Saturday, December 31, 2011

At the Gate of the New Year

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.

-- taken from the poem "God Knows" by Minnie Louise Haskins (1908)

Friday, December 30, 2011

She is an Individual Worthy of Being Noticed



Wee ones.


One thing I've noticed since I became a parent is how many people dismiss Jena because she's a child, because she's small, because she's "too young".

She is a child, she's small, and she's young. But she's still a person.

She has feelings, ideas, thoughts, needs, wants... she's a person.

And as a person, she's entitled to a little bit of respect, a little bit of acknowledgement, understanding, compassion.

She doesn't deserve to be ignored because she's young, she deserves to be listened to, recognized, and tended to because she's young.

It amazes me how many people don't even seem to see her, I mean really see her, as her own individual.

As soon as she could talk, she'd repeat things to me that she "wasn't supposed to hear" from others. Although I can't figure out how she wasn't supposed to hear them, since she was in the same room when they were having the conversation.

Now, at age three, she is intelligent, bright, and more than able to carry on a conversation. Her speech is clear. She talks in full sentences. She wants to tell you things, wants to engage with you.

Yet all too often her conversations with other adults go something like this:

Jena: "Guess what?"

Adult:  "Yes, it was good to see you today"

Jena:  "Guess what?!?"

Adult:  "It sure was neat to get to see your chickens"

Jena:  "GUESS WHAT?!?"

Adult:  "I had a really good time too."

Jena:  "You are not listening to me"

Adult:  "Your shirt looks really pretty too"

That's a paraphrase composite of conversations I've heard my daughter have all too often.

Her speech is clear, not just to me as her mommy, but her teacher confirms that her speech is the clearest of all her age in class (goodbye speech delay!).

She clearly has something she wants to share with these people, something important to her, and they don't even hear her. It's as if they can't fathom that someone so young would have ideas of their own, would be able to carry on a conversation, would be deserving of their attention, would need you to engage with them.

It happens far too often.

And as her mother, it angers me.

I've seen it too many times. I've tried to gently bring to the adult's attention what they were doing, but to no avail.

It happened again at Christmastime. Her Christmas list consisted of a parrot pillow and clothes. That's it. Oh, I threw in a few other toys for good measure that I thought she'd enjoy, but time & time again some adult would tell me that Jena "didn't really mean it", that surely she wanted more toys, or books.

I'd tell them to ask her what she wanted for Christmas. They would. She'd say "parrot pillow and clothes". They'd giggle and shake their heads as if she were being silly, then ask me to find out what she really wants and let them know.

Because clearly my child must not have thoughts of her own, must not know what she really wants, must need an adult to guide her to the toy aisle.

My child has no problem finding the toy aisle, thankyouverymuch.

She just really wanted clothes. And a parrot pillow. Period.

Oh sure, none of these are major issues. Restaurants in our area have yet to ban children.  Nothing like that. But thousands of little incidents, telling Jena that she is insignificant, that her thoughts don't matter, that she is not as important as others... they add up.

She is young, and she is learning, and she is soaking this all in.

And I will do what I can to let her know that she is important, that her ideas do matter, that her opinions count, that she is an individual that is worthy of being noticed. I will do what I can to off-set what she absorbs from these others. I am her mother, and I will do my best to instill in her a sense that she matters.


This post inspired by another blogpost

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Squeezed in Another Trip to the Park

And well worth it.

One of her latest discoveries... sliding down on her belly

She found 2 sticks and turned this piece of equipment into a percussion instrument.
Each level of rungs made a different sound. It was awesome.

it's a bird... it's a plane... it's SuperGirl !!

She's also discovered how fun it is to make the swings twist

performing for Mommy at the ampitheatre

the four-leafed clover I found while watching her perform for me
Why yes, it was a lucky day, wasn't it?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

so this is what balace feels like

I like it.

Our family finally feels balanced. For probably the first time since Jena was born.

Don't get me wrong, part of me hates putting it that way, because it sounds like we're blaming her or something, but that is totally not the case.

It's just that we had a harder-than-most time adjusting to the change in our lives, didn't always react to the change or each other properly, fought thru the mire of PPD, still dealing with PP-PTSD, went thru a few personal & family crises, rustled up a fair amount of marital issues, and... were just incredibly unbalanced, pretty much from the beginning.

Until now.

Jason & I had this discussion a few weeks ago, how peaceful our home is, how serene we are individually, how balanced we both feel.

And it's not just me.

a.k.a. - I'm not the only one that was going crazy.

He openly talked about how he feels the difference as well, and the word balance just kept creeping into our conversation.

I've made a conscious effort to tame the crazy by being still more often. And while the housework at times suffers more than it did in the past, the truth is not by much, and not by enough to off-set the positive changes that this has bestowed upon me and my family. A calmer mommy, more time to really be with each other... balance.

Jason cut back a little on his volunteering, took over one of the household responsibilities that I was previously doing, made some other personal changes that I won't go into here, and has been helping out more with Jena. Balance.

Jena, well, she's just awesome as is, and her harmony in life tends to feed off of what's going on in her parents' lives, so... balanced.

This balancing act though, it's a process. Jason picks up some overtime to ease our financial burden... we re-adjust. I pick up an activity in the hopes it will ease our financial burden... we re-equalize. Holidays come along, our schedule gets over-burdened... we level it up. Balance.

I've been tempted to get back to volunteering again, get back to some community activities, something I gave up in the months after Jena was born in an effort to keep from being too overwhelmed by obligations. But... not yet. This being balanced thing is new for our family, and I'm not rocking the boat just yet.

Balance. It may be an ongoing process, but it sure does feel good when you get there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

Jena helped me decorate the tree this year. Also known as, wouldn't-it-be-great-if-all-the-ornaments-were-in-one-spot. I "fixed" it after she went to bed that night. But not before I snapped a couple of pics.

Add caption

you can't tell because they're flat, but the snowmen are actually stacked together.
There's about 10 in this picture.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Well Hello, Cold-Air-Induced-Cough-Variant-Asthma...

... or whatever it is you actually are.

But cold air induced, cough variant asthma is the best diagnosis any doctor, other person, or internet has ever given me. Suggested by a co-worker, I spent way-too-much time trying to find information on the internet. There wasn't much. But it's a much better fit than the "I don't know" that most doctors have given me.

Every winter I have severe coughing fits. Severe as in people who aren't familiar with them will ask me (seriously) if I need them to call for help, or if I am dying.

For me, they are just a part of life. See, I had my first major coughing fit when I was nine months old. I was hospitalized for it, before given a diagnosis of bronchitis, a diagnosis that would follow me for the rest of my life, but that I no longer believe to be accurate.

These fits start right about the first cold spell of the year, and end with the last. I mean, I don't have them every single day of the winter, but... enough.

The longest run that I remember was the year in my early 20s when they started in September and lasted thru March. That was a rough year.

And this happening-during-the-winter thing resulted in me being wrongly diagnosed with an allergy to "furnace dust" (whatever that is) for several years when I was a child. Although I see why it sorta made sense - they started about the time the furnace had to be turned on, and stopped right about the time it got warm enough to turn it off.

During my school days I usually ended up missing at least a week-ish of school during the winter months, but it was really more due to exhaustion than the actual coughing, as to get any sleep at all I have to sleep sitting up, which isn't truly restful, and after doing that for weeks... well, something's gotta give.

And that's where I found myself about a month ago. In the middle of my first coughing fit spell of the year, I spent four of the five nights sleeping sitting up in the recliner. And ready to pass out by mid-afternoon. It's exhausting.

But I digress. I do continue to work (in [many] years past school), as my parents came to realize early on that whatever this is, doesn't appear to be contagious, as no one, no one, around me has ever gotten it, including family or close friends. Ever.

And since I went to the same fairly small school for K thru 12, it means that the staff was fairly familiar too, so no one ever tried to send me home. At least not that I recall.

What it does mean though, is that throughout the winter months, if I happen to catch so much as a sniffle, I'm done for. For weeks. So yes, I am that person that gets really annoyed when people come to work snotting all over telephones and door handles. Because your minor cold will set me back for weeks.

Anywho... asthma does run in my family. Like, the normal kind anyway. So the asthma thing does kinda make sense. And having had pleurosy twice during frigid winter months and being told that my lungs are sensitive to cold air and I should make sure I'm breathing through a scarf when walking in freezing temperatures... well, that seems to back up the cold-air-induced thing. And clearly it would have to be cough-variant, as the only sort of wheezing involved is when the coughing fit lasts so long that I am sucking in air to fill my lungs back up.

Random, but have you ever coughed so hard that your body bends into itself, so when the coughs repeat you almost look like you're having some weird seizure? No? Just me? Moving on then...

Oh, and while advice is appreciated, because I understand their good intentions, telling me to take cough syrup or Nyquil... well, I mean... c'mon, do you seriously think that in 34 years I never thought of that? The fact is that cough suppressants of any type have minimal, if any, effect. Honestly I'm better off taking a sleeping pill to get some rest, than trying to contain the cough at all.

But, in reality, the fact is that I am blessed. Oh sure, this really sucks. But at the same time, like I mentioned before, for me it's really just a way of life. The only time it really sucks is when people stare at me, or when it truly interrupts others' lives, like my family.

But luckily my husband and my daughter both sleep like rocks. So that's not really an issue most of the time. And all of my family, and friends who have been around long enough, realize what it is and how to ignore it because no, I am not gonna die. And most of my co-workers have been there long enough to realize that not only am I not contagious, it sounds worse than it is, and no, I am not gonna die.

So, for the most part, it is simply an annoyance for me for a few months of the year. And an occasional embarrassment, when I come across someone who is not familiar with my condition (whatever it actually is).

The only thing I do worry about is FireGirl. It appears that she has inherited this condition (whatever it really is). The good thing is that for her, it appears to be much better controlled when we keep the temp in the house at least 72 degrees during the winter months. Which is much warmer than we did before she came along, and raises our heating bill a bit, but well worth it.

Of course, that only adds to the cold-air-induced theory, doesn't it?

So that's that. And now you know a little bit more about me. Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thanksgiving with My Family

After breakfast with the in-laws at a restaurant, we headed to my aunt's house in Ohio for lunch, lounging, and dinner with my family. It's an all-day affair, really.

my grandma, 2nd cousin (from Georgia), mom, and aunt

ever played tug-o-war with a cat? It's fun. Apparently.

my cousin, his wife, and their youngest

my brother & his wife

my mommy again


my cousins

chatting in the kitchen

my brother & parents

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Product Review: Cerra Mood Shift Kit

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to try cerra's Mood Shift Kit.

The kit contains three sets each of scent cards, lotions, and teas. Each set represents a different mood that you are hoping to increase in your life.

In the spirit of the holiday season I decided to start with gratitude.

Each item in the kit comes with instructions on how best to use the product. In my opinion, the meditative reflection suggested with each aspect of the kit are actually the most helpful.
Spending a few moments pondering the mood you are hoping to reflect, as well as what you can do to change your thinking pattern to encourage that positive emotion, and combined with the gentle scents of the products induce a state of relaxation and reflectiveness that are hard to come by, well, at least in my household.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the lotion works really well on my dry skin too.

The best part? Sharing with you. From now thru the end of the year my readers can receive 10% off of their purchase by using coupon code: MSKSHARE



disclaimer: I received one free Mood Shift Kit to review. All thoughts & opinions posted here are my own, and no additional compensation was received for this review.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea


Felt like it was time for another Fragments post, so here it is, ya'll.


Like every December, life has been crazy busy this past month. Busy, but good. Very good.

I met up with 4 different friends I hadn't seen in a while (on 4 separate occasions), we've had 3 classes, 3 Christmas parties, 1 playdate, 1 band concert, 1 date night, 1 cookie swap, 1 doctor appointment, 1 holiday breakfast, got our family pictures taken, went to a Christmas tree lighting, and went to Southern Lights.

If you add it all up, that's 19 different activities, and it's only the 23rd of the month. There was some overlap on dates, for better or worse.

And that, of course, doesn't include our normal craziness. That's just special holiday craziness, LOL

Jena is still doing very well in school, and has started learning to write (tracing letters). I'm still very impressed     :)

Potty training still not doing any better. In fact, she's had a few more daytime accidents. I do a lot of laundry.

I started a rule that she has to go 2 nights dry in UnderJams, then she can wear panties to bed. That at least gives me some respite. Plus she gets better sleep because she's not waking up wet.

The chickens are now outside. Their tractor is wrapped in plastic sheeting to keep out the elements. And we extended the invisible fence wire around them to teach the dogs to leave them alone.

And something (a raccoon?) has already been trying to get to them, and broke the wire in 3 places trying to dig underneath the coop.

Thank goodness for Buddy, or we might have lost some chickens.

I want to break Jena of her lovey while I'm off between Christmas & New Years. Jason thinks we should wait until the lovey falls apart and deal with it then.

Part of me thinks he's right.

Part of me thinks when it is time, he's not the one who will be up with her overnight, and then have to try to go to work the next day.

I'm torn.

Still working our way thru FPU, and things are going really well. We've paid off two smaller bills (the TV & the living room furniture) sooner than planned, and should pay off two more smaller bills (the hospital bill & my Lane Bryant charge) by the end of this month.

Oh, and while this was the first year we actually set a real budget for Christmas (and tracked it), we're actually gonna end up being under budget, so we've decided to buy small presents for each of our six nieces & nephews, which we don't normally do, and we should still end up under budget. Yay us!

Work is going pretty well, minus the database project that never ends, but I'm expecting an increase to my stress-level the first few months of the new year.

And maybe most or all of 2012.

So I'm a little anxious / nervous about work right now.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I am a Fire Wife. It's my Life Too.

So many fellow fire wives have already written about this. Heck, maybe I already have and just don't remember.

So the question / issue is: why do I identify myself by my husband's occupation?

I mean, it's not like the wives of my co-workers go around calling themselves "engineer wife", or my mom ever called herself a "machinist wife", or later a "bus driver wife".


The phenomenon seems almost exclusively limited to rescue and military wives. Fire wives. Police wives. Army wives.

I am a fire wife. Why? Because it's my life too.

When we were dating, Jason was a volunteer firefighter, and a volunteer rescue & recovery diver with the local water rescue team. And that in & of itself creates a level of acceptance and... difference... between your life, even when you are dating, that just isn't "normal"*

* I personally hate the word "normal", but I struggled to find a better word, and I know ya'll know what I mean

Getting paged in the middle of the night, in the middle of our date, was just part of life.

When he applied for, and got offered the job of full-time firefighter (the same position he is in now), and we knew our relationship was headed toward marriage, he respected our relationship enough to sit down with me for "the talk".

I accepted his new position. I was happy for him. I accepted what this would mean for our life together, even if I didn't fully comprehend it. Yet.

The fact is, when he became a full-time firefighter and we moved in together, my life changed too.

No more would my significant other be available every weekend. He would be free every third weekend. And due to Murphy's Law it was likely that Water Rescue would often want him on that weekend.

No more would my significant other be guaranteed to be off every national holiday. In fact, every third year he was guaranteed to work most of them. For all 24 hours, not just the first eight.
My husband would miss Christmases, anniversaries, birthdays.

Near the end of my pregnancy, when I was put on modified bedrest, I would need a backup (my mom) who could stay with me when he was on shift. Because he wasn't just gone during the day. He'd be gone overnight till the next day.

I learn to do things myself, to wrangle the house and a preschooler, and handle things solo. It's what I do.

I am a fire wife.

I attend family events alone. I attend work events alone.

My girlfriends don't understand that just because they schedule a night out during the evening or on a weekend doesn't mean that my husband will be available to watch Jena so I can come. In fact, that darn Murphy's Law means that most likely he'll be on shift that very night.

It means that at least a third of the nights* when I come home from work, and a third of the weekends, no, I do not have my spouse to help me with my daughter, help me make dinner, complete household chores, or heck just be there with me. It's just me and her.

* and that doesn't count the extra shifts, the mandatory doubles, the phone calls (like the one I just got) telling me he'll have to stay longer than planned

I am a fire wife.

It also means that the firehouse is as much a second home to myself and Jena as it is to Jason.

It means a wonderful community of people who get you, even when you don't get yourself.

It means knowing my husband's schedule, for the next five years. Even if it does suck.

It means he can take one day off, and actually get five days off (from the fire dept, not including his 2nd job or his business).

It means my husband has learned how to cook for 20+ people, and is actually a better cook than I am (not saying much, but still...).

It means seeing my husband fulfill his dreams, and knowing that I'm a big part of what made that happen.

I am a fire wife.

Yes, it's tough. A lot Most of the time. But there are a lot of good things about it too.

So you see, I call myself a FireWife because it's not just his life, it's my life too.


this post inspired by my own life, but actually writing it down triggered by reading posts such as this

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Breakfast with the InLaws

Yes, Thanksgiving. You should know by now that I'm behind on uploading my pics here. But I am catching up. Enjoy!

Jena's Mamaw & aunt

with her Uncle & Cousin

with Daddy

her Papaw

She refused to smile, so I told her I was gonna do a pouty face too

ready to cause trouble

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I can breathe

It's been so long since I could breathe.

Really breathe.

Since I felt like I could feasibly sit down and think, really think, about what I want to do.

Not what I need to do. Not what my family needs from me. Not what work needs from me.

But what I want.

I feel like I'm rediscovering myself.

I've been very nostalgic lately.

Dreaming of the past, missing old friends.

Contemplating re-joining organizations that I used to be active in, and are still dear to my heart.

I'm also looking to the future.

And it's looking better than it has in a long time.

I know who we are evolves constantly, and so knowing who we are does as well, it's just that...

I can breathe. And it feels so, so good.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jena and her Chickens

The chicks are about 4 weeks old in these pics. We've moved them from their brooder to their chicken tractor, but still have it in the garage until their feathers are more developed. They might be a cold-hardy breed, but they are still babies. We'll move them out eventually.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

If only someone had gotten a picture.

Did I tell you about the time I fell at work? No. Well, I should have.

It was a cold Thursday morning, around 8:50am, following several rainy days in a row. I was walking from the parking lot to the building, wasn't paying attention to where I was going, accidentally stepped off the sidewalk, and fell... into a big spot o' mud.

I. Was. Covered.

Purse, covered. Bag carrying papers, full of mud & covered on the outside. One leg of my pants... covered. Hands, covered. Shoes, covered. Keys & cell phone... in the mud.

Did I also mention that I had a presentation at 9:15am that morning?

Someone suggested I go home and change, but... I'm scheduled to do a presentation in 25 minutes to some guys from Europe that are on a very tight schedule while visiting our company here in North America. Going home is not an option.

I picked myself up, continued into the building, started up my laptop, then straight to the bathroom. I finished cleaning myself up around 9:10am, hurried back to my desk (now wet from cleaning up my clothes), and got ready for my presentation.

The people I was presenting to didn't seem to notice that I was wet. Or they were too nice to say anything. Even when I felt something on my arm, and looked down to see about four inches of mud still on my arm, which I kept behind me the rest of the presentation.

How did I miss four inches of mud on my arm? Well, I had my winter coat on that morning. It never dawned on me that when I fell mud would have shot up the sleeve of my coat onto my arm. So in my hurry to get my hands, pants, and shoes clean... I missed it.

The presentation went well... very well in fact. But I was still covered. I was finding mud specks on items for literally days afterward. My heels fared much better than I had feared, and are fine. But the bag I use to carry my papers in... not so much.

I guess when you use an open-top fabric bag and it ends up not only covered in mud on the outside, but so that you are scooping globs of mud out of the inside... you can only do so much. I've ordered a replacement.

So, that's my falling-in-the-mud story. If only someone had gotten that on tape. I'm sure I looked hilarious, all dressed up in my best giving-a-presentation-at-work clothes and covered in mud.

Thanks for checking in!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Each mom is different. Each mom is equal.

A while ago I  heard a working mom defend her choice to be a full-time working mom by saying that working moms who were dissatisfied just weren't in the right career field.

Her point was that she was tired of women saying they wanted to stay at home, when really they just needed to find a more fulfilling career, that the most important thing to being an effective mom was to be happy and content with your life.

Something like that.

This was months, maybe a year or more ago, so my memory is foggy, but that was the main point.

I didn't argue. Because while there are a million things wrong with her statement, her overall point is valid: being happy and content has more of an effect on your mothering abilities than your actual career choice.

I've thought about this repeatedly since.

I thought about it a couple of weeks ago when a stay-at-home mom told me that working moms just don't understand the stresses of being a SAHM, and if she weren't able to put her kids (an infant and a toddler) in front of the television for several hours every day, she wouldn't survive.

I didn't judge her for using the television to babysit. And I know that being a SAHM can be very stressful at times. But I did think: maybe being a SAHM isn't right for you.

Similar to the reverse of my situation.

Why blog about this today? Well, this morning driving to work, I pretty much had the realization that I have been trying, and failing, at this working mom thing for three years now. At what point do I (and my family) just admit that maybe it's just not for me us, throw in the towel, and find something that creates tranquility for our entire family?

SAHM? Maybe. Part-time work? Maybe. Work-from-home? Maybe.

But really, after three years of trying, and failing, and now, when I can say that I am happy with my life, I feel balanced, I'm in a really good place overall... I still cannot make this work.

I am stressed out and exhausted all week. I'm depressed on Sundays, giddy on Fridays. I'm pretty sure I'm the parent-FAIL at FireGirl's preschool, and I can admit fully that I know my work has suffered greatly since I became a parent. I'm just a mess.

It's been three years. Three years of me putting in effort, of repeatedly trying, and failing, and then getting stressed & frustrated, and sometimes depressed because I can't seem to figure out what millions of other working moms seem to do just fine, and many of them even enjoy.

Similarly, the SAHM who is putting their child(ren) in front of the television for hours every single day because being a SAHM is so stressful for her (that's the key, the "because it's so stressful" part)... maybe it's time she looked for a part-time job. Despite what many might tell her, perhaps her family will be happier, her children will do better, if she is less stressed. And maybe, just maybe, this could be accomplished thru a part-time, or even full-time job.

I guess what I'm trying to say is...

At what point, do we just admit that not every role is right for every mom, and it doesn't mean we failed, it simply means maybe we're  the right actress in the wrong play?

At what point do just give each other a break, tell each other (and ourselves) that maybe it's okay to stop fighting thru the muck of the role that we're in right now and move over to try something else?

When do we tell the working mom that's been struggling for years that it's okay, that there is no shame in admitting that she can't do it anymore, and maybe she'll be the best darn SAHM there ever was?

When do we tell the stressed-out SAHM that there is no shame in admitting that she didn't enjoy being home as much as she thought she would, and maybe her family will be more balanced if she goes back to work?

At what point do we recognize and acknowledge that every mom's role is glorious in its own right, that none is better than the other, that they all serve different purposes, teach different lessons, and they all raise marvelous children in fantastically different ways?

It just frustrates me that we as mothers tend to be so hard on ourselves, but it's more than that. Society is hard on us, and we are hard on each other.

We're all doing the best we can, the best we know how to do for our families. Do we sometimes make mistakes? Sure... we all do. Which means we are all in need of one another's grace and support.

Anyway, back to my original point... my point being that yes, getting the hang of being a mom takes time. Anytime you take on a new role in life it does.

But having as many working moms in my circle as I do... I'm 99% sure I should not still be struggling this much three years later.

Maybe... it's time to admit not that I have failed, but that I have been in the wrong role. That being a full time working mom is not the best role for me to be in. That the more I struggle, the less I am able to fulfill my role as a wife and mother, and that it is in fact not serving my family by staying in the working world, but perhaps may be an injustice to them.

Perhaps being a SAHM will be a better fit, like I have thought. Although now that FireGirl is older and in preschool, I wonder if working part-time might not be a better fit. Or maybe staying home but doing regular volunteer work. Or starting my own business like my sister did when she found herself out of work.

What niche will I fit in best? Will it change through the years as my family changes? As I change? Only time will tell...

... or will it? Because right now we can't afford for me to quit my job. Not without losing our house. And I can't imagine that's good for any of us.

So... blah. frustrated. stressed. stuck.


stuck in a role which I more & more believe is not right for me, and not right for my family.

What to do... what to do...

In the meantime, where do you find your niche? Are you in it now, or working towards getting there?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Organization

As a member of the BlogHer Life Well Lived Panel, I was selected to answer the following question:

The holidays make me so anxious! How can I stay organized this year?

Honestly, my initial reaction was: They obviously have never seen my house.

But then I thought about  it. Really thought about it. And it hit me.

Holy management, Batman,  I am organized.

After all, it's not necessarily about organizing stuff., items, things.

I mean, it seems like for me, managing the holidays boils down to managing two things:

Time and Money

Actually, now that I think about it, managing the rest of the year kinda boils down to those two things too, doesn't it?

So, for me, the best way to stay organized during the crazy rush of activities & wallet-emptying gift-giving during the holiday season is to find ways to effectively manage time and money.

To organize our time, FireMan & I use GoogleCalendar. There are several other group calendars available to use as well, and I've always been a fan of good ole' Franklin Covey planners, but with FireMan being away from the house so much, we needed something we could both access at pretty much any time.

Enter GoogleCalendar.

And as far as organizing money goes, ya'll know we've been taking Financial Peace University, and one of their teachings is the home budget. We not only created a budget, we actually stick to it. To help us do this we schedule weekly budget meetings for ourselves (via GoogleCalendar, ha!) and have a weekly checkup on where we are financially.

This is the first year we ever set an actual budget for Christmas, and I cannot tell you how much it alleviates your anxiety to realize that you're coming in under budget for the holidays.

No more guessing, no more wondering if you can afford that extra present. We're under budget. And we've gotten pretty much everything we were planning on getting, with a few exceptions, none of which should get us anywhere near the edge of our budget.

Do we have bins for Christmas decorations? Sure. Do we have family traditions to keep up with? Sort of.
But for me nothing has helped ease the stress of this holiday season as having my time & money organized with the calendar & budget we put in place earlier this year. Maintaining both of those items just creates a sense of order amid all the holiday chaos.

So what about you guys?
How do you use organization to ward-off holiday anxiety?

Should you comment here? Sure, I love comments!

Should you answer in the comment section of the Life Well Lived Blog Post? Of course! Especially since while you're there you can enter to win the $250 sweepstakes. And couldn't we all use some extra $$ to ease our money management woes?

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jena is NOT Overweight

At Jena's three-year-old checkup, our pediatrician informed us that while her height remains tall, but "within normal limits", her weight now puts her in the "overweight" range.

He recommended she get more exercise. You know, without ever asking about her physical activity.

I'm not buying it. The mom who has always been paranoid about her daughter inheriting her weight issues is not buying that her daughter is overweight.

I look at my child, and how very tall she is compared to other children her age, and how we have to buy larger clothing for her to accommodate her height, not her waist, and I do not understand how her height can be "within normal limits", but her weight can be "overweight".

I look at my daughter, who when she wakes up in the morning, before she eats anything*, is so skinny that her ribs show... and I cannot believe that my skinny minny is overweight.

* after she eats her little belly pops out all round & full. So cute. Reminds me of little kittens after they nurse. So cute!

I look at her eating habits - how she detests almost all forms of meat (except cheeseburgers), loves fruits & veggies (especially salad), and thinks the idea of us having chips or pop in the house is "silly".

How when grandma gets her ice cream she asks for white ice cream with strawberries, eats all the strawberries, then declares herself to be full and pushes the dish of ice cream back to her grandparents.

You cannot force this child to eat if she's not hungry. Just ask all four grandparents who can't get over the fact that the "Clean Plate Club" doesn't exist in our house. You can't tempt her with sweets, with ice cream, even with her very favorite - oranges. When she's done... she's done. She doesn't know how to overeat.

She's not permitted to drink pop. Her juice & tea are diluted with water. Her chocolate milk is diluted with white milk.

She prefers water.

She goes to preschool three times a week, where they have gym / physical activity twice a day for 45 minutes each time. She also has dance class once a week for 30 minutes. During nice weather we take her to the playground to play her little heart out at least once a week, more if we can. She runs around our yard with the dogs, plays on our swingset. She dances in the middle of stores, races herself thru the aisles of other stores, and her latest craze is to gallop ("like a horse!") from one end of our open floorplan house to the other.

I know our lifestyle is not perfect, is not the most health-conscious.

I also know that my daughter is not overweight.

Shot this pic 2 days after her appt while she was dancing around the living room.
AFTER dinner.
Clearly that child is overweight... NOT!

Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PPD / PTSD update

I recently had a reader email me and ask how I was doing with regards to PPD now.

Well, I believe my struggle with PPD is over. Although now that my life is finally beginning to settle, drama is subsiding, really for the first time in over three years, I am beginning to notice that I seem to be a little more prone to low spots than I recall being before my struggle with PPD.

Could this be a lingering effect of the PPD? Could the PPD have triggered the same depression and anxiety issues that other members of my family suffer from? Could it be PTSD related? Could it be a lingering effect related to the multiple chemical and hormonal changes my body has gone thru over the past few years?

I'm gonna say the answer is probably yes and no... to all of them. I think the answer is probably far too complicated to say that it's any one of those things, or that it's not any one of those things.

I will refrain from saying my "low spots" are depression, because the truth is they don't usually last very long - maybe a day or so, if that. But they are very low, and tend to come on very suddenly, often without warning, and sometimes without cause. It's a fight to convince myself to do anything but sit on the couch or lie in bed.

Well, not really. Because I have Jena.

But honestly, if I didn't have her to take care of...

Just thought of it while I typed those last two lines, but maybe the reason they don't last so long is because of Jena, because I don't give in to them because I'm taking care of her, so I don't linger in it. I take care of her, and she makes me smile and makes me laugh and reminds me of how grateful I am for her, and... how can you be low very long when you have that, right?

The "without cause" thing is the most confusing. For me and my loved ones. Because they can see how down I am, and the "what happened?" questions inevitably follow, and of course no one understands that nothing happened, and that I really, honestly, truly mean that. Nothing happened. Nobody was mean to me, I didn't have a bad day.

I can't explain it. I wish I could. I'm assuming what "happened" is there was some shift in the chemicals in my brain. That's probably what happened.

But these low spots don't come very frequently. Once every couple of months or so. And like I said they don't last very long. And since my life is just now stabilizing, I'm hopeful that maybe they will eventually get less & less frequent, or maybe even finally go away.

As far as the PP-PTSD, now that Jena's birthday has passed, my flashbacks have pretty much ceased. Although for some crazy reason earlier this week I was drawn to visit the website of the hospital where I delivered, specifically the maternity ward section, and just seeing the pictures of the room stirred all kinds of feelings in me.

I could feel the pain again, feel the uncomfortableness of the beds, the curiousness of not fully knowing how much time is passing... just seeing that tiny web pic brought it all back.

I've wondered many times... if Jason & I ever do decide to have more children... what am I gonna do? I've said before (this is all hypothetical) that I think I should begin counseling probably as soon as we find out I'm pregnant. Because I can tell you right now there will be quite a bit of anxiety as we near labor & delivery, especially considering we would most likely be delivering at the same hospital.

I have to have the same Ob deliver me again. Which would so probably not happen, considering it's a group practice and it's a crapshoot as to who's on rotation. But I firmly believe he saved my life, and probably Jena's. As I've dreamed of having another child, the idea of not getting him nearly throws me into an anxiety attack.

Oh yes, I'm all kinds of crazy.

Lots & lots of therapy should I ever get pregnant again. Lots.

Or maybe as more time passes, things will settle down. Maybe.

So, that's where I am right now, so you know.

Although things have definitely settled, tons, I mean, tons... there are still residual effects of the illness. I don't know if they will ever go away.

I don't know if I want them to go totally away.

I think the experience has made me much more sensitive and understanding to the trials that others are going through, and how every experience effects everyone differently. In short, although I'm still learning, still figuring things out, I'm starting to see that PPD and PP-PTSD have widened my world to the struggles of others, have broadened my perspectives, have made me more sympathetic towards others.

Yes, I'm starting to see that PPD and PP-PTSD have made me a better person.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Monday, December 12, 2011

FireGirl and her Chicks

The chicks are about 3 weeks old in these pics. We kept their brooder in the laundry room until they got feathered.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Looking for YOU

Hey - I have a couple of ideas rolling around in this noggin of mine, and am looking for... you!

- if you are a fire wife blogger and would be interested in doing a guest post


- if you have an etsy shop (or small business of any sort, really)

Please email me at KYFIREWIFE at gmail dot com

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas List

There's really not a lot on my list this year. Mostly due to the budget cuts we've decided to make. So my list is boring, because I'm asking for mostly useful things instead of fun things. Although I did manage to put a couple of just-for-fun items in there.

My list:
PhotoShop Elements

hot rollers
pre-order of this book

ironing board cover


Jena's list:

And this is seriously all she's asking for:

"parrot pillow"


Seriously, what am I supposed to get her?!? LOL. No worries, we've managed to find a few toys for her, but at her request, she's getting mostly clothes & shoes.

** click on each picture to find the source **

So what about you? What's on your Christmas list this year?
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