Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's DERLICIOUS!

When I moved to San Francisco and started my Master's program, I sought stress relief in cooking and baking. To me, it cleared my mind of all other things because I was forced to concentrate specifically on what I was trying to make. I mastered all kinds of recipes from cheesecakes to chicken to appetizers...you name it. After a while, I started to get used to how flavors combined and began to give my own twists to recipes. Countless hours of Food Network helped as well.

One of the things I am most proud of is my stuffing recipe. I have made it every year for about the last 7 years. Not to toot my own horn, but it is pretty much the BEST STUFFING EVER. Seriously, it's amazing. AND SUPER EASY PEASY TO MAKE! Are you ready, cause this will change your life! :)

Sara's Super Simple Awesome Stuffing

You will need:

2 sticks of unsalted butter (see? the best recipes ALWAYS start with butter...Thanks, Paula Dean! )
1 bag of unseasoned bread cubes OR 2 loaves of stale bread (You can leave them on the counter for a day and they are crispy enough)
celery
onion
FRESH parsley
FRESH sage
3 eggs
Turkey broth or Chicken broth
Romano Cheese (the grated kind)
Salt and pepper (I use grinders)

Melt the butter over medium heat. Chop the celery (including the leaves! SOOOOO MUCH FLAVOR!) and onion into small pieces to your liking. Add to pan with melted butter. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion is fairly translucent. Beat eggs and add a few tablespoons of water. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the eggs. Add the onion and celery buttery goodness. Chop up a handful or so of parsley. Do the same with about 1/2 the amount of sage. (NOTE: did you know that if you freeze fresh herbs that they last longer and they are WAY easier to chop up? They thaw super fast as you are chopping). Mix in a few handfuls of Romano cheese. Put stuffing into a roasting pan. Add about 3 cups of broth (If it's Thanksgiving or any other day for turkey (which I guess could be like, a Wednesday or Flag Day because every day could be a celebration with turkey) use about 3 basters full of drippings and then add some broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix together lightly. Cover the pan with foil and put into a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Every 15 minutes stir it up and check the liquid. Add more drippings or broth as necessary to kept the stuffing moist. For the last 15 minutes, remove the foil completely to get the wonderful crispies on the top.

ENJOY!

Also, you can do stuffing muffins. Coat a muffin tin with  cooking spray and then portion the uncooked stuffing into the tin. Cook at same temp for about 20-30 minutes, depending on tin size.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Black Friday Virgin

Since I have had a week to recover (READ: DRINK) I can now retell how I lost my Black Friday virginity. I suppose I could say I was a newbie, but this is was a violating experience. There is no other appropriate way.

For some unknown reason I decided that I was going to go Black Friday Shopping for the first time this year. Alone. AT WALMART. Oh wait, it gets better...I WANTED LEGO DUPLOS. I had attempted to go to Toys R Us last year in California with a neighbor, but when we got there, the line was wrapped around the entire building, twice. Yeah, not so much. We drove home and I curled up with my laptop and leftover turkey in my pj pants. This year, we have a tight Christmas budget. I wanted to stretch it as far as possible.

I left Isaac with Ben, at his parents' house and drove back to our local Walmart. I had changed into my sneakers and my hair was in a ponytail. I had my GAME FACE ON. It was a little past 8. I got a rock start parking spot close to the doors. I played on my iPhone for a bit, and noticed an increase of people walking into the store. At 8:10. I figured I could go in and walk around, since I needed things that weren't on crazy sales, like dogfood, shampoo...etc.Upon entering the store, I noticed no one was wearing a coat or a purse. Because clearly purses are for sissies. I returned to my car to drop off said items. I BARELY GOT A CART.

I decided to scope out the layout to see where the things that I wanted were located (side note: I had to run to Walmart the night before because we were out of coffee.). All the specials were on pallets, and shrink wrapped with signs saying they weren't available until 10 pm. I wanted to see where my pallets were. Oh, and they were handing out MAPS. MAPS OF PALLETS IN WALMART.

By 8:30 I could barely maneuver down the aisles. There were people camped out EVERYWHERE, waiting for the electronics to go on sale AT MIDNIGHT. The megaminds of the Black Friday sale had at least had the forethought to disperse said electronics and gaming systems throughout the store and not cluster them in their proper department. Apparently people had been waiting for the XBox for like, 7 hours or something. These people must hate turkey. And pie. And in my mind those people do NOT deserve an XBox. That's like anti-American or something.

I fought my way BACK to the toy section where the pallet of Legos was sandwiched between some weird rocking horse things and Disney princess dress up trunks. There were more people there than had been when I first passed the area. I camped out right in front of the pallet, pushing my cart against an aisle shelf. I quickly made friends with another Lego stalker, I mean, shopper. I don't know her name. But I know she wanted one  red carton of legos. I wanted the green. It was 8:45.

By 9, my new BFF was like, laying on the Lego pallet. I was guarding the carts. She was hardcore. A beast. The hardcore beast of Legos. I am pretty sure every toy has one.

By 9:30, my phone was ready to die. That was probably the most active I have ever been on Twitter in a short amount of time since my maternity leave (killing time waiting for Legos...killing time waiting for the next feeding...SAME). I had texted all about my new BFF and how I was pretty sure that I wouldn't make it out of  Walmart alive. I was one tiny person. I told Ben to tell Isaac that Mommy loved him and TO MAKE SURE HE GOT HIS LEGOS SO I DIDN'T DIE IN VAIN. It's like he didn't take me seriously though, because he didn't respond to that text. WHATEVS.

About 9:45 the banging and thuds started. There were a few screams. There were cops roaming around. And I am pretty sure the Walmart workers were packing some heat or at least bear mace. DAMMIT I WAS DETERMINED TO GET THE LEGOS. I HAD WAITED THIS LONG.

I had also made another friend to told me that it was like Walmart was trying to start riots. Last year, you could put stuff into your cart, you just couldn't check out until after 10pm. FLAW IN THE SYSTEM.

I was edging my way closer to BFF1 because apparently people didn't understand THERE WAS A PECKING ORDER HERE AND NO CUTSIES!

At about 9:55pm the shrink wrap was flying. So were the Legos. I GOT MINE! AND I PASSED A SET TO BFF2 with the help of BFF1.

Somehow I managed to get back to my cart and semi-navigate through the throngs of crazies...I mean shoppers. I managed to get everything on my list but the iPad cover. I wasn't brave enough to try to go through the electronics sections. By the time I made it to the $1.96 movies, there were like 5 left. COME TO REALIZE THESE MOVIES ARE ONLY $5 regularly. NOT WORTH A FINGER OR ARM PEOPLE.

I was out of Walmart by 10:20 with 4 sets of pjs, THE LEGOS!, a play doh set, 3 games, and table and chair set you could write all over and erase or something.

It took about 2 and half hours and 20 years off my life. But I am pretty sure I will go back next year.

MAYBE. Only if there are Legos.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gobble Gobble

For the past eight years, I have taken on the task of preparing Thanksgiving dinner for my husband and whomever else needed a place to go. Often it was my BIL, cousins, or friends. I remember that realizing that I couldn't go home for Thanksgiving meant that we truly no longer lived at home and it was time to start making our own memories. And we did.

I remember that first Thanksgiving, how scared I was that I was going to mess it up. I remember scouring the internet for recipes and shopping at the Farmers' Market (Oooooooohhhhh how I miss the CA Farmers' Markets....). I remember calling my future mother in law, asking for her sweet potato recipe. I remember cooking for 2 days straight and then having over some of the best friends I could have ever made in California. After dinner we walked up the street to the top of the hill on Euclid, and looked down at the lights of San Francisco. I couldn't believe that we lived in this beautiful city, or for that matter that we were walking around at night in November without coats on.

I remember preparing a plate of food, pie, and hot drink and putting on the homeless man's cart and bags that lived in the stoop of an abandoned building. I never met him, but I hoped he got the food.

I remember taking an after dinner drive through Sea Cliff and showing a friend where Robin Williams lives. And then seeing Robin Williams standing outside his house. It was one of my only celebrity sightings in California. My husband had more.NOT FAIR.

I remember the 32lb turkey that I had to make to feed the Lahman twins and the Spiess twins.

I remember learning how to make the best after Thanksgiving sandwiches from "Friends" complete with moist maker. DON'T KNOCK IT.

I remember finding my own footing, and not needing recipes anymore. I remember learning to flip the turkey upside down to cook it so all the juices stay in the breasts.

I remember the first Thanksgiving we were a family with Isaac. He loved the green bean casserole and pumpkin pie.

I remember last Thanksgiving, it was the first and last one that we would have just the three of us. It was quiet. It was nice. It was relieving and bittersweet, knowing that the next year I would not need to cook a full meal, merely a side dish or pie.

And that's what I did. This year past weekend was Isaac's first major holiday with his extended family. We were all so happy. We had a great dinner with my family and then a second dinner yesterday with Ben's. We had two amazing meals with our amazing families. We made memories of this, and had time to reflect on the ones we brought from California.

This Thanksgiving we saw what we appreciated and what we are truly thankful for, and that is being back home with our family.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's a Funny Thing, Time

The last time I was in graduate school, I was working 30+ hours a week at VS, taking a full class load, teaching 2 lab sections of undergrad intro bio, conducting my research and writing my thesis. I was also planning my wedding that was taking place across the country, and maintaining a home, albeit small. My planner WAS COLOR CODED. I never missed a deadline or paid a bill late. I was caught up on my TV shows, I cooked and cleaned, and I blogged. I also had time to spend with friends. I am pretty sure I was a MACHINE.

This time...well, everything is completely.

I'm teaching. I'm taking a full class load. I'm planning out my dissertation. The academic part is still there.

My priorities have shifted. And I have realized that things that used to be important...they really just aren't anymore. Spending an extra hour on a paper as opposed to doing puzzles with Isaac? Not a hard choice. I still want to do the best I can do. But an A on a quiz just seems so petty next to watching a movie with Boo and tickling him. It boils down to this...I COULD spend extra time on school stuff. I could spend every waking minute possible on campus. I could read into the night.

But at this moment in time, that all seems trivial. There are better uses of my time. I don't care if I am the best anymore. I want to be the best mother, the best wife that I can be. I know I am a good student. I'm a great one. I know how to learn. I know how to study. I know to teach myself what people want me to. This is my 3rd post-secondary degree. I got this. That undergrad and Master's student mind frame has dissipated and only relics remain.

Time has changed me. My time is valuable. My time with Isaac is more precious than any degree could ever  be. This PhD...it's already teaching me more about myself than I ever thought it would.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mom Fail

Wednesday is my favorite morning of the week. I don't have to be on campus until I teach at 10:30, so I let Isaac sleep in and enjoy his morning. Plus I get to sleep in until 7:30. That's saying something right there.

Anyway, this morning started off wonderfully. I checked my email to discover that my parking citation had been repealed, saving me $25. Isaac woke up happy and ate his breakfast, which he chose: a strawberry poptart. He got willingly into the car, which is saying something. He was on his second poptart when I strapped him into his seat.

We get to his school, and I notice a sign that had not been there when I picked him up on Monday. It was a reminder that Christmas pictures were being taken for the school. IT WAS PHOTO DAY. I looked at Isaac, in his play clothes which were clean and nice, but not my first choice for a photo. He hadn't had a haircut in months, and was looking a bit shaggy AND he had poptart all over his face. I took in the Christmas sleigh and wintery background. SIGH.

The sign said that the photographer had been there since 8 am. It was almost 10, meaning they were getting ready to pack up. I had no time to run home and get new clothes. Isaac looked pretty confused as I frantically wiped poptart from his face and tried to smooth his hair into place.  He doesn't go to daycare on Tuesdays, which is when I am guessing they gave notice of the photographer.

I'm not sure if he actually got a photo taken or not. He hates getting his photo taken, and family photos are a nightmare.

I felt guilty. I felt that nagging Mom-guilt. I know it was stupid, and not really my fault, but it was still there. I don't like letting my son down. This semester has been hard on him, and has been full of big adjustments. He's my world and I hate that feeling. :(

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Musings from the Week or the Weak...However you prefer to see it.

As Saturday evening descends on my house, the weekend is really just beginning. Today was the first day of potty training boot camp that I mentioned yesterday. It has been...interesting to say the least. We are 5 pairs of Thomas the Tank Engine undies in, one load of pee soaked laundry down, 2 prize candy bars given....and I can't tell if progress has been made or not. 

I have been prepping Isaac for this. We have been talking about his "big boy" underpants and going in the potty all week. He was excited to show Nonnie his undies. However, this morning he woke up with grumpy pants on. I tried to change them. He had peed through his pjs AGAIN, and he hates that. He hates pee in his bed. But...he would not put on his underwear. He screamed for a diaper. SCREAMED. I finally gave in and put a pull up on him. He watched a movie, and after awhile, he seemed in better spirits. 

I got the undies on him. We started a puzzle. And then....

"I'M ALL WET!" 

Yep, that was the first pair. However, it was more of a Mom, my pants are wet I need you to change me type  exclamation. He wasn't really bothered by it. No idea why. 

It's been that way all day. I put another pull up on him for naptime. He's been asleep for 2 hours now. He's exhausted. I'm exhausted. All we have been doing all day is changing clothes. 

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this is too soon. Maybe he isn't as ready as I thought. 

Or maybe I am being weak. Maybe I am just trying to hold onto my baby for a bit longer. As much as I hate buying diapers, if it means he's still my little baby for just a few more days...well, you know. That doesn't make sense unless you are a mother who is far away from having another baby. 

This week itself has been exhausting. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. 

So many things that I want, that Ben and I want, are so close to our grasp, yet so far away. It seems like there are always challenges. And I am not one to shy from a challenge. I like challenge. But at the same time, I have enough of it. I just want one thing to come easily because I, we, have worked so hard to get through other challenges. 

You know, like the prize candy bar you get for finally peeing in the potty.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Boot Camp

This weekend is Boot Camp at my house. Not the physical kind, cause Lord knows I don't run (unless someone with a machete is chasing me). I am talking about Isaac's Potty Training Boot Camp.

I have heard from multiple mommies that this is the way to go. Isaac is so close, that I am hoping this weekend will cinch it for him.

The undies with Thomas the Tank Engine and Mickey Mouse have been bought. The waterproof crib liners are ready to be put on the furniture. There is a bucket of small prizes sitting by the potty.

Starting tomorrow morning, Isaac will wear underwear all day. Apparently the wet feeling of peeing yourself does the trick and will send him to the bathroom. I am really really REALLY hoping this does it. I am tired of buying diapers. He goes potty at school and at both his grandma's houses. Just not for me. I already have to clean up Luna's bathroom mishaps. I am kind of over changing the diapers too, when I know Isaac knows how to use the potty.

Fingers crossed that by Sunday night I will have a story of victory and not just a house that smells like urine.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To the Extreme

So...I have a tiny confession to make. I'm kind of an extreme couponer.

Let me give you a little background before you stamp me as a hoarder. Because I really am not. No, seriously. I am not.

It started in California, among the chaos of organizing a massive cross country move...etc. I saw the TLC show. I was intrigued. I'm good a math. I am good at shopping. And the impending price tags on the move and salary cuts we were about to make prompted me to really think this through. My husband was about to take a 60% pay cut and I was essentially doing the same. We were moving to an area where the cost of living is most certainly lower, but so are the salaries. I was saving money like a squirrel hiding acorns for winter.

I started buying the Sunday paper and printing coupons online. The first big trip I planned....I saved over 73%. In CALIFORNIA WITHOUT DOUBLE COUPONS. That was it for me. I was hooked. I had and have no intentions of having 30k stockpiles in my house, but I see no reason that I cannot get my groceries for rock bottom prices or for free. I free. If anyone says they won't take something that is for free, they are a LIAR.

After the move, our food budget was sliced in half. And then sliced again once we actually figured out how much (or how little) money we were going to bringing in for the first year of grad school after a 12k move (yes it was $12,000 by the time all was said and done, most of it paid in cash thank you very much!). I did a few smaller trips, saving about 45-55%. And then I really got into the swing of it.

I get the Sunday paper, and so does my grandma...and so does my mom. They save the coupons for me. And my once skeptical husband who watches me leave the house with $50 and come home with almost $300 in groceries saves inserts from his job for me (they are closed on Sunday but the paper is there on Monday morning when he comes into work).

You know what? It's not hard. Once you clip the coupons for stuff you use and have them saved, all you do is wait for it to go on sale. I am pretty sure (or at least I hope) everyone uses detergent and toilet paper and juice. And you know what? You can get those for free. WITHOUT STEALING.

Examples? 2 weeks ago, my grocery store was having a buy 10 for $10 and get an 11th item free sale. And it was mix and match. They also double coupons. One of the products was Angel Soft bathroom tissue. It was $1. I had a coupon for $0.50 of any size that the store doubles. Actually I had 4. I got 16 free rolls of toilet paper. Also included in the sale were those scalloped potatoes that Isaac loves. I had a coupon for 0.50 off 2, and a store coupon for the same. My coupon (I actually had 3) doubled. So I got 6. 6 boxes of potatoes that normally cost me about $2 a piece, I got for $2.50 total. And that was 10 items. So I got an 11th item for free. It got about 4 groups of products like this.

Another example: Isaac's shampoo was on sale for 3/$5. I had 2 Buy one get one free coupons. So I got 4. And then I had 2 0.50 coupons off 2 that doubled to $1 each. That ended up making 2 shampoos that normally cost $1.98 each about $0.34 each.

I haven't bought 300 candy bars or 600 gatorades. I buy stuff that we use, and the saving allow me to buy healthy things as well. I am able to stretch out our budget as much as possible. I am buy meat in bulk and freeze it in our deep freezer. I have built up a great stockpile that will get us through a few months without buying anything but milk and bread.

I don't just coupon with groceries. I just got a winter coat on sale, from $138.00 marked down to $78. With a 20% off coupon and $20 giftcard, I spent about $40 on the coat when all was said and shipped.

Sooooo...yeah. I'm a couponer. I'm good at it. I am going to keep doing it. Not to hoard, but to balance out our dip in income without sacrificing our eating habits.

(I realize that I have been MIA from the blogosphere for the past month....I am still trying to find my new balance. I am NOT spending every spare second couponing. I have a plan to get back to this space.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Relearned Art

I have always been a good multi-tasker. I have always been able to find balance and have exceptional time management skills in order to accomplish everything. The last time I was in grad school, I was taking classes, teaching classes, doing research, working about 30 hours a week, planning my wedding that would take place across the country, and maintaining a house (or sardine can, since we are talking about San Francisco). My planner was color coordinated with assignments, appointments, bills, due dates, meetings, schedules. I had discovered a whole new array of highlighters and type A OCD.

And let's face it, being a mother requires a high level of multi-tasking ability.

In my last job, I had many roles and responsibilities, all of which were possible simply because I could multi-task like no other. However, somewhere along the way, between deadlines and play dates and emails and phone calls and shopping and cleaning...something went awry.

There have been times when I started one task, like folding laundry. Then Isaac would call me into the other room and somehow, I was cooking dinner, folding laundry, typing an email, talking on the phone, paying bills, and fixing a toy and picture frame at the same time. This is a mild example, It only escalated from there.

I would start 17 tasks at once. Oddly (snort) none of them would get done, and then at the end of the day, I would be in stressed out tears because I hadn't accomplished anything and the next day, I had even more to do.

I moved across the country this summer. I quit my job and started my PhD. I'm taking classes again and teaching again. I'm starting research. All things I have done before.

However, this time I have a husband and toddler and a puppy and two cats. Oh, and I MOVED ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

Multi-tasking has taken on new meaning. Somehow my old methods just aren't cutting it.

I realized this when I was trying to download something off a course website, trying to pay a bill, calling to verify an address had been changed, sending an email, and chatting with a friend on Facebook. I wasn't accomplishing anything. I was having issues among the various tasks. And a fellow grad student was listening to my expletives and trying desperately to follow what I was doing. A few times she commented that she had thought I was still working on one of the other tasks rather than the one I was actually working on.

My stress level has been increasing and it was only the first week of school.

I realized that I had to slow down and retrain myself. I could still multi-task, but I needed to finish things. Now, I don't have time to not get my stuff done. I don't have time to have to redo things or bump tasks until the next day, because the next day is already full. I have decided that going back to school is not going to take more away from Isaac than it needs to. That means I need my weekends. I want to leave as much on campus as I can.

So...I have taken a step back. I am starting one task and seeing it all the way through. If I get interrupted and notice distractions or other things that need to get done, I force myself to finish the first task.

It's working very well. I AM GETTING STUFF DONE.It's taking a bit of time. And a llllllooooootttt of retraining and forcing myself to follow through.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Everybody Hurts

It's true. Everyone has their own pain, be it quiet or publicly known. And everyone has their own ways of dealing with the pain, some healthy and some not so healthy.

Those near and dear to me know that I have had 2 people very important to me take their own lives, one being my birth father and the other a close friend. Being that this is National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week, I thought I would share some things.

Suicide never makes sense, at least not to me. I have had low times in my life, but never so low that I would think of acting this way. I can't imagine being in so much pain and anguish that I saw no other way to solve my problems. I know that people who take their own lives are often the victims of mental illness and are not in the "right state of mind" when they commit suicide. My father's suicide, while painful and haunting, made more sense to me than that of my friend. My father had his own issues, including those with anger and alcohol. I wouldn't say that I condone his actions or that it still doesn't sting every single day, but I understand to a certain extent.  The signs were there.

With Patrick, it was different.

During my orientation week at graduate school, we attended a seminar called "Flashpoint." It outlined warning signs of potentially violent and harmful behavior. While most people laughed this session off, it struck chords close to home for me. I watched the video, mentally running through the last day, week, even month that Patrick was alive, scrutinizing everything that I could recall, looking for any of those signs. I just can't find any. They just weren't there to the point that unless every single person in his life compared very detailed notes could have had an inkling that he was hurting in that way.

My last conversation with Patrick was over Instant Messanger, the most impersonal form of communication. He told me how miserable he was, because of me. And I missed it. I didn't think it was anything more than a fight, than an "I don't feel how you feel" conversation. I didn't think that it was anything to be considered a sign, because there were no others. I had experienced one suicide and I was about to experience another.

My life was forever impacted by the suicides of my father and Patrick. I am who I am today because of choices that they made. While their pain and suffering is over, mine is still there. The scars are still apparent. And I don't try to hide them.

For a while, I was paranoid. I clung desperately to everyone that I loved thinking that every conversation that I had with them could be the last. Every argument had to be resolved immediately. I couldn't live through something like that again. Then I started pushing away to accomplish the same thing.

And then I ended up here, where I am now, both physically and emotionally. After a very long time I feel happy, content, not paranoid, and full of hope and potential.

So, I guess my point is this. You never know how someone is dealing with their pain. You never know what they are hiding and exactly how much they are showing. It is never a bad time to ask how someone is doing. It is never the wrong time to say that you love and care about someone. NEVER EVER.

This week, like every other type of awareness week is just that. Promoting awareness of something that impacts the lives of the people it touches. It's about letting people know the resources and education. It's about reaching out.

And if anyone you know or even yourself has or is considering taking their life, or if you aren't sure...please reach out. Be aware.

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's Only 8AM and I Feel Like I Should Have Been Drinking for At Least 2 Hours Already...

I get up at 6AM every morning, regardless of when I actually have to be on campus. This is really the only time that works for our family in terms of showering, etc. I need the time before I wake Isaac up to get ready uninterrupted. I need the time to walk Luna. I need the time to prepare for the day.

And it is not enough time. By far. But I am unwilling to get up any earlier unless absolutely necessary.

By 8AM, sometimes sooner, I am ready to tear out my freshly washed hair, lock myself in the closet with a bottle of wine, and rock back and forth in the fetal position (although that may be counterproductive to the drinking...never really tried it except in my mind).

As you may recall, I recently uprooted and moved across the country, took massive paycuts and started new lives. He got a new job. I started graduate school as a PhD student and TA. Isaac is 2 1/2 and potty training and starting his new life with a new school, new room, and new friends. New everything. That's alot to deal with. To make things more complicated, we got a puppy. Before I say anything more, I will say that I love my life. I am happy. We made the  best decisions that we ever could have made. But those decisions came with an elevated stress level that I am still trying to figure out how to deal with and balance.

Let's back up. Isaac has not been sleeping well. This is in part because his crib broke. IT WAS THE ONLY THING THAT BROKE DURING THE 2700+ MILE MOVE. Of all the things packed into that moving truck, I would have rather it been the TV...or my leg. I had already ordered him a toddler bed for when he was ready for it, but had planned on keeping him in his familiar bed until he was adjusted. I could justify buying a new TV. I can't justify buying a new crib for a few weeks or month.

I should have shelled out the cash. In all fairness, people have offered theirs up for us to borrow. But at that point we had been trying to get Isaac into the toddler bed for about 3 weeks and the idea of backtracking was blaring warning sirens and red lights. All signs point to keep working on it.

Sigh.

In addition to him not staying in bed, he now had a 3 hour time difference to get used to. I didn't know that small children had such circadian rhythms that needed a massive overall to adjust to living in a new time zone. Even though we drove and adjusted time over a period of days, he still believed that 12am or later was perfectly suitable for a bedtime, since he was still operating on PST.

If I wasn't up with him, I was up with Luna. God help us if there is a massive thunderstorm. No one is sleeping then.

Anyway, the point of this is that Isaac isn't sleeping well, I am not sleeping well...and waking up is a pain. Isaac wakes up like his father...a grizzly bear coming out of an exorcism. That brightens my day. After I finally convince him to change his diaper and put on clothes, I have to haul him kicking and screaming down stairs. Some days, I get really lucky and get to tell jokes and make funny noise and sing songs to keep the whining and crying a bay. It's short lived though.

You know what's fun before you have had enough caffeine in the morning? Trying to referee a puppy and a toddler. One whom does not seem to understand that when he runs and screams across the house, the puppy thinks he is playing. Luna is a Siberian Husky. She's a puppy, but she's massive. She weighs more than him. And she nips. Try explaining to a Husky puppy that she can't body check and bite my son's arms and legs like she would a puppy brother or sister. No one outside her species thinks that is affectionate. At least not in this house.

Once I can get Isaac set up on the couch with Mickey Mouse and Luna chewing a frozen carrot, my hair has frizzed out and I have to restyle it. Most times I have to change my shirt because it's all sweaty. I have now figured out to just keep my AC on full blast and put on a ratty Tshirt. If my husband comments on the amount of laundry I create in one day, he better think the couch is comfier than our Cal King. Then comes the task of breakfast.

Did I mention Isaac is 2 1/2? The independent age that requires him to do everything for himself and make his own decisions? Oh, sorry. My bad.

He likes to eat his breakfast on the couch 4 days out of 5. Sometimes he will sit at the breakfast nook. Those are blessed days. He carries his food around. He leaves it laying and wanders away....see where I am going with this?

This morning for example, I made him a waffle. I made myself one too. I cut it in half and put it on his plate. I walked him to the couch and gave him the plate. All was quiet.

Now, given his mood, Isaac has the tendency to scream if Luna looks at him wrong. Like, looks at him at all or even walks in front of him. The screaming...oh, the scream. After a few times of checking on pointless screams, I hear him offer Luna his waffle. Like, he put it in her MOUTH. Then he realizes he doesn't have more and Luna won't give it back. So I give him mine and explain that puppies don't eat waffles and Luna has her own breakfast. Back to restyling my frizz.

I then hear a scream that Luna, who now thinks Isaac shares waffles, has taken her half of the new waffle. And now I am forced to put Luna, who really has done nothing wrong, back into her crate only to have her splash water all over so when Isaac runs into the kitchen, he will slip and fall. Meanwhile, since I haven't been able to take her out again, she has gone potty somewhere in the house. I know she has, because I can smell it. The carrots keep her from chewing anything of value...but they don't do wonders for her digestive system some days.

By the time I am able to take Luna for her final walk, I have to keep Isaac distracted because Lord help me, I cannot walk a toddler and a puppy at the same time. And we are running late. When I get back in the house, Isaac has spilled milk that he tried to get out of the fridge all over himself and somehow there are 14 soggy dog bone treats in Luna's cage. The cats have appeared and are demanding food. Isaac is screaming that he doesn't want to see his friends today and that Luna is not allowed to stand near Buddy, the blue bunny.

I stare longing at my stone cold coffee, mentally check my bank balance to ensure adequate Starbucks funds, and can't help but wish that I had a mimosa thermos. These are just my mornings before I get to school. I go a full day with meetings, classes, seminars, research...and then pick up Isaac, make dinner, and finish up what I didn't get done for the day. The house is messy. I am messy.

It's ok that my hair is frizzy because I probably will pull it all out soon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Luna Lu

One of the many changes we have gone through since moving is adopting a puppy. She's a Siberian Husky and she will be HUGE mongous. I swear every time she goes behind the sofa and comes back out she is bigger. Her name is Luna. Her full name is Luna Lu Elizabeth Lahman (Remember, I have a disease where I have to name all my animals with full names). We love her.

Well, most times.

I mean, she's a puppy. She cries. She isn't house broken. I have a two and half year old who is potty training.

My husband fell in love with her. I couldn't say no. The agreement was that he would house break the dog and I would potty train our son. Guess how that is going? Guess who is getting up with the dog at 3 am to walk her? And guess what else? Sprinkling carpet deodorizer on white carpet is a BAD idea. My carpet looks gray now. And I have gone over it 3 times.

She pisses me off to no end. She chews things, like my husband's Tumi wallet and our brand new floor lamp. She craps all over. She splashes toilet water all over the house. It's hard to explain to a toddler that if he runs around and screams that Luna thinks he is playing with her and that's why she bites. The cats hate her. Layla has become a basement-bedroom kitty. Guiliani has become rather indifferent and tolerates her unless she gets too close.

But by golly, do we ever love this doggie. :)


Monday, August 22, 2011

Fresh Starts

Today was my first day as a PhD student. My first day of a new chapter of a new life. I taught 2 lab sections, had my own lab meeting, ran a bunch of errands and let me tell you...I AM BUSHED.

And deliriously happy.

I have been thinking a great deal about what to write about. I feel like I am so behind in blogging...probably because I am. I have excuses, but I don't have any. I just don't know what I want my tone to be anymore. I am funny, but not super funny. I am still writing about Isaac but not like I used to. This blog started as a way for me to communicate with everyone I loved, including my baby, about what was happening so far away. Somewhere in there, it turned into a out let. It turned into a community. I still want that. It just seems like with so many new things happening that I need to have some type of new forum.

So...I am just going to keep writing. Just like I have been. Except actually writing. :)

This will still be the space for me to clear my head, and to think out loud. It will still be the place that I talk about our triumphs as parents and a family and our pitfalls. I will still daydream about our future.

I just need to get back into the swing of a busy happy life.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Settling

After 9 states, 6 days, and almost 3000 miles, I am happy to report that myself, Isaac, Ben, Layla and Guiliani arrived at our new domicile in Bowling Green, Ohio. OHIO!!!

It's been a crazy week, trying to get settled in, playing my ever favorite game of "Where the EFF did I pack that?!", and setting up a house, not to mention gearing myself up to face my ghosts and enter 4 years of school. So far, so good. The house is shaping up very nicely (I don't think we will buy, another story for another day) and things are getting put away and organized (ahem, THROWN OUT, ahem). We are SETTLING into this new life, one that is so familiar and yet brand new and the same time.

I can't even describe how amazing it feels to be back here. It's so wonderful to be able to plan things with the people we love and not have time constraints. We don't have to cram everything and everyone into one week visits. We are planning our lives in long term. We are surrounded by family and friends, everywhere. The time in California was amazing. I couldn't have asked for better experiences, to meet more amazing and beautiful people, and to be blessed with the opportunities we had. But we are HOME. The time away made us realize how much we do belong here. This is where we need to be at this time in our lives. California is where my soul is, but my heart is here in Ohio. And it always will be. We are not settling for lives we are just okay with, but we have found the place where we want to SETTLE down and put down  new roots while embracing ours.

The ghosts...I am working on. This town, the university...they have this lingering stigma. I drive past places, buildings, roads even...and this wave of sadness, anger, and anxiety punches me in the gut. I'm coping. I am prepping myself for the inevitable: walking past the Marine Lab. But that year, that time in my life, it doesn't own me anymore. I remind myself everytime that I CAN DO THIS. I am not afraid. I am still alive, and I won't let my dream die. I won't SETTLE for anything

Hello, Ohio. It's been awhile. But I am so glad you didn't forget my name. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Moving Updates

I am tired. So very tired. Here's why:

I finished up my last day of work last Friday (6/10). I thought I was busy at work. I trained a new person for a few aspects of my position, closed out what projects I could, passed work onto others, etc. I took last weekend off to decompress and gear up for this past week. Isaac and I went to Edition one last time with Aunties K and G (SOB!), ate at Bristol Farms, and walked through Chinatown so I could get more of my plates and buy Isaac toy cable cars.

I spend 2 days online, emailing, on the phone...trying to find a place to live. And I found us a great house that we are renting! It's absolutely perfect for us and it's really close to campus. What's better is we have a lease to buy option, so if we love it as much as I think we will, we will get that in line. Once we get settled, that is. :) Isaac has plenty of space and his own playroom off his bedroom!

I spent the next day getting a lease printed, signed, scanned, emailed and mailed.

I reserved the moving truck. Holy empty bank account, Batman! I got numerous quotes, joined AAA and booked the best deal.

I bought my BIL's ticket to come out and help us move.

I set up utilities and cable at the new house.

I made Dr's appointments for this next week.

I ordered a new keyboard for my laptop.

I ordered Isaac's Cars toddler bed.

I bought an iPad headrest mount for the long journey back east.

I bought another cat carrier, harness, and leash. Yep, that's necessary.

I took 2 cats to the vet to get up to date on their vaccinations, health certificates, and kitty valium.

I set up bank transfers for accounts we have autodeduct from, that don't have branches in Ohio.

I showed our rental here about 200 times. PAIN IN THE REAR. Our landlord is paying us to do it. Otherwise I wouldn't.

I started getting rid of stuff we (READ: I) don't want to move. Making lists of things to sell.

I called daycares to set up appointments for Isaac to come try them out.

I got my VS blood money claim and Medela pump claim filled out and mailed. Locating the receipt for my pump was fun, given the state of my guest room/office.

I mapped out or moving route. Now to call AAA to get my hotels.

Oh yeah, and totally forgot to mail the Father's Day cards I bought 2 weeks ago until Thursday.

I have three to-do lists. I have done returns. I have made purchases. My head hurts.

My logic is that I should drink up my almond champagne because it's one less thing I have to pack and move. I am also cleaning through my cupboards and freezer, which aren't too cluttered after my $10 a week challenge. Nevertheless, we will be having some interesting meals in the next few weeks.

This time next month, I will be a Buckeye again!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How McDonald's Changed My Life

When I hit the magical driving age, I naturally wanted a car. I shared this dire need with my parents, who said "no, what you want is a job." To have a car, I need money to buy a car. To get that money, I needed a job. I got the drift. After basketball season was over (I was a cheerleader, I had priorities!), my mother advised me to dress up and she would take me to pick up job applications.

I remember what I was wearing: a gray mock turtleneck and a blue plaid skirt. It was all the rage back then. I walked into the first place my mother took me: McDonald's. I approached the counter and asked for an application, which I filled out later that day. I got called for an interview. I got offered a job.

Let's be honest, here. No over really wants their job to be at McDonald's. But they were willing to work around my crazy schedule for my school activities and such. And I wanted to drive. I took the job, not knowing how working under the Golden Arches would change my life forever.

I met Ben a few weeks after I started working. He was a year older than me (and still is, duh) and went to a neighboring high school. We only worked Sundays together. He played baseball, so he was never there during the week when I worked. It was an instant crush for me, and I found myself checking the schedule to see when he worked. I had no idea he was doing the same thing. I would casually cross the parking lot to get ice cream cones after my gymnastics lessons (it was next door). He would show up to get burgers. We flirted on Sundays, until his very last shift before he quit. A few days before, I had let it slip to a coworker that I might like Ben. He passed it along and I am pretty sure to this day he takes credit for our relationship.

At the end of his last shift, Ben came up to me with a SeaWorld coupon that they used to hand out when it was still in Ohio. He asked for my phone number, which I wrote down. He folded the coupon up, stuck it in his wallet, and said he'd call me later. A week later we went on our first date, to Applebees and to see Godzilla, and the rest is history.

That was 13 years ago.

6 years ago today, we were standing at the altar constructed in the Grand Allee gazebo at the botanical gardens vowing forever and surrounded by everyone we loved.

When you know, you know. And we knew way back then, under those Golden Arches. Our relationship has not been smooth, nor perfect. We have been through ugly times. But day in and day out, we love each other more than we ever could have thought we would. No matter what kind of life we have, I can't imagine havign anyone else by my side. He's taken care of me, and of Isaac. He does what ever he needs to do to make sure every dream I have comes true. He knows me better than anyone else.

And he still has the Sea World Coupon folded up in his wallet.

Happy Anniversary to my incredible husband.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Don't Know When I'll Be Back Again

We aren't leaving on a jet plane, per say, but we are leaving. And soon, which is very bittersweet.

It's been FOREVER since I posted. I have been so completely consumed with one task or another relating to the move.

We have sold two cars, paid off one, and purchased a brand new 2011 Equinox. It's a Mommy car, and I LOVE it. Isaac loves it. He has so much space. This is the car I will be driving across the country in the next month or so.

We (READ: I) have started sorting through things (READ: Piles of crap I have accumulated in the 8 years since we have lived in California) and started to give stuff away, sell things, throw stuff away. Seriously, we moved out here with almost nothing. How did we end up with so much stuff?! I also started packing up vestigial stuff we don't need on a day to day basis. Photo frames, magnets, books, CDs, knick knacks etc.

My replacement started at work. I am trying to get her to a good place before I leave. My last day of work is in two weeks, after which I need to put my packing game face on. I will have about one month to find a place for us to live and pack up.

I closed out bank accounts that there is no need to have anymore. Like the one the bank made us open when we got our car loan. It had $5 in it. My old Mary Kay accounts got closed as did my old SARP from Victoria's Secret. It was just a wierd investment account that wasn't making money or losing money. I was going to get hit with fees if I changed anything in the structure so I just closed it. Can we say "Blood Money"? Because that is what it was.

I have started scouting places to live in Ohio. We still don't have an exact location where my husband will be working but have narrowed it down to 2 or 3 towns where we are looking to live. That's all I want to say about that because it makes my blood pressure rise when I think about it.

I also started looking for daycares. We decided that it makes the most sense for Isaac to attend daycare in the town where my university is, in case he gets sick or whatnot. I hate daycare searches.

I started my last time list in California and SF. Pork Store, Cable Car, Muir Woods, Pier 39, etc. All needs visited one last time.

Which got me thinking about saying goodbye. To friends. And I can't think about that. When we left Ohio, I spent about 4 or 5 days crying all day after saying good bye to one person or another. It sucked. I can't do that again. It was too sad. And I am pretty sure it isn't healthy for Isaac to see. I want him to understand that we are doing something great for us, not sad. I mean, it is sad, but I just don't want him to think that something is horribly wrong when Mommy is crying all the time.

I came to the decision that as I see people, I just won't tell them it's the last time I will see them in a while. I can't do that again. I have a little over a month left and I am going to try to see all my friends at least once more. But that might not be possible. Big Sad Panda. :(  There are people out here that it breaks my heart to think about leaving. And we honestly don't know exactly when we will see these people again.

This decision is the best one for us and we are 100% positive of this. We are anxious to get back to family and friends in Ohio. We are excited at what the future holds for us in this next chapter of our lives. I am giddy at the thought of going back to school and back to research. But this next phase, before the move...it's already proving to be a tough one.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Isaac's Room

This morning I looked out my bathroom window and saw that the fuschia rose bush was in full bloom. Behind that Cala lillies were blooming all over the yard, interwoven with California poppies and some unidentified purple flowers that Isaac picks. I don't pick the roses, only because I love smelling them in the morning when the window is open and I am getting ready for the day. This morning I realized that this would be the last season for me to do this and it gave me a twinge of sadness. This has been happening every now and then. Like when Isaac sits on his changing table and talks to me about the big apple tree outside his window. Or he sits on "his" rock and asks us to sit on the bigger one next to him.

I am sad to leave this house. Not because I love the house, because I DO NOT. It's a crazy Dr. Suess house that is full of earthquake hazards and issues. It never would have been a house we would have considered to buy, but has served it's purpose as a rental. I am sad to leave it because it is the first home Isaac has known. I know he won't remember living here. He probably won't remember the flowers, trees, rocks, or anything about it. But it was the house that I worked so hard to make a home to bring our new baby into.

Isaac's room is my favorite room in the entire house. Sometimes I just go in there and lay on his floor when he is in another room. I love his room. I don't really know why. I worked pretty hard to make it the way I wanted it, I guess. I am sad that he is leaving this room.


When I started thinking about what I wanted my baby's room to look like, I had a hard tiem settling on a theme. I am that type of person that if I chose one particular theme, like jungle animals or sports, the entire room woudl have to be that way and stay that way. I am just that Type A. I didn't want to do that. Ben and I decided on focusing on primary colors.

This is his wall of dogs. He loves dogs. I took some photos of dogs we know and had his fabulous photographer godmother send him some of all hers as well. I bought plain mats from Walmart for $2 and a pet stencil. White ribbon is hanging them to the wall. He also has a stackable dresser, meaning that each drawer section is a separate piece. VERY helpful when moving, because we just tie the drawers shut.
 I was told by many a person that these type of storage shelves are better for kids toys. They stay organized (in theory) and the child can see the toys without having to rifle through a huge box. Plus there's the whole not being able to slam his fingers in the lid thing. Since Isaac has always loved all things that GO!, I found this roadway rug at Ikea for like $10. The little cloth drawes beneath the bench hold smaller items and figures.


That's my little Peanut in the frame that I made while on maternity leave. We will look at after our bath, and now Isaac tells me "That's baby Isaac. He's cute!" and it makes my uterus ache.
All these characters need somethign to hold at night. Isaac likes alot of things in his crib, like his cup of  milk, he's Mickey Mouse light chaser, and more often than not he wants one or more racecars or trucks in the bed.

I think this Ohio State rocker is his Daddy's favorite thing in his room. He just started sitting in it to look at his books.

When we get a house in Ohio, I know I can make his room even better. I can PAINT for one thing. I just have a special attachment to this room. Nearly everything in the room was chosen specifically for my boo. It the first and only home he has every known, that we have known as a family. I hate the house. But I sure do love the home.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Dirrty Thirty

I turned 30 on Sunday. 3-0. And I was really excited for this birthday. No freaking out, and no crisis needed averted. I am really really REALLY happy with where my life is and where it is going. And I was even happier about where I was going to be spending this milestone birthday. NYC!

My wonderful, amazing friends helped me to plan a fantastic weekend to celebrate my birthday. It was absolutely PERFECT and I would not have changed a moment (except maybe Rob Thomas could have made an appearance in there somewhere...like at Starbucks. Or a bar. Or anywhere).

Karen, Gail, and I left on Friday, and flew out of the brand new terminal at SFO. The flights were easy and filled with Royal Wedding coverage, SATC reruns, and inflight cocktails.Although our cabbie was steroetypical NYC with his lack of deoderant and crazy Nascar manuevers, we made it to our Midtown hotel just in time for another ddrink with the fabulous Kelly, who had made the trek on THE CHINA BUS from her home. Afterward, our stomaches sent us in search of nourishment which we found in the form of pizza, cookies, and prosecco. We also discovered that you can buy perfume that is the scent of a funerla home and dirt. Not together. But those are the actual names of the fragrances.

On Saturday we ate delicous pizza from Patsy's Pizza.

Then we ventured into the park to cross off one of my NYC bucket list items: rowing boats around the lake in Central Park. Kelly, the rockstar rower, easily navigated us around. Other tourists were not so adept and let's just say that my sweater smelled like dirty lake water for the rest of the day. It was a gorgeous day, with the sun shining and the smell of blossoms lingering all over the park, which we got to enjoy after our trip around the lake.

One of the highlights from the entire weekend was that I got to have my first blogger meetup! My blogging bestie Made a trip into the City and met up with us in the park. It was amzing to finally meet her, especially since I feel like I have known her for well over 2 years. Together, we all went to Dylan's Candy Store, where I purchased some treats for Isaac, and one deliciously chocolate one for myself. All homes should have a chocolate fountain as a standard kitchen fixture, don't you think?  

After that, we headed into Serendipity to cross another item off my list: The marvelous frozen hot chocolate, which I split with Gail.

To work off our sugar intake, we headed back to the park for a carriage ride.

For dinner we met up with my cousin Bethany and her boyfriend for a fabulous Italian dinner. Afterward, we headed to a piano bar called The Rum House for birthday drinks in Times Square. The beverages were awesome. The crazy Canadian man there for a stag party who kept volunteering to remove his pants was not, prompting us to leave after two drinks. We meandered around the square for a bit and ate street vendor hot dogs. I know the stigma they carry, but seriously...oh so very good.

Sunday morning, we awoke bright and early for some serious Canal Street shopping, which we indulged ourselves in for a few hours until we had to return for lunch and to dress for the theatre. We got all dolled up for "The Lion King" which was absolutely amazing. There is no way to accurately describe the show.

Afterward, we headed to the Plaza hotel for pre-dinner cocktails (another list item). We all partook in the delicious specialty drink, the "Bradshaw" inspired by the SATC star. Although it was a $22 cocktail, it was worth every single penny. Talk about mixed perfection!
We walked back up the park to our dinner reservation at TBar Steakhouse, where we had a wonderful dinner. Afterward we headed back to Serendipity for a celebratory dessert...or three.

Monday morning, after a small yet still startling accidently detour through Harlem, we got breakfast at Alice's Teacup, which fit Karen to a T! Wonderful food, yet again. Is it possible to get bad food in New York?!

Our last stop on this incredible trip was to the New York Public Library, where we saw where the SATC wedding never took place, and the original toys that inspired the "Winnie the Pooh" stories. The library was beautiful.
The trip home was spent sleeping and updating ourselves on the new wordly happenings as we were in our own little NYC birthday bubble for theweekend. I could not have asked for a better birthday. I missed my baby boo and my husband of course, but I needed to get away. I needed a breather and a chance to refresh and recharge, which is exactly what I got to do. I was happy to be home with my husband and little Boo.

Although I am not exactly where I pictured myself to be when I thought about my life at 30, I am someplace better. My friends and family all over the country made my birthday so special and created so many memories for me to carry into this next stage of my life. I am so blessed with beautiful and loving people in my life.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Isaac's Egg-cellant Easter

Isaac really got into Easter this year! We started celebrating by coloring eggs, which he totally rocked. I put a smock on him, but that was soon abandoned. He thought the best way to create colorfullness was to keep dipping the eggs in multiple colors. Every egg was dyed after about 5 minutes. I cut him off after they turned brown. And his hands were sufficiently dyed green. A few eggs cracked because he thought it best to drop the egg into the dye cup from a considerable distance. Thankfully, the garbage took most of the splatter and only a bit got onto the carpet and onto Isaac's clothes.



On Easter, we did 4, count em 4, egg hunts, 2 inside and 2 out. Ben and I hid all the eggs. He loved it. So much in fact, that he had to hold all the eggs he found at once. Baskets are for Pansies!



Once he figured that I would follow him with the basket, he liked it more. We hid the same 14 eggs over and over. The next morning, and the next...and next...the first thing he said when he woke up was "Find eggs?!" Sigh.

We haven't decided if we are going with the whole Easter Bunny idea yet. Right now, he is too little to understand anything more than finding eggs.

We had a great day. The days when the my husband's stores are closed are a blessing in themselves. It means for those 3 days every year, his phone stays silent, and his blood pressure stays low. For the most part anyway...Isaac creates his own blood pressure spikes in us. :) We get to spend the day just as a family. And we get to enjoy it. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Son

My son says "Kitty! Be-HAVE" to our cats when they are wrestling or annoying me. He tells them to "Get Down!" when they jump up on the counter or on the couch in his spot.

My son tells me that the bath water BE hot when I put him in the tub. "Mama, it be hot!" "No, honey. It IS hot. And it's not hot. It's fine." "No, Mama! It BEEEEEE hot!"

My son is obsessed with the movie "Cars" so much so that it plays about 4 times a day in our house. He quotes it. And when we are driving he asks me if that truck is "Mack" and where the "Ghostlight" is.

My son loves semi trucks and buses. One of his favorite things to do is to drive around and look for them. He exclaims "OOOHHHH BIG TRUCK! Another big truck! Where's another big truck! Here it comes!" Driving on 101 is like a dream come true for him.

My son loves to swing and yells "WEEEEEEEEE!!!!" the entire time. He loves to do underdogs and laughs hysterically. He loves to feed the ducks and when we run out of bread or crackers, he throws them flowers or grass.

My son has a flower in our yard. It's a Calla Lily that is as big as his head. He takes everyone to see it and tells them how it is his flower.

My son likes to search for pinecones. He collects them and we have a whole pile in our yard...and in our house.

My son likes to ask for things and then make you think it was your idea to give it to him in the first place. He's like a conversational WIZARD.

My son runs like Phoebe does on "Friends." It's so funny to watch.

My son likes to feed the cats every night. He knows the routine and starts it on his own. Sometimes it isn't even at night, but random times during the day when he decides it's time for them to eat.

My son makes up jokes. His famous one is "bye! A-B-C ya!" We have absolutely no idea where they come from, but he totally made that one up on his own.

My son likes to make make funny faces. He rolls his eyes to one side sticks out his tongue. He squishes his cheeks together. He will do anything to get a laugh.

My son loves to make animal noises. He loves animals. His favorite is the cow right now. He loves looking for cows when we drive to the store. He even mimics an elephant trunk when he makes the elephant noise.

My son loves to brush his teeth. He asks to do it about 4 times a day.

My son is fiercely independent. He likes to do things for himself, like pour his own milk or put toothpaste on his toothbrush, even if he just "thinks" he's doing it for himself, meaning I am actually doing it and tricking him. Some things he does on his own, like put on his shoes or wipe his hands.

My son apologizes every time he spills something or drops something. He also apologizes when his shoe falls off. "I sowwy, Mama." He even apologizes for things he didn't do.

My son looks behind the computer screen and under the table when we are Skyping to see if he can find the person.

My son loves to jump on the bed. He asks to do it all the time. And he likes us to push him down into all the pillows.

My son has the best belly laugh EVER. It never fails to make me laugh too. He does it when you blow raspberries on his tummy, or when Guiliani plays on the bed with him.

My son gives the warmest hugs. He always asks why you are sad or what's wrong. And then asks if you need a kiss. Mommy always needs a kiss.

My son looks so much like his Daddy some days. He will jut his chin out when he is concentrating and it's like looking at a mini-Ben. And others he makes a face that is a mirror image of one I make (see below...that's a Mommy face).

My son is my world. He lights up evey single day and I wonder how I ever got through life without him. I love my little Boo.

Friday, April 8, 2011

30 Days of Truth: Day 8 - Someone Who Has Made Your Life Hell

Dear Patrick,

It's been over ten years since I have heard your voice, your laugh. It's been over ten years since I have seen your face or hugged you. It's been over ten years since you decided to take your own life. It's been over ten years since you broke me.

I can't imagine the pain you must have been in when you made your decision. I know that a great deal, if not all of that pain was caused by decisions that I made. I can't imagine being in so much pain that I feel the only way to heal myself is to pass the pain on to everyone that I love. I have been sorry every single day since then that I had any part at all in that pain that you felt, especially if it was a fraction of the pain that I have felt since then.

You broke me, and you broke me into about a million pieces. I became a different person and I lost who I was. I gave up. I lost focus. I lost my drive. I lost ME. I gave up what I was working toward, because I was broken. I gave up because I just wanted to feel better. I didn't want to feel broken anymore. You broke me and I ran away. I ran as far as I could get from the pain, from all the reminders.

You made me hurt other people. Your pain was like a ripple effect. I hurt and I didn't want to. The things I did to make myself heal, to make myself feel better hurt other people. It's very hard to get over something, feelings...when you don't even know what was there in the first place. How do you move past an unknown? You picked me up and threw me into this strange place and I had no idea how to even start finding my way out. I was hollow. I didn't feel anything. I didn't want anything. I didn't need anything.

You tore my life apart. I have spent the past 10  years trying to put it back together. And I have. I have done it well. I have gotten back to a place where I am happy. I like who I am. I like who I can be. I have a beautiful life and amazing opportunities ahead of me. People remember who I was, who I can be. They know who I am now. They don't see the broken person anymore.

There are things I can't get back. I can't get back who I was before you. I can't say that I would want to. You had a part in shaping my life into what it is now. A big part. Was that what you wanted? Because you know, either way you would have accomplished that. You should have known me well enough to know that you were in my life one way or another, for good.

I'm going back. I'm going back to where I was when you broke me. And I am scared as all hell. I have anxiety over it. My pulse races and I feel light headed. I feel alone again. I feel lost again. I feel like I am certifiably insane for this. But I want this. I WANT THIS SO MUCH. I won't let you have control over my life anymore. I won't let you take it from me again. I don't know what will happen when I walk those halls again, when I see all the memories right in front of me. But I am prepared for the emotion . I am prepared to feel the hurt and sadness. I am ready to face it head on, because this is who I am. It's who I have always been. It's who I am meant to be. You can't have that anymore. Maybe I feel like I have something to prove. And I do. I have something to prove to myself. I can do. I will do this. And I will rock it.

You know, I wrote you one other letter. I wrote about how much I would miss you. I wrote about how much you meant to me, whether it was what you wanted or not. You still meant something. You still mean something. I wrote about how sorry I felt for hurting you and prayed that you had the peace you were searching for. I folded the tear stained paper and put it in your pocket, where it still sits, folded and unread.

I wish every single day that I could somehow change what happened with you. I wish I could understand and I know that I never will. I wish that you can see me, can hear me, and still know me. I wish that you can see that I am happy and I am living my life the way it was meant to be lived. I am living. I wish that you can see that I am not hollow; I am full.

I wish that you can see that I am not broken; I am whole. And although a little piece of me is held by you, it is still my piece. I live with it.

I am not broken anymore, Patrick. But I still miss you.

Love,
Me

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I tried...But I'm Not...I'm Angry.

Today I am angry. I am angry at quite a few things.

I am angry at my daycare. Last thursday I got a call to pick up Isaac because he had thrown up. I kept him home until yesterday. I babied him. He was scheduled to go to daycare on Tuesday. On Monday, Ben and I had a long conversation about whether or not to send him, and ultimately decided to keep him home one more day to ensure his health. He had a great day on Tuesday, and hardly had a runny nose at all. I dropped him off yesterday and got a message a little after lunch that Isaac was sick and had a bad runny green nose. FANTASTIC. I called the doctor and made him an appointment for later that day. I picked him up.

The main daycare lady told me she had pneumonia since last week. And didn't tell me. She didn't tell me that she had this sickness after she sent my child home TWICE. She didn't tell me so maybe I would have thought his symptoms might have been a little more severe. She didn't tell me the entire time I was communicating with her about whether or not Isaac was attending on Tuesday. So I am angry about that.

Isaac has an ear infection. A pretty bad one that is causing the green runny nose. His lungs were clear and he didn't have a fever. The Dr. said he wasn't contagious. I planned to keep him home, he'd been through alot. I was told to watch for pneumonia, and he got a prescription for antibiotics. I let the daycare know, so they coudl let other parents know Isaac wasn't contagious. I received a message back that said many things that stung about how Isaac had a horrible day, woke kids up from nap, couldn't play, and had received comments about his nose from other parents. I am not sure what the intention of this message was, whether it was frantically trying to convince me that Isaac couldnt' come to daycare today or what. It rubbed me the wrong way. I was angry about that.

Most of all, I am angry at myself. Isaac has been saying "owie" for days. I assumed it was his molars. He has been putting his hands in his mouth and biting on things. He has been putting fruit snacks in the back of his mouth and chomping. He hasn't been sleeping well. He hasn't been eating a whole lot. He wasn't pulling on his ears or telling me that they hurt him. But still, I am mad at myself for dismissing his pain as teething pain, allergies, and a cold. I am angry at myself for not realizing the source of my child's pain. I am angry for being so frustrated with his fussiness the past week, when it could have been an ear infection the whole time causing it. I am angry at myself for yelling at him.

I am angry for many reasons. The anger is festering and spreading throughout other aspects of my life. I'm lashing out at people. I'm highly irritable. I'm trying to curb it, but I'm exhausted...mentally, physically, and emotionally. I'm so so tired that it's just easier to keep being angry. I don't want to be, but I am.

I'm just angry today. :(

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fear

It's April. APRIL. We are moving in July. That's like 3 months. 3 MONTHS.Yeah, I am kinda freaking out. But...not really about the moving. I know it will get done. It has to get done, and I flourish under pressure. Oddly, I am not worried about money, or moving, or finding a place to live. I'm relatively unconcerned with whether or not my husband is moving with a job. We both agree that if we can survive in San Francisco, we will be ok almost anywhere. I have moved across the country with nothing and we have been fine. This time we are older, wiser, and more prepared. I am not freaking out because of the move.

I am freaking out because I am going back THERE.

Don't get me wrong, I want to go back. I want my PhD. I am in love with science.

BUT...As the months fly by, and time to actually go back to BG draws closer and closer...I'm not going to lie. I am pretty much terrified.

I'm a scientist. And a darn good one at that. I am a great student and I have no doubt in my research and academic abilities. I can handle the pressure and the heat. What I don't know if I can handle is the ghosts. Those hallways, that campus. It's haunted. For me, it's haunted. I was broken on that campus.

I ran. I ran as far away as I could get. Opportunities presented and I took them. I am not ashamed of that. I believe that when decisions are right, they work out all on their own. And they did, for me, for us. Very well, in fact. I did what I needed to do. I got through each day, and here I am. I ran, and I readily admit that.

I have dealt with the ghosts as well as I can. But they still haunt me. I have no idea how I will handle being back there. Sometimes when I think about it, I can feel my hands get all sweaty and clammy. I can feel my pulse pick up. Sometimes, I think it borders on a panic attack. I don't call anyone. I don't talk about it. I don't know what to say. It feels like beating a dead horse. Other people, they don't get it. They can't understand, and I don't expect them to. Seeing that water tower still hits me like a sucker punch to the gut. Maybe that won't change.

I'm scared. I know I can do it. But holy moly, I am really scared.

I can do this. And I can do it well. It's time. It is long overdue and it's time. I want this. I am ready for this. I am not broken. But I am haunted.