Friday, June 17, 2011

A Mid-Wife Crisis

I titled this a Mid-Wife crisis, but I think it's more like a mid-wife-mommy-staying-at-home crisis.  It's that point in my life where I felt as if I'd lost my identity.  It's been a slow picking away since we adopted the Stin, but now being home with the Ster, I've felt a much stronger wave of emotion.  I've written and rewritten this blog-it never seemed right, first it was too weepy, then too whiny then all over the place. I think at those times I was using it more as a diary to get it out and that is why I never wanted to share or post.  Honestly I was quite embarrassed, I don't like to be too vulnerable with my emotions, I'm known as the rock and I wasn't ready to lose that part of my identity, but I've come to terms with these feelings and can finally write about them.

The main struggle has been guilt!  I love being at home with the Stin and Ster, I can't imagine not being with them every day, now that I've had this having these selfish feelings of losing my identity seemed like such a horrible thing to write about.  How dare I complain about being at home when there are so many women out there who would kill to be at home with their kids- like how I was when I was working.  But this isn't about me being at home, this is about me and only me.  Me as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a provider and as a friend.  After having the Ster all these parts of me seemed to be shifting and I felt like I couldn't keep up with the shift and began failing miserably at every aspect.  It can become overwhelming and it did.

I remember my first sense that a part of who I was had gone and boy does it sound petty.  It was the day I turned over my leased Jeep Wrangler to the lot.  I had that car for 5 years and it had become a part of my identity.  Everyone knew I drove the bright yellow Jeep, people said they always thought of me whenever they saw one.  I loved that car, I loved the size, I loved that it was a stick, it was the perfect vehicle for me.  But it wasn't practical with kids and when the Stin came to us, we knew it needed to go for something safer and more suitable...four doors and good gas mileage.  So off went the Jeep to lease lot heaven and when I handed over the keys I cried.  It was a shift and I was ok with it, the Stin was much more important than that car, but I did love having it and there were a lot of memories tied to it, so respects had to be paid. It's these little things that add up through the years.  Maybe it's not a vehicle for everyone, but there is that something that just takes you back to good times and it's hard if you have to let it go. 

Then the huge change came...the decision to stay-at-home and quit my job.  It was close to a no-brainer, my maternity leave was amazing and when The Don and I figured out I could stay-at-home, I was ecstatic.  I couldn't wait to put in my notice and be back at home with the kids, finally, like I had always dreamt. But my whole being had been built around my work ethic, that's what I did and that's who I was-a worker.  I had no problem working 2 jobs through college and 3 jobs in the summer.  I picked up waitressing jobs while working full time in advertising to help build up a savings account and pay off school loans.  I didn't mind working, I didn't mind staying late, I liked contributing to the finances and I felt like I did a pretty good job.  If I was asked to describe myself, hard-worker was my go-to descriptor, so losing that was like a part of me was gone.  This was a shift that could have rated a 9 on the Richter scale for me, and like those impossible to predict earthquakes, I never expected to feel the loss of self-worth and the feeling of loneliness in that decision.

I mean here I was doing exactly what I had wanted and now I'm going to throw a pity party because I was feeling sad.  Who would I dare talk to about this?
My friends who were at home and loving it- No
My friends who were still working and wishing they could be at home- No
My friends who didn't have any children- No
My family who thought being at home was perfect- No
My family who seemed to doubt me staying-at-home in the first place- No. 
To have a major event take place and not feel like you can talk about it with anyone, especially when you've always felt like you had lots of friends, that is a very hard place to find yourself in.  I tried not to dump my feelings on The Don but he sure had to deal with a very sad Nici far too often.

Then the day came where my insecurities hit a new high and the complete ridiculousness of it all came to a head-literally.  I had decided to blow dry my hair one day after weeks and weeks of the ever so sexy ponytail.  I took my nice paddle brush to my hair and started to part down the side when they appeared, and I say they because there were so many!  The gray hairs, not just a couple that you pluck and shrug off, these are gray hairseseseseses.  It was devastating, because I'm a red head-since I was born, never been dyed, temper and all RED head.  I expected to go gray at some point and was ok with it, but not at 31. Combined with my already fragile state, it put me over the edge. As I sobbed pathetically, I realized,  I had to deal with this, I had to get over myself and so another shift came-but this time it was my decision and on my terms.

One part of my identity I refuse to give up is my outlook, I have always been quite optimistic-it could verge on annoying I'm sure.  I am also a huge cliche believer, because most of them are true.  So I'm tapping into that part of my being and starting to rebuild.  I am doing what I've always wanted, being home with my kids and we are making it work on a salary that most wouldn't think was doable.  I have healthy children. I have a wonderful husband who is my best friend and we have always been able to pull through...together.  Everything happens for a reason and this to shall pass. 

I'm sure I'll have minor set backs and this will be a continual adjustment, but it's one that I'm happy with.  I've come to the realization that I'm still Nici.  I'll have another Jeep some day, I'll rock the gray hair as it comes and maybe consider a dye job for the first time, I'll go back to work when I feel that my time at home is done and I'll just keep doing the best I can.

Instead of looking back I'm going to start looking forward, I'll just pull some of my favorite things from behind to bring with me, like my high heels. I have lots from my working days and I love them. I don't get to wear them as often as I'd like, but I think I'll change that, plus I have some really cute ones for my new path in this journey we call life.

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's come down to Bike Lessons...

Yes, that's right, bike lessons.  The Stin had a friend over the other day to play.  I use the word "play" loosely, as their definition is very different than mine.  They would be completely content with playing the Wii, DS or any other form of video gaming system, all day long-sometimes even separately. I, on the other hand, feel that playing means interacting, requires physical exertion, imagination and usually requires them being outside. So when I said the dreaded words, "No Wii boys, go play outside" the moping and dropped heads began- they were SO bored.

I swear that The Stin and his friends don't know how to actually be friends.  They are kind of  like The Ster... who is 16 months. They play by each other-but not with each other, it's like independent play with's crazy!  I have actually begun telling the boys to go figure out how to be friends and how to play together-because they really don't know how.

As the dragging of the feet and constant check ins of "can we play the Wii yet" continued, I decided to start rattling off things they could do: go get some other kids and play tag, hide-and-seek, capture the flag, get a game of football or soccer going, go out back and set up the horseshoes or the croquet set, shoot some hoops, get your remote control cars out, go get your bikes and ride around the block...and that's when I heard it:
"I can't Mrs. Crislip, I need to take bike lessons." WHAT?! I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and inquired into this lessons? Why would you need those? He was quite articulate in telling me that he has almost everything down but is having a problem with balance so his parents think he needs bike lessons...yup bike lessons. What do you say to that...I just shook my head and sent their moping butts outside to sit around and be bored.  I gave it a good go and after the bike lesson excuse, I was done for the day.

This is my dilemma every day.  I've written before about the other parents being a huge obstacle, none of us are on the same page any more with what is appropriate or necessary for our kids and the "bike lesson" was just another notch on my motherhood frustration belt.  This is a boy who is very sweet, he has good manners, but he is not forced to do anything outside and tends to spend most of his time with technology instead of nature-and hence he can't ride a bike.  This isn't a lesson situation, we're not playing the piano, you can't teach balance, you feel balance and unfortunately you feel the cement or grass before you feel the balance.  He was never required to get out there and practice and fall and get back up and try again so he is now 10 years old and cannot ride a bike.  The sad thing is that the best thing would probably be to put his training wheels back on, but how do you do that to a 10 year old boy? 

It's just crazy to me, but this is how it is right now.  I worry that the art of "being a boy" will be lost soon and it just kind of makes me sad.  I want The Stin to grow up and be sweet and compassionate, but I also want him to be a man.  I want him to embrace his testosterone and use those powers for good.  Honestly, if I caught him and a friend in an argument and rolling around in the grass, I would probably breathe a sigh of relief.  It might sound wrong, but boys are boys and I would love to see them acting that way...because the truth is, I don't. 

So if you are raising a boy and he picks up a bug and sticks it in his pocket or rough houses in the grass with his dad-embrace it!  They don't say boys will be boys for nothing and I don't want that phrase to become a moot point. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Greek or Not to Greek...

I got a Facebook message from a sorority sister that she was asked to speak at her Greek Awards ceremony about the relevance of the Greek system today. She sent out a request for insight from a group of us that are still close.  What were our thoughts?

I pondered this question for two days before our call...was it still relevant?  I could go on and on for days and pages about my fabulous experience and my fabulous sorority in college, but in today's world-was the Greek system still relevant? I have my thoughts on the generation going into college and I don't know if it's accurate or a stereotype but I had to wonder if they could appreciate what Greek life really had to offer and honestly, if they could handle it.  If not then my question of relevance would receive a resounding no.

But then I thought back to when I rushed and the question came to me, was Greek life relevant when I went to school?  There were many many students who hated the Greek system and what it stood for.  They were very vocal about their thoughts for some of us who chose to rush...they didn't need to buy their friends and they didn't need a sorority-so why did I feel strongly enough to continue with the process-there had to be some relevance, right?  Even thinking and talking about it, I still can't pin point it but maybe it's because relevance is a bad choice of words.  When your talking about college kids, what truly is relevant?  And doesn't relevance change over the course of your four years?  My Physics II class was relevant when I took it, being that I was a Physics major-BUT surprise, I changed my major to Communications, so it kind of became a waste of time, money and credits.  Greek life is relevant to those who believe in it, and not everybody does-which is fine.  I lived, ate and breathed my sorority in college and still hold it very dear to my heart.  You better believe that The Ster was registered as a legacy with my sorority.  It was my true constant through college and that was my relevance.

So I think relevance comes with the person and it has always been that way and always will be.  Not everyone wants to be Greek and that's ok, but for those who do-it's relevant in their own way.  Everyone rushes for different reasons and who are we to decide if the reason is relevant or not. 

I think what we have to work on is the few bad eggs who have cast a dark shadow over the entire Greek system.  It would be nice if the media could show all the great stuff Greek life does, like community service and philanthropic events for great causes-but that stuff goes by the wayside for the negatives.  I'm not saying we should dismiss the bad stuff-it needs to be dealt with and firmly, but I'm just saying their can be some bad seeds in any organization at any point in your life-does that mean that we should shut down sports, schools or corporations? 

I guess my goal of this post was to just point some things out and simply state-I loved being Greek!  I love my sorority, I love my sisters and I loved my experience.  I wouldn't trade it for anything and still look back on it as some of my greatest memories thus far in my life.  I still have my letters, I still wear my letters and I will defend the Greek system until I am blue in the face!  My sorority was amazing and still is and here is why:

Saturday morning at 11am a Director of Greek affairs for a college requested a conference call with a stay-at-home mom, a physical therapist, a psychiatrist, a superstar director, a teacher, an administrator and another director to ask them if the one thing that brought them all together over 10 years ago was still relevant?  Everyone called in to discuss and the consensus was a unanimous yes.  Many theories and examples where given but I walked away with that phone call.  That call was the true testament to the relevance of our experience.  All walks of life, all different points in life, all making the time to help a friend-a sister defend the common bond they all shared, their sorority.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The First Year-Gone in a Flash!

I remember always hearing how fast children grow up.  I knew they were right, because it feels like yesterday Justin was wearing 2T's and playing Candy Land...5 years later we're dealing with crushes, video games and the thought of middle school.  What wasn't properly explained was the first year with a baby.  Every time I heard to enjoy it because the grow up fast, I nodded my head and chalked it up to life just moves fast.  It's so different that first year.

I read the books, I had the little birdies chirping in my ear...but it just wasn't clear to me how fast it really will go.  This first year has been a whirlwind and my little journal is the proof.  It seems like everyday I was jotting down notes of something new Piper was doing or experiencing...sitting up, clapping, teeth, first holidays, smiles, giggle, rolling-the list goes on and on.  Everything is a milestone, everything is huge, everything becomes everyday once it's accomplished...and the journal notes become fewer and farther between. 

Don't get me wrong she is a ton of fun at this age, but now the development seems to be getting more mental-I can actually see her thinking.  Those fun blatant firsts of picking up a toy or stacking a block are now being built on with picking up and throwing and clapping or stacking 5 blocks and then knocking them down and then putting them away.  It's great and still exciting but wow that first year was something.

It's funny, I have a playgroup at my house every Wednesday and we have babies from 3 months to 20 months and you would think we are dealing with Kindergartners through Seniors.  Babies in that first year or two are doing so much that you are basing things on months-sometimes weeks.  When Piper was 10 months old she had a mouth full of teeth, was eating cut up food and  walking, her little friend who was 5 months old still had a gummy smile, was just starting to sit up and was only on rice cereal for breakfast-the difference is HUGE!  But..if you think about them in 5 years-they will be walking into kindergarten together.  The milestones slow and everyone starts to catch up and even out to their age as a year-no longer by months.

So my baby girl is 1 year old, she's still a baby, but it's amazing how I already need to get "baby fixes" with the real little ones :) Piper is, thankfully, a big snuggle bug but she has rightfully moved up to our shoulders...but there is something about cradling a baby in your arms that just feels so right and as this post goes-seems to be gone in a flash.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Labor-The Good, The Bad and The Ughhly

If you happen to be pregnant and don't want to hear labor experiences that weren't the best, then you might want to stop reading.  If you want to be informed on all types of situations and have a little insight into what could happen, then please continue.

I wouldn't say that my labor was horrible, just not what I had hoped for and could have probably gone a little bit better.  I was aware that you cannot plan for your labor and have to be ready for anything to happen so that baby comes out happy and healthy, but looking back on my experience, I have some disappointment.  Some in part to how my situation was handled and some blame falls on myself for not speaking up.  I have to cut myself some slack, being it was my first pregnancy and, as you'll read, I wasn't on top of my game with quick thinking, but I definitely could have been more assertive with some things along the way.

It was Thursday, February 18th when I decided I had to call my doctor.  I was at work and had non-stop dampness in the you-know-where area.  I had almost called the Friday before, when I stood up after a meeting and thought my water broke-but I had also gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy and I embarrassingly have to admit I was a sweaty mess.  I chalked it up to being overweight and ready to pop, but this day I just felt like it might be something else.  I should probably call-I was 4 days overdue so they had to understand I would be getting anxious for things to start moving.  My doctor had me come in on my lunch to do a quick test to see if my water had in fact broke.  I left work-fully planning on coming back-and headed over to see what was up.  I still had my bag of water but was definitely dealing with some liquid.  The ph paper didn't indicate my water broke either, but she decided to throw it under the microscope for good measure-yup, I was ferning (which ment there was amniotic fluid).  I must have had a high leak and since I told her that I had kind of been dealing with this for almost a week-she decided to send me to the hospital to be induced.  When your water breaks or you have a leak, you and the baby can be at higher risk for infection so they like to deliver within 48 hours (I believe).  I potentially had been leaking for 6 days-so off to the hospital I went.

I had hoped for a natural birth.  I understood that things can happen and actually wasn't completely opposed to an epidural, but I wanted to try to do it without the medicine.  I had spoken to my doctor about my thoughts-I was all or nothing.  I either would do it natural or I would get an epidural.  I didn't want the in-between stuff, the analagesics, that could potentially pass over the placenta.  This might sound silly, since the epidural is a medicine, but this was my game plan and I had a right to it and my doctor seemed on board.

Since I was not in labor I had to be induced.   They got me going and my doctor came in and broke my bag of water-no big deal-I don't remember it being anymore uncomfortable than a pap smear.  My first big disappointment came when I asked to have something to eat.  I had gone to the doctor on my lunch, so I hadn't eaten since that morning.  I was starved, it was late in the afternoon and mama needed some food-nope.  They would not allow me anything more than Jell-o and popcicles, I think it's to try to keep you from vomiting while in labor.  I don't know, I just wish I had known to grab a sandwhich at home before I came in.  I was about to be in some serious labor and could have used the extra strength.  Maybe I'm wrong, but you better believe I'm eating before I go to the hospital, if I do this least something small to help tie me over.

They say induced labor can be the hardest, in my case it was rough.  I was going strong without an epidural, using all the methods I had learned in my birth class-rocking chair, walking, bouncing on a ball.  As my labor progressed by contractions began to cluster.  Basically I was having huge contractions with no valley-no breaks.  They would peak and then start to come down and then peak again.  It sucked, I consider myself to have a high threshold for pain and these were kicking my ass.  Unfortunately my doctor left for vacation that night at 10 pm.  I had met her fill-in doctor and was told she would be checking in.  She told me good luck and that whenever I wanted an epidural just let them know.  After about 13 hours of labor-I wanted one.  I wasn't able to breathe through the contractions anymore, I was gritting my teeth and fighting through them-NO GOOD-I feel that I had stopped the progress by doing this, I was only dialated to about 2.  I asked for my epidural, I gave it a good go, but at this rate I didn't know where I would muster up the strength to actually push-and who knew how long it would take me to get to 10 at this rate. The fill-in doctor refused me, she would only allow me to have the drug Nubain until I was at 3 or 4.  I was devastated.  I tried to explain to the nurse my request to do it all or nothing and that my doctor said I could have an epidural  whenever I was ready...I was ready. The nurse tried again but the doctor refused.  So I refused and tried to tough it out again-I only lasted another hour or two when I finally caved.  It was close to 3am, I was exhausted. The Nubain did allow me to finally rest-it took the edge off the contractions and I actually slept a bit, I was to 4 within about 2 hours.  So it did what they wanted it to do, but it still was against my wishes, which was really upsetting for me.

I think throughout my labor I made a really big mistake, this being the first main instance...I was very concerned with being a "good" patient.  I didn't want to be the stereotypical girl in labor-yelling at everyone, I wanted to get along with everyone. I'm not saying that you should be a bitch, and I wouldn't be next time, but you better believe I will be a lot more assertive with situations.  I knew my body, I knew I was the reason I wasn't dialating-I was muscling through those contractions-I knew if I got that epidural I would dialate fast...I was right. 

Once I got to 3 or 4 with the Nubain they prepped me for my epidural-the guy was awesome. Nobody can be with you when you get an epidural, except your nurse-I wish Don could have held my hand, but the nurse and epidural guy were great at keeping me relaxed and preparing me for pokes and pricks I might feel-the epidural was not bad at all.  Half the reason I wanted to go naturally was because the epidural scared me-I had made it into something it wasn't.  It wasn't bad to get-at all-and once it kicked in...Ahhhhhh.  I now understood why they were so popular. I was fully dialated to 10 within an hour or two.

Once I hit 10 the nurse was like-alright time to start pushing.  I think this is where I made my second mistake, I needed to labor down.  I couldn't feel anything when I was pushing.  There is no way that I was being productive and it showed.  I pushed for almost 3 1/2 hours when the fill-in doctor came in.  She told me she was going to do a c-section and if I wasn't crowning when she got back, I was next.  This horrified me.  Of everything I had hoped for-a vaginal delivery was at the top of my list.  I did not want to have a c-section.  I swear I was hanging by the rafters trying to get our little Pipster no avail.  About an hour later they began to prep me for my "c".  I remember at this point the urge to push came on big and bad.  It's like I had to grunt and push with all of my might.  I may be wrong, but I feel like if I had been able to get to this point before I started pushing, I may have been able to go vaginally.  I will say that Piper had gone sunny-side on me (face facing towards by belly) and my night nurse suspected this, but noone checked and there was no discussion about possibly trying to get her to turn-another disappointment.

The c-section went well-I didn't like it-it is a bizarre situation, but at that point I just wanted to meet her and know she was ok.  My anesthesiologist for the procedure was amazing also!  Piper was born at 1:23pm on February 19th after exactly 24 hours of labor. 

I remember everything and I definitely remember the pain-but I will say that the benefit, our little Piper, outweighed those 24 hours and I have gotten to a place where I could do it again, just this time I have a little more insight into things. 

So if you are pregnant and worrying about the labor-don't.  You'll get through it, it will be fine and all that matters is that you and baby are healthy.  But if you walk away with anything from this post just know to speak up for yourself.  I trust doctors in situations that they are there for, but in labor, a lot of it has to do with your body-and only you really know what's going on there.  So let them know how your feeling, or not feeling and ask lots of questions as to why it's going the way it is-that's your right as a patient and a mother.  Don't worry about pleasing anybody during this time, let everybody worry about you-labor can be tough and you deserve to let yourself be taken care of! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Please Don't Text and Drive-My plea to you!

It was October 30th of 2009, it was a Friday.  I was at work, plugging along and almost 6 months pregnant when my phone rang and it looked like it was my mom calling from wasn't.  "Nici, this is Beth, your mom's co-worker.  There has been an accident with Ashley, oh god Nici, Ashley is dead.  Your Mom just screamed and ran into the break room, people are with her.  I don't know what happened, I'm so sorry."  WHAT?  This wasn't happening.  Ashley was my niece, she was going to be 21 in 21 days-the countdown had begun.  We were going to celebrate.  There had to be a misunderstanding, Ashley was fine. 

 I remeber starting to ask questions and starting to cry-this wasn't right, this wasn't right, this wasn't right. My mom can be very emotional, they weren't getting the whole story.  Some co-workers started to come to my desk to see if I was all right. Beth was concerned about my Mom, she couldn't drive and they didn't want her to be alone.  I told them I would call my dad to come and get her and hung up.  Thankfully my parents were very amicable, even though they had been divorced since I was in 7th grade.  Then my phone rang again-it was my Mom.  She was sobbing-"Ashley is dead Nici, Ashley is dead, there's been a car accident and she was killed."  I told her I was calling dad to come and get her, I was leaving work and I would be to Toledo within the next 3 hours.  I hung up the phone and it started to sink in.  I lost my brother 3 years ago and now I've lost Ash...and she wasn't alone in that car-she was almost 5 months pregnant.  Oh god the baby too. 

My friends went into calm down mode-I was pregnant also, so I had to be aware of our little girl-I shut down.  I called my dad to tell him the news and to go get Mom and stay with her until I could get there, please.  Then I called The Don-he was at work, I needed him to come home and see if his parents could please pick up Justin from school so we could leave immediately.  I didn't want Justin to have to go with us to Toledo yet, he didn't need to be there when we were getting the full story and arranging his sister's funeral.

I think I was in denial when we left-there had to be a mistake and I would get there and she would be ok.  That wasn't the story. 

The story was a tragic one.  Ash was on her way into Toledo from the outlying suburb she lived in.  She was on Airport highway, a main road that runs through Toledo and out farther than I know.  It has a speed limit of 50 mph so people cruise.  She was heading in for a day with friends and family, she may have had school also.  A text came through from a friend about lunch-that's the last we know.  She hit a semi truck in front of her that had stopped to turn left-head on.  The car was a mangled mess and Ash was killed instantly.  There were no skid marks, she hadn't even had time to slow down, she had become preoccupied as so many of us do.  It happened that fast.  Her phone probably sang a top 40 song, that she loved to download for her rings, she looked down to check her ended up that God had called that day.

I got to Toledo and had to help plan her and baby Steven's funeral-it finally sunk in.  I had to keep it together for the family-for my Mom.  I laid in bed that night and just cried, where I was alone so noone could see.  Our Ashley was gone, I never got to meet her baby and she would never meet mine, the little baby girl who came into my life when I was 9 years old had left my life, only 20 years later.  Too soon.  Too young. To texting.

There are many stories that are coming out about the dangers of texting and driving.  I don't know what it will take for people to make a change and just stop doing it but if this story convinces one person then I am grateful.  The only blessing from Ashley's accident is that nobody else was hurt, but that's not always the case.  More than just your life is in your hands when you get in a car, it is too important of a responsibility to allow yourself to be distracted.  Not just with texting but with talking and drinking and being overly tired.  We need to take driving more seriously!  Please turn off your phones when you get into your car-nothing is more important than protecting yourself and everyone else on the road when you are driving...nothing.

I miss Ashley everday.  I have an ultrasound picture of Baby Steven at 14 weeks-that Ashley texted me, his heartbeat was 152.  He was a healthy baby boy.  That's a picture I look at all the time, just not when I'm driving.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Deciding to stay at home

After being a working mom for almost 5 years, I thought for sure I would continue down that path.  I mean we had made it work with Justin, though stressful at times.  I had a good job where I loved the people I worked with and my clients.  I felt like I was pretty good at what I did.  I was contributing to the family finances and we were doing ok and prepared for the extra daycare costs.  So I figured I would enjoy my nice long, 13 week maternity leave and then be ready to get back into the swing of things with adult interaction and what wrong I was.

I think my first misstep was comparing this with Justin.  He was 4 1/2 years old when he came to us so we weren't dealing with daycare as much as pre-school.  He was ecstatic to start his pre-school and play with friends all day. Plus, that was when Don was off Mondays, so Justin esentially had day-long playdates 4 days a week, all while getting prepared for kindergarten. He was stoked!  I will admit it became stressful as he got older and more involved.  Don and I both worked in an industry that required late nights-me more than him.  I worked about 15 minutes from Justin but Don worked about 40 minutes away so getting him by 6 could be tough and lots of times his practices/games could be at 5, so we had to figure that stuff out, but we did. 

I figured with the baby I would just have to adjust and we'd, like always, figure it out. But Piper came and that theory went out the window.  They learn and do so much that first year, gosh those first three months-I was a mess with the thought of missing any of it.  I think our situation with Justin also added to the yearning of being there-I didn't get this with him, I didn't want to miss it with her.  Oh how we crunched the numbers, but boy was it going to be tight-it just didn't seem like we were going to be able to make it work...then Don got a new job.  It moved him from a 40 minute commute to about 10 blocks down the street.  There was some pay implication and with the money we would save on gas, we decided to recrunch...tight just loosened a belt notch and we went into doable range.

As much as my soul told me that being home was were I should be, my work ethic said that I needed to at least go back. I had never not worked and thought maybe I just needed to get back into it and I would adjust.  I mean the extra money would help and we were able to get Piper into a fabulous daycare facility and Justin was in a great after school program, so back to work I went.

Piper's spot at the daycare didn't open until three weeks after I went back, so god bless the grandparents.  My dad, my mom and mother-in-law all took time to come and be with her to get us through those three weeks.  I felt like this was the perfect transition for the whole family and felt pretty good...until that first day.  I went back to work, but my heart wasn't in it anymore-all I could think about was what I might be missing-I had some serious seperation anxiety.  I muscled through it, trying to be a trooper, but the battle was lost.  I knew that I couldn't be the employee I wanted to be and that they knew me to be. The day we dropped her off at daycare was the day I put in my notice.  I was torn because I didn't want to upset my work or the daycare facility but I had to do what I had to do.  Thankfully, both were extremely understanding and supportive.

It's funny.  I had thought that the nine year age gap would make things a little easier to deal with, being that Justin is a functioning child and able to be somewhat independant.  I mean he can feed himself and shower-that kind of stuff.  But in actuality, the age gap made for a big juggling act.  Justin loves sports and participates in quite a bit, so getting him from school and getting him fed and to practice or a game was always a big hustle for us.  Now we had Piper too, who had a schedule that needed to be kept.  We were running Justin here-shoving a granola bar in his mouth to tie him over, trying to spend a little quality time with Piper before bedtime, getting dinner made, picking Justin up, checking homework, trying to get quality time with Justin, baths, showers- on and on-all between the hours of 5:30 and 8pm. The decision was made.

So here we are.  I am at home and really loving it.  I definitely miss some aspects of work, I'd be lying if I said I didn't.  They say parenting is a thankless job and for the most part they're right.  Work provided yearly reviews with comments and critiques and clients would send accolades for a job well done, I felt like I knew how I was doing and got some moral boosting kudos here and there.  At home you're flying blind-doing the best you can with little feedback.  Hoping and praying that you're getting it right.

The Stin just came in to give me a hug-I'll take that as a Meets Expectations review for now. Here's hoping that I can Exceed Expectations one day!

Should 13 year olds have Facebook pages...

my answer is a resounding NO!  I mean really, what does a 13 year old have to post for their friends that can't wait until before the first bell tomorrow at school? 

I'm sure with the movie The Social Network out that most people are familiar with the creation of this social media was created by a college student, for college students.  I remember when you couldn't have a Facebook profile without an .edu email address. So why oh why are we allowing our middle/high school children on? 

I see Facebook as an advanced form of social interaction that benefits those that have responsibilites and priorities that have taken precedent over their social upkeep.  I mean lets face it, when you are a big kid your life becomes consumed with work and family.  Friends move and you lose touch, everyone is busy and you lose touch. Facebook helps alleviate that-which is great, but in high school-your friends are your world and usually live blocks away.  Why is Facebook needed? 

With our world getting less and less personal, shouldn't we as parents be stepping up and making sure our children know how to make real, meaningful relationships before they are sucked into the cyber world we live in?  Make them pick up a phone and call their friends to share news.  Teach them how to have real conversations- face-to-face, real relationships. Shouldn't this be a priority as parents? 

I get that we live in a technological society, but I cannot be convinced that by not letting a 13 year old have a Facebook profile, that I will be depriving them of some great learning curve.  My 9 year old son knows more about a computer than I have ever taught him, because he gets to use them at school and kids these days seem to be wired for this stuff. They will be just fine when they are adults if they have to wait to be on Facebook.

I know it's tough when "all the other kids" seem to have one but being a parent isn't about being cool and I figured that out fast!  I thought when we adopted The Stin that I'd be this young, hip mom-I mean I was 26 and in advertising-I would be cool...Nope.  I found out real fast that having rules makes parenting tough and the comparisons begin with other parents and kids at school.  I came to terms real fast that being the "cool" mom wasn't as important as being A mom.  Parenting is unpopular, but if more of us put our foot down with these types of things we won't be quite as uncool as before!

Who's with me?

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Ster

Piper that is.  We call her the Pipster and since Justin is The Stin she has become The Ster.  Piper is our 11 month old daughter and the light of all of our lives.  She has Don and Justin wrapped around her little finger and I pretty much am the one that suffers from separation anxiety.  I just don't want to miss anything.  She came to us on February 19th 2010 and made us a family of four.  

She was a beautiful baby and seemed to be doing wonderful, except for breastfeeding, she went on strike at two months and devastated Mommy-and I mean ON STRIKE-you would have thought I was shoving knives into her mouth.  But we pumped for almost two months and got a good amount of breastmilk in her!  She knows what she wants, that's for sure.  She is a great sleeper and has been since about 6 or 8 weeks-I mean through the night.  We have been very lucky.  She is keeping up the 90th percentile for just about everything and needless to say we call her Piper the Destroyer!  She has 8 teeth, and has had them for about 4 months. She started walking on New Year's Eve and has mastered the stairs.She walked right into the new year! I could go on and on about all her little accomplishments, but there are so many in the first year and I am that mom, so I will spare you.  

She seems to be right where she is supposed to be and is our lovely little girl.


The Stin

Justin that is. Our little man, my 9 year old son.  What a story he has, much more than many of us have dealt with in our lives so far.  He was born to my half-brother and his wife.  A bundle of joy and miracle baby at that.  His first months required much care due to the methadone detox he experienced.  My mom bore the weight at first but I was all in when I graduated from college and moved home.  His safety was our first concern and bringing stability to his little life became a priority.  At one point it seemed that they had gotten into a good place and this is when I decided to move to California with The Don (my boyfriend at the time).  That good place didn't last for long and Justin had to be removed. I remember getting the call in California from family services, I was a blood relative so I was contacted first, could I take him? I was frantic trying to figure out how I would make this work... how would I tell Don. But my mom began a search through my brother's father's side and found a couple that was looking to adopt a little boy. They had a home and a family, it seemed that fate had stepped in which meant I needed to step out.  I couldn't offer him what this family could and I had to do what was best for him.

Almost two years passed.  Don and I moved back to Ohio and were working in advertising, we got engaged and then married.  One week later the call came again.  The family had decided not to adopt Justin and he would be going into foster care unless I was able to take him.  Able-was I, were we?  We were 26 and 1-week newlyweds.  Don had never even held a baby, would he be in?  We were living on entry-level advertising pay, could we afford it?  But in my soul it was a no- brainer.  I was able to love this little boy and that's what mattered most, we would figure out the rest.  That's one thing Don and I are really good at-just figuring it out and making things work.  We are a good team and that had to be a good starting point to be parents.  So as the cliche goes, fate had worked in mysterious ways.  I didn't understand how they could decide not to adopt after almost two years but after reflection I know why-they weren't his forever family, we were but we needed to make things happen before he was supposed to come to us.  We needed to get back to Ohio-which we did and we needed to get married-which we did, then we would be were we needed to be to start our little family...and so we did.  We had three months to prepare, move into a bigger place, find daycare, get things situated for our little man to join us and on January 6th 2006 he made us a family of three. 

Justin was little, even though he was almost 5 he still wore 2T's-sometimes 24 mos.  His speech was difficult, he didn't know his ABC's and was obviously a bit behind.  Don and I went in with a loose plan-the best we could do with little time and no experience: structure, dinner at the table, discipline and lots of hugs.  I was able to take off 3 weeks for the transition and Justin learned his ABC's in the first week.  We just sang them everyday and pointed at the ABC magnets I had bought.  Our city offered a fabulous speech program and we started him in that immediately.  We introduced ourselves as Daddy Don and Mommy Nici and would just let him drop our names when he was ready, I think it took a month or two. He adjusted beautifully, we were very lucky. He did test and we stuck to our guns, there were rules and we would all follow them.  It was tough, knowing what he had been through but it was necesary to keep stability in our home. The adoption was finalized in April of 2007 and his forever family was legally final.  And that's how we explain it to him, he wasn't safe with his biological parents so he had a foster family to give the hugs while god found his forever family.  And here we are.

So Justin is now 9 years old and now the Big Brother.  He has officially been with us longer than he wasn't. People say he looks like Don, which always makes me smile.  We are open about his adoption and honest about his parents (in 9 year old terms) but Don and I are Mommy and Daddy and this is our family. With adoption and especially the foster system, people talk alot about roots and blood, I think your roots are where you're planted and blood is something our body needs.  Justin is just as much my son as Piper is my daughter and that is that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Don

Ahh The Don

That would be my wonderful husband.  You will find my praising this man a lot... because he deserves it.  I find that I keep his wonderfulness to myself because I don't want to be the girl that always talks about her amazing husband-because you know that behind my back people are not believing me and creating all types of marital problems I must have that I am hiding behind my stories.  Well I think this is a nice forum to finally share my thoughts on how fabulous he is. 

Now I would be lying if I said we never fight or things were perfect from the start, I mean we are human and relationships take work.  We both had to make some adjustments, we fight here and there but the best thing about Don, selfishly, is that he gets me.  He just gets me.  He gets when I'm not feeling well, he gets when I'm stressed, he gets when I'm PMSing and a total bitch. He gets it and he handles it with love and understanding.  He has always joked that he is my Pepe Le Pew and I am Penelope the cat.  He will come in for hugs and just be all lovey when I'm in the middle of doing things and I'll be pulling away trying to finish packing a lunch or doing the dishes just like that damn cat in the cartoon.  We giggle about it and now have acquired some Pepe mementos, but the gist of it is that he loves me.  When I'm crabbing at him or just mad about something I felt like he should have known to do (I am the first to admit that I can be a martyr and work on it every day!) he just walks over and gives me a hug.  Maybe this would piss other girls off or feel condescending, but with Don he knows that this will diffuse the situation, because how can I stay upset with this man who still loves me when I'm being irrational?  And the best part is when I'm not being irrational and have a valid point he will apologize.  Yeah pretty wonderful.

I think the true testament to what a wonderful man he is, is with our son (see The Stin post for complete story).  Don understood the situation with Justin when we first started dating but I don't think he ever expected or could prepare for the phone call one week after we were married that Justin would be going into foster care-which was not an option for me.  I was very prepared for this to make or break our marriage from the start and honestly wouldn't have blamed him if he wanted out...but he didn't.  He knew this situation was a non-negotiable for me and I was not about to let my nephew get lost in the system and he loved me enough to hold my hand and walk through this door with me.  We were going to do it together because that's what marriage is and he was going to step up and be the father this little boy needed.  I know how scary this had to be for Don, I mean he had never even held a baby, let alone begin raising a 4 year old with a lot of past that would need to be handled delicately, but he did it and what a wonderful Daddy he is!  He only worked four 10's at the time so Monday's were his days off and they became Daddy and Justin days-so they could bond and Justin could become secure with the new situation.  Justin still talks about his Daddy days and how much he liked them.  Don could have had him going to preschool on Monday's but he didn't-he just didn't. That's pretty wonderful in my eyes.

So I married a pretty amazing man.  Through my posts you'll hear about what a great father I think he is also.  I mean Piper melted his heart the day she was born and Justin is a Daddy's boy.  This is my Don and I feel like if this was written for anyone, it was really written for him.  I hope I tell him enough how much I love him as a man and a husband and a father, but if I don't, at least now he will forever have this blog to reference. 

Ahh The Don.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Well I have been wanting to start a blog since I started staying at home, but our old computer just wasn't up for the task.  We are now up and running with our new computer so here we go.  I see all these shows about the "real" housewives and think to myself, that's not "real", I'm real.  I am 31 years old with a 9 year old son and 11 month old daughter.  I quit my job in advertising after going back for 5 weeks to horrible seperation anxiety from my daughter.  My husband and I live on a tight budget, but we make it work, because me being home was what was most important to us.  I have an interesting situation being that we have a 9 year old who was adopted and we didn't get him until he was 4 1/2 years old.  So needless to say I am muddling through a child in elementary school-and a boy at that, as well as being a first time mother to an infant girl.  It's hit or miss in our house and we are definitely dealing with a huge learning curve with both of our children, but that's what parenting is-just figuring it out as you go-right?

I think I will do seperate posts for each family member, they deserve that since they each have their own special story.  So stay tuned.  As for my posts I figure they will consist of the things I am experiencing as a woman, a wife and a mother.  They will probably follow along the lines of my taste, which is pretty eclectic, so expect a little of this and a little of that.  I hope to be thoughtful and insightful on what I am writing about with a little bit of humor thrown in.  It's hard to properly portray sarcasm through writing but expect there to be some, whether you catch it or not.  Or better yet, if you don't agree with what I might be saying, chalk it up to sarcasm :) Well this is my life as of January 25th, 2011.  Welcome and I hope you enjoy the ride.