Thursday, May 24, 2012

iPhone Photo Dump

At the end of April we went to a joint birthday party for the daughters of our friends and it was Natalie's first time to venture into a jump house.  She was tentative at first but by the end of the party I couldn't get her out of it.  At one point, all the big girls would scream in unison while Natalie just looked at them with big saucer eyes.  When the girls quieted down, Natalie looked around at them and screamed - she has to be just like the big kids.

Craig made the mistake of eating his Sonic Oreo blast on the couch and shortly after he sat down our three little creatures descended on him, begging for bites of his sweet treat.

Just the two of us playing around with the cool front camera on my iPhone4.

You can tell it's track season when I start to get awesome sock tan like this.
You know you're jealous.

Sorry the picture is so blurry - it's hard to get her to sit still right now.  If you notice, she has her fingers in her ears.  This is a new trick that she learned recently - I'm not really sure where she got it.  The other day we were driving home from school and I was jamming out in the front seat to Eminem and Rihanna.  I pulled into the garage, cut the engine, got out and opened the back door where she sits in her carseat.  When I opened the door, she had those fingers in her ears, her chin tucked down and she was glaring at me from underneath some very angry eyebrows.  Apparently.......she is not a hip hop fan.  Duly noted kiddo.

The newest (oldest) pair of Converse that she has grown into.  This particular pair belonged to my nephews Alexander (8) and Ford (5) before being passed onto Natalie who will pass them back to baby Ian when she outgrows them. 

She loves to sit in her rocking chair and "read" all her stories....which mostly consists of her babbling incoherently to herself.  Adorable nonetheless.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Just One Little Question...

Most recently my daughter has become a pro at the "clear off the bookshelves and bring everything to Momma or Daddy" game and we play this nearly every evening.  Today was no different except the book that she brought me was something she had proudly held out for me to grab - it was a reflective book titled "Love Letters To My Baby" given to me by my dear friend Emily.  Throughout the book there are lots of questions and sentence starters that are to elicit thoughtful and insightful responses from the mother regarding her pregnancy and life shortly after the baby has been born.  Although I worked my way through most of the book as I flipped through the pages today, I noticed a question had been left blank.

In regards to the day that Natalie was born:

"Of all the emotions of the day, I mostly felt..."

There was no written response.

No glowing report of how I was instantly infatuated with the beauty of my child.  Nothing mentioning how I felt an immediate bond with my daughter.  There were no positive remarks about how my life was now complete after giving birth to such a perfect baby.

If I was to write down the first words that pop into my brain after reading that question....


How can I write that down for her to someday read?  I have a hard enough time adequately conveying the dangerous and terrifying amount of turmoil that I went through after her birth.  How do I explain such a mysterious and confusing disease like Postpartum Depression?  Do I tell her that I didn't initially have that rush of love and affection?  How I didn't even feel like she was really my daughter? 

I have been doing really well lately - keeping body and soul to mind while still being present and active in my husband and daughter's lives.  But now I sit here with tears in my eyes because of an innocent question in a lovely book.

Because someday she will ask.  She will want to know the story of her birth and the impact she had on our lives.  Someday she will fall in love and have a baby and she will ask about my pregnancies and my deliveries.

And what will I say?  How will I explain my reaction to my daughter without making her feel like the cause of my turmoil?

I am most likely getting ahead of myself.  After all, the girl isn't even out of diapers yet.  

But the fact remains - no matter how much time goes by or how our relationship might evolve over time, my Postpartum Depression will remain a part of her birth story.  Like that one gray cloud that mars an otherwise crystal clear blue sky.  

I know that right now, at only fourteen months postpartum, I am still intimately close to the battle.  The past year and a half has been grueling and intense.  At times it all seemed hopeless because that light at the end of the tunnel was half a galaxy away.  

But as time ticks by, just as with the scars from my appendectomy on my belly or the one that decorates my elbow from the time I fell off the curb in college, the battle scar on my heart from the year after Natalie's birth will fade.  It won't be as noticeable nor will it flare up and ache as often.  It will become just another "war story" in just another chapter of my life.

Time will heal all my wounds, the ones that are visible and the ones that hide in my heart. 

And someday when Natalie is grown and a beautiful young woman with the prospect of children in her immediate future, I will tell her my story.  I will share with her my fears and my challenges.  About how I was so overcome with love for her that I wanted the absolute BEST for her....and then subsequently wound myself up into a pretzel trying to be the perfect mother.  I will weave in the lessons I learned about the true meaning of partnership, independence and humility.

After talking with Craig, maybe I'm making too big a deal out of that one tiny little question.  Maybe Natalie won't care all that much or take anything personal from my experiences.  Maybe she'll be completely different from me and wear an armor made of Teflon whereas I am coated in glue.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Morning Musings

- We took family pictures on Saturday the 12th with Natalie and the two pups.  The morning started off with us getting a twenty minute rain/mist delay but I think we were able to get some pretty adorable pictures of all our family.  My mother accompanied us as the child-dog wrangler and since it was Mother's Day weekend, we were even able to have her jump in a few shots with me and Natalie for a three generations picture.

- I took two naps on Mother's Day.  We also ate at Babe's for lunch and I chowed down on fried chicken, yummy biscuits and lots of mashed potatoes.  Craig, Natalie and the pups got me a super awesome printer that prints glossy pictures so that I can finish up Natalie's baby book at home without having to run to Target every five minutes to print off a picture here and there.  But I still must say........the best part of the day were the two naps.

- Natalie officially has a "lovey" that she has grown fiercely attached to in the past few days.  It's a giraffe that I bought during her first trip to the zoo over Christmas break.  As any good mother does, I make the giraffe talk to Natalie, I give it emotions and move it's head around.  When Natalie throws the giraffe down on the ground, I make the giraffe give her a guilt trip about being rough and violent with her very favorite friend.  The giraffe's name is Spot.

- Friday was 6th grade Field Day at my school which, along with a 6th grade teacher, I am in charge of.  All morning I was instructing volunteers, directing traffic and hauling my rear end all over the fields at school making sure things were running smoothly.  Each year we invite some 8th grade National Junior Honor Society students to haul water, play games and lead stations.  This year's 8th graders are a very special group of young people - great attitudes, incredible athletes and all around FUN kids.  At the end of the Field Day as the 6th graders were all sitting outside getting their room assignments for movies in the afternoon, I noticed some of my 8th grade boys lurking around me looking incredibly suspicious.  Please keep in mind, these are kids that I once had in 6th grade PE and then have coached in 7th and 8th grade Cross Country and Track - I've watched them grow up and I'm the one teacher they have had all three years of middle school.  As one of my favorite boys came after me with a bucket of water I tried desperately to get away but to no avail.  I.  WAS.  SOAKED.  They got me from head to toe COVERED with water.  I've spent the past two hours waddling around the school in bare feet because my tennis shoes were in the dryer.  Coming from THOSE kids, I know the intent wasn't malicious but instead I took it as a sign of affection....right?

- In the upcoming month, I have no less than six doctors appointments of some sort scheduled for Natalie and myself.  The cyst on my hand has come back so I'm going in for that this afternoon, on June 1st we are taking Natalie back in to check on her ears to see if the infection is finally gone, June 5th we are going to a hematologist to see about her low iron count, I have my yearly OB appointment, a six month dentist cleaning and then an eye doctor appointment because I have a hard time seeing while driving - especially at night.  And two of those appointments (hand and ears) could potentially lead to some sort of surgery this summer.  Yikes.  It's a good thing Craig has a 200 team tournament this weekend - we'll be using that money to pay off some medical bills.

- I'm making a plan to read all the books gifted to me through my mother that have been collecting dust on my bookshelf and have never been read.  I'm starting with The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells (who wrote Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood) and so far I'm eight chapters in and absolutely loving it.  I don't know if it's the way she writes or the Louisiana culture that she writes about, but I just love getting lost in her writing.  I think there is a little piece of her storytelling that also reminds me of my mother as a young girl growing up in parts of Louisiana with a mystical mother herself.

- Craig and I had a date on Saturday night and I wanted to go somewhere new and different and OUTSIDE of our little town because I didn't want to see any students or parents.  We went to La Hacienda Ranch for Mexican food and I have to say........I was a little disappointed.  I've always heard such great things about the food and the drinks but it just left MUCH to be desired.  Oh well.  It was still a nice evening out with my husband.

- Thankfully this week is a lot less crazy than last week.  A girls night tomorrow followed up by volleyball on Wednesday night and then a fun lunch with my friend Kate and my mother to celebrate the health of Kate's darling little girl Audrey on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I'm sitting here at the computer in the kitchen with the sunlight streaming in through the blinds and a cup of hot coffee resting on the table in front of me. 

The house, for once, is still.  The pups are outside sniffing and poking around in the grass.  Craig is coaching his teams at a basketball tournament.  Natalie has been at Grandmama's house since 5:30 yesterday afternoon.

Except for the hum of the washer and the clicking of this keyboard, there is silence in my home.

As much as I love the mornings where there are two adults and three little creatures crawling around our bed, I crave mornings like this.  

Sometimes I desperately miss the solace of living on my own.  The independence to wake up slowly, cherish every drop of my coffee - maybe even have a second cup.  The ability to sit out on the porch with a book and watch the world wake up.  The thought of a whole day full of possibilities that stretched out before me.  No commitments, no tantrums, no grocery shopping.  Just me, floating through the day, taking advantage of whatever came up - whether it was meeting up and lunching with a friend or just hunkering down in my bed for a Lifetime movie marathon.

As wistful as I get for those days, I look around my living room at the stray turquoise Converse next to her little white rocking chair where she loves to sit and read her precious books.  I see the tiny pink Crocs that were so lovingly gifted to us from a very dear friend and her adorable daughter.  There are two dog crates which hold her favorite playmates, whom she excitedly helps release when we return home from school or any other trip.  I love those things - the little signs of the precious baby girl who tromps around the house with such determination and joy.

Life is a give and take.  In order to have the love, security and company that I craved while living in that apartment, I had to give up a certain amount of independence and freedom.  But this is just a phase and I know that it will all circle back at some point in time.  Soon enough, she will be eight years old and free from any sort of carseat, able to get in and out of the car on her own which will make shopping easier and faster.  Then she will be sixteen and cruising around town with her friends and I will no longer be her chauffeur attending to all the demands of an active tween and teenager.  Then she will be twenty-three and out in the world on her own, inviting me over for dinner in her newly acquired apartment, proudly displaying the "grown-up" set of dishes and servingware she purchased for herself.  

But in the meantime, before I get to all those things, I'm going to enjoy this quiet moment by myself.  


For whatever reason, this ending of the school year has made me more nostalgic than most.  I think it's the first year where I've been acutely aware of how long I have been a member of this community and the impact that I've had on these children and their families.  Children that I student taught math to when they were in 6th grade are now graduating high school and going on to do amazing things.  

Craig and I had a wonderful date last night - we had delicious Mexican food followed up by watching the Rangers game at a local sports bar while having a couple of Coronas.  While we were sitting there watching the end of the game, a gorgeous young server walked by our table and she and I both did a double take.  She stopped and asked if we were middle school coaches at the local school.  She was always a quiet girl, but a phenomenal volleyball player and even better student.  She was one of those girls who flew under the radar in middle school but I knew that once she got to high school she would blossom into something remarkable.  And that "remarkable" turns out to be attending the University of Edinburg in the fall to study International Relations and Arabic.  I was stunned, impressed........and jealous.  What an amazing opportunity for this young woman.  At eighteen I NEVER would have had the guts, the determination or the confidence to attend or even apply to a school and an experience like that.  

As we were driving home last night, listening to U2 on my iPod, I was filled with the memories off being 10 weeks pregnant and sitting at the comeback concert of U2 at the Olympic stadium in Torino, Italy.  And years before that of cavorting through Amsterdam, Germany and London with a good friend of mine from high school.  And even before that, one night of delicious drinking and dancing with my parents at a fabulous restaurant outside of Florence, Italy.  

I have lived.  I did go do things that required guts, determination and confidence.  I have seen the world and yet.......I still wanted to return here.  Out of all the places that I've seen and been, home is here in north Texas.  It's not glamorous or filled to the brim with culture and history, but it's home.  I can drive through the Metroplex and see myself from a small child to the adult that I am today.

As we were pulling into the garage and getting out of the car, I stopped Craig and told him how I was a teensy bit jealous of this young woman's opportunity to study abroad and have that delicious taste of freedom and independence.  How I had that little ache in my tummy that reminded me that I too was smart and strong enough to have done something like that at her age.  How there was a little voice inside my head that told me I should have and could have done something much greater with my life - something other than attending college a mere 45 minutes from my parents and then becoming a teacher married to another teacher living deep in the heart of suburbia.  

Then something occurred to me.  Perhaps I could have done "more" with my life, whatever that "more" might mean.  But then I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to be a part of these kids' lives.  I wouldn't have been able to use my gift of inspiration, encouragement, dedication and perseverance to teach them vital life lessons through coaching and in the classroom.  Perhaps my role on this Earth isn't to go and do these "GREAT" things out in the world, but instead to stay here in my little town, in my little house and empower young men and women so that one day THEY can go on and do and be those amazing things.

I'll never get the chance to be eighteen and living abroad for college but I take great pride in the possibility that in some small way, I was able to help create a strong, independent, confident and intelligent young woman that is taking advantage of this opportunity.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Good morning!

7:40 am on a Saturday morning in May. Daddy is at a basketball tournament so this is what we girls are doing.

Last night was the 8th grade awards banquet and formal. I chose not to go in lieu of dinner and a margarita with my husband and daughter after an absolutely CRAZY Field Day that included (among other things) a broken arm, two referrals, and three buckets of water poured on yours truly. Sigh.

I'm a little sad that I missed out on seeing all my lovely girls all dressed up and receiving their awards but I needed to rest and relax.

Besides....the years will fly by and soon enough I will be shopping for a formal dress with Natalie while Craig will be screening her potential dates. Ha!

But in the meantime...we are going to work on our animal noises and wooden puzzles this morning.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Line in the Sand

Growing up as a Catholic, I don't have the best repertoire of Bible verses ready to soothe or inspire the soul at any given moment.  I have a great understanding of the general concepts presented but lack put it in terms of writing a formal research paper....bibliography to prove my thoughts, ideas and beliefs.

But I do remember one:

Let he who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.

I am painfully aware of my shortcomings and my failings as a human living on this Earth.  I know that I do not always speak with the kindest of words, make the best decision with everyone else in mind, I often speak before I think and sometimes the words that I DON'T say aren't kind in nature either.  It is plainly stated throughout the Bible that there is one true and just Judge and I'll fill you in on a little secret.........IT AIN'T ME.

My sins are no better and no worse than anyone else on this planet.

So here's my quandary - where does a person draw the line?  At what point does someone, who just by the nature of being human, is a sinner report on the "sins" of another person.  By alerting the proper authorities to the negative behaviors of a peer, am I saying that I am without sin and therefore trying to cast the proverbial first stone?

Through the Bible Study of 1 Peter that I participated in this spring, I delved deeply into submission and suffering - which oftentimes go hand in hand.  The idea of suffering is no stranger to me but I didn't struggle with that subject.  I know that suffering is part of life but I also have suffered enough to understand that there is always good that comes from the bad.  As the only saying goes - the sun always rises.  There is always a greater purpose and as the eternal optimist that I strive to be, I constantly keep an eye on the silver lining in any given situation.  How can I become a better person through this struggle and strife?  What lesson can I learn and apply to future situations as well as people who are struggling around me?

But the submission section, particularly the submitting to authority when the authority isn't what you consider "just" or even "qualified" is where I struggle.  Is it prideful of me to believe that I could do a better job leading?  Am I reporting a poor leader with the most honest of intentions?  Peter states that we are to be subject to those in power above us because in doing so, we are being submissive to God the Father who placed those people in those positions of authority over us.  As my Bible Study leader so aptly put it - respect the position even when you find it difficult to respect the person.

On the larger scale, I have no problem or personal issue with accepting a president as the leader of our country despite the fact that I might have differing political views.  I am an active citizen who believes in making my voice heard during the election year and if the results don't sway in my favor, I am disappointed but my job as a citizen is also to accept, respect and pray for the president of my country.  But on the other hand, when the authority figure is close by and their lack of leadership impacts your daily life, at what point do you stop being submissive to the position and begin voicing your opinion of dissent?  Who am I to judge that the manner in which I conduct myself in my day to day life is any better than another person?

In essence, where is that illusive line in the sand?  Where does one finally say that enough is enough and things have crossed the line and it's my time to do or say something?  There is a reason that the proverbial "line" isn't drawn on the concrete, on hardwood or any other solid surface - life isn't that cut and dry or that black and white.  People, feelings, situations,'s all constantly changing, morphing, growing and shrinking.  What was so seemingly set in stone yesterday has drifted away this morning and transformed into a new beast to deal with and conquer.

I don't believe that when Peter was writing to the exiles in Biblical times that he was demanding that they forever shut their mouths and accept whatever leadership was in charge.  As with everything in life, there is an appropriate time and place for healthy discussion and dissenting voices to be heard.  Through copious amounts of prayer, reflection and conferring with trusted advisers, I know that now is the time for me to speak up.  I pray that I will use my voice to convey concern, respect, truthfulness and above all - dignity for all parties involved.

And above all, I believe this is about intent.  After quite a bit of soul searching, I believe in my intentions.  I believe that I want the best for everyone.....although the definition of "best" might be different of some.  I know that God has drawn me to and through this struggle for a reason - one that I haven't fully realized yet - but that I will become a stronger person as a result.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A blogger....who mothers

I know my blog isn't very big, impressive or widely read at all.  I know that in the big pond that is the "blogosphere," I am a very, very tiny little fish.  But I'm here and I'm writing posts and contemplating life and keeping long distance family and friends in tune with my family.  I certainly don't write for any sort of recognition because if I were.....I'm not being very successful.  I write and post because it's a creative outlet for me to reflect on my life and the world around me.  

In short - it makes me happy.

Happy to write and happy to get a peek into the lives of other women.

There's a little voyeur in all of us, isn't there?  That's what blogging is all about.  The grown-up and socially acceptable way to be a "peeping Tom."

But in all seriousness, there is a infographic going around out there on the interwebs that tries to break down the power structure of the so-called "Mommy Bloggers."  Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress wrote her own response regarding the compartmentalizing of women when you refer to a woman as simply a "mommy blogger."

Now.  I don't really feel qualified to weigh in with the heavyweight bloggers about the misuse of the term "mommy blogger" but I do have some thoughts as to why the phrase makes me twitch.

The term "mommy blogger" does tend to put women in THAT corner.  It seems to feed into the ideal that once a woman becomes a mother, the rest of their life, being and soul ceases to exist.  That their sole focus in everything that they do must be centered around that child and nothing else. 

To me, that notion is suffocating.

Awhile back during the weeks that I was involved in a Bible Study, the idea of feminism came up and one woman in particular was very angry at feminists in general because she believed that through their social movement, more pressure was placed on women to be anything and everything to every person in their life.  Not only do women now have to be the main caregiver to the children, but also be independent and work outside the home to contribute financially to the family.  


This caused me a little bit of pause.  I was raised in a home where I was taught that I could do everything my two older brothers could do which included mowing the lawn and changing the oil in my car.  There were no set of different expectations placed on my simply because I was female.  Was my mother a secret feminist trying to breed and groom a young woman to believe she could do anything or be everything she desired but yet ultimately setting her up for disappointment because the expectations were too great for any person to effectively manage?  I don't think so.  I think my mother saw me the same as she saw my brothers - as a strong, capable young adult who can accomplish great things.  Whether it was mowing the lawn, cooking dinner, educating students, or throwing a fabulous party - my mother has confidence in my God given abilities.

I don't think the true feminists are insisting that we all break the mold and get every young woman into the corporate office to smash that glass ceiling, while simultaneously whipping up healthy and gourmet meals served on silver platters every night.  I think the feminists were like my mother - just wanting to see and be seen as capable adults who can achieve great things whether it is in the classroom, the office building or in the home.  It's not about making women live their lives THIS way or THAT way but instead YOUR way - a way that is fulfilling to you.

So how do I see my idea of "feminism" and my problem with the term "mommy blogger" relating to each other?  I guess it's all wrapped up in placing a person in a box and putting a label on it.  You have a blog. You are a mother.  And that's the end of the story.  I think feminists want women to be seen as more than the sum of their parts.  Sure we are mothers or wives or teachers.....but above all that - we are capable adults who are putting our thoughts out there into the world, hoping to inspire someone, providing support to a friend in need and always dealing out a healthy dose of humor when necessary.

So in closing.......

I am a mother.  Not because I simply conceived a child or gave birth a little more than a year ago, but because I am Natalie's source of comfort, giggles, joy and the guardian who makes important life decisions for her well-being at this point in time.  Even though she's not real consistent using the word quite yet.....she knows me as ""  

I am a blogger.  Even though I have only nine followers, every day....uh....WEEK I am putting my thoughts into somewhat cohesive sentences and hitting PUBLISH and sending my voice out into the universe.  I write about my struggle with PPD, anxiety and OCD.  I write about something funny that happened at work.  I write about my personal challenges and the difficulties I've faced in my life.  I write about the ups and downs of being married.  And yes....I write about parenting and my daughter.

But of all those things that I write about, not ONE of them defines and encompasses everything that I am.

I am not just an anxious, over-analyzing, always organizing hot mess.

I am not just a teacher.

I am not just my past, my present or my future.

I am not just Craig's wife.

And I am not simply Natalie's mother.

I am just Laura......a woman living her life who happens to write and blog.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Picture Perfect

At the top of the stairs in our home, I've started a big wall of black and white family pictures framed in those floating frames from Target.  Part of my summer picture goal is to add a few more recent pictures of Natalie and our family to this wall.  I desperately wish that I could be more interested in the fine tuning aspects of photography - the lighting, the settings, using one of those big lenses, and the post production editing, but there is just SO much information out there that it really stresses me out.  So instead, I just hire fabulous people to take wonderful portraits of my child and family for me.  Luckily, affordable camera technology has gotten much better since the Polaroid days and even with my standard Canon Power Shot I was able to snap the following pictures of my family.

Transfixed by the trash men going up and down our street.

Sigh.  Will her hair EVER do what I want it to do?

One of my favorites - she is so concentrated.

Angie has so much soul in her eyes.

All three of them checking out events going on at the neighbor's house.

If I do say so myself....she is a gorgeous little girl.

My favorite picture of the pups....noses to the ground, but eyes up at Momma.

Both Angie and Ajax are so patient with Natalie and always giving her kisses.

Ajax is very dignified.

I am going to edit this picture in some way - maybe crop it and put it in black and white - and give it to Craig for Father's Day from Natalie.

Blurry picture....but my baby got some sweet new kicks.  I know, I know!  She's barely a year old and already has two pairs of Nikes.  But I don't spend a lot on her clothes and awesome sneakers are pretty important to our family.

While Natalie and I were rolling around on the ground and playing the other night, I looked up and saw this. My husband surrounded by the two pups.  What a life those dogs lead.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Summer Vacation

Last week I finally allowed myself to revel in the close proximity we are to summer vacation.  As a teacher, you never want to start counting down the days TOO early because then time will pass much too slowly.  But seeing as how I finalized my lesson plans for the last three weeks of school (one more week of volleyball with JUST 6th grade girls and two weeks of PE's Greatest Hits plus three days of finals....if you're curious) I can officially embrace my impending vacation and start making plans.

So what is on my personal list as well as our family list for the summer vacation?

1. REORGANIZE THE KITCHEN: Obviously this is on my own personal list and I am hiring the help of my uber organized and efficient mother to assist in this task.  I have a great big pantry that has lots of space, but right now it's just not utilized in the best possible way.  I need to clean out some party supplies and store them elsewhere as well as invest in lots of storage jars for pasta, snacks and baking supplies.  Also, the people who previously owned our house chose to haphazardly line the cabinets and drawers with the stick on liner paper which not only looks tacky but is coming up in several locations.

2. BEAUTIFY THE BACKYARD: Our backyard isn't huge by any means and our green space back there is limited, but what we lack in grass we make up in POOL.  Having direct access to a swimming pool in the Texas summers is not only practical and invaluable, but it also makes us incredibly popular.  Why would my friends want to go to the public pool when my house is open for free?  Unfortunately surrounding our pool is a hot mess right now.  We have what could be beautiful landscaping if it wasn't for the mild winter that we had this year - due to the lack of cold, hard freezes the weed population in this area is booming and the crevices between the rock landscaping is no exception.  In addition to hacking through the weeds and general overgrowth that has accumulated, Craig and I have plans to purchase a huge hanging umbrella that would cover a large portion of the patio so that Natalie can have a space to cool off after swimming or to play at her water table without her skin getting fried.  I would also like the little gray bistro table and chairs that I was swooning over at Target the other week, but for right now I'm happy with my two new lounge chairs and table that will be perfect for tanning and reading while Natalie takes her afternoon naps.

3. WINKIDS CLASS WITH NATALIE: I have a very dear friend Jill with whom I have shared the ups and downs of PPD and first time motherhood over the past year.  We met during my first year at my current middle school - it was my first year as a head volleyball coach and PE teacher and hers as an assistant coach and Spanish teacher.  Her daughter Joley is about six months older than Natalie but just as active, determined and full of energy.  Jill and I are planning on signing the girls up for a weekly toddler gym style class where they can get out all their energy, play together and oh yeah - time for Jill and I to sit around and chat as well.

4. PICTURES AND BABY BOOK: I have tried my best to be diligent in the way that I keep track of and organize the first year of Natalie's life.  On my flash drive I have a folder of pictures devoted to her first year and then within that folder, there are subfolders marked for each month.  Now that she is a year old, I'm switching to "Spring 2012" and then "Summer 2012" etc. because I think that will make things a little easier.  In addition to the baby book that I have kept for her which denotes all the milestones and special events of her first year, I've also been putting all the pictures we take here, there and all around in a big black picture album.  Unfortunately, I ran out of space in the album around her baptism which was when she was eight months old.  I've got my work cut out for me this summer for sure.  I want to print off the remainder of the pictures from the past five months (plus whatever we take between now and June) and put them in a new album.  I also need to finish up gluing in random pictures from the first year into her baby book.  The hardest part is finding the time to sort through the pictures and put them into some cohesive order for the album but if I can send Natalie away with Craig for the day, hopefully I can buckle down and get it all situated.

5. VACATION: If you go back through this blog over the course of it FOUR or FIVE years?!.....then you will notice a theme with Craig and I - we absolutely love to travel.  What we save on buying expensive clothes and stuff for the house, we spend on fabulous vacations.  Sigh.  But alas, with the addition of Natalie to our family, this year's vacay will be slightly different.  Craig tossed around the idea of the two of us jetting off to San Francisco for a few days in August for my birthday but even though I was excited about the prospect of discovering a city I've never been to - the thought of getting on a plane seemed exhausting and daunting.  Then we got a Save the Date in the mail from his cousin.  She is getting married at the end of June at a beautiful resort on a lake in Hill Country near Austin.  A lightbulb went off over my head.  Why don't we just make a vacation out of his cousin's wedding?  It's right after Craig's big summer NCAA sanctioned basketball tournament and he'll be itching to get out of town for a few days.  What's better than cruising down I35 to San Antonio, spending a few nights on the Riverwalk and a day at Sea World with the munchkin before heading up to the wedding?  Brilliant!  And then he added on this little bit - since his mother and sister will also be attending the wedding, they're going to bring Natalie back to DFW while Craig and I meander around Austin for a few days and nights and have a proper momma-daddy vacation.  Perfect.  Now it sounds all good in theory but then I realized that we're heading to San Antonio and Austin IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY IN TEXAS.  Yikes.

6. OLYMPIC LOCKDOWN: It never fails.  Every four years I sit on my couch in the living room or on my bed and I cry at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  I think that since Americans are SO patriotic and proud of the freedom that we enjoy here in the states that sometimes we forget about the fact that other citizens in other countries are JUST as proud of their own country as we are of ours.  I cry at the ONE proud competitor from the smallest and poorest of nations.  The one who enters the gigantic stadium surrounded by only a few important coaches and handlers, proudly waving the flag of his nation.  The one who has, in all reality, absolutely NO real chance at earning a medal, but promises to make his entire country proud just by competing to the best of his ability.  I eat that crap up and by the end of the night I am a tearful mess on the couch, waxing poetic about the global community, pride for my country and the beauty of how sports can bring us together.  Seriously.  Ask Craig.  Or Lauren, my old college roomie.  Together, she and I were on Olympic Lockdown for the 2004 Olympics which included us not leaving our apartment for an entire weekend.  No lie.  We only ate food that we could find in our cabinets or could have delivered to us.  On that note - did you know that Jason's Deli in Denton delivers?  Genius.  We watched the bios of the athletes and by the end of the two weeks, we could recite the specific personality differences between a rifleman and an athlete that uses a shotgun.  There might have even been an evening spent in Chili's where we badgered the bartender to change the televisions from baseball (booooorrrring) to the Olympics (huzzah!).  Or maybe the night where Michael Phelps was poised to break the Olympic swimming medal record............yet there was a brand spanking new episode of Nip/Tuck on as well.  This was well before the age of DVR (plus we were broke ass college kids) so we recorded Nip/Tuck in the living room and had the Olympics on in Lauren's bedroom and spent an hour running back and forth between rooms trying to keep up with both.  I know, I probably sound ridiculous about my love and addiction to the Olympics but as an athlete and someone who sees all the wonderful and positive aspects of sports and competition, I revel in the world wide camaraderie and collective cheers.  Oh.  And on a personal note, my grandfather on my mother's side was all set to compete in the mile run for the USA in the 1940 Olympics............but there was that whole "we gotta defeat those Nazis" thing and the whole Olympics (and my grandpa's chance at a medal) were scrapped.  Instead of a trip to the Olympics, he enlisted and got to tour Europe by dropping bombs up and down the interior of Italy.  So there's that.

And this little girl?

Yeah, there will be a lot of hanging out with her as well.  She'll be a completely different kiddo when we drop her off at Ms. Rebecca's house in August.  More and more everyday she is becoming my little girl and less of my baby girl.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Allow myself to introduce....myself.

I posted on Kelly's Korner "finding friends in your area" link-up this morning and I've realized that the first post people new to my blog are going to see is my crazy ramblings about Mommy Guilt.

Talk about starting off on the wrong foot.

So instead of being Debby Downer over here, I'll give you ladies something more enjoyable to read about instead of my struggle with anxiety.  

Here we go...

Hi!  I'm Laura.

I......always tend to have trouble these kinds of introduction things.

Where to start?

I'm tall and I guess what you would call athletic.  I grew up super involved in sports and all sorts of after school activities.  I've been coaching middle school volleyball, cross country and track for the past six years.  Believe it or not - I absolutely adore my middle school kiddos and I love the opportunities that I have to mentor twelve and thirteen year old girls during a tough time in their lives.

I've been married to my best friend Craig for two years, but we worked together and were friends for several years before ever dating.  In March of 2011 he and I became parents to our daughter Natalie who looks just like him but has my long and lean body.  She is tall, strong, smart and full of energy.  We are also the proud puppy dog parents to Angie and Ajax who are a dachshund-Jack Russell mix and purebred dachshund, respectively.  My husband is a middle school girls basketball coach and between the two of us, our school year is pretty jam packed full of athletic events and as a result Natalie loves being around teenagers, has already mastered the art of heckling refs and has been known to fall asleep in the middle of buzzers, balls bouncing and whistles blowing.

I'm a little a lot organized and achievement oriented which is my blessing and my curse.  I struggled mightily after giving birth to Natalie and have been actively working through PPD since she was born.  Most days are pretty good and I'm so blessed to have a great support system of friends and family for those days that aren't so fantastic.

Now that you have the basics, here are a few random facts:

Even though I coach and play volleyball, I am a total nerd when it comes to books and I have been known to attend a few a lot of midnight previews/release parties of all things Harry Potter.

I am in the process of breaking my reality television (BRAVO) habit but each season, the promise of more hilarious hijinks from the Housewives keeps me coming back.

Knock on wood - I have never, ever been in a car wreck as either a passenger or a driver.

During the first trimester of my pregnancy, I ate Arby's for lunch.  Every.  Single.  Day.  And despite my fears, Natalie was NOT born with a curly fry for a tail or anything else that popped up during my crazy pregnancy dreams.

I've been to Europe three times: once all around Italy with my parents, the second time to Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin and London with a high school friend and finally to Paris, Torino (for a U2 concert!) and Rome with Craig.

My dream concert would consist of Kings of Leon, U2 and the Beatles.  

If I had to choose food for a "last meal" I would have my mother make a full Thanksgiving dinner.  Cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pineapple au gratin, macaroni and cheese, ham and broccoli cheese casserole.  Mmmmmm...............

But having said that........I don't like my food to touch.

I guess that's a basic synopsis of who I am and what's going on in my life.  Hopefully this is a much better introduction to new people cruising over from Kelly's Korner instead of the hot mess of a post that I did last.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mommy Guilt

I am forcing myself to sit and write.  To write through the blahs I feel and the distractions that exist elsewhere on the internet.

We had to take Natalie back to the doctor yesterday.  We've been battling an ear infection and lung congestion since Spring Break and have been through two rounds of antibiotics and numerous breathing treatments.  But honestly, if the doctor hadn't checked her ears awhile back we never would have known since she's a pretty agreeable child - even when sick.  She's had two rounds of steroid shots to try and knock out the ear infection and we're starting an allergy/asthma breathing medication today to see if we can combat the congestion and wheezing.  

And all of this makes me feel guilty.

Guilty that I didn't breastfeed her long enough and she didn't receive all the good antibodies she would need to fight off this ear infection and keep us out of the doctor's office.

Guilty that Craig and I chose to induce labor a week early in order to save my sanity but in the end perhaps we didn't allow her lungs adequate time to develop and this congestion is a result of that decision.

Those are some pretty heavy things that have been weighing on my heart lately.

And on the really bad nights, those two simple "mommy guilts" turn into full on panic - I made selfish decisions to quit breastfeeding and induce labor too early.  I am a selfish person.  Selfish people should not be mothers, which leads to the hardest one...

I shouldn't have become Natalie's mother.

And down the rabbit hole we go.

Craig has done his best to assure me that everything wrong in our little universe is not, despite how I might feel, ALL MY FAULT.  He has terrible, awful allergies and spends much of the first ten minutes after he wakes up in the mornings coughing and congested.  How we have done our best to combat her issues with the medical advice and prescriptions that have been given to us.  

But he doesn't quite understand the power of motherly guilt.  From the moment a woman finds out that she is pregnant, there is a barrage of information on how what to eat, how to sleep, what to buy and above all things DON'T EAT NUTS, FISH, SANDWICH MEAT AND NEVER CONSUME COFFEE OR ANY OTHER CAFFEINE.

And don't forget to swaddle, use cloth diapers, never put them down, scratch that - you MUST let them cry it out and self soothe, breastfeed for at least six months but still go back to work and provide for your family, absolutely no pacifiers....well maybe if they need comfort, make your own organic baby food but don't introduce it TOO early for fear of childhood obesity and don't forget to purchase only wooden toys that were made in the USA far from the reaches of China's lead poisoning.

Yikes.  The message that is put out there to pregnant and new mothers is that if you don't follow a specific course of parenting (and there are LOTS of choices out there!) obviously don't love your child and therefore your child is doomed.

And there are many women out there that receive that message, analyze it and brush it off like it ain't no big thing.  They find it so easy to say "to-may-to" while the other side is saying "to-mah-to" and that's that.  You have your opinion on childrearing and I have mine.  I'm going to raise my child the best way I see fit and not think another thing about it.

I am not this person.

For whatever reason, I feed into the hype.  Of COURSE I want to give my child the best start in life.  Of COURSE I want her to be healthy and connected to myself and her father.  Of COURSE I want her to be age-appropriately sensory and creatively stimulated.  As any mother that loves their child, why wouldn't I want those things for her?  I'm a data and facts driven person who doesn't always trust herself.  So if other people have research to back up their claims whereas I just have "my mother did things this way" then that causes a conundrum for me.

I don't really know where this post is going at this point in time.  I honestly did not set out for this to be a diatribe about my anxiety when it comes to parenting my daughter.  I'm not demeaning or denouncing any other woman's choices when making parenting decisions for their child.  I'm actually a little jealous of those women to whom decision making come easy.  Who actually don't sweat the small stuff.  Who can make their choice, see others making different choices and not continually question or beat themselves up over it.  

Ugh.  Enough whining already, right?!

Alright.  I'm shutting this down before I truly dig myself a hole that I can't climb out of.  I (tentatively) promise that the next post will something uplifting and incredibly inspiring.