Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Post of the Year

So at the end of every year, everyone starts asking "what's your New Year's resolution?" I usually don't have an answer, because I've failed so many New Year's resolutions in the past that I just don't bother anymore. I mean, sure, there are things I'd like to do, but to actually resolve to do them tends to lead to disaster.

However, the one thing I would really like to do, and have been trying to make myself do, is spend a little bit of time each day doing something I want to do, just for the sake of wanting to do it. I love scrapbooking, I love crafts, I love watching TV (beyond Spongebob Squarepants), and I love reading, but I very rarely get to do any of the above because I'm busy enough with taking care of 2 kids, a husband, and a home. So if I were to "resolve" anything for 2011, it would be to spend more time doing the things I love, even if it means pushing laundry off yet another day.

This lead me to another desire I have had for years. As an avid reader, I like to think I've read everything that's worth reading (naturally...); however, an area where I am sadly lacking is classic literature. Not to say I'm completely in the dark-- I have a working familiarity with many classic novels, and have done the required school readings of "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Great Gatsby," "Catcher in the Rye," etc. I even liked a few of them. But even the few that I've liked have failed to motivate me to keep reading, mostly because I think it's a snore-fest genre that can't possibly keep me interested. I've gone to the library in search of classic novels to finally sit down and delve into, just to say that I did, and have come home instead with mysteries, memoirs, and chick-lit. I have yet to really push myself harder and make myself accept the fact that there is a world of literature beyond Stephen King and Jen Lancaster. (Although I reserve the right to still think both of them are awesome.) (Just saying.)

Which is why, for the first time in years, I have made a New Year's resolution. I am embarking on a project, to read a classic novel/novella every week for a year; that is to say, 52 classics. It is a lofty goal, but I think I can accomplish it if I really push myself. It's not the actual reading that will be the hard part-- I have been reading since I was very young, finished "Charlotte's Web" for the first time when I was 4, and can get through an average 500-page book in 2-3 days if it keeps my interest. The hard part will be keeping my interest. I refuse to give into the temptation of watching the movies based on these books until AFTER I have already read it (with the exception of movies I've already seen, but I deliberately picked books that either I have forgotten the movie or, in the case of "Alice in Wonderland," believe there MUST be more to the story than Disney eluded to...)

I intend to blog about each book as I finish it, to keep myself on track so that I don't let my goal slip away. So here, in no particular order, is a list of the 52 books I intend to read in 2011:

  1. Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll
  2. Anne of Green Gables- L. M. Montgomery
  3. The Black Arrow- A Tale of Two Roses- Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. Emma- Jane Austen
  5. Les Miserables- Victor Hugo
  6. Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
  7. A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens
  8. Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte (*note: have already read this, but I was about 14 at the time, so I feel I can probably gain a LOT of understanding from rereading...)
  9. The Time Machine- H. G. Wells
  10. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde- Robert Louis Stevenson
  11. Sense and Sensibility- Jane Austen
  12. Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens
  13. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket- Edgar Allen Poe
  14. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow- Washington Irving
  15. The Island of Doctor Moreau- H. G. Wells
  16. The House of Seven Gables- Nathaniel Hawthorne
  17. Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
  18. Great Expectations- Charles Dickens
  19. The Call of the Wild- Jack London
  20. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain
  21. The Beautiful and Damned- F. Scott Fitzgerald
  22. Dracula- Bram Stoker
  23. The Prince and the Pauper- Mark Twain
  24. A Room With a View- E. M. Forster
  25. Phantom of the Opera- Gaston Leroux
  26. Twice Told Tales- Nathaniel Hawthorne
  27. Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy
  28. The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Victor Hugo
  29. The Moonstone- Wilkie Collins
  30. Tess of the d’Urbervilles- Thomas Hardy
  31. The Scarlet Letter- Nathaniel Hawthorne (*see note from "Wuthering Heights")
  32. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall- Anne Bronte
  33. The Jungle Book- Rudyard Kipling
  34. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  35. The Jewel of Seven Stars- Bram Stoker
  36. Gone with the Wind- Margaret Mitchell
  37. Rebecca- Daphne du Maurier (*and again...)
  38. Nine Stories- J. D. Salinger
  39. Little Dorrit- Charles Dickens
  40. On the Road- Jack Kerouac
  41. The Sun Also Rises- Ernest Hemingway
  42. Don Quixote- Miguel de Cervantes
  43. As I Lay Dying- William Faulkner
  44. The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde
  45. The Haunting of Hill House- Shirley Jackson
  46. Bleak House- Charles Dickens
  47. The Age of Innocence- Edith Wharton
  48. Sister Carrie- Theodore Dreiser
  49. Vanity Fair- William Makepeace Thackeray
  50. Watership Down- Richard Adams
  51. The Song of the Lark- Willa Cather
  52. The Princess and the Goblin- George MacDonald
Now that I've painstakingly gone over list upon list of recommended classics and narrowed it down to the above 52, I'm actually getting a little bit excited to get started. I hope I have the time and the attention span to complete this, and hope to come out of 2011 a little more well-rounded for the accomplishment.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Swiftly Approaching Moving Day

I hate moving.

I've done it waaaay too many times in the last few years, even across state lines. It was one thing when it was just Dan and I, but now... Addison has lived in 4 different homes in her 3 1/2 years. Needless to say, it's getting very old. Packing up our whole life and moving it to a different location never ceases to blow my mind-- reminds me of a line from a Jewel song that says "everything's temporary if you give it enough time."

The benefit this time is that it's the last, or at least the last for many, many years. We are settling on our first home purchase on Wednesday and moving Saturday, finally putting down roots for our family of 4. We bought at the top of our price range, solely because our intention was to find a place big enough and nice enough to house our family permanently; not that we are insisting this is the house we will live and die in, although it's possible... just saying we don't have any intention of moving anytime in the immediate or distant forseeable future.

Packing 2 people's stuff was hard. Packing 3 people's stuff was painful. Packing 4 people's stuff is turning out to be torturous. Addison has 3 times as many possessions as Dan and I combined, I think... and Owen's not far behind. With Dan working full time, he hasn't been able to offer much in the way of help with the packing (especially this past week, when he was on call...) and I am exhausting myself trying to get everything done. I started packing almost a month ago, knowing that whatever I could get done that far in advance would benefit me at this stage; however, I still have a lot to go.

Addison, to her credit, is being helpful in the only ways that she can-- staying out of the way, entertaining herself while I'm working, and not complaining when I pack up some of her toys (although she reminds me daily not to pack her binnie, and tells me almost every day that she can't seem to find her crocodile...). She's an old pro at moving, and it gets easier every time, although I'm glad we are moving into a house before she starts school and she doesn't have to worry about being separated from any friends. Owen has no idea what's going on... I don't think he'll even realize he's in a new house, and he'll obviously have no memories of the house that we brought him home to.

Which brings me to the emotional part... no matter how desperate I am to get out of this tiny townhouse, I will miss it desperately. It has the dual connection of being the home we regrouped as a family of 3 in, when Dan returned from Massachusetts after a year of school-imposed separation, AND it is the home where we first became a family of 4. I still feel emotional thinking about the dumpy old apartment we brought Addison home to, even though I hated every moment of the last year or so we lived there, and I suppose I will always feel emotionally connected to the home that we are leaving now.

I can't help being excited about all of the memories we're going to be making in our new house, even if it's been a long, difficult road to get there-- I think by this point, we've earned a bright, happy place for our family to grow up in. Together.

(Pictured-- our new home.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Not-So-Unfamiliar Conflict

When it comes to my hair, I've done it all. Super short, super long, spiky, permed, crimped, dyed... I'm not afraid to experiment. The problem is, whatever sense of vanity I have has not been able to overcome my extreme sense of laziness when it comes to my overall "look". I wear what's easy to put on and keep up, I don't often paint my nails because the idea of having to repaint them nullifies painting them in the first place, I wear minimal makeup, minimal jewelry, and above all, I like to have easy hair.

About two or so months after Owen was born, I got my hair cut. I had been keeping it on the longer side, pulling it into a low ponytail daily and wearing various "hair wrap" headbands to keep my growing bangs out of my face. But since Owen was starting to outgrow the "hold me all the time" phase, I decided I could spend an extra 5 minutes a day on my hair, and got it cut in a chin-length bob. It was much lighter and more seasonal... the 90+ degree days were making my longer 'do unimaginably hot. It didn't take long to style, and overall I was happier with my hair.

Alas, it never lasts long. Now, Addison has started school, shortening the amount of time I have every morning to get ready. Sure, I could wake up earlier, but considering I was blessed with two late sleeping children, I have been used to getting out of bed between 10 and 11 am for the past 3 years, and getting up at 7:30 to get everyone ready on school days is enough of an adjustment for me. I've taken to washing and drying my hair at night, saving time in the morning... the problem with this is I tend to wake up with hair that is completely devoid of volume, save for the amount of frizz.

It's apparent to me that this is not going to work, but now I am back to questioning what to do with my hair. Should I keep growing it out, so that pulling it back into an easy ponytail is possible? Should I get it cut shorter again, so that the bob requires slightly less styling? Should I get it all cut off again? (An option I dismiss almost immediately, as I repeatedly have promised myself I won't do it every again... however, if I could find a style that was super short but still enabled me to look feminine, I'd consider it.) My hair is thick but fine, gets greasy easily, and despite trying every product I can find, still frizzes immediately upon drying. I can't let it air dry because although it looks straight, it's not... "kinky" is the only word I can think of to describe the way it looks naturally. Not curly, not wavy, not straight... just kind of looks like I fell asleep with wet hair on a bus.

Stay tuned to see what I decide to do... and if anyone has any thoughts, I would LOVE to hear them!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A New Identity

I have been posting on this blog for almost two years now... It's always interesting to look back and see what kinds of things I wrote about back then. Addison was not-quite-one-and-a-half when I started this, and we were living in Massachusetts. I had started a different blog when we moved to Mass in January of '08, but switched to this one in September '08 because using just my name in the web address was easier for people to remember.

I called the blog "The Church Bulletin" because our last name is Church and I was starting this blog in order to give family and friends a way to keep up with us (mainly Addison) while we were living so far away. But now, 2 years later, the blog has largely become reflective of my personal thoughts and experiences, rather than an "update about the family"kind of blog (although they are often featured) , and I think it's time to change the name.

Unfortunately, I'm moving in 2 weeks and don't have the creativity or brain power to come up with anything original. So I'm asking for help. If anyone has any witty or creative suggestions for a name for my blog, post them here in the comments or as a comment on my facebook page. All ideas appreciated!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Break for Creativity

Being a mom, it should come as no surprise that I don't have much time for projects anymore. Most of my free time is put into chores, and that which isn't is spent doing as little as possible... starting anything crafty takes too much time and just creates another mess to clean up. And in our small townhouse, I have no place to set things up in any kind of useful way (which will change when we move into our new house! Yay!) But now and again, I find occasion to do something creative, which I always enjoy, even if it creates a lot of extra work.

Today, I had 2 cards to make. The first was a thank you card for a blanket that a friend made for Owen. Perfect opportunity to use the owl stamp I recently bought! (because really, who doesn't love owls?) I thought it turned out pretty cute, and I use the combination of brown and navy blue as often as I can (at least until I run out of navy blue cardstock.)

Next, I made a card for a friend who just had a baby girl. Because I know she's going to be buried in a pile of pink, I opted for a pretty-but-neutral green, cream, and blue color scheme. Sticking with the bird theme again, I thought this turned out pretty cute.

Finally, I tackled an idea that hit me walking through Michaels today-- a custom gift bag for a soon-to-be 6 year old girl. Because I am working on packing for our move and realized I buried my wrapping-paper-gift-bag tub, I decided to buy a plain white gift bag and fun tissue paper for the present I was buying. On my way to the check out I saw those long-stemmed (long sticked?) lollipops that are always super cute and an idea was born. I mean, who wouldn't be excited to get a gift bag decorated with yummy and super cute lollipops?

So although it ate up about 3 hours of my night and pushed my cleaning routine back significantly, I am very satisfied with what I was able to accomplish, and renewed my excitement at the prospect of having a space of my own in our new house to continue crafting and experimenting.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Hate Phones

I hate phones.

I’ve pretty much always been this way. I’ve never been the one to order the pizza, never been the one to call customer service unless I have to, and always try to push responsibility off on someone else when a phone call needs to be made. If I don’t recognize your number on my caller ID, I will not answer, and if the call isn’t urgent, I will likely not call you back (often telling myself, “I’ll call back later” (to make time for a personal pep talk) and the inevitably forgetting to do so.)

I’m not sure what made me this way, but my instincts tell me that the logical explanation lies in my social awkwardness. In person, I find it difficult to start conversations with people (even people I know from time to time) and often appear snobbish due to my deeply rooted shyness. I dread the inevitable lull in conversation. I don’t feel comfortable in large groups of people, and don’t have the confidence to hold my own in a situation where I’m being introduced to someone’s friends. I would be a terrible trophy wife, and I thank God everyday that although I am sometimes forced to meet my husband’s friends in a professional setting, his outgoing personality usually overshadows the fact that I’m desperately wishing for invisibility.

The benefit is, in face-to-face conversations, I’m fairly good at reading people. Although I have a tendency to fill every moment of silence with SOME kind of babble (again, I dread a lull…) I can usually tell by a person’s expressions and body language how things are going, and generally know when I’m being boring, annoying, hilarious, etc. (And for those of you who are really good at pretending to be interested in someone’s conversation, you are to blame if I’m boring you to death or driving you crazy.) Phone conversations lack this essential element. If there is a lull in a phone conversation, I don’t know whether to try to grasp for some kind of topic to chat about, defer to you to fill the silence, or try to politely end the conversation. This causes me to go into a panic. Thus, just the thought of calling someone can cause my heartbeat to speed up and my breathing to become labored.

I can handle calling a business if I have a specific need or request that can be attended to relatively quickly, with little chit-chatting and explanation. My various jobs in the past have all required phone skills, and therefore I can handle these situations with relative ease. I can also handle a social call if I have a specific reason for calling you. But if I don’t know why you’re calling me, or if you’re “just calling to chat” and I don’t know what to talk about, I will probably avoid my phone altogether. If it can be handled by text, email, or Facebook message, you can expect to be hearing from me that way.

It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you. It’s just that, for whatever reason, the idea of talking to you on the phone terrifies me a little, whether you’re a stranger or a friend. There are few exceptions to this rule, and I don’t know how to change it. If you get a call from me, please know that I am probably hyperventilating as quietly as possible on the other end of the line, and if there is a lull and you think we should be done talking, please do me a favor and end the conversation so I don’t start crying. It’ll be easier for both of us that way.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Ranting Kind of Day

I have 2 rants (so far) today... Have decided to share them with my followers (all 4 of you.)

First, I am a cranky driver. I'm the first to admit it. But I'm getting REALLY tired of people being really, REALLY stupid. As anyone living in Central PA right now knows, 11/15 has been under construction for several years. Recently, the turning lane from 15 north into the Camp Hill Shopping Center was removed, with 2 "no left turn" signs posted at the intersection. TWO signs, within plain sight. And yet every time I drive this stretch of road, in the left lane (being that I intend to turn left into the shopping center at the APPROPRIATE entrance) I have to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting some presumably sight-impaired driver (have I mentioned there are TWO signs??) who has decided to turn left by Panera, where there is no longer a turn lane. This happened yet again today, and in the 100+ degree heat, I decided to alert the driver of my irritation by laying on my horn and honking for a length of time that would make any Massachusetts driver proud. (If you haven't driven in Mass, you might not understand the reference, but it stands anyway.)

Secondly, another huge pet peeve of mine. If I am standing at the counter, ready to order something at any kind of eating establishment (in this particular case, the cafe counter at Barnes & Noble), do NOT ask me what I'd like, and then proceed to talk to your coworker while I'm giving you my order. If you do make this mistake, you better have super powers of multitasking and incredible hearing, because if you ask me to repeat my order, I will make you pay. Which means I will give you a death glare the ENTIRE remaining time that I am at the counter and then blog about you the minute I get home.

Am going to JoJos tonight for dinner... if I am ordering my food and the guy answers the phone in the middle of my order again (has happened SEVERAL times) it might get ugly, as I am NOT in the mood to play nice.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Nook!

Ok, so I realize that my next blog should be all about Owen's arrival, how things have been going since his birth, etc. etc.... the problem is, Owen was born. Which sounds like a mean thing to say (how can it be a problem????) (which it's really not) (just in this context...) but the thing is, a blog entry about all that will be quite lengthy, and I just don't have the time at the moment. What with taking care of an infant and all that.

What I DO have a few fleeting moments to blog about is how excited I am to have a Nook! For an avid reader like myself, this is the perfect invention... Although I will still buy actual books now and again (I'm a sucker for Jen Lancaster and Stephen King in hardcover) I now have the option to read endless numbers of books without having to be wait-listed at the library or find room for hundreds of additional books, considering I already don't have room for the hundreds I currently own. Also, books are cheaper on Nook, so I'll be spending less money.

PLUS I can read one-handed-- no more page turning! This will come in handy while eating lunch for instance, or while nursing Owen... Thus increasing the amount of time I have in a day to read! (which was previously a big fat "none.")

While I'm still in the "I'm-excited-and-want-to-buy-a-lot-of-books" phase, I've asked Dan to give me a "Nook allowance"... so every two weeks, when he gets paid, I'll have a certain amount of money with which I can buy books. Am excited!! Will be spending the next two weeks reading the new books I've downloaded (yay!) and working on a list of books to download in the future (yay!!!!)

The Nook has MADE my summer. The possibilities are endless....

(and maybe Dan will read now! Considering it's technically not considered "reading a book" since it's electronic...)

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Reluctant Update

I was bound and determined not to update this blog again until Owen decided to make his appearance... however, I feel guilty for how long I've let it lapse at this point, and grudgingly decided that one more update pre-Owen is ok.

I've long held to the fact that one of the most irritating things about pregnancy is that everyone asks you how you are feeling. NOT to say that I get irritated with people, per se (although some can get ridiculous, calling daily...) but it's irritating to have people ask you such a question and never be able to honestly give them good news. No one wants to look at their friend and say "yeah I feel like crap today!"; the friend ends up looking guilty, regretting having asked, and you feel like the worst person in the world for making someone you care about feel that way. However, it's not in me to lie and say "oh, I feel fine today!" so I just try to give a brief overview without sounding like a miserable whiner, or blow the question off with a quick "I feel ready to be less pregnant!", which is honest enough without making anyone feel bad.

The truth is, at this point, I am remembering being told in psychology that people are programmed not to remember pain. Not that they don't remember having been in pain, but our brain somehow prevents us from remembering the actual feeling of pain... I believe it. I didn't remember how painful pregnancy could be, although everything I'm feeling now has a certain familiarity, and I realize that it was at least this bad with Addison as well. I just had convinced myself that I must have been overreacting, first pregnancy jitters, etc., but that doesn't seem to be the case.

I had forgotten how tired pregnancy makes a person, but how it contradictorily robs you of the ability to sleep (which is why I am updating my blog at 2:40 a.m. instead of sleeping.) I forgot how psychologically challenging a complete lack of energy can be-- being exhausted is literally depressing. Add to that the physical symptoms: my left hip grinding in the socket every time I take a step, my feet swelling if I stand or sit for too long, stabbing pains in my lower back, constant cramping, infant body-parts under my ribs and beating against my pelvis, etc. I'm at the point where I rarely complain anymore, or at least I don't complain as often as I want to, because there's really nothing new to say-- I hurt, all the time. I'm tired, I'm grumpy, I'm depressed, and I'm doing my best to hide ALL of that because I want my daughter's last few days as an only child to be good memories, even if I lack the physical capacity to play with her like I should.

In 2 1/2 days, I have a doctors appointment and will get the final word handed down as to whether the doctor will approve my request for an elective induction. Said doctor had told me at 36 weeks that if my body was physically favorable, he would allow me to be induced this week, due largely in part to my anxiety about the possibility of giving birth to another macrosomic baby (Addison was just an ounce shy of 9 1/2 lbs, which left me in pretty bad physical condition for quite awhile post-delivery, and I'm pretty sure my blood pressure goes up just thinking about enduring that again.) I was told at my last appointment that I was well on my way to being in good condition for an induction, and several days ago, Owen dropped and is "locked in" to my pelvis, so all systems seem to be ready for labor. I'm hoping it won't take too much convincing for this doctor to schedule an induction for this week (hopefully even as early as Wednesday afternoon/evening, shortly after the appointment), not only because I'm tired of being pregnant and eager to get it over with, but also because I am dying to get back to my "real life."

I want to be able to walk around a store without periodically clutching my belly in pain from a contraction. I want to get back to a point where I feel comfortable in my own skin again. I want to be able to carry laundry baskets up and down the stairs, scrub the tub, and clean the ferret cage (no, seriously!) But more than anything, I want to be able to sweep my 3-year-old daughter up into my arms when she reaches up for me, because I'm all too aware of how quickly she is growing up, and I realize that the time that she won't want to be picked up or carried is coming too soon. I don't want to miss another moment of my life, and in addition to all of this, I am ready to start sharing moments and memories with my son outside of my womb.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Antidote to my Depression

When we need advice, it's very rare that we go looking for a 3-year-old. Myself, obviously, included. 3-year-olds are a lot of things-- crazy, joyful, adorable, annoying, etc. etc. etc. Often all at once, even. But I learned an important lesson today, one that has been summed up in numerous quotes by literary figures and philosophers that don't mean nearly as much to me as my own experience today.

I was talking to my husband on the phone during his lunch break... it started out as a discussion about a bill that needed paying and ended up as a lecture about how I need to take it easy and learn to lean on people more, because at this point in my pregnancy I am putting too much undue pressure on myself. Which is true, but as an incredible control freak, this is not easy for me to do. PLUS, I have been feeling enormously depressed lately about my increased amount of physical pain, my emotional instability regarding the impending birth of my son (I can't wait to hold him in my arms, and yet feel incredibly sad that this era of being a family of three is coming to a close), and my inability to keep up with what I feel are my "duties" as a wife and mother. My house is filthy-- I'm pretty sure there are previously unidentified species of mold growing in my toilets, walking barefoot on my carpet can be considered a serious risk to your well-being, and you can tell where the shampoo should go in the shower due to the fact that there is a shadowy ring left behind when you pick it up to use it. I can't bend and I can't vacuum (exacerbates the intense pain in my left hip), so I'm somewhat limited. The dishes are almost always done though, and my countertops are clean... am considering this a "win." In addition to my filthy house, I feel that I'm beginning to neglect my daughter a bit... not by withholding attention, as she gets plenty of that, but because I no longer have the energy or the physical ability to keep up with her. She doesn't seem to notice, but I do, and it is making me sad.

Anyway, after the conversation with my husband, I had to cry for a few minutes. Don't start sending him hate mail-- it wasn't his fault. My emotions just overwhelmed me for a minute and I needed to cry it out so that I could move on with my day. After a moment, I pulled myself back together and went downstairs, intending to get a couple chores done before taking my daughter to her Poppy's house for the evening. As soon as I saw her, all nestled up on the couch with her beloved binnie draped over her legs, I needed her. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Addison, Mommy needs a hug.
Addison: Why you need a hug?
Me: Because I'm a little bit sad, and a hug would make me feel a lot better.
Addison: Why you sad?
Me: Sometimes Mommies just get sad sometimes, and we need hugs.

*Addison crawls over to me on the couch, sits on my lap, and gives me a hug. Leans back, looks me in the face...*

Addison: Wanna see my belly? *lifts up shirt*

I couldn't help myself. I cracked up laughing. What a goofy thing to do! "You're sad? Here, allow me to show you my belly. All will be right with the world." It's insane! It makes absolutely no sense at all, and yet my depressed mood was broken. I was looking for some kind of answer for my situation, trying to work it out logically, talking things through with my husband, and apparently all I needed was a 3 year old girl to show me her belly. In her own convoluted way, I think this was my daughter's way of reminding me that sometimes, even if the problems are difficult, the solutions can be simple.

And next time you're upset, I'm sure Addison would be happy to show you her belly. Just give us a call.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A First Not for the Scrapbook- Addison's First Real Lie

Addison is a very imaginative girl. Since she was old enough to talk, all of us closest to her have learned to fact-check when Addison tells a story, because she has been known to spin quite a yarn. Time and time again, Dan and I simultaneously roll our eyes at something she's spouting to us from the back seat of the car-- driving seems to bring out some of the best of her stories. However, although she can't always be relied on to tell the whole truth about something, they have never been outright lies-- she's not spinning these tales to deceive anyone, she just has a very active imagination and likes to share her non-reality with us.

Today was a little different. I was upstairs, getting Owen's crib / nursery area ready... we got a whole bunch of stuff at the store yesterday and were finally ready to get all the pieces put together. Addison was downstairs watching tv and eating her Cheerios... after about 30 minutes, she yelled to me from the bottom of the stairs that she was having trouble with her pants. Assuming she was having difficulty getting them down to sit on the potty, I told her to come upstairs and I would be glad to help her.

A moment later, I walked out into the hallway to see my daughter walking backwards up the stairs, pants at about mid-thigh and her "unnie" also half-removed. (She has been in a pull-up instead of underwear for the last day and a half, due to a short bout of diarrhea the other day-- just taking precautions.) I have learned that when she walks into a room backward, it means that she's embarrassed or ashamed of something, or thinks she will get in trouble. I asked her what had happened...

Me: Addison, why are your pants down?
Addison: I was has-ing trouble. I tan't det dem up.
Me: Did you go pee-pee?
Addison: I went pee-pee but I flush already.

This caught my attention. Addison never uses the big potty downstairs without assistance, and wouldn't have attempted to dump her little potty on her own. Plus, the obvious factor-- I hadn't heard the toilet flush.

Me: Addison, did you pee-pee in your unnies? I didn't hear you flush, are you sure you didn't go pee-pee in your unnies?
Addison: soooooorrrry.

After assuring her she was not in trouble (this was her first acki-dink in weeks, probably brought on by wearing pull-ups again as opposed to regular underwear) we changed her unnies, put her pants back on, and I sent her on her way. While I was finishing tying the bumper pads onto the crib, I thought more about the situation, and it broke my heart-- what I believe happened was upon realizing she had an acki-dink, she must have tried to pull her now-wet pull-up down to sit on the potty, realized she couldn't get it back up, and determined that whether she liked it or not, she was going to have to ask for help. The walking backwards suggests how embarrassed she must have been, having had an accident (or acki-dink) for the first time in so long... I'm so glad I didn't overreact in the moment, because it's clear to me that she punished herself already.

It also became clear, though, that the "I already flushed" story was her first real lie. It was a story that she told specifically for the purpose of covering up something she didn't want me to know... her first deceitful tale. Maybe I'm lucky to have made it past her 3rd birthday without hitting this milestone-- she has always been, to a fault, an honest child. Even when she knew she'd be in trouble, she always told the truth. Does this scare me? Absolutely. But now that I know to keep an eye out for it, hopefully the next time she does it, I'll be ready to talk to her about why lying isn't right... although I can't help praying that this moment doesn't come anytime soon. Maybe I'm naive, but I'd like to see my honest little girl continue being truthful at least a little while longer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Morning of Uncontrollable Giggles

Fact: I'm not a giggly girl.

Not to make it sound like I'm stoic or grumpy all the time; I'm not. But the tendency to dissolve into giggles doesn't overcome me very often. Laughing? Yes. Giggling? Not likely.

Saturday morning was the exception.

The first thing that needs to be clearly stated is that I was running on roughly 3 hours of sleep. I had a hard time sleeping to begin with, and then my husband had a cold, which made his normal snoring 100 times worse, to the point that I eventually went downstairs and slept on the couch. Not the most comfortable place to sleep as a pregnant woman; I didn't get much rest there, and had to get up a little after 5, because we were planning to leave early to go to Ocean City, NJ for the day.

The lack of sleep apparently made everything funnier. About 45 minutes or so into our drive, I started giggling and couldn't stop, my hilarity getting to the point that I almost choked on my tongue trying to catch my breath. The cause? A motel sign stating amenities that included "hi-speed wireless micro-fridge." Obviously I realized that those were supposed to be two separate ideas; however, this did nothing to quiet the part of my brain that went into hyperdrive imagining the scenarios in which a person would need a hi-speed wireless micro fridge. I almost called my Mom, who I was SURE would laugh with me, but then I realized she might actually murder me if I called her at 7 a.m. while she was on vacation.

A few minutes later, we passed a place called "Christ's Home for Children." Nothing funny about this. Except that maybe 1/4 mile later we passed a smaller building with the sign "Christ's Home Office" in front of it. Cue the giggles. Dan and I spent the next several miles contemplating how one might get an appointment with Christ at his home office, and speculating what made Christ set up his home office in rural Pennsylvania in the first place.

The final straw was an Amish buggy crossing the road in front of us. Not that this in itself was funny-- having grown up in Pennsylvania, the sight of the Amish doesn't really phase me much. The thing that brought on the giggles was the fact that the buggy crossed the road in front of us to pull into an Arby's parking lot. Unfortunately, our light changed and we had to drive away before I could stare too much, but it begged the following questions:
*What do the Amish order at Arbys?
*Did they go through the drive-thru?

A little further down the road, I missed a road we were supposed to turn on and Dan had to turn around... I apologized, saying that I had "zoned out" for a minute, but he called me out on the truth-- "You're still picturing Amish people ordering Beef and Cheddar's, aren't you?" To which I could only reply, "More curious as to whether they prefer curly fries or regular."

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Bubble

No matter how much I expect it, and try to remind myself it will happen, it never fails to surprise and irritate me how many people think they have the right to invade a pregnant woman's privacy and space. Complete strangers reaching out to pat my belly, asking me how far along I am and when am I due and is it a boy or a girl... I try to just smile politely, answer their questions, and move along as quickly as possible, but the eternal sarcastic inside my head wants to reach out, pat their belly, ask for their birth date, phone number, and current blood pressure reading, just to remind them that some things are just personal. (I wish to emphasize that this applies only to strangers or lesser-known acquaintances... if you are my friend or family member, this rant does not apply to you.)

About a week ago, I went to Giant late at night to pick up a few things. I had just walked in and was perusing the oranges (looking for the most perfect ones, as I hardly ever eat oranges anymore and wanted it to be as amazing as possible) when I was cornered by a complete stranger. She looked as though she was probably in her late 50's or early 60's, spoke very rapidly, and had mascara all over her eyelids, which I was powerless to avoid staring at. She asked all the usual questions, and when I gave her my due date, she started immediately shaking her head. "Nope. No, you'll never make it to May 30th. He's going to come out before then. Not too early, but definitely before May 30th. I worked in the NICU long enough to know when a baby will come early." It was truly a battle to get away from this woman without being rude, but I eventually managed, muttering to myself that although I appreciate her enthusiastic endorsement of an early delivery, I'd like to continue taking medical advice from a doctor, not from a crazy produce-section psychic.

(side note: when I left the grocery store maybe 20 minutes later, the same lady was following around the poor kid pushing carts in the parking lot, talking a mile a minute. I didn't catch what the conversation was about, as I was trying to keep my head down and move quickly so as not to be spotted and subsequently hunted.)

Thinking about it later, though, I realized that I seem to attract these kind of people even when I'm not pregnant. No matter how hard I glare, the lotion people in the middle of the mall will always offer to lather up my hands. The lady at Auntie Anne's asks me to sample a pretzel, every single time I pass her, even if I'm just walking laps around the mall to kill time. I thought the Bath Fitter lady was going to physically restrain me the other day at the mall, no matter how much I insisted that as a renter, I was not looking to remodel my bathroom. When buying fabric at a JoAnn's in Massachusetts, a complete stranger grabbed my arm and proceeded to inform me that she liked my fabric selections so much, she bought several yards of each pattern I had picked out (which is strange, considering I was using them to make a wreath for my mother-in-law, and I can't imagine those patterns coordinating in any other capacity.) No matter where I go, or what I'm doing, or how hard I try to convey the "please don't talk to me, I don't really want to be friends" vibe, people inevitably enter my personal space.

A couple weeks ago, I was shopping at Boscov's with my mother-in-law, my husband, and my daughter. We picked out several spring and summer items for my daughter and were on our way out of the store, when suddenly the neckline at the back of my shirt was being yanked downward. I suppressed a scream when the lady started talking, explaining that she wanted to see the rest of my tattoo (part had been peeking above the neckline) and then proceeded to drill me about the meaning it might have. Umm... excuse me? Since when is it considered appropriate to distort a complete stranger's clothing for ANY reason? Had she asked me I might have considered pulling it down myself in order for her to get a better view, but in no way was I ok with the fact that she just went ahead and yanked my shirt down herself. I have tattoos on my thighs as well... had I been wearing shorts, would she have given me a good old fashioned schoolyard wedgie to get a better look? Should I be paranoid?

I'm not trying to say that I'm a rude person... I usually manage to get through these situations with my dignity in tact and with a certain amount of grace, but inside I'm usually either extremely embarrassed or completely seething. I've never been a super outgoing person, and as a result, have established what I like to think of as "my bubble." I don't want strangers invading my bubble unless they are invited, or unless they invite themselves in a non-assuming, non-assaulting way. Ask to touch my belly and I may let you. Touch my belly without asking and I may try to bite your hand. It's that simple. And under absolutely no circumstances are you to in any way stretch or distort any article of my clothing to get a better look at what's underneath, whether it be a tattoo or a strange-looking mole. If it's under my clothes, it's none of your business.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heartbreak, Grief, and a Glimmer of Hope

This past Saturday, I went with Dan to the memorial service of a childhood friend of his who passed away at 24 years old of testicular cancer. Never having met this young man, I felt that my role was largely just to be there to support my husband, and although I knew I would probably tear up, I wasn't anticipating feeling too emotional. After all, I thought, I've been through all this before, and a lot closer to it... how can this be as bad?

I made it through the memorial service without getting too choked up; it wasn't easy, especially while listening to friends recall the wonderful memories they have of a really wonderful guy, but the ever-distracting presence of Owen gave me something else to concentrate on. Dan tracked down the young man's 2 older brothers, chatted for a few minutes, and then we went home. Things went smoothly for the rest of the day, and at about 7:15, Dan left with his sister to go see his favorite musician (David Bazan) play a show at Messiah College.

Addison went to bed at 8:30 (early for her) and I was then left to myself. Which means the flood began. Because the damage of going to a memorial service for someone I didn't know wasn't immediate-- it came later, when I had time to reflect. That's when the bandaids fell off the old wounds and all the memories returned.

My junior year in high school was chaotic. 6 students in our district died that year-- an elementary school girl, a middle school girl, and 4 people in my high school. Of the 4 from the high school, there were 2 that I knew, and one I knew well, named Chris... I had grown up with him, had him in all my classes all through middle school AND high school, frequently chose him as a partner in projects, and had even dated his twin brother for a time. He lived down the street, and I spent a great deal of time at his house over the years, sometimes just to spend time with his mom. He died on May 2, 2002... just before the end of our junior year. I attended his viewing and funeral and spent much of the next week at his house, even sleeping there a few nights, with a large group of our friends.

A few months later, my aunt died from what had started as breast cancer, but spread throughout her entire body. I went to see her at the hospital when it was obvious that the end was near, but couldn't make it through the door-- it was too soon. I had been at the hospital moments after Chris had been taken off life support and had gone in the room to say goodbye... the memories of that were still too clear, and the overwhelming circumstances of what I knew was my aunt's impending passing were too much for me. I went to a waiting room down the hall and cried instead. A few days later, I attended her viewing and funeral, and hoped that I was done with all of that.

The summer between my junior and senior years was probably one of my best summers... I spent all of my time with my two best friends, Tessa and Megan (who happened to be cousins). We went to concerts, took small road trips, spent entirely too much time at what was then the Camp Hill Mall (Tessa had a huge crush on a guy that worked in the food court, and wanted to spend as much time there as possible.) At the end of the summer, Tessa and I helped Megan move to Maryland... she had decided to try living with her mother, as things were not going well living with her father. It was emotional leaving her behind, but she promised frequent visits, and I had to be ok with that.

My senior year flew by quickly... I met Dan, who would later become my husband, in September of my senior year and started dating him in December. This relationship and my jobs (first Fishbone, then Picture People) consumed most of my free time, and visits from Megan were the occasional bright spots throughout the year. I graduated on June 14, 2003 (Tessa's birthday) and was ready to embark on the next chapter of my life. I have a very cherished photo of me on my graduation day, still in my cap and gown, standing with Megan... I only saw her for that fleeting moment that day, but it is very precious to me, as that was the last time I saw her.

On July 8, 2003, Megan was killed in a car accident on 11/15, driving back to Pennsylvania for a visit. Tessa woke me up with a confusing phone call... she kept saying that Megan was "missing", that she was supposed to have arrived by that time but hadn't... she was crying, and although I held onto the hope that Megan truly was just missing, deep down I knew that Tess wouldn't be crying like that unless something awful had happened. We later found out that the accident had happened near Gettysburg... something caused Megan to cross the median, and she was hit head-on by a tractor trailer. She was ejected from the car, and traffic was tied up for hours.

The next several days are full of fractured memories. I remember spending most of my time with either Tessa or Dan, depending on the time of day... I know I spent a lot of time crying, but I don't really remember it. Her funeral is a blur as well-- her mom agreed to have the funeral and burial in Pennsylvania... Megan was buried in a family plot in Oberlin. The funeral was awful-- the random minister they had asked to do the funeral service kept forgetting her name and calling her "Michelle." (Megan had attended a Russian orthodox church most of her life, while living in Camp Hill, but for whatever reason her mother wanted a Methodist funeral service, and seemingly just selected someone at random). The burial was almost worse, but was strangely funny in a way... someone had bumped the panic button on their keychain, and a car horn was blasting during most of the burial service... no one could tell which car was going off. I couldn't help smiling, because somehow I knew that Megan would be laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of all of this.

I went to West Chester as planned in August, but stayed only for a semester... I made no friends there (socially anxious to begin with, I have a difficult time making friends... add to that the fact that the loss of my best friend made me disinterested didn't make things easier.) Would things have been different if Megan hadn't passed away? Probably not, but I definitely think that her death, and the subsequent depression, made things a lot more difficult.

It's been almost 7 years, and I've been to a couple more funerals since then, but none have left a scar as deep as Megan's. It has affected many aspects of my adult life-- Tessa and I haven't had the same relationship, although we are still close friends... I haven't made many new friends, largely due to my own insecurities, but in part because deep down I have a fear of getting close to people that I might someday lose... I can't drive to Gettysburg without getting a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I drive past the area where Megan died. I got a tattoo in her memory a few weeks after she passed away, deliberately placing it on my upper left arm, where it would be seen and presumably asked about. It never gets less awkward explaining when people ask that my tattoo is in honor of my dead friend, but in a strange way it makes me feel like the memory of Megan is always close by.

So when I went to the funeral with Dan and saw all of these young people mourning their friend, it reminded me of a quote I discovered after Megan passed away... "We call that person who has lost his father an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence."-- Joseph Roux. It touched me deeply after Megan died, and continues to, even now... from my experience, I learned that you never really feel like you have a claim to the grief you feel. After all, she was "just a friend"... I felt like I had less right to my grief than Megan's father, or her grandparents, or Tessa... they were all her family. I was merely her friend. But as time passes, I am learning to accept and acknowledge the fact that I have as much of a right to grieve as anyone else, because Megan left a hole in my life when she died, and no matter how many friends I make, or how much time passes, that hole will always be there.

I don't often talk about all of these things... partially because it doesn't exactly make for lighthearted, casual conversation; partially because many people are uncomfortable talking about death; but mostly because I've worn my grief like a shield for so long that it's hard for me to let go of it. I think a part of me is hoping that in writing this, I'll stop holding it so tightly and will be able to open myself up to new relationships a little more easily (because even after 7 years, I still tend to keep people at a distance). But I think my real reason for writing this is because I am hoping it'll be a little easier to move past it when it's no longer my own. It's purely selfish-- as hard as it was to write, I'm hoping it'll be freeing in the long run.

(photo, left to right- Tessa, Megan, and myself)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Breaking 7 Months of Silence

Seven months between posts isn't THAT long, right? ....ok, ok. I'm sorry. But kind of a lot has happened in the last 7 months, so you'll have to forgive me.

For one thing, I am now 31 weeks pregnant. Dan moved back to PA in November and graduated in December. We struggled for a few months to find him a job, and now he's employed by Penn State Hershey Medical Center. In the midst of all of this, Addison is potty training, becoming more independent, and developing the divatude of a full-blown 3 year old. So blogging hasn't been at the forefront of my brain for awhile. However, due to baby-kick-induced insomnia, I am often up well into the wee hours of the night/morning and find myself with ample time to think, reflect, and write.

It occurred to me that although I used to update this blog regularly, it was almost always an update about Dan or a quip about Addison... I don't very often talk about myself (except when nervously trying to make conversation... then I can't seem to talk about anything BUT myself. Must work on this.) In my attempts to continue this blog, I'm going to try to (occasionally, at least) provide some kind of story or insight about myself, maybe to give people a little insight about who I am but mostly to clear some of these things from my mind. That way, when I don't have a Dan-update or Addison-ism to share, I can still write SOMETHING.

I have a rather emotionally heavy post on my mind, but that will be for another time (perhaps even later tonight, after Addison and Dan have both gone to bed.) For now, I'll turn my attention back to everyone's favorite subject of my blogs, Addison.

Addison has been in potty training mode for a couple months now... we officially started on the day Dan started working, but have been pre-training for months. I set up a rather elaborate and enticing rewards system, and on the first day, Addison "went pee-pee" in the potty 11 times (I also gave her large amounts of juice that day, so there were more successes to be had.) Since then, we've had way more successes than accidents, and less than a week ago I recall telling my father-in-law that I couldn't remember the last time Addison wet in her pull-up during the day (we are not night-training yet.)

However, a couple days ago, Addison crashed big time. She had been sick with two illnesses in as many weeks... first a flu bug that caused her to vomit for 7 hours, then a rather nasty bout of croup. She was in recovery from the croup when she apparently decided that the potty was not for her... she had 3 "ackidinks" (her word for accidents) within a few hours. The first I was willing to excuse-- I am not beyond understanding that after almost 3 years of being allowed to go at will, she might occasionally forget what she is supposed to be doing. The second made me angry. Largely due to her attitude at the time... she was whining, yelling, and arguing about everything I asked/told her to do or not to do, and the followed it up by peeing in her pull-up while within 10 feet of her potty. The resulting conversation went something like this:

Addison: Mommy, you ang-er-y?
Me: Yes, Addison, I'm a little ang-er-y. I'm trying not to be, but I really wish you would have pee-peed in the potty. You KNOW better.
Addison: (grinning) nooooo, Mommy... you not ang-er-y! We best friends!

I couldn't help but laugh after that... not only does my daughter know how to manipulate my emotions from time to time, but she was also 100% correct. She IS my best friend, and she KNOWS it. We spend every waking minute together and know each other inside and out. We know how to make each other laugh. We can tell from each other's body language, breathing pattern, and tone of voice what kind of mood the other is in, even if the change is very slight. We tell each other everything. We could cuddle on the couch for an hour and a half watching a movie or spend an hour in separate rooms, each doing our own thing, and still come out of that time feeling connected. I know a lot of people are reading this going "no kidding, you're her MOM" but even though I knew the bond of a mother and a daughter was strong (I have always been very close to my Mom, and continue to be to this day), I don't think I ever really anticipated the deep impact it would have on every aspect of my life.