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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Clayton, Ella and I headed to Austin for Thanksgiving, kind of.  Clayton had a business event in Austin the weekend before turkey day and so we joined him, but left the day before Thanksgiving.  We had a layover in Houston on our way to Austin where the waitress at Pappadeaux’s asked us if we were headed home, without hesitation Clayton and I answered ‘Yes’.  It wasn't until she followed up with ‘did you enjoy your trip’ that we realized we had to clarify that ‘home’ wasn't where we live but where we are from.  This exchange would end up being foreshadowing for the confused feelings I would have during the trip.
  
Leading up to the trip I had been so excited to get back to Austin.  Our family is there, my friends are there, all of our past is there and my best friend had just moved back from San Fran.  So to say that I was excited is an understatement.  Then the trip got here.  Ella had an ear infection, Clayton had a sinus infection, and I was starting to have symptoms of the virus that caused both of the aforementioned conditions.  Not the ideal start.  We got to spend the first night with our favorite friends.  It didn't matter that the restaurant was so loud and my ears were so congested that I couldn't hear anything or the fact that I was in a sort of cold medicine stupor.  I was happy just being in the presence of these people, it felt like home. 

The next day I was sick, tired, and my nose, whose sole purpose was to produce snot, was raw from constant wiping of the paper product of convenience be it toilet paper, Kleenex, or paper towel.  Ella was having sleepless nights and so we all were.  However, I had a big day planned and nothing would stop me from seeing a good friend’s baby (except for the baby’s mom who gave me and my raw nose the okay).  So, that afternoon was spent with my friend and her adorable new baby boy who I wish so much that I could see weekly.  Then, that night we had dinner with the new parents.  We probably could have talked all night, except for the small fact that we are parents now.  Yep, it felt like home.

The next day was chocked full of seeing more people.  At this point Ella’s schedule was completely wrecked, we were losing sleep by the hour and I was all around exhausted.  There was an unfamiliar feeling creeping in.  I missed home.  Don’t get me wrong, we love our friends and family, and my in-laws couldn't be better hosts.  They babysit, they accommodate our ridiculous schedule of events while sneaking in time with us when available, and they never turn down our friends.  BUT, we also enjoy this quiet little beach life that we have come to know, where we can count our friends on one hand and our only obligation is to each other.  Could it really be that I am longing for that, I must be sick. 

After a couple more days of seeing people that are really important to us and acknowledging that we were disappointed to not see some folks that are so close to our hearts, we headed to Houston to spend time with Clayton’s sister and her family.  Ella and her cousin, Avi, are only 4 months apart and when they spent time together this summer in Florida we all had a great time.  Nothing has changed.  Ella and Avi played so well together and spending time with them is so effortless and fun.  I think Clayton and I both started thinking, could this be home? 

Now, we are back in Florida.  The air is thicker and bed time is earlier.  The morning has consisted of Clayton, wearing a t-shirt, boxers, and sport coat, dancing and singing to Paul Simon’s ‘Call me Al’ video, repeatedly (thanks, Rachel) while Ella screams about Elmo and Thomas the Train while chasing the cats around and I have no doubt, this is home and I couldn't be more thankful.   

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall is Upon Us!

Apparently, I'm really good at writing a monthly blog post.  Every time I sit down to write one I realize that it has almost been a month to the day that I wrote my last one.  Can you believe it's October???  Each week seems to get shorter.  Enough with the pleasantries.  I don't really have a story or something funny to tell you so I thought I'd just give you an update on our lives.  

I am in the midst of an eight week fitness challenge with the group that I mentioned before.  There are 84 or so ladies participating in the challenge, we are broken up into 5 color coded teams.  The blue team is the best one to be on, so naturally I'm on the blue team (it just so happens that its the best team to be on because I'm on it).  At the beginning we set fitness, diet, and personal goals and had a testing day where we measured various activities such as running the mile, holding plank, doing push-ups, etc... We are coming to the end of week three which means that midpoint testing is almost here.  I assumed I would be hungry and miserable for eight weeks, which isn't very different from my usual demeanor of not-hungry and miserable, but I'm not.  I feel great!  I have set some great goals that I'm motivated to meet and am making progress on them.  I have also met a great group of ladies that help me troubleshoot when I'm feeling hungry, grouchy, or tired.  They encourage me and commiserate with me.  That being said, I would love to sink my teeth into a juicy cheeseburger RIGHT NOW.

Clayton is coming up on a huge deadline at work and so, unfortunately, we haven't had a ton of time together.  I did go to the mall to buy him some chinos and comfort shoes, which means he is 31 going on 60.

Ella is really enjoying school. She is also very popular.  I'd like to think this has to do with her amazing personality and slightly above average intellect, but I'm pretty sure it's because her name is the easiest to say. There is one little boy in particular that has taken a liking to her.  Yesterday, his mom told me that he talks about Ella all the time and when she asked the teacher about it the teacher said "Oh, yes.  He brings her stuff all day long and if she falls he runs over to help her up."  He also refuses to leave school until I'm there to pick up Ella and he's right to not trust those other fellas in his class, she's one cute little lady.  Here is a picture of Ella and friends at school:


So, that's it in a nut shell.  We have friends visiting soon and are heading to Ft. Worth in a couple of weeks for my cousin's wedding. I couldn't be more excited! Hopefully, I have some fun stuff to tell you all next month.


Friday, September 7, 2012

What They Don't Tell You


Over the past few weeks I have had conversations with a few of my friends, all of which are in different stages of their lives, regarding pregnancy and kids.  This shouldn’t come as a shock because other than politics and my cat’s relentless desire to bring me half-dead lizards, I don’t have a whole lot going on besides my little nugget.  In these conversations there has been a common thread, that there is a lot of shit that they don’t tell you before you have kids.  One might think this is to not scare you away from having kids, but I’m not so sure because I distinctly remember being told about the mucus plug falling out and if that doesn’t make you throw your hands up and run away I have to think that there is very little that would.  Maybe it’s important for me to know these things in advance because I’m a child of the information age and believe knowledge is power or in this particular sense that knowledge is not throwing up when your daughter shits in the tub (to be discussed later).  Either way, here are a few things I would have appreciated a heads up on.

First up, nipples.  WTF.  The memory of this horrifying change during pregnancy was refreshed when receiving a text from a friend who is currently pregnant with her first child that read “my nipples feel like they are on fire”.  It’s well known that your breasts get bigger, stretch marks will probably grace your body, and your hips get wider.  How the HELL did they forget to mention that your nipples will become the most dynamic organ on your entire body.  Just a small oversight that your nipples will immediately start changing color, shape, length (yep), texture and beyond when you are pregnant.  No big deal.  Even after I had researched if what was happening to my body was normal, I still had to ask the doctor to look at them because that shit did not seem normal.  The casual way in which my doctor looked at my situation and said “oh yeah, completely normal” I got a sense that during pregnancy your nipples could be blue and about to fall off and it would still be considered normal.  So, for those of you that haven’t started a family yet, I guarantee you will still be mortified when your nipples start to change.  However, I have at least saved your husband the humiliation of having to Google it for you because you are too scared to see the images that may come up (maybe that’s just me).  
  
Next, they warn you about sleepless nights, teething, diaper changes and blow outs.  They do not warn you about tub shits.  I should preface this section with a little factoid about my husband; he does not handle gross things well. Anyway, the first time I read about tub shits was when Ella was 9 months old and I ignored it because it hadn’t happened yet and you could set the clock by her poop schedule.  The term is pretty self-explanatory but , just in case you haven’t figured out what a tub shit is, it is when your child poos in the bathtub.  Fast forward to when Ella is about a year old.  There we are playing peek-a-boo with the shower curtain when up pops a piece of poo.  This particular incident was pretty comical; she clearly was a bit constipated because it was the Caddyshack floating in the pool kind of poop.  Added to the humor was the fact that Clayton and I had just taken a boater’s safety course in Florida where they talked extensively about the importance of protecting the manatees.  So, as the poo was floating in the tub and I’m scrambling to grab Ella to prevent her from touching it, my husband is screaming “Don’t touch the manatees, they are a protected species”.  The whole scene was hilarious.  OK, so tub shits, not so bad.  The next night Clayton offers to give Ella a bath and let me relax (such a nice husband).  I realize she hasn’t pooped for the day and suggest we put a swim diaper on her as a precaution (I’m a genius).  I lay down on the bed, open Facebook when Clayton comes bursting in holding Ella at arm’s length, running toward our bathroom, gagging, and dripping poop water all along the way.  He sets her in our bathtub and starts dry heaving, Ella is crying because she doesn’t know what is going on, and I’m utterly confused.  To Clayton’s horror, apparently Ella wasn’t constipated anymore and once she started pooping in the swim diaper it started leaking into the water, rapidly turning the water brown.  As he’s telling me this as if it’s the biggest atrocity of the current times, I cannot stop laughing at how dramatic this all is for him and he just keeps repeating “you didn’t see it, you didn’t see it”.  For the sake of squeamish people tub shits should come with fair warning.

So being pregnant gets you weird nipples, but the payoff is this incredible little being that you never knew you could love so much.  And your toddler may shit in the tub, but at least you get a laugh out of it and that little person is the funniest, cutest, sweetest (not always, I’m not delusional) person you’ve ever known.  This brings me to last thing that no one told me- older kids are PERVES.  I’m prepared to have the “where do babies come from?” question because I’ve been warned that it will come up.  However, the degree to which I will have to address sexual behavior was not fully communicated.  This revelation was discovered at the zoo, a fairly appropriate locale to be reminded that we are animals raising little animals.  The zoo has an impressive splash park, complete with whales, dolphins and other various sea creatures.  As you can imagine the dolphin and whale are very popular for kids to ride.  What one might not expect is that I’ve seen multiple kids enjoying a splash park enema courtesy of the whale/dolphin’s blowhole.  Yep, I wasn’t prepared for that either.  In fact, I was rather disturbed.  Not because the kids were clearly discovering their bodies but because parents apparently do not watch their children to stop them and discuss proper dolphin/whale riding etiquette!  So, you’re welcome in advance for preparing you for the splash park enema conversation that all of us are going to have to have with our children.  My only question is if these little humans, that aren’t as cute as toddlers, are really as disgusting as they seem; what is their redeeming quality? 

Turns out, maybe there is something to not knowing all of this before it’s too late.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I'm BAAAACK!


Hello…I am actually signing this blog post in perfect American Sign Language and an interpreter is typing it.  Obviously, I’m kidding and, obviously, I neither became extremely proficient in ASL nor treated the blog like my job as stated in my last post.  Unless, you take in to consideration that I quit my last job, in which case I treated it exactly like my job.  Anyway, I digress.  What really happened is that I started blogging because I thought it would be fun.  I enjoy writing and I especially like laughing at myself (and others, but I prefer to say ‘with others’) and the blog was a perfect avenue for that until it became another item on my To-Do List.  I felt so much pressure from my 10 followers to produce quality blog posts on a daily basis, I just buckled under the pressure (I rest assured that my readers are able to pick up on my sarcasm here but just in case, I’m being sarcastic).  In all seriousness, I really do enjoy writing and I will keep up with the blog, it’s just going to be when it’s convenient for me.  That could be daily, weekly, monthly, or never again, I’m not really sure.  I am sure that I am done with public declarations of keeping up with the blog.

Moving on.  The summer has flown by and I can hardly believe it is August.  Ella is almost a year and a half, she is talking a lot and picking up new words like crazy.  Her hair is getting long (everywhere but on the sides, I blame this on Clayton).  She is starting to assert a little bit of independence, in mom-talk that is the polite way to say at times she is an asshole.  Maybe those words are harsh, but she did throw a book at a woman in Target.  In Ella’s defense she didn’t see the lady when she threw the book, but nonetheless she threw a book that hit a lady and THAT is being an asshole. 

I have started attending a mom-workout class, these moms are buff.  When I first heard about it, I thought it would be a social affair with some light stretching.  It’s more like an ass kicking with the added stress of children running around.  It has not only made me in better shape but it has really knocked my ego down a peg as I realize that I’m less coordinated and in worse shape than the pregnant lady doing burpees and pull ups next to me.  Did I mention it’s close to 90 degrees outside?  The class is the perfect place to constantly feel inadequate and awkward, but somehow accomplished.  I’m hooked because it is exactly the way I like to workout, a little bit of running, a lot of conditioning, and someone else telling me what to do.  Left up to my own devices, I will walk around the block eating a bag of chips and call it working out.  I have also met a bunch of women that I’m sure will eventually become my friends.  At the very least, it has provided me with a community of moms and women that, I dare say, I didn’t even have in Austin. 

Those are a couple of the things that have been going on.  Yep, it’s a pretty exciting life, trips to Target and working out.  I, in all of my insecurity and awkwardness of course, have plenty of stories from the last few months, but I will save those for another time...maybe.       

Monday, April 30, 2012

April Went Swimmingly


I’m not dead.   I can’t believe it has been so long since I’ve written a blog post, April flew by.  Since my last post we have had two mini trips to Austin and Houston, started and quit a daycare program, had a friend visit, and planted a small garden.  Clayton had two conferences this past month conveniently both were in Texas so we got to spend some quality time with family. 

 In my last post I mentioned that Ella would be starting a part time daycare program on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  She started April 2nd and after the second day got Hand, Foot, and Mouth.  For those of you that don’t know, it is basically like a cold virus but in young kids it can cause very painful mouth sores.  Ella got them pretty severely and so she wouldn’t eat or drink, which raised serious concerns of dehydration because she was also running a fever in the area of 103 degrees.  That was week one of daycare, it was pretty fantastic. She was not well enough to go back to daycare until Wednesday of week two, but I was planning on pulling her out early to pick up my friend from the airport.  So, I decided to keep her home… for good.  I’m only kind of joking.  The daycare required a two week notice for withdrawal which was that Friday.  So, Ella attended the program for a total of two days.  I know I didn’t give the place a fair chance and I feel like I’m turning into one of THOSE moms (whatever that means), but I don’t really care.  That being said, I miss working.  There is no win-win for a mom.  If you work, you feel like you are missing out on so much at home.  If you stay at home you feel like you are missing out on so much that a career has to offer (mostly putting your brain to use).  It feels like each day I don’t work is a day I get dumber and at some point Ella’s and my intelligence levels will intersect and eventually she’ll be asking me what sound a horse makes to which I will reply “Baaaaaa”.  So, to maintain my sanity I am going to try to make this blog kind of like my job and really focus on keeping up with it.   The other option is to become super proficient at American Sign Language which we are currently teaching Ella via Signing Time videos.  You’ll know which route I chose.

As I mentioned before, I also had one of my best friends visit.  She doesn’t read my blog which I totally called her out on, but it worked out to my advantage because I could tell all the same stories and she would laugh at my jokes.  I loved having her here and I’m looking forward to having more guests soon! 

In the time between trips we’ve just been up to our usual stuff- the beach, zoo, grocery shopping, and SWIMMING.  Before we moved I started taking Ella to waterbaby classes at a swim school.  She loved it.  By the time we moved she was holding her breath underwater for a few seconds.  So, I wanted to continue what we learned in waterbabies here in Jacksonville.  Our luck couldn’t have been better.  Clayton found that the university right by his office offers a free mommy and me swim time.  I also found out that no matter what the circumstances swimming with a baby is awkward.  There were a number of awkward moments when we started the swim class in Austin.  I should preface this by saying that signing up for the class meant a special trip to Target for my first ever tankini purchase.  I showed up at the swim school feeling confident in my mom style bathing suit to find out that the instructor is a guy in his early twenties, not particularly attractive, but the awkwardness factor definitely increased as my confidence decreased.  Within a few minutes he is unleashing a basket of balls in our direction to which I remark how we love to play with balls.  Oh my god, get me out of this pool.  Next thing you know we are playing with a large foam crab, to which I’m pretty sure I made some low brow joke about crabs.  What is wrong with me?  Then Ella grabs my top and gives it a solid pull.  Luckily, nothing happened but my reaction was enough for the instructor to say, and I quote “yeah, that’s why we don’t recommend wearing bikinis, I mean we are all for breastfeeding...” (This is where he trailed off because clearly this conversation was beyond awkward).  Here I was in the most modest bathing suit I’ve worn in my life and I felt like I had strolled in with a triangle top and thong.  It was at this point that I considered never going back to swim class, but we did.  Fast forward to our free swim time in Jacksonville.  It happens to coincide with a water aerobics class that is, as one would expect, full of elderly women.  I’ve said it before, elderly women love babies.  These women are all impressed by how much Ella loves the water, but what I’m impressed with is their timing in striking up conversation.  Without fail they wait until I’m topless and awkwardly covering myself or pulling my bottoms off to talk about how old Ella is or what skills she has attained.  I’m not sure if you’ve recently tried to put pants on quickly while your skin is still damp, but it’s not easy and it’s definitely not graceful.  I think it is very apparent that I’m uncomfortable putting my underwear on while discussing how old fashioned the name Ella is.  I’m convinced no matter the circumstances swimming with a baby in the company of other people is AWKWARD.  I also have to give a quick ‘tip of my hat’ to my friend Kim who started going to waterbabies with me in Austin and also endured the awkwardness of the instructor, but what is most notable is that a couple of weeks ago her little one was successful in pulling down her built-in sports bra tank top.  God Kim stop dressing like such a ho bag at swim class!  (My first inclination was to write ‘hussy’ in the place of 'ho bag', but then you all would have thought I was actually attending the water aerobics class)

I think that basically brings you abreast (I’m so clever) with what is going on in our world.  At the beginning I mentioned a garden, but I will save that for next time because this post is already way too long.             

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Break


This post is going to start really heavy, but I promise it will lighten up.  For the past couple of weeks something has been weighing heavily on my mind, it is not a light subject and so I haven’t been particularly eager to spread the sadness I’ve been feeling.  A friend that I’ve been close with for a very long time (going on about 15 years now) and who is a mutual friend of Clayton and me was in a terrible motorcycle accident.  The beautiful thing is that he survived and I will get to hug him again.  The horrible thing is that he has a long, hard road of recovery ahead of him with three broken vertebrae and a completely shattered pelvis.  He has other injuries that he hasn’t become aware of yet that will be devastating and so I will save that for him to cope with before I share it with my world.  My friend is the kind of person that lights up the room and is the life of the party; you can’t help but smile when you think of the times that you’ve shared with him.  So of course I’ve been thinking about the good times we’ve had together and it makes me laugh and it makes me really sad at the same time.  A friend of ours asked me to go through old photographs and send them to her so she could make a poster to remind him of all the good times and people that are pulling for him.  Going through old photos is really fun especially when you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had with as good of friends as I have.  However, going through old pictures can also make you long for those times when you were care free and about 15 pounds skinnier.  The timing of pining for my lost youth could not have been worse since the past couple of weeks have also been Spring Break and there has been an influx of young people at the beach.  The spring breakers didn’t make me quite as nostalgic as photos of my former self, but I could definitely remember what those kids were feeling.  

I should start off by saying that Jacksonville beaches aren't the college hotspots like Panama City, but rather the family vacation spot and thus a younger more vulnerable crowd. While sitting on the beach watching young boys and girls walk up and down the shoreline I could see them beaming with the anticipation of meeting the beauty/beau that they might go to first base with and I remember that innocence and excitement. However, I also remember the insecurity that comes with being a teenager in a bikini and I absolutely DO NOT miss that.  It’s enough being an insecure teenager in school clothes, but spring break at the beach takes it to a whole other level.  I found myself wanting to tell these young girls that they are beautiful and this is the best time in their lives to be confident in themselves.  Okay, so those were my motherly afternoon special thoughts.  What I was really thinking is “you should be happy that you can wear that bikini, if I wore it my C-section scar would show”.  What it really boils down to is that remembering these feelings and the subsequent thoughts made me feel old.  Which is a special feeling that is unique to Spring Break since 95% of my time is spent trying not to look like a teen mom.  I guess not a whole lot has changed.  Now, I’m an insecure mom trying to convince myself that once the spring breakers leave I can wear a two piece because if the 80 year-old sack of leather can pull her top down to sun her chest then I can sun my soft tummy that carried this ray of sunshine:


Speaking of Ella, we have enrolled her in Montessori school which will start in September and in the meantime she will be going to daycare three days a week.  This is a win-win because I will get some much needed time for myself and Ella will get to play with other kids.  The Montessori class that she will be in is for 18 months to 3 years old and they call it the “Toddler Community” which Clayton and I find hilarious and a bit ridiculous.  We are pretty sure Ella will become mayor of the Toddler Community.  Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot going on with us and I’m just fine with that. 

If you are a praying person please keep my friend, Nathan, in your prayers.  If you’re not a praying person please keep him in your thoughts.  And, more importantly, appreciate the simple things.  They are the most beautiful things in life and the most easily taken for granted.  


Friday, March 9, 2012

Beach Baby

Ella and I have been to the beach a few times and each time I’m getting better at realizing/remembering what would make the excursions better.  For instance, last time we went to the beach her diaper got wet splashing in the ocean and it was, go figure, really sunny.  So, I decided next time I should bring a swim diaper and a sun hat.  Today, we got to the beach and I took inventory of all the items that were surely going to make our lives better: water cup with straw that folds into lid-check, water for me-check, snack for Ella-check, bubbles and beach toys-check, swim diaper-check, sun hat and sunscreen for reapplication-shit, on the kitchen table.  Next time I’ll do better.

There is one thing I NEVER do better and don’t actually think about until I’m at the beach and that is my own personal hygiene.  Now, usually all I have to worry about is whether or not I look like a free spirit going au natural in the underarm region, but today I decided to wear my bathing suit (read: take my pants off).  See, the past couple of times we’ve been to the beach it was February and it just seemed silly to put on a bathing suit. As you can imagine I panicked a little when it became quite obvious that I had not shaved my legs in well over a month.  Apparently, I hadn’t put lotion on in quite some time either because my skin had a grayish tint to it.  The picture running through my mind was that scene from the Sex in the City Movie when Miranda shows up in her bikini quite unkempt in the nether region.  Luckily, I’m not a hairy person and I’m physically incapable of looking like that but I definitely wondered. In the hour and a half that we spent on the beach there were quite a few rationalizations that I ran through as to why it was okay for me to stay and not immediately pack up and head out.  It went something like this:  First, I have the cutest leg covering in all of the world, seen here:

 Second, my legs are so pale they reflect light and you can’t actually look directly at them.  In my defense, it is the beginning of March so they have been covered for… well over a year.  You thought I was going to say all winter, but nope, I don’t think they’ve seen the sun since before Ella was born.  I accidentally captured a glimpse of the top of my thigh in a picture I took and it could easily be mistaken for the underbelly of a dolphin or the leg of a corpse, it had a blue-ish tint.  So sexy.  

 Third, as long as I just rub sand all over my legs you won’t be able to tell the difference between being sandy and being hairy, SUCCESS!  Note: this works best for blondes, unless you’re at a black sand beach. 

And finally I thought, I don’t know anyone in this town and when I do meet a friend that happened to be at the beach on this particular day, I will deny that it was me.  However, I will recall seeing the disgusting lady with the blinding thighs and adorable baby and will note how well prepared they seemed for the beach.

So we stayed, and Ella was by far the cutest thing on the beach; she left her sunglasses on the whole time and melted hearts all afternoon.  She is a serious chick magnet.  If you’re into old women, that is, and I totally am.  You never know what kind of baked goods you can get out of a relationship with an older woman.  But, seriously, we made friends with the elderly lady sitting on the beach next to us who looked like a wrinkled sack of leather.  I know that is harsh but I have no doubt that you are now getting an adequate picture of the kind of sun damage that was going on to the south of us.  Anyway, we talked about the usual stuff- Ella is a year, she’s not walking on her own, etc…then she told me that Ella was really pale and asked if I had put sunscreen on her.  WTF?  I know she was being sweet and concerned but really it was like the mascot for skin cancer was trying to teach me a lesson on the dangers of the sun. 

My notes for next time: remember to bring the sunhat and extra sunscreen, teach Ella stranger danger, and it seems like I’m forgetting something…