Sunday, January 8, 2012

A New Year

I know it's been a bit since I posted last--over a month, in fact. Christmas, as I'm sure every busy mom knows, is a completely insane time of year, particularly, as I found, if you're working a job "job" on top of needing to do absurd amounts of work at home as well. It's enough to make you completely insane, and it did make me completely and utterly insane for a bit.

But now it's a new year. Since we're only a week into it, I'm still sort of stuck in 2011, taking in everything (and there was a lot, much of it recorded on this blog) that's happened. A lot of life changing events happened: I graduated from college, we bought and moved into our first home, and I got my first grown-up job. All of this has been wonderful and exciting, but each thing has brought on a new set of responsibilities, and with all of happening in such quick succession (all within about a four month range), I think the family is just now taking a breath and feeling comfortable enough to settle in...which is something we've never really had a chance to do, in the nearly six years DOH and I have been together.

And with 2012 finally here, I can only wonder what can possibly happen next. I'm actually hoping that it will be a quieter year. No moves, big events, babies, or anything. Just some time for the family to coalesce as a whole. I mean, what really could happen (I know, famous last words, right?), because we've pretty much done everything there is to do in the last four years or so.

And I know I've talked about having another baby, and I am in the process of trying to lose some weight to help make that an eventual possibility (I'm also trying to lose weight because, gosh darn it, I really need to), I'm putting the whole baby fever deal on the back burner (as much as I possibly can), because I want to focus on the people who are currently not fetuses, but real people in my life, like my friends and family and coworkers. Babies will come. I'm only 23 (well, nearly 24), and I've got time to spare on that front.

In other news, I'm making the decision to defect to Wordpress. My laptop recently, as they put it, crapped the bed, and I'm not entirely sure when we'll be getting any sort of computer again, which leaves me with the iPad. Since Blogger has decided, as of right now, they're not going to format their iPhone app for the iPad, I'm going to make a change to make blogging more easy. Wordpress has an iPad app, blah, blah, blah, I'm making the switch. The only downside, I can see, is that I will possibly lose some readers (or all, who knows). That and I wouldn't be able to do as many cool things with the format of the blog either (like nifty backgrounds and whatnot). But mainly, I'm worried about losing readers.

That said, this is the address to my new location:

Please, please, please come visit me. It's going to be the same deal, maybe, I hope, a bit better. I wish I could promote myself better, but I swear, I'll make it fun!

Thanks so much for reading and checking out my stuff and commenting. It's made this all the more fun.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Top Ten Christmas Books

Now that we've finally entered my absolute favorite season, I've pulled out all our Christmas books (a collection that's ever expanding). I'm always looking for more titles to add (and I have added a few new ones this year), but I also have several stand-bys that I don't think I could ever not read during the Christmas season. So, below, are our Top Ten Christmas Titles (and please feel free to leave a comment recommending a new one for us to try!):

In no particular order...
1. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden, Illustrations by Barbara Cooney
This is one of my all time favorite stories, regardless of the holiday--it never fails to make me ball and then feel all gooey and happy with the world. The story is particularly resonent if you were one of those little girls who had a doll who you truly loved and saw not just as a toy, but a friend. Now, to some who never had that, that might sound a bit creepy, but for those of us who had that sort of attachment, this story will totally touch your heart.

2. The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
This is a true Christmas classic that I have adored since I was a little girl. It's one of those books that is written so well, illustrated so beautifully, that it reaffirms, very easily, your love for illustrated storybooks. This biggest appeal for me in this story is the idea of always believing Santa Claus and never letting your faith in him waiver, even when everyone around you let's go of their own.

3. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
There is something beautifully simple about Barbara Cooney's illustrations in this book that make the words by Ms. Houston all the more poignant and perfectly sweet. This book never failed to make my mom cry as she read it to me every year, and now, as I read it to my little girl, I shed my own set of tears. While the book is obviously meant for children, there is an undertone in the story about the sacrifices parents make for their children and for each other, and it is those sacrifices that showcase the love and truest meanings behind Christmas.

4. The Wild Christmas Reindeer written and illustrated by Jan Brett
Jan Brett is the queen of Christmas stories and this is my absolute favorite of hers. It's a story about perseverance and friendship, and also tells a good story about how one should approach people (or reindeer) in a cooperative situation. I thought of this story all throughout my student teaching (especially when I was at the high school level) and tried to use it as a metaphor for how I needed to work with my students. On another note, the illustrations are awesome, especially the little side panels that help track the days until Christmas and show off all the hard work Santa's elves are putting in.

5. A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Illustrated by Garth Williams
In this little mini-collection you have three stories from three different "Little House" books. It's lovely to capture those sweet moments, when times were simpler, the pleasures somehow smaller but bigger at the same time. These stories bring you to a different place and time, and that is so much fun!

6. Robert Sabuda Pop-Up Books
There is something incredibly whimsical about a pop-up book, and Robert Sabuda's Christmas books are simply amazing. We have three of these and truly enjoy reading them and playing with the very interactive pictures.

7. The Tiny Star, by Arthur Ginolfi, Illustrated by Pat Schories
This is one of the first Christmas books I remember reading as a little girl and my favorite "reason for the season" type books. It's about a tiny star that gets her glow after warming a new born baby in a stable (we can all guess who that baby is, right?). It's so sweet and very subtle in it's message (something I can admire in any form of literature).

8. Santa's Secret Helper, by Andrew Clements, Illustrated by Debrah Santini
I think this book was one of my mom's favorites to read to me (and I enjoyed it, too!). Have you ever wondered how Santa could possibly get to all those houses all over the world in one night? This book has the answer, which it reveals in an ever charming guessing game of who the secret helper could possibly be.

9. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, Illustrated by Judith Gwyn Brown
So, while it's a chapter book (a book I plan reading over time with Lizzie when she gets a bit older), it's one of the best books ever because it combines all of my favorite things about childhood literature: fun characters, an interesting plot, and a good, wholesome message (there is not a ton that is terribly wholesome in the world any more, and kids' books, especially Christmas books, are one of those wholesome things that remain).

10. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, Illustrated by Paul Micich
Are you ready to ball your eyes out, but to feel so incredibly uplifted afterward? This book is...amazing, but it can be so hard to read. The idea is that a little angel boy, who just can't seem to get anything right, is trying to decide what to give the Christ child when he is born. The story is short, but so rich with detail in both the writing and the illustrations, and when you read it (something to read only once a year, on a special night for your family, I think), you will be blown away and filled with such love and appreciation for why we are truly celebrating Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top Five

It's that time again! Another prompt from Mama Kat--two weeks in a row! Go me! 

Here is the prompt I chose this week: Five Things. List 5 things we don't know about you, 5 things you're knowledgeable about, 5 things you know nothing about, and 5 things you believe.

Five Things You Don't Know About Me:
(First of all, since I'm one of those open book sorts of people, it's hard for me to come up with this stuff, but I'll give it a whirl.) 

1. I have a little brother with Asperger's Syndrome. It's actually surprising I haven't talked about this before, because the "issues" my brother and family has dealt with has significantly shaped my life (including my meeting my husband), but I haven't yet felt compelled to blog about this. 

2. I was a flaming, unabashed Communist/Anarchist when I was 15. I'm not entirely sure if I knew what either one of those things were, except it meant I kept a notebook filled with that anarchy A symbol and political cartoons that I'd drawn, consisting mostly of conservative political figures hanging themselves. I was such a pleasant teenager. 

3. I won the school-wide geography bee in 6th grade and actually went to the statewide geography bee but went out in the first round. Did you know the capital of South Korea is Seoul? 

4. I seriously considered converting to Judaism in middle school. 

5. I played with American Girl Dolls and Barbies until I was about 15 (when my childhood abruptly ended and I decided I needed to take down the American government). 

Five Things I'm Knowledgeable About:

1. Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. (See #1 above.) 

2. The similarities between John Milton and William Blake (Renaissance poet and Victorian Era poet; both awesome). I wrote a pretty sweet research paper comparing the two. 

3. Nirvana (the band). I spend most of high school convincing myself I was Kurt Cobain reincarnated...despite the fact he died when I was six. 

4. Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I put these two things together because I don't want to take up the last to spots on my list with my extreme nerdy-ness. 

5. Babywearing. I am the ultimate salesman for all my slings and SSC (soft-structure carrier). 

Five Things I Know Nothing About:

1. Quantum physics. And I so badly want to be an expert. 

2. Seoul, South Korea. 

3. How to parent a little boy (or a teenage girl, for that matter). 

4. Karma Sutra (something DOH would very much like to change). 

5. Twilight (and I'd like to keep it that way...though, I will admit, I did read the entire first book, have forgotten much about it, and, again, would like to keep it that way). 

Five Things I Believe:

1. Karma. It's there, deal with it. 

2. Nothing is black and white, nothing is ever really clear. Life is too fluid for complete certainty on anything, but sometimes you just need to make a decision and go with it. 

3. My family. Together, we're capable of anything. 

4. This world was created with love. By whom or what I'm still pondering (though I've got some ideas), but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is a place made for and with love, we just need to connect ourselves to it. 

5. Santa Claus. I don't care what anyone else says, he's real

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

But Why?

I've made a lot of decisions in my life that have given my mother pause. Making those kinds of decisions have sort of become a past time for me over the past six or seven years. And while she eventually adjusts to the decisions I make (for the most part), she likes to make a bit of noise during the adjustment period.

Now you might wonder why I, a grown adult, cares about what my mom thinks. Well, why does any care about what their mother thinks? Because you love her. Because she birthed you and raised you and took care of you. Because she instilled important values in you from a very young age. Because you respect her opinion.

But sometimes you have respectfully listen to her opinion...then ignore it.

A couple of days ago I wrote about wanting to do a home birth. I know this is an event (if it takes place at all) that is some time off. But time moves quicker than we'd like sometimes, and I've become one of those, as I put it in an e-mail today, one of those weirdo planner people. So, today, I got in touch with a local midwife regarding her policy on doing home births with women who have previously had c-sections. As far as she's concerned, it's a go.

Now, it's not written in stone that the midwife I contacted today will be the midwife I approach several months down the road when I'm potentially pregnant (there are a few in the area and I plan on meeting with everyone to get a feel, though, being one of those "vibe" sort of people, I got a "vibe" with the one I contacted today, so we'll see), but she confirmed for me something I needed to be confirmed before I could go on dreaming about the birth of my next child. I needed to know that a VBAC at home was a least a possible option, if nothing else. And now I have that information and I can rest easy for a bit.

But I don't know if my mom will be able to. I mentioned the idea of a home birth to her tonight. There are certain subjects my mom will shut down on. Tattoos, my sexual history, previous decisions I've made that she's still uneasy about, and current decisions I'm in the process of making that she's uneasy about. Home births fit into the last category.

I mentioned home birth and she sort of shrank into herself. I could almost see the barrier she put up and knew immediately I should have backed off almost before the word, "What?" passed through my lips.

"It just makes me nervous. Is it safe if you've had a c-section? Maybe you should talk to a doctor first."

Translation: "Aw, crap. This AGAIN?!"

You see, whether it's a decision to make a butt-load of cookies or a baby, once I decide I'm going to do something, that I really, really want it, then it happens. (I mean, the one stipulation is that I have to really, genuinely, completely want it, and I have to have a feasible way of doing it--thus far, the option of having a home birth seems entirely feasible and right now it's something I really, genuinely, and completely want.) My mom knows this about me, and you'd think by now she'd just give up and roll with it, but I suppose that would be like asking a fart to not smell (not that I'm implying that my mother's persistence is...fart-like, but I suppose it can be just as annoying, though slightly more endearing).

So, I guess this next part is for my mom and for her desire to worry and argue and try to get me to not only hear her side of the story, but to also completely agree with her. This is my answer to her yet unsaid, "But why?"

Unlike some people who turn to home birth after a c-section, I did not have a horrible experience. In fact, I would say it was a really great experience...considering I was in a place where all I cared about was getting that baby out of me safe and healthy. And for some people, that's all that matters, for whatever reason, and that is totally and absolutely okay. It's great even.

I have become not one of those people.

As I've grown up over the last few years, parented my child, read, watched, listened, I've realized that for me, I want the birth of my next child to be the most intense and emotional experience I can possibly make it. It was difficult for me to muster the emotion I wanted when my daughter was delivered. I was fighting sleep, not unbound excitement, when I saw my child for the first time, because I was so drugged (which was completely necessary, because I was having major surgery at the time). While I didn't have a huge let down, like many women describe after having an unplanned c-section, I've instead had this feeling of slight disappointment eating away at me.

I don't want to say things "went wrong" at Lizzie's birth, because how could they? I was given a healthy and beautiful baby girl. But, in many ways, I feel as though I was NOT a participant in her arrival. I was just the vessel and everyone else did the work.

And therein lies the problem.

For a very long time (like, my entire life), people have done a lot of hard things for me. My dad helped me a lot with hard science projects and math homework. Mom helped me with chores, projects, and other responsibilities. Up until a year ago, family members drove my butt around because I was too chicken to get my driver's license (I was also an incredibly bad driver). Nice things were bought for me. I inherited money to pay for things that we otherwise would have had to save for a very long time for. Even school, where I powered through under my own steam while raising a child and keeping a home, came easily too me. A lot of things have been handed to me or haven't been difficult for me to obtain. And my daughter, who I would not trade for anything under the sun, was also handed to me.

I'm trying very hard to change that. It's nice to have people to help you, but I don't want that help to be my plan A. Going into my first pregnancy I knew (I promise I really, really knew, even if it wasn't what I thought I wanted) that I would have a c-section. A lot of things contributed to this thought process, which I'm not going to go into here, but we'll leave it with the fact that I had that expectation and it only grew stronger as I got closer to my due date and eventual birth of my daughter. Perhaps, subconsciously, I knew this birth would be one more thing that I would have excessive help with.

So, why go over the top and do a home birth rather than just insist, with an OB that I have a VBAC, or even go to a birth center or have a midwife in a hospital? Well, I haven't ruled any of those things out. I may find that for whatever reason, an OB is my only option. Or I may decide that I would prefer to be at a birth center rather than my home. Or I may decide to be at home (and right now, I'd really rather be there). The point is, I want to be in a place where my desire to give birth to my child on my own terms is respected the very most while keeping myself and the baby as safe as possible. At the moment, I do not feel a traditional hospital setting is the most conducive to that IF I'm having a normal, healthy pregnancy. The statistics and my personal experiences simply do not mesh with my current desire to have an unmedicated, midwife attended, vaginal birth. And to me, an unmedicated, vaginal birth is a decision that represents the obtainable goal of me making a plan, figuring out how to execute that plan, and having the outcome benefit both myself and my family.

I know I've written a lot, and I hope that I don't sound ungrateful for the wonderful things I have been given in life, and I hope, as each day passes and I take on more and more responsibilities, I start to earn those wonderful things. I appreciate and love and respect my mother immensely, and I get why she worries. And I hope she knows that I don't resent her or anyone for what I've been given. I simply feel blessed for it all. But now I want to make something for myself, to do it myself, and while there are a million little things I've started to take on by myself, I want to start claiming some bigger things, and this birth, however far off into the future, is one of those big things.

Monday, November 28, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

Have you ever had that feeling of just boiling over with excitement about something? Where your whole body sizzles with an idea and you feel like you're on fire with passion for it.

That is what I'm feeling right now regarding home birth.

NOT a home birth. A good one (thought slightly frustrating), but NOT a home birth. 

Weird thing to get all excited over, but I am really, REALLY excited by the idea.

It's...what I want.

And I know a big part of this excitement has to do with the fact that I am currently having humongous amounts of baby fever. And another part is the fact that I'm currently reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and am loving the birth stories (which are making me ball in the middle of the teachers' room at work). But, I think this is genuine excitement fueled by a genuine desire to do something good for myself, my future child, and my family.

This is something I think I can do and I know I want to do.

Of course, in order for one to have a home birth, one needs to be pregnant (which I'm most definitely not), but...but...that could be happening at some point. Soon. Ish. (Or several months from now.) Kind of.

But, regardless of my fetus status, I can't quite get over how enthused I am about home birth. I know I need to do more research. I know I need to make sure DOH is completely on board (I've all ready run it by him, and while he thinks I'm nuts, he's basically said that if it's what I want, then that's what we'll do). I also need to know if it's even financially feasible. BUT, the benefit of not being pregnant right now (and not running the risk of being pregnant any time soon), is that I've got plenty of time to research. And obsess. And enthuse. And blog about it.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Yumminess

It is my most favorite, favorite time of year: Christmastime!

With Thanksgiving behind us (which, by the way, was just as relaxing and fun as I had hoped), I finally feel free to really delve into all things Christmas-y.

One of the biggest and oldest staples of this time of year in my family is the baking of the Christmas cookies. My mom and I are sweets junkies and we are especially fond of all the baked goods Christmas tends to produce. While Mom and I are by no means professionals, we make a mean cookie and always have a blast getting together on a weekend to get the baking underway. Usually we spend a weekend trying to get everything baked. It makes for a rather stressful time, and by the end of the weekend we feel exhausted. This year, because I'm living way closer to home (twenty minutes versus an hour and a half!), we've decided to stretch the cookie baking out.

This past weekend we threw together some dough (lemon sugar cookies, regular sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and cinnamon reindeer cookies). Next weekend we'll make more cookies and dough and freeze them until the time comes when we distribute cookies to friends and coworkers as gifts of good cheer during this wonderful time of year.

Lizzie with her new apron (and snow boots!), ready to  help bake some cookies!

Lizzie and me!

Lizzie and my mom!

Perhaps next week I'll add some pictures of cookies...don't come back too hungry!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Picture Perfect

Last weekend our friend/amazing daycare provider/photog expert, Megan, took some great pictures of the family. We hadn't ever had our pictures taken as a family by a professional (and Megan certainly is that--she did so awesome) and it had been about three years since we had last had any sort of family shots (at our wedding!). With Christmas fast approaching, I decided this year we would do something different and rather than take some pictures myself (which always end up a bit shoddy) or torturing Lizzie with a trip to the sub-par Wal-Mart picture people, so I asked Megan if she would do our pics.

Well, they came out amazing. I am NOT photogenic (unless I'm doing weird webcam pictures where I can fuss for twenty minutes over how I'm holding my head), but despite my general sort of whale-ish-ness, I felt the pictures came out wonderfully. They were all taken outside of our house, which, I think, makes them that much more special, and I really feel Megan snagged some wicked sweet shots.

I gotta say, we're a pretty cute family :-)

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