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It's interesting to look at your life, past to present, and think: "It has all led up to this...." And then wonder where it will lead to next.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Feeling Inspired. Cool.

You can very easily be considered cool in my book. I automatically think people who use the term "epic fail" are both hilarious and cool (I recently used it = I am cool).

Cool is easy.

But here are some incredibly inspiring people (who seem pretty friggin' cool too):

http://givingoflife.com/browse/heartline_ministries/ (vote here for this crazy awesome ministry to receive a much needed grant)

You can find more through these blogs as well.

It is amazing to see what God is doing in Haiti.

I want to be a part of it.

What to do, what to do...

Now that life has mellowed out, feels adjusted, and back to "normal", I find myself wandering the house looking for more to do. Gabriel has somewhat of a schedule now, Aiden seems to be moving out of his crazy tantrum stage (or maybe I'm just used to it?), and now that I finally have a daily routine (the thing I've been longing for) I am tired of it. I want to do more. Or get better at what I'm doing. Or both.

I have never been a crafty person. I've tried (a little). I come from an artsy family, so I tried my hand at music, art, and dance (dance being the only one that really kept my interest). I've never been one to love coming up with creative ways to learn, or anything like that. But I have never had a 3 year old before either. So now I am challenged. Do I cling to the fact that I am not good at this stuff? Or do it anyway, even if I am never as good as the women who thrive at it? 

I always knew I would be a stay at home mom until my kids went to school because I knew I didn't want any one else raising my kids (besides my husband, that is). I feel that way even more strongly now than before I had children, but it still doesn't come easy. I am constantly challenged, tired, and bored. It's awesome to be with my kids, see the way they change and grow every single day, to teach and learn from them, and they are just lots of fun in general. But it is also hard to live at the level of a baby and toddler all the time. I make plenty of play dates just to have some adult interaction. On the days I don't, I end up calling Aaron a lot more through out the day. Don't get me wrong, we do a lot of fun things. We play games, ride bikes, go to parks, hike, play in the creek, go to the library, read LOTS of books, draw/paint. But honestly, sometimes I really want to do some real adult stuff more often. I guess that's life, no? Always wanting more of what we don't have. So it's a challenge. And sometimes I'm bored even in the midst of a challenge. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Deep End

You may have noticed that there hasn't been a whole lot of "deep" going on in my blog lately. After my pregnancy with Gabriel, I felt like I had my fill of deep for awhile. I didn't read much of the Bible, I didn't read the news, I didn't think too much about the future and what that may bring. I instead threw myself into my day to day life, getting used to and enjoying the adjustments of having a new child in the family. Even the hard days I mostly found myself thinking, This isn't too bad, and it's only getting better. Life isn't so hard when you don't think about what else you could be doing, or how much better you should be doing.

Well, not even three months went by before I found myself thirsting for deep again. Thirsting to be hungry again. Thirsting for God. For all the deep,  hard, soul-crushing longing that comes with seeking Him. So I started to read God's word again. It was hard. I didn't like it. I read page after page, only to put the book down and not pick it up again for days, only to put it down again for even longer. One day, while at Barnes and Noble before heading to the train table with Aiden, I decided to go to the Bible section. I lost my cherished Bible months ago. The first (and only) Bible I bought with my own money. The one that traveled the world with me. The one that's permanent home was my purse. Always there, always near, until that day it mysteriously disappeared. So I scanned the shelf. Maybe it's time to get a new one? I thought to myself, not thinking I really would. It was the sentimental value that made me cherish my last one, not the actual Bible. I have been using a hand-me-down. A pink, floral, hard back, with womanly-insightful stories scattered throughout it. It sounds shallow to say I don't like it for those reasons, but it's kind of true. I looked over all the beautiful leather bound Bibles and tried to decide which I would buy, if I decided to. With Aiden tugging on my arm, using his most convincing whine, I grabbed the first "The Message" I saw and took it with me to look over. I had always been kind of skeptical of The Message. I thought maybe it was good for new Christians but not for me (hello ego!). I was pretty surprised. Here's some shameful but honest truth: it was the first time I've ever had trouble putting the Bible down. It's amazing how much easier it is to read and understand, which makes me want to read it that much more. Aiden likes it too. I am not sure how much he actually understands, but he likes listening to me read it out loud anyway.

Now that I am reading more, and actually allowing my thoughts to delve a little deeper, new challenges arise. I wrestle with questions like, should I be doing more? Should I keep it simple and focus on what I have? What am I putting before God? How do I learn to let it go? It's hard to bring myself to the deep end again. It makes me tired and worried I might drown. I find myself wanting to ask people around me, what should I do? Wishing they could just give me the straight and easy answer. Unfortunately there is no one right answer for everyone. So I am left to wait and listen for the answer God has for me. It seems He always brings me back to this place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Time To Commit

It can be such a scary thing, commitment. But when you find someone you love, who does you good, it really makes no sense not to. So I am committing myself to one hair dresser--Deanna! In case you didn't realize, this is kind of a big deal. I have never done this before. (It's one of those "settling down" signs I try to avoid, but now that I have lived in one place for over 2 years, I'm getting a little daring and breaking all kinds of rules.)

Let me explain.

I have had a lot of really bad hair cuts in my life. You may remember the one from last year. Clippers, razors, shears, you name it and it's been done to my hair. It seems unfair really, seeing as I've made a point to keep my hair healthy. I don't dye, blow-dry, straighten, or perm, and rarely use products. Why must hair dressers hate me so? I'm sure it has something to do with my price range. Now that I've mentioned it, the only hair cut I walked away from completely satisfied was a $60 hair cut. I'm usually more of a $20-$30 hair cut kind of person. So why Deanna? Here are a few reasons:

1. She has nice hair (this is usually a tell-tale sign as to whether you should let someone touch your hair)
2. She is friendly (if you're gonna be rude, please don't come near me with scissors)
3. She puts up with my "Um, I sorta want it like this picture, but not really..." and, "No wait, I change my mind, do this..." and, "I'm not sure what I want, will you just make it look good?" (maybe I should take more of the blame for my bad hair cuts)
4. She does her job well (as I said before there was only one hair cut that I liked completely right off the bat, but Deanna does a good job, and I am always happy with it after a day or two; once I've learned how to wear the new cut. Plus I always get compliments after she cuts it instead of the dreaded, "Oh your hair! It looks so... different!")
5. She is the only hair dresser who following hair dressers don't say, "Who did this to your hair?" about the cut she gave me (and I get that question a lot)
6. She makes me feel wonderful about my hair, saying things like, "You have such great hair! I bet you get complimented all the time..." (I don't care if she just wants a good tip, it works)
7. She works conveniently close to my home (that in itself is almost a good enough reason in my book)

So here's to Deanna, my forever hair dresser. That is, unless she quits, I move, or I find a better one (what can I say, I'm more loyal to my hair than my hair dresser).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Birthday To My Little Big Boy

Yesterday we celebrated Aiden's 3rd birthday. It's kind of hard to believe I have a 3 year old. The last three years have really flown by. However, when thinking of where we were at three years ago, it also feels like a life time.  Has it really only been three years? I keep asking myself, while simultaneously thinking, I can't believe he is three already! It doesn't really make me sad that he is growing up so fast, but it does make me a little sentimental (ok, a lot).

I wanted to make this birthday extra special for Aiden because I knew it would probably be the first birthday he might remember. My goal: low-key, but lots of fun. I decided to go with a theme this time and chose "Where The Wild Things Are", but ended up doing something quite different. Here is the problem, I am a perfectionist. By that I do not mean that I get things perfect, or even close, but rather I expect perfection from myself and therefore am never satisfied with my end results. Plus I tend to procrastinate, which is a really bad combination. Friday rolled around and I still hadn't gotten everything together for the party (or even close) and I started to realize that my "Where The Wild Things Are" theme was not going to come together because I simply didn't have the time. So instead I decided to decorate the house like a jungle and have my sister paint the kids' faces as wild animals. Instead of the games I originally had planned, I told everyone to bring their kids' bikes because we got a bike for Aiden for his birthday and figured it'd be fun for them all to ride together (Aiden really isn't that into organized games yet anyway). We had hotdogs and hamburgers to grill and I made carrot-pineapple cake. Sounds great, right? However, instead of "low-key", it felt chaotic (now that I think of it, what kids party isn't slightly chaotic?). The cake was kind of dry, and I mindlessly followed the recipe using walnuts, not thinking about the fact that one of Aiden's friends has a nut allergy! And for some reason I just could not get my original birthday plan out of my head, and so instead of seeing the kids having a good time and being pleased, all I could do was compare it to my original plan and feel like I had failed. (Sad, right? I know. I wish I could go back in time and change my attitude and just have fun.) Then when it came to opening presents all I could do was feel terribly guilty that Aiden had so many gifts! We only gave him the one, but with family and friends, it all adds up. He could barely appreciate the first gift he opened before he was handed another. I don't know why that made me feel so terrible, I mean he was thrilled! I just couldn't help but think about all the children in the world who don't even have what they need, much less all this excess. Don't get me wrong, I was not mad at anyone for getting Aiden gifts, nor was I mad that he was getting gifts, I simply felt guilt. Sheesh, sometimes I really get on my own nerves.

At the end of the day, when everyone was gone, I was running around the house cleaning up in my typical crazy-lady way, when Aiden called me. "Hey mommy! Let me show you something really cool!" (That is exactly what he said. When did he start talking like such a big kid?!) I went to see what he had to show me and he was holding up his new slinky and dropping a little truck through it. He was so happy with his new game that he kept doing it and looking at me for my approval with a big grin. He was sitting on the floor, surrounded by tons of awesome new toys and games, and there he was, playing with a slinky and a little truck, completely content. It kind of broke my heart (in a good way). Then I asked him what his favorite part of the day was, not really expecting a answer, when he said, "My favorite part of today was playing outside with Hannah, Bella, Kaylin, Anna, and Oliver too." His exact words. When did he start speaking in full sentences?! He made up for his maturity by asking me for some "spicy-juice" (soda) though, so that made me feel a little better. He's still somewhat my little baby. Although, he prefers the term "big boy". I can live with that.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Phases, stages, and other nasty things.

I am a really terrible liar. You'd think after all my teen years of practice I'd have it down by now, but instead I have only gotten worse. It's my face, it only knows how to portray exactly how I am feeling. Maybe this is good, seeing as it makes it very difficult to fib to my loved ones, but sometimes I really wish I could hide how I am feeling. I wish I could smile with my eyes and my mouth when greeting someone I don't particularly like, or when trying to be in a good mood while in a room full of people I don't want to be vulnerable with. Instead my lips spread, but my cheeks get tight and my eyes stare cold. Face do what I tell you! I scream internally, but my face doesn't listen. She just does what she wants, telling the truth for all to see. Stupid face.

So my "Yay! Life is so awesome and I'm all happy and content!" phase seems to be moving on. I know I'll see it again, and hopefully soon, but for now it has waved its pretty palm and left me to struggle with "Dude, life is hard. I don't like hard." phase instead. Stupid phases. I take back any judgmental comment I have ever made of women who have said something like, "I need a break! Get me away from my kids! They're driving me crazy!!" How mean. I thought. I'd never say something like that about my kids. I understood the women needed breaks, but why did they have to say it so harshly? Poor kids. HA! I now understand completely how you can say something like that (or worse) and still love your children with all of your heart. It's just, they are kids. And let's be honest, no matter how precious, adorable, sweet, loving, fun, and absolutely wonderful your children may be, they are kids. Kids can be really annoying. Especially when they start talking. And then don't stop talking. And everything comes out with that nails-on-the-chalk-board whine. And then the repetition... *Shudder* It makes the thought of living in a very secluded and padded room sound really appealing. Which is probably good since at this rate I am definitely headed to the crazy house. Ah silence, sweet silence! Plus you could sleep anytime, anywhere (in fact, I'm pretty sure they even give you drugs for that)!

Through this time of constant toddler break downs, whining, and complete refusal to listen to anything I say, one thing keeps confirming itself over and over. Being a mom is hard. Even when it's "easy", it's hard. Really, really hard. Whether you are blessed with a baby that sleeps, or a baby with colic, a toddler who listens most of the time, or almost never-- it's hard! Don't ever let yourself think, "This isn't so bad, what is everyone complaining about?" Because that's when it's coming right around the corner, just waiting to slap you in the face and make you question everything about yourself. That's the thing about parenthood, nothing stays the same. New phases, stages, and habits, requiring new routines and strategies. You find yourself thinking, I need a day off... No, a week... No, a month... Maybe after a year I'd feel rested? Yet deep down, beneath the unkempt hair, baby spit-up covered clothes, and always tired eyes, you know that even if you only had a couple hours, you'd still find yourself missing them. See what I'm saying? Crazy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Crazy Days

I was searching for my keys. They were no where to be found. Aaron had driven last. "Are you kidding me??" I said to myself, standing by the car, boys ready to go. As I started to walk back into the house to continue looking, I hear Aiden's little voice behind me. "Are you kidding me? Are you sew-ious, Aaron?" As much as I wanted to laugh in that moment (and I have to admit, I did) I also felt a little guilty. Do I really say that that often?

The time has come, or rather has been for awhile, that I really need to be careful what I say. I say and do a lot of things I don't want my kids to say and do. At least not yet. Child-proofing my house? Easy. Child-proofing me? Not so easy. I've already cut out the swearing (and luckily he hasn't caught my slip ups yet), but it's so much more than that really. Aiden gets this attitude some times, so sour, so very not cute. I watch my precious little boy in horror, thinking, Where did he get that from? And then Aaron says something like, "Wow, he sounds just like you." Ouch. So of course I slap Aaron in the arm. Then Aiden slaps him. Then, "Oh no, no, Aiden, we don't slap! Mommy was just playing, I shouldn't have done that..." Poor confused child.

Sometimes it's really hard to live as a role model 24/7. It's hard more than just sometimes. It's draining and at times down right frustrating. It's usually around 10:00 p.m. before I finally get to relax, to just sit and be a little selfish, to even notice that my shoulders have crept up to my ears in an almost permanent state. I usually have to get into a little tiff with Aaron just to get rid of my internal tension. He's usually a good sport and has learned if he just lets me get it out of my system, we can laugh and move on. He's learned to say "I'm sorry" (and mean it). He's learned to take my name-calling as endearment (as it's intended, of course). He's even learned to keep a grin as I run around like a crazy woman complaining about god knows what before crashing on the couch with him. With him running a business and me a household, we both have to keep a lot in through out the day. I have to keep my cool with the kids, and he has to keep his cool with adults who act like kids. It's nice with such different lives to be able to join each other on the couch each night and relate. It helps me feel a little less crazy and a little more capable. And by the end of the day (especially lately), I really need that.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Date Night

Gabriel finally decided he'd humor me with the bottle last week, thanks to those brilliant "Breastflow" bottles. He's still hesitant to take it from anyone but me (the kid knows what he wants) but we decided it was as good a time as any to test it out on a babysitter. Also, we were desperate for a date.

Saturday night: Aiden ready for bed, Gabriel safely tucked in my friend Liz' arms, me frantically spouting off last minute instructions-- it was time for our first real live date since Gabriel was born. Well technically we had one other one, but it was just to the local coffee shop and I was so nervous the whole time (because of that frightening possibility that Gabriel would starve to death in the five minutes it would take me to get to him) that it just didn't feel official. This time we were going to the movies. Normally I might say, Wow that's lame, you can't even really talk at the movies. Or something stupid like that. But Aaron and I haven't been to the movies together since we got married (and actually I think we only went maybe twice while we were dating), so the prospect of watching an entire movie with no interruptions, plus popcorn, drinks, the whole works? Very exciting. In fact, every time I thought about it I got those pesky little butterflies in my stomach. I kept looking at Aaron and smiling excitedly while clapping my hands like a little girl with glee. You would have thought it was my first date ever or something. Thankfully Aaron wasn't weirded out by my desperate, and even slightly embarrassing, enthusiasm. I think the feeling was mutual.

We arrived at Carolina Cinemas, about 35 minutes from our home, feeling excited but also a little tense as I was painfully aware of every minute that took me further from my babies--in particular the one that would possibly not eat from his bottle. But as we stepped into the Cinema, my worries faded. I grabbed Aaron's hand, we bought our tickets, got drinks (beer for Aaron, root beer for me--yes this theater was awesome), popcorn, and even some candy. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the theater did not have regular seating, but couches and foot rests. All the better for a good ol' movie make out session! Except that we were at the very front of the theater as there were no other seats open and we certainly weren't going to be those people. Also we really wanted to see the movie. Not to mention, we could make out at home without spending a fortune on movie tickets. Am I right?

We watched Change-Up. It was quite possibly one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. Although I could have done without all the profanity and booby shots. There was an awful lot of nudity. The men, on the other hand, got to keep all their clothes on. I guess we still live in very much a man's world. Not that I would have wanted to see naked men either. But seriously.

Going to the movies was more fun than I even imagined. I don't know why I was ever against it to begin with! No risk of conversations about real life or other stressful things. Just relaxation. With my man. Couldn't have asked for a better first date! Minus, of course, the boobs.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Let's talk about the weather...

It's that time of year again. The time when summer ends--ack! I've found my dread of winter has become so strong that it has even begun to threaten my love of fall. I find myself getting excited and then wincing at the thought of what comes after. I guess it's unfair to blame fall. After all, it can't help the fact that the impending doom of winter follows so closely. I shouldn't hold it against it. The mountains, on the other hand, embrace fall each year like an undying fashion. Donning yellow, orange, and red like they were made for those colors (they really were, weren't they). Cool breeze. Plaid. Hot cider. Camp fires. It's hard not to do the same.

We usually have at least another month and a half of heat before the leaves will start their change, but already the wind has picked up and the air has begun to cool. I smelt fall the other night. Aaron shook his head, letting me know we had a little ways to go. But nostalgia doesn't seem to care what the calender says and has set in once again. I find I have a love-hate relationship with nostalgia. It makes me smile and daydream, and then it hits me in my gut, reminding me those memories are just that. Memories. Never to be again.

Most of my fall memories are still quite fresh. There really isn't such a thing as fall in southern China. Just summer, and then BAM! Wet, damp, winter. And then BAM! Summer again. So most of my fall memories (besides a few scattered through my childhood when on furlough) are just from the last six years. I started my new life at college in the fall. I met Aaron in the fall. I discovered my love of writing in the fall. I became pregnant with Aiden in the fall. My brother survived a deadly disease in the fall. Fall is magical. Life changing. It holds memories impossible to forget. It gets you thinking, what will happen this fall?

Ah, who am I kidding. Not even the throes of winter could threaten my love of fall!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Almost Threes.

Much like most teachers (or pastors, or cars salesmen), Aiden has discovered the effectiveness of repetition. No matter what is fact and what is absurd, he has uncovered the power of persuasion through repetition and shows no signs of giving it up any time soon. Here is the slightly shortened version of our most recent conversation.

Aiden: Mommy, Oliver come to my house at six o'cwock. Yeah?
Me: Well, no he's coming in just a few minutes.
Aiden: Mommy, it's six o'cwock now?
Me: No it's almost twelve.
Aiden: It's six, Mommy.
Me: I'm pretty sure it's closer to twelve, Aiden.
Aiden: It's SIX o'cwock, and it's six o'cwock, Mommy!
Me: You really want it to be six don't you... (basically talking to myself)
Aiden: It's six o'cwock. (very matter of factly)
Me: Yep, it's six. (not even thinking about what I am saying)

He gets me every time.

Sometimes I find myself sneaking in Aiden's room during naps or after bedtime just to watch him sleep. Catching a glimpse of him in his most peaceful state really helps me make it through the rest of the day. Folded over his knees or sprawled out on his back, the way his face rests so calmly reminds me of when he was just a baby. At peace with the world, happy just to stare at my face and coo. Before the back-talking, before the tantrums, before the eating of boogers. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I would wish him back. I would never give up this age. I love watching his imagination grow (using the cord to my breast pump as a "rocket ship") and I love that he can communicate so well now ("Mommy when Gabriel get bigger we gon' FIGHT!"). It's just that some days my head hurts so bad, my body feels so tired, and my eye lids so heavy that it's hard to keep up with him. It's hard to stay enthusiastic about playing with play-dough for the gazillionth time (and cleaning it out of the carpet as it somehow always makes its way there no matter my efforts to contain it elsewhere). It's hard to stay calm when he's screaming about nothing for the fifth time in a day (or hour). And it's hard to wipe butts all day without occasionally thinking back to the days when the only butt I had to wipe was my own, while also looking forward to the day when it's once again the only one I have to worry about. (Yes, I actually do fantasize about that day. It may even be a little disturbing when I think about how very, very happy it makes me.)

Alas, this is life with a toddler. The ups, the downs, the occasional in-betweens. And so I sneak into his room and watch him sleep. In those moments I am the ever loving, ever patient mother. He is the ever sweet, ever obedient son. Those moments give me strength to handle the moments when reality sets in and I fight the urge to pull my hair out. The urge to scream and lock myself in my room. The moments I must instead choose to keep my cool (externally anyway) and address whatever the situation may be. Those are the moments that make us, right? Well, either that or break us. Sometimes it feels the same.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things...

I have never intended for this to be a mommy blog and further still no intention of using it to advertise products of any kind, but I have found myself being so thankful for so many of the gifts I received in preparation for Gabriel that I can't bare not to mention a few! Whether you are expecting or expect to be expecting some time in the ever expanding future (or find yourself invited to a baby shower--can't really avoid that one!), here is a list of a few things I did not have with my first, but now couldn't imagine going without.

The Moby Wrap
This is the only baby carrier that doesn't destroy my back and neck, saving me from countless headaches! It can be intimidating when first learning to strap your little one on, but in the end it is well worth it and even get's easy after awhile. There are multiple options for various positions depending on your baby's size and whether they want to sleep or take in the world. It's nice not have to buy an infant insert which can cost you an extra $50! I also just bought a sling carrier that is also comfortable, easy to carry in a diaper bag/purse, and convenient to have on hand when you don't have time to configure the Moby.

BumGenuis Cloth Diapers
I never thought I'd be a cloth diaper fan. I imagined they'd be gross, inconvenient, and stupid. After buying 2+ years worth of disposables with my first, I decided it might be worth keeping an open mind. Thank you to all of you who gave me gift cards! I used them to purchase BumGenius diapers, and now live in the luxury of not having to buy so many gosh darn disposables! I'm not gonna lie, the money-splurging, tree-hating, land-filling side of me still likes disposables better (and I still use them at night and when traveling), but cloth diapers are actually pretty cool. And BumGenuis are my favorite. So far no blowouts, seem comfortable, and are pretty cute too. That's good enough for me.

Arm's Reach CoSleeper Bassinet
Best idea ever! I lost so many minutes (and they all add up) of sleep sitting up to check on Aiden, waking up way more than necessary just to make sure he was breathing. The cosleeper allows you to check on baby without sitting up, and is very convenient in lifting baby out for those late night/early morning feedings. It sounds silly. Unless you've been through it before. Then it makes complete sense.

My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow
The name still makes me laugh, but don't let it (or the price) deter you from getting this can't-live-without item! It is a breastfeeding momma's best friend (the name doesn't lie). Especially if you are a first time mom, or get headaches from the nursing position like me. This pillow is much firmer than the Boppy, and actually surrounds your waste and latches, giving full support and the ability to get up and walk while nursing even if still a noob! Simply amazing.

I don't use the swing to get my baby to sleep (at least not on purpose), but I still claim it as a can't-live-without. It's nice to switch it up between the swing and bouncer, since like most people, babies like variety. Aiden didn't like the swing the first few tries and since he liked the bouncer I didn't hesitate to return it. I was a little more patient and determined with Gabriel since he wasn't too fond of the bouncer either and within a few weeks he decided he liked both, although on different occasions. Regardless, it's a nice substitute for my arms when my toddler needs my attention, and I've been very happy with my Fisher-Price Cradle Swing hand-me-down.

Nursing Cover
Alright so I'm still not a huge fan of nursing covers. They are hot, they get in the way, and personally I think they draw a whole lot more attention with those bright patterns (hasn't anyone in the nursing cover business heard of solids colors?) but still I am thankful to have one on the occasion I find myself in company with small-minded people who find feeding your child a thing of discomfort. Finally, a reason to carry these flabs of flesh around on our chests and now they want us to cover them up! I am generally a modest nurser, but it helps people feel better when they run no risk of being flashed. I can understand that.

And last but certainly not least:

The Electric Pump
With Aiden I thought to myself, Well I'll be mostly nursing so a hand pump should work just fine, besides those electric pumps are just so darn expensive! Worth every penny my friends (although technically I didn't spend a dime-- thank you Kait!). Whether you are planning on going back to work or being a stay at home mom, don't let yourself believe you don't deserve one of these. I can't tell you how much easier, faster, and wonderful the electric pump is compared to the hand pump! Of course, now that I have one my son won't take a bottle. Of course.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you again. My heart, soul, and mind (especially my mind) thank you deeply for these amazing gifts that have made my life so much easier!

Home Sweet Mobile Home

There are few things made as poorly as a mobile home. Poorly designed, poorly insulated, poorly cared for. About the only thing they are good for is being able to move them easily from one place to another. I guess that was the intent. But c'mon, long, thin boxes are simply not ideal living spaces. Hot in the summer with small and never enough windows. Cold in the winter as heat simply does not flow well in a rectangle (not to mention the heat vents are never installed in the proper locations, nor is the thermostat). Did you know that there are actually special manufacturers who make things like faucet knobs, shower heads, etc. specifically for mobile homes? Specifically to not work right. This home is never short of a leaky faucet. Yes, I dislike mobile homes. And yet this is my home.

Aaron and I moved into our beloved (insert sarcasm here) mobile home just over two years ago. We found it on craigslist and though not exactly ecstatic over the fact that it was a mobile home, we were mostly interested in the huge shop on the property that was rented at a very reasonable price (something we've learned is very hard to find). We needed a shop and the only criteria on our list for a home was cheap and livable. Done. It may surprise you but in the past I was actually quite optimistic when it came to prospective homes (not to worry, I have been cured of that, but don't let me get ahead of myself). When I first stepped into the trailer I was met with dingy floors, ceiling black from smoke, and a very peculiar odor (mixture of old house, cigarette smoke, and cat pee). The black ceiling hung much lower than I was used to and I got to feeling as though I were in a  hobbit home as I walked the perimeter taking it all in. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, the "good" at that point was purely theoretical, but I saw every potential I possibly could and used it to convince myself I could make it work. And convince I did.

Fast forward one year. The ceiling has been painted, and so have some of the walls, but bright red trim painted by the previous tenants still lines our bedroom and our bathroom still glows an ominous yellow. The floors at this point are driving me insane. They look like someone went to various construction sites picking up leftover tiles, then poured cement and went to town. Oh wait, I am pretty sure that is exactly what happened. The floors are uneven, unmatching tile after unmatching tile scattered throughout the house, the only relief is the wooden floors in our bedrooms. The concrete and tile make for excruciatingly cold floors in the winter, and because of the rough concrete that separates the tiles our socks don't even last us a season without numerous holes appearing. It's maddening to go through a huge basket of socks, most of which were just bought a few months before, and find that they are almost all filled with holes. Maddening! Oh and did I mention how impossible these floors are to clean? I can't tell you how many mops I've destroyed in my desperate efforts. Speaking of concrete, the previous owner of this home--who did most of the modifications that make it so unique--had some strange fascination with concrete. If our floors were not proof enough, he also made our bathroom sink out of cement, our plastic tub is surrounded by cement, our fireplace is cement (that one makes most sense even though it still looks random), there are two cement dividers in our dining room-kitchen area, and a strange cavern-like cement space behind but also attached to our house with a cement bench and a random half-finished cement staircase leading up the mountainside to no particular destination. I'd really like to see someone try to move this mobile home. I think I'd even set up a lawn chair and help myself to some popcorn and a coke. That, my friends, would be entertainment.

Fast forward yet another year. I have given up on my floors. I may still sweep and mop (giving up completely is not really an option), but have long given up on ever expecting them to actually look clean, or even pass the wipe-to-the-floor test (the wipe will always come up brown--no exceptions). I have finally painted the red trim white, and my room and bathroom are now both a pleasant brown (the kind that makes you want to read a book or go to sleep). Oh, something I forgot to mention that was noticed long before my second year here. Despite the solidness of the floors, the walls are unbelievably thin. Thin like don't hang anything too heavy-- no wall shelves or heavy art please! And definitely don't throw your dog into one (what can I say, she's never nipped at anyone since)! That is how you end up with a hole. One that reveals what we're dealing with. Two millimeters max. No exaggeration. An entire wall has already been repaired by previous tenants (I wonder what they threw?) with two big, thick sheets of plywood. My landlord refuses to let us paint it (It was so expensive and it matches the cabinets so nicely--what??), so we just have a random half of a wall that is naked wood while the rest is painted. Even with all the random and unattractive qualities of this home, the thing that frustrates me the most? Mice. Well, mice and ants. They aren't here all year round (that would be positively unbearable), they come and go. We set out traps and we catch them and they disappear for awhile, but the woods around us provide a never-ending supply of uninvited little guests. The mice have long ago chewed several holes in the walls, providing easy access to our home from beneath it and throughout it. And why not? The walls hold the consistency of crackers. Maybe they taste like them too. We try to fix the holes as we find them, but it's never long before they return. Gaping at us. Mocking us. And the ants? They're almost as bad. There is a constant trail of them. Never ending. Sometimes I find pleasure in squishing them with my thumb, one by one, or spraying their trail with bleach and wiping them out with a paper towel. In the end my efforts are futile.

So why stay? I've asked myself that question countless times. The truth is, I can't imagine living anywhere else. It's not the mobile home. I could burn this house to the ground with a single match and quite possibly hold no regret. It's everything else. I love living right where my husband works and the in-and-out traffic that comes with that. I love that the neighborhood kids come to play (and tell me what a nice house I have--that kinda stings). And that no one in this neighborhood is ever trying to "keep up with the Jones'". I love the creek that runs below us, and the mountain that rises behind us. I love feeling like I'm in the country, but being able to drive to town in minutes. Most of all I love that when I pull up my drive way I know I'm coming home. Home. It's a feeling that makes you want to sigh. The good kind.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Ladies be warned. Sure compromise is good for marriage, even necessary, but don't be fooled, it is not your friend. Ok, let me elaborate. Years ago Aaron had a dream. A dream to own a motorcycle. And, unfortunately, to ride it too. A dual-purpose bike to be exact. So that, you know, he could not only ride it off road, but also on the road with all the crazy drivers. Now, I'm a pretty easy going person and Aaron has had it fairly easy (all my craziness aside) these few years. In fact when I once told a friend that I had almost reached my limit on something, he said, "Oh, you have one of those?" However, when Aaron mentioned this deep desire for a bike, I did not even hesitate to say "NO!" Crushing his dreams without remorse. There are not many things I have put my foot down on, but I have seen too many bodies, and limbs detached from bodies, to allow even the possibility of a similar fate for my husband. You see, it's not that I am cruel, it's that I love him that much. And that, my friends, was my biggest mistake. Doing something out of love instead of cruelty. Weakness, ladies. Take note and learn.

After years of Aaron yammering on and on about how awesome it would be to have a bike, we finally reached the point where him getting one was actually even an option. Besides that one big obstacle-- ME! So the "discussion" continued full force. Finally, I decided to give him a glimmer of hope just to get him to stop trying to convince me. I said to myself, Compromise. That is the solution. Ha. I told him that I would consider the option of him getting a bike only once he got health and life insurance. I really thought I had him here because we own our own business and insurance is a blood sucking vampire of the money world, so I assumed it would be years before we'd get to the point where we could afford it (chop off an arm to save a leg, you know the drill). But what I forgot about my husband is, he is absolutely determined. Looong story short. Aaron figured out that by riding a bike to and from job sites and estimates instead of his car, we would save more than enough to afford life insurance and health insurance for both of us. You see, I really hadn't thought my side of this whole deal through. Because now my husband owns a dual-purpose bike (as always he found a deal he could not refuse, and it's his dream bike to top it off) and here I am back to square one. Fretting like a mad woman. Sure, I'm thrilled we have insurance now, but is it really going to be worth it when he's out there risking his life even more now? He already climbs freakishly high trees with chainsaws, does he really need to add another life threatening activity to his daily life? Everyday that he rides off to work I watch him and first think, Damn he looks good. And then, Will I ever see him again? Aaron likes to think I am overly dramatic. Maybe I am. But like I said before, I have seen what I've seen, and I cannot unsee it. 

On a positive note, I am praying a whole lot more.