Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My little girl is growing up...


My little girl is growing up. Now this is not earth shattering news to anyone that has a child, but it seems like every day she does something new that amazes me. The past few weeks she has brought lots of smiles (and a few tears) to my face.

First, Sophia is learning to be a little actress. We were at the mall the other day and she was strapped in her stroller drinking some milk. Suddenly she threw her sippie cup on the floor and it bounced around, spilling milk on the floor of the sunglasses store. I quickly picked up the cup, cleaned up the milk, asked her to tell me she was sorry. She looked at the floor, started batting her eyelashes and got this sad little look on her face. Then she looked up at me and whispered in a quiet little voice “Sor-re” as she rolled her eyes. I was floored because I had never seen her do this before and her acting job was WAY over the top. I can see her using this innocent routine to her advantage in the future, especially with her daddy who will fall for it every time.

This past weekend, I had just managed to stumble out of bed and brush my teeth when Sophia marched into my room. She grabbed me by the hand and started pulling me down the hallway to her play kitchen that is set up right outside her room. Still holding my hand, she yanked me down and pointed to the floor where she wanted me to sit. Then she grabbed Trey’s hand and did the same with him until we were both sitting on the floor in front of her kitchen. Apparently Sophia wanted an audience as she pretended to cook and serve us breakfast. I watched in amazement as she pushed the button for her blender and then “poured” us some food on a plate for me and in a pot for Trey. We pretend to eat with the plastic spoons and a spatula that she handed us, and made lots of “Mmmm” sounds in appreciation. Then she poured us some milk (or as she says MALK) in one of the little cups for us to drink. We smiled and shared our drink before she took it back to pour some for herself. I could not wipe the surprise and amazement off my face as I realized that she learned most of this from watching me in the kitchen.

One of the highlights of my weekend was yesterday afternoon, when Sophia told me that she needed to potty. I raced into action as I grabbed her hand and headed for the downstairs bathroom with her potty chair, and when we got to the bathroom she actually still had a dry diaper. I managed to pull off her shorts and diaper before she sat down on her little potty – and she went by herself! Now she has been going on the potty for several months now but only when I ask her if she needs to go, this was one of the first times that she has asked me to go potty and has made it there in time to go by herself. (Most of the time she tells me right after she has gone in her diaper). We celebrated her potty success by clapping, dancing around, telling Daddy her big news and with stickers. Stickers are a BIG hit in our house right now. I was so proud to hear my little growing girl gleefully shout “Mommy – potty”!

Another heartbreaking milestone is the fact that Sophia is putting two word sentences together now, which is usually “Bye-Bye Mommy”. She has a play doorway in the living room downstairs and she opens and closes that door repeatedly as she walks back and forth. Just recently she started saying “Bye-Bye Mommy” as she headed out her door - I watch her little face as she tells me goodbye then she disappears behind the door as she shuts it between us. When we are upstairs in my bathroom getting ready in the morning, she will say “Bye-Bye, mommy” as she leaves my bedroom and closes the door. Then she runs down the hallway to her room to play (which is one of the reasons we leave the baby monitor on ALL the time, so I can listen to her while she is playing).

This morning was the worst. Sophia was playing with her baby doll and putting it in her big four-wheeler stroller that we use to tote everything to the pool, while Trey and I were grabbing our keys and lunches to head out the door to work. She was behind the stroller pretending to push it when I had to tell her goodbye so Trey could take her to daycare. She looked so grown up as she turned to me and said “Bye-bye Mommy” in her sweet, innocent little voice. My heart broke when she reached out to give me a hug then blew me a kiss. I waited for what can sometimes follow our goodbyes, but there were no tears, no cries for mommy, no indication that she would miss me terribly while I was at work today. Well I guess there may have been a few tears, but they were probably mine when I realized that she is getting old enough to be happy about mommy going Bye-Bye.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Fear of Loss


In the past two days, I have read about two incidents of young children being run over in their driveway by an SUV, driven by a family member, and being killed. The first incident happened in Dallas, and the second happened to the country music star Steven Curtis Chapman. In Dallas, a mother was returning from the grocery store after dark and ran over one of her young children, who were lying in the driveway. The father had brought the children out and lay with them on the cement to look up at the stars. He apparently fell asleep and the mother did not see them there when she returned home. In Tennessee, the teenage son of Steven Curtis Chapman ran over his 5 year old sister when he pulled into the driveway in an SUV. Family members witnessed this tragic event and she later died at a local hospital. When I hear about incidents like this, my heart breaks for the families of these children. The guilt they experience must be overwhelming and unbearable. It reminds me to do all that I physically can to protect my child, but I also realize that her life is not entirely in my hands. I have to place my faith in God to protect her each day (and I do pray for angels to be by her side each day and night to watch over her).

These events reminded me of an incident that happened when I was about 12 years old. My mom drove my sister and me to school each day, before Jenny got her driver’s license. One gray, rainy morning my mom stopped in front of the high school to drop off Jenny and her boyfriend before taking me to the middle school. They climbed out of the backseat and walked around the back of mom’s car to cross the street (and oncoming traffic) to school. Another parent had had stopped on the opposite side of the street to drop off another student. As Jenny ran across the road, she slipped on the slick pavement and fell right in front of the stopped car. I was waiting to see her get up when I noticed that the other car was moving forward. The driver had never seen Jenny fall and was unaware that she was laying in the road in front him. I watched in horror as the car slowly rolled forward about 5 feet and my sister disappeared from my sight. Suddenly I heard a loud piercing scream envelop the air around me… then I realized it was coming from my throat. My mom did not see Jenny fall, her boyfriend who had run across the street in front of her did not see her fall, the driver of car that was inching over her body did not see her fall – no one did but me. Apparently my screams and the pounding of my fists on the window were loud enough to get the driver’s attention because he stopped the car. Jenny later told me that she felt the front tire start to drive up over her hip before it stopped, and she even had tire tread marks on her pants and body as a reminder of what had just happened. She remained calm during the entire 30 second ordeal while I dissolved into hysterics. I was badly shaken and sobbing afterwards, even when I knew that she was unhurt, because this sickening scene kept replaying in my mind. However, both of us were able to go to school that day and return to our normal lives within a matter of hours.

Unfortunately for these two families, the immediate future is so uncertain and burdened by guilt and grief. My heart breaks for the loss of their children, who were taken so early in life. My prayers go out to both families as they have had to witness and live through a pain that most of us (hopefully) will never fully understand.

I would like to share a little ritual that I have for praying for Sophia that reminds me to pray for her throughout the day. Every time I glance at the clock and it displays 11:11 or 3:33 (all the same consecutive digits), I stop what I am doing and say a prayer for her.* Not only does this allow me to think about her during my daily routine, it also helps me to connect with God during unexpected moments. Today I have to give my worries and fears about Sophia to him, because I cannot bear them alone. I pray that Sophia is safe, healthy, loved and protected today and I am so thankful for this precious gift of life that Trey and I have received.

*This idea came from the book “Taking Care of the Me in Mommy” by Lisa Welchel.


Picture of Jenny and me when we were little girls!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Summertime... and the reading is easy

Summertime. It has arrived a little early here in Texas, with temperatures already climbing in the upper 90’s this week. With the arrival of warm weather, I am reminded of all my childhood pastimes that summer brings with it… long, lazy days at the pool, playing outside in the yard until the “lightening bug” (or fireflies) come out, riding bikes around the neighborhood, eating ice cream or snowballs in the heat while they melt and drip down your hands making make them all sticky. The music of the ice cream truck driving down the block, the cold spray of the sprinklers as you run through the water, the sound of my stomach growling when I smell food being cooked outside on the grill; all of these things remind me that summer is on its way.

Ouch! Something just hit me in the back of my head! Oh, that was just the cold, harsh slap of reality that reminds that I do not get to experience all the usual pastimes of summer. I work in an office 5 days a week, behind a computer screen in an office that allows me to look out the window at the sun shining down on the world around me. But I don’t get to feel the warm rays on my skin. The only thing that changes in my office during the summer is the temperature; I wear warm weather shirts and dresses to celebrate the season then usually conceal them under a heavy sweater or jacket because it is FREEZING inside. Seriously, why does it need to be 5 -10 degrees colder inside an office building than what is comfortable for 75% of the people who work there? My home thermostat is set on 76-77 degrees in the summer – at the office I rejoice at anything above 68 degrees.

I have been in the full-time workforce for over 10 years now and I have accepted the fact that I can’t spend my summer days lying by the pool, but I still long for the lazy days of summer. One of the ways I recapture the feeling of summer is to spend my spare time reading. Reading was such a huge part of my childhood and a great way to escape the reality of the outside world. I remember going to the library and checking out 10 books at a time, then burying myself in the stories inside. Summertime meant that I was free of the strict schedule of school, the required reading and homework. I had more free time and I usually spent it with my nose stuck in a book. As I got older and went off to college, I would look forward to semester breaks and summertime so that I could get lost in the stories between the pages and not worry about if I should be studying. Summertime meant that I could read for days on end without interruption.

I remember my summer internship with Ashland Oil the summer after my sophomore year in college. I shared a small office with three other guys in the summer of 1995 – can you believe that at that time we only had 1 computer for the four of us? Anyway, the best part of my day was when I could escape those four walls during lunch. I would drive to the park, sit down on a bench under a tree and read for about an hour (and thaw out from the freezing temperatures in the office).

Since it feels like this summer is already heating up, I went to the library yesterday and checked out several books. As with summers in the past, I will keep a list of the books that I read between Memorial Day and Labor Day (the “official” start and end of summer). My genre of reading has changed throughout the years, from the young adult and teenage books, to thrillers, suspense, mystery, and of course the mindless romantic “chick” novels. I am also participating in my church's book club this summer (coincidentally called Chick Lit), and we are reading a wide range of books like: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriquez.

I challenge you to start a reading list this summer – and I will keep my list posted in case you need some ideas to get you started. By the way, let me know what you are reading that you just can’t put down, so I can add it to my list!

Current Summer Reading List:
Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World - John Wood
Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin
Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Would you want a Perfect Memory?

I saw a preview of an interview from the Today Show on Monday morning, before I left for work. It was an interview with Rick Baron, an unemployed former radio announcer from Ohio who claims to have a “perfect” memory. He claims that he can recall details from every day of his life for almost the past 40 years. He is just one of three people in America who are known to have a super-autobiographical memory. If you give him a date in time, he can tell you what happened in the news that day 25 years ago, where he was that day, or what show was playing on TV that night. To be honest, the real reason this caught my attention is that they showed a clip of him waiting to be interviewed and his smile was really creepy and he kind of freaked me out (I swear, he looks like an evil villain from a cartoon or something). Regardless, I looked up the Today show article because I have been thinking about this “perfect” memory phenomenon for the past few days.

What would it really be like to be able to remember details of every day from your past?
Back when Trey and I were catching up on the first season of “Heroes” on DVD, we talked about what “super” power we wished we could have if we were Superheroes. Just think; what if you could be invisible, travel through time, walk through walls, or even fly through the air? I immediately vetoed the power to travel through time – I would not want to revisit the past for fear of altering the future. Walking through walls doesn’t appeal to me either, because I would hate to invade other people’s privacy. What I would really want is the ability to be two places at once- like a clone! I could send the clone Stephanie off to work each day and I could stay home with Sophia and play. Poof! My super power would erase all of my mommy guilt immediately! I could have clone Stephanie clean the house and cook dinner at night while I sit on the couch, drink a glass of wine and talk to my husband. Imagine all that I could do if there were two of me – I could focus on my writing, volunteer in the community, train for a triathlon, or learn to speak Italian. I guess I could do all of these things now, if only I could find an extra few hours in each day (or I could sleep less).

However, I personally think the ability to remember details from every day of your life would be a tremendous burden instead of a gift. I have my memories of the big events in my life – graduating from high school and college, buying my first house, dancing in the NFL, getting married to Trey, giving birth to Sophia, etc. Most of us document the big events in our life by taking pictures and videos or creating scrapbooks. Instead of scrapbooking, I write in my journal so that I can remember these events in vivid detail. Trey and I also have literally thousands of pictures from the past 5 years that we have spent together (although I would guess that 80% of these are of Sophia).

Having the ability to list you the details of a certain date in my past does not appeal to me. Most of our lives are filled with the ordinary, everyday events of living. Each morning I get up, get my family ready for the day, go to work, spend time with them in the evening, and go to bed. I can’t even tell you what I wore on Monday to work or what I watched that night on TV – because it is not important to me TODAY.

There are also moments in my life that I would rather forget – times that I have been embarrassed, sad, bored, or hurt. I don’t want to bring up the details of the day I went through a bad break-up, the loss of a favorite pet (we still miss our Kacie-pug), or the lunchroom in fifth grade (any story for another day). Days when I have lost loved ones, moved out of a house, or moved away from home are all events that have shaped my character – but I would rather not remember them in detail. I like that my mind had muted some of my memories.

Now that I am feeling nostalgic, I think I will go home and pull out some old photo albums and yearbooks. By the way, some pictures are also better off kept in the past. Trey swears that he would NOT have dated me in high school with my HUGE hair. He also saw my prom video and was scared by my West Virginia accent. Luckily, I now have straight hair (without mall bangs) and I lost the accent.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day


I just celebrated my second mother's day this past weekend (unless you count the year that I was pregnant then this was my third), and it made me think of how much I have changed since I became a mother. The minute Sophia was born, everything in my life changed. By the time I came home from the hospital, about 48 hours after Sophia came into this world, I was an overbearing, obsessive, overprotective mother. I was convinced that NO ONE was qualified to take care of my infant - including my mother, my sister, or Trey's mom - without my physical presence in the room. Luckily this feeling has faded a bit over time, but some of these changes have had a lasting impact.

Becoming a mother has changed...

How I view a mother's love from the mother's perspective - I finally get a glimpse of the magnitude of my mother's love for me, which I did not fully understand as a child. Her worries and concerns about me & my life are just her way of letting me know that she loves me and wants me to be happy. I see that I will want the same happiness for Sophia in the future.

How I view my husband - This strong, masculine, easy going man that I married has fallen in love with another girl, our daughter. She has brought out the emotional, softhearted side of her daddy that was never there before. He worries about her every minute, every step, and every day of her life. It hurts his heart to see her fall and scrape her knee, so I hate to see him during her teenage years - or on her wedding day.

How I view the world around me - Suddenly I am aware of the lyrics of every song on the radio, the violence in the shows and movies we watch, and the language in our everyday life. It is not swear words that are an issue, because I do not use this kind of language, but words that I normally considered innocent are now banned from our vocabulary. Sophia has recently started to repeat everything we say so Trey and I no longer say shut up, stupid, retarded, or crap.

How critical I am of other parents that I see - When we were in Vegas a few weeks ago, we saw parents that had their babies out until midnight, pushing them around in strollers as they dodged the drunks on the sidewalk. I wanted to shout at them to "Go home and put your kids to bed"!

How much more I appreciate my post-baby body - I carried this precious baby for 9 months and my body provided for all of her needs during this time. Then I was able to nurse for another 8 months. I think it ROCKS that God made a woman's body this way. I have become more dedicated to keeping my body strong and healthy since I had Sophia.

How the little things can make me cry - seeing my friend's pregnant bellies, feeling their babies kick, or holding a baby in the hospital just hours after being born. Watching diaper or baby wash commercials, insurance or jewelry commercials, the Baby Story on TLC. Even looking at her newborn pictures or finding one of Sophia's premie onesies when I am cleaning out her drawers can bring me to tears instantly.

How I look at my hopes and dreams for the future - I want my marriage to be strong and based on our faith in God. I want to follow my dreams so that Sophia can watch me and realize that she can do the same thing. Basically, I want to be a role model for her. I want to give her a life full of love and happiness. Before I became a mother I wanted this type of life for myself, but now I want her happiness to come before mine. I guess this is how a mother's heart changes once she becomes a mother.

If you are a mother, how has it changed you?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Looking for a laugh

It has been brought to my attention that I might need to clarify the title and subject of the last entry in my blog. PEER FEAR, which is defined as Paranoid Excessively Engineered Retreat from Friends' Extremely Appalled Reactions is NOT a real disease. It is an acronym that I made up to describe the nervousness I feel about letting people read what I write. Basically it means that I worry what other people think, which I believe is quite normal.

So please be assured that I do NOT have a severe disease or malady (yes Trey, I put the definition of malady at the bottom of the page because I know you would have to look it up). You should know that I often use humor to get over the hurdles of life. Well, humor and lots of prayer. I hope you found some humor in PEER FEAR, because we can all use more laughter in our lives.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

PEER FEAR

This past week I have had a form of writer's block. Lot's of ideas have been cluttering my thoughts, but I have not been able to capture them on paper. After much inner debate and ignoring the itch to express my opinions, I think I may have found the reason. I believe the scientific name for this malady* is "Paranoid Excessively Engineered Retreat from Friends' Extremely Appalled Reactions" or PEER FEAR.

I have always been better at expressing myself in written form instead of verbally. If something is bothering me or if I am feeling down, I ache for a blank piece of paper and a pen. I will go up to my bedroom and sit in the chair beside the window and write. Another favorite escape is to go to breakfast or a bookstore by myself, grab some coffee and write in my journal. This feeling that I NEED to write has been stronger lately because I have been "testing the waters" with the idea of being a writer. Notice I did not say "author", but writer. That is because I am still trying to define what my dreams about becoming a writer are and where they might take me. I don't have goals to write a novel or become a syndicated columnist. For now I write and that in itself is very fulfilling.

Because I have been writing more lately, I started sharing some of what I had written with Trey or sending emails to friends. I received some positive feedback (shout out to Sara, Melissa, and Trey), I decided to start a blog. The ideas was for this to be a place to post what I had written and to share with others. Once I started posting, I realized that I had sent the link to my blog to basically EVERYONE I know. The second I hit that "send" button last week, my nerves became unhinged. The realization that I had just opened myself up to your opinions, criticism, or (even worse) indifference started to sink in. Shortly afterward, I sent the following email to Trey. Please forgive the dramatic diva overtone.

"Trey, Hi. How is your afternoon? Well I have been a blogger for exactly 1 hour and 47 minutes and I have ZERO comments, responses to my email or feedback. I'm sure that I have annoyed everyone with my extremely LONG posts and they really just want me to go away. Otherwise, why haven't they responded how much they enjoy my writing and that it just changes their lives to see things from my point of view. Don't they know the entire world revolves around me today?

Ok - I got that out of my system. But seriously, posting what I write does leave me open to other's opinions and that makes me nervous. At least you love me and will always give me some sort of feedback (you do always have something nice to say). I love you for that. - S"

Wow, that is an extreme case of PEER FEAR. I blame it all on you really - YOU, the one who is reading this blog right now. I mean it had only been a little over an hour and I had not received one single response! Picture yourself at a concert, surrounded by people and the band on stage has just finished singing a new song off their CD and after the last note - there is silence. No roar of applause, no flame from a lighter for an encore. Just Silence. Then I realized that I am focusing on the wrong things. That same band can sell millions of records because their songs are heard on the radio - and there is no applause after hearing a song on the radio. Who drives down the highway with a lighter in hand, begging for an encore? (just go with me on this, I am trying to make a point).

This week I was hit by PEER FEAR pretty hard, but I realize if I am ever going to be a writer that I have to get over it. I have had lots of ideas to write about this week, but I have been too concerned about my audience. I have been worried about writing something that interests you, that you agree with, or that you want to read about. However, I realize that this blog is not about you - it is about me and it should be a place where I can express myself without PEER FEAR. So I make no apologies about my future postings, if you don't like them feel free to give me some feedback. If you do not agree with my opinions, challenge me. Or just ignore reading this altogether and I will not know the difference. By the way, I need to give another shout out to Nettye, Greta, Mark (Opa), Mom and Jenny for coming through and giving me some nice responses. Without them I may have shut down the Suiresphere forever.

Just to keep you interested, I plan on writing about the following topics very soon:
30 Day Prayer Challenge for your Husband - This involves complimenting your husband and praying for him on a daily basis, which really means a lot of work for you. Your husband also thinks you might be nuts or doing something behind his back because suddenly you can't say a mean thing about him!
Dollar a Day Dollar Store Food Challenge - The news has been reporting about the increase in the price of food and how families are challenged to make their money stretch during these tight financial times. The Dollar store sells food - I wonder if I can feel my family on a dollar a day (per person)?
Sophia's First Trip to the Zoo - We are taking her to the zoo on Saturday and I can't wait to see her reaction to the animals. She just learned to roar like a lion! I hope to get some good pictures too.

Check back soon and as always, your comments are appreciated!
Stephanie

*(Mal-a-dy - disorder or disease of the body, especially one that is deep seated).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mommy reigns again!










I guess that even a Knight in Shining Armor can get sick... Trey probably caught a cold from Sophia, who has been coughing for the past week. As I type this I am waiting for the nurse to call me back and tell me if I need to bring her to the doctor. I hate for my daughter to be sick, and even worse it appears that we are passing this cold around the house. It started on Friday with Trey, who complained of a sore throat, a deep congested cough, and body aches. He said that he feels sorry for Sophia if she feels this way.
The one magic thing about a child being sick - they ALWAYS want their mommy. Mommy has regained her status around the house this weekend. Although it may have something to do with Daddy just lying on the house and not being much fun to play with, I like to think that Sophia actually missed me. We woke up Saturday morning and had a tickle party in the bed. While I showered and got ready for brunch with the girls, she emptied the entire contents of my bathroom drawer on the floor. I watched as Sophia pulled the curling iron out and walked to the full length mirror. She shook her head back and forth as she poked herself with the curling iron as she "fixed" her hair - primping as she sees her mommy do in the mornings.

In the car on the way back from my "girl time", we played peekaboo and I laughed as she pretended to eat her toes. I pretend to eat her toes each morning when I am trying to get her to lie still while I change her diaper, and it never fails to make her laugh. That night we shared her favorite food (pasta for dinner). I cut up penne pasta and she has found that fits perfectly on the end of her finger, which is a much better way to eat than with a spoon.

Sunday we left daddy sick in bed while we went to the grocery store. Although she is trying to be mommy's helper, it can be difficult to get through the entire store without her opening a box, tearing a bag, or eating a banana. Good thing they give out free cookies in the bakery! Now that Mommy reigns again, I also have the duty of carrying the princess around the house. Sophia likes to help me with yard work, but for some reason she tries to eat the leaves and grass she picks. She will try to help with the laundry, but she is too short to put anything in the washer (although she is getting better at throwing in the socks). She even helped me make dinner by holding the spoons or putting up ingredients for me. I look forward to the day when we can cook together in the kitchen, I hope she shares my love of baking.

I hope that Trey feels better soon, but I really enjoyed having my little girl all to myself at times this weekend. I try to hold on to these times while they last, as she is growing up so fast. My favorite part of every day is right after I give her a bath. After Sophia gets out and I wrap her up in a towel, she asks me to hold her. She wraps her arms and legs around me tight and lays her head on my shoulder. We look at each other in the mirror as I hug her tightly. "Baby" she says. Yes, we both know she is still my baby.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Her Knight in Shining Armor



I have always considered Sophia to be a little princess. It actually started in the hospital, right after she was born. As most of you know, when I was pregnant I decided not to find out the sex of the baby. I wanted to experience the excitement on my delivery day when the doctor announces "It's a Boy/Girl"! We were actually very surprised when the doctor delivered the baby, then looked at Trey and said, "Well Dad, what is it"?

"Oh my gosh, It's A GIRL!", he shouted. He tells me that he fell in love with her at that exact moment.

While the nurse was taking care of her after delivery, Trey started taking pictures and we were talking excitedly. I noticed that when Trey spoke, Sophia turned her head in his direction as if she recognized his voice. She was already looking for her daddy.

In was during our stay at the hospital that I started calling her my princess. She was so little, so sweet and so innocent. Since we had not found out the sex of the baby during my pregnancy, we had not finished decorating the baby's room. I had picked out bedding for a boy with trains and firetrucks in blue and red. Then I picked out the girl's bedding which was pink, white, and green with a princess and ballerina theme. We have now added a princess lamp, lightswitch, pillow and even a princess rug with a crown in the middle. Up until that point, all the clothes we had recieved or bought were yellow, green, or white so they were gender neutral. Suddenly our world was painted pink as we received little dresses, blankets, onesies, and booties for our baby girl.

Even today, Trey and I tend to prefer to dress our little princess in pink. She has pink tennis shoes, pink shirts, pink leggins, pink jackets, and most of the time she has a pink bow in her hair. She loves her dolls, loves to give them bottles, and push them around in their pink doll stoller.

Like all princesses, Sophia has a Knight in Shining Armor. I hear her ask for him every morning when I walk in her room and he is the last thing she asks for each night before she goes to bed.

His name is "Daddy".

She has always been attached to her daddy, but she has recently reached an all-time high with her Daddy obsession. Mommy has been pushed aside (literally) and only Daddy can fill her needs right now. I bought her a Barbie book the other day, and she pointed to the picture of Ken dancing with Barbie. "Daddy!", she squealed with excitement. If I pull my car in the garage and she see's Trey's car parked there, she starts chanting "Dad-de, Dad-de, Dad-de". Yesterday we were all playing outside and she walked over to Trey and grabbed his hand. I was sitting on the ground in front of her and she stuck her arm out and waved it from side to side - "Mooov!" she exclaimed. I had just been bumped out of the way so that my princess could go play with her Knight in shining armor. She will run past me to give her daddy a hug, but turn her cheek away if I try to kiss her. I tried to comfort her in her crib the other night but she ran away from me and screamed for her daddy. This morning I went in her room and she did not lift her arms for me to pick her up. She just simply sat in her bed, looked at me and asked "Daddy"? I just walked out of the room and told her Daddy that the princess wanted him.

Although he is enjoying his new status, I think that Trey is getting a little worn out from being the constant hero in this fairy tale. He is required to hold the princess at all times, her shoes must never touch the ground if her Knight is around. She also likes him to push her in her carriage (her stroller) around the neighborhood while the wind blows through her blonde curly hair. I have actually been able to cook, clean, and do some laundry without constant interruption this past week. Wow, I sound like Cinderella! I think I want my prince back! Good thing the princess has an early bedtime so that I can steal her Knight in Shining Armor away and spend some time with him myself!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I am a Working Mother

“I am a Working Mother”. Although that may not sound like a big statement, think of it as the name of a play, spelled out in lights on the front of a theater display. You can go buy a ticket, walk into the theater, sit in your seat and watch the play but you may never realize how much is going on behind the scenes to make the entire production run smoothly. That is how I feel every day, when I get out of bed and go to work.

My daughter is now almost 21 months old and I went back to my full-time job when she was just 7 weeks old. That means my production as a Working Mother has been running for about a year and a half now. During that time we have had changes in the cast (two in-home daycare providers), a change in the theater location (I changed jobs when Sophia was 9 months old), and the props have taken new forms (from breast milk, to formula, to actual food for the baby).

The main characters have not changed: Mommy, Daddy, and Sophia. We all have to work together to make this production run smoothly. Our dialogue has evolved over the past 18 months. In the beginning we were still learning our lines - I would get up early to nurse Sophia and prepare her bottles for the day. I usually changed her diaper, got her dressed, got in some snuggles and then daddy took her to daycare. Trey has ALWAYS been the one to take her in the morning. Not only does this fit his work schedule better, he has an easier time dropping her off in the mornings. I have to say this is because my husband hates the mornings and he is not really awake enough to have an emotional scene at 7:30 AM. I am lucky to get a kiss goodbye each morning as he grumbles his way out the door.

Now the props have progressed from pumping, preparing bottles and nursing (she weaned herself around 8 months) to actual food that needs to be prepared for each day. I have learned that it is best to prepare in advance (kind of like memorizing your lines). This means that I have to plan the night before for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Did I mention that I have to do all of my cooking after Sophia has gone to bed, or when Trey is there to occupy her attention? She provides us the most dramatic scenes in our play, with her insistent need to be outside or her persistent request to “old dee” which we have interpreted to mean “hold me”. Watching me turn my attention to the stove, the dishwasher, or even to my own food can result in my little drama queen dissolving in tears (talk about a scene stealer)!

Now that the props, I mean food is prepared and in place – we turn our attention to the costumes for the play. I am apparently the costume designer for the entire family. Although Trey does take all of his clothes to the dry cleaners (I could never keep up with the amount of ironing our work clothes require), I do need to select the wardrobe for us to wear each week. This entails selecting matching 5 outfits for Trey – he has good taste in clothing but has trouble matching his shirts with his pants and shoes. Sophia’s outfits require more consideration – what is the weather going to be? What did I pack for her lunch? What shoes still fit? My reviews will be poor if I happen to put her in a white shirt when I have packed spaghetti for lunch. Even worse – what if I forget to send a new “back-up” outfit and she comes home one day in a long sleeve shirt and pants that are too small and it is 85 degrees outside. Shoes must stay on her feet, but be easy for her to put on herself. Costume planning can be a lot of pressure – although somehow my clothes get the least attention. All of the planning for the rest of the cast leaves me drained, so each morning I usually resort to my standard black or gray pants and whatever shirt does not need to be ironed. (I guess I need to send more of my shirts to the dry cleaner’s with Trey).

While all of this may sound exhausting – the key is to pull off the performance of your life when you arrive on set, I mean the office. Those around you (your audience) must not see or hear about anything that goes on behind the scenes. They only want to see a brilliant performance EVERY DAY. To pull this off, you will usually find me putting on my lipstick after I pull into the parking garage each morning and I will check out my “costume” in the mirrors in the elevator (thank goodness I don’t have to check for spit-up on my shoulder anymore). No complaining about your lack of sleep preparation in a meeting. I don’t want to be replaced by another actress in this scene!

By lunchtime I am planning dinner in my head and checking in with Trey to determine our after performance plans (what are we doing that night). I finish each performance by picking up Sophia each day at daycare. I put a huge smile on my face, thank my supporting cast (Ms. Rose Ann) and give Sophia a big hug and lots of kisses. Then I go home and get ready for an encore performance the next day.

Earth Day (archive from April 2008)

Have you noticed the hottest color around these days in “Green”? Not only is it politically correct and good for the environment, but the media has caught on and everywhere you look you are encouraged to go “green”. I was in Barnes and Nobles last weekend and there is an entire table set up for books on how to conserve energy, reduce waste, and protect the environment. In Wal-mart, there are displays with “green” cleaning products, CFL light bulbs, “green” pajamas, and t-shirts that are made from recycled coke bottles. Oprah has asked us to make “going green” more than just a catchy line – but to make it a part of your life every day. In addition to her special program today for Earth day, she has an article on MSN called “Green 101” with easy tips on how to conserve energy and protect the environment. http://lifestyle.msn.com/green/ Of course the celebrity endorsements from Matt Damon, Sheryl Crow, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock and Leonardo DiCaprio also make going “green” very cool.

I admit that I got bit by the “green” bug about a month ago. Although I have recycled for several years, I felt that I could do more in the area of conservation. The first thing I did was search the internet and I found a list of easy ways to conserve energy in our home. When I got home that night, I told Trey that I wanted to talk about making some changes in our lifestyle. I think he rolled his eyes when I pulled out my list, but he listened patiently (and after realizing that it did not require much work from him) he agreed with my suggestions. So far I have made a bigger effort to recycle and I notice that the amount of garbage that we are producing is much less. Trey has cleaned up the garage so that I can get to my recycle bin (which has been covered with tools for the past few months making it difficult to access). We purchased a water filter for the kitchen faucet and stopped buying bottled water. I also got us cool Nalgene bottles to keep on our desks at work and in the car (pink ones for me and blue for Trey). I have bought green cleaning products, changed our programmable thermostat setting, and stopped using paper plates. I also unplug the blow dryer, flat iron, cell phone chargers, toaster, coffee pot, and laptops when they are not being used.

In honor of Earth Day (today), I wanted to do something monumental to celebrate. Of course, I could not come up with anything monumental in the span of 4 days (which is when I actually started thinking about Earth Day). So I am doing something small, which is reaching out to my friends and family and asking them to make a difference. Look for tips on easy ways to make a change (believe me, you will not have to look far) and do one thing this week that will help the environment. I might also turn out the lights and TV for one hour tonight in honor of Earth Hour (which I missed last month). www.earthhour.org Although I don’t know if I can get Trey to agree to that – we are in the middle of NBA playoffs! Happy Earth Day everyone!

Lent (Archive from March 2008)

I just thought I would share my experience from my first week of Lent... if you have time then read on.

I have to admit that my main source of daily news is from the internet. I do NOT turn on the TV in the morning to catch up on world news (although I do use it for weather and traffic reports). If I pick up the paper in the breakroom at work, it is usually the Entertainment section, Weekend Guide, Food section or even (I hate to admit this) Dear Abby. My normal morning routine is to get to work about 20 minutes before 8:00, sit down at my computer and open MSN. I scan the MSNBC News headlines (which is mainly politics and the presidential primaries right now), then scroll down to the Sports (but not as much now that football is over), and then I (would) normally indulge myself in the Entertainment section. Why is it that I HAVE to read about Brittany Spears checking in and out of the hospital, the details about the maid who called Ashley Olson before 911 when she found Heath Ledger lying dead on his bed, or if Lindsey Lohan is heading back to rehab because she took a drink on New Years Eve? It is scary (and upsetting when I write this) that I know this much about people that I have no relationship with... Why is it that I am obsessed with the constant negativity of people in entertainment? Why am I feeding the very machine of media obsession by clicking on these stories, picking up the magazines, watching the Daily 10 (entertainment news program) on TV?

About a week before Lent started, Trey and I sat down together to do our bible study and discussed what we would like to "give up" for Lent. As you know, I decided to stop drinking coffee and Trey has given up his favorite thing in the world (pizza). These are semi-major food items in our life that would require some restraint to give up... I also decided to participate in the daily readings provided by IBC to add to my personal time with God every morning. So instead of sitting down at my computer each morning and opening MSN, I go directly to ibclent.com and listen to the reading of the scriptures, lesson and prayer. I did this the very first morning (Ash Wednesday) and the lesson took less than 5 minutes, so of course I then opened MSN as usual. I scanned the MSNBC news headlines, sports, and then scrolled down to the Entertainment section. That evening, Trey, Sophia and I went to the Ash Wednesday service at church. As with IBC, I am fairly new to celebrating Lent in my personal life. I always considered it part of the Catholic faith and did not participate in the past. Although I missed most of Andy's teaching that night (thanks to my precious daughter who could not sit still or remain quiet so I was forced to hold her in the hallway), I did get to participate in the reflection time after the service. People were praying, receiving their blessings with ashes, reading the needs board, and starting their journey of Lent together with God. After Trey took Sophia for me so that I would have time to pray and reflect, I felt God speaking to me. (By the way, it is not as profound as it sounds - when God speaks to me it is on my own voice in my head and is usually something I already know in my heart but he just used this quiet opportunity to bring this thought to the surface). Why do I spend some much time reading about unnecessary, irrelevant issues of others when I could be using this time to grow closer to God? How much would our relationship change if I put him first every morning, instead of my daily dose of "entertainment".

So I made up my mind to give up my interest/obsession of the Entertainment world. It mainly started with my decision to skip reading the entertainment section of MSN. Yesterday at the gym I walked past one of the TV's and noticed an entertainment news show was on - and I forced myself to look away kept walking (I almost felt guilty that I had even seen it on). I didn't tell Trey about this decision for a few days (it seems like a silly thing to give up), but I feel that the meaning behind it has made a strong impact on my relationship with God already. I have more time for him, more attention for him, and a less cluttered mind so that I can focus on him. Why should I be concerned about Brittany Spear's dad trying to fire her manager (a current entertainment headline on MSN), when Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane feeling sadness and anguish as he pleads with his father to "let this cup pass" but "if this cup cannot pass by, but i must drink it, your will be done!"

I just wanted to share the beginning of this experience with all of you and I hope to see lasting changes from this "fasting" during Lent. Also, if I ask you if you know who Jennifer Anniston is dating of if Angelina Jolie is really pregnant with twins... just look at me blankly and walk away. I hope you are all having a great week.
Stephanie