Friday, December 30, 2011

End of year blues

Last Tuesday Andrea and I said our goodbyes to nursing.  Yes, I did cry.  That night my sister-in-law and darling nephew came to stay with us for a few days, and I cried some more.  I felt so hollow-- dedicating over a year and my body to the survival and comfort of my child and in one moment it was all over.  The next day I ran some errands and when I didn't have to hurry home to feed Andrea I realized I had a new freedom.  I waved at the sorrow from the day before and looked forward to my new life with a toddler.

The next few days were bliss.  Andrea and her cousin played together beautifully.  My sister-in-law and I could talk for a couple of hours without being interrupted because those two kept each other entertained.  Christmas Eve my in-laws left and Andrea began to change.  Without the distractions of another toddler she became suuuuuuuper clingy, demanding constant cuddles and attention.  I'm struggling again.  This completely snuggle-resistant child now wants to be wrapped up in my arms all day-- which is cute, but also exhausting.  It leaves me wondering if she's missing and craving that special time together we spent nursing.

Monday night Paul and I got hit with the flu.  We spent the entire night taking turns in the bathroom emptying our stomachs.  Twenty-four hours later we were both physically better, but my spirit still felt so heavy.

Perhaps it's my hormones adjusting or cabin fever. . . whatever it is, I am feeling so blue, inadequate, and small.

But I'm planning on feeling better today.  I just have to. . . because I want to.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter 'One'derland

December 13th was my little Andrea's first birthday.  I thought I would spend the whole day crying saying, "Where did my baby go?"  But instead I was just filled with joy and this intense gratitude to be the mommy of this sweet little girl.

I made her pancakes for breakfast.  Paul was wishing everyday was her birthday because I don't make warm breakfasts very often.  Last year on his birthday I promised something hot and savory first thing in the morning, and I think he left for school hungry as I nursed, bathed, rocked, and soothed our two month old.

Anyway. . . Andrea woke up on just the right side of the bed on Tuesday and was such a happy girl all day.  She had two beautifully long naps and by the evening she was ready to try opening presents at my parents house.

My parents have some mistletoe and we took turns giving her kisses.  She thought it was so silly.

Andrea seems so grown up now.  While she not walking yet, she stands by herself quite often and will take an unassisted step once and a while.  We stood her beside her presents and she was so confused.  She looked up at us like, "What do you want to me to do with all of this?"  She pointed to Paul and he sat beside her to show her how this strange present opening tradition works.

She loved getting toys.  My grandmother gave her a little snugly giraffe, and she gave it lots of love.  I gave her a book which she also seemed interested in reading.

The clothes she didn't seem interested in at all.  She needed them though because she'd recently grown out of her 3-6 month outfits.

My mother bought her this elephant popper that blows balls out of it's trunk.  She went crazy for this thing, and she enjoys it even more now that she discovered she can turn it on all by herself.

Sunday was her big party and the theme I chose was Winter 'One'derland.  All of those snowflakes we cut out . .

Got hung from the ceiling creating a curtain of snow.

Every snowflake was different and it looked beautiful.  I've decided to leave them up all winter.

 View from the kitchen.

I set a winter display on the kitchen table where guests could look through her baby book and review her progress. 

We covered the counter in a while tablecloth and sat out all of the cupcakes

We had three burned out light bulbs in the kitchen.  It's actually been that way for a while but I finally changed them.  The kitchen seemed so bright I thought about removing the new light bulbs.  I'm use to it now and like seeing my food.  But on the day of Andrea's party the kitchen was glowing.

I had two warm scalding drinks to choose from.  White hot chocolate and organic mulled cider.

We had a contest to see who could most accurately guess Andrea's one year weight.  My sister, Janell, guessed it exactly.  17 pounds 8 ounces.

This is the cake I made for Andrea to smash.

She didn't seem too impressed with it.  I think the size was a tad overwhelming.  She even tried to push it off her tray.

We cut her a slice and chopped it into pieces.  In this less intimidating form she went to town.  So many people were watching and her shy nature got the better of her.  She whined and cried a little and seemed relieved when I got her out of her chair.

The adults had 'snowman nose' cupcakes.  A.k.a. carrot cake.  The cupcakes were topped with sad melting snowmen.  Well, most of them are sad.  There is one happy snowman and one cyclops.  Can you find them?

I decided to forgo traditional cream cheese frosting and try a Swiss meringue buttercream.  I've seen it hailed on Food Network shows and worshiped on baking blogs.

It was horrible.  This is the real reason for the sad snowmen.  The buttercream tasted like straight butter.  Paul and I tripled the amount of sugar and it still tasted like a night at the movie theater.  Everyone ate them and said the were good, but I threw half of mine away.  Bless my family's little hearts.  The sacrifices they make in behalf of my self-esteem.

After treats, we gathered in the living room to open presents.

Andrea had such a good time playing with the bows, reading the cards, ripping paper, and cuddling some of her new toys.

After the crowed dispersed I cuddled my little one year old and put her to bed. Paul and I decompressed with a cheese quesadilla, homemade pice de gallo, and Next Iron Chef.  It was a perfect day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today's teenage girl

I have two sisters.  One is just two years older than me.  We grew up in the same generation, watched all the same cartoons, and mostly had the same social circles.  The other sister is seven and a half years younger and from a completely different world.  But after years of discord we've finally bridged the age gap and have become great friends.  But there are still generational differences. Two in particular come to mind.

To today's teenage girl all boys fit into one of two categories: attractive and unattractive  These are the only words they use.  Thankfully for the awkward teen, you can make the shift in an instant to the attractive category.  Usually this happens after you given a well-placed compliment.  Unthankfully, this title can also be stripped away in a second.  One girl says, "OMGoodness! Last week I saw Tyler at the store with his mom.  He is so attractive.  Did you know he's friends with Jake?  He used to be attractive like two years ago, but he's in my math class and he is unattractive now  Eww."  Another girl responds, "Really?  But I always thought Jake was attractive but not as attractive as Nate who is way more attractive than Tyler."

The second thing I've noticed is not new among teenage girls.  They usually don't think that they are very pretty.  However, the way that today's teen deals with it is revolutionary.  They compensate their lack of self-esteem by taking an unscrupulously large amount of pictures. . . of their own face. . . at unflattering angles.

The first of these angles is called "the nose."  The combination of tilting the head at a downward angle and holding the camera above accentuates the shnoz.

And they think it looks pretty attractive, as opposed to unattractive, so they do it again.

And again.

Each shot is slightly different but mostly the same. . .

None of which are very flattering.

The second set of shots that every teenage girl has in her arson of pictures her children will make fun of someday is called the "face distortion."  These beautiful and lovely girls relocate their features to unnatural and new locations.  With their mouth halfway up to their ear and eyebrows raised into their hair line, they hold the camera entirely too close and proceed to snap away.

Snap snap!

This is a combo of "the nose," "face distortion," and "duck face."  For those of you who don't know what the duck face is, please put on your protective eye wear.  This is not going to be pretty.

The "duck face" is a where the head is turned to a three quarters profile and the lips and pushed forward to resemble a duck.  This somehow got placed in the attractive category.

Why?  It's still a mystery.

Of course thes pictures are also taken in sets because one is not damaging enough to my brain.
(I do have to note that my sister is not a proponent of a duck face.  She's classy that way.)

After the teenage girl has covered the basics, she proceeds to add props.

Here we have "duck face" and glasses at a department store, usually with visible tag.  Don't even try to contest this.  I rifled through pictures of Tessa's friends and have confirmed that they ALL have this picture.

This is the directional "duck face" and cardboard cut out.  They all have this one too.

Most have a picture with a completely random object at a store.  This pairs nicely with a "face distortion."

Oh, let's post two of this one just to get in the spirit of things.  Why not?

"Face distortion" and some kind of crazy hairdo-- very common.

A random picture if an eye ball.

*Shudders* A picture of them pretending to lick something.

And of course, a "peace out" picture.

I'm only 22 years old, but when I'm around these whipper snappers I feel generations apart.  I'm just grateful that my kid sister is willing to be my friend and visit me down here in the nursing home.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to break all of the mirrors in my house.  I wish not to look upon my face for a good long while.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Flash flood

I had a flash back today of my life one year ago when Andrea came to our family and stole our hearts as well as our sleep.  Her little voice talked happily on the monitor at three o'clock this morning, and my blood shot eyes stared at the ceiling for over a hour waiting for her to stop.  When the 'peeto peeto eeeee na do do do eh' finally subsided I waited for the sandman to send me back into my dreams.

But the morning came too soon, and I was ready for a nap before Andrea finished her breakfast.  Though I can physically muster through the exhaustion, I can't seem to keep my emotions in check.  This tearful tendency manifested itself today after I noticed something about my tree.  The bottom half of the purple light string was out.  I changed out the light bulbs, one by one, and having no success, shuffled into the bedroom completely defeated.

"Paul," my voiced cracked from the weight of my unshed tears.  I thought I was strong enough to hold them back but when I opened my mouth again a dam burst in my tear ducts and out came this:

"The lights onmytree they aren't workingand we arehavingpeople over onSundayand blubber blubber blubber incoherent mumblings itlooks so uglyandIwas soproud of it and everyone blubber blubber big sigh sniff eye rub."

After picking his jaw up off the floor-- oh, who am I kidding?  He was not surprised at all by my overly dramatic display.  He gave me a hug, told me no one would be paying any attention to my tree and not to worry.  That man is awesome.

I took his advice and distracted myself from the worry by playing with glitter.  It is impossible to feel depressed while playing with glitter.  True. Story.

Just after six o'clock the RC Willey man knocked on my door to deliver our new oven.  On Friday our old one died, or for those who think speaking of death to be bad luck, our old oven made the long journey to the land of rainbows.  :)  Our landlords spent the weekend shopping for a reasonable replacement.  And because I have this not-so-secret attachment to inanimate objects, I named the newest addition to our family Rhonda.

Though similar in color and overall layout, Rhonda is shiny, precise, but best of all, she works!  I can't wait to churn out some birthday baking this weekend. 

Though Andrea's birthday is tomorrow, we are having a party for her on Sunday when all of her grandparents can attend.  I have been cutting out snowflakes for days and so has whomever I've come in contact with (Tessa, Mom, Janell, Katie, etc.) in order to turn my apartment into a winter 'one'derland.  I'll let you know how things turn out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ups and downs

The last couple of weeks have been full of ups and downs.  A week from today my baby will be a year old.  Having her has been the best experience of my life.  I find myself completely invested in her joys to the point where I embarrass myself in the grocery store hopping up and down while making funny noises because her giggles are so intoxicating.  I extend my full empathy to her frustration and sorrows and almost find myself in tears as I nurse a bump on her head or carry her exhausted body to bed.  In the words of Professor Higgins: "Her joys, her woes, her highs, her lows are second nature to me now; like breathing out and breathing in."  I enjoy her more everyday and love her more as well.

Today I was reading my writings from her first month of life and it sent me into a down.  Although it's pointless to desire, I wish I could go back and spend a few moments with Andrea's younger self.  Fresh from heaven and warm from the protection of my body, I would hold her a little tighter, take more pictures, and breathe slower and longer.  I realize that my tendency to over-analyze was the major culprit for my postpartum woes.  I was so frantic to do everything by the book and correctly that I was blinded to what was really best for Andrea.  It took seven months for me to learn that lesson, and while I feel more prepared for baby number two in the next couple years, I wish and wish Andrea could retrospectively benefit from my new experience.  It almost seems unfair that she got me at my most raw and unseasoned state.  She has such a strong little spirit; it's a comfort to me to imagine that she perhaps volunteered to be the first.  The guinea pig.

Watching her mimic me is a reminder that I am her biggest example and has motivated me to work on myself.  My valiant effort to be kinder, less judgmental, more forgiving, quieter, and calmer has just made me acutely aware at how often I mess up.  It's discouraging.  If I didn't have Paul instructing me to just let go of the past I would have buried myself in a pit of unworthiness by now.  I'm realizing that forgiving others is challenging to me because I don't forgive myself.  I just wish I was perfect, and I don't think I will ever be in this life.

I looked up 'perfect' in the Bible's Topical Guide and it directed me to the word 'whole'.  Clicking on this word flooded me with messages from the Messiah.  "Thy faith hath made thee whole."  He bequeathed this promise on the physically infirm as well as the spiritually feeble, and these people experienced it in this life.

Reading this give me hope.  And that brings me back up.