Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wherein I Scream Into a Pillow

Stress, thy name is Jeanette. I taught a unit in my Psychology class over stress. Each day of the unit I would introduce a different technique to help my students deal with stress in their lives. Over the last week, I have employed all of them to no avail. I've taken deep breaths, I have done some yoga stretches, I've listened to music, I've prayed, I've taken a walk. I've done all of these, and my intestines still seem to be vying for the most complicated knot in the history of knots.

Why all the stress you say (or maybe you don't care--so stop reading, jerk! ... I'm sorry, I didn't mean that--I'm just really stressed)? This weekend I am leaving my little boy for three whole days! This college class I'm teaching requires the students to experience a sort of survival weekend up north, and my group goes this weekend.

Traveling usually stresses me out. I hate HATE packing. I would rather watch CSPAN with closed captioning for 24 hours. Do you understand how much I HATE it? To add insult to injury, I have to figure out how to pack so that I don't freeze whilst sleeping in the woods, up north, in a makeshift shelter with a forecast of rain. ... So there's that.

Then, there's the stress of trying to get things done at home so that my absence will be felt as minimally as possible. I need to make sure Eli's clothes are laundered and his food stocked. I need to make sure Ben's weekend will run smoothly sans a parenting partner.

Finally, there is the stress of leaving my child overnight for the first time since his birth. Seriously, this has had me in tears. I cannot even comprehend what it will be like to not see him for three days. Will my heart just stop? Just stop beating? Will I die? Will I just fall over and die? (WHAT IF I GET H1N1?) I have every ounce of faith that Ben will do a wonderful job on his own; that's not my damage. I just am really sad to leave him.

Okay, I'm going to go scream into a pillow.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Today is my fantastic father's birthday. My father is another one of my most favorite people. He has a quiet, commanding presence. Any guy I dated (all 3 of them), would express concern over meeting my father as they were scared by him. This always struck me as humorous, because my dad has never struck me as scary. He carries himself with such authority, though, that I suppose I can see why some may be intimidated by him.

My dad is a genius and very good at his profession (lawyer), although he would have you believe otherwise. My dad and his profession are somewhat of a contradiction. The word lawyer carries with it certain connotations, including dishonest. My father, however, is the most honest, morally upright person I've ever met. He is highly reputed and respected by his colleagues and clients (and daughter).

We always tease my dad because he doesn't share our humor concerning all things bathroom-oriented (i.e. farting and pooping). I love, though, that he never stifles our immature conversation. He just rolls his eyes and laughs along. My dad has always been one of my biggest supporters (even when I'm laughing about my gas). When I accidentally wedged their minivan in between two trees in the front yard, he wasn't angry and he didn't yell. He even was the one that coaxed me out of hiding after he was able to pull the van out of the trees. I've always felt that no matter what I did or what I achieved, my father would be proud of me.

My dad's faith is inspiring. I can recall so many mornings/late nights, when I walked into our family room to find him reading his Bible. His devotion to Christ is evident in all aspects of his life. I hope that my children are able to see Christ in me the same way.

He's also the best grandfather. My mom told me that my dad told her that he wasn't going to miss any opportunity to be part of Eli's life. He's even told me that he has cleared his Monday and Wednesday nights (the nights I work at Sylvan) just in case I need someone to watch Eli. It's so wonderful to watch him play and interact with Eli.

I hope that he has a wonderful birthday! I love you, dad!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Isn't She Lovely

Today is my lovely mother's birthday. My mother is one of my most favorite people. We drive each other crazy, but I respect her more than she knows. She has a strength that few possess. She has a tenacity that will knock you over and compassion that will warm your heart.

Steve and Mary going to a HS dance.

Her sense of humor is sarcastic and fabulous. She has a wit fit for British television. Often we compare our humiliating, only-would-happen-to-us experiences and pee ourselves with laughter. I never laugh as hard as often with anybody else. I thank her for instilling in me the ability to laugh at myself.

Young Rick family

Her intelligence and capacity for learning are inspiring. She is a leader in her field. She graduated top of her class at Cal State and received top honors in her two masters programs at the University of Michigan. I trust any medical advice she gives me (and she's had to dish out a lot since I've had Eli).

This year, she became a grandmother; although, I don't think she looks like a grandmother. I love that I can leave Eli with her and not worry about him the entire time I'm away from him. She has been an immense help with him. Becoming a mother has helped ME gain a new appreciation for my own mother. The intense amount of love and level of sacrifice she had with her children is so much more apparent to me now. When I look at myself as a mother, I know that I will be a great mom because I had a great mom!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

7 months -not a baby, not yet a toddler*

*B. Spears shout out
Okay, 7 months? Are you sure? Actually, I can answer this in the affirmative as I can very vividly recall your entrance into this world. This past month has been one Leif Ericson-like discovery after another for you. Based on your kinetic energy output over the last several weeks, those pre-pregnancy jeans are becoming a reality for your ever-mobile mama (anyone who is thinking, "You're not back in your pre-pregnancy jeans, yet?!" can go play in traffic).

Warning: items tend to get lost in dimples

There is not really a major development to report. You haven't said your first word, taken a step or declared your official political party affiliation. However, you seem to be working toward mastery with the developmental skills you have demonstrated over the last couple of weeks (army crawling, babbling, sitting, eating solids, mastering your fake cry). You sit like a pro, you army crawl at a steady 2 miles an hour (this is an estimate, as I think making you army crawl for an hour would land me in jail), and you 'gawl, gawl, gawl' and 'ba, ba, ba' and 'ma ma ma' with the best of them. Something that IS new is your love for all tight spaces. You get yourself wedged in a corner, under a chair, next to the couch and protest loudly until I rescue you.

We recently bought you a luxurious high chair equipped with all the high chair amenities that any baby would enjoy. Feeding you in the high chair is so much better than feeding you in your Bumbo seat. So far, we've tried green beans and peas (and cereal). You don't hate them, but when you take your first bite you get this look on your face that seems to say, "Why are you feeding me this gross gym sock?" Eating has opened up a whole new world of silly noises and rituals. After every bite of veggie delight, you make this "mmmmmm"sound. Also, you take your bib and stuff it in your mouth...after EVERY bite. By the end of your feeding, your bib is SOAKED.

It blows my mind how much more mobile you are than even two weeks ago; and you're Prefontaine quick. You crawl underneath your exersaucer, through your kick and crawl aquarium, over the river and through the woods. You love to move. You've started rocking back and forth on your hands and knees, so I'm thinking you'll be full-on crawling any day now.

I made the decision to stay home with you instead of going back to work, so we spend lots of time together. I've never been more confident about any other decision I've made in my life. It was hard not going back to the classroom, but I'm thrilled to be home with you. You change daily, and I love that I have the opportunity to witness every moment. I just hope that I can make the time we spend together quality. It's my most sincere hope that I don't get stuck in a rut wherein we simply do the same thing everyday. I mean, I'm not really sure how educational Full House reruns are (although, I did learn what a mnemonic device was by watching the show). I want to provide you with fun, educational, varied experiences.

I love how much time we get to spend together, but I'm afraid I've made it difficult any time I leave. You seem to be going through slight separation anxiety. It's not horrible, but if you see me leave, you start to whine. Okay, there is a part of me that loves that I have this little person who relies on me so much. There's also this pragmatic part of me that hopes this is only a phase, and you will be able to grow into an independent person.

Another guilty pleasure--I love the fact that you are a cuddler. At night, you and I will lay on the couch together and you just fall asleep next to me. Okay, calm down all you Ferber fans. Maybe I should just put you in your crib (and some nights I do), but I know there will soon be a time when you won't want to snuggle with me (also, it will be inappropriate). Am I setting a bad precedent? Probably. But I guess in the grand scheme of bad parenting decisions, I'm okay (please direct your concerns with my parenting decisions to your mom).

Our friend Sara, the genius photographer who took this amazing picture of you, wrote recently on her blog that having a child has helped her gain some insight into God's love for us. She put into words what I think every time I look at you sleeping in your crib or smiling or playing with your toys. This immense feeling of love is so overpowering; it brings me to tears. If I love you this much, I cannot even fathom the depths of the Father's love for us. I want to protect you from everything--every fall, every sickness, every hurt. But I know that this isn't practical or healthy for your development. I have to let you stumble in order for you to grow. As you grow in Christ, I hope you realize this. Sometimes we fall, but He is there to help us grow from our stumbles.

I love you so much, monkey pants! Happy 7 months!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Melancholy Musings (warning: whining ahead)

Remember this post where I mentioned how much I loathe love change? Okay, let me preempt this by saying I 100% feel I made the right decision to stay home with Eli. I do not regret it and will never regret it; I am immensely enjoying my time at home with him. That being said, these past two weeks have been a little rough (self-worth wise).

Not only do I not do well with change, I do not do well in situations where I'm bad at something. This is why I don't play volleyball or draw or cook or yodel (unless I'm watching the Price is Right yodeler). I've been teaching (3 on 1) at Sylvan for the last two weeks, and every night I leave questioning how I have successfully made it to the age of 28 because I'm so STUPID. Teaching 1 on 3 is a challenge, but I thought I would have a rhythm down by now. This just in: I don't. I know, I know--I'll get it soon. Then I start wondering, 'What if I don't? What if I am the first Sylvan employee who gets fired because she just simply never got it? What if the CitPat gets a hold of the story and erroneously reports it (as I'm sure they would)? What if I DIE FROM BEING FIRED FROM SYLVAN FOR BEING THE CRAPPIEST TEACHER THEY'VE EVER EMPLOYED?! And then I get swine flu?' Then my sense of self-importance pops because there's no more room for it to grow. So there's that.

I'm also teaching a 3 credit class at SAU this fall. Basically the course helps college freshmen become acclimated to college. I teach for an hour and a half on Mondays and Wednesdays. Also, I'm the most moronic person they've ever hired to teach the class. I'm just waiting on the statistical evidence to confirm this report. It will be out shortly. Okay, maybe this isn't true, but it feels true. Again, I know I just need to get in the swing of things and everything will seem much better, but right now life is somewhat opaque. I don't know what I'm doing and that scares me and sends me into a carb-loaded, saturated fat tailspin.

Okay, for those of you who have stuck with this post to this point (those working on sainthood), thank you. There are several reasons as to why I seem to be overcome by this sense of melancholy: 1. My daily dosage of Ben has been low this week as his job has been so crazy, 2. Eli is sick and not sleeping well, which equals me not sleeping well, 3. I am now sick, 4. I stepped in mud on my way to a meeting yesterday (for which I was running late), 5. Some other stuff that I don't want to write on the Internet (not trying to be cryptic...it's just not really my business to share), and 6. (the most likely impetus for my blues) I finished cleaning out my classroom this week--and met my replacement.

Not returning to WCA has really hit me hard this week. I love LOVE teaching. I'm good at teaching. More than that, I love my students. They're hormonal, they're whiny, their moods change hourly, they lash out at people who challenge them...and I LOVE them. They're also sweet and grateful and brilliant and hilarious and sentimental and spectacular and promising. I miss them, and I didn't think I was going to miss them this much, but I do. The teacher who replaced me is a retired HS English teacher and seems uber-nice (weird side note: she also drives an Element--how bizarre is that?) but I can't help but feel that she is trespassing on my turf. This is ridiculous, I know.

Again, I know that the path I am currently on is the right one, and the Lord is with us every step of the way. I come home to a little boy who smiles so big at the sound of my voice and reaches out for me, and then everything makes sense. I come home to a supportive, patient husband. I come home to food in my pantry and cozy accouterments. Life is just in transition right now, which is difficult. I have to meet all this change head on and know that I will come out on the other side (hopefully without contracting swine flu).