Monday, October 31, 2011


I have a love/hate relationship with football.

At times, I love watching football.  The competition of it all, the mind-numbing effect of staring at the tv for a few hours, listening to the announcers try to fill every second of air time with game-related chatter.  Watching football with Scott is one of his love languages, I'm pretty sure.  Wait, I'm POSITIVE.  He's told me so before.  And when a guy says the phrase "love language", one should listen carefully.

At times, I hate watching football.  The commercials seem to have a LOT of scantily clad women in them.  I don't particularly enjoy watching scantily clad women, in general, much less on tv.  The announcers during the game are all "Let's spend twenty minutes watching that play again from seven different camera angles to determine if that was an incomplete pass or a fumble."  And every twelve seconds of game play requires three commercials.  Enter said scantily clad women again.  Sheesh.

My absolute LEAST favorite part of football is pre-game, half-time, or post-game shows.  A group of men sit around and speculate what is going to happen during the game.  At half-time they discuss what has happened so far and what needs to happen in the second half.  After the game is over, the men folk rehash the whole game and talk about whether they were right or not.

Wait, it gets even better.  How about a talk show about FANTASY FOOTBALL.  Now the group of mostly-men are sitting around talking about fictitious football games occurring only in the land of make-believe.  What players should the fantasy football league manager play that week?  Who should be benched?  Speculate, speculate, speculate.  Blah blah blah.  And this isn't even REAL!!!  I can hardly stand it.

Sadly, winning at fantasy football happens to be a tremendous talent of Scott's.  He listens to the jabbermouths on the pre-during-post-fantasy talk shows.  He wishes I would play in his fantasy league.

Maybe I could sign up to be a scantily clad woman and advertise something instead...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Life as a Military Kid

My dad was in the Air Force.  We moved a lot.  Until college, I had never lived in one city for four consecutive years.  People asked me as a kid if I liked moving around a lot.  That's like asking me if I liked being a girl.  I didn't know any different.  I liked it because it was all I knew.

I realize, in looking back, that I developed some coping mechanisms to handle all the moving.  Some healthy, some not so much.  Pretending to be aloof, nonchalant, acting like I didn't care about anything...this was one of my strategies.

I spent my 9th grade year of high school in Illinois.  I spent 10th-12th grade in Maryland.  That's not a big deal.  Two high schools.  My brother went to four.  I consider myself lucky.  The first day at my new high school in Maryland, I had my defenses up.  I went in ready to blend in and not stick out.  This was particularly challenging because I was in the minority in my school.

In one particular class, the guy next to me struck up a conversation with me.

Attempting-to-be-nice-guy:  "You're new here, aren't you?"

Aloof-me: "Yeah."

ATBNG: "Did you just move to the area?"

AM: "Yeah. My dad is in the Air Force." <looking disinterested>

ATBNG: "Oh really, my uncle is in the...."

<me interrupting> "I didn't ask."

As you can imagine, the conversation pretty much ended there.  Wow.  Nicely done me.  Way to stay disconnected, disengaged, DISTANT.  So distant I didn't even care if I was down right rude.

What a strategy.  I've spent a lot of time trying to undo my self-taught "disengage" coping mechanism.  I don't have it all figured out.  How to be present, engaged, emotionally available.  But I've come a long way since that chilly conversation in high school.

Now I have roots in a city I've lived in for more than 7 years.  I have long-term friendships that have weathered me moving away for a few years and then moving back.  I have an elderly cat that has been mine since he was a kitten.  (You don't understand...we never had old pets.  We didn't really move with our pets.  We would find them new homes or take them to my grandparents farm.)  And I have a new kind of relationship in my life that is unlike any I've experienced before.  Being a mom to baby James.  Lucky for him he doesn't have climb over my heart-walls like almost everybody else has had to do.

He was born an insider.

I'm linking up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary for #justwrite.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Baby Gear Must-Haves

New moms:  As you've probably already discovered, the more moms you ask about baby stuff you absolutely must have, the more recommendations you'll get.  Well, here's my two cents on the matter.

Bare essentials list, in random order, followed by pictures of what I chose:  

1) Place to sleep. Could be a bassinet.  Could be a crib.  At times you'll want that sleeping containment area as close to you as possible.  At other times you'll want to move it to another country.

*baby not included

2) Diapers.  Cloth, not cloth.  Whatever suits your fancy.  Take the advice of those that have gone before you, you're going to want to cover up that cute little butt.

3) Food.  Formula, breast feeding, again, whatever suits your fancy.  Kid's gotta eat.

my freezer stash
Although I chose breastfeeding, I felt a picture of my boobs would be inappropriate.  Not ready to head in that direction with this blog...

4) Car seat.  Lots and lots of choices here.  Ask your friends what they like/dislike about the car seat they chose.  The hospital staff won't let you go home from the hospital with your new little babe without this key item.

5) Clothes.  Options are endless here.  I'd recommend CUTE.

The non-bare essentials list:

A)  Some sort of baby bathtub, so as not to drown the child while trying to get them clean.

B)  Swaddle blankets.  I highly recommend swaddling your kiddo to keep them happier.  These light weight blankets (Aden & Anais) were awesome:

C)  Regardless of your feeding choice, you will need bottles at some point.  Lots of them.  If you are breast feeding and pumping, extra pump parts would be helpful, too.

D)  Pacifiers.  Wow.  These absolutely improved our quality of life for the first several weeks.

E)  Comfortable chair.  I've spent a LOT of time in this chair and in the recliner in the living room.  You need a comfortable spot to set up "shop" for all the millions of hours spent feeding your baby.

F)  Bumbo.  I haven't really gotten a ton of use out of this yet.  But some moms swear by them.

*duck not included

G)  Bouncy seat or swing.  Could NOT have survived our first few weeks without our bouncy seat.  James was a huge fan of sleeping in it.  And we were huge fans of James sleeping.  Sooo....   We didn't use our swing much at all, but some babies love the swing.

H)  Play mat.  Our kid loves his.  

I)  Boppy.  I've found this very, very helpful with breastfeeding.  

J)  Not at all helpful:  a sunbathing cat.  As I was walking around the apartment photographing all the various baby gear items, I saw this on the back porch.  Not only is Nestle NOT helpful with the baby, she actually helps create more mess for me to clean up.  If you don't have pets already, now is not the time to get one. :)

K)  Last but definitely not least, the most helpful thing to have when you have a new baby:  A PARTNER. 

Even if said partner despises having his picture taken and posted on the interwebs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Second Worst Day of My Life

**edit:  This was in 2007, fyi.**

It was evening.

We were hanging out in the ICU waiting room.


We'd pretty much lived there for the previous few days.  My sister was attempting to catch a few moments of sleep in the room across the hall where the medical staff meet with families, presumably to share bad news.  There was a set of motorized double doors that separated us from Ron, my brother-in-law.  He had multiple myeloma.  His heart was struggling.  In the waiting room, we started to recognize other families as family too.  I mean, when you spend night and day in a small waiting room, you can only ignore each other for so long.  Several people had blankets and pillows and were attempting to sleep.  Whoever designs hospital waiting room chairs does an excellent job at creating the most uncomfortable long-term place to sit.

We can only visit Ron two at a time.  At least one of his brothers was visiting him on this particular night, at this particular time.  My oh-so-uncomfortable chair is sort of near the waiting room door.

Suddenly I hear a lot of commotion behind those double doors.  Lots of beeping alarms and staff talking loudly.  Somebody is barking orders.  I work in a hospital.  I know the tone of those voices and the beeping alarms could not be good.

I step into the hall and punch the button on the wall that opens the doors into the ICU.  Ron's bed is straight ahead.  There are so. many. people. around him.  Their faces are concerned, but everybody is focused on the task at hand.  After what seems like an eternity, the doors close.  I never stepped through the doors, I just wanted to see if all the chaos was taking place at Ron's bedside.  It was.

By now the rest of the family is in the hallway with me, staring at the closed doors.  His daughter is crying. The rest of us are just in shock.  Is he dying?  Could this be it?  It's too soon.  He's too young.  This CANNOT be happening.  My heart is beating so hard and fast and feels like it's pounding out of my chest, I swear somebody across the hall could count my pulse just by looking at me.

Somebody needs to tell my sister.  I volunteer.  That was a stupid thing to do.

I creep into the dark room she's sleeping in and put my hand on her arm, saying her name gently.  "There's something going on.  We don't know what exactly, but I think you need to wake up."  My tone and facial expression said far more than my words.  She joins the crowd of us in the hallway.

We just stood there.  It felt like forever.  Some crying.  Some wringing hands.  Some clinging to each other.  All praying.  I remember thinking my heart is going to explode from the crazy pace and intensity with which it was beating.

The sounds behind the doors changed.  The loud voices changed to calmer voices.  The alarming beeps became more routine sounding.  I was hoping and praying this was a good sign.

After 30-45 minutes, a medical person came out to talk to us all.  We were hanging on his every word.  Ron stopped breathing, which stopped his heart.  They got him back.  He's on a ventilator now.  I don't think I heard much after "We got him back".  That's all I cared about.  The next days could take care of themselves.  But for now, we've got him back.


The only day in my memory that stands out as worse than that evening, is the day I left the hospital without my daughter.


I'm linking up with Heather from The Extraordinary Ordinary for her Just Write exercise.  I need to quit participating, though, because more often than not, it makes me cry...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Here and Now

I sit here, my butt glued to this recliner.  The baby is in his nearby room talking up a storm in his crib.  He loves to try out all his sounds.  Over and over.  There's the Darth Vader breathing sound.  And the pterodactyl sound.  And the squeal-laugh-giggle sound.  And a slew of others.  So. dang. cute.  Not taking a nap, like he should be, but that's okay.  He's having a grand time talking to himself, so I'm not worried about him missing a nap.  

Me?  I'm tired.  Just plain tired.  Still struggling to find a balance between work life and home life.  I'm not doing either one particularly well at the moment.  My tiredness leads to grumpiness.  My grumpiness leads to a lack of patience, with everyone, about everything.  I don't like this "me".  I like easy-going, glass-half-full me.  Instead I'm uptight-glass-is-half-empty-and-probably-dirty-and-sitting-by-the-sink-with-all-the-other-dirty-dishes me.

The laundry is piled in the hallway.  Pretty soon those piles will finish creeping down the hallway and will reach the front door.  Nice.

I can't quite "win" in the kitchen, either.  The dirty dishes are....many.  The countertops (if you can even see them) are covered in bits and pieces of various meals from the past few weeks day.

Some sister-time today really helped.  It usually does. :)  Sisters are pretty important.  Well, maybe that's not an accurate blanket statement.  MY sister is pretty important.  She listens.  She hears what I'm really saying.  She helps ME hear what I'm really saying.  She's good people.  I'm grateful.  Our age difference kept us from being close when we were little.  She was into boys and I still thought they had cooties.  I was all care bears and rainbow bright and she was all fashion and make up and hanging out with friends.

But now, the age difference has all but disappeared.  We can talk and "get" each other better than most.  I like that.  That makes the here and now a little more manageable.

Alas, the happy baby in a crib sounds have turned a lot less happy.  I'm off to check on him.  He who makes the here and now a little more tolerable...


Today I'm linking up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write.  Check it out!

Monday, October 10, 2011

4 Months

Yay!  We made it another month!  You people weren't kidding.  It does get better.  And better.  And better. :)

This little guy has certainly stolen our hearts for sure.  So. dang. cute.  I tell him over and over that looks aren't everything, but he sure is cute!!  Watching his personality emerge is too fun.  He can look straight through to your SOUL with those blue eyes.

He's slowly but surely starting to play with toys.  Sophie the Giraffe is one of his best buddies right now.

He's still working on growing some peach-fuzz hair. :)

At his 4 month pediatrician appointment he was 14 lbs 4 oz (36th %), 25.5 inches long (72nd%), and 17.25 inch head (87th%).  I was shocked by his weight.  I really thought he'd weigh more.  I was also shocked by his length.  He's LOOOOONG.  And his head?  Well, all you have to do is look at him to know he has a big noggin.  We both cried when he got his shots.  I'm not going to argue with anybody over vaccinations.  I'm pro-vaccine.  But it hurts my heart to watch him get shots!  It was all over very, very quickly (the shots, his and my tears), but still.  Poor little guy.  We came straight home, I gave him some tylenol and then he slept for 2 hours.  All in all, it went very well.

He takes at least two naps a day and sleeps about 12 hours at night. I want his life. :)

Enjoy my first attempt at editing a video.  It's James' resume to date.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Some days I like to just sit and think about her.  Chloe.  My first born child.

I like to look at pictures of her.  She is a beautiful little girl.  Is that selfish of me to say?  I am her birthmother, after all.  She looks a little bit like me.  Is it bragging to say I think she's beautiful?  I don't think so...

I like to replay memories of her in my mind's movie theater.  Like when I went to her first birthday party.

Words can hardly describe how I felt being there.  Honored.  Privileged.  Excited.  Freaked out.  Heart aching with a pain I hadn't known before she was born.  I wanted to be at that party so badly.  To be a part of her life.  And yet while I was there I wanted to leave because seeing her, watching her hurt.  I decided the pain of seeing her was better than the pain of not.  Seeing her is a constant reminder of what we are not.  Mother and daughter.  It's a reminder of what we are.  Birthmother and daughter.  Slight difference in terminology, mother versus birthmother, but HUGE difference in meaning.  I'm not sure she's all that familiar with the term birthmother.  Even now as a seven year old.  Tummy mommy.  That's a term she knows.  She knows she grew in my tummy before she came to live with her mom and dad.  I love hearing stories from Melissa, Chloe's mom, about conversations they've had about adoption.  Melissa handles it with grace and compassion.  Thanks to Melissa and Alvin, Chloe won't have a life altering conversation when she's fifteen and finding out for the first time that she's adopted.  She'll already know.  She's always known.  She understands better than a lot of adults that this is another way families are made.


Now I have a son, James.

I'm learning to be a mom.  A see-you-every-day-provide-your-every-need kind of mom.  As opposed to a make-one-decision-for-you-that-impacts-the-rest-of-your-life kind of mom.  I chose parents for Chloe.  That's where my parenting decisions ended with her.  With James, the decisions, from what others tell me, will never end.  Strangers ask if he's my first.  I pause because I'm not sure what to say.  No.  He's not my first child.  Yes, I'm a first time mom.  It's both.


I'm linking up with Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary for Just Write.