Sunday, December 23, 2012

Down the Tube

Friday morning started with the alarm going off at 5:30 so that Craig and I could Natalie up to the children's surgery center by 6:20 for her tubes to be inserted into her ears.

And did you know that in my little town, there is still a line at Starbucks at 5:55 in the morning?!

And did you also know that there are people in this world that are completely made up with high heel boots, make-up and curled hair at 6:20?!

Regardless...we had a pretty uneventful morning.  I suppose things went according to plan - we checked in, were admitted, she drank her goofy juice and off she went.  The procedure took less than ten minutes and she was back in our arms and ANGRY.  And wanting ONLY Daddy and definitely NOT Momma

Reading FOX in the waiting room before the her new Santa pajamas.

Friday night was rough - the antibiotic ear drops that are required for the next few days burn her ears and she has a hard time calming down from receiving them.  She wasn't asleep in bed for much more than an hour before she was up and crying in her crib for "Dada."  I figured it was the start of a pattern so I just pulled her into bed with me and I slept on six inches of the mattress while she had the rest of our king size bed.
Ajax taking good care of his patient.
And now on Sunday afternoon she is more or less back to normal.  Still not a big fan of the ear drops, but she is running around the house, eating big meals and not crying over the littlest of frustrations.
And she slept through the night last night.  
Here's to hoping it continues.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


There's a reason I love my job.
I get to put on a bandanna and matching team shirt and play dodgeball like a boss.

When you wear the same shirt as your bestie you gotta bust out the duck face and peace signs bro.

Today was my "Friday" because tomorrow we are at the hospital getting tubes for Natalie. 

Today I lovingly annihilated punk 8th grade boys with dodgeballs and high-fived my girls after we routed the other team. 

I got to show my co-workers the value coaches can have in a child's life.

Today was a good day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

I'm sorry I'm not sorry

Last Thursday was just a tough day.

Something stupid set me off because it was a reminder of so many other times when boundaries have been crossed and disrespected.

I'm not perfect in any sense of the word.

I know that I have a temper.

I wield words like a shield and sword, putting up a defense while simultaneously aiming for the jugular.

Perhaps it comes from being the youngest of two brothers growing up - I knew that I was no match for them physically so I had to find a different kind of weapon.

Regardless of the reason or the source....when I purposely use my words to inflict pain and suffering, it's simply not right.

It would be easier to brush off my hurtful remarks and apologize if I truly said them in the heat of the moment and that they didn't come from my heart.

But I don't feel sorry because I meant what I said, it came from straight from my heart.....and I think that is what scares me the most.

I am capable of loving so deeply and whole-heartedly. I give selflessly to Craig, Natalie, friends, students and my family. But on this subject and with these people I am hardened and unforgiving.

A friend of mine used to joke about my love of justice, which stems from my strong sense of right and wrong.  And although it was a "joke," as with any teasing, there was some semblance of truth in her statement.

I might not *love* justice, but I do hold grudges.  I do struggle with unencumbered forgiveness.  If I am going to truly forgive someone I want an apology first.  I want the offending party to understand what they have done wrong and then to acknowledge it to me.

How self-righteous I am.  How self-important I feel.

Ugh.  How ugly this characteristic of mine seems when printed in black and white.

Who I am to believe that I am a true judge of other people's flaws, mistakes or intentions?

I need to learn to forgive like God forgives.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God is still GOOD

Where do you start praying after a day like today?

For the families who suffered a loss so great that there isn't a word to define a parent who has grieved a child?

For the children whose nights will be filled with dreams of gunshots and fallen classmates?

Or perhaps for the men who have the job of entering that classroom and picking up the littlest of bodies?

Maybe a prayer for the new principal and teachers who will continue on at the school while fighting the horror that will surely permeate the mind, heart and soul of all who enter?

I just don't know where to begin and how to get the words just right.....because there is so much to pray for.

But I do know this.

God is still GOOD and RIGHTEOUS.

It pains me to read commentary reflecting on an apparently "obvious" absence of God when this maniac fought his way into an elementary school and murdered a classroom full of first graders.

"Where was God?"

"Why didn't He stop this from happening?"

From my years of religious education.....human beings are not puppets.  We have been given a body, brain and soul to use here on Earth in addition to free will AND the Bible.  I have the choice to follow the word of God or to engage in sinful behavior.

God never said that life here on Earth would be free from unspeakable tragedy or heart-wrenching pain and suffering.  In fact, he pretty much assures us that just by the very nature of being human there is no doubt that we WILL encounter those things but then in the same breath He reminds us that through all the bad, He is still GOOD.

My faith has not been shaken.  My belief is still strong.

On Friday night I hugged my baby girl on the couch and sobbed for those mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who will spend the rest of their lives with a piece of their family puzzle missing.  The first responders who had to uncover the carnage and the children who ran fearfully from their school building.  The family of the shooter because their grief is the loneliest of all.

God is still GOOD and RIGHTEOUS.  Humans are fallible and sinful.

The horrific events that unfolded on Friday were an act of an evil human, not of a vengeful or spiteful God.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Tuesday, December 11th - 2:18 pm

Outside my window.....winter has finally arrived and it is chilly with a bright blue sky.  

I am thinking.....of Christmas break and all the rest and relaxation that my family so desperately needs.

I am thankful.....that we have a date on our calendar for Natalie's tubes to be put in her ears which will hopefully clear up all the infections and cranky nights we've had over the past year.

In the kitchen.....last night I whipped up a quick taco dinner because Craig had basketball games and tonight is Poppyseed Chicken which is terrible for the waistline but amazing for the soul.

I am Nike windpants, a Team Texas hoodie and my Aggie Cotton Bowl shirt.

I am creating.....the rest of my Christmas list. I have one more gift left to get for Craig and none for Natalie BUT I have nothing for my parents and friends.

I am try and get a full night sleep with Natalie at my mother-in-law's house.

I am to get of my mind-numbing migraines.

I am reading.....lots of information on Sam Houston and Mirabeau Lamar in preparation for a Texas Presidential Debate in my class this week!

I am hoping.....all my hopes right now are centered around the health of my family - Craig, myself and Natalie. This includes our physical, mental and emotional well being.

I am looking forward to.....a fun get together with a friend and her daughter Saturday afternoon.

I am learning.....patience.

Around the house.....laundry. Always laundry.

I am pondering.....what my next step should be career-wise.  There might be the possibility for me to get out of coaching at the end of the school year which would be great for our family planning.....but my 8th grade volleyball players will be GOOD next year.  I have several girls that are playing club outside of school and I could definitely put together a very talented little team.  Whatever will be, will be though.  It's not really in my hands - God will move me out of coaching and into full time teaching when he sees fit.

One of my favorite things.....seeing my family devour the yummy Poppyseed Chicken I cooked last night.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Cross Country meet this afternoon (brr!), Craig's basketball games tomorrow night, 8th grade basketball tournament Friday and Saturday and a little Christmas get together with a dear friend and her daughter on Saturday afternoon.

A peek into my day.....this is what Natalie was wearing yesterday to Craig's basketball games.

When did she become such a big little girl?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Ear" We Are...

There is an epidemic of pregnancy hitting my Facebook feed. It's attacking with more fury than "wedding fever," which of course makes it harder to resist.

It looks like so much fun...charting how big the baby is getting and taking belly pictures every week. I should get on the bandwagon and give Natalie a sibling, right?!


Not after the last four weeks.

Craig and I have not slept through the night since before Thanksgiving.

Things are getting desperate up in here y'all.

I know, I know. I've had a newborn on the every three hours feeding schedule. This nighttime song and dance should be old hat by now.

But the thing is...we've come so damn far from her newborn days. September and October were filled with full nights and late mornings. I could stay up and watch Jon Stewart and not go to sleep with a sense of dread filling up my body because I KNOW that I will be up in just a few short hours. It's almost like we've tasted the parental promise land but now we have been shoved back into exhaustion exile.

Help is hopefully on the way though.

Natalie has an appointment with a pediatric ENT in the morning. The little miss has the propensity for ear infections and we have been battling the same one for close to a full month. After a few rounds with that antibiotic and this antibiotic we are looking at the long-term solution of getting tubes in her ears.

According to others, I should be a nervous wreck because it's SURGERY and ANESTHESIA and it's my BABY.

But I'm not nervous or scared or even very worried.

Because quite frankly, I just want to sleep.

And I trust doctors, modern medicine and above all....I trust in God. Freaking out will not do me or Natalie any good. She takes her social cues from me and Craig, so if I act like it ain't no big thang, she will hopefully stay calm and be brave.

Wish us luck!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Our Routine

Natalie and I have really fallen into a great routine both in the mornings and afternoons now that Craig is leaving the house early and coming home late due to basketball.  Awhile back I wrote a heart-wrenching (to me at least) post about how Daddy was CLEARLY Natalie's favorite person for comfort and joy during volleyball season because I just wasn't around very much.  Craig kept reassuring me that come basketball season the tables would turn and I would be the one she would call out for in the mornings and at bedtime.

And once again I doubted myself entirely too much and I should have trusted in my husband (and in God).

Depending on when she wakes up we are usually down in the kitchen eating breakfast around 6:30 or so.  She happily chomps on her cheerios and fruit while shrieking about the dogs or jabbering about babies.  I get the Keurig fired up and then make both our lunches.  The dogs scamper outside to use the restroom and then come in and sit eagerly by Natalie's feet, hoping for a stray Cheerio to fall.

Usually by 6:45 or 7:00 we are back upstairs so that I can take a shower while she plays with her magnets or reads books in the bathroom.  Sometimes she will wander off to the playroom and return with a wonderfully prepared plastic breakfast consisting of peas and carrots for me.  Or sometimes such as this morning, I will find her curled up in her glider with a book and a baby.  I plug in my iPhone to the iHome and we listen to the Florence and the Machine station on Pandora.

After I'm dressed and ready around 7:30 we head into her room and take off jammies and put on a fresh diaper and outfit for the day.  We usually have an intense debate over BOW or NO BOW which always depends on the choice of clothing.  Medicine is given (if necessary) and teeth and hair are brushed.

Once we get downstairs, the pups are locked in their kennel and we gather up our supplies for the day.  Backpack in hand, Natalie stomps to the garage door and out we go....but not without stopping (and pleading) for the Santa blow-up decoration in our front yard to be inflated.  But much to her dismay, our Santa is a nocturnal creature and MUST get his rest during the day so we wish Santa a good nap and climb into the car.

Our afternoon routine gets started a little later than I would like because for the next three weeks I'm tied up after school with Cross Country practice until 4:45 which means Natalie and I don't arrive home until closer to 5:00.  But once home I again turn on the Pandora radio in the iHome that is above the sink and we clean up the house....sometimes that means putting away laundry and toys while other days it's wiping down counters and picking up the leaves the dogs track in from the yard.

After about a twenty minute speed clean around the house the music stays on and the television stays off while I start the preparations for dinner.  Depending on what we are eating, Natalie may or may not be involved and if not she pretty much has the run of the downstairs and she will color and read books or play with her babies and animals.  Towards the end of the dinner prep Craig arrives home and keeps her occupied while I finish up and get the food to the table.

On the nights that he is home and doesn't have a basketball game, Craig is the one who reads a bedtime story and then rocks her to sleep but on Monday and Thursday nights it is my duty.  Last night we got home from Craig's game at 8:45 and went straight upstairs for pajamas, teeth brushing, book reading and bedtime. After a few books I clicked off the lamp and rocked her for about eight minutes before her breathing seemed to level out.  I picked her up and placed her in the crib but as soon as I closed the door her pitiful wails began.

Sigh.  I sat on the bed and watched her through the monitor and anxiety crawled up my spine.  I just knew it was going to be one of THOSE nights and I figured that it would end with me huffing and puffing with frustration, her face streaked with tears and Craig having to swoop in and save the day even though he was exhausted from coaching 7th grade basketball.

So I sat and I zenned out.  I waited and listened.  "Mama, mama, mama!" she wailed from her bed....and although I hated to hear her cry, I was secretly pleased that she was calling for ME!  After five minutes it was obvious that she would not be putting herself to sleep and as Craig walked in the front door I was heading back into her room.  I stood in that dark room for as long as it took me to methodically thump on her back, slowly and calmly FIVE HUNDRED TIMES.  Literally.  Five hundred pats on her back.  Of course I counted....because you know....I like numbers.  Again I sneaked out of her room while practically holding my breath all the while praying that she would not be flipped over and sitting up by the time I walked the ten steps to our bedroom.

I took a look at the monitor and WHOOSH.  I let out a deep breath.  The toddler was soundly asleep.  Bedtime success with no frustration from either party.  Hallelujah.

I totally underestimated the power of a routine with a child.  I know that I personally enjoy a routine and that installing a consistent warm-up with my athletes is important but I truly had no idea how attached to a "routine" Natalie would become.  It has taken us a few weeks (and a few tears) to get ourselves situated to the new normal but she has transitioned beautifully and understands (for the most part) what is going on, where Daddy is ("work" or "ball") and how it affects her life.

Monday, December 3, 2012

iPhone Dump

Just a few pictures of what we've been up to these past few weeks....

Being a well rounded young lady and watching football while reading a book.


Having fun at the awesome new park that opened near our house!

Playing "warrior princess" at Miss Rebecca's house.

This is her crazy at breakfast face.
And her "I'm not ready to be awake for breakfast" face.

I told her to drag the basket of sheets to the bottom of the stairs.  She tried to push all the sheets UP the stairs.

Playing with hats.

Oh my Angie girl.....always so intense.

Loving on her favorite pup - Ajax.

And of course....checking out the progress on the snickerdoodle cookies.

She had to be JUST like Momma sitting on the couch under a blanket and having a drink.  Except Momma was having a beer.  Ha!

And this.  See number 40 up there?  Yep.  That's yours truly - sophomore on Varsity and a member of the 13-1 District and Bi-District champs basketball team.
Yikes.  I'm getting old.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Daybook

Sunday, December 2nd - 8:07 am

Outside my window.....the sun has risen and the clouds are moving quickly from the sky.  It was 80 degrees here in Texas yesterday and I'm expecting the same for this afternoon as well.

I am thinking.....of the dream I had last night in which Craig had bought a piece of land and I designed our dream home.  I was actually walking through the house and then creating a floor plan during my dream.  Very strange.

I am thankful.....that Natalie is strong, smart, healthy and vivacious.

In the kitchen.....I made two great dinners last week, both of which Natalie thoroughly enjoyed: tilapia with noodles and zucchini on Thursday and then Taco Soup on Saturday night (but too bad it wasn't cold outside to REALLY enjoy it!).

I am wearing.....a high school basketball shirt, Nike running shorts and my hair in a ponytail.

I am creating.....not a whole lot right now!  We've got the house decorated for Christmas and I'm very content with how it turned out.  In years past I have been anxious to have the house COMPLETELY decorated but this year I'm good with what we've done....I don't want to have it ALL decorated because then what would I have to look forward to next year?!

I am have a busy three weeks before Christmas vacation - we've got basketball games twice a week combined with Cross Country meets AND trying to find time with friends in between all that.

I am wondering.....why Natalie has been getting little bits of baby acne on her cheeks recently.

I am reading.....nothing right now!  Yikes!  I'm supposed to be starting The Yard by Alex Grecian for Book Club but I haven't been able to locate it in the stores.  I'm also looking for some new blogs to read....some with little to no advertising, lots of reflection and truth combined with a healthy dose of self-deprecation and humor.

I am hoping.....that Natalie soon begins sleeping in past 5:00 in the morning.

I am looking forward to.....being done with Cross Country and having some time off from school in a few weeks.

I am stand up for myself and acknowledge when statements or actions are inappropriate and rude.

Around the house.....there are some rooms that are a general disaster area.  Craig and I have some great ideas about how to rearrange the layout (move dining room from front room to closer to the kitchen and then transform front room into study) but it will take money and time to complete these tasks.

I am pondering.....our plans for today.  I do not want to sit around the house but I also have things that MUST be completed at home (laundry, grocery shopping, etc).

One of my favorite things.....watching Natalie develop imaginary play.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Two basketball games for Craig, one Cross Country meet for me, dinner with a good friend and my school's annual Christmas party on Friday.

Non-Sleeping Beauty

And since yesterday I spent an entire post praising my child for being the world's awesomest toddler eater, let's move onto something she ain't so great at - SLEEPING.

This is not something she inherited from me.

I'm going to blame it on her father who definitely struggles to fall (and stay) asleep.

Natalie has never in her life slept beyond 8:00 in the morning.  Not once.  Not even if we keep her up until 10:00 the night before, she will be hollering from her crib at 6:30....or earlier.

Here is our bedtime routine:

- Momma puts on Natalie's pajamas, gives medicine if necessary and helps brush hair and teeth.
- Daddy is seated in the cozy brown glider in Natalie's bedroom.
- Natalie picks out one or two books to read and then climbs into Daddy's lap.
- Good night kisses and hugs for Momma.
- Lamp is turned on and overhead light is switched off.
- Momma leaves the room.
- Daddy reads the books and cuddles Natalie.
- At some point in time when Natalie is close to sleep, the lamp is turned off and she is just rocked until fully or almost asleep.
- Daddy places Natalie into her crib and heads out of the room.
- Most of the time Natalie wakes up and spends the next five minutes crying on the side of her crib before throwing herself into a little ball in the center of her mattress and passes out.

It's all sweet and fun until that last part.

For the longest time Craig refused to put her into the crib without Natalie being completely asleep nor would he let her cry on her own for any amount of time.

At the beginning of the school year Craig and I had a little powwow about our nighttime routine and I convinced him to try letting her cry on her own in bed for 10 minutes just one night.  It absolutely killed him but of course within five minutes she was asleep.

As her parents, we know all the different "cries" that Natalie has - from the whimper of "that hurt just a little but I think I'm okay if you give me a hug" to the "I'm so tired but I don't want to go to bed because you guys are probably doing super fun stuff right now" and even the "oh my goodness I am in so much pain and anguish and you better come get me right now because I  might explode."

Most of the time we get some version of the second type of cry and within that five minute window of us leaving the room, she is passed out in her bed and sleeps through the night........but here is the kicker - she is and EARLY morning riser.  As in 5:30 AM.


This is the part where I do not know what to do.  We can get her to bed and have her stay there throughout the night (for the most part) but this 5:00 in the morning crap has got to end.  I'll admit it, when other people write about their children sleeping in past 8:00, I get a little jealous.  A whole lot jealous in fact.  Even if I can't sleep in that late do you know how glorious it sounds to have some time in the morning to myself to take a shower, put on make-up or even just drink a cup of coffee in pure solitude?  Sigh.

And now that she has started up this 5:00 stuff and Craig and I both work long hours, we've taken up the bad habit of just bringing her to bed with us in the mornings so that we can at least sleep until 6:30.  But this is not a habit I want to get into because although it can be sweet to wake up to her little face in the morning, I sleep TERRIBLY with her in the bed and a well-rested Momma is better for every member of my household.

One of my thoughts is to take the front of her crib off and convert it to a toddler bed so that in the morning she could play with the toys in her room without waking up me or Craig.  BUT....that would completely upset our bedtime routine because during that five minutes of frustration before passing out, she would be out of bed and banging on the door.

My other thought is just to wait it out because she did this awhile back for a few weeks before going back to her better wake-up time of 6:30.  She's also been battling a not-really-an-ear-infection-but-kind-of-an-ear-infection this past week.  We have her on some antibiotics combined with a nasal spray to knock all the junk loose in her head and so far, so fever which is hopefully a sign that the ear infections is staying at bay for the time being.  We will head back to the pediatrician's office in a few weeks to have another look into her ears to see if the fluid has cleared up.  If not, we're off to the ENT doctor.

Or perhaps she's just an early riser which could benefit us when she is in school?!

Friday, November 30, 2012


Natalie might not be the greatest sleeper during the night and we might still have to employ the ten minutes of "cry-it-out" once she is placed in her crib.........but there is one thing that is NEVER a battle in our house.





None of it.

As Natalie's sitter Rebecca once said when I picked her up and she was still noshing on goldfish, "she's been eating for awhile, snack time is never really over for Natalie."

That's my girl.  Like mother (and father, quite frankly) like daughter.

I outgrew Happy Meals by the time I was in grade school and as a growing preteen I was out-eating my much older brother at dinnertime.  Full disclosure, I had a hyper-active thyroid condition in my youth along with a heart murmur plus plain old genetics which all led to me being taller than my 5'6 mother by the time I entered sixth grade.  My body was on a metabolic overdrive all the time which caused me to sprout up, be super skinny and eat everything in sight.

Now that I am quickly approaching thirty my metabolism has obviously slowed down and having a baby certainly hasn't helped things, I definitely have to be more mindful of what I eat as well as how much of it I consume.

But even though Natalie is naturally a great eater there still are things that Craig and I have tried to implement in order to ensure she continues to be one.

First and foremost, she eats what we eat.  If we are having a scheduled, pre-planned dinner then she will not be receiving her own specially cooked dinner.  I am not a short order cook.  Of course there are those nights when we pull out all the Tupperware containers from the kitchen and have a buffet where she can have whatever she wants but if I'm cooking....that's what she's eating, at least in some form.

We don't make a big deal out of trying new foods.  I try to put three things on her plate that I know she likes and maybe one new or unusual food just to see.  Sometimes she tries the new food and likes it but if she doesn't, I don't make a big production about her not being willing to try something different.  I offer and if she says "no" then I say okay and suggest she eat something that she does enjoy.  Last night was zucchini, tilapia and spaghetti with a homemade alfredo-type sauce.  I put a little bit of everything on her plate along with some raspberries and she ate everything except the pasta to which she kindly refused.  What more can you ask from a toddler?

We also don't worry if she doesn't eat much at dinner.  She is a toddler.  Their bodies are growing at different times which requires more (or less) food on any given day.  I want my dinner table to be a pleasant atmosphere so I refuse to battle an almost two-year-old over food.  If she isn't hungry at dinner, chances are she will be when she wakes up in the morning.  She will not starve.

People are not cows and therefore we do not graze.  Natalie eats breakfast, lunch and dinner......with an afternoon snack built in after her nap.  If she is starting to get a little restless before dinner then she can eat a cracker but I don't let the snack cabinet get raided anytime she throws a fit.  There is also no eating in the car, but that's just been ingrained into my head from years spent living with an autobody repairman.

Do not engage with the terrorist.  There will be those days.  OH.  There are DEFINITELY those days when I swear her head turns all the way around and she is about to projectile vomit on me.  Natalie obviously has her not-so-sweet moments but Craig and I try to remain calm at the dinner table.  If she wants to throw her food we just calmly say "I guess you are done eating" and remove the plate from in front of her before continuing with our conversation.  I give her a few moments to collect herself and then ask if she would like to keep eating.  Sometimes the answer is yes and other times it is no.  Either way, I don't let her know that her negative behavior has rattled me.  In the extreme case where Natalie is complete unruly and unmanageable either Craig or myself will remove her from the table and sit in time-out with her on the foot of the stairs.

And now with that all being said and put out into the universe, let's see karma come back and bite me in the butt.  Ha.

But in all reality, these are the expectations that Craig and I have decided work best for us in our home.  Mealtime is a chance to get together in the evenings and connect with one another about their day.  I enjoy eating dinner with both Natalie and Craig and we want to preserve the sanctity of the family meal in our home.  So far this set of guidelines has helped us navigate what can sometimes be treacherous territory when it comes to feeding a small child.


So I'm a little late on the "thankful" posts, but better late than never, right?

I have an abundance of things to be thankful for in my life so I've tried to narrow it down just a bit to the biggest and most important.

First and foremost are my parents and the unconditional love they not only show me but my daughter as well.  I could write an entire post full of stories of their kindness, compassion, sympathy and dedication that they have shown to me in my lifetime but I don't have the time nor the Kleenex.  Some people in my past might have called my upbringing pretty "Leave it to Beaver" because my childhood was stable, secure and full of love and laughter.  I always knew there would be food on the table and seated at that table would be people who were looking out for my best interests.  I felt safe, cared for and cherished.  My parents also stressed the fact that without the deep love they have for each other....none of the rest of our family would have been possible.  They provided a wonderful model for a Christian marriage - God first, spouse second and children third.

Granddaddy holding his only granddaughter for the very first time.

Nonna and her granddaughter.

The three generations of women.

And without their model of how men and women should treat one another within a relationship, I never would have been able to recognize what I could have and build with this man.
We have really seemed to hit a stride this fall - life has been crazy with all the insane STUFF we've dealt with but we are solid.  We are good.  We have somehow managed to find a great balance of the marriage-family-work-personal thing and we are just chugging along.  He is by far my best friend which is why I knew I needed to marry him in the first place.

And without him and the life we built together, I wouldn't have this little munchkin.
Oh my dear, sweet little girl.  She truly is a joy in my life from her giggles to her love for baby dolls and even to her determined nature.  I am enjoying getting to know and understand this darling daughter of mine and even on the days when "NO!" is her favorite word, she is still a blessing in my life.

Our family portrait taken when Natalie was fourteen months old.

I have known these two ladies, Heather and Amy since we were all in grade school together.  Our friendship over the past twenty (eek! TWENTY) years has seen it's fair share of heartbreak, catastrophes, anguish, joy, celebration and tragedy.  We have attended each other's weddings, birthday parties and baby showers but we also have mourned the loss of a father and held vigil after the overdose of a brother.  The three of us are an interesting mix of bubbling creativity, organized realism and take-charge intelligence.  

They are MY Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

And this lady named Kate and I have literally known each other since we were born.  Our mothers met in a Bible study and then taught pre-school together as well.  All our childhood photos involve one another - me as the tall and serious brunette and she the petite and lively redhead.  And now there is a second generation of friends Natalie is ten months older than baby Audrey.  Kate and I have shared the woes and joys of motherhood, marriage and dealing with in-laws over margaritas and Mexican food.  I am thankful that I truly have her in my life because she gives great advice and always with a needed dose of humor and sarcasm.

And then THIS happened with Amy.  Because it's really not a kid's birthday party without a belly & duck face photo.

My dear, sweet Angelina Marie.  This is one of my most favorite pictures of her because it shows the intensity of her eyes.  Angie is such an interesting dog and certainly not one with mass appeal, but she is my girl and my comfort.  I'm going to sound like one of those crazy dog people (which I probably am) but she and I have a certain understanding and we really share a wonderful bond.

And here is Mr. Ajax.  I'm thankful that this guy ventured into our lives almost one year ago in January.  He is Craig's buddy and is almost always willing to put up with Natalie's shenanigans.  Like this morning....he dutifully sat in bed with her as she "read" him the stories and showed him pictures from her books.  He is gentle, sweet, peaceful and loyal.  And a good antidote for Angie's attitude.

In my life, I have been very blessed with the amount of travelling I've done.  I've been places, I've seen things and I've gotten a good antidote for the ethnocentrism that seems to exist here in the United States.  I know how lucky and privileged I am to live in a country where I have freedom, safety and independence from tyranny.  But I also have visited countries where they are equally as proud (and rightfully so) of their heritage, history and culture.  

Travelling has given me great perspective.  

And very good stories to tell when I am older.
June 2007: Sipping on summer beer in Munich.

August 2010: Standing in front of the Trevi fountain in Rome.

June 2007: Walking along the remnants of the Berlin Wall.

March 2006: My parents in the square of St. Marks in Venice, Italy.

August 2010: The kick-off concert of the European leg of the U2 tour.

March 2006: Standing under the plaque in room of the Vatican Museum that is dedicated to my great-grandmother.

March 2006: The island of Capri, Italy where my mother and grandmother spent their summers.

My life and my heart are full of love for good people, memories of good times, and lot of hope for the future.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Early Morning Worries

It's 12:38 in the morning and I am awake.

Exhausted and my eyes are thick and heavy but my brain is going 100 miles a minute.

I can't shut it off.

I've done all my usual "tricks" and nothing is working.

So I'm here.  I'm going to list out all my thoughts and my worries in the hope that physically sending them out into the universe will help quiet my head.

1. Family issues are stressing me out.  I take things too personally and look for the negative in every statement.  After being so hurt for so long, I am automatically defensive regardless of the situation.  It's not right and it's not healthy but it's where I'm at right now.

2. The if and when of a second child.  Craig and I talked about this last night over beverages and dessert.  Why do I want another child?  Is it just to have a second chance at a "good" pregnancy and postpartum period....because that's certainly a selfish reason to bring a child into the world.  I want Natalie to have a sibling and Craig and I most definitely have the capability to love and cherish another child.  But another child is expensive and there just never seems to be enough money....we're still dealing with his medical bills and then of course the prospect of another (unpaid) maternity leave is overwhelming.

3. The backyard is a hot mess.  Neither of us seem to have found the time, energy or inspiration to get out there and take care of the weeds and overgrowth that has arisen since the end of summer.  It's atrocious and ugly and embarrassing but yet I haven't done anything about it.  And then that little voice in the back of my head says "your parents NEVER had such a terrible looking backyard - you certainly aren't as good a homeowner as THEY are."

4. Speaking of which, I still have two loads of laundry in the washer and dryer that have been waiting to be finished, folded and put away since Wednesday.

5. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.  I honestly try to put a lot of thought and effort into buying presents for people.  I want to purchase gifts that are significant and personal to the recipient but possibly because I DO put so much thought into the often is a huge source of stress.  I want to make sure that my gifts are well received and enjoyed.  And then there's that awkward moment when you buy a present for someone and they haven't gotten one for you or the other way around.  I know that the Christmas spirit isn't about keeping score, but it bothers me.  And causes me anxiety.

6. We go back to school on Monday and I'm absolutely dreading it.  I have Cross Country practice every day after school until 4:45 and Craig is starting up basketball games next week.  Back to the grind, I suppose.  We've had a lovely week off work and have truly enjoyed being around each other and spending time as a family.  It's going to be very difficult to get back into our hectic schedule.

7. Before Christmas hits I have to get Natalie's toys sorted into keep, donate and box up piles as well as clean out Craig's closet.  His family is very.....ahem......generous when it comes to gift-giving at Christmas and I know that I will be having to find room for lots of new items once the end of December comes about.

8. Church.  I miss having a home in which to practice my faith.  My family has been going to the same church since I was born and there just isn't any other parish that I've visited that feels like HOME the way St. Mike's does.  I get nervous going into new situations where I'm the "outsider" who doesn't know people and that's how I feel at a new church.

9.  Yikes.  When I list out all my worries it seems that I might have a General Anxiety Disorder of some sort.  Which, of course, makes me even more anxious.

10.  Both Craig and I have big birthdays coming up in the new year - I will turn thirty in August and he will be forty come December.  He has his heart set on a big vacation away to a beach for just the two of us.  I am assuming this means leaving the country and being very far away from Natalie.  This makes me nervous - both the prospect of being away from her AND paying for such an extravagant luxury.

11.  Obviously, I'm stressed about money, too.  Isn't EVERYONE stressed about money during the holidays?

I feel a little bit better, I suppose.  It's now 1:00 and I promised myself that I would vent all the frustrations and worries that I could in a span of twenty-two minutes.

Times up.

Hopefully this late night (early morning?) brain dump will do the trick and I'll be able to drift off easily into a very deep sleep.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Play vs. Education

I am a teacher.  My husband is a teacher.

My mother taught preschool and religious education while my father was an auto body repair teacher.

Craig's mother taught second grade and his dad was a high school basketball coach.

My grandfather was a college professor while my grandma taught Italian to students travelling abroad.

With all the emphasis on learning and becoming an intelligent and educated person that runs in our is actually the least I'm focused on right now with Natalie.

I don't worry about teaching her the ABC song or making sure she can count to ten before her second birthday.  We don't practice writing her name or identifying her colors.

All that stuff can wait.

Right now I want her to learn obedience and to mind when Craig or I ask her to clean up her toys or stop petting the dogs.  I want her to feel free to play creatively and without boundaries.  I want her days to be spent running, jumping and building confidence in herself.  She needs to figure out relationships with other children and how to successively navigate group dynamics.

My philosophy is that at this point in time, her learning must be organic and child-led.  She needs to show us what she is interested in playing with and learning about.  Right now she loves all kinds of animals, pretending  to read books, taking care of her babies, cooking in her kitchen and building with blocks.  Sure, we can incorporate counting and vocabulary lessons into her play but it's just not one of my priorities.

This week Natalie and I have rocked babies to sleep, read countless stories and built block towers taller than her only to be knocked down by an excited toddler.  "Boom!" she cries as the blocks scatter across the floor.

Ultimately of course I want her to be a lifelong learner but I just don't think you create one of those by shoving academics down the throat at such a young age.  Both Craig and I are intelligent creatures and value a good education.  But I want her to be passionate about learning new information and I feel like pushing too much too early would do more harm than good in the long term.

There will be time for learning letters and figuring out addition and subtraction.

But it's not now.

Today we play and sing songs.  We build towers and shush our babies to sleep.  We will dance around the living room and play chase through the kitchen.  We will throw balls and pat puppy dogs.

We will cultivate her creativity, her confidence and her curiosity.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Decor

This post has been about three hours in the making. 

It might go down as one of the most exhausting blog posts that I've ever created.

Apparently I filled up all my Blogger storage (or something like that) and had to create a Picasa/Google+ profile in order to be able to upload more photographs.


So I had to download Picasa, then create my profile or whatever and then upload pictures from my computer to the Picasa album.  THEN I could upload them from Picasa to this blog.

And of course my computer did it ever so slooooooowly.

Am I missing something?  Is this how everyone else has to do their pictures?  Am I just really behind on the Blogger times?

All the above, I assume.

Regardless.  Pictures are here.  Enjoy.

Before Natalie was born, I eschewed everything red, white and green for Christmas, instead choosing white, silver and turquoise.  

I was kind of a Christmas decorating snob.

But now that Natalie is here, I feel like I need to just embrace the fact that red, white and green is going to invade my house every year during the month of December.  So that's what we've done.  I've gotten rid of all the old turquoise decorations and we've stocked up on more traditional decor.  I think it will serve us much better in the future because I know once Natalie starts school, she will be bringing home copious amounts of red, white and green tinged projects and creations.


Usually Craig and I don't decorate the house for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving while we watch the Aggie/Texas game but since that tradition is null and void this year....we went ahead and did the majority of the decorating on Monday and Tuesday.

I really tried to utilize vases and decor that we already had and then just add a little bit here and there.  I definitely was on a budget of some sort....and when I say "budget" there was no distinct number, but I knew that I didn't want to break the bank.

I found this printable through Pinterest and it's the "code of the elves" form Elf with Will Ferrell - one of my personal favorite Christmas movies.

I took a vase we already had, filled it partially with cheap ornaments from Garden Ridge and then hooked candy canes over the rim.

Another printable from Pinterest, this one is a verse from the Bible that relates to the birth of Jesus (and is also quoted in the Peanuts Christmas movie).  I gave Craig the basketball nutcracker last year and the candle is from Target.

Another close up of the ornaments in the vase.  Cheap and festive.


Here is the mantel - this space probably gave me the most stress and frustration.  It's such a large area but I didn't want to clutter it up and have it look messy.  This is what I've come up with so far.  I think the wreath we have is beautiful but unfortunately it is too small and doesn't have enough POP for that big rectangle.  I spied a large wreath with big red, silver and green balls on it at Garden Ridge but I think I'll wait until it goes on sale after Christmas to purchase it.

On the left side of the mantle, I pulled out a red vase that contained Valentine's Day flowers at some point and stuck in some silvery beaded branch things that I got for $1.99 at Garden Ridge.  In the vase on the right (again, which I already had) I threw in and layered some pinecones (already owned), silver beaded garland (already owned) and bright red and green ornaments (bought in a big box for $9.99 at Garden Ridge).  On either end are two sparkly green trees that we bought a few years ago from Target.  I also added in some Christmas pictures of Natalie framed in Dollar Store frames which I plan on updated each year with a picture from the previous year.  In the middle are blocks that spell out "Merry Christmas" that I bought at Hobby Lobby for $11 on sale down from $22.

At first when I finished the mantle I wasn't terribly impressed with myself to be real honest.   I thought it looked empty and childish - not nearly as beautiful and fancy as some you see on Pinterest.  But later that evening after we returned from the grocery store, I walked into the living room and saw the mantle lit up with the rest of the living room dark.......and it was beautiful and perfect.  Not too much but not too little - just right.


This one is Craig's baby.  He LOVES his Christmas village.  Since the redecorating of the living room, this brown Ikea bookshelf has been sitting in the entryway because I've been on the hunt for an old sideboard table to refurnish.  We lugged it back into the living room solely to display his village - we've got a fire station, a pub, a brewery, a collection of stores, a house and a ski chalet.  

Yes.  A brewery and a pub.  Don't worry - our collection also contains two police officers so the village is safe from drunken shenanigans.


We have two Christmas trees in our house.  Yes.  Two.  This small one resides on a table in the living room and holds our sentimental/family ornaments.  The other tree which is much larger is in the dining room which faces the street so that can be seen from the street.  That tree is decorated in silver, green and red exclusively and is where the presents are kept until Christmas morning.


Last year after Christmas, Craig and I hit up Target for some sales and found these two cute pillows for the couch.  Cheap and easy decor.....and fun for Natalie to throw off the couch as well.


I put together this little centerpiece because the green apples that normally sit on that silver stand just weren't very festive.  The red charger was a dollar at Garden Ridge and the berry twig things were $1.99.  The candle holders were $2.99, again from Garden Ridge (and I saw something similar for almost ten bucks at Target!).  I'll probably busy some sort of table runner after Christmas - possibly silver or white.

So that's what we've been up to this week.  Lots of cleaning and rearranging mixed in with shopping and playing.  Natalie has been wonderful.  Absolutely wonderful.  Only a handful of frustrating moments - most of them occurring when she is hungry or tired.  We have really enjoyed spending time with her this week and I'll be sad to go back to work on Monday.  

At least only four weeks until Christmas break, right?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Me + U = LUV

Do you remember those mixed tapes or cds you used to make for your friends and boyfriend in high school?

You know the ones.......with "Summertime 99!" scribbled across the front in Sharpie?

I've got one on my iPhone.

It's simply entitled........Craig.........and consists solely of songs that make me feel the warm fuzzies for my hubby.

Beyond cheesy, right?

In all actuality........we're in a really good spot right now.  Life is good.  We are managing the work-marriage-family balance and seem to be riding the tide instead of treading and gasping for air.

Not that we were ever in any real danger, but you know how LIFE can be sometimes.

The past few months we've certainly had some storms thrown our way.  Between the house flooding, volleyball season, the pink eye epidemic, and finally Craig's multiple illnesses and subsequent surgery to remove his gall bladder, it's been the perfect storm for what could have really been a tough time for our marriage......but we're good.

We are solid.

Granted, we are only two and a half years into this whole husband-wife gig but I think we've got a good outlook on who we are and in what our family believes.  We approach everything as a team.  There are no "his" or "her" jobs, there are only tasks to be done and two capable adults available to complete them (and one eager toddler as well).  I can rake and bag leaves on a Saturday morning while Craig trims the hedges.  Craig can switch laundry loads as I fold and put the clothes away.

We work together and honor each other's strengths and talents.

I think that's what has kept our heads and hearts in the right place this fall.  Neither of us keep score in our marriage or tally up the "who has done more for whom" points - that's not how life works.  Most of the time we're doing things 50/50 but there are times, weeks or even months where one of us can only handle 20% and the other has to pick up the 80%.

During my bout with PPD I was hovering at 20% (or less) capability for practically nine months.  I wasn't a good partner.  I wasn't a good teammate.  But Craig never batted an eye nor did he hold it against me.  It wasn't what he had expected to happen after the birth of our first child, but he saw through the disease and still somehow recognized his wife and the woman he loved.  He was willing to shoulder the brunt of the work around the house so that I could get on with the greater task of rebuilding myself.

And then there is the weeks and days surrounding September 19th and the anniversary of the death of Craig's father.  Physically Craig is present with our family and going through the motions of our daily life, but emotionally he is distant and aloof.  There's always something darker lurking behind his otherwise bright blue eyes - a hidden sadness with a tint of anger.  I put aside my own mindless frustrations and complaints and I listen to what he has to say.....and sometimes more importantly, what he doesn't say.

It's a give and take.

So with having said all that, here's what I've compiled onto my cheesy mix playlist that reminds me of my husband.

This Year's Love by David Gray: The final song played at our wedding.  Just the two of us slow dancing in a quiet room as our guests filed out and waited to blow bubbles on us as we boarded the golf cart.  It's peaceful and soothing.  Quiet and solid.

Home by Edward and the Magnetic Zeros: A folksy song perfect for a road trip down 35 or better yet, an isolated backroad at sunset with the windows rolled down.  My favorite lyric includes this little gem "let me come home; home is where ever I'm with you."  Why yes, yes it most definitely is.

Make You Feel My Love by Adele (or Garth Brooks): Just reminds me that I'm not alone.  Even on the darkest of days after Natalie was born, he was right there in my corner - never fighting my battles but always believing that I would come out victorious.

Breathe Me by Sia: There was a certain cold January night many years ago when I made a trek out to Lewisville at 11:00 in the evening to help put my dear friend back on track.  We weren't engaged or even dating but I knew in my heart that he was the one.  I saw both of us as such ridiculously flawed human beings, each struggling with demons but perhaps if we could each see ourselves as the other saw us, then maybe we could slay the dragons together.

You Are the Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne: The last "official" song at our wedding.  Because he is.  And I am too.

Ho Hey by the Lumineers: "I belong with you, you belong with me."  Yes.  I agree.  Another folk style song that we sing along with in the car.

Beautiful Day by U2:  By far our favorite band and this will not be the last time you see them listed in this playlist.  This particular song was our recessional from the wedding and ohmygoodness it WAS a beautiful day.  The weather was perfect, my dress looked fantastic and we were surrounded by all the people we love.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: Another wedding song (picture my bridesmaids walking the aisle) but it was a favorite of mine since introduced to it by one of my college professors.  It's peaceful, wistful but yet deliberate at the same time.  Plus it has the line about "dreams really do come true" which is fitting for both Craig and me.....having the life and family that we have was something that neither of us ever pictured for our futures.  Until we met each other, of course.

If I Ever Leave This World Alive by Flogging Molly: Have you seen PS I Love You?  I cried the ugly cry the first time I saw that movie.  Long story short - a young woman is widowed by her adorable Irish husband but he leaves her all these letters that help her through the grieving process.  When I originally saw the movie I cried because I had no one in my life that loved me enough to do anything sweet like that for me.  It might seem a little strange to include a song from a movie where the main plot line includes a husband dying but there's a line in the song that goes like this: "I'm alright, I'm okay.  Though you have gone from my life.  You said that it would, now everything should be alright."  In my practically constant state of worry about anything and everything, Craig always tells me - it's going to be alright.  And it's always true.  It is always alright.  And in the terrible event that I am left here on this Earth alone and without him......his words will still ring true - I will be alright because I loved him and he loved me.

Blackbird by Sarah McLachlan: Originally a Beatles song but covered acoustically by Sarah McLachlan and played at our wedding as I walked down the aisle.  As I've written about numerous times on this blog, I was quite the hot mess before I met and married Craig.  So I guess that's why the lyrics "take these broken wings and learn to fly.  All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise" spoke to me.  I truly believed that I was such a terrible and broken human being that I was undeserving of any kind of love.  Craig showed me otherwise.

Home by Phillip Phillips: Yeah, it's getting to be a little bit over played on the radio (which is why I mostly listen to my iPod or Pandora) but I like the guitar, the folksy-ness and the message.  It's easy to sing along with in the car, or in Craig's case, to play the drums on the steering wheel along with the beat.

All I Want Is You by U2: Our first dance.  The lyrics are framed in our bedroom.  But it's true....forget all the jewels, the riches or the privilege in the world - I just want him.

I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz: I think this song actually came out about a year ago but I've just now found it through Pandora.  My favorite part is the title - a healthy marriage doesn't just happen; it takes work and dedication.  Things will get hard and ugly in life and I know that at times Craig and I will have to put in extra effort just to make it through the day, the month or the year.

I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons: Both of us have really fallen in love with Mumford and Sons because there is soul in their music and lyrics.  I think what gets me about this song, especially the "I will wait" part is that Craig did.  He saw me evaporate before his eyes and he waited patiently (most of the time) for me to return to him.  Plus.....all of Mumford and Sons music reminds us of what will be our next European adventure - England, Scotland and Ireland.

Faithfully by Journey: Just because it is a gloriously cheesy 80s ballad.  And good to sing out loud in the car.


I did not plan on this being such an enormously long and involved post.  My apologies!

What kinds of songs would you put on a cheesy mix tape (or playlist) for your significant other?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Daybook

For today - Sunday, November 18th

Outside my window.....the streets are calm and dark.  The children have retreated to their warm houses, away from the cool breezes that have finally blown our way.

I am thinking.....of faith and the direction I want to lead my family.  What does faith mean to me and what kind of role do I want it to play in our lives?  I have far more questions than answers but at least the questions are a step in the right direction.

I am thankful.....for pain medication that can take the edge off the migraines that I've been struggling with lately.

In the kitchen.....I've got a huge list of food to purchase for Thanksgiving as well as meals during the week since we are off from school until next Monday.

I am Aggie shirt (Gig 'Em & so glad we BTHO Bama) with black Under Armour shorts.

I am creating.....Pinterest boards for Christmas decor and activity inspirations.

I am with my mother and Natalie tomorrow morning for a family my mother "adopted" for Christmas.  After we are meeting up for lunch with one of our favorite people from my mother's Catholic youth minister years.

I am wondering.....if I should make a doctor's appointment for these migraines because they are getting more frequent and much more debilitating.

I am reading.....I've tentatively started Little Bee again, hoping that I can get further along in it.  I get right to the chapter when the wife discusses her husband's suicide and due to my husband's family history....I simply cannot go any further.  Suicide of a husband and father is too close to my heart at this point in time.

I am hoping.....that snow comes our way this winter.  Natalie + Angie & Ajax frolicking in the snow = the cutest thing ever.

I am looking forward to.....I don't know.  I really don't.  I typed that statement and felt a twinge of anxiety flare through my chest.  About what, I'm not quite sure.

I am write through the blahs and the frustrations and just put words out there, imperfections and all.

Around the house.....Natalie stayed in her pajamas all day while Craig and I meandered about putting up Christmas decorations.  We ended our night with her playing pretend with her Little People nativity scene.  My favorite part was when she made the donkey eat from the fake food.......complete with lip smacking sounds.

I am pondering.....haircuts for myself and for Natalie.

A favorite quote for today.....
"Round my hometown, memories are fresh
Round my hometown, ooh, the people I've met
Are the wonders of my world, are the wonders of my world."
Hometown Glory by Adele

Not the most thought-provoking or necessarily insightful when put onto paper (or the interwebs) but this song has been floating through my head for the past week.  As I drive through my own hometown, things are a-changing.  Buildings are ripped down and homes demolished - all in the effort to improve the highway system and relieve the large amount of traffic congestion.  I get that.  I wholeheartedly agree that something had to be done to fix the freeway and interchanges.  But to see the destruction of the restaurants that I frequented after a Friday night football game or that movie theater where I had my first kiss with Justin?  Breaks my heart.  I feel like a little piece of my childhood is lost with every piece of land that turns into a roadway.  

I know.  Dramatic much?  Probably.  But when things have looked the same for 29's hard to accept the drastic change.

One of my favorite things.....the Florence and the Machine radio station on Pandora.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Thanksgiving celebrations obviously.  And football watching.  Most likely some Christmas shopping.....but definitely NOT on Black Friday.

Not Your Father's History Channel

Maybe it's the fact that I've been sucked back into the academic world of teaching history to seventh graders but I have been a big time History Channel nerd recently.  

They have had some AMAZING series on lately, starting with The Men Who Built America which chronicled the rise of the mega-businessman through the Industrial Revolution of America and ended finally with the break up of monopolies by Teddy Roosevelt.

This week started Mankind - The Story of All of Us which tells the story of man from the most primitive of times but yet how each generation and civilization built upon one another to form the world we know today.

It's all rather fascinating and I'm really enjoying geeking out over it.

Because let's be honest........I'm a nerd at heart.  I think people at work have always kind of seen me as the young, (possibly) pretty volleyball coach who also teaches PE but never really as the intellectual powerhouse that I can be when it comes to history and math.  One day at lunch.......and I can't really remember HOW we got onto the topic........but we were discussing Germany, Berlin and how it all was divided after World War II with the Berlin Wall through the city and the much greater Iron Curtain that was shielded over most of eastern Europe.  

Again.  I really don't know how it came up.  Possibly vacations people have taken to Europe or a place that a teacher lived?  I guess it's not really that important.


One of the teachers asked for a little bit of clarification on the separation of Germany and how the wall came to be and all that.

Oh boy.

I launched into a lecture about the division of Germany after World War II between the UK, the Americans, France and the Soviet Union.  I talked about how the Soviets only joined up with the Allied forces because in Stalin's mind, we were the lesser of two evils with the much greater evil being Hitler.  I explained how the city of Berlin was in the Soviet's side of Germany and had to be divided up as well because the Americans were leery of giving complete control of that strategic city to the Soviets.  Then there was the part about how all the East Berliners were fleeing to the west side of the city because, you know.....democracy > communism, which of course made the Soviets angry so overnight they laid out barbed wire throughout the city, thus trapping the East Berliners in the eastern portion of the city.  I went on through the building of the wall, the no-man's-land in between and the numerous escape attempts and even the airdrops the Americans made in an effort to deliver food and other necessities to the beleaguered East Berlin captives.

As I sheepishly wrapped up my diatribe on what happens to be one of my most favorite subjects, I noticed that everyone was kind of staring at me....many in bewilderment and amusement.

The lady to whom I had been speaking said "you are the coolest nerd I've ever met."

I beamed.

Yes.  I am a nerd.

And in closing to my nerdiness.....I found this today on Pinterest.

Bah Humbug

I cleaned house today.

Both figuratively and literally.

It's been MONTHS since I have really BEEN on Pinterest, if you know what I mean.  But since the holiday season is officially upon us come Friday, I figured I better get things situated and ready for the onslaught of crafts, baking and decorating.  I deleted a TON of pins that are just outdated or not really conducive to my life right now.  I also separated out my Halloween/fall items from my Christmas stuff so that I don't have to search through 47 different pictures of decorated pumpkins just to get to the sticky bread recipe I make on Christmas morning.

Around the house Craig and I were able to clean out the storage closet under the stairs and we figured that if I was already in there cleaning.......why not go ahead and get out the Christmas stuff?!

Oh my goodness.

So we have one Christmas tree decorated (with Natalie's help) in the living room and the Christmas village is also up on the bookcase behind the couch.  I've got a list going of things we need to purchase (or make) for our big grocery and decor shopping trip on Tuesday morning (also known as PAYDAY).

I also solved one of my biggest problems during the decorating process  - you know, the problem that occurs when you're unpacking boxes and going "where in the world does this go?" I've decided that this year after we've got everything situated and looking pretty in the right spot........I'm taking a picture of all the major spots for decor in my house so that I can remember what it all looks like put together.

Genius idea, right?

Or possibly a little bit over-zealous?

Whatever.  Either way, it's happening in my house this year.

But back to Pinterest.  Since I was getting the decorating bug pretty hard while simultaneously having the urge to purge, I cleaned "house" through all my boards and really eliminated superfluous items and only kept things that I would actually need or use.

Do you want to know a secret though?

I HATE decorating for Christmas.

Seriously.  If it was up to me, we'd put up the Christmas tree and be done with it.  But oh no, not Craig.  He has his village, TWO trees and he's like the Griswalds when it comes to lights outside.  And even more so now with Natalie.

I just don't like the feeling that my house is out of order which has to happen in order for Christmas decorating to happen.  God bless her sweet heart, my mother would decorate the ENTIRE house during the holidays and although as a young child I enjoyed helping my own house it just causes me stress.

So we don't do an extreme overhaul but the house will be festive.

I'm more excited about taking Natalie to see Santa.....

Well.....wait a minute.  Let's talk about that Santa guy right quick.  I personally, was terrified of him as a small child. And who can blame me?

"What's that Mom?  You want me to go sit on that strange guy's lap and tell him what I want for Christmas?"

I mean.....come on......think about it.  Don't we generally teach our children NOT to talk to random strangers, much less sit on their laps?  Regardless, I was scared of Santa and if Natalie becomes frightened too.....I'm not going to push the issue with her.

I totally understand the fear - quite frankly I still don't like strangers and have a very hard time talking and interacting with people that I don't know all that well.  I mean, I DO it without coming across as a total imbecile (I hope) but that doesn't mean that it comes easily or is comfortable for me.  Making small talk in an unfamiliar situation is definitely a struggle for me - which is possibly why I like being here and writing in this safe little spot.

Anyways.  We're going to do the Santa thing and probably the ICE sculptures at the Gaylord hotel since the theme is Madagascar this year and Natalie loves animals.  I'd like to do some sort of baking or craft with her as well.

But first I need to get through Thanksgiving with the in-laws.