Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oh, Baby!!

When you've been away from blogging for nearly a year, it's difficult to just pick it right up where you started. In fact, it's impossible.

A lot has happened since last March. My parents moved into our house with their dog and parrot.  Zoe graduated from Kindergarten and started 1st grade. Finn is in his last year of preschool. We made new friends and reconnected with old. At the end of October, Daniel and I took a trip to Calgary for work and the morning after we got back, I found out we were expecting baby #3.

Baby #3! Due July 7, 2014!*

We'd been trying for more than a year, so it wasn't a big surprise. Well, I suppose that isn't right. In Calgary we were discussing how we we might be done trying. We were beginning to adjust our idea of what our family would be (again) and accepting that we were a family of four and what that meant. Part of me was sad that I was done and there wasn't another baby joining our family, but I was feeling sort of at peace with it. I was also feeling nauseous and really tired, but I was sure that was from all the walking I did around the city... and all the eating and the beer. Nausea seemed totally normal.

And then we got back and I took a test and that second line instantly appeared.  After willing that damn line to appear for over a year, with no luck - it appeared instantly. Bam! Baby.

So that was morning sickness I felt in Calgary. And it got worse, stronger than I had ever felt and I was so tired. My first ultrasound was at five weeks. We were looking for the baby's heartbeat and not seeing it, but they kept telling me it might take another week or so.

A week later, I was back in the office, this time alone - so nervous that something was wrong. So scared we wouldn't see a heartbeat. We saw a heartbeat and I exhaled with relief - and then the tech paused.....

"Do you see that?" Oh, I saw it.
"Do I see what, Connie?"
"That." She pointed at the screen. I could see the second flicker clearly.
"What is that? What?!"
"That's another heartbeat! You're having twins!"

TWINS!?



Twins. In the same sac. Their little hearts beating together. I left the office in shock and called Daniel immediately. I burst into tears. I'm sure he assumed the worst, but I slowly pushed the words out of my throat.

"We're having twins. There's two. Identical twins."

There were so many things going through my head that morning. Awe. Surprise. Happiness. Insecurity.

I was prepared to have another baby. I'd imagined the challenges and joy of another infant and what adding to our family meant. I was doing something I'd done twice before... it wasn't a big deal. But twins were a big deal! Two of everything. How would we do it? How would I give them both attention and Zoe and Finn? I don't know how to take care of two babies at once!

And then I did what every OB and/or parents of multiples tells you not to do - I went looking on the Internet for answers. My insecurities turned into straight out fear. Identical twins are considered high risk. One might not make it - and because they're identical, the chances that neither would was even higher. I read about vanishing twin. I read about conjoined twins. And I cried and stressed and felt like I couldn't breathe and I couldn't handle this.

At my eight week appointment, we were concerned that there was no separation between the babies (no membrane) which would have meant they we MoMo twins and even more high risk than I had thought. Without a separation, they were at a high risk of their cords becoming entangled and not making it. The scariest thing was there was nothing I could do to help them - it was out of my hands.

I was sent to a maternal fetal medicine specialist and had a detailed ultrasound done at almost 10 weeks. There, as clear as anything - was a separating membrane and two tiny babies with strong heartbeats. They were measuring the same and right on track and I felt my stress melt away just a little bit.  They weren't MoMo twins, but they were (are) MoDi twins. There are still high risk, but our odds were better now.

My OB had informed me at my 8 week appointment that she did not see patients with identical twins. She'd had bad experiences and lost babies and it wasn't something she was comfortable with. It was an awful feeling at the time, but I'm grateful that she knew her limitations and sent me to the best possible people.

My care was immediately transferred to Texas Childrens Hospital/Womens Specialty. Our first appointment with them was at 12 weeks. We were greeted with smiles and congratulations from everyone, instead of frowns of concern. No one seemed nervous. My doctor is the director of the program for multiples and the Chief of MFM at the hospital. She has a great sense of humor and spoke to me with nothing but optimism. For the first time, I was laughing at my appointment and I was feeling hopeful. Without a doubt, we are at the best place for me and the twins. We are getting excellent care.

Last week was our 16 week appointment. I'm doing great and so are the twins. They're measuring right on track and are the same size (which is exactly what we want). They are total wiggle worms (I've been feeling flutters since 13 weeks) and at our ultrasound, one was stretched out over the one and they kicked and pushed at each other almost the entire time.

After a lot of pushing and waiting for them to chill, we saw what we were hoping to see - gender.

Our twins are GIRLS. Molly Angeline and Charlotte Angeline. We are thrilled.

Zoe is thrilled.

Finnegan is getting used to the idea.

* - Babies #3 and #4! Expected in 36th week - June 9, 2014!

So - hi. I'm blogging again!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Choices

My husband is the "cool parent". Everyone is excited for Daddy to get home. Everyone looks forward to Daddy's days off and vacation. Daddy watches cartoons and lets them climb him like a jungle gym. Daddy takes them to the park and bike riding. Daddy is the fun one. When we're about to cross the street, I ask the kids to take a parents hand and they both scramble for Daniel and I'm left walking empty handed.

It's alright though.

They see me all day, every day. More often than not, I'm the disciplinarian. I'm usually the one who corrects bad manners and demands nap time, bath time, bed time. When they're watching cartoons or doing something else fun, I'm (sometimes) enjoying silence in another room... maybe even using the restroom behind a closed door, without them yelling at me or sticking their toes under the door to wiggle at me. I get to cross the street without struggling to keep my purse (or my shirt) on my shoulder as they pull and tug and skip and jump.

I get why they choose their Daddy, because I choose him. I can't wait for him to come home, give me hugs and kisses, talk to me, take me out, and hold my hand. I chose him and he chose me and we got to get married because no one told us we couldn't.

So this morning, when my four year old responded to Zoe's usual "I want to marry Daddy." with "I want to marry Daddy!" I didn't flinch (well, until Zoe screamed "NO!"). I was not phased. They don't get the concept of married yet and they're always choosing Daddy. I love that we all love him so much.

My favorite thing this morning though, was Zoe's response: "You can't marry Daddy because he's already your family, right, Mom?" She didn't site gender as her reason, it was redundancy. "He's already your Daddy and you get to hang out with him without being married." Plus, "Marrying family is against the law."

"Yes. And also, he's already married to me. When the time comes, you will find your own person to marry. Daddy is mine."

"I don't know who to choose!"

"That's OK, baby. You have lots of time before this will come up. Like, 30 years."

When the time comes, I hope they chose wisely and with their hearts. I hope they're as happy with their choices as I am with mine. I hope they won't have to fight for their rights to marry who they love.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year

First off: Hello, 2013! I'm not really sure what I expect of you yet. We'll talk more about that later, I suppose.

2012 was an interesting year filled with anxiety about when we might move, finding out for sure we were moving, accepting that big change and running with everything that we needed to do to prepare. We sold a house and bought a house within a month. We said goodbye to the city Daniel and I met in - where we were newlyweds, new parents, part of a theatre community and later, part of an awesome place that allowed us to be a part of "Setting Theatre Free".  We drove with our two kids and two dogs from California to Texas, all the while simultaneously nervous and excited for our new location and the new experiences we would have.

Honestly, I had a really hard time with all of it. It's funny because there were times when I wanted so badly to run far away from Bakersfield and our life there, and then when it started to be close to being a reality, I freaked out. Friends could not mention us leaving, talk about the future in Bakersfield, discuss Houston, or (sometimes) look at me without me bursting into tears. It was... emotional.

When we got here in August, I was overwhelmed with our new town, with Houston, with the roads, with the people, with the size of the home we'd chosen. Then the kids went to school full time and Daniel had a 45 minute commute to and from work and I suddenly felt very, very alone. I looked forward to every weekend, but my weekdays were very solitary and I struggled to want to do more than take the kids to school and pick them up. I hated my alone time because it reminded me how much I missed certain aspects of Bakersfield (friends, theatre).

As the holiday season unfolded, it became more clear that we had moved to a wonderful neighborhood.  A new friend described it as "Pleasantville" and that seems pretty accurate, although sometimes it feels like Mayberry or Bedford Falls. Something about the cooler weather and the lights and the holiday spirit has me feeling more optimistic and grateful for this change. I'm adapting and I feel ready to truly enjoy Houston.

I'm not sure exactly what that means. I'm tossing some ideas around in my head and setting some goals.  I want to become a better version of me.  I want to focus on my personal development. I want to feel healthier physically (which I already am - no sickness during the holidays!) and emotionally. I want to make it a point to venture out of this house and explore more. I want to feel more interesting.

I feel like I've "mourned" leaving California for long enough. It's time to celebrate this new chapter and make it memorable.

Happy New Year. 2013, I'm ready for you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Conversations We Wish We Didn't Have To Have...

When I picked Zoe up from school on Friday, we didn't discuss the shootings.  I'm sure she could see that I was distraught and I definitely hugged her even more than I usually do (which is a lot) but I just couldn't deal with telling my five and a half year old that someone had walked into a school and done the unthinkable - to children her age, to people like her trusted and beloved teachers. I just didn't have the strength to have a calm discussion with her at that moment because inside, I was screaming and hysterical.

We did talk about her day at school. We talked about how much fun she had wearing her flannel pajamas and robe to school. We talked about how she wants to wear her hair the way I did it that morning, at least once a week.  We talked about watching Polar Express and how happy she was that I was able to come to her classroom and make hot cocoa for her and her friends. She told me I make the "best hot cocoa, ever" and requested another cup right then. 

We also talked about the lock down drill her school did (that completely by coincidence happened at the same time as the shootings according to reports and Zoe's teacher). She told me she didn't like the lock down drill. She said that she and her friends don't understand why anyone would come to their school to hurt them. Zoe's voice cracked as she asked me why people are bad. She giggled when she told me she'd just fold herself into her desk to hide or 'do karate on them". I'm told that some students cried during the drill, that it was all too overwhelming for some of them and I am sure my daughter was one of the kids who felt emotional about such a serious thing. It's incomprehensible for a five year old to understand such atrocities. Instead of trying to explain everything in depth Friday, I simply asked Zoe to make sure that she took the drills seriously and always followed directions. I reiterated to her that when a trusted adult asks her to do something like be quiet or to take/stop action, we are doing it because it is our job to keep her and her classmates safe. I tried to explain (for the zillionth time) that sometimes there is no time for an explanation, she just needs to follow directions.

Beyond that, Daniel and I shielded the kids from Friday's tragedy. We did not listen to or watch the news around the kids. We only discussed things in round about ways and hushed tones. We shielded Zoe and Finn from what we were sure would give them nightmares and insecurity.

Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, all I could think about was all the victims. I imagined the horror they went through, but instead of the faces I've seen in photos, I saw my daughter and her classmates, their teachers, their Principal. What would I do if a gunman came into our classroom when I was helping?  I quizzed myself: I always bring my phone in the classroom. There are 22 kids in Zoe's class. Two of those children have special needs. There are 12 cabinets against the long wall - there are six more short cabinets across from the two bathrooms.  I'm not sure if the bathrooms in the classroom actually lock.  There is a train/activity table with two drawers, each large enough for a small child. There is a small window that looks out to the parking lot. I had worked myself into a panic attack thinking about it all. 

And then it struck me - Zoe was going to go to school the next morning and be surrounded by older children in the morning and at recess who probably knew all about the shootings. The idea of her finding out from an eight or ten year old instead of me or Daniel worried me. I wanted to be able to talk to her, as we sat in our home. I wanted her to feel comfortable to react however she needed and to be able to ask questions. I wanted to reiterate that lock down drills are important and serious because someday (hopefully never) her school might need to have a real lock down. I wanted to tell her that if she ever hears loud noises that she should stop what she is doing, look for her teachers and keep her mouth closed until a teacher says it's OK to speak. But I hadn't told her anything. I hadn't prepared her at all. And so I decided I couldn't let her go to school today.

Now, I know that there are people out there who would disagree with my decision. We can't live in fear.  I can't be with my children every second and they deserve to be able to live their lives without being constantly shielded by their mother. I get it and I agree... except, I need to know that I've prepared my children the best way that I know how.  I spend my life protecting my kids, but I need to continue to have those tough conversations too.

So Zoe and I sat upstairs in her bright, sunny room this morning.  I played with her hair as I explained that I kept her home because there was something I needed to talk to her about.  I told her that last Friday someone came into a school a lot like hers and he hurt a lot of people - kids her age and teachers. Her eyes were wide with shock and I could see her trying to process it all.  I told her that she might end up hearing about some of it at school, but that I'd like for her not to get involved in conversations about it because some big kids might not get the facts right. I didn't go into detail about what happened but I asked her to do what we always do - if she hears something at school that makes her feel uncomfortable or confused, that she can ask me or Daniel about it at home and we'll help her through it.  Tomorrow she will go to school,  as will Finnegan.  I still feel sick thinking about them being away from me and I will always worry about their safety - ALWAYS... but I feel better having had a conversation with my daughter to prepare her for what she might hear.  

All I can think is, this is the tough part about parenting. Forget the diaper changes and the tantrums and them not sleeping through the night. This is the part of parenting that rips at your heart as you struggle for the right things to say and do in times like this.  From the time I first found out I was pregnant with each child, my focus has been on their health and happiness. I have been blessed with two sweet children and I have done my best to keep them safe.  Sending them out into a world with so many dangers and entrusting others to care for them... it can be overwhelming and terrifying.  Sometimes I wish they were still babies, safe in my arms at home.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Adventures in Crockpot Cooking

Crockpot Cookin' is all fun and games until you realize that a crucial ingredient is just over 2 months passed it's "Best if used by" date and the clock is ticking for it to cook for 6 hrs so you can serve dinner by 6. So then you grab your *almost 4* year old and toss him in the van and you race to the grocery (while you've got your husband on blue tooth talking you down from the crazy "I am not cut out to do things like this!" ledge. You wrap that up and he's very encouraging and you race through the grocery with your little boy (who has very short legs in times like this and does not run fast enough) and you grab the broth and make a mad dash to the register, but your son almost knocks down a five foot display of fruit cakes that was in the middle of the flipping aisle (for goodness sakes!) like the HULK, but he stops just short of disaster and very calmly says "It's alright, Mama. We're cool." and he gently takes one finger and pushes a stray box back into place.  *Deep sigh of relief*

But then some salesman stops you and you tell him, "No, thanks. We're in a big hurry." He really wants to sell you some package deal for family portraits and he's running his spiel but you keep walking and say "No, thanks!" (again) but he's persistent and he calls out to you that they're great for the holiday... you interrupt him: "Thanks! But I take my own pictures and I have a crock pot meal I'm trying to cook!" and he looks at you like you're crazy (you might be, just saying).

So you finish at the register and your son is jumping up and down encouraging you to "Go, Go, Go!" but you're stalled behind some lady that is walking (no strolling), no weaving in front of you with her cart, slower than molasses, enjoying what you can only assume she thinks is a Marvelous Monday. You almost say, screw it - we'll go out to eat but your boy looks up at you with his big blue eyes and a grin. So you take a deep breath, grab your boy like a football and he puts one fist out in front of you and yells "CHARGE!" as we race by the slow lady, unlock the car and jump in.

None of this is your idea of fun and games, until you look through the mirror and see your son cracking up and you remember that your husband has promised you beer or wine (and appetizers!) while we wait for our soup to be ready. So you drive back home calmly and think about how you can't wait to share this doozy with your friends and family.

The End.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Homesickness

I get at least a flutter of homesickness for Bakersfield once a day. Sometimes it strikes me as funny since there was a time when Daniel and I felt like all we had was each other and we wanted to get the hell out as soon as possible.

We moved to Bakersfield (separately) within weeks of each other in 2003. Daniel, from Texas was starting a new job. I was starting a new life after leaving my ex. After six months in our new city, we met and quickly fell in love.

I don't want to speak for Daniel here, but I didn't feel connected to Bakersfield for the longest time. I felt like an outsider amongst people who all seemed to have a history and it was lonely. Daniel and I would talk about leaving all the time. We were just waiting for his company to move him.

Somewhere in the ten years we were there, we made some strong connections to people and places. We still talked about leaving (and there was a time last summer where I was so ready to leave and not look back) but it felt less urgent. We'd adopted friends as family. We'd adopted a theatre, a community. We'd grown attached to different places and our memories there.

Some connections were so strong, that in the months before our move to Texas, I could not speak of our relocation without bursting into tears. The city we had once felt no connection to had become our home. It was Zoe and Finnegan's first home. Bakersfield was special to us as a family. Bakersfield changed my life - it is special to me.

So, most days I feel like an outsider here in our new city. We have friends in Texas (some as close as 3 minutes away) but this state is kind of big and everyone is busy. I miss going places and running into someone I know where ever I am. As exciting as it is to have this beautiful house and the opportunity to make new memories in an amazing city full of things to do, it's a big adjustment. Again, I feel disconnected and slightly overwhelmed.

This evening, a friend mentioned the cooler temps back home and I told her she was making me even more homesick. She apologized and said things would get better as we settled and made more friends. She's right - I know I'll grow to love it here.

Sometimes I wish I could just not miss Bakersfield. You know, say good riddance... I'm better off here and get on with it. But I know that missing the place I spent ten years in means I did something right while I was there. I chose the right city to start fresh in. I surrounded myself and my family with people worth missing and they miss us right back.

So that's what I keep reminding myself. Someday I won't be able to imagine leaving here and if/when we do, I'll miss our friends and the places we have happy memories of just like I do now.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pick Up the Pace

We're in our 3rd week of Kindergarten with Zoe and so far it's been a learning experience for all of us.

For me, this has been quite the adjustment - turning my daughter over to people I do not know, who have no history with us as a family, for seven hours a day/5 days a week. I miss spending more time with Zoe and it's hitting me especially hard since we're in a new city/state and I know very few people. It's an adjustment, for sure - but I recognize how good this is for all of us.

For Zoe, she's learning to stick to a schedule. She's waking up early and getting ready and focusing on being on time. She's memorized her student number, buys her own lunch and turns in her daily work folder. She's making friends, learning so much and is a little chatterbox when I pick her up.

Pick up is a ordeal. Parents start lining up along the curb well over 30 minutes before school is let out. One teacher signals to the others what student is being picked up and the children are escorted to various points along the curb to their parents vehicles. Its not a perfect process, but it runs fairly smoothly. Zoe has learned to put her own seatbelt harness on and connect it (something I've always insisted on doing, to confirm its done correctly). Last week, when I was still attempting to connect Zoe's belt, a teacher informed me that her four year old knew how to attach their belt. I ignored that the teacher was comparing her kid to mine (in front of Zoe) and took it as an opportunity to teach Zoe to be more self sufficient. It was difficult for me (given our accident) to not take full responsibility for Zoe car seat safety, but I accepted that I couldn't do this forever and Daniel and I worked with Zoe.

As the days have gone by, I've watched this same teacher act annoyed at how slow Zoe moved. Even as Zoe giggled out of nervousness, but went as fast as she could and repeated "Almost. I almost have it!" to let us all know she was focused on her task. The teacher motioned with her arm for Zoe to hurry up, waved me along and then looked at me in disapproval when I waited on Zoe to finish before moving forward.

So the next day, I asked this teacher what I should do if Zoe isn't moving quickly enough. "Well, you could drive forward, out of the way, and help her if you need to. As long as the chest clip is connected, she's OK." First of all, no. Just connecting the chest clip is not OK. It is ineffective in keeping your child safe to just secure one portion of the THREE point safety harness. I took what she said with a grain of salt and encouraged Zoe to keep practicing. Zoe got faster and we ended last week on a high note.

Today at pick up, Zoe was moving slower than usual. A 10 second task was taking 20 seconds. I was doing my best to encourage her, but she'd tangled up the straps. The same teacher stood there watching Zoe and said "We need to keep this moving!" She motioned hurriedly for us to move along and a parent behind me honked. Zoe was visibly frazzled and I was angry at the situation. I pulled forward, with Zoe not secure and then we worked together to fix the problem. Another (maybe the same) parent honked at me, he then cut me off and waved his arm at us. Zoe asked if everyone was mad at her. She asked if I was mad at her.

I was not mad at my daughter. I was mad at the Dad who was driving irresponsibly in the pick up area, who was in such a big hurry that no one else mattered. I was mad at the drivers who were going well over 45 miles/hour in a 20 and then 30mph zone. I was mad at that teacher who had been rushing me and Zoe for the last few weeks, who was encouraging me to drive without Zoe being safe. I was mad at the school for not asking the teachers to value car seat safety. I was mad at myself for wimping out and driving when it stood against what I believed in and know to be wrong.

Admittedly, I am more sensitive to all of this than some people and because of that, Zoe is. We've been rushed before and have forgotten to buckle Zoe in, only to have her scream or cry because she's been taught that is not safe. I don't regret that one bit because for all the negatives our accident brought us, it taught my family to slow down and take the time to wear your seatbelt correctly, because they work. We know all too well how important a seat belt is.

So, I called the school principal and he expressed sincere interest in what I had to say and was very supportive. He said he would talk to all of the teachers that are involved in pick up and relay that they need to be more understanding of the kindergarten students who might need more time to get in their seats. He said nothing was more important than the students safety and he acknowledged that it must be frustrating to feel like something so important as car seat safety was being rushed and belittled. He thanked me for calling and let me know that because of some parents erratic driving, the police would be present during after school hours to monitor driving.

I'm a little embarrassed to be calling the school with complaints, but I also know I did the right thing for us. I'm trusting these people with one of the most important things in my life and I need to know that they're making my child's safety a priority.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moving Update

After celebrating Zoe's birthday three times, (school, family, party) her preschool graduation, Zoe & Finn's end of school year party, our seven year wedding anniversary, their dance recital and their first play all within three weeks time, we finally have time to focus on our big move to Houston.

Daniel and I have been giving things to friends, and making donations of a bunch of clothing to clear out our closets and cabinets.  We've been pulling our framed photos and knickknacks of all of our bookshelves (per our real estate agents suggestion) and moving furniture around to get ready for the house to be shown while we are in Houston looking for our new home.

We'll be gone for 10 days. Daniel has a meeting and some presentations to make and the rest of our time will be devoted to getting to know the city a bit and hopefully fall in love with an area and specifically, a house.

I'm nervous and excited and completely overwhelmed with everything we need to do to get the house ready. The kids start back to school for the summer on a drop in basis, so I have three mornings without needing to entertain them to take care of things and hopefully make this house so beautiful that someone wants to make an offer.

By the time we get back from our house hunting trip, we'll have a little less than a month to  finish up around here and say good-bye (or see you later) to our friends we've made/family we've "adopted".  It feels like "moving day" will be here before we know it.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Scars

Earlier today, Zoe asked me (for the 1st time) about the scars on her forehead. Frankly, I was sort of surprised she hadn't asked me sooner. Zoe is very interested in her appearance - I wouldn't say overly so, but she is on top of what she will wear daily and she does make hairstyle requests.

I took a deep breath and told her someone was not driving safely and they accidentally ran their car into ours (September 27, 2009). I told her that her and Finn's car seats kept them safe, but glass from her window got her. She asked me if it hurt my heart and I said it did, but that I felt like that day was one of the luckiest of my entire life. She asked me "It could have been much worse?" I said yes and she said: "If I had gone to heaven I would have always been with you still." And my heart broke a little, but I told her she was right and that I'm glad that she's with me now. She said she wished the marks would go away, that they aren't very pretty. I brushed her bangs aside and said I was proud of her and that she was beautiful on the inside and out, with or without the scars. I told her those scars reminded me to drive safely and they reminded me how strong she was and how supportive our friends and family were and are.

She asked me if I was friends with the person who hit us and I told her no, he was a stranger. She asked if I would ever be friends with him and I told her I doubted we would ever see him again or even know who he was if we did. She asked if I was mad at him and I told her I was very mad, but that I know he didn't mean to hurt us and that he is very sorry anyone got hurt because of his driving. I told her that I forgive him. She hugged me and told me she loved me and our conversation quickly switched gears to how she would wear her hair to her first Creative Dramatics class. She decided on two braids and I pinned her too long bangs off to the side to keep them out of her eyes. She looked at herself in the mirror and said, "Thank you, Mommy! I look beautiful!" She was right.

*Whew!* Are we sure she's only just turning 5 this month? So many thoughtful, honest questions about serious things. I think I did pretty well for being caught off guard... and I think I meant everything I said. *sigh*

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

News

This time last week, I was making a formal announcement to our friends, family and acquaintances on Facebook. You know, because it's real once you publish it as your status - which is kind of funny considering there was a time when it wasn't "real" until after I'd published a blog about it. My how times have changed....

In any case, our big announcement was a long time coming: We're leaving California (Bakersfield, specifically) and heading east - to Houston, TX.

And when I say "long time coming", I mean it. For years we've tossed the idea back and forth. Texas friends and family wanted to know if we'd ever relocate (Daniel is from Texas, went to UT, and we got married in San Antonio) and we always said, "Maybe someday." We put it off for as long as we could. On quite a few occasions, people came to Daniel asking him about various locations/positions and his answer was "Not yet." First, I was pregnant, and then we had a new baby, and then I was pregnant again, then we bought a house and we got comfortable here, etc. There was a point last summer where I just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge and I didn't care where we went. I was game for China and Kazakhstan - ANYWHERE. Then things settled down and around Christmas we started talking about staying here in Bakersfield indefinitely... but Daniel was advised that the best thing for his career was to take an assignment elsewhere. In the end, Houston was the best option for us, so Daniel put his name in the hat for a position that interested him and promised to give him some new experience.

About a month ago, we started telling a few friends that a move was likely, but Daniel really wanted us to keep quiet about it until he had a written offer in hand. He didn't want us to tell people and then have our plans fall through. I, on the other hand, was chomping at the bit to tell everyone. It's my coping mechanism: tell everyone, talk it up, and then maybe by the time it's really official, it won't make you cry at the mention of moving away.

From what I can tell, that worked for me. A few select people knew more than others - it helped to have them as a sounding board for my fears and excitement. Of course, I'm incredibly emotional and if I'm not careful, the waterworks can start with little to no prompting, but I think by the time we leave in July, I might only cry for the first 4 hours of our drive.

So, there it is: a blog post about our imminent move. Daniel starts his new job on August 1st, so we'll be leaving here mid-July. Since this is a new chapter in our lives and promises to be full of more changes than just our zip code, I've decided to record it all here on the old blog. It's been my sounding board for so many other big life "chapters", I figured it was time to dust it off and write again.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baby Steps

I'm talking about weight loss people - WEIGHT LOSS.

Last week, Daniel and I joined a gym. After years of pretty much not exercising, we decided we needed to be proactive about our health. Last week, I felt like a was making a positive life change. I was excited and hopeful and empowered.

I went to the gym for the first time yesterday. I was on an exercise bike for 25 minutes and did just over 5 miles - I felt like a superhero. I'm exaggerating a little bit, but I felt good.

Today I went back and spoke with a personal trainer. After answering some questions she had about my expectations and habits, she started me on a cardio warm up. Kicked. My. Ass. And just when I was about to throw in the towel, she brought some guy over to me who announced he was going to "give me the workout of my life". Whoa. He also told me over and over that he could not believe I was 35. Nice.

He brought me downstairs to assess my flexibility, balance and endurance. Within a few minutes, I was drenched, pasty white and in pain. He kept working me and pushing me further. He kept telling me he could get me down 75 pounds in the next 6 months but I was going to need to do it through resistance training. He said cardio should only be done as a brief warm up. He pushed me so hard and I felt so horrible that I was dreading the idea of ever seeing him again, but he made sure to tell me I did better than he thought I would or what other people do on their first visit. He told me that he could tell I was going tobe a "success story".

And then he took me into his office to talk numbers. It was like I was buying a car. I went from feeling sort of good about the work I'd just done to feeling like there is no way I will succeed without these people helping me. It was frustrating. I started feeling very insecure. He walked me through all their program could do for me and all the support I'd have and then he told me it could all be mine for 2 half hour shifts a week for JUST $320 a month. I told him there was no way I could afford that. He told me I could see a trainer once a week for $100 a month. I said I'd need to discuss it with my husband. He told me they might not be having the same offers tomorrow and that I needed to see that this was a long term benefit, well worth $100 a month. I told him I'd still need to discuss it with my husband and that I'd get back to him. He asked me how soon I'd know. I told him that if I decided to do this, he'd be the next to know. There was a quick shift - he told me he'd see me around and to have a good evening. Done.

I'm sort of at a loss now. I feel good from the work I did today, but it was hard on my body. The movement was difficult on my bad hip and the weight lifting gave my RSD arm the shakes for at least 20 minutes. I ended up using my inhaler after having an asthma attack in the car. And all of this makes me think I need this even more... but it also makes me feel like the biggest loser (HA) for letting myself get to this point. I looked at myself in the mirror while I pushed my body and I hated who I saw.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tough Questions

Sometimes, we forget that Zoe isn't actually a teenager what with her vocabulary, sense of humor and intelligence. She watches us and the world around her so carefully and she really does take it all in. My little girl has an old soul. I remember thinking it as I watched her sleep as a newborn. I remember telling her not to grow up too fast when she slammed her door on me and quickly turned on her radio and cranked it loud; she was, after all - barely one year old.

I worry sometimes, (like I'm sure all parents do) about how much she is like me. I witness her sensitivity on a daily basis. I see her eyes well up quickly if she accidentally makes a mess or if her little brother picks on her. I worry that I've let her see me cry too many times and that I've made her feel less than safe.

Our accident of course comes to mind here. I can still hear myself screaming and crying as that truck hit us. I wonder if she remembers? I wonder if she feels the same fear I do that it will happen again? I can't go back and change my reaction to that event, I know - but I can't help but wonder if I damaged her that day.

A year ago tomorrow, Zoe's Grandpa Rick passed away suddenly. I remember where I was when I got the news. I had Finn with me and we had just picked up Zoe at preschool. I'd missed a call from Daniel's mom and I quickly called her back once I had the kids loaded into their car seats. I stayed as calm as I could on the phone, trying to be strong for Daniel's mom and trying not to scare the kids, but when I hung up and realized what I'd just been told and that I'd need to tell Daniel - I lost it. My hands shook and I cried as I called Kristina, Meg, and then my own father to tell them the news and to ask for help.

The kids didn't get what was happening. Finn was not quite 2 and Zoe 3 and a half. We tried to explain it as best we could though, that Grandpa was watching over us now and that we didn't get to see him anymore. A year later, I don't know that we've figured out a better way to explain it. I just know that Zoe is extremely curious about what it all means. Death. Most of the time, she doesn't understand the finality of it. Sometimes though, her questions lead to whether or not Daniel and I will ever go away and not come back. We struggle with this because we don't want to lie to her - so we tell her that we'll be with her as long as she needs us and that even then we'll always be close by. Sometimes I give in and I tell her very definitively: "No. I will never, ever leave you." She usually follows this conversation up with "Will you always keep me safe? No matter what? What if there's a fire? Will you save me?" These aren't the questions you really prepare yourself for when you become a parent. They are hard, scary questions, but I know they're even scarier for her.

She didn't do well with me being in rehearsals for Hay Fever and going to my performances was just as difficult because it broke our nighttime routine that she and I have. She was very emotional and told me repeatedly that she was worried I might not come back. I know she needs to learn that it's OK for me to leave and that I'll be back... but it didn't make it any easier for us to have her go through that. I felt very difficult for taking time away from my family to do something for me when it affected Zoe the way it did. Of course I want to make everything better and have her feel secure and safe.

This afternoon, Zoe and Daniel were talking about dinosaurs. I don't know the exact specifics of their conversation, but I guess she wanted to know where they went - why we don't see dinosaurs anymore. Again, I don't know exactly what happened, but Daniel told her that the dinosaurs got old and died. And this of course led to how everyone dies. "Even babies?!" Zoe asked. Seeing that this conversation had exploded into something we were not wanting to tackle during lunch, Daniel quickly told her no, not babies. Babies grow up and old and live happy lives before they die. The subject was dropped and it was like we'd dodged a bullet. Hooray! But if you know my daughter (or me) you know that her calm acknowledgement of this explanation was out of character. Moments later she was sobbing because Daniel was heading back to work. We quickly distracted her and calmed her down before he left and again I thought we were in the clear. Crisis averted.

Crisis NOT averted. Twenty minutes later Zoe looked at me - her eyes were welling up fast.

"Are you going to get old soon?"
"Not for a while yet. I'm still young."
"Are Nana and Baba and Grammy old?"
"They're older than Mommy and Daddy."
"Are they going to die soon?"
"No, honey. Not soon. Let's not worry about that."
"You're going to leave me. You're going to get old and leave me. We all die! I don't want to get older. I don't want to grow up! I don't want to die, I'm scared!"

Meanwhile, her little brother (who does not understand but is picking up on the repetition of a certain word) begins shouting "Die! Die! You're going to die. We're going to die. Zoo-ey, don't cry. We die! Ya!" He thinks he's cheering her up. He thinks he's saying something very funny, but doesn't get why she's not laughing at him and why I'm very calmly but firmly asking him to "Please, stop."

I called Daniel. One, she needed to be comforted by both of us. She needed both of our reassurances. And two, hell if I was going to deal with this one on my own. I'm not the one who said everyone dies (even if it is completely true). Together we did what we could to calm her down. I held her on my lap and told her it was going to be OK, that we didn't need to worry and Daniel told her the same thing from speaker phone. I wiped her tears away and we quickly changed the subject to Halloween decorations (ours went up shortly after we hung up with Daniel) and cookies and milkshakes. Yay, milkshakes!

She and Finn are napping now and I'm trying to breathe. Trying to recover from a highly dramatic afternoon with tough questions from an almost 5 year old. I don't remember being this afraid when I was her age. I don't remember being aware of things like death and tragedy. All I know is I want to make everything better. I want her to feel safe and secure. I want to know that I'm not somehow screwing up.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hay Fever

A little over a year ago, I pitched a show for The Empty Space. It was a good pitch for a project that I was passionate about doing. I had a connection with the show for years - doing it fresh out of high school, relating to it as recently separated woman dealing with a tiresome divorce and then again as a mother of two young children. I connected with a director who I knew would do the piece justice, who I very much wanted to work with and become friends with. Everything fell into place perfectly.

But we decided not to do the piece I had wanted to do. The timing wasn't right and we were concerned about the large size of the cast and the limitations we'd need to overcome. We decided to put that show on the backburner and we chose another. We entertained various options until we made our final decision: Hay Fever by Noel Coward.

For months, all my extra energy went toward the show. I spent hours online searching for costume pieces and doing research for the actor's packets. I delved into Coward's life. I made multiple inspiration boards for hair, clothing and furniture of the 20's. I appealed to friends and family to help us by loaning us pieces from their homes. I haggled with consignment stores and practically harrassed a tuxedo shop owner. I watched British movies, YouTube videos and television shows. I spoke to my children in various Bristish accents and I read them their books/sang to them in "Clara's voice" until they were doing their best British accents too.

When this all started, I knew I wanted to help produce a high quality show. I wanted to be a part of a big project and challenge myself in ways I hadn't challenged myself in years. I wanted to feel like I was a part of something and I was hoping that during the process I'd make some new friends and some good memories. I feel like I reached all of my goals. I am so proud of the work we did, but most of all I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Jennifer and the cast. I admire all of them and I am humbled to get to call them friends.

Our show closes this weekend. If you've seen Hay Fever, thank you very much for being a part of it. If you haven't, you have two more chances (Friday and Saturday night at 8pm) to see what all the buzz is about. Help us spread the word. Help us fill our houses. Help us give this show the send off it deserves - you'll be glad you did. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Birthday Shmirfday

I turn 35 tomorrow and I'm feeling bummed about it. I know that's silly. It's not so much the getting older - it beats the alternative, right? Birthdays just feel sort of lonely; they have for years. I had no friends during my first marriage (I wasn't allowed to aside from the people I worked with and I needed to keep those relationships professional) and there was never any celebrations unless he let my parents be involved. My big yearly gift for six years was that he would try not to yell or be mean to me, but I always did something to screw that up. I couldn't just let him be a nice guy, I was always doing something wrong.

I know that I am lucky. I have a best friend who also happens to be my husband and we have two beautiful children. We laugh every day and I know that I am far from the life I used to have.

Birthdays just feel anticlimactic, I guess. It doesn't feel any different from any other day, it just feels the same. I try to be excited about them, but I'm not and I feel like I should be. And I guess when people ask me what my big plans are for "My day", I feel like an asshole with no friends because I don't have any plans at all.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Here We Go Again

Last night, Daniel and I attended rehearsal for Hay Fever and then stayed a bit for the after party. We’d have loved to stay longer, but it needed to be an early night for us so we could relieve our new babysitter by 9:30. We left in good spirits. I snagged a cookie as we were leaving (a roadie) and I was happy. It was my second rehearsal since coming down with the plague (I didn’t actually have the plague, per se) and it felt great to be out of the house and with friends.

Our rehearsal space is a quick jaunt from our house. We like to say that the Taylor’s are our neighbors even if they don’t live next door, exactly.... ten minutes is practically down the block. Easy. We were right on schedule for walking in our door at 9:30 when we hit a red light. We stopped (because that's what you do at red lights: STOP) and chatted very relaxed and cheerfully as we waited for our green. I remember thinking it felt like a long red light considering there wasn’t really anyone else out when all of a sudden we were hit from behind.

It was jarring. It was shocking. Daniel had left a cushion in front of us so we didn’t hit the truck directly in front of us. We both yelled. I started crying. My neck and back immediately felt hot with throbbing pain. Part of me braced myself to be hit again, but thankfully, there was nothing. We just sat there and Daniel kept telling me we were OK. The light turned green and the truck in front of us went on their way. I think Daniel got out of the car and told the person that hit us that we’d get through the intersection and then exchange information.

Daniel pulled onto the side of the road and got out to talk to the other driver. I was shaking and crying, but I reached for my phone to text a friend/cast member. Silly, I know, but I was in shock. I wanted my friends who we had just left (and who I wished I was hanging out with at that very moment) to know what had happened. And then I got out of the truck. I wanted to see who had hit us this time. I wanted to know what the hell their problem was. The light was red. Why hadn’t they stopped or slowed down? What the hell is wrong with this town and their lack of attention to red lights?!

The girl who hit us didn’t seem phased. She was pretty and stylishly dressed and in a hurry. I think she apologized, but I wasn’t feeling particularly forgiving. Daniel did most of the talking. I walked to our truck and looked for bumper damage ( I didn’t see any then, but today we can see a slight ding). I pushed down on our bumper, half expecting it to fall into the dirt, but it didn't. I walked back to her BMW SUV (her father’s fiance’s, actually) to look for damage. Her license plate was bent and I pointed out some marks on the left corner of her front bumper, “Oh, that’s from another accident. I’m a great driver.” She might have giggled, or I might be projecting what an idiot I think she is. Either way, this was no biggie to her. It was a biggie for us. When all was said and done, Daniel and I walked back to our truck and I yelled out "Drive safely!" I was tempted to add "idiot" or something worse, but I refrained.

I think having gotten through our accident two years ago, I’d told myself we’d just never have another. That felt better and sort of got me more comfortable with driving because how could we be put through that again, right? It was better than what I’d previously felt: The world (Bakersfield especially) is full of inconsiderate, asshole drivers and we’re constantly putting ourselves and our children in danger every time we get in the car. I had been coping and I've made progress in the last two years. I had become less afraid to drive short distances from our house. I told myself that I needed to be aware while I was driving, but that there was no sense being afraid while I waited at intersections. I told myself it was normal to have anxiety when my vehicle was moving, but that the likelihood of another accident was slim to none - I certainly didn’t expect to get hit while STOPPED at a red light.

Anyway. I am frustrated about last night. I’m angry at the college girl who hit us. I know accidents/fender benders happen all the time - I just feel like she had a blatant disregard for anyone else on the road and that once she did hit us, she was indifferent about the whole thing. We became an insignificant obstacle in her Friday night plans - no harm, no fowl - moving on.

My neck and back and hips are killing me and I had too many nightmares last night. Lucky for me, they were only dreams and I’ve got kind friends and family who understand how this affects me. Oh, and I’m very grateful knowing I have a friend who just happens to be a massage therapist. Now it is time for some healing, I don’t need this right now (or ever again, thanks).