Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Just my OPINION.

Take a moment before you press Enter and spew hatred through social media.  Take a moment PLEASE and look at the numbers here.  HALF OF AMERICA is devastated, the other half is gloating.  Do you really think HALF of our great nation is “stupid” or “na├»ve” or “deplorable” or any number of things Donald Trump has called people?  Really?  Can we please just take a freaking moment and look at OURSELVES?  We all have inherent biases that make us SO SURE that our ideas, our opinions, our beliefs, or our candidate are what’s RIGHT.  But FIFTY PERCENT OF THE POPULATION DISAGREES WITH YOU.  No matter what side you’re on, please let that soak in for a moment.  

A gigantic chunk of our population believes that Barack Obama has been an amazing President, one of the best; another gigantic chunk thinks he’s the absolute worst thing that’s ever happened to America.  Based on last night’s numbers, HALF wanted a change.  The other 50% wanted Clinton to continue with policies similar to Obama’s.  That popular vote was almost split perfectly down the middle!  That says something.  But what it doesn’t mean is this…

It doesn’t mean everyone who voted for Trump is racist; it doesn’t mean everyone who voted for Clinton is dishonest.  It doesn’t mean that anyone who voted for Clinton must not care about or understand economics; it doesn’t mean that anyone who voted for Trump must not care about or understand the significance of prevalent social issues.  It doesn’t mean that anyone who voted for Trump doesn’t acknowledge that he has said and done some horrible things.  It doesn’t mean that anyone who voted for Clinton doesn’t acknowledge that she has said and done some horrible things.  It doesn't mean that all of those millions who voted Clinton don't care about the lives of unborn children.  It doesn't mean that all of those millions who voted Trump don't care about foreign people trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.  It doesn’t mean that Trump supporters don’t care about Black Lives Matter or single women struggling with abortion/adoption/raising a child on their own in our broken system.  It doesn’t mean that Clinton supporters don’t care about rights guaranteed by our Constitution.  It doesn't mean that people who voted Trump don't think there are bad apples in the police force and that the unprovoked killing of innocent people of color isn't a problem.  It doesn't mean that people who voted Clinton don't see that retaliation by killing innocent cops isn't a problem.  It doesn’t mean that those who voted Clinton voted for her to break the glass ceiling and push a feminist agenda.  It doesn’t mean that those who voted for Trump voted for him to set us back to a segregated America.  It doesn’t mean that everyone who voted for Hillary is corrupt.  It doesn’t mean everyone who voted for Donald is an embarrassment.

Eight years ago much of America said President Obama won because the black people came out and voted like never before.  Today much of America is saying Trump won because the white people came out and voted like never before.  This is the unfortunate reality of our country.  Racism exists.  Corruption exists.  Sexism exists.  Hypocritical Christians and Evangelicals are everywhere.  Bigotry is prevalent.  There are really BAD people of all races.  Acknowledge it and let's work to fix it.  Because there are also so many people who love unconditionally, who are good and working daily to be better.

Eight years ago half of America got the change they wanted.  Last night half of America got the change they wanted.  But why does it keep coming to this?  A complete divide?  Because we’ve put ourselves in a position that we are completely split in our beliefs because of the absurd amount of intolerance we show one another and the inability to consider the views of others as just as significant as our own.  Acknowledge it and let's work to fix it.

“Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” – Hillary Clinton just said this and her supporters ROARED, but I would put money on the fact that the 50% of the population who voted for Trump truly, TRULY believe, too, that they were fighting for what's right.

We all have opinions.  We all have beliefs.  We all have biases.  I really feel like the sooner we acknowledge that half of the population of this great nation disagrees with us, and for their own reasons that they so passionately believe, the sooner we can get to work on coming back together.  If we all continue to act like intolerant and persecuted peoples we will never get anywhere.  Acknowledge it and let's work to fix it.  Don’t put all of this on the President or the President-Elect.  Take some responsibility to be better.  Show grace.  Be like Christ.  Love like Christ.  Be tolerant.  Don't spew hate and spread lies.  Work to make tomorrow a better day for our kids.  For Tate, y'all.  Come on.

I'm so imperfect.  Lord help me.  But I truly want to learn from opposing views, I want to educate myself and continue growing in my own beliefs while raising a child to think for himself.  Admittedly, I am biased.  Hell yes.  I believe certain things will make this a better place to live and want things to be a certain way...just like everyone else.  But I will not be hateful.  I will not be intolerant and cruel.  I will listen, I will learn, and I will love.  Because that's what Jesus called us to do when he died so that we could live.  Because too many people have died for our rights and our freedoms to take that for granted.  Something's gotta give.  

PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT before making that post on social media and really ask yourself if you want what’s best for this country, or if you just want what YOU think is best.  Are you part of what is causing this massive divide?  We can change.  We are all flawed.  We are all sinners.  But by the grace of God, we will be forgiven and we CAN move forward.

This is not me saying that I don't think we should all stand for our beliefs and work to protect our rights and our freedoms and elect officials who most closely align with our ideals.  This is America for crying out loud, of course we need to do that.  But we suck at doing it with grace.  If your candidate won, by all means, BE EXCITED! BE HOPEFUL! BE RELIEVED! But why be mean? You've already won, and in all my MANY dealings with competition in this lifetime, nobody likes a mouthy winner.  If your candidate lost, you can still be hopeful.  The sun came up today, and by the grace of God, it will again tomorrow.  Be graceful.  Were you one of the ones that was telling people to get out and vote?  Well, they did.  And so it was decided.

Campaigns are divisive.  Period.  

But today, this nightmare of an election is over.  Acknowledge the problems and let's work to fix them. 

I realize with 100% certainty that I will be called naive or unrealistic because of this post.  But I don't care.  You call it naive, I call it hope.  I have witnessed God's great miracles firsthand and I refuse to believe that He can't fix this.  There's absolutely nothing He can't do!  But for that to happen, we must work on ourselves and work on this country.  It’s time to PRAY like we never have before.  Don't just say it.  DO IT.  Talk to God.  Tell Him your fears.  Ask for His help!  It’s time to put God before man.  Put others before ourselves.  If we can do that, there is hope for all of us, no matter our OPINION of the outcome of last night’s election.

Two of my favorite verses perfectly sum up where to go from here.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:6-8

Don't let Satan get the best of this great nation.




Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mom.

Mom,

On August 12, 2014 at 11:12 pm, for the first time in almost 32 years, I experienced the slightest notion of what it's like to be you.  Slight because I was heavily drugged and my uterus was sitting on my stomach, but nonetheless, I experienced "that feeling" for the very first time.  :)

"That feeling" was only the beginning.  From that moment, I have a newfound appreciation for you, and a desire to SOME DAY show you the gratitude and thanks that you truly deserve.

You gave up your financial freedom for us, thank you.

You gave up your free time for us, thank you.

You gave up your sanity for us, thank you.

You gave up sleep for us, thank you.

You gave up your schedule for us, thank you.

You gave up the last piece of cake for us, thank you.  In fact, you gave up the entire cake for us, THANK YOU.

You gave up worry free days and nights for us, thank you.

You gave up your youth for us, thank you.

You gave up "working" for us, thank you.

You gave up your sense of self for us, thank you.

You gave up YOUR LIFE for us, thank you.

"That feeling," although so slight in the beginning, grows into something so much greater than any love I could've ever imagined.  I have always been thankful for you, Mom.  I have always known that you were a wonderful mother, a great example, and the most selfless person on the planet.  What I didn't know was HOW you were all of those things.  How could you manage to devote your entire life so selflessly to your kids and your husband?  How could you never think twice about putting us before yourself?  How could you have made ends meet during the times we had so little?  How could you spend every free second at the ballpark or the gym or coming to school to sign the paper I had forgotten the night before?  How could you have been the epitome of a Godly woman even when we were so undeserving?  How could you strictly be our parent as children then become our best friend as adults?  All of these questions have gone unanswered for so long...until now.  And it's so simple.

Because God.  That's how.

Because God made you a MOTHER.  Because God shows His love through YOU.  Because God blessed Ryan, Chelsea and me when he allowed us to be YOURS.  Because God wanted to prepare us to be parents ourselves, first to our pups, and then to our babies.  He worked through you, and you showed Him to us.

Thank you, God, for our mom.

Thank you, God, for showing us the way through her.

Mom - You are my angel on earth.  You have always been my role model, my rock, my go-to.  You are my PERSON.  I am so thankful for all that you've done for me and for all you continue to do for me and for my family.  Tate is so lucky to have you for a grandmother, and I'm pretty sure he already knows that.  He loves that Lulu.  I PRAY that I am half the mother you ARE, because a fraction of you is better than than the whole of even some of the greatest moms.

I love you so much, and I hope you had a wonderful day.  You deserve only the best!

To my mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my aunts, my sister and sisters-in-law, my cousins, and all my mama friends out there - I pray that each of you have had a wonderful day and that you were celebrated as you should be.  You are doing a tremendous job, and I'm so grateful for your love and influence in my life and in Tate's.  Thank you for being the role models and inspirations I've looked up to for many many years prior to becoming a mama myself!  God bless you all, and Happy Mother's Day!


Love - Jen



 



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Learning to love the wrinkles...

Lately I've been feeling down and out about my age.  It seems like the past decade flew by and sometimes I wonder where on earth the time went?  I look at pictures of myself and think WHOA where the Botox at???  These lines around my eyes are out of control.  I've got cellulite, a saggy bottom, a belly pooch, freckles that didn't exist before, thinning hair, and all kinds of other glorious age-telling issues that seem to have sprung up overnight.

The other night I was reading a blog about how we unintentionally influence our daughters' body image(s) by being so critical of ourselves.  Obviously I don't have a daughter - but I do have nieces, and the point is the same for all children, whether male or female, so I made a decision.  This is a big deal for me because I have always suffered from confidence issues - and PS - that is in NO PART due to my own parents' self-critical behaviors.  They desperately tried to teach me to be confident, but for some people it's more difficult than others.  That being said, self-esteem and confidence don't come naturally for some kids, so why should I make it even worse for Tate because of my own insecurities?

The decision I made is to be happy with me.  I'm going to be as confident as Fat Amy.  I will never look like Megan Fox (sorry, Milesy), and you know what?  I'm okay with that.  She's beautiful, yes, but does she get to live the life that I do?  No.  Granted, I have no idea what her life is like, but based on how fantastic mine is, it'd be hard to beat.

Here's the deal.  Miles and I love each other unconditionally.  We are happily married.  We have faith in each other and in God, and we have trust in our relationship.  We faced some struggles to have a child (and aged a bit in the process), but oh my gosh, Tate is worth every single bit of pain and heartache we went through, and I'd do it again a billion times.  We have a great house in the suburbs of Houston.  We are financially stable.  We are surrounded by fantastic friends.  We are beyond blessed with amazing families.  I have 4 living grandparents, and both sets are still married after 60+ years.  Our precious parents are our role models, Tate's grandparents, and they're still together as well.  We are very close to our brothers and sisters and our brothers- and sisters-in-law, and we have 2 beautiful nieces and a handsome nephew to love now, too.  We have cousins and cousins-in-law and extended cousins and cousins' babies.  We have aunts and uncles that treat us as they do their own.  We have Hambone.  We have our health, which is way too often taken for granted.  We watch Tate as he does something new every single day, and we get to see the world as we continue to travel every summer.  We love to listen to music, and Tate and I dance around the house and I quiz Miles over who sings this and who sang that.  Tate's laugh is the most beautiful sound I've ever heard!  We smell the honeysuckles outside and the chocolate brownies in the oven and unfortunately Hambone's farts as well.  We have tasted food all over the globe and are currently able to enjoy the diverse cuisine that Houston has to offer.  We are able to hold and touch our child; we give him hugs and kisses and we love on him and squeeze his cheeks and poke his nose and pinch his toes.

I suppose I'll get to the point now.  Clearly, I love my life.  I know that God has blessed me in ways that I don't deserve, and for that I owe Him constant appreciation.  Not "things are going my way at the moment" semi-appreciation, but complete appreciation.  Not "my tan diminishes the look of my cellulite, so I'll be happy" short-lived appreciation, but full on, 100% total and unconditional appreciation.  I will appreciate this body that He gave me because it carried Tate inside and out.  I will look at the poochy belly as a constant reminder of the fact that I lived 31 years and 11 months without my child and about 31 years and 2 months without the pooch (ehh, minus those college years, but that was a whole different kind of pooch), and that's a pretty fair trade off.  My saggy backside and the cellulite are because I love food.  Chocolate, peanut butter and anything Mexican to be specific.  I work out and I'm healthy, but I love good food and I refuse to give that up.  So cellulite it is, and that's okay because Miles still thinks I'm beautiful and I'm pretty sure Tate is going love me with or without the dimples.  We tell him all the time how adorable his dimples are, so before I tarnish his perception of my "displaced dimples," I'll let him think those are cute, too!  :)  And for Pete's sake, my legs are completely functional, allowing me to walk with Tate or run with Hambone or dance with Milesy.  How can I not be thankful for that?!

Then there are the wrinkles around my eyes.  Oh, the wrinkles.  They seem to become more and more prominent with each picture I take.  BUT - here's something new: If the wrinkles are a representation of all the smiles, the laughter and the love I've experienced in this life, then damnit, I don't want Botox to take those reminders away.  I should feel lucky that the wrinkles are so dramatic at just 32! ;)  Now come on, in the future I might fix a bit here or there...but for now, I'm learning to love the wrinkles.

So far, God has given me 32 years and 7 1/2 months on this beautiful earth...how fabulous is that?  Instead of whining about how old I am, I want to start basking in the blessings I continue to experience.  The last decade of my life has been my favorite, although the 2+ decades before that weren't too shabby either.  If trading in my youth a little at a time means getting to experience the smile of our baby, the hugs of my aging grandparents, the taste of a foreign delicacy (or, let's be honest, a Reese's egg or any other chocolate peanut butter treat), the delight on the faces of Tate's grandparents, or the celebration of another anniversary with my husband, then so be it.  This is not to say that there won't be times that I complain about feeling older or that I won't always aspire to be a better me.  It's not that simple, and this will be an ongoing struggle, but I'm inspired by a new goal.  Instead of wishing for "self-perfection," I will instead focus on the positives that stem from these perceived negatives, and I will thank God every day for the reminders that I have lived well, loved hard and laughed a LOT in this lifetime.

LOVE YOUR BODY CAMPAIGN
I love this campaign.  Take the time to watch this quick video and focus on ways that you, too, can love your body.  Let's make this a non-issue for our own children!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

to my babies.

A series of events that have pretty much spanned my lifetime have led me to write this blog.  This is certainly not what I've envisioned as a highlight of my posts, but, after a personal experience in our family so many years ago, a devastating story I recently read about on Facebook, and after seeing completely avoidable incidents running rampant in local, state, and national headlines, it's something that I suddenly feel compelled to write about and something I think needs to be said.

Thank you to my parents who were and still are always there for me.


This is a letter to Tate and any other baby I may have in the future, and to any of the babies that are in my family or that I've come across in my past as a coach, teacher, mentor or friend:


YOU ARE IMPORTANT.  YOU ARE LOVED.  YOU ARE HERE FOR A PURPOSE.


Sometimes life sucks.  No, seriously, sometimes life isn't fair.  Sometimes good things happen to bad people, and sometimes bad things happen to good people.  It's all part of a much greater plan that I hope, when the time is right and HE calls you home, that God will sit down and tell you all about.


During this blessing we call life, God is going provide for you in ways that are unimaginable.  But you will face struggles.  Every day will not be great, but if you focus on the things that are important, you will find immense blessings even in the worst of times.


You have a family that loves you more than anything.  I dedicate my life to your happiness, and I promise to do everything in my power to always protect you and to always be here for you.  There is nothing you can't come to me about.  I certainly don't have all the answers, but I will give you my best...always.  No matter how big or small, God blessed me when He allowed me to be in your life, and I owe it to Him to do everything I can to guide you to Him and keep you safe while on earth.  If God calls me home, I will watch over you from above.  I will be your Guardian Angel, and, thus, I will still forever be there when you need me.  And the same goes for your dad.


At only 8 months old, Tate, you've already had an amazing impact on the lives of so many people.  The prayers of many were answered the day you came into this world.  You are truly loved, and that will never change.


[For my non-biological babies, I LOVE YOU.  I AM HERE FOR YOU if you have a family that is not.  If you need a friend, or advice, or someone to listen, call on me.  Although I've moved, I am but a phone call away.  A Facebook message away.  An email away.  I am still here.  Come to me!  Even when things are good, I love to hear from you.  I want to be here for the good and the bad.]


Tate, as you get older, there will be times that you don't understand the decisions that your dad and I make.  You won't always agree with us.  Some days, you'll probably "hate" us.  I am sorry for that, but please know that since the day you were born, EVERYTHING we have done and continue to do is what we feel is in your best interest.


Right now, when we tell you "NO!" every five seconds, we are trying to keep you from danger.  When you are 3 and in "time-out" constantly (because, let's face it, you are your dad's son), it's because we are trying to teach you right from wrong.  When you are 9 and we don't allow you to have a social media page, even though all of your friends do, it's because we are trying to protect you.  When you are 11 and you sit the bench in your little league game and want to quit, we won't let you because you need learn about commitment and how to be a good teammate.  When you are 13 and all of your friends have the latest and greatest technology and you don't, it's because we are trying to teach you the value of money.  At 15 or 16, when you think you are mature enough to date, we will hound you and we will hover because you must learn to respect women.  When you are 17 and we don't let you spend every weekend at "that guy's" house, it's because we know what goes on there and it's not in your best interest.  When you head off to college and want to move back home after a couple of weeks and we don't allow it, it's because we are trying to teach you independence.  When you graduate college and struggle to find a job or rent an apartment, we will allow you to move back in, but you will pay rent so that you understand what the real world is really like.  When you date we will give you our honest opinion, because that's what our parents did for us, and it helped us make the decision to marry the right person.


We will do all of these things BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU.  Not because we are mean, but because, again, life is hard, and these are lessons that need to be learned.  We will be strict, but fair.  We will love you no matter what, but we will have high expectations.  We will direct you to God, but know that at times you will fail.  We will be there to pick you up even when you don't want us around.  We will forgive the unforgivable and NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL will be too much for us to handle.  God chose us for you, and we will honor Him by our commitment to helping you become the best you.


Please know that nothing is too big for us.  There will be times that seem so difficult, unbearable even.  But it will get better.  IT WILL GET BETTER.  Know that you have meaning, you have purpose, you have LIFE...and that is a blessing; Make it your goal in this lifetime to not take that for granted.  Do not ever feel like you are alone, even if you are lonely.  There is a difference, and I pray that you know and understand that difference, no matter what situation you are in.  We pray for the people that will surround you in this life, that they are good influences, that they make you better, that they love you as we love you.  That those people direct you TO God, not away from Him.  That those people do not pressure you to make bad choices.  That those people do not take advantage of you.  That those people celebrate you and rejoice with you and laugh and cry with you.  Choose these people wisely, my baby.


If ever you feel as though you've lost control, come to us.  If you feel that you're empty or lost or misguided, come to us.  If you're unsure or wavering or discontent, come to us.  If you feel scared or threatened or anxious, come to us.  If you are happy and fulfilled and thriving, share it with us.  If you are in love and hopeful and looking to the future, share it with us.  We are here for you.  ALWAYS.  And so is God.  Kneel and He is with you.  There is no shame in needing help.  We all need help.


Your dad and I are far from perfect, but we are doing our best.  We love you completely and wholly and unconditionally.  Let it be known now, before social media and the internet and the world are able to get to you, whatever path you take in life, we will support you.  You be you.  Don't let the cruel people in this world have an ill effect on your self worth.  The ones who truly love you and care about you will always be in your corner.


To my babies I did not birth: Know your self worth.  Be true to who you are and embrace this life without regret.  You have made a great impact in my life, and for that I am truly thankful.  Never forget, there is always someone who cares just a quick message away.  I'm always here.


To my Tate and, God-willing, any future babies we have: You are our everything.  Come to us.


We love you.



Thursday, January 8, 2015

what comes after baby?

You know the old rhyme, say it with me - "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage..." and to my knowledge, that's it.  Haha - I'm certainly no expert when it comes to elementary school rhymes, and just ask Tate, I don't know squat for nursery rhymes either (he laughs when I attempt singing anyway).  But I have to ask - what about all the time between being the baby in the baby carriage and the age that you fall in love?  A lot of stuff goes down in those 18 to 25 or so years!  Where's the song about that?  Taylor Swift, anyone?

I write this as I sit in Tate's room with him screaming his head off.  Night number two of yet another attempt to let him "cry it out."  This BLOWS.  He's that baby we've been pining for the last 3.5 years and now I'm sitting here, knowing that I could just pick him up and stop the tears, and yet, I'm allowing it to continue.  Hey hey, don't judge me, this is supposedly a tried and true method that'll help him sleep and allow us to get some sleep, too.  I even went to the doctor today to make sure there's nothing wrong with him before this torture ensued.  He's fine, perfect really - health-wise and in every other way...well apart from the not sleeping thing.  A work in progress, we'll say.

Before the holidays we had a routine.  We had just added rice cereal and were given the green light to start slowly giving him other foods as well.  Unfortunately, all it took was 2 weeks of non-routine and him being away from home to totally screw this kid up, and mom and dad haven't slept all week.  He hasn't slept more than 2 hours at a time for a couple weeks now.  We traveled to Longview for a week, then back to Houston for a few days, then to Rio for 5 days.  Before the holidays, if he'd wake up, we just had to put his paci in his mouth and he'd fall back to sleep.  Now?  He screams bloody murder and takes 20, 30, 45 minutes to go back to sleep and that's only been once I gave in and rocked him back to sleep!  Miles took nighttime duty last night, and I woke up at 7:15 this morning - when Miles usually leaves for work - went to the living room and he was zonked on the couch.  Tate woke up every hour all night, and then cried for an hour before going back to sleep.  When I called Miles at work a little later, he said "I got zero hours of sleep last night."  Sucks for you, I slept great.  Wink wink! 

Ok ok, before you judge, that was me singing the zero hours of sleep tune from Sunday to Wednesday!

So I took Tate to the doc.  He checked out just fine, and doc said it can take some babies an hour and a half to 2 hours to fall asleep...BUT IT GETS BETTER.  She said give it 5 days.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

But it sucks.

And I don't want to.

But oh how I miss sleep.

But he's crying.

TORTURE.

ANYWAY - totally not what this blog was going to be about, but there ya go.  The wandering mind that awaits you post-partum.  Some days I feel like I've totally lost my mind.  I forget everything.  Twice I've gone to the store without my wallet.  Who does that???  

So the point of the blog - what comes once baby is here?  So far, you can see that a lost mind (and wallet if you're me) is the negative.  Oh but the positive!  We'll get to that in a bit... 

Everybody out there has a billion opinions about how you should do everything - and most of them don't hesitate to tell you even though you don't remember asking...but then again, you don't remember shit, so who knows, maybe you did.  Nope, you didn't.  But the "experts" want to tell you anyway.  So just let them.  And take the advice that you want and ignore the rest.

So much easier said than done, right?  And people have virtually zero filter when it comes to raising babies.  What's up with that?

So many days I feel like such a freaking failure.  Other days I feel like "I got this."  The feeling like a failure days seem much more common than the others, but I think that's normal.  What I do know is that I love this kid more than I ever could have imagined.  I can be so pissed, so aggravated, so badly wanting to pull my hair out and he smiles and I MELT.  I give.  I lose.  That mother f'ing dimple.  He kills me!  But that's the beauty of unconditional love.  And I'm so happy for that.

Although I know there's no set "right way" to raise a baby, I still crave knowing what other people do, even if I totally disagree with their methods.  When it comes down to it, we all just want healthy babies that we are doing our very best job to raise (although some days, I can't lie, I think of it in more of a "I'm just trying to keep this nugget alive" kind of way than anything else).  

The big hot button issue right now is breastfeeding v. the alternative (dum dum DUMMMMMMMM). Honestly, as much as I love social media and how wonderful I think it is in so many ways, I absolutely hate it in other ways.  I know I've written about this before, but here I go again.  Seriously, it gives people an outlet to say whatever they want with absolutely no repercussions and a screen to hide behind.  People like my Mimi, who says whatever she wants whenever she wants, used to not be so commonplace.  But holy crap, social media comes along and there are Patricia Behanicks EVERYWHERE!  The thing about Mimi is that she's so cute and funny that no one really gets offended by anything she says.  She's Mimi, she's almost 80 years old, so back off.  :) People on the internet aren't cute.  They're smug and pompous and so staunchly opinionated (wait, am I one of those people right now?  Ah...the irony).  I think social media is causing a much greater divide in our population, whether it's race, politics or the like.  People cannot accept that there are differing opinions and ideas out there and will fight DIRTY to get attention and they'll have no respect for alternate viewpoints.  SIDE NOTE: I must note a positive here...social media has allowed me to stay in touch with friends from Australia that we met on a cruise in 2008, and for that I will be forever grateful!  My sister from across the world is even coming to stay with us next week!  Tate can't wait to meet you, Pete!  So thank you for that, Facebook! :) I'm getting off track here, but the negatives of social media apply to baby-raising, just as they do race and politics.

My point is, as great as it is to have the ability to go online and seek help, you're often going to be made to feel like crap if you hit on a touchy subject - such as the breast v. bottle debacle.  Unfortunately I am all too familiar with this debate, and as much as I hated reading those stupid comments that made me feel worthless, I. just. couldn't. stop.  Self-deprecation much?  New moms torture themselves enough as it is, so if you're reading this and not yet a mother, here's my un-sought after advice:  DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS IS BEST.  YOU ARE THE MOM.  YOUR OPINION IS THE ONLY ONE THAT MATTERS.  Again, waaaaaay easier said than done.


Not that it's really anyone's business, but I slowly quit pumping around 3.5 months and totally stopped at about 4.5 months, right before Christmas.  There are so many reasons I stopped, but the fact that I feel like I had to justify my reasons to people has about killed me.  I felt guilty and horrible and selfish.  But WHY???  I never breast-fed after about 3 weeks.  Tate was never satisfied, and I'm too much of a control freak to not know what he was getting.  So I went to the pump.  And we continued supplementing, just as they had at the hospital (NICU baby, remember?).  I was "happy" to be able to supply Tate with what is "natural," but let me just tell you, I was MISERABLE.  I am so jealous of people who love breastfeeding.  Of those who feel it's a great bond with their little ones.  Of people that don't feel that it's sucking the life out of them.  I so badly wish I was one of those people.  But I'm not.  And I'm finally okay with that.  Every time I pumped, I felt depressed.  Now, I'm a generally happy person, but I could literally feel a wave of massive sadness come over my body EVERY SINGLE TIME.  It was horrible.  It was far from normal.  From natural.  I wasn't being the mom I wanted to be because I felt like that was taking over my entire being.  It's all I thought about, and I dreaded it.  I was tense and easily angered and just felt lost to be honest.  But...I worried what other people would think.  I let that control me, and that wasn't best for Tate.

Now, you go online and get caught up reading comments on the breast v. bottle debate and it'll make you feel like absolute ass to be a "bottle-feeder."  Not only that, but you'll get comments from people you know as well, and it's hurtful.  I don't want to feel like I'm not doing the best I can for my baby.  I don't want to be villainized because something that is supposed to be so natural just wasn't feeling natural to me.  So many are quick to judge and say "you gave up too easily" or "you are just being selfish."  Well, maybe that's true (although is it really their business? Um. No.).  But me being selfish about that has helped me be much less selfish about other things.  I'm happier and I'm a better mom since I stopped, and whether you believe that or not is your own opinion...and I'm not asking your opinion nor am I seeking anyone's approval.  Booyah.

Plus, let's be honest.  Tate loves to eat, so he could not care less what I feed him.  And he's the product of Jennifer Comfort and Miles Cobb, so the kid is going to be a freaking genius anyway.  HAHAHAHA. I kid, I kid.

By the way, if you haven't read this satirical story, do yourself a favor and read it now.  Breast or bottle feeder, it's FUN-NY.

Now I'm just staring at my Tot on the monitor, sleeping soundly in his now sweat-soaked Superman outfit.  Gonna be a looooooong 18+ years if I don't toughen up a bit!  Doc said let him sweat, let him scream, let him spit up...it's all part of the crying it out process.  I'm WEAK.  But he's asleep, so.  There ya go.  Yes, y'all, I was in the room with him and checked on him constantly, and no, I'm not a horrible person.

He's been an amazing baby, and this has been the craziest 4 months and 27 days of my entire life.  WARNING: BRAGGING ABOUT TO COMMENCE, CONTINUE READING AT YOUR OWN RISK.
This kid is so awesome.  He is so cute it makes me want to cry.  He's so strong and typically happy and boy does he love his mama.  :)  He's super skittish, but I'm glad to know his hearing is great.  He loves Hambone, now that he's noticed him.  He's even started petting Hambone, which is frickin adorable.  He loves daddy too, especially the beard.  He unfortunately loves TV and reaches for phones and iPads and anything with a screen (while it keeps him occupied now, I'll be paying for it later).  But it's okay because he also loves being outside, so that gives me hope. :) He has held his own bottle since he was 3 months old, he can (basically) sit up on his own and he's already trying to crawl.  But he hasn't rolled over.  Who cares, just more for me to worry about when he does!  Doc said it's fine, so I can rest easy.  Rest.  HA!  By the way, don't research delayed milestones - pretty sure Sir Google told me it's an early sign of autism.  Puh-leeze.  Anywho, Tate loves to jump, which excites the heck out of me because this kid has no choice but to be around sports.  His Johnny Jumper gets lots of use!  He will literally sit and watch football with his daddy.  Also adorable.  He thinks my Maw Maw and my Aunt Christy are hilarious.  They can make him giggle like no other.  He has his 4 grandparents Pop and Dini (Miles's parents) and Lulu and Poppa (my parents) wrapped around his pudgy little finger.  It's hilarious when we FaceTime our parents.  There's literally no adult conversation but we will spend 20+ minutes googoo and gaga'ing trying to get him to smile for whoever is on the other end.  He grabs my hair, my necklace, my shirt, my scarf - basically whatever he can get his hands on at this point - and pulls relentlessly.  I am constantly pulling my detached hair out of his hands, his mouth, his toes...  He wears size 6 months or 9 months in clothes, but still fits in shoes designated "6 weeks."  His feet are so tiny but so awesomely fat!  And his new thing is putting them in his mouth.  Priceless.  He decided he did not like to sleep while I shopped just in time for Christmas shopping.  Needless to say, I still haven't gotten around to getting everyones' gifts... oops.  He's got the most delicious dimples, one much more prominent than the other, which he already uses against me.  Watch out girls, he's going to be a lady-killer!  Everyone is obsessed with his ridiculous eyebrows.  Never heard so many people talk about a baby's eyebrows before, but I guess his are just that awesome.  Y'all.  He has a mustache!  NOT JOKING. NOT EXAGGERATING.  He's got like a peach fuzz trash 'stache.  It's one of my favorite things about that perfect face.  Everyone joked about all Miles's facial hair saying "Oh your baby is gonna have a beard" and such...well, so far no beard, but one hell of a 'stache.  Yeah, he's a baby Tom Selleck.  "Tot" Selleck, if you will.  ;)

So what happens after baby?  Well, you actually do fall in love.  Only this time, it's with a tiny version of a human being.  A tiny, perfect, completely-dependent-upon-you precious angel that you will love so freely and so unconditionally and so genuinely and cannot imagine your life without.  You are responsible for molding that young innocent being into something great, and although it's not always easy, it's one of the greatest gifts God gives us.  The long, long nights and longer days, the unending cry-fests (both you and baby), the diaper explosions, the inability to have a social life, the never-ending research (damn you, Google.)...it's all so easily forgettable when that baby grins.  It's hard to believe Tater is almost 5 months old.  Time is flying by already, and according to everyone I never asked, before I know it he'll be leaving for college! :)  So in the mean time, I will savor the moments, both good and bad (because any new parent who is being truly honest can tell you, there are times when IT. GETS. BAD.), and I will thank God every day for choosing me to be that little boy's mama!



Mommy's angel!










Friday, August 8, 2014

thoughts of a crazy pregnant lady.

I've had a mad case of "pregnancy brain" for pretty much the duration of this pregnancy (sorry Miles...and anyone else who has to deal with me on an ordinary basis), but now it seems as though the wheels in my brain can't (or just won't) stop spinning.  Last night was the first night I've truly felt anxious (obviously since the beginning...that was one panic attack after another) about having a baby, or about giving birth, or about being a parent.  Sure I've thought about it, but last night was different.  Right now I don't even know what I'm worried about because there are a slew of emotions running through my veins.  But I can't turn off my brain, and it's currently working in overdrive making me feel all kinds of crap that normally I could NOT care less about.  For instance.........

Ladies...I gotta know if I'm completely crazy or made of steel or if all these other gals are bigger babies than the ones they are birthing.  My apologies up front for any crude language in this post, but sometimes, damnit, it's just necessary.
Guys...I'd probably stay as far from this post as you possibly can.  Ain't nothin' you're gonna want to read in here.

I have read multiple books about pregnancy, and I now feel guilty.  Yes, guilty.  Why guilty, you ask?  Because clearly I've had the easiest pregnancy in all of human history.  Either that, or these other women are full of shit.  And yes, literally they are, because apparently constipation is a huge issue for most women.  Something I can't relate to.  No more details about that.  Moving on.

So I was told to read Jenny McCarthy's "Belly Laughs" for a humorous and honest depiction of pregnancy (now that I'm basically done being pregnant), so I went to Barnes and Noble this week and bought it.  It's funny, I'll admit there were some definite LOLs while I read, but the whole book is about her pregnancy with her son and the atrocious things that happened to her throughout the nine months.  Um.  First let me say, I realize she's trying to sell books, so I assume exaggeration is present in the text, but if only HALF of what she writes is SOMEWHAT true, I cannot imagine.  There's no way I would've survived!  Here are a few of the many examples.

1. Morning sickness.  Never had it.  Probably would've killed me.  Now I know this one is legit because most of my friends and family that have had babies can vouch for it.  My sister pretty much threw up daily...for 9 months.  Can you imagine????  Well, some of you probably don't have to imagine because you dealt with it yourselves, so before you punch me in the face, I'll move on.

2. Cravings.  Miles would probably say that I craved chips and hot sauce in the beginning (or maybe that was all that was in the pantry), and I'd say that I've craved sweet tarts and peanut butter and ice cream and maybe even strawberries since then.  But those are all things that I love anyway, so it's really not been anything over the top.  I've not been awakened from my (perfectly comfortable and normal) sleep with an overwhelming desire for pickles or hot dogs or something else I'd normally hate.  I've not forced Miles to unwillingly go to the store at odd hours because I just HAD to have something.  Now, I would love to eat sushi, but I'd say that's only because I've been told I can't have it.  Which, as we all know, crap like that plays tricks on your brain.

3. Constipation, hemorrhoids, gas, etc.  I'm lumping all of these disgusting issues into one so that we can quickly move forward from this topic.  Do people seriously get all of these for 9 months?????

4. Hot flashes.  Alright people...I moved to freaking HOUSTON and I'm still not seeing the big deal about heat.  Don't get me wrong, it's humid and disgusting here about 99% of the time, but it hasn't caused me to sweat uncontrollably or strip naked and sit in front of a fan for hours at a time.

5. Acne/rashes.  Considering the fact that after I got off birth control several years ago I had to see a dermatologist and was diagnosed with "adult acne" (yeah, that was fun at 28 years old), I'd say my face looks freaking amazing now.  I guess maybe those of you who have had perfect skin your whole life have had to experience the horror that is face and body breakouts during pregnancy, and you know what?  It's 9 months, not 31 years.  So I don't feel bad for you.  Nope, not on this one.  :)

6. Stretch marks and cellulite.  Ok, I've had both for as long as I can remember, so the onset of these was to be expected.  I've used Bio-oil on my stomach in an effort to prevent the stretch marks from creeping up off my thighs and ass to my belly, and so far, so good.  Cellulite blows, and yes mine has gotten significantly worse during pregnancy, but for those of you that only had/have it while you are pregnant, well you suck.  And again, no sympathy here.  Yours will go away, whereas I'm stuck with mine FOR-E-VER.  So bite me.

7. Pain.  Considering that I'm growing a mini-Miles Cobb in my uterus, I've been incredibly lucky when it comes to pain and discomfort.  Sure, I'm having a massive man-child baby.  But somehow he's kept it tight in there and not caused me much more than occasional rib aches and maybe a hint of back pain here or there.  I can live with that.

8. Loss of sleep.  Not even a little bit.  Next.

9. Peeing every 5 minutes.  Basically I've been able to relate to this one since I started my obsession with Route 44 waters from Sonic many many years ago.  I drink tons of water all day every day, so I pee all the time anyway, and this is nothing new for me.  As far as waking up multiple times in the middle of the night, see #8 to determine that this has not been an issue for me.

10. Hormonal outbursts.  I've had like 3.  Maybe 5 tops.  I haven't cried or broken things though, so I feel like that is an accomplishment in and of itself since I'm incredibly temperamental and an emotional wreck about 95% of the time anyway.  It takes a lot to get a compliment out of Miles when it comes to my derangedness (I know, not a word, but it works), but he's even said on multiple occasions that I'm waaaaay better pregnant than he ever thought I'd be.  And yes, ladies, that to me is a compliment.

Now...all of that being said, yes I've had a few symptoms of pregnancy.  Like the aforementioned "pregnancy brain," for instance.  Just the other day I asked what part of Africa that Cambodia was in.  REALLY????  And I used to TEACH CHILDREN???  Yikes.  Then there's the horrid indigestion.  That for me has by far been the worst part of pregnancy.  Probably because it's the only real symptom I've had, suckers.  :)  But seriously, it's disgusting, and I cannot wait for it to go away!  Also, I'm tired all the time, but what you all have to understand is that I have loved sleep my entire life.  Mom says when I was a baby my dad would call at lunch to check on me and I'd still be asleep from the night before!  And I can't lie, since I'm not working right now, sleeping in and daily naps are at the top of my priority list and your judgment and jealousy regarding my lifestyle does not phase me.  Kidding, kidding.  And yes, I know that's going to end soon, so I'll just live it and love it while I can!

But seriously, am I crazy or do women over-exaggerate pregnancy symptoms and pains and discomfort because it's the one time in life you can get away with it?  I'm not judging.  In fact, sometimes I think I should've milked this thing a lot more (especially when Miles pisses me off about something stupid...i.e. the ice cream incident of the 35th week, it was a doozie!).  Maybe next pregnancy!  Actually, next pregnancy will probably be payback for this post and I'll feel awful and cry every day for 9 months.  Don't lie, some of you are wishing that upon me right now.

Anywho, I warned y'all in the title that these were the thoughts of a crazy pregnant lady, so if you're still reading and asking yourself "why am I still reading this?" you can't say you weren't warned...


So this, BABY BOOM HITS NORTH TEXAS 9 MONTHS AFTER ICE STORM, is actually really funny, because it totally happened to Miles and me...

I remember school being canceled and still having to drive to the doctor's office in the snow and ice.  My guess is that perhaps that's not the same way other people were making babies during that huge winter storm...but so that Tater doesn't feel like a petri-dish outcast baby, we'll let him think he was part of that winter storm baby boom of 2014!


Random thought (as most of them are)...What's up with it being cloudy and/or raining in Houston pretty much every day?  I'm over here living a VERY TEMPORARY life of luxury in this huge house with a massive pool in the backyard, and all I want to do is rosy up my puffy cheeks for all the pics I'll be taking soon, but a girl can't catch a break with the dang weather.


Anyway, I think I've been nervous and full of strange and anxiety-induced thoughts because I have a feeling that this baby is coming sooner than his due date.  I'm 37 weeks now, and we go back to the doctor on Monday.  Last week I measured smaller than I had the previous week (perhaps a few less bowls of ice cream??), so we are doing another ultrasound on Monday to make sure Tate is growing like he should be.  Not that I want him to come out before he is ready, but if he's going to be a 10 pound baby by his due date, I won't be mad at doc for taking him sooner.  They're going to use the ultrasound to check fluid levels and his size, and if it's not what they think it should be, I may be having a baby early next week.  HOLY CRAP.  Perhaps I should stop wasting time blog-rambling and instead continue doing my research on how to be a mom!  Seriously, last doctor's appointment the nurse was all "So what did y'all do this weekend?" and we answered, "It was pretty mellow, just hung out and tried to figure out this whole parenting thing," to which she replied, "Um guys it takes more than a weekend!"  So procrastination in this event wasn't the best of ideas?  Man it usually works out so well for me! :)

Hambone wanted a piece of the 37 week chalkboard action on his bday, so I had to oblige...

Well, even though I'm filled with anxiety-ridden thoughts of the whole public breastfeeding debate and judgment of being a stay-at-home mom who pumps, not having a clue what to do when Tate won't stop crying, trying to move into a house and create a nursery with a newborn, not have a heart attack when my mom leaves me after Tate is born, Hambone's jealousy of his baby brother getting all the attention, how I'm so glad it took me so long to write this blog that I didn't get in the pool because it's now pouring down rain, and so many other things, ultimately I look forward to Tate's long-awaited arrival and all of the joy that he will bring to Miles and I, to our families, our friends and so many loved ones.

One thought, above anything else, that is constant, is how grateful we are to God that in His perfect timing, we have been blessed with this easy pregnancy and this precious baby boy.  Knowing that He is ultimately in charge, I can rest easy (and y'all know I do!) knowing that my earthly concerns are unnecessary and unwarranted because He will take care of us.  He always does!

And now it's sunny outside.  Go figure.  I'm gonna go beached-whale style in my bikini that totally doesn't fit since I'm home alone.  I know y'all are loving that mental image!





Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Change.

What is the point of life if not to take risks and embrace change??  Miles and I probably took that philosophy a little too literally when we decided, at 26 weeks pregnant with our first child, to pick up and move to Houston, taking on a life with only one income and a baby on the way that will significantly change everything we've always known.  Don't get me wrong, we are so excited about this opportunity, and we are fully confident that this move is for the best.  That being said, it doesn't take away the fear and uncertainty we are faced with as we put a contract on a house and enter the last month of my pregnancy!

So, to lay it all out there, here is a summary of what's been going on with us:

Miles started his job down here on June 2nd.  We listed our house in Benbrook on June 4th, and by June 6th we had 3 full or above-asking price offers on our precious abode.  Thank you, Lord!  Things were going about as great as we could've asked, until the house appraised for SIGNIFICANTLY less than our asking price (and what the buyers had offered).  That was pretty heartbreaking because the buyers had no additional money to put toward the house.  That meant a huge hit to the amount we were going to be able to put down on our house here.  Such a bummer.  And that house was worth so much more, stupid appraiser.  After lots of back and forth, and considering all options, in the end we decided to drop the price of the house to the appraisal value, and we prayed that this blessing would be paid forward.  I know how much I loved that house, and I wanted the same for the young couple that bought the house.  I just hope they appreciate it and love it like we did.  We closed on the house, moved our stuff to storage in Tomball, and had a shower in Rio Vista all in one weekend, and to say that it was rushed and chaotic is putting it mildly!  But hey, at least pregnancy provided me with an excuse not to lift boxes and to take frequent breaks while packing...and Miles can't say anything about it.  Not that he would because he's totally over-the-top and crazy about everything I do, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms!

Anyway, I moved to Houston around the middle of June, switched doctors at 28 weeks pregnant, and found a great hospital only about 5 minutes from where we are staying for Tate's delivery.  I'm sure the new doc took one look at my file and was like GREAT, here comes a needy one! :)

Since then we've had baby showers in both Longview and Rio Vista.  I can't even begin to detail the kindness and generosity of our friends and families.  This child has absolutely no idea how much he's been prayed for, loved and showered with blessings before he's even arrived!  Since we don't have a house yet, the majority of the stuff Tate was given at these showers is currently sitting at my parents' house and at Miles's parents' house.  Lucky for us they are kind of obsessed with this baby so housing all of his stuff is so far not a problem! :)

We had to miss the cruise this year because by then I was 31 weeks pregnant.  Carnival doesn't allow you to cruise if you are more than 24 weeks pregnant, so we knew all along we weren't going.  Call me spoiled, I'm well aware, but missing our annual family vacation was TERRIBLE!  The worst part of missing one trip in ten years was that it was Chance's first cruise, and I hated missing that experience with my sister and our family!  The good news is that we are already planning the trip for next year, so it looks like Tate's first big adventure will be ALASKA for Mimi and Big Daddy's 60th anniversary!

Currently, we are bunked up with family in Houston, and I can't tell you how blessed we are to have such kind-hearted and generous people willing to go above and beyond to make sure we are taken care of.  It's been fun having "roomies" to go to dinner with and binge watch HGTV, Fox News, and "Orange is the New Black" with all the time!  For those of you unfamiliar with that show, it's quite provocative and scandalous and can make one terribly uncomfortable watching with other people if you're the least bit modest.  But it's addicting nonetheless.  Just saying.  Either way, we are living the posh life in the midst of our homelessness, so we really can't complain much!

We are set to close on our house here on September 5th, and little man Tate will make his long-awaited debut sometime in August.  We had already discussed inducing labor (as long as everything is going as it should) with the doctor so that we can be out of the hospital by the time September rolls around and our insurance changes drastically.  That is if and only if the Tater is totally cooked and ready for the world!  Just one more thing to worry about - the stress of insurance changes when looking for pediatricians in an unfamiliar area.  Lord help me!

After our doctor's appointment this week, where we were told that Tate, at 35 1/2 weeks, weighs about 6 pounds 10 ounces, and that (without giving too much detail here) my body is already starting the whole labor process, we are thinking he's going to make an early exit.  And he's going to be freaking huge.  To quote my sister, "he's running out of womb!"  Thanks a lot, Miles!  Things can change quickly, or take forever to progress during pregnancy, so who knows what this little guy will end up doing?!  Needless to say, Miles and I decided it's fine time we get in gear and start doing all of the last minute shopping and prepping for baby.  As anxious and, well, let's be honest, PSYCHOTIC as I can be about stuff, I've really been okay for the most part throughout all of this chaos.  This week I've come to realize that has only been because I was just ignoring everything and delaying the inevitable!  Since our appointment, we've been shopping for last minute items and I've put Miles to work getting some of this baby stuff set up in our temporary home!  It's all become very real very quickly this week, and I may be starting to freak out JUST a bit. :)  Not having the ability to set up a nursery as you buy things and as you receive gifts, and to truly get a sense of everything that you have is quite stressful to say the least.  Being homeless is for the birds.

Hambone is still confused about what's going on in his life, and I feel so sorry for him because it's only about to get worse!  Judge all you want, but he's my first baby, and that dog has gotten me through years of despair dealing with infertility, so it just kills me when he's sad!  He's totally spoiled, don't get me wrong, but I can't help but feel incredibly bad for him.  Miles doesn't get it.  Just last night he told me "that dog is spoiled rotten and he's perfectly fine!"  I just hope he can adjust easily as soon as we get into the new house with a new baby.  He's going to be a great big brother!

As I read back over this post, I see that it's pretty much all over the place.  But basically that's my life right now, so if you're reading this, welcome to my world! :)

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support for our family and Baby Tate.  He'll be here before we know it and life will never be the same.  I can't wait!