Tuesday, April 28, 2015

San Diego to Washington

Well, we made it.  All in one piece, all happy to be here.

If I'm being honest, though, I'm exhausted, pregnant, and less-than-excited about having to take the driver's test for my WA license.  Yes, the move went smoothly.  Yes, I'm thankful it did so.  But, I'm currently mentally maxed out.  I've sat down at my computer a few times in attempts to document the move, but my brain is just not letting my go there.  So, in an effort to stay dedicated, here are some scenes from our move and the first couple days of life in Washington.

I'll be back on Friday.  When our furniture has arrived.  And hopefully I'll be able to report I successfully parallel parked for the first time since I was 16 (the last time I took the driver's test). Wish me luck?

Enjoy your week.

Ran into some gloomy weather driving through LA.

Sunrise in Oregon.

Cousins playing.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My wish for you


Ella,

You're one!  You've conquered your first year lived here on this earth.  In recent weeks, I've been doing some thinking about the future.  I don't know, maybe it's because I'm all inspired by my latest read authored by the one and only Oprah (of course).  (Find out who Oprah is here.)  I've been thinking about my wish for you, and what I need to do to improve myself in order to be a good example.

In order to not lose sight of these wishes and hopes, I thought I'd note them here.  For you.  On your first birthday.

My wish for you is...

to smile and ask "how are you?" to anyone who's of service to you.
that you feel completely and totally confident eating in a restaurant by yourself.
you never feel defined by a salary.
you always take the extra minute to put your shopping cart away.
that you always hold the door open for the elderly (they'll make your day as much as you make theirs).
you find a mentor and cherish him/her.
you find joy in buying new fabric softener and folding laundry. 
you choose to have a relationship with God because you choose to, not merely because you're a product of Catholic parents.
you find irreplaceable lifelong friends. 
that everybody will be seen as somebody in your eyes.
you choose your own path for your own reasons.
you don't wait for a time in your life to "give back", but instead to always give.

Parents have a million wishes and hopes for their children.  These are just a few of mine for you.  My wish for myself is to be the person who will guide and teach you as best as I can.  I'm a broken human, so I'm sure there will be many times where I will think I could have done better.  But with the help of your dear Dad, family, and friends, I hope we can give you the best little environment to thrive.

It's been a joy to watch you grow from a beating image on an ultrasound to a wobbling, screaming, little thing.

Here's to one great year and many, many more.

Happy first birthday.

Love,

Mom

Monday, April 20, 2015

Saying goodbye

Ah...this weekend.

We packed and ate out.  We're at that stage of packing.  The stage where you need to live out of your apartment for a week but have it mostly packed.  We went to Target three times and tripped over boxes, appliances, and bubble wrap.  So it was nice to escape the chaos and spend the afternoon with two of our good friends.  We brunched and strolled along the beach.  

This afternoon out prompted a conversation between my husband and me on the way home about the past six years in California.  As much of a goal it was of ours, it's weird to leave this place.  Since we have been so far away from family, I've really cherished our California friends as they've really been there for us during some crazy parts of our lives - getting married, moving apartments, visiting us in the hospital when Ella was born.

We started our adult lives here, it's where we've (so far) experienced the most change, and it hit me in a rather hard way on the way home on Sunday that our beloved college friends will no longer be a short drive away.

But thank God for planes and trains and all that.  We'll be back.

Here are some scenes from our weekend.

Errands made entertaining by Miss Ella James.



Had to make a final stop before we moved!






If I had a selfie stick, my and Tim's chin could have made it in the shot.  (Note for next time.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

From "introvert" to extrovert

I've always thought I was an introvert for a few reasons.  I'm bad at small talk, I'm shy when I meet new people, and I can be very quiet in conversations.

Something I've especially loved and appreciated about this journey in overcoming anxiety is I've discovered a lot about myself, about different mindsets, relationships, etc.  One of these recent discoveries is I was wrong about the whole introvert thing.

For the longest time, my anxiety made me think I was an introvert for all the reasons I mentioned before.  In reality, I'm very much an extrovert...who is dealing with anxiety.  I am energized from being out with people, with friends, with family.  It's what makes me feel present and alive.  And when I go without being around friends or family, it drains me.  I don't find solitude particularly exhilarating, though I do need it from time to time to refresh and reset.  My husband on the other hand, is the opposite. He's energized from having time to himself, but he can carry on a conversation with someone he just met.

The "introvert"/"extrovert" thing isn't is black and white as we make it out to be.  We tend to equate "life of the party" with "extrovert" and "quiet" with "introvert."  Personalities, quirks, traits, and flaws get in the mix and we get an extrovert who is shy at first glance or an introvert who can carry on conversation with a stranger.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled that with help I came to this realization.  Now I know I need to tend to that part of me.

But if you have any tips on mastering your small talk game, I'm all ears.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The moving feels

Our moving truck arrives in one week from today.  We have many a box packed and our townhome is waiting for us to move-in.

As our moving date gets closer and closer though, I can't shake this feeling of sadness.  Sad to be leaving our California friends and sad we're not moving any closer to our Michigan loved ones.

Yesterday I had a Skype date with my two best friends and their parents.  Earlier in the week I talked with someone who is like a little brother to me and is now graduating high school.  Later, I talked with his mom who is responsible for some of the most gut-breaking laughs I've ever had.  They're all my family.

These people, that city, are so much a part of me that I sometimes don't feel like myself being away.

I recently watched a good friend's favorites video and in her lessons learned she shared something her mom told her about missing loved ones: be thankful you have them to say goodbye to.

This one-liner has helped me a great deal in recent weeks.  Sure, it hurts to think I haven't been back to my first love of a hometown in nearly two years and some of the people I love most are thousands of miles away, but I know they're there, they will be there when I go back, and I'm ever-grateful I have so many beloved people to say goodbye to.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blogaversary


One year ago today I wrote my first blog post.  This post.  Six days before I had my little girl.

April of last year was a weird time.  Moving out of state was put on hold for a year due to my husband moving forward at his job.  Financially, we decided it'd be best if I stayed home once Ella was born. I was still trying to figure out life as a newlywed and then as a mom.

I remember feeling particularly lost, alone.  And in the midst of it all, I distinctly remember feeling I just want to write.  I didn't really know about what, and I didn't want to make it a thing where there were announcements and new layouts and launches.  I just wanted to have some time each day to write.  Me and Blogger.  So one year ago today I decided to take my time away from a desk job as an opportunity for myself.

I take note of this day, because it's a goal achieved, and though this blog is small, it's brought me great joy.  It's helped me to (truly) discover that writing is my passion. And though I may die without ever being published or recognized or receiving a paycheck, I'd get up on any Sunday at 3AM to write. And I've learned to find that thing that thing that drives you is priceless.

Thanks for reading what I write.  It ignites my soul and pushes me to continue.  I've received such sweet messages of support and encouragement and thanks.  And I'm grateful to you for those.  There's quite literally a million and three blogs out there, I'm honored you chose mine.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Good for her

Good for her, not for me.

I first heard this when listening to Amy Poehler's book Yes Please.  She was talking about motherhood, the idea of "having it all", and the disagreement, hate, etc., etc., that can come from differing opinions on parenting. You know, the classic ones.  Working vs. staying home.  Bottle vs. boob.  Organic formula vs. non-organic formula.  The list truly goes on.

I heard Amy talking about this whole good for her, not for me notion and I wanted to scream "FEMINISM" out the car window. Because it brought to light what supporting other women actually meant.  The idea is we hear a parenting choice like a mom deciding to go back to work after having a baby (or choosing to not go back to work) and we say good for her, not for me.  We don't scoff and say oh..poor kids or  she thinks she can have it all.  We also don't turn on ourselves and think wait, is she a better mom than I am?  We remain confident and continue doing our best.

All parenting choices, ergo baby carrier debates, and motherhood aside, this idea, this good for her, not for me idea applies to all areas of life.  Later, when listening to Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, she reiterated this notion and encouraged this way of thinking.

They are words I now try to live by.  I easily compare myself to others and can quickly doubt my abilities to be a writer, a mom, a wife, a person of faith, a friend.  When if I took that negativity out of the equation I could recognize that while I'll always have room for improvement I'm doing the best I can and I'm not half-bad.  I don't need to feel bad that I don't breastfeed, or that I do stay-at-home with my kid, or that I sometimes buy organic food and sometimes I don't.  All I need to do is look at myself and my family once and a while and ask "are we happy?", "what can we do better?" and if one day I answer that question with a "I want to go back to work", then so be it.

We can't let others' opinions of us dictate how we feel we're doing in life.  All that matters is we're happy, our family is happy, we're doing the best we can, and we're living the life we want to live.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pregnancy: round two

Little alien baby 2.0 at 6 weeks.
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When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was depressed and didn't know it.  I thought it was purely hormones (they certainly played a factor), but I deeply struggled with all the physical and emotional changes, feelings of isolation, and loathed the lack of energy and ruthless episodes of dry heaving.  I thought it was normal to the feel the way I was feeling, I mean being pregnant is universally recognized as being straight up difficult, right?  As we all can't avoid those pesky hormonal mood swings, my mood sunk to another level.  And when I had my daughter, all that unrecognized, unmentioned depression during my pregnancy turned into a blind-siding and all-consuming bout of postpartum depression.

I give this back story, because, well I'm pregnant again.  And I don't want to feel that way again, so I'm being proactive in taking measures to ensure I can actually make these nine months a good nine months.   This time I'm aware.  This pregnancy, though early, is proving to be very similar to my last, so I'm taking action in making sure these next nine months are easier and more enjoyable.

So what am I doing?

Making exercising a priority during my "good hours".  Especially during the first trimester, the fatigue feels insurmountable. It's unnecessary to push yourself when you know you need to rest.  So rest when needed but recognize the time of day when you feel your best.  For me, it's at night, so I try to squeeze in some light yoga even if it means the dishes have to wait.

Keeping healthy, cold beverages and snacks on hand.  I didn't know how to handle the dry heaving last time I was pregnant, since it's unlike the typical nausea.  Crackers and ginger didn't do.  I recently learned that anything cold helps to relieve that sensation.  So ice cold water, straight up ice, popsicles, and refreshing fruit are my secret weapons of choice.

Penning in me-time.  As moms, me-time is the first thing to go when we're busy, but I've decided to pen (not pencil) in me-time.  Get my hair done, get a pedicure, simply buy and enjoy a magazine are a few things I'm looking forward to.  This one is a non-negotiable.

Being kinder to myself and lowering expectations.  During my last pregnancy, I would get so easily frustrated with myself.  If I didn't have it in me to make dinner and we got take-out, I'd worry about our budget.  I was (a little too) strict on my budget for maternity clothes, and I couldn't handle the dishes being unwashed.  It seemed like everything ended with me in tears.  I was too hard on myself.  This time I'm going to be okay with the fact that the dishes might not get done, allow take-out as an okay option for dinner, and budget in a splurge here and there.

Remind myself it's all temporary.  Last time, I felt like I was never going to feel like myself again. But there came a point when the engorgement became old news (thank God), I started losing a couple pant sizes, my energy levels increased, and (with help) the anxiety and depression got under control. Though there will be good days and bad days, I'll remind myself on the bad days that the physical discomfort will pass and stay focused on the fact that soon sweet Ella will have a sibling.  And that's what matters.

There are some people who feel their best when pregnant.  We all have different experiences, and it's okay if you don't completely and wholly enjoy pregnancy every waking day.  If you're one of these people, I hope these tips can help you, too!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter weekend

I worked to make this weekend a good one.  Between Ella's first Easter and our move to Washington coming up, I wanted to make this weekend about our family.

This Easter was Ella's first Easter, so even though half of our apartment is in boxes and it was just the three of us, I wanted to make the day special.  We decided to go to Mass at sunrise, which didn't bode well for morning sickness, but was beautiful nonetheless.  Since we had plans to make a nice dinner, we went out for brunch and came home to do Easter baskets.

After cooking for a good chunk of the afternoon, we sat down to dinner and feasted on ham, potatoes, and glazed carrots (salad is for Mondays).  We had music playing, flowers on the table, and the apartment was clean (for the most part) and I simply took in the family time.  I had never envisioned having a family of my own and as I sat there eating too many servings of scalloped potatoes, I couldn't help but be grateful for the road I chose to take.

Later, we headed over to a good friend's house for drinks.  Ella was particularly outgoing.  She laughed and played with my good friend and her sweet, little dog.  It was refreshing to see Ella having fun with our friends.

Then we came home, put Ella to bed, I had second dinner (obviously), Tim retreated to read, and I turned on Keeping Up With the Kardashians and relaxed.  After a long, successful, blessed Easter, it was most satisfying to relax and have some me-time.








Friday, April 3, 2015

Adjusting


This week was a week of adjustment.  I adjusted to being pregnant with a fussy little one around.  Ella's going through a growth spurt and we tried (and are still trying) to figure all that out.  I think we finally figured out that we weren't feeding her enough which answered the question why she was fussy and clingy throughout the day.  She's also having a harder time going down at night, so we introduced some lullabies (thanks, YouTube).  It was a week of questioning if I'll be able to handle two little ones running around and a week of being especially thankful for my husband who helped me a great deal.

This weekend is Easter, of course!  I was in labor last Easter, so we're excited to have a relaxed day with our little one.  Have a great weekend.

I hope to be around more next week.