stinky morning gift from Hannah but decided a bagel was a necessity today. I had 12 minutes to get to work and debated which would be faster – Panera or Dunkin’ Donuts. I chose Panera (the employees usually move a bit slower but it’s less crowded than DD) and zipped into the parking lot, unbuckled, and opened the door before the key was out of the ignition. As I turned and stood, my back seized. I was frozen. After the first couple seconds of panic fizzled I told myself to walk it off. Two baby steps later I aborted my bagel mission.

I drove to work and decided to tough it out for a couple hours. I sit most of the day anyway and sitting seemed fairly comfortable as long as I leaned on my desk to take all the weight off my rear. The few times I had to get up gave me an excuse to finally work on my zombie walk, you know, just in case. Two hours later, when my left calf started to tingle, I surrendered and headed to the doctor.

The nurse ran through the typical questions. What brings you here today? Do you smoke? Do you take a daily vitamin? How much do you think you weigh? Are you still taking the antibiotic prescribed three years ago for an ear infection? What’s your favorite color? On her way out she handed me a robe, instructing me to remove my shirt and skirt and put the robe on with the opening in the back.

She apparently missed the part of our interaction where I had to climb on the exam table like a baby deer learning to walk. I was pretty much stuck in that spot. I assumed I was on some kind of hidden camera show where a nurse finds the patient in the most physical pain and tries to make her cry. You won, lady! Two fat tears sprung out of my eyes and landed on my skirt, the skirt that was not going to be removed.

A few minutes later the PA walked in looking all sorts of tall, dark, and…adorable. He looked like a 19 year old trying on his Halloween costume. He’s going as McDreamy and his buddy is going as McSteamy and it’ll be funny because they’re 19 and best described as “aww so cute.”

I explained the morning’s incident and my history of back pain. He made me do physical activities like lifting my legs, laying down, sitting up, bending (that skirt came in handy), standing, twisting, twerking. It was most certainly pay-back for mentally second guessing his doctor skills. The diagnosis was a mere pulled muscle and he explained the steroid and muscle relaxer he’d be prescribing. I had to cut him off because I forgot to inform him that my chubby, back-breaking baby drinks breast milk and well, it doesn’t take a medical degree to know steroids and muscle relaxers are not appropriate side dishes for infants. At this point Dr. McBabyFace realized I’d suddenly lost my mind and told me my options are to pump & dump for a week or deal with the pain. I shuffled out to the waiting room to wait for my ‘scripts, then shuffled back to my car.

This is when I realized I’d lost my mind. I sat there for five minutes trying to decide if I should go back to work or go home. The cuckoo half of me said “Go back to work! It’s safer there. Think of all the things you’ll want to do at home.” The slightly less cuckoo half of me countered with “Oh my good Lord are you out of your mind he told you to go home and relax and you could lay in bed and maybe take a nap are you seriously considering…” Fast forward to me in a bubble bath.

A Weekend with Hannah Banana

As I got ready for bed last night I looked around the room at the remnants of the weekend (a basket full of unfolded laundry, a new pile of clothes to wash) and thought about the mess in the kitchen (a stack of mail and paperwork, a bundled up sunshade blocking the back door, dirty dishes in the sink). I wasn’t as productive as usual and the house is a hot mess. I’ll have to catch up on cleaning this week, which is already going to be extra busy and emotionally draining. The mess reminds me that it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in months.

The reason it was such a good weekend was because I gave up on my “to do” list. I let myself enjoy the amazing weather with my family and not worry about the mundane tasks at home. When my coworkers ask me what I did this weekend my answer won’t be “Oh you know, the usual.” This time I have stories to tell and pictures to show!

I’ll tell them how Pete had to go into work Saturday morning and I tore Hannah’s closest apart searching for the 6-9 month clothes. She played under her activity gym while I packed away her tiny clothes and stared at 18-24 month sizes in disbelief that they will fit her one day. I thought about all the baby things she no longer does and wondered what 2 year old Hannah will do. We also survived our first diaper blowout and thanked our lucky stars that it happened at home (and that the brand new white onesie, white crib sheet, and white mattress pad show no signs of doody destruction).

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It was eventually cleaned up!

I’ll tell them about the walk we took along the Farmington River. That Hannah slept the whole time and that my arm is sore from Gamy pulling me from one scent to the next. After the walk we drove over to our favorite deli for a late lunch. It was close to feeding time for Hannah but we risked a meltdown in favor of dining outside. Hannah and Gamy were both perfect lunch dates, as usual.

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I’ll tell them how I slept through my alarm clock on Sunday and didn’t wake up until 6 am. Somehow Hannah was on board with the late start and only mildly irritated with the delayed breakfast. Pete went fishing and I dropped the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house after Hannah’s morning nap. I had some errands to run and grocery shopping to do and knew I’d be more efficient without my adorable sidekick. I hate not spending time with Hannah on the weekends but sometimes this momma needs her personal time. I drove with the windows down and music up thanks to Pandora playing my favorite songs.

I’ll tell them how the pre-Labor Day sales were too enticing to pass up and that I left Old Navy and Kohl’s with bags full of new clothes for Hannah. While the stores are filling their shelves with scarves, candy corn, and all the things pumpkin spice, Hannah and I put on our bathing suits for the first time all year. I finally bought a plastic kiddie pool to play in but Hannah was unenthusiastic due to her afternoon nap strike. I finally got her to fall asleep on my chest but she immediately woke up when I tried to deposit her into the crib.

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I’ll tell them how we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner and that Hannah still refused to fall asleep. She must know she’s the life of the party and refuses to miss any excitement. We ate and chatted and left in time to watch Bachelor in Paradise and Hannah finally fell asleep.

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6 hours without a nap and still smiling

I’ll tell them how I wish chores didn’t exist so I could always have weekends like that.