Friday, April 28, 2006

Oh, Yeah! One Last Thought for the Week

With my doctor’s appointment Monday and Emma’s traumatic fire drill experience,* I completely forgot to report back on “God or the Girl”. So, here goes:

I enjoyed the last episode but I could have lived without the long recaps of each of the men’s stories. I imagine they did that in case there were first time viewers. Annoying, but forgiveable.

I was not surprised in the least that Joe decided against the priesthood. I really never got the sense that he was called. Without calling into question his faith, it felt more to me like he only considered it to make his parents happy. I know another pleaser when I see one.

With Dan, I felt that his decision could go either way. I wasn’t far off – he decided to stop the discernment process for a while and just be. He didn’t feel God had shown him where he was called. After watching the recap of his story, the carrying of the cross seemed almost unrelated to his discernment process. His meeting with Amber was the turning point. Not carrying his cross. I don’t think that it was a stunt or a ploy. All the same there was a disconnect there for me. Did anyone else get that feeling?

I was open and honest about the fact that I would have been disappointed if Steve chose not to join the seminary. For some reason his story spoke to me. I got chocked up when he told his home parish that he was going to start his priestly formation after finishing up with his work in Nebraska. Too bad I live in the Richmond Diocese and not the Arlington Diocese. Still, it’s not to far to attend one of his masses someday – assuming he doesn’t become a missionary.

I was really happy that they did a follow up six months later. I’m glad that each of them are at peace with their lives and with their decisions. I am very thankful that A&E created and broadcast this show. What a wonderful tool for youth ministry.

*She’s using the bathroom now, but I literally had to drag her in to the bathroom in the pediatrician’s office because she saw the fire alarm inside. She calmed down after I locked the door to prevent her from escaping, but she kept her hands over her ears the entire time. I asked the doctor about what happened. He said that children with a lot of ear problems can be hypersensitive to noise. That should clear up as she grows and her inner ear matures.

Down Came the Rain

I have been giving a lot of thought to some of the things that my ob/gyn said during my appointment on Monday. Writing my entry that afternoon was very therapeutic as well. I assumed that once my panic attacks went away without taking Paxil that my post-partum depression was over. Still, I haven’t felt myself since the moment Allison was born. It’s as if the strong, happy, confident Jennifer left my body in much the same way as Allison did. Clearly 18 months later, as Dr. M said, I’m still in the middle of it.

On Wednesday I checked Down Came the Rain out of the library. It is Brooke Sheilds’ book about her journey through post-partum depression. I wished that I had bought that book when it first came out. It would have comforted me and it might have led me to take action and have a more pleasant experience last year. There is a quotation on the back of the book that could not more accurately sum up the way that I felt throughout the first five to six months of Allison’s life:

“At first I thought what I was feeling was just exhaustion, but with it came an overriding sense of panic that I had never felt before. Rowan kept crying, and I began to dread the moment when Chris would bring her back to me. I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise were tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of devastation overcame me.”

I am not quite finished with the book yet, but aside from changing names, locations and relationships, Sheilds could have been writing this book about my experience. Reading that book would be like reading my diary. It amazes me that people with entirely different life experiences could have so much in common:

We both overcame infertility issues to become pregnant. We couldn’t understand why we weren’t ecstatic over our daughters because we were “lucky” to have been pregnant in the first place. Because we weren’t feeling “grateful” or “blessed” or “appreciative” we felt guilty.

We had wonderful pregnancies with few complications. We never felt better or more confident about ourselves. We didn’t think about the possibility of having post-partum depression because it just wouldn’t affect us.

We each experienced a family tragedy/emergency three weeks prior to our deliveries.

We both planned on natural childbirth and ended up with c-sections.

We didn’t think that we loved our babies.

We both have loved ones who committed suicide. Our experiences post-partum made us feel incredibly close to those loved ones.

Escape is a common theme. We wanted to be anywhere other than where our daughters were.

We felt that we could not ask for help if we were good mothers. Good mothers did not pawn off their responsibilities on other people.

We both had been exercising regularly before our deliveries and then stopped altogether.

Reading this book really feels like rubbing a soothing salve over my heart. I am not alone. It was not willfully being selfish, resentful and scared. There is a problem with the way my body has adjusted to delivering Allison. I don’t always have to feel this way. The Jennifer that I want to be can come back. I cannot control whatever it is that caused this, but I can control how I respond to it. I’m beginning to form a plan of action to get Jennifer back. Dr. M. wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant. I’ve filled that and will not stop taking it without her advice and guidance. The “Gee, I’m feeling better so don’t need this anymore” approach hasn’t worked the past three times I’ve gone cold turkey. She referred me to a counselor whom she feels has an excellent track record with long term post-partum depression and some of the related issues I need to address. My first appointment is Wednesday afternoon. I am also making a commitment to getting regular exercise. Last week I took walked six out of seven days. On Sunday, while pushing fifty pounds of baby up and down the hills in my neighborhood, I caught a glimpse the old me. The sights, sounds and sensations I experienced on that walk felt like déjà vu. It was absolutely wonderful.

As I walked past Allison’s crib on my way to bed last night, I peaked in and had a wave of wonder wash over me. I wanted so badly to pick her up and never let her go. That felt absolutely wonderful, too.

The Girl’s Gotta Grow

Allison had her 18 month check up this morning. Even though I know that she had grown a lot recently, I still think of her as tiny. After all, Tiny is what the nursery nurses called her the first three days of her life. That’s going to have to change. As of today, Allison weighs 26 pounds 12 ounces. She’s in the 75th percentile in weight. She is 35 inches long! She’s now in the 95th percentile in height. She’s gone from the 25th to the 75th/95th percentile in nine short months. You grow, Ally! I can't wait to see what you'll become.

Look at those arms and legs! She had to grow into her own skin.
If you look at her now, she already comes up above Emma's shoulders.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Emma's Alarm

So my plan today was to write something light and funny to counterbalance my most recent posts. I have some cute stories about the girls coming into their own as sisters. They really are cute together. They spontaneously started rolling a ball back and forth between each other without Danny or me playing with them. They’re even getting rough and tumble when they play on the couch. Just last night they got into a play slapping match that was so hilarious. I can’t believe that they are at an age where they can play fight and laugh the entire time. Allison constantly asks for “Memma” whenever she’s not around. It warms the heart. That was my plan – to relay those stories and share with everyone just how much Emma and Allison are sisters. After I talked with Emma’s preschool teacher this morning, that all changed.

Emma has trouble with “loud” potties. There was a time when I couldn’t get her to use a public restroom. Even now she covers her ears every time we flush when we’re not at home. When Emma started preschool, she didn’t like using the potties there, either. That problem went away after she became more comfortable there. Last week changed that. During a prescheduled fire drill, Emma was alone in the bathroom with the door closed going to the bathroom when the alarm went off. She hasn’t pottied at daycare since. She refuses to. Her teacher, Miss J, was hoping that it wouldn’t last long and that the weekend would change things. It didn’t. Last night before I picked Emma up she had an accident. She hadn’t used the bathroom one time between 5:30 that morning and 5:30 that evening. No wonder she had an accident. I thanked her teacher for telling me what was happening. I told her to tell Emma that if she gets a good note on her daily form about using the potty that I would take her to “Betty’s” (She calls the Food Lion next door “Betty’s” because of a cashier she’s developed a friendship with) and get a treat.

After I talked with Emma’s teacher, I spoke with, L, the director. I was upset because of the state Emma was in when I picked her up the night before. They changed her pants and panties after the accident, but they never changed her socks or shoes. I didn’t notice that until I got home. Her socks were as close to dripping wet as they could be. Her toes were shriveled up like prunes. I felt so bad that I didn’t think to check her socks and shoes when I picked her up in the first place. I just never would have thought that she would be left that way. I told the director what happened and asked to be called from now on when Emma has an accident. I really like the director of this daycare and that went well. From the beginning she has dealt well with any concerns that I have had. I got the impression that I wouldn’t find Emma like that again. I then went on to mention that she had her accident because she hadn’t used the bathroom all day. I then told her about my meeting with Miss J. Then she really got angry. She said that the teachers were given full notice of the fire drill and that there is no reason why any child should have been in the bathroom when that happened. I almost wished that she hadn’t said that. It’s easier to live with thinking that it was a simple accident. It’s still an accident. I don’t believe for one second that Miss J put Emma in that situation on purpose. But it could have and should have been avoided. My poor, sensitive girl.

I visited the preschool again during my lunch break and I feel much better about the situation. Although the trip to “Betty’s” didn’t seem to do the trick, the fact that today is the day that the ice cream truck stops by did help some. She hadn’t gone to the bathroom yet, but she sat on the potty twice without getting hysterical. I also talked some more with L. While I was talking with her, another trusted and loved worker, L2, overheard. She spends a lot of time at the preschool building. Emma likes her a lot. She said that she would help Emma and work with Miss J. Hopefully this situation will smooth over very soon.

And here I thought that life would get easier with potty training…

Monday, April 24, 2006

Post Script

I have touched Allison's head when it is in a state of goopiness too many times to count. It's not all that it's cracked up to be. ;)

I prefer it clean and dry - just like the first I touched and kissed it.

Just My Allison

I went to see Dr. M., my new ob/gyn, this morning. The reason that I mention this is because I still rehash Allison's birth on a daily basis - especially at night. I fantasize about what it would have been like to have vaginally delivered Allison all the time or different scenarios that might have allowed for that to happen. What if I hadn’t let myself be induced? What if I did try using an ironing board to elevate my feet above my head to use gravity to try to get Allison in a better position (what the doula would have had me do had she known why I wasn’t dilating)? When I see women having babies on TV - especially those who want/wanted to go au natural - I get depressed and cry. Discovery Health channel is not my friend when Babies: Special Delivery or Birth Day are on. 18 months is far too long to be caught up in something like that. I know this. I talked with the doctor about this today. She agreed.

When I try to explain my feelings and thought about this it just seems that they don’t understand. For them it’s enough to know that one or both of us would have died had the surgery not happened. It’s not that simple for me. I wish that it was. There are two parts of this issue. The first is that I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself and care far too much what others – specifically my mother – think about me. Truth be told, I wanted an epidural from the beginning. What changed my mind? My mother chose not to use pain relief for her five deliveries. Although it’s not something I remember us discussing during my pregnancy, whenever she had ever talked about childbirth to me growing up she always talked about the natural way being the “best” way. If she ever mentioned a caveat about situations where childbirth went wrong, I don’t remember. I wanted to be a good mother and I wanted to look good in her eyes. I was worried that I would cave in and get pain relief without having someone there who would disapprove. That’s where the doula came in and I unknowingly threw myself into the hippy natural childbirth arena. Not using pain medication was my mother's bias, not mine. The whole truth is that I need to learn to live for myself and not worry about what others think, even my mother. At 34, I was worried about what my mother would say to me when she got to the hospital the morning after Allison was born. I remember making a point that she wouldn’t have been born on her own. The funny thing is that it was all for naught. She said that if a c-section is required for a 5 and a half pound baby to be born there must have been something wrong. There was no judgment there except my own.

The second part of the equation was hiring the doula and getting involved in the current wave of natural childbirth Nazis. K is very nice and I enjoyed working with her. She made me excited about giving birth to Allison. The labor preparation that she provided, though, was focused almost strictly on the ideal – how I wanted my vaginal delivery without the use of pain medication to go. Other than talking about ways to cope with back labor, there wasn’t much discussion at all about handling or preparing for situation outside of this “ideal.” At one point she asked Danny and me to draw pictures of how we envisioned Allison’s birth. My stick figure drawing was a picture of me smiling as I reach down to touch Allison’s head as she’s being born. K thought this was a wonderful picture. We simply didn’t discuss how I would feel or what I would do if this vision weren’t possible for whatever reason. When all you plan for is the “ideal” in any situation you are setting yourself up for heartache. Now, when I look at or think about that drawing I am reminded again of what I missed out on.

Another strong focus of our meetings was about me being in control of my labor and delivery – not the doctors and nurses at the hospital. We talked about the standard operating procedures at most hospitals and how “unnecessary” many of them are. They rob women of their dignity and control to convenience hospital staff. What difference does it make if I am allowed to eat and drink during labor or wear my own gown? Not that there aren’t egomaniac doctors in this world, but if I or any laboring woman makes a few changes to the standard hospital procedures, what have we really gained? We’re not really in control. Women who squat down and birth their children in the fields have no more control over it than Westerners do. No matter who you are, where you live or what you’re doing at the time, childbirth stops you in your tracks. It’s a 3 ton boulder rolling down a mountainside.

That being said, it wasn’t working with K as much as the reading she encouraged me to do that has helped mess me up. I read several of her books on childbirth and midwifery. There were two basic premises behind these books: 1) your body knows exactly what it’s doing and as long as you allow it to do its work through relaxation and maintaining a positive attitude (thinking positive thoughts, envisioning the opening of the cervix and the baby moving down the birth canal, etc.) you will be fine and 2) there were truly very few labor and delivery “complications” that require medical intervention. Most things considered a “complication” by the “medical establishment” can be overcome by time, patience, allowing the body to do its work. Those books glossed over the high rates of childbirth related fatalities and injuries prior to the “patientization” of laboring mothers. They often held up women in Africa as the gold standard. Many of these books spoke about the nearly pain-free deliveries experienced by those African women. Why did they get lucky and have pain-free deliveries? It was all in their attitude. Although it was not expressly written in any of these books or believed by any of these authors, I took from this the understanding that if I didn’t experience a drug-free vaginal delivery that it would be my fault. This even includes those things that could be “blamed” on the doctor. After all, I chose a hospital delivery attended by a member of the “medical establishment” instead of a home birth attended by a midwife.

So, after the surgery, I pretty much felt like a failure as a woman. Allison and I were kept healthy by it, but still I failed/missed out on this rite of passage. On top of flunking, I wasn’t as strong as my mother because I begged for an epidural and didn’t get to touch Allison’s goopy, yet unborn head. That’s failure on top of guilt on top of disappointment. [Have I mentioned how this entire thing also is just not fair?] No wonder I’ve been so depressed over the past 18 months.

During my appointment I gave Dr. M. the explanation Dr. G gave me after he delivered Allison – my uterus was clamped down on her and would not let go of her. He told me at the time that Allison would never have been born without the surgery and I had done the very best that I could. I believed him, but… [insert fantasy of how this could have been overcome through not allowing the induction to occur, etc.]. Dr. M listened to what I said and then told me something very valuable - something not mentioned in the books those midwives wrote: there are doctors in Africa right now whose only job is to rebuild and repair the bladders and rectums of women who labored for days, for the same reasons I needed a c-section, and the baby never came out. Knowing that what happened during my delivery happens to many women has made me feel much better. Women’s bodies may very well be equipped to deliver children, but they don’t always work the way they should. Nature is far from perfect and natural is not always the “best” for mother or baby. I didn’t fail any test. There wasn’t any amount of positions I could have used or exercises I could have done to change the ultimate outcome. I wonder how long I would have been allowed to labor unsuccessfully outside of a hospital? What a luxury it is to be able to obsess (Trista, you’ve just got your wish) about woulda, coulda, shoulda, blah, blah, blah. Now I just need to figure out how to let go of all this. I thought that I beat this dead horse to the curb for the last time after Allison’s first birthday, but I haven’t. No matter what happened to get her here, I should rejoice in it because she's alive, happy and healthy. When I told Dr. M that at least once a day when I look at Allison I revisit how she was born, she was taken aback. She asked me if I think about the adoption a lot when I look at Emma. I said, no. To me, she's just my Emma. I want that for me and Allison, too.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Emma's Easter Package

Emma got so excited last night when I told her that the package I found on the front porch was for her. I got so tickled when she pointed to herself and said, “The package is for me?” It was an Easter package from Emma’s maternal birth family. We opened it as soon as we got upstairs. Even Ally got in the spirit. When I put the package on the kitchen table and Emma climbed on a chair to start opening it, she was nipping at my heels to get “Up! Up!” herself. Two sets of eyes got really wide when Emma opened the gift to reveal a box full of popcorn and Easter candy. Before I could say a word, Emma closed the box (nearly on Ally’s fingers) and said, “We need to put this up until we eat supper.” I walked over, took the box from Emma and put it on the counter. From the look on Ally’s face you would have thought I’d taken her pacie and blankie baby away. As soon as she started howling, Emma went over and started loving on her. I was the softy. I opened the box and took out a small bag of jelly beans and said that it would be okay to have a few while I fixed dinner. Emma sat next to Ally and judiciously passed out some jelly beans. The girls were happily quiet for a few seconds before Emma said, “Allison, we can only have a few jelly beans, okay? We need to eat our supper.” Ally immediately replied in agreement, “Kay.” And to my amazement they did only eat a few jelly beans. Neither got upset when I took the rest away. Emma is growing up to become a wonderful big sister.

On Being a Writer

I have been thinking again about writing my own novel. It’s been a long time gone since I gave that any serious thought. Most of the time I find these thoughts are easy to push aside. I just remind myself that one thing that seems consistent among authors is their continuous, overwhelming urge to write. I don’t have that. I never have. I’m not that disciplined and am easily distracted. So, does that mean I’m not author material? Who’s to say? I’d hate to come to my death bed and regret not trying to write a novel. That being said, not wanting to regret not doing this or that on my death bed hasn’t stopped me from not doing those things before.

Reading Southern Daughter, a biography about Margaret Mitchell, is definitely encouraging thoughts about my own writing. Learning about the good, the bad and the ugly in Peggy Mitchell’s life is really inspiring to me. It was her strengths just as much as her flaws that made it possible for Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie and Ashley to be born. Perhaps there is a story somewhere that could only be written by a procrastinator with my life experiences. I’ve also enjoyed reading about her writing process. Other than originally naming Scarlett “Pansy,” (we can all breathe a sigh of relief here) the most interesting thing I have discovered about Gone With the Wind is that Mitchell actually started writing it with the very last chapter. I have never been more satisfied with the conclusion of a book as I have always been with Gone With the Wind. Knowing now that she started with “I don’t give a damn” only increases my admiration.

All of my creative writing professors drilled the same mantra into my head – to be a good writer you must to read, read, read. I am planning on reading biographies on other authors I enjoy in the future. You never know when or where my waxing and waning desire to tell a story will collide with just the right direction and inspiration.

[Un]biased Announcement and Review

As of today, you can stream The Detuned Revue directly from Danny’s blog! He’s made it even easier for the masses to access some interesting music.

Speaking of which, Danny loaded his latest installment on my MP3 player over the weekend and I think that it is his best podcast to date. The music flows together beautifully and, despite several songs that led me to contemplation, it was relaxing and refreshing – quite appropriate for an early spring day. Damien Dempsey’s song grabs your attention right away. His voice commands it and the conflicting verses and chorus hold it. Carmen Rizzo’s song was my favorite of the grouping. Neil Young has such a wonderful voice. I can listen to it all day. This song is very interesting to meditate upon, especially in the Easter season. I would be interested to hear what other people think of Destroyer. I can honestly say that their song was not out of place in the podcast, but I didn’t care for it that much. The lead singer’s distinctive voice, unlike Damien Dempsey’s, irritated me.

So, check out the tenth installment of The Detuned Revue. You won’t need a money back guarantee!

A Horse Named Dick

On our first full day in Charleston we all took a carriage ride through the historic district. Dick was our horse. Allison fell asleep about half way through the ride so I was able to concentrate on what the guide was saying (hence enjoy the rest of the experience). Margaret Mitchell spent some time in Charleston and we got to see the house where she stayed and hear about some people who influenced several characters in Gone With the Wind, including good old Rhett Butler. Although I've always loved Gone With the Wind, I've never read anything on Margaret Mitchell's life. Our carriage ride encouraged me to check out a biography from the library. She led a very interesting life. Given the way I felt about being a mother after we got back, I found her views on being a woman, motherhood and childbirth very interesting. I look forward to going back to Charleston some day sans my beautiful children.

Danny has one regret about our carriage ride - he didn't think to ask the guide for a picture of her elbows and ankles until it was too late. She talked about the cultural standards of Charleston when it was young and kept returning to the theme that gentlemen were not to see a woman's elbows or ankles. In fact, if a man saw a women "compromised" in such a way three times, he was obliged to marry her.

If Sisters Ruled the World...

This picture of Emma and Allison walking hand in hand on the battle field of Fort Sumter is too precious!

Visting the Children's Museum

Charleston had a nice Children's Museum. Emma, Allison and I spent an afternoon there on our trip. The favorite exhibits were the water play area, the shrimp boat and the toddler's only area. They also had a grocery store, a medieval castle and an arts and crafts room. The girls had a blast together.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

God or the Girl

As a Catholic, I am always intrigued to read about shows dealing specifically with my faith that aren’t torrid exposes or “out to get” the Church. It could be very easy to be and remain offended about the way in which the Roman Catholic Church is portrayed in the media. It’s a good thing that Catholics don’t riot every time our faith is mocked or persecuted in this world. I started reading commentary about a new reality show called God or the Girl several weeks ago in various magazines. Given that there is a priest scandal around every corner, there was no way I was not going to watch a show dealing with young men contemplating the priesthood. Worse case scenario I would simply change the channel. I was not disappointed. God has used this show in my life. I invite you to see what it has to say to you.

God or the Girl is chronicling the journey of four young men as they discern whether they are called to be Roman Catholic priests. I have enjoyed the stories of each. Mike is a good Catholic man and it’s nice to know that such men are out there. I can relate to Joe’s desire to please everyone, especially those most important to him. I watch Dan and his zealousness and am in awe. I had no idea that there were Catholic people like him. I wish that I knew him or someone like him. Without taking away from the other men on the show, Steve’s journey is the most radical. He left a successful business career to embark on life as a missionary. It’s not the material goods that he is giving up that impresses me the most. He is giving up his comfort zone. No matter what his decision may be (I can’t wait for Sunday night!) I have a great deal of respect for him. He picked up his cross just as literally as Dan did.

Another thing that interested me about God or the Girl was the journey of discernment. My father is studying to be a permanent deacon. He's never considered himself to be a student and reading and writing do not come easily for him. Still, he's answering the call he has and is taking seminars and college courses that require nothing but reading and writing. I couldn't be more proud. Also, when I was just out of college I contemplated joining the Daughters of St. Paul. Watching this show reminds me so much of that time in my life. To be honest, I looked in that direction more because I thought no man would ever want to date me then because I had a “calling.” It was not wasted time or energy, though. During my discernment and visits with the sisters, I gained a lot of respect for myself and met wonderful people I never would have met otherwise. My time with them and Sr. Margaret Michael in particular taught me that I am precious to God. Something so simple that I should have been KNOWN long ago made a huge impact on my life.

Today, my faith is lacking. I have always been a social person and a follower of sorts. When I am around people who love God and are committed to the Catholic Church, so am I. When I’m not, I’m lazy. I would love for people to think otherwise, but that is a lie. I know how to say the “right things.” I know the right vocabulary but it’s pretty much a façade. I have struggled with joining another Christian church that is closer to where I live. I’ve talked about this with Danny. He told me to give it up and he is right. I’m Catholic. I may not be practicing right now, but I’m Catholic. I love the Church I was raised in. The trouble is that I feel no personal connection to God. I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know how to build a personal relationship with Jesus. Or, maybe it’s that I don’t put forth the effort to even get started. I feel that way about a lot of my relationships right now. I’m on autopilot. I want to be a better Christian, a better wife, a better mother, a better friend. All of that takes energy. The little energy I have gets used up treading water. I have been unwilling to give more. I have been resentful of the sacrifices I have to make to be wife, mother, sister, friend, child of God. Watching God or the Girl has been a slap in the face – a much needed slap in the face.

The most profound moment of God or the Girl for me so far has dealt with Fr. Jorge, a beautiful priest who left his family and his country to minister to the poor in Guatemala. Steve, a young man contemplating the priesthood, went to stay with Fr. Jorge to find out first hand what the life of a missionary priest is like. Steve told Fr. Jorge that he felt guilty taking food from the people because they have nothing. Fr. Jorge said, “All I can give is my life.” Is that not true of all of us where ever we are? I have been given so many gifts in this life and what I focus on is what I’m giving up. How very selfish. I think that if I am willing to give of my very life, I have found the beginnings of my personal relationship with God. I have found the spark that I need to be the better wife, mother and friend that I long to be. God has found me where I am and is still calling me home. I hope (I can not yet say pray) that I will take Him up on His invitation.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch this show, I encourage you to check it out. As for me, don’t call me on Sunday night after 10pm. I won’t be answering the phone. I am very interested to see which – if any – of these young men will enter the seminary. No matter what, the Body of Christ is lucky to have them. They have blest us all with their openness and humility. Dan, Mike, Joe and Steve – I thank you!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Nemo's House

Charleston had a nice aquarium. We all had a good time looking at all of the sea life - especially the sea life native to South Carolina. One of the nice features of the aquarium was interactivity. Emma got to touch "Nemo's house." Mommy did, too. It felt sticky like overcooked spaghetti. There were also opportunities to touch non-aquatic life. Emma got to see a snake, an ant eater and a lizard up close.

Folly Beach Pictures

We got our pictures back last week and they turned our really cute. Emma loved the ocean. She would have stayed in there all day. Allison loved to be in the ocean when Mommy held her above the water. Both girls loved playing with their pails and shovels. Emma collected a lot of shells, too. It was a great time for the whole family.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

How Evil Are You?

You Are 42% Evil
You are evil, but you haven't yet mastered the dark side.Fear not though - you are on your way to world domination.

My Warm Welcome Home

Shortly after returning from our family vacation in Charleston, South Carolina, I left home again on an overnight business trip to New Hampshire. I had never been to New England before and I was excited to see a new part of the country. I was also looking forward to an evening away from my children. Although we loved what we could enjoy of Charleston (and plan to go back without Emma and Allison someday), being around the kids 24/7 in cramped quarters left me feeling haggard. I very much needed a break.

We traveled to Concord on Tuesday. I started reading a biography on Margaret Mitchell after we got back from South Carolina. I have always loved Gone With the Wind. I must have read it three or four times during high school and two or three times since then. I have never, however, researched Scarlett’s author. Our carriage ride through downtown Charleston peaked my interest. I happily got a lot of reading done on the plane rides and in my hotel room that night. Even the snoring of the man in the next hotel room didn’t much affect my relaxation. I just turned up the air conditioning full blast.

The client we were visiting implemented with my company during my pregnancy with Allison. That is why I had never traveled there before. They were all happy to see me again and loved looking at pictures of the girls. I may have needed a break from Emma and Allison’s presence, but I sure loved talking about them and showing them off. One woman, LisAnne, just showered me with compliments from my hair to my toes. I might have gained 5 pounds during and since my vacation, but I felt like a million bucks after talking with her. The meetings went well Wednesday and the work day went by fast. It was a nice change of pace from sitting at my desk all day.

Danny and the kids did really well while I was gone. He was helped along by Emma. She agreed to stay at Granny and PawPaw’s house Tuesday night. I worried about Allison being cranky while I was gone. There was no need for that apparently. Other than pointing me out in a picture, she didn’t seem to pay much attention to my absence. Emma started missing me Wednesday night before I got home.

On my way home from the airport, I called home to let Danny know that I landed safely and was on my way. Emma answered the phone and it was such a shock. I’m used to giving her the phone and letting her talk to others. I was caught off guard by her answering our phone. For a second I thought I’d dialed the wrong number. She talked with me for almost five minutes and asked if I was still “in the sky.” When I got home, she cuddled with me on the couch like never before. Emma’s not a cuddly girl necessarily, but she was last night. After she went down for the night, Danny and I even got some much deserved quiet time on the couch. I loved every second of it.

Allison was sleeping when I got home, but I knew we’d be seeing each other again during the night. Sure enough, she woke up at 2am. She hugged me really tight when I picked her up out of the crib. I gave her kisses and laid her down next to me. Usually we both go back to sleep immediately. The next thing I knew, Ally climbed on top of my belly and laid her head down on my chest. I know what heaven feels like now. What better way could anyone say, “I’m glad you’re back.”?

By morning life slowly returned to normal. Emma and Ally got on each other’s nerves, Ally cried the entire time I got her dressed and we rushed around getting ready for our days at school and work. I better realize now that this is the way I like it to be.