Monday, June 30, 2008

A new contact sport – dining out with a toddler…

Going to dinner with Sophia is comparable to playing contact sports. Earlier this week we went to dinner with Trey’s parents and his godchild, Hannah. I came out of the restaurant feeling beat up – almost like I had played 4 quarters of football.

1st Quarter – Game On. At most restaurants, kid’s menus come with crayons. After waiting for the highchair to arrive (and praying that it has a lap belt that is actually functional), I get Sophia strapped in and situated at the end of the table. After approximately two minutes of scribbling with a red crayon on the menu, both items are flung on the floor repeatedly. After retrieving crayon(s) and menu more than 3 times, I call a penalty and take them out of the game. Crying begins.

2nd Quarter – We order our food and I attempt to keep her occupied while waiting for her food to arrive. The waitress brings Sophia some milk in a kid’s cup with a lid & straw. Sophia immediately grabs the cup, puts the straw in her mouth and tips the cup up into the air (like she does while all her sippie cups). Milk pours all over her shirt and spills into her lap. More crying. I grab her cup before it goes flying onto the floor. I transfer the milk into a sippie cup (that I brought from home for this very reason). I hand her the milk in the new, straw-less sippie cup and watch her face as it scrunches up in anger and turns red. She attempts to throw the cup on the floor but I am too fast this time and I catch the cup in midair and call another penalty. Now the kids menu, crayons, and both cups of milk are all out of the game. Crying continues.

3rd Quarter – Our food arrives and she immediately starts reaching for the plate that the waitress puts in front of her. Obviously, this woman does not know that you should not put hot food on a breakable plate in front of a hungry (almost) two year old. I now have about 30 seconds to cut up her food, put it in her a bowl (that I brought from home so even if she throws it on the floor it will not break), and blow on it until it is cool enough for her to eat. This is all done while holding Sophia back with a stiff arm as her hands are grabbing for her plate, my plate, and the kids menu again. One of the milk cups hit the floor again and milk splashes up on my legs. I emerge from the 3Q a little bloody (ok, it is not blood, just ketchup from the fries she stole from Hanna’s plate). Crying stops as she shovels food into her mouth for the next 7 minutes. I even apologize to the waitress for the large amount of food that is spilled on the floor under the highchair.

4th Quarter – A rare treat, I ordered Sophia some ice cream for dessert. Actually, I ordered me the ice cream for dessert, but I ordered it from the kid’s menu because it was cheaper and it looked like the perfect amount instead of the massive desserts on the regular menu. The waitress, unaware of the game plan, puts the bowl of ice cream in front of Sophia instead. I watch Sophia attempt to dip her spoon into the ice cream and get some to her mouth. The problem is the waitress brought my child a huge soup spoon and she can’t quite fit it in her mouth before the ice cream melts off and lands in her lap. Crying begins again. The crying reaches an ear piercing shriek when I take the bowl of ice cream away and try to feed it to her myself. This is when Trey tries to coach me on the game plan oblivious to the activity in the previous three quarters*. He asks me why I don’t I let her feed herself? His input is not appreciated and I call a penalty on him. He is out of the game. I let her attempt to eat some more of the melted ice cream for a few minutes, until a large spoonful falls down the front of her shirt. More crying. Out of my fear that the bowl of ice cream while be launched into the air and land on the nice people sitting at the table beside us (who have been an attentive audience for the entire game), I call another penalty and take the melted ice cream out of the game. Crying reaches a new level and I take myself out of the game. Game over. Sophia wins. Daddy picks her up and they go outside for the post game celebration on the playset.

**I am not throwing Trey under the bus – we usually take turns sitting next to her at restaurants so one of us actually gets to eat our food while it is hot. On this day he was visiting with his dad while I was playing defense against Sophia.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Recent Reflections

Two nights ago I had a dream that a man was looming over me with an outstretched hand, reaching for my neck. I screamed (apparently not loud enough to wake Trey), but my eyes snapped open and the tingle of fear ran down my spine all the way to my toes. I was silent for a moment as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. My mind registered that what I has seen as an arm and outstretched fingers was really the green bedroom wall and a plant in a corner of the room. I must have been on the edges of sleep where reality and consciousness clash.

Sleep has been elusive this week and my eyes have searched for the clock half a dozen times in the middle of the night. 2:07 AM. 4:46 AM. 5:28 AM. Although my body remained still between the sheets, my mind was skipping through a hallway connected to rooms of random thoughts. Old friends from my childhood often appear, bringing back memories from decades past. Earlier this week I remember waking, then closing my eyes hoping to find my way back to an earlier dream. I knew I would be fully awake soon and I wanted to find my old friend to say goodbye. I gave her a hug and she slipped away.


Driving home from work this week, something caught my eye on the side of the road. After getting off the interstate, I noticed a bicycle parked next to the cement column of the highway overpass. Sitting there about halfway up the cement embankment was a man in a sleeveless shirt and dark shorts. There was nothing unorthodox about his physical appearance but it was the way he was sitting that struck me as peculiar. He sat cross legged with both feet in his lap, two hands resting on the tops of his knees with palms facing up, his thumb and pointer fingers enclosed in two perfect circle and his eyes were shut. In the midst of rush hour traffic, under the rumbling of the overpass – this man was quietly at peace in the middle of meditation.

I am sometimes overwhelmed by the chaos in my house with Sophia shrieking, the dog barking, and Trey watching TV while talking on the phone. Even though I love them all, I sometimes yearn for silence and solitude. This is in my nature and Trey has come to understand and accept this – sometimes I simply want a quiet place to read, write, or pray. To find my solitude, I often sit outside after Sophia has gone to bed. The faraway roar of a plane overhead and a dog barking down the street – this is the music of my meditation.

This man was tranquil as the world rushed around him. Paying little notice to the uproar, he chose to sit, close his eyes, and be still. The next time I am overwhelmed by the clatter and chaos at home or even at work, I hope that I can remember the man sitting halfway up the cement embankment on the side of the highway. He is beckoning me to come sit, close my eyes and be still.


I met a friend for coffee last night at Barnes and Noble. She is a stay at home mom of a seven month old little boy and has recently realized her need to reconnect with her friends after emerging from a six month sleep deprived stupor. (I don't think I helped her much by keeping her out past 10:00 PM but we had not caught up in months so we had a lot to say). She is one of my favorite type of friends - one who even when both of you have been slacking on keeping up the communication, once you get together is is like no time has passed. It just feels like you are picking up where you left off the last time. Trey asked me what we had to talk about that kept us out for over three hours. I gave him an overview but said that basically we just got lost in our conversation and time slipped away so easily. We never even ordered any coffee, I was afraid it would keep me awake all night.

It is comforting to have other friends who are moms, because it is true that you do not understand the nature of a mother-child relationship until you have experienced it for yourself. You also are more understanding on the other demands on their time. Three hours spent with a girlfriend can be a luxury for the mom of a breast-feeding infant. I felt special that she chose to spend this time with me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fun with the Family

Trey and I are going to have our families visiting over the next week and a half. Today his parents are driving up from Louisiana with Hanna (who is Trey’s godchild and Sophia’s godmother) and they will be here until Monday. As some of you know, Trey’s parents have an apartment near our house where they stay when they come to visit us in Dallas. It helps them feel more at home while they are here and it also helps with the pet situation. We have our dog Coco and our cat Bella, while they have a little dog named Boots. We have yet to figure out a configuration where more than one pet can be in the house at the same time without barking, hissing, chasing, and growling. The chaos was compounded when Sophia was born almost two years ago, so now his parents have their own place to stay and feel that they can visit for longer periods of time. It also gives us a chance to let Sophia spend the night with her grandparents when they come to visit (can you say date night for mommy and daddy)! However, I have a strange feeling that a certain little girl will be sleeping over at our house several nights this week instead of staying at my in-law’s apartment.

Next week my daycare provider is going to be on vacation, so I asked my mom to come down from West Virginia to spend the week with us and take care of Sophia. I thought mom would enjoy the chance to spend time alone with her youngest granddaughter that she rarely gets to visit. My instinct was right and mom will be here from Saturday night through next Saturday morning. Their days will probably consist of breakfast, play, pool, play, lunch, naps, play, and maybe more pool time. It is basically 95 degrees every day here in Dallas so the pool is best place to be during the day. Well, the pool and the play place at the mall near our house, where she can run and jump in air conditioned comfort then have an overpriced cookie from the food court. I will also have to find out when they have story time at the library, so maybe mom can take her like she did with me when I was a little girl. I find it ironic that story time at the library is only held during the day, the very hours that I spend sitting at my desk at work. Is it too much to ask to help a working mom out and schedule a time for toddlers after 5:00 PM?

Of course, this is the week that I decided to make a personal financial sacrifice by giving up my twice a month house cleaning duo of Ricardo and Eduardo. (Yes, I have two Brazilian men who clean my house - jealous?) Trey and I are each giving up personal expenses to cut down on our monthly budget (I sat down and calculated how much we spent on gas and groceries this month I was astounded)! Trey is giving up ordering pizza and going to Starbucks, we are both giving up going out to eat (more than once a week), and my wonderful, magical, mysterious cleaning men will not be back for awhile. I loved leaving for work with cluttered kitchen counters and dishes in the sink but when I came home it was like POOF! Magically my sink was sparkling white, my wood floors were gleaming, and the dishes were clean and put away. (Admittedly, I have to search for the dishes for the next week because they never seem to make it back to the right cabinet). Although Trey is more than willing to help with laundry, vacuuming, and dishes - there is always something more fun we would both rather be doing on the weekends than cleaning. But no more life of luxury for me – time to get down to cleaning these next few days before mom arrives.

As much as I enjoy having friends and family come to visit, I usually feel obligated to make suggestions regarding how we spend our time. So to all my friends who live in the DFW metroplex – where can I take my husband, daughter, mother, in-laws, and godchild for fun over the next week? Do you have any restaurant suggestions, exhibits, festivals, or ideas about fun things to do with this mixed assortment of relatives?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Diary to my Daughter, Week 1

This is an entry in the diary that I am keeping for Sophia, hope you enjoy a peek at her life.

Dear Sophia,
As I promised, I will be writing in a journal to you so that when you are older you can look back and see what you were like as a little girl. My memory is not the best so I usually need to write this stuff down, and some of it is too cute not to capture.

At 22 (and a half) months old, this is what your world looks like:

You love to say “No, Mommy” to everything I ask you.

Me: “Sophia, do you need to go potty?”
You: “No, Mommy!”

Me: “Sophia, do you want some milk or juice?”
You: “No, Mommy!”

Me: “Sophia, do you want to color in your coloring book?”
You: “No, Mommy!”

Just for comic relief I ask, “Sophia, do you want a million dollars?”
Of course you reply, “No, Mommy!”

You LOVE boys. I know this because everywhere we go (the grocery store, a restaurant, on the plane a few weeks ago, at the pool yesterday) you point them out to me. “Mommy” you shout excitedly, “boy!” On Saturday we went to dinner with friend from Daddy’s work. His 4 year old little boy wanted to sit next to you at the table and the two of you held hands for ten minutes until our food arrived. Then he shared his French fries and ketchup with you – because you are very bossy and kept grabbing them off his plate. Last week, Grammy said you are boy crazy like I was when I was a little girl. I feel sorry for your daddy when you grow up.

You refuse to call the dog Coco, even though you can say her name correctly now. You still call her Dodo. Now daddy and I have started calling her by the wrong name. Poor Dodo.

I have to chase you around the house to comb your crazy blonde hair and pull it back in a bow. You hate to sit still so I have to bribe you with stickers or we pretend to play beauty shop.

Your favorite foods right now are; bananas, macaroni & cheese, green beans, scrambled eggs (you steal them off my plate after you eat all of yours), mandarin oranges, fruit snacks, and pizza (although you call it pea-dah).

Yesterday you learned how to sing “Ring Around the Rosie”, it is too cute. I will try to get daddy to video this soon.

You love to dance but is usually consists of this sort-of skip move combined with lots of jumping. You fall down a lot but I think that is part of the fun.

You grab my hand and say “M’awn, Mommy” when you want me to follow you somewhere in the house. You pull my hand, pat the floor and say “Down” when you want me to sit down. This is usually when you want to play with your kitchen and cook breakfast for Daddy and me.

When I start singing the song “He’s got the whole world, in his hands”, you can’t wait for the itty bitty baby part of the song. You immediately scrunch your shoulders up to your ears and tap your pointer fingers and thumbs together to show me the itty bitty babies. Yet another song we need to capture on video.

I’m trying to teach you to sign I LOVE YOU each morning before I leave for work. You’ve got the I and the Love part down so far, but you always point to yourself when I say YOU!

I love you Sophia!
Love, Mommy

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Marathon Mom

Changing diapers, sleepless nights, endless feedings, nap times, bedtimes, piles of laundry – by the time your baby turns one year old, it can feel like you have run a marathon. Their first birthday is a celebration that you made it to the finish line of the infant stage, and you are in shape to run a new race with your toddler.

I barely found the time to get back to the gym the first year after Sophia was born, but this Supermom actually ran a marathon just a few weeks before her sextuplets turned one year old! She was featured on the Today show (will all six children) this morning, so check out the article and videos if you have some time.

While reading through this article, I was amazed at her endurance and drive to run 26 miles. It must have something to do with having a child that makes you believe in yourself, that you can push yourself to new heights you never dreamed were possible before because I was also inspired to start running about 6 months after Sophia was born. I trained slowly and sporadically for awhile, and then I signed up for my first 5K which I finally ran when she was 14 months old.

I have to admit, however, that I questioned if training for a marathon was a healthy thing to do for a new mom with infant sextuplets. I was starting to judge this “Supermom” for neglecting her babies to take the time to run. Why wasn’t she home taking care of her SIX babies? I had a hard time running when I was nursing (it must have been the physically different proportions I had as a nursing mommy). In my mind, I reasoned that she probably was not nursing because there is no way she could keep up with the feeding needs of that many babies. Still, was this good for her babies? Soon I realized that my judgment had nothing to do with disapproval of her decision to run, but it was that little green monster named envy. When I started running, I decided to add “run a marathon” to my bucket list with the idea that I would get around to it in a few years. However, my doctor recently dashed these plans after discussing the problems I have with my knees and hips. Long distance running is out, but Pilates and yoga are my new replacements.

Just like every overworked and overwhelmed new mom out there, one who has six infants needs to take time off from being a full time mommy – even for a few hours a day. I went back to work when Sophia was less than two months old, and I realized that my time spent away from her was actually a great mental and physical break from the monotony of diaper changing, feeding, and endless crying. This mom cared for her six infants every day, then took some time for herself each night to exercise. This was not a bad choice she was making by running, but it was an improvement to her health. How did she find the time to train? “Because they’re good sleepers” she said.

I credit her for taking time for herself, in an effort to be healthy for her children. Can you imagine how much she will be running in about 12 years from now when she has 6 teenagers in her house? She will definitely need some new running shoes to keep up with her marathon life of raising six children. Since I can’t run a marathon along side her one day, I will cheer her on from the sidelines and hit the gym for a Pilates class this weekend. Sophia deserves a healthy mommy too.

Room to Read

When I was a little girl, my mom would read to me each night before I went to bed. Now this was before I was old enough to read on my own so I loved to hear each word read aloud and eagerly anticipated the stories that unfolded from the pages each book. Once I was able to read on my own, my mom would take me to the library where I would check out 10 books at a time. I could never read them all before they were due for return, (which is a problem I still have today) but I loved to have choices about what to read when I got home. Do you remember the scholastic book order forms that they handed out in elementary school? I would beg mom to let me order a few books every time the forms were sent home, then eagerly await they day that they would arrive. I loved the anticipation of discovering what story those pages held between the covers and even the smell of fresh print on paper seemed intoxicating.
My childhood bedroom had a long bookshelf that covered the entire length of one wall, directly under the windows that looked out on the roof over our front porch. I can still see the books that were stuffed in the shelves; bindings bent from folding back the paperback cover and tattered pages from reading the same stories over and over again. I had many favorite characters because I loved reading books in a series - like “Fudge” by Judy Blume, “Ramona Quimby” by Beverly Cleary, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, and The Girls of Canby Hall (just to name a few). Although these books were read for enjoyment, they also helped developed my general love of books and learning.

Until recently, I never considered it a privilege to have access to books while I was growing up. Books were abundant in our home, our schools, and in our libraries. However, I just recently finished reading “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood. It chronicles the inspiring account of this one man’s decision to leave behind the corporate world to start an educational foundation called Room to Read. About 10 years ago, he was on a three week trek through Nepal when he stopped to visit a local school. While the students and teachers there were enthusiastic and welcoming, John was shocked at the lack of educational resources available to them. While reading John's book, I was frustrated when he described how the school library only contained a few books which were kept locked in a cabinet for safekeeping. Can you imagine going to the library and finding all the books under lock and key?

What started with a simple desire to bring books to a school library in Nepal has grown into an organization that provides scholarships, builds school, libraries, and computer labs in rural and poverty stricken communities. By bringing educational access to places like Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and Sri Lanka, Room to Read will empower these children to improve their lives and break the cycle of poverty. Their families, countries, and their future can be positively affected because of John Wood’s fateful decision that day to send an email to friends, colleagues, and family and ask them to donate their used books. Three things really stand out to me about Room to Read. First, almost 90% of all funds raised or donated go directly to building the education of these young children. Second, challenge grants are put in place that require the communities to provide the labor to build these schools. The surrounding community is invested in impacting the education of their children, which is why the program is so succesful. Third, (and finally), scholarships are specifically designated for young girls in these countries, so that they have a chance to succeed and impact future generations. John understands the role of women in these families - if the mother is educated then she is more likely to raise children who are also educated.

I look back and wonder how different my life would have been if I did not have access to books during my childhood. How would my elementary education been impacted? What would I have done differently with my spare time if my nose was not in a book? How would this have affected my love of learning early in life? I doubt that I would be where I am today – a high school graduate, a college graduate, a career in Petroleum Engineering. Without books in my life when I was younger, I doubt that now I would love to write in my journal, read to my daughter, or want to become a writer.
After reading this book, I realize just how fortunate and blessed I am to have been born in a country where education is not a priviledge. Young boys and girls should have the right to go to school, read books, and chose to continue their education beyond high school. I love that books opened up this world to me and I feel that John Wood is opening up this world to many other children - who would have never had the chance to open a book without his help.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Night Owl

I just read an article on asking the question; can a night owl become a morning person? This caught my eye because of the dynamics in my marriage – I am much more of a morning person and Trey is the epitome of a night owl. At the beginning of our relationship, this wasn’t much of an issue. I would stay up late at night just to spend time with him – I was living on love and careless about my lack of sleep. After a few months of struggling to get through each day with bleary eyes and a foggy mind, I decided that I should start getting my much needed beauty sleep (bags under the eyes are not very attractive at any point of a relationship).

I am the type of person who generally enjoys being up early, once I am actually out of bed. I appreciate the quiet of the morning and like knowing that most of the world is still asleep in their beds while I am awake and starting my day. However, Trey’s internal clock does not allow him to be fully awake until about 10:30 AM, which isn’t ideal since he has to leave the house around 7:10 to take Sophia to daycare and be at work by 8:00 every day. I used to sing “wake-up” songs to Trey to get him out of bed – until I was yelled at repeatedly to stop which made my mornings not so pleasant. Stripping the covers off your spouse once you are out of bed is also NOT recommended, if you want them to ever speak to you or sleep in the same bed together again. Now I resort to non-verbal ways to wake him up – I turn on the TV to watch the news, click on a lamp, or open the bathroom door while I am drying my hair. I usually get an evil eye (it would take two much effort to open them both) or a groan in response but after about 10 minutes he pushes off the covers and gets up. Once he is physically out of bed and we are both getting ready for work, we rarely speak or chat about the day ahead. I have learned to give him a hug but lay off any attempts at conversation until he is fully functioning. This usually means that we do not have a meaningful conversation until we are both at work – he usually calls me sometime between 8:30 and 10:30 AM.

The problem with our schedules is that I would prefer to go to bed at 10:00 PM every night to get a full 8 hours of sleep, while Trey is not ready to fall asleep until about 1:00 AM. I usually compromise and stay in the living room with him, reading a book until about 11:00 or he watches TV in the floor of our bedroom while I fall asleep. I really don’t know how late he stays up, but he rarely comes to bed before midnight. He makes an effort to go to bed sooner, but he has trouble falling asleep and ends up getting frustrated.

Until recently, this is how we have lived our lives the past 4 years of marriage. However, a few months ago, Trey went on a business trip to DC. It was sales meeting that was held on Friday and Saturday (at the end of a long workweek). Each night after a full day of the conference, there were social events planned with his coworkers and friends. By Saturday night, I knew he had to be exhausted but Sunday morning he was up at 5:00 AM to catch a flight back to Dallas. Sophia and I were so happy to have him home by 10:00 AM that morning so we could spend the rest of the day with him.

The next morning on the way to work, Trey felt disoriented, shaky and exhausted. I know he felt terrible because he actually called the doctor himself and made an appointment to go in that afternoon. His heart rate was elevated and his body was letting him know that everything was not normal. That day Trey was actually diagnosed with a sleep disorder that affects his body’s internal clock, a circadian rhythm disorder. He finally had an answer to why his body never seemed to adapt to a regular working schedule of 8-5. He had been having difficulty falling asleep for years but we just considered him to be a “night owl”. Several months ago, Trey tried to take Ambien. As with most sleeping pills, the doctor recommends that you take the pill, get in bed, and TRY TO GO TO SLEEP. Trey interpreted this to mean, take an Ambien, sit in bed, then try to play a video game on the computer. Within 5 minutes he was slurring his speech, could not type his name on the computer, and was telling me that we had fairies in the corner of the bedroom that were growing hair. He tried to take pictures with his phone (in the dark bedroom) of the bedroom wall that he swore was moving. I had to physically push him back on his pillow so he would not get out of bed (and fall and hurt himself) and he argued with me for 10 more minutes that he was not tired. I am not a fan of Ambien for Trey.

With this knowledge, the doctor prescribed Rozerem for him to try for the next 14 days. Like the author of the article mentioned above, Trey was given instructions to avoid alcohol and caffeine later in the day (although I say if you are having alcohol every day before 3:00 PM, then you probably have a totally different problem than a sleep disorder). Energy drinks, vigorous exercise, caffeine, alcohol, and bright lights – these are all things to avoid in the evenings. With the exception of our first day in Vegas (on day three of the 14 day trial of taking Rozerem), he had not had any complications. We did not pay attention to the energy drink/alcohol/bright lights rule that first day in Vegas – go figure, we were in LAS VEGAS! Once we were home, he did settle into the routine of taking a pill each night and has cut back on caffeine during the day. Now Trey takes a sleeping pill about 30 minutes before his new bedtime (we have both compromised on 11:00 PM) and I actually hear him breathing the deep breaths of sleep before I drift off to dreamland. He still, however, hates to hear me sing wake up songs.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The road not taken

I have often talked about the fact that I enjoy writing and pursue this interest as often as my schedule allows. That usually means I spend 15 minutes here and there throughout the day writing in my journal or on my blog. I also started writing in a journal specifically for Sophia (Trey helped her pick it out for me for Mother’s Day). My current writing is meant to capture and chronicle my life experiences, but I have also wondered if I would ever be interested in writing magazine articles, short stories, or the culmination of a writer’s career – A NOVEL. (Imagine fireworks exploding and the sound of a marching band here to get the full effect those words). Although I have no intention of changing careers at this point of my life, I can see a future where I may want to write as a regular hobby/ part-time job /time filler when I am old and gray.

Recently I took a big step towards exploring this option – I signed up for my very first creative writing class! Now this is meaningful for me because it forces to me to entertain the idea that I could actually call myself a writer one day. However, because I am still lacking the self confidence to actually sit in a room full of people who also claim to writers, I am taking an online course in order to maintain my anonymity. I’m not sure what to expect from an online writing course but I hope it will be inspiring and motivating to explore different genres, points of view, and writing styles. The worst case scenario is that I discover that I have a self-inflated ego about my writing skills and I crash back to earth into a cold pool of reality. Wish me luck and I hope I still have the will to blog after the next 6 weeks.

One of the main reasons I signed up for this class is because I don’t want to look back in 10 years and wish I had explored this path. I don’t want to wonder “What if…” when it comes to pursing my passion. I understand that taking a risk or putting myself out there does not guarantee happiness, but this is not a fleeting interest. Books have been a major influence in my life; they have been my escape, my comfort place, and my connection to new characters and places. I simply wonder if I have the skills to write in a way that could have a similar impact on others.

I have taken chances before (leaving my job at Chevron and moving to Dallas) and the outcome was not what I expected or planned at the time. But that move brought me to where I am today, which is a much better place in my life than what I left behind in Louisiana. Chasing my pen across a piece of paper is less risky than previous changes I have made in my life, and I am curious to see what story unfolds from the road not taken.

Is there some dream you wished you had chased, a hobby you have always wanted to try, or a longing to try something new in your life? I would love to hear about an unexplored path that lingers in your thoughts. Let me know if you have ever taken a risk, made a big change, and what story you have to tell.

Photo of Sophia, perhaps a future writer or computer genius!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there (and especially to you Trey)! Sophia and I had a blast making you blueberry pancakes this morning and chocolate pudding parfaits for you this afternoon. I think that chocolate pudding is now her favorite food, I can tell because NONE of it ended up on the floor during snack time and she asked for more twice!
This day is always a little bittersweet for me. It was 14 years ago on Father's Day that I saw my dad for the very last time. It was the first summer home after my freshman year at WVU and I was working two jobs to make some money for school. In addition to working full time at the YMCA daycare, I worked evenings as a hostess in a steakhouse. That Father's Day, my family (me, my sister, my grandparents, and my dad) decided to meet at the steakhouse for lunch to celebrate together. I can still remember waiting for him by the front door, he was running a little late, while everyone else had gone to the table. I guess I was happy to see him when he arrived, the years have muted the memories a little and I would describe our relationship as strained at that point in my life. A few years earlier my dad had moved out of the home I had grown up in and my parents got divorced. I was a teenage girl, at an age where I barely cared about the world outside of school, cheerleading, and my friends - so hanging out with my dad was not one of my top priories. The next few years were not happy ones for him and just a few weeks after that fathers day in 1994, he was gone. For the rest of that summer when I went to work at the steakhouse, I was reminded of the last day that I had seen him.
Now every year on Father's Day, I think about the fact that I did have one last day with my dad. Even though we had been through some difficult times in our relationship, I was with him on the one day that was created to celebrate dads. Even without putting my feelings into words, by spending the day with him I was able to let him know that I loved him and appreciated him as my dad. He may not have been perfect, but he was the only dad that I ever knew and I do know that he loved me too.
I hope you were able to spend time with your dad this weekend, or at least give him a call to let him know you were thinking about him. I still think about my dad from time to time, usually when I wish I could call and share something that happened in my life with him. There is so much he missed; my college graduation, my first real job, meeting Trey, my wedding, meeting Sophia. That is why I love watching the relationship that Sophia has with Trey, and I look forward to all they have to share in the future. Becoming a dad definitely changed Trey, he is softer and he wears his heart on his sleeve when she is around. My wish is that she has more time with her dad than I had with mine, and that their relationship continues to build on the love that has been created. I also hope we make it a tradition to make blueberry pancakes every Father's Day - they were wonderful!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Am I Wrong to Write?

I recently read an article on Slate that posed this particular question, “What are the ground rules for writing about your kids, especially on the Internet, with its freewheeling meanness and permanent archive”?

If you have ever stopped by my blog, you know by now that my favorite topic of all time is my daughter Sophia. She brings out such a wide range of emotions in me (some that I never even experienced until she was born) and I enjoy writing about them. It has definitely been a roller coaster ride (one with loops, twists, and unexpected drops that take your breath away) the past two years as Trey and I have experienced parenthood together. However, one of the very reasons I write is to preserve the feelings of overflowing joy, frustration, pride, frustration, love, frustration, accomplishment and sometimes exasperation that I experience as a mother. I have never stopped to think that one day she may feel embarrassment or shame over the same stories that bring me such fulfillment. Am I tainting her future with the details of her past?

Will she resent me one day for using her as my subject and inviting others to read about her? I hope not – I hope that she sees it as I do, simply a way to remember the trials and triumphs of growing up. My blog is a place that will capture all the memories that she is too young to preserve yet, and to see the emotions that she has created in her parents. The look of love on Trey’s face as he catches a glimpse of himself in her expression is one that I try to capture in words, so one day Sophia will understand the depth of her daddy’s devotion to her. The surge of pride I feel when complete strangers comment on her beautiful blue eyes, those big blonde curls, and to hear them say “Oh – she looks like her mommy”. These are feelings that I want to hold on to forever. I want to remember that how Sophia grabbed my hand this week and bowed her head as we were eating dinner so I would say a prayer of thanks over our food. I want to remember that when she took a bite of her first Popsicle, her eyes widened in surprise at the cold, sweet taste in her mouth. And that the next night, she ran to the freezer when we got home and starting pointing for another one. I want to remember that she asked me to read her a book even before she fully opened her eyes this morning. These moments that should not be forgotten.

One of the reasons I started Suireshpere is that I started reading other mom’s blogs and I liked the vulnerability, honesty, and a picture of their lives that these women share. I feel as if I share a bond with these women that I have never met, just because of the experiences we share as a mother. I will say that I have been surprised at some of the things these women will admit or share about their lives to an unknown audience, but blogging has become my personal creative outlet. I do, however, consider my audience - which has become my internal filter. I censor myself in areas that would affect my job or relationships with family, but I also feel free to express my opinions about many topics in the same way that I would share them with a good friend. Hopefully from reading my posts you have come to know me a little bit better – I hope that you can see that I love God, my husband, and my daughter. I have dealt with the fact that I am and will be a working mother and admit that it can be hard, rewarding, and gratifying but necessary right now. I have overcome my addiction to entertainment news (really, it does not even interest me 90% of the time anymore), I love books, I am trying to become more environmentally aware, I have strong opinions about parents who keep their babies out late at night, and I live in a world where I dream about bathroom humor being banned. Seriously, the bathroom scene in “Dumb and Dumber” leaves Trey rolling in laughter while I want to shut my eyes, put my hands over my ears and yell “La, la, la, la, laaaaa!” That is why I pray for more girls in our future family (yes, we definitely want more kids). Boys are fascinated with bugs, boobs, and bathroom humor. Need I say more…

Back to the reason I blog - I like the fact that my posts are a way to capture a snapshot of the everyday details of our life (in the Suiresphere). Sophia is a part of that life and one day she will be able to go back on her own and read through the stories of her childhood. I’m sure she will laugh at some of the stories; maybe she will cry at the details of events that she was a part of but are not stored in her memories. Maybe she will want to die of embarrassment (which is how most teenagers feel when their parents talk about “when they were little”), or maybe she will be angry and refuse to speak to me for awhile. But maybe, just maybe, she will be able to see that her mother’s love for her was the driving force behind the writing and that is the only opinion that mattered at the time. I do censor what I write and I often ask Trey to read through what I have written before I post (so I don’t always “throw him under the bus” as he likes to say), but I don’t want to look back at my life (or Sophia’s) through rose colored glasses. I prefer to see the real, dirty, breathtaking moments that shaped her childhood and hope that one day can she can appreciate them in explicit detail. And hopefully she will love me for it, just as I love her – unconditionally.

Monday, June 2, 2008

All we need is love!

Almost two years ago (22 months ago today to be exact), a tiny little baby girl was born in Grapevine, TX. She weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces when she came into this world, about 12 days early. The doctor placed her in my arms just seconds after delivery, and I looked down at this naked, beautiful baby girl. I had carried her in my belly for the prior nine months, dutifully providing for her every need while she was wrapped in my warm embrace of my body. My heart swelled with love as I cradled her in my arms and looked down at her tiny little face. Our family had grown by one and at that moment, it seemed that all we needed was each other.

Apparently I was wrong…

Two pack-n-plays, a changing pad, a bassinet, two bouncy seats, a swing, a boppy pillow, several activity/play mats, two mobiles, a CD player that attaches to the crib, an exer-saucer, stacks of burp cloths, bags of blankets, boxes full of bottles and pacifiers, 5 bins teeny tiny clothes combined with itty bitty socks and booties, and toys, toys, toys. All of these things were definitely needed during those first few months (ok, pretty much the first year) of Sophia’s life. It is also the pile of stuff that had accumulated in her closet and bedroom over the past 10 months.

Last night I pulled EVERTHING out of her closet and piled it on the bed in the guest room to sort through after she went to bed. I also cleaned out three dresser drawers full of clothes and socks that she had outgrown (with no room left on the bed, they were thrown on the floor in the hallway). Dresses still hung in her closet that she had last worn when she was three months old. I did not have the heart to put them away last year; I needed more time and distance to let go of my baby girl’s clothes. I STILL have two more drawers to attack, which are filled with outgrown shoes and a multitude of infant hats. We have hats to match almost every outfit from 0 to 6 months old. I also filled a small storage bin with keepsakes of her first year that had been stuffed in one of her dresser drawers. A newspaper clipping announcing her birth, a folder containing all the paperwork from the hospital, a tiny white bible that she received from her church dedication, and several cards from her first birthday. All of these things are now stored away in pink plastic, a reminder of her first year of life.

Trey was keeping Sophia occupied while I cleaned out her room. After I had completely emptied the closet of toys, old clothes, shoes, and general piles of stuff - she came running in to play. As she opened the door to her closet and noticed her toys were missing, I heard her gasp. She turned around slowly, with a solemn look on her face. “No, No, No, Mommy” she said as she shook her head back and forth and wagged her little pointer finger in the air. I don't know if she was scolding me for cleaning, waiting so long to clean, or because she found two empty hangers on the floor (I assure you they were plastic hangers). I felt so sad that she thought I took her toys away, but her disappointment faded fast as she found her Easter basket that had been stored in the guest room. She squealed with the same excitement as Easter morning when she saw those plastic eggs in that pink bunny basket.

With Trey’s help, we managed to store away most of Sophia’s outgrown baby stuff in the guest room closet. Last year this would have made me sad, putting away her baby things when those memories were still so fresh and near to my heart. Now I am just too busy chasing Sophia around the house that I don’t have time to be sad. I live in the excited world of a busy, fast growing toddler and seeing the world through her eyes has been a blessing.