31 December 2011

Lazy with Careless Abandon

I have been meaning to blog for days now, but my epic laziness keeps getting in the way of productivity. But trust me, "blog" has been on my to-do list for at least two days now. A person can do a lot more lazing during the day when they have someone else to relieve them of baby duty now and again! I have long days filled with fun projects (crafting, reading all about tiny houses (I have been on a tiny house kick lately), watching movies, learning about WWII (courtesy of Matt's new Christmas present), and reading books with baby), punctuated by bursts of "oh my gosh, what time is it, I need to be productive - STAT" (where I design things (including the most expensive house I've ever created brochures for: $19.9M), clean the house, and, of course, go to doctors appointments (PS Abigail doesn't need glasses or hearing aids, but there are a few things we have to keep an eye on)).

Anyway, we have also had a cold spell down here, plunging highs into the upper 60s to mid 70s. For my FL-converted blood, this means jeans, long sleeves, and sweaters or sweatshirts in the mornings. We hit the beach for our Christmas Beach Party on the first day of our cold spell, Wednesday.

One of the joys of being a designer is getting custom invites for every little get-together you have.
It was a light turn-out, but still a lot of fun. Turns out everyone around here goes home for Christmas. Ah, the joys of having money. But the rest of us got together in the afternoon and stayed until sunset. As the day went along, Matt and I deemed the theme of the party "lazy with careless abandon."

Falling asleep at the beach - all bundled up from the cool breeze.

What is this business about a camera? (Later it became, Can I eat this camera?)

When we leave Naples, we aren't going to remember the days we sat at home on the couch. But we'll remember times like these.



Confessions:
-I am on a homemade apple pie kick. I made some for the first time for Christmas and it was incredibly delicious. Good for taste buds, not good for weight loss.
-I let Abigail sleep on her tummy. She is very congested and she breathes a lot easier on her tummy, so when I sneak into her room to check on and discover that she's flipped over, I let her stay that way.
-I love baby pajamas almost as much as I love baby blankets. There is something so cute about her little body clothed from head to toe in a soft, baby-print fabric. Abigail got these for Christmas and I pretty much just let her live in them.
-Between May and now, I have only lost half the baby weight, but my laziness stalled the weight loss process in early December and have only lost 3 lbs all month, and I gained 2 of them back over Christmas. Oi!

2011 has been amazingly crazy. I started out the year by quitting my job after my boss tried to break copyright laws. I started this year four months pregnant. Then our car died. And we bought a new one. We found out that our baby had a serious series of heart defects. We moved back to Michigan. We gave birth to our first child. Our first child had heart surgery. We moved back to Florida. We had to have our apartment fogged due to a roach infestation. We are experiencing a financial low point.
2011 has taught me that it is okay to depend on your friends. I learned that I'm not a bad mom. I learned how to be happy even when things in life are more pain than joy. I learned that I'm smarter than I think I am. I learned never to burn bridges. I learned that some things and some people do change. I learned that even when I'm mad at God, God still loves me. I learned that some things in life happen and it isn't always my fault. I learned that life is 85% mindset, determination, and will power and 15% luck and circumstance. I am learning not to underestimate the 85% or overestimate the 15%.

Being the goal-oriented, to-do list maker that I am, you can bet I am all about New Year's Resolutions. A few years ago, I tried to convince myself that they were a silly fad used to generate more sales, but I have to admit, for the last month, I have been looking forward to this day. I could come up with 100 more, but I figure having too many is a recipe for disaster. Okay, so here are my resolutions (in no particular order):
#1: Resurrect my prayer life
#2: Hit my goal weight by graduation
#3: Take more pictures
#4: Read more books, watch less tv/movies
#5: Learn to be less jealous of other people's joys and successes & more satisfied with my own lot in life.

So, to all my loyal blog readers out there, the ones who have been with me since the beginning and the ones who found me at some point along the way and found something worth sticking around for: What do I love about right now? You.

27 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Is it already the 27th?! We had a wonderful Christmas, and although Abigail had no idea why we were so excited, she just fed off our joy and was super smiley, which made us happy, which made her smiley-er. You see where I'm going with this. I'm pretty sure her favorite part of Christmas was crumpling up the wrapping paper. The opening presents one-by-one thing turned out to be way fun and we kept it up until after breakfast (which was about 11:30 or so after church and breakfast), at which point we tore open all the rest of the presents and then sat back half in awe of our new gifts and half struggling to keep the anticlimactic feelings at bay. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing day though, and we kept the good feelings rolling through to yesterday, although today is looking more and more like a day for productivity punctuated by an evening with a new movie.

Matt has two opinions on LexisNexis. A very official, important database for lawyer types. JSTOR for lawyers, if you will. We're very excited and proud. This means that when other lawyers hop online to research for cases and opinions that could help their case, two opinions that Matt wrote (and were issued by judges) could pop up. I am of the opinion that someone should now pay him tens of thousands of dollars to sit in their offices and write more brilliant opinions ; )

Now onto a tangent. I have a hard time saying, "no." It is a simple word, one that kids are quick to learn, excited to repeat. But for some reason, when people accost us at the store and want to touch Abigail's cheek, or let her grab their hands, or jiggle her foot, I find it impossible to say no. It isn't a flattery thing, most of the time Matt and I talk badly about the rude intruders once they turn their back. I apologize to Abigail and cover her in Purell. I've tried the defensive maneuvers: pretending I don't see the offender and darting into another aisle before than can catch us, lowering the canopy of the carseat down so that only the very tips of her toes peak out. It helps a little, but some persistent little buggers just lean over, tipping farther and farther to the side, reaching in, and grabbing a hold of some part of my little child. Before I had a baby, I was the parent running around saying that it is important for kids to be exposed to germs; it helps them build up their immune systems! I decried parents today who disinfect every surface their child touches. But Down syndrome issued a new era into our lives: the era of compromised immune system. The era of tiny nasal passages that are very easily congested. The era of hell yes we discourage our child from finding germs because it will hit her harder and stay with her longer. I even know what to say, I've practiced it in front of the mirror. I'll just smile politely while batting their hands away or pulling Abigail away or both and say, "I'm sorry, I don't know you." That's it. But for some reason, whenever I see some little old lady start smiling at Abigail, I just feel bad for being "rude."

One time I did succeed, though. One time when I was standing at the end of the cart while Abigail was in her carseat in the front of the cart, I was distracted with the cashier when the lady behind us in line started zeroing in on Abigail. "Oh thank you," I said and lowered her canopy down, pushed the cart ahead of me, and positioned myself between the lady and Abigail. I felt so awkward. I wanted to explain that she'd recently had heart surgery. That she has Down syndrome. That nothing was what it seemed. The cashier seemed to take forever, I stood there in awkward silence, I felt horrible. But now, looking back? I am so proud of myself for standing up to that lady. So here again I resolve, the next nice, polite lady who tries to appreciate my baby in a hands-on style will be nicely and politely declined. No touchy.

24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Tonight is Christmas Eve and I'm pretty excited about it. Matt and I each opened one present, they were both for Abigail. She was sleeping, but we'll show her in the morning. We are going to prolong the excitement of opening presents tomorrow by opening them one at a time throughout the day. For example, we'll open one tomorrow before church, then one again after church, then one after breakfast, so on and so forth until they are all open. Savoring the shape, the pretty paper, the excitement of a new, unopened package.

I'm knitting Abigail a new blanket. (Have I mentioned that I'm obsessed with baby blankets?) I'm scared to count how many she has. But every time I see one, I love it all the more. We also skyped with Matt's parents and a few of his siblings today, which made me want to pack up the car and drive straight home. But alas, we're still in Florida.

What is Christmas without a bunch of parties, though? So we planned a giant bash at the beach for next Wednesday. A post-Christmas party where we all bring our leftovers and have a white-elephant gift exchange. We invited somewheres around 80 people, and so far we have three maybes and two yeses. It appears that everyone went home for the holidays. Oh well, I guess we'll have the beach to ourselves.

I'm looking forward to good food and relaxing tomorrow. If only dinner could cook itself...

22 December 2011

A New Journey

Phew, all my physical changes now complete! In keeping with the spirit of the rest of my blog make-over, I am going to try to add more photos in posts from now on. I have found that other people's blogs are so much more interesting when they have photos and that posts of mine with photos have more page-views. So voila! Hopefully my photography skills will improve as I take more photographs.

I've been thinking about what I want to blog about all day; I've compiled quite the compendium. I think I'll keep it short and sweet, but I have a few ideas for future posts.

#1: I hate insurance companies. They do random things like refuse to pay for physicians visits if they are related to a surgery. WTF? Confession: Abigail's secondary insurance is Medicaid. It is against our political philosophies to be on government aid, but without it, we'd be financially bankrupt. We've already paid thousands of dollars in medical bills from before we applied. Since we've applied, our insurance company has denied enough coverage to buy a car. A nice car. We're still try to work out our political philosophy conundrum.

#2: I love feeding Abigail solids. Especially when I get to open a new jar. I love picking out a new flavor, opening the tiny little jar, scooping some out onto a tiny baby spoon, her little mouth open wide, ready for deliciousness, her smiley face when I praise her for eating. I love it. Because of her slow weight-gain, the pediatrician wants her primarily on formula with only 1 solid feeding per day. I relish that 1 per day.


#3: I think I am finally done cooking, cleaning, decorating, and shopping. I am so ready for Christmas!

Two strands of garland (one pictured above), homemade for $2 total. It also appears that I need to dust my bookshelves.

#4: I bought new patio chairs. We used to have two $10 folding camping chairs. Mine is about 7 years old, and about a month ago, finally starting ripping apart. Matt's only lasted about 3 years before the seat completely gave way. I have been dreaming and researching our options since we moved into this apartment in September, but even a Craigslist patio furniture set was too expensive. I finally settled on some Adirondack-style chairs from Bed Bath and Beyond. After doing some cat sitting for a friend for extra cash and saving up 20% off coupons, I scored the chairs for $16/piece. Furniture is much easier to photograph than a baby.

Now my for signature ending: What do I love about right now? That my to-dos until Christmas are finally done!

Part-ay!

19 December 2011

Tis the Season

I no longer want to blog. That is the cold, hard truth of the matter. The reason is a bit more complicated. As I've blogged about a million times before, I struggle with keeping blog posts related to being a law school wife nowadays, as my life is filled with being a mother. I don't know where the line is and I'll admit, I've had quite a number of baby-only posts, especially over the summer. But the truth is, that is the way I want it. My life has changed drastically over the last two and a half years. I am no longer the newly wed, jetting off to Florida, afraid of loosing my husband to the law library and eating dinner alone. I am a new person, a person with more responsibilities; my previous self seems immature, although I know she was growing and was faced with new challenges that helped her young self become stronger. But here I am now: the wife to a law school student and the mother to a baby girl with Down syndrome and a heart condition. So I am not satisfied or fulfilled to simply write about the world of law school. Sometimes I want to blog, but my ideas are off-topic. And then I no longer want to blog.

One of Abigail's therapies involves sitting upright on a yoga ball. At first, we just put her down in the middle of the ball and didn't move it. Abigail's abs were so weak that merely holding herself up was a workout. We coaxed her to "find her middle," meaning, to sit upright instead of leaning forward, backward, or sideways. Once she become stronger and conquered sitting in the middle of the ball, we started to move it around, all the while encouraging her to "find her middle," sometimes it involves using more abs or more multifidus muscles (I think that is the muscle that runs along the spine, right?) Well, my middle shifted. Now I need to engage the mommy skills. My homemaker skill-set is changing. I need to find my new middle. I can no longer maintain a blog strictly about being married to a law school student.

So we are regrouping. That is what I want to talk about. Because of my conscious decision to make the content more "memoir" and less "law school," I am also going to do a little remodeling on the physical look of the blog. The new us. Sometimes law school wife, sometimes baby girl mommy, sometimes 25-year-old who can still get away with pink converse sneakers. Memoirs. Of finding my middle? Maybe. Just maybe.

17 December 2011

Holiday Spirit

It has been pretty wonderful around here! Matt is around all the time to help out with Abigail, which is such a relief! I can run errands, do some design work, bake. The apartment has been successfully fogged. The process was surprisingly easier than anticipated, although it was a major help to have Matt around to help lug around boxes. The bug guy said to expect a 70% decrease with an eventual 100% decrease by mid-January, but I would say the roaches have decreased by 90% already. Today we even made cookies! We have also decorated for Christmas, I've been working on Abigail's Christmas outfit, and making a few little Christmas crafts (door wreath for $7). I just can't get over how much easier life is with Matt around. I totally feel like a single parent when he's in school and studying all the time. In other good news, some appointments were rearranged and now I only have 1 the week after Christmas!

Work is picking up though, (yay, tourist season), and I'm looking at a pretty steady supply between now and graduation. Still part time from home.

Anyway, I really don't want to go to bed, but I am exhausted plus we still have to get up for Church in the morning. Yay Christmas Bliss!

14 December 2011

Crazy Town

It is crazyville over here: busy, busy, busy. I expected the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to be extremely slow, so I let my clients know I could take on extra work, but instead it has become rather hectic and now I'm kinda swamped!

We're busy with the baby. We just switched pediatricians and her new pediatrician, though I love him, gave me a stack of referrals on Friday. So I've been calling around trying to schedule appointments. New therapists, increased therapy, ear, lung, and nose specialist (all three in one, thankfully), lung and pulmonary specialist, thyroid tests, a new geneticist, all the standard stuff. It's particularly busy because at 6 months, Down's kids get tested for all kinds of extra things, but Abigail hit 6 months right before Thanksgiving, so we waited until between holidays to see the pediatrician. But anyway, this means 2-3 appointments a week into January and 1-2 appointments a week through February.

We're also having our apartment fogged this week. The roaches have gotten so awful in the kitchen. I can't stand it anymore and the monthly sprays aren't doing anything. So we have to clear out everything (pots, pans, dishes, food) from the kitchen and clear off the counters in the bathroom. Then we pack up the baby and the kitties and vacate for 5 hours while they spray toxic chemicals designed to kill roaches on contact. They assure us they won't be absorbed into fabrics. After the spraying, they will still have to come out once a week to do "clean outs" that involve spraying more chemicals into my cupboards to make sure anyone still surviving dies. All the roaches are either old enough to have been living here before we moved in or from just-hatched eggs laid by old roaches. The people who lived here before us must have been complete slobs for the problem to get this bad. I'm pretty annoyed at my apartment complex for not taking care of this problem earlier. I was already calling during our first week here to complain about the roach quantity!

Anyway, Matt finally finished his last final yesterday, so he's going to be able to contribute a lot more time and energy. We're going to divide up the day to determine "Abigail shifts" so I can get work done and Matt can work on some of his todos (job hunting mostly). We also finally got Abigail a crib, which meant putting it together, discovering that it couldn't fit in the doorway to her room, taking the door off the hinges, and squeezing it in.

Oy! Plus let's add decorating to the mix. Once the fogging is over, then we will finally be able to decorate for Christmas!

What do I love about right now? Hmmm...that Abigail finally has a crib.

10 December 2011

Alone with my thoughts

Matt is at the library studying for his last final, which will be on Tuesday. Abigail is sleeping. Both cats are sleeping. I am waiting for 9pm (it is currently 8:32pm) in order to watch the next gop debate and decide which of the candidates is the lesser of all evils.

Oh, kitty #2 woke up (the fluffy, white, deaf one).

Friday included a trip to the pediatrician and a series of vaccines, which always make Abigail very sick and fussy for the next few days.

Kitty #2 is on the kitchen table (where she is not allowed to be), but I am not looking, which means I can pretend I don't know where she is.

So yes, fussy, tired, unhappy baby. Fun, fun.

Kitty jumped down of her own accord.

I am stoked for the end of finals when I finally have a full-time husband back. Only one more semester of law school left! We are going out on an *official* date after school ends. I have yet to ask the babysitter (it will be the first time!), but she's already volunteered several times, so I don't think it will be a problem. Matt and I plan to go rock wall climbing (my first time), for a bike ride around the mansion district, and finish up with a low-key dinner at the local steak-n-shake.

This is what we have been up to in the meantime:

My back-up babysitter when I'm in a pinch.


I guess we're going to have to start using the seatbelt.


Pink track suits make us happy.

What do I love about right now? Hmmm...the strand of Christmas lights decorating the lanai, loosing baby weight, having the house to myself (well, with myself and kitty #2)

This is kitty #2 a few years ago when she was still a kitten and we still lived in Michigan.

07 December 2011

I'm gunna miss this town

Back when we were still choosing a law school, a practicing attorney gave Matt a piece of advice: "pick a place where you can live for three years." My advice? Screw location. Why? Because there are things to love about every place.

If we chose a school based on location, Matt would be studying law in Michigan. No doubt. Three years ago, I would have said there is no way I can survive in Florida. None. I thought I would melt if temperatures got above 75*. But now, if the temps are 75*, I'm wearing jeans! I wasn't a big fan when we first moved down here. Too hot. Too humid. The stores and gas stations are all grouped together in the middle of the city. I hated it. But now...Now I think I'm really gunna miss this place in 5 months.

I'm going to miss the beach and the sun streaming through my windows everyday. I'm going to miss the tropical flowers and the tall palm trees. I'm going to miss the wildlife, the birds, the cougars, the alligators, the geckos. I'm going to miss that every street has a divided median that is meticulously landscaped. I'm going to miss the dramatic rainstorms and the smell of salty water. I'm going to miss a well-laid-out town and that almost every store you could want is at one intersection. I'm going to miss the ghost-town feel of Naples during the summer, when you can get the best parking spot nearly every time you go out. I'm going to miss the zoo with the lion who will without fail roar at least once every time you visit. I'm going to miss the architecture - Spanish and Mediterranean and Old Florida and Caribbean and Asian - of the houses and stores and even some restaurants. I'm going to miss courtyards and lanais and sliding glass doors that stay open for months at a time. Naples is gorgeous. This city takes way better care of its appearance than any city I've ever been in before. Even the cities immediately to the north and south pale in comparison. Naples also has way better beaches - the best I've ever laid out on. Way better than South Beach, prettier sand, softer sand. And South Beach can't give you a sunset.

Living in Naples has opened me up to a whole world of new experiences. Day laborers waiting out front of a bakery, desperate for 10 hours of work. Good friends from Central America and Africa with entirely new ways of looking at the world. A priest who served for years in the Caribbean and sprinkles his homilies with stories of surviving hurricanes. Hearing Creole at a gas station for the first time.

And my collection of life stories has grown by the truckload. Like how about that time we went camping on an island? Or the time we were photographing a property and I realized I was staring at three real Emmy awards? Or the time I saw a bald eagle chasing an osprey just a few feet in front of me? Or the giving birth and open heart surgery in Michigan, then driving 1300 miles back home thing? The roach endemic I'm living through right now is pretty hard core too.

So yes, I recommend selecting your law school based on that school's credentials because I cannot stress to you how much a new, inhospitable place might turn into home.

03 December 2011

The Story of My Life

Those of you who regularly follow my blog know that I often struggle with the desire to write posts where I can vent to my imagined sympathetic reader about my trials as the mother of a Down syndrome baby. The tag line of my blog is "my life as a law school wife," yet some of my struggles are about my life, but not as a law school wife. Today was one of those really hard days where I just want to pour my heart out to you, releasing the pain that comes from acquiring life stories. But I do not want this to be "my life as a special needs mother." So here I am, caught in the crux, trying to find a way to relate my experience to being in law school so that I have an excuse to vent.

But I can't think of a way.

So I guess we'll proceed with the regular course of things.

I have a husband again. The school decided to break up finals into three weeks this year (reason unknown), but Matt's are such that he had two this past week and has one the week after next. Read: He doesn't have another exam for nearly a week and a half. Read: He is taking the entire weekend off. Read: YAY!!! He did the dishes last night. He went grocery shopping with me today. He may even join us for the upcoming appointments with the pediatrician, cardiologist, ophthalmologist, and physical therapist (nearly all of Abigail's 6-month follow-up appointments are falling between Thanksgiving and Christmas). I am amazed at how much lighter my burden is when I have someone else to help me carry it. I wonder if this is what life will be more like once he graduates and has a job. Will he have evenings and weekends free? Or will he have one of those stereotypical lawyer jobs that requires extended hour work-weeks and  taking one's work home?

27 November 2011

Post Thanksgiving/Finals Update

I expected the week after Thanksgiving to go by slowly, but instead it flew! And here we are on Sunday night, the eve of the first week of finals. At least I finished my weekend to do list. So, briefly:

-Matt and I did a little Black Friday shopping (don't worry, we didn't hit the stores until nearly 9am). It was the first time I've been to the mall since giving birth and I decided to take Abigail in the stroller to protect against back pain. On the upside, Abigail was in heaven as we combined her two favorite things: taking walks in strollers and shopping. She was really happy. On the downside, mall store aisles are not designed for strollers. Throw in crowds of people and I found myself running desperately short in the patience department. To end on a positive note, we also hit up Joann Fabrics and I bought a huge bag of yarn and filled in a few gaps in my crochet hook collection on a steep discount. I am now working on another baby blanket after finishing up another hat and pair of legwarmers. It's a good thing I had a girl first.

-Matt is home all the time now, which I find wonderful. He has been incredibly generous and thoughtful as of late. Making breakfast, helping with Abigail, taking her in the morning and letting me crash for another hour. He even put her to bed tonight so I could hit the fitness center at our apartment complex. One morning I even declared him super dad. Plus I love spending all day with him, even if it involves him sitting at his desk. He does take breaks with us in the evening to go for a sunset walk.

-Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Matt and I like to give something up for this penitential season, so we're each attempting to ditch some bad habits. I also found out that the church we attend has perpetual adoration! (I have been looking since we moved to Naples. No one's website makes any mention of such fact). Anyway, I think it would be wonderfully enriching if I went for one hour a week after Abigail goes to bed. Matt could stay home and study with her and I would get out of the house, get me time, and salvage some of my prayer life! Also, the priest at confession yesterday advised me to try to say one Hail Mary at a time scattered throughout the day instead of fretting because I don't say a whole Rosary everyday. It is amazing quickly God responds when you actually start trying to deepen your relationship.

-I finally got my haircut yesterday (first time in over a year!) and the hairstylist thought I was 16. Nope, 25, in fact. I don't mind at all looking younger than I really am, but it reminded me of the days when I was pregnant and I would get lectures from complete strangers about having a baby and being a teenager. No joke. But I think it's funny.

-weather good, work good, life good. I am trying sooooo incredibly hard to stay balanced and avoid the Zoloft.
Do you want to know what I love about right now? How productive my evening has been!

18 November 2011

Finals Prep and 6 Month Birthdays

Today is Abigail is 6 months old. Although I've never celebrate a half birthday for anyone before, being a first-time mother who loves holidays, I'm excited to squeeze one in before Thanksgiving. I had planned to spend all of today doing things Abigail loves to do, including taking a walk, going to the bookstore and picking out a new book, and playing with her favorite toys. But it just so happens that today is the first day in more than a week that it has rained, (it, no walk) and also the first time in a long time that it was Matt's turn to carpool (no car = no bookstore). To make matters even worse, Abigail's sleep schedule is all messed up and she's been spending most of the day napping. So yes, here we are. I feel kind of silly rescheduling for tomorrow since today isn't really much of a holiday, so I'm using the excuse that we need to "get out of the house" in order to move forward with the planned festivities.

Why do we need to "get out of the house?" Two reasons, #1 the doctor said to. I finally successfully had an appointment with my obgyn (I slacked making the initial phone call, then we had repeated rescheduling). She did officially diagnose me with post-partum depression. She recommends getting out of the house once in a while (even if it means taking Abigail), getting plenty of sleeping (going to bed at 8pm twice a week), getting me-time once in a while (even if only for 3 hours after Abigail goes to bed), eating right, and exercising. Oh yes, and Zoloft. I really wanted to save medication for a last resort, but she prefers that I take it for at least 6 weeks before considering a therapist. Honestly, though, I haven't been taking it. It makes me feel very tired and spaced-out; I'd rather deal with the depression.

Reason #2: next Tuesday is Matt's last day of class, which means that the week after Thanksgiving is the first week of finals. Matt still hasn't entered full crazy study mode, but he is halfway there. For some reason, a bunch of organizations of which he is a member having things going on this week that are keeping him distracted. Abigail and I plan to disappear in the morning/afternoon, removing his #1 distraction so that he can get lots of work done.

Two birds with one stone.

Do you want to know what I love about right now? That it almost feels like fall outside. After a week of temps in the mid-80s, we finally have "cold" (thermo reads 74*, cold for me), windy, rainy, cloudy. It almost feels like Michigan except that it is still very humid outside. But for now I think this totally calls for a pair of jeans and a mug of hot chocolate.

11 November 2011

Happy Days (And I am Grateful)

If you'll remember, about a week ago, I decided to be more grateful. That decision has made a massive change in my paradigm. I feel so much more positive about my life, hopefully about my future, and better about myself. Thinking about the things I am thankful for has made me focus on how much is going right in my life instead of complaining so much about all the things I wanted to change. I have only made a habit of this practice for about a week now, so we'll see what happens when my post partum depression cycles me back into the pits of despair (still trying to get approval from my doctor so that insurance will cover the costs of getting help). But in the meantime, I think I am a better (more affirming!) mom and cheerier wife (would you agree, dear? Do you read this anymore?)

I'm getting better at balancing all my responsibilities (practice makes perfect!). Clients, chores (that reminds me, I have laundry that needs folding), AbbyClaire, fun (knitting baby legwarmers). On Tuesday, the physical therapist showed us some new exercises for Abigail (baby side planks, anyone?), which I'm looking forward to doing because the old ones were getting boring. I may even steal the car and take my baby to the beach early one morning before the hubby has class : )

Feet in the Gulf! 10/1/11 - 4 months

You know what I love about right now? Sleeping babies, 79*, 55% humidity, good smelling breeze, and happy music.

10 November 2011

Baby Crochet Patterns Revealed!

Hello all my crafting friends! Below are the patterns for Abigail's famous hats. As I am working, I regularly check the pattern against Abigail and adjust my inc and dec as necessary to ensure a proper fit. Enjoy!

Note to regular readers: I apologize for this interruption, but I am going to steal a blog entry for the purpose of baby patterns. I have had several Facebook friends request these patterns, but since Facebook Notes are awful, I decided to redirect to this blog. If you are not a crafter, please excuse this post. New regular post coming tomorrow.

First, let me give you lots of free flower patterns so that you can add whichever one you like best to the hats.

Newsboys Cap
(Credit)


Sizes: Small: 0-6 months, 15” circumference
Medium: 6-12 months, 17” circumference
Large: 12-24 months, 19” circumference

Materials: medium weight yarn, crochet hooks sizes G (4.0mm) and H (5.0 mm), yarn needle

Pattern:
Worked in the round
1. Ch 5 and join with slip stitch to create circle
2. Ch2, dc 10 times in circle (place marker for beginning of round if necessary)
3. dc twice in each stitch around (20)
4. [dc 1, dc twice in the next stitch] repeat all the way around (30)
5. [dc 2, dc twice in next stitch] repeat around (40)
6. [dc 3, dc twice in next stitch] repeat around (50) Size small move on to step 9
7. for medium and large sizes only: [dc 4, dc twice in next stitch] repeat around (60) Size medium move on to step 9
8. large size only: [dc 5, dc twice in next stitch] repeat around (70)
9. dc in each stitch for several rounds until hat measures 5.25” (5.75”, 6.25”) from crown
10. ch1, sc in each stitch around

Brim: Worked back and forth
1. Turn work. ch 1, skip first sc, sc 4, sc twice in next stitch, sc 12 (16, 20), sc twice in next stitch, sc 4, sc2tog (you should be roughly less than half way to the other side)
2. ch 1 and turn work. Skip first sc and sc across until 2 stitches remain. Sc2tog
3. ch 1 and turn work. Skip first sc, sc 4, sc twice in next stitch, sc until 7 stitches remain. Sc twice in next stitch, sc 4, sc2tog.
4. ch 1 and turn work. Skip first sc and sc across until 2 stitches remain. Sc 2tog Size small: proceed to step 5. Sizes medium and large: repeat steps 3 and 4 once more or until brim is the size you want. I have found it works better on a baby to make it smaller than you would think so it doesn’t get in their way.
5. Switch to H hook. Do not turn work. Outside of hat should be facing you. Continuing from the brim, sc down the edge of brim then sc in every stitch around the hat. Sc up the other side of the brim. Size small: join with slip stitch on the opposite side of the brim. In other words, don’t make another single crochet row on the brim unless you want more brim. Sizes medium and large: continue across brim and join with a slip stitch where you started.
6. Break yarn and weave in ends

Flower:
1. ch 6. join with slip stitch
2. [sc in center, ch3] five times, join with slip stitch. These form the petals. Repeat this step once more if you prefer six.
3. [sc in new loop, ch1, hdc 3 times, ch1, sc] in each petal. Join with slip stitch.
4. Break yarn leaving a long tail for sewing.

Cloche(Credit) Note: almost every time I open the link, my computer freezes; open at your own risk.


Materials: medium weight yarn, crochet hooks size H (5.0 mm), yarn needle

PatternFoundation Ring: Chain four. Join with a slip stitch to form a ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as first hdc here and in subsequent rounds; it may be helpful to place a stitch marker in the first ch 2 and move it up to mark the beginning of each round). 6 half-double-crochet in ring. Join with a sl st in top of chain 2. (You should have 7 hdc)

Round 2: Ch 2. One hdc in same space as last sl st. 2 hdc in each hdc around. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (You have increased 7 hdc for a total of 14 hdc)

Round 3: Ch 2. 1 hdc in same space as sl st. * 2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in next hdc.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (21 hdc)

Round 4: Ch 2. 1 hdc in next hdc. * 2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in next 2 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (28 hdc)

Round 5: Ch 2. 1 hdc in same space as sl st. 1 hdc in each of next 2 hdc stitches. *2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 3 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (35 hdc)

Round 6: Ch 2. 1 hdc in each of next 3 hdc stitches. *2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 4 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (42 hdc)

Round 7: Ch 2. 1 hdc in each of next 4 hdc stitches. *2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 5 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** around to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. Join with a sl st in top of ch 2. (49 hdc)

Row 8 (this is the last increase row): Ch 2. 1 hdc in each of next 15 hdc stitches. *2 hdc in next hdc. 1 hdc in each of next 15 hdc stitches.** Repeat from * to ** to last hdc. 2 hdc in last hdc. (you have increased 3 hdc for a total of 52 hdc)

Row 9: Ch 2. 1 hdc in same space as sl st. 1 hdc in each hdc around. Join with a sl st in the top of ch 2. (52 hdc)

Rows 10-11: Repeat Row 9. (52 hdc)

Row 12 (this is a decrease row): Ch 2. 1 hdc in same space as sl st. Hdc in the next hdc and each of the next 14 hdc stitches. Now you will work a decrease hdc [to dhdc, (yarn over, insert hook in next hdc, yo, draw loop through) two times, yo, draw through all 5 lps on hook]. *Hdc in next 15 hdc stitches. Work one dhdc.** Repeat from * to ** one more time and finish round with a sl st in the top of ch 2. (49 hdc)

Row 13 (this is the eyelet row): Ch 3 (counts as first hdc and ch-1 sp). Skip the next hdc. *Double crochet in the next hdc. Ch 1. Skip the next hdc.* Repeat around and finish with a sl st in the 2nd ch of the beginning ch-3. (25 ch-1 spaces and 25 dc)

Shell edging: Ch 2. Dc in same space. Skip the next ch-1 space. Sl st in the next dc. *Skip the next ch-1 sp. Work 3 dc in the next dc. Skip the next ch-1 sp. Sl st in the next dc.** Repeat from * to ** around to the last dc. Sk next ch-1 space. 3 dc in last dc. Sk next ch-1 space. Work 1 dc in base of the beginning ch-2 and sl st in top of the beginning ch-2 to complete the shell. (13 shells)
Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Flower
Foundation ring: Chain 4. Join with a sl st to form ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as dc). 13 dc in center of ring. (14 dc)

Round 2: Ch 5 (counts as first dc and ch-3). Skip next dc. *Dc in next dc. Ch 3. Sk next dc.** Repeat from * to ** around and finish with a sl st in the 2nd chain of the beginning ch-5. (7 ch-3 spaces and 7 dc)

Round 3 (this is the back row of petals): *In next ch-3 space work (single crochet, hdc, 3 dc, hdc sc).** Repeat from * to ** around and join with a sl st in the first sc. (7 petals)

Now slip stitch around the post of the beginning double crochet to work your way down to round 1. Slip stitch through the first skipped dc in that round.

Round 4: Ch 3. *Sl st in the next skipped dc. Ch 3.** You have created a ch-3 space in front of the first dc from round 2. Repeat from * to ** around and finish with a slip stitch in the base of the first ch-3.

Round 5 (this is the front row of petals): (sc, hdc, 2 dc, hdc, sc) in each ch 3 space around to form seven petals. Join with a sl st in the first sc.
Fasten off. Leave a tail of yarn to attach the flower to the cloche.

08 November 2011

The Kind of Person I Want to Be

Behavioral psychology has long affirmed that rewarding positive behavior is much more effective than punishing bad behavior when it comes to eliciting desired actions. (If I were speaking to my husband, at this point he would demand a citation. I don't have one; however, my creds include a minor in psychology, if that helps). For example, it would be a lot more effective to praise a child for putting her toys away than to scold her for leaving the room a mess.

If we take this train of thought a step further, I theorize that is it more effective to imagine yourself possessing the attributes you want rather than to make a list of things you don't like about yourself. My personal mission statement includes four characteristics and in order to imagine myself possessing those characteristics, I thought of a few role models. I try to remember how they acted in certain situations when I imagine how I would like to respond.

My desired characteristics:
-Sweet (ie, friendly and considerate; willing to go an extra mile to ease someone else's journey). Role model: CB. A good friend from college, CB was the very epitome of sweet. Without fail, she laughs at everyone's jokes, is quick to ask questions and listen to answers, and is very complimentary. She has few enemies and everyone feels comfortable in her presence. I try to remember CB when I meet new people and establish new relationships.

-Loving (patient and affirming; sincerely desire and encourage others’ betterment). I can think of a million people who have loving traits, but here' the best two. One: MM. MM loves her husband so much so that it only takes a few minutes of time with her to see how deep her love is. There is no doubt in my mind that she sincerely desires her husband's betterment. She is constantly thinking of him and what he would prefer whenever she makes decisions. Once MM told me that her mother was very affirming and always had a positive thing to say. I never met MM's mother, but that leads me to No. Two: LK. With a handful of kids, it would be easy to feel overwhelmed, but LK is consistently encouraging and patient. Whenever one of her kids shouts, "Mama, look at me!" She unfailingly responds with, "Wow, you are so strong" or "fast" or "beautiful." She is so patient and calm with her kids when they become frustrated. She is probably the best mom I know.

-Humble (selfless and possess a willingness to learn from others; a true understanding of my place in God’s world). Although I don't know her very well, every time I see her, LE is always very holy and humble. She attributes successes not to her own strengths, but from the gifts she receives from God. Whenever she is struggling, she chastises herself for her weakness and reminds herself to trust God. One doesn't have to know her for long to know that she places God at the center of her life. Her humility really shines through in that I don't feel like a Catholic failure when she talks; I am continually encouraged with renewed determination in my own faith.

-Disciplined (obedient and responsible; doing what is right even when no one else is looking). I know two people who most exhibit discipline. The first is JS. JS keeps his word like nobody's business. I've never seen someone do what they said they were going to do as consistently as him. I get the impression that if someone were to read the story of his life, they would find a lot of closed door prayers. No. Two: RD. When RD sets her mind to something, she does not stop trying until she achieves success. What makes her so exemplary is that sometimes she is terrible at the things she attempts, but she still pushes through and finishes the task. I think that means she is even more disciplined because she plows through even when people only have negative things to say.

Anyway, these are all reflectios on my journey to become the best wife and mother than I can be.

I never realized I had so many friends! You know what I love about right now? That I have so many role model friends : )

06 November 2011

Day Trip: Miami


Bienvenido a Miami!
Law school finally gave us a free perk: a day trip to Miami! On Saturday, Matt had an exam in Miami, the MPRE, a test for lawyers-to-be on the ethical guidelines designed by some random association, so Abigail and I tagged along. I wanted to visit Miami at some point while we are down here, since we are only about 2 hours away, but for one reason or another, we never got around to going. But I viewed his test as the perfect excuse.

Before we left, I did a lot of research on free things to do in Miami. I planned for Abigail and I to visit two free gardens and South Beach while Matt was in his test, then all of us to go to Key Biscayne, then have dinner at the Rainforest Cafe before heading home in time for bed.

The day started out well enough. We drove east down a perfectly straight road, leaving at 6am with a 7:30 sunrise. Watching the sky light up in gorgeous deep yellows as the sun rose, reflecting in the swamp water and outlining the palm trees was amazing. Oh yes, and we saw some alligator road kill. Oy. After we dropped Matt off, Abigail and I headed further east to the Atlantic.

My hubby's mad photography skills as we head east in the Cyprus Swamp"

I had brought the stroller, hoping to spend a lot of time walking through free parks, but the first park was closed due to a bike race and the second one charged $15 for parking (but, of course, no admission fee). Thankfully South Beach was cheaper ($1.50 for 45 minutes) and easy to navigate at 9:00 in the morning. I did successfully manage to parallel park the manual Focus on Ocean Drive the first time around and Abigail and I walked along the beach (without the stroller. As it turns out, strollers can't handle sand). It was a PERFECT day for visiting the beach in my opinion: low 70s with a slight breeze, which means cozy-ing up in long pants and long sleeves. On the way to pick up Matt, Abigail fell asleep and I enjoyed driving over the various islands back to the mainland, even passing a port-of-call for the Caribbean Cruise-line and seeing a cruise ship up close for the first time.

South Beach, looking north.
When I picked up Matt around 11:30, traffic had started to pick up. And for the record, Miami drivers are TERRIBLE! We saw a total of 4 accidents during the trip, thankfully none of them involved our little red Focus. And the tolls. Expensive and plentiful. Key Biscayne was rather boring for someone not looking to drop any money, so we took a driving tour, but did find one place where we could pull off and stick our feet in the Atlantic for free. (Abigail has now visited more major bodies of water in her first 6 months of life than I did in my first 20 years). Since I haven't found a way to successfully mix babies and beaches yet, we didn't hang around for very long.

The Rainforest Cafe was a surprisingly good time. I was concerned about the noise level, but I asked the waitress to seat us near a fish tank and away from the animals. Abigail LOVED the fish tank and spent the entire time staring at the bright, tropical fish. We voted the Clown Trigger Fish to be the weirdest fish in the tank. I also got a $3 tank top and we kept dinner cheap by splitting an appetizer (it was also only 3pm, so we weren't all that hungry). Abigail was so enthralled by the fish that she used up all her energy and fell asleep in my arms as we wandered lost around the mall, trying to find our exit.

Then we ended the day by driving straight west during sunset. Gorgeous pinks this time. I also managed to beat Matt at 20 questions for the first time ever. And two times in a row (baby blankets and Cleopatra), plus guess his item for the first time ever. And two times in a row (Egypt and my engagement ring).

AbbyClaire excited that Mommy finally won 20 questions.

I am really glad to have experienced Miami, it has a much different vibe than any city I've ever been to, right down to its architecture, but I sure won't be sad if I never have the chance to visit again. It also really opened my eyes to the fact that I don't like mega-cities and I really hope Matt doesn't get a job in one. I have been to Chicago many-a-times and always thought I could live there, but now I'm not so sure. If nothing else, Miami made me glad I live in Naples. Naples really does have better beaches and a much better atmosphere for our lifestyle.

So you know what I love about right now? That where I live final feels like home.

05 November 2011

My Life in Pictures

Because pictures are fun : )

This is my husband and I on our wedding day in April 2008.  
I met Matt when I was 15. We were friends for two years, we dated for four years, we were engaged for one year, and we have been married for 3.5 years.


This is where I live. It is a swamp.Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

This is also where I live. My apartment is five miles from the beach. The beach at Naples Pier.
This is what it does everyday between June and November.


I took this photo with my cell phone camera while I was waiting at a red light in my car. This is not a hurricane, this is not a tropical storm. This is just Naples in the afternoon during the rainy season.


This is all three of us in June when Abigail was 10 weeks old.
We were living in Michigan at the time, between 2L and 3L years.

Abigail at 5 months of age.This is Abigail's determined face.



Belle, aka Baby Cat.
This is Baby Cat. My faithful companion. We adopted one another 5 years ago when I was in college. Now she is 11 years old.

Emma, aka Puffy.This is Emma, aka Seizure Cat. We adopted one another when she was a few months old from a shelter. Now she is 3.5 years old.

Matt's Desk
This is a view of where my husband lives from where I live.



My old car (left) and my new car (right). 
I get very emotionally attached to my cars. RIP, Contour. Welcome, Focus.



This is a night gecko. Day geckos are larger, greener, and more rare.
This picture was taken during the fall of 09. Shortly afterward, he was escorted outside before a kitty could find and dismember him.

Halloween 2011She went as a white tiger.

Well, those are the basics of my life in a few pictures. I think it is time to sign off now, as I am typing one handed and feeding a baby.

PS. You know what I love about right now? Having a digital camera to record some of these memories.

04 November 2011

I Am Grateful

I think that 90% of the time, coincidences are God's way of saying, "pay attention!" So, here I am, at attention.

A few weeks ago, Matt and I were reminiscing about how wonderful our first year of marriage was. We had a real income and few responsibilities. We regularly went biking, hiking, we stayed up late on weekends playing computer games and eating chili cheese potatoes. Compared to our current lifestyle, 2008 was a breeze. I spent the next week or so thinking about the past when it dawned on me to wonder what right now will look like five years from now. I brought it up to Matt and we imagined the things we'd reminisce about in 2016. "Remember when we were in law school and the only thing we had to worry about was class? Remember when we just called the maintenance man to fix the toilet? Or when you could just come home in the middle of the afternoon between classes? Or when we just had one baby and she was young enough to never cry unless she was tired or hungry? When we knew we had a loan check coming to help make ends meet? When we didn't have to pay down those loans? When we had a few weeks off at Christmas? Remember how awesome that was?" Matt looked at me, "maybe we should be grateful for what we have right now."

The very day after we had our discussion, another blog that I follow had a wonderful post on thankfulness. One of the ways she encourages her children to be grateful is to ask them what they love about that moment. You know what I love about right now? She'll ask.

I love the feel of my baby's warm body as she naps curled up next to me.
I love that she is didn't let her heart defects slow down her growth and development.
I love that my patio door is open and the breeze smells so good.
I love that I have a little black kitty cat with amber eyes and that she loves me back.
I love that I have a friend coming over in half an hour and that she enjoys hanging out with me as much as I enjoy hanging out with her.
I love that God gave us these amazing opportunities and that He gave us this coincidence to realize that we have them.

02 November 2011

Keeping Your Marriage Strong, 3L Year

A few days ago, Matt and I spoke on the panel for the Mock Class Wine and Cheese (as we did in 2010, and as we attended in 2009). The school priest said the same thing he's said the last two years, but it was good for me to hear it again. Take some time off, eat dinner together, etc, reminding me of how much work it takes to make a marriage strong. During the panel portion, we all said a few things that I realized would go well in this blog.

1. Don't get mad at each other. When your hubby is at the library until midnight again because of law review or finals or whathaveyou, don't get mad at him. Get mad at the law school, get mad at the class, get mad at the professor. Team up together and take your aggressions out on something else.

2. Recognize each other's sacrifices. It is easy to see what the spouse sacrifices while she's doing all the chores and maybe even supporting the family financially, but the student is sacrificing just as much. Matt doesn't get to spend nearly as much time with Abigail as he would like. He doesn't get to enjoy his hobbies. He doesn't get the feeling of fulfillment from providing for his family.

3. Celebrate the successes. There is nothing wrong with cheering for your husband when he walks in the door after turning in his paper or taking a tough exam. Go out to dinner, ice cream, something!

29 October 2011

A Girly Girl

Anyone who doesn't think that to some extent, gender roles are inherent ought to meet Abigail. She already behaves in stereotypically girly ways, and she is only 5 months old.

-She will talk to anything that crosses into her line of vision. And she will talk nonstop. She talks to me, she talks to toys, she talks to books, she talks to the cats, she talks to the ceiling fan, she talks to the box of instant pudding, she talks to her feet, she talks to her mobile, she talks to her wall decorations.

-The girl LOVES to shop. When we go out, she just stares at all the bright colors on the shelves, intermittently staring, talking to them, and reaching out with her wild, uncoordinated grasp. No matter what is wrong, if we go shopping, she instantly calms down. Her favorite store appears to be Target. Now that is definitely girly.

-Abigail is really into dressing up. Whenever I change her clothes, or even take off her pants to change her diaper, she smiles. She loves to stare at and hold her clothes before I put them on her and if I put a hat or headband on her head, she'll just reach up and hold it. (She also likes to look at other people's clothes, although I suspect that is a general baby thing).

-She is already a drama queen. Everything is either really exciting or really maddening. When she is tired, hungry, or happy, the whole world knows it.

-Lastly, she inexplicably prefers the pink rattle to the red and green rattle. I have no idea why, but she won't hold or shake the red and green rattle. They are identical other than the color. The first time I ever handed her the pink rattle, she grasped it with both hands and started banging it around.

There is no doubt about it, I gave birth to a girl.

27 October 2011

Embarrassing Parenting Moment

Last Sunday we slept in very late and ended up rushing around at the last minute to make it to an 11:45am Mass, to which we arrived in the parking lot at almost 12:00pm. In order to catch the Gospel (if your late enough to miss the Gospel, then you'd better mark off next Saturday to confess missing Mass), Matt dropped us off at the doors, then drove around to park the car in the back of the overflowing parking lot.

Normally I just bring Abigail and the diaper bag, but since we were in a hurry, I just grabbed the whole car seat and booked it to the church. Thankfully, none of the readings had started yet, so I straighten my clothes; I'd lost a few pounds and was feeling particularly dashing that morning. I was even wearing jeans to church, which I hadn't done in at least a year, and had paired them with sneakers and a loud, decorative scarf. Smirking with the knowledge that we'd made it on time, I searched for a place to sit. Now, showing up late to church is usually enough to get you some dirty looks from the more devout section of the congregation, but showing up late with a baby only gets you looks of sympathy and compassion, even though no one knows that the baby had nothing to do with our being late. I check on Abigail who was looking around the church contently and gripping her butterfly toy with two hands, a very cute pose.

I spotted an open seat at the end of a pew near the front of the church, along the row of pews to the side of the church. The only other lady in the short pew had a head full of gray hair the pew behind her was filled with nuns. Bingo! Little old ladies and nuns love babies! Surely they wouldn't begrudge a woman showing up late with her cute little baby! I looped around the back of the church and sauntered down the aisle, feeling everyone's eyes on Abigail as she sat quietly, looking adorable in her church dress and smiling cutely.

When I reached the pew, which remember was closer to the front of the church than the back, I made sure to genuflect properly, all the way down on one knee (sometimes I just bow and cross myself, it depends on how heavy Abigail feels that morning) and slid into the pew. I could already hear the lady next to us "awww"ing at Abigail when "SMACK," I rammed the car seat into the side of the pew. Although Abigail didn't cry, everyone was looking at us, the little old lady gasped, "oh!", the guy in the pew in front of us turned around, the people across the aisle way were watching, and although I didn't turn around to look, I could feel the nuns burning holes into my back with their eyes. Or maybe that feeling was just my ego plummeting to the ground. I sat down and quickly pulled Abigail out of the car seat and preoccupied myself with adjusting her outfit and giving her her butterfly toy.

Throughout the rest of Mass, Abigail was left to suffer the consequences of the wrath I'd incurred. When I propped her up on my shoulder and she smiled her big gummy grin at those nuns, I heard no chuckles of admiration. When it came time for the "peace be with yous," no one touched Abigail's leg gently and offered congratulations. And even though she peeped not once through the entire Mass, no one stopped us after the final hymn to tell us what a good baby she was.

Maybe everyone thought I was a single mom because Matt had to sit in the pew in front of us and no one knew we were together. Maybe it's because I look so young (when I was pregnant, someone gave my mom a few pointers on raising a pregnant teenager). Maybe it's because I rammed my baby into a pew, but for some reason, all the normal Sunday morning experiences were gone, especially my bloated ego.

26 October 2011

Work, Work, Work

It has been over a week since I last posted! I can see my readership statistics taking a jump off the deep end as a result. I haven't been blogging because I really don't have anything law school wife related to talk about. I don't usually do when we enter the doldrums of mid-semester. In the space in between settling down into the new routine and freaking out over finals, not much happens. I feel like I am walking a fine line with my blog because on one hand, I want this to be about being a law school wife, but on the other hand, it is my experience as life as a law school wife, and right now, my life consists of babies and freelancing design.

But I have nothing to post about in the world of law school, so in the interest of maintaining readership, I'll post about life in my wife-ly world. I am balancing an active baby and two large clients. I also just got a few one-time clients yesterday with small projects on short deadlines. Abigail naps 2-3 times a day and goes down for the night around 8pm. I try to do some design work for at least one of her naps and almost always after she goes down for the night. The second nap is usually timed to occur right as I am taking her for an afternoon walk in the stroller. If she takes a third nap, sometimes I do design or pay bills, but sometimes I take a break to read (or blog!). Abigail is going through a stage where she actually wants to sleep alone in her room or on our bed, so I am getting the chance to get some more work done. When she is awake, we usually alternate between tummy time and the Bumbo and we play with toys and read books. I am starting to introduce the Exersaucer (ours is jungle themed), for which she is old enough, but not big enough. I have to bolster her up with blankets and she still can't reach the toys along the rim, but she gets a huge kick out of watching me move them around.

As usual, we have our goals and to-do lists. We are trying to say a family Rosary daily (something we've never been good at), maintain productivity on the weekends, and I'm still trying to lose baby weight (goal: prepregnancy weight by Jan 1st). Matt is job hunting and the world is still turning. I am really struggling with the weekends right now, because changing the schedule can throw Abigail off for days at a time. So I am trying to be disciplined and not sleep in and stick to the routine when Matt's around.

17 October 2011

There Will Always Be More Work

It is very hard for me to wrap my mind around the concept that there will always be more work to do on any particular project. I like to sit down, dedicate everything I have to a certain task, finish it, and move on with life. If I have something that requires multiple follow-ups, it clutters up my mind and frustrates me. This characteristic keeps me incredibly productive, but encourages poor prioritizing.

For example, when I decide to straighten up the apartment (a morning chore for me), I need to straighten every surface in every room before I can move on. If the laundry needs to be switched from the washer to the dryer or Abigail gets fussy or the kitchen catches fire, it has to wait until I am done organizing before I can take care of this new problem. Or lets say I am working on a brochure for a client when Abigail gets hungry and Matt needs me to pack his lunch because he is running late. Oy. I have a really hard time switching gears between projects.

Having a baby has taught me a lot about coping with unfinished projects. No matter how well or quickly or thoroughly you change a diaper, you will always have to change it again in about 2-4 hours. It isn't like showering or doing the dishes, where you can sit back and say, "okay, now I am done doing this until tomorrow." I try to make to-do lists in the morning, so that if I don't get a chance to finish something, I don't have to try to remember to do it later, I know I can reference it on my to-do list the next time Abigail is napping. My other coping strategy is to verbalize to myself, "Abigail is more important than vacuuming." It helps me realize that my actions aren't matching up with my priorities.

Lastly, as I've mentioned before, I am kind of OCD, so I like to make lists, repeat things, and follow certain patterns. For some reason, repeating my responsibilities to myself helps me to feel like I have them under control. Having a to-do list is a less-stressful way to repeat all my tasks to myself. Since they are written down, I know I can reference them if I need to, so I don't freak out if I forget an item on the list.

09 October 2011

Adventures in Housewifery: Kitchen Edition

I am sick of my own cooking. A dietary staple in our house is a meatless spaghetti style dish. Add a jar of spaghetti sauce to noodles of your choice, sprinkle a little shredded cheddar cheese and call it a day. 4 servings, super cheap. The problem is that I don't really like pasta. I have been trying for a while to learn how to cook rice and beans. We're taking about the super cheap giant bag of dried stuff found only on the bottom shelf of the Mexican aisle. I finally cracked the rice code over the summer (simmer than pan on a SUPER low setting. Like, "1" on the stove dial. And a little extra water never hurt anyone). I am still working on beans. Maybe it's the fact that my slow cooker is older than I am, but either way, I'm still working out the kinks. Meat is incredibly expensive down here, so we tend to eat meatless or just use a very little meat and stretch it with veggies. My husband is weirded out by the thought of simply switching out beef for beans in some of our other mainstay meals, but I think I'll try sneaking a few in. In the meantime, I've been stock piling bean and/or rice recipes to try. Anything to stretch that food budget.

My new kitchen is much smaller than my old kitchen and I am sick of trying to cram everything in there. I have too many kitchen gadgets, most of which are convenient, but certainly not necessary. I got a lot of them as wedding gifts (I had no idea what I was doing with that registry scanner), or things I bought during our first year of marriage (when we actually had money) and my kitchen was unheard-of-ly gigantic for an apartment. If I could have a garage sale, I would totally sell a bunch of things off, but alas, such is not the case in an apartment. The various gadgets are still in too good of condition to simply donate, plus we could use a little extra cash. I figure my only option is a Craigslist-style garage sale. We tried one of those when we left Michigan and it was rather disappointing, but I may just be willing to give it another try if it means clearing out another shelf for more productive use.

Well, I think that is everything worth discussing with regard to my kitchen ; )

07 October 2011

Senoritis

We have a serious case of senoritis over here. I think having a baby is only hurting the chances of our recovery. Matt is sick of court and sick of casebooks. I am sick of being alone and sick of having no money. Plus, with all that goes with having a special needs baby, I am so over this law school thing. Very slowly our evenings are giving over to watching last night's episode of The Office on Hulu, playing Portals 2 (which he got for his birthday), watching the latest Netflix, or talking. Matt has managed to stay on top of his reading by staying up late or getting up early, but we're running out of steam. We made a list of two goals (and two incentives to keep those goals) and posted them on the fridge. We get up on time or Matt doesn't get morning coffee and we make to-do lists or else we don't read the Wall Street Journal. We've done pretty good improving our habits. If we can keep it up through next week, we'll add two more goals.

We still have 7 more months until graduation. I am so excited to be done, but so terrified of him not finding a job. I would wish for those months to fly by except Matt graduates 6 days before Abigail's first birthday and I am not ready for her to be one year old.

"Fun" side notes, (1) Abigail's therapy started back up. 1-2 hours twice a month for now. Goals include encouraging her to use her hands more and testing her throughout the day to see if she is just lazy or has hearing loss. (2) Yesterday was my birthday. I am officially half way between being 20 and being 30. (3) I would loose this baby weight a lot faster if I was half as dedicated to eating right as I was to excising. Oi food, why do you have to taste so good?

29 September 2011

This Time Next Year

By this time next year, I hope Matt has a job clerking for a judge in SE/Central Michigan. I hope we are renting a house and saving every penny we can to pay down the law school debt and save for a down payment on a house. I hope we are still making do with one car, I hope we have a dog, and I hope we are going camping every chance we get.

Abigail will be 16 months old, and I hope she is happy and thriving. I hope she is walking and talking and her heart is still doing great. I hope she is delighted by books. I hope she feels loved.

I hope Matt is finally finding time to start reading and playing computer games again. I hope he feels satisfied being a provider for his family. I hope he feels needed.

I hope I am comfortable with my body. I hope I don't have to work anymore, and I hope I am writing my novel. I hope we are contemplating having another baby.

By this time next year, we won't be in law school anymore. The bar will be over and done. By this time next year, I hope we are out of limbo land!

27 September 2011

Welcome to 3L Year

Saturday night was sheer bliss. For the first time since Abigail was born, I got a night off.
I even kind of had the morning "off" (it involved grocery shopping and running errands without the baby). But Saturday night, I had three hours all to myself. I put Abigail to bed, locked the door to the master "suite" (we have our own bathroom), and did whatever I wanted all by myself. No baby, no husband, no kitties. No cleaning, no dishes, no work. I feel soooooooo much happier with life. I also think the worst of the settling is behind us. Abigail's room is finally all done (we got the rocking chair today and I assembled her mini-dresser), a majority of the appointments are done, and we even have no doctor's appointments for two entire months! This is the longest we'll ever have gone without visiting the doctor.

My agenda includes hosting the next book club meeting and ladies night, starting back up as volunteer editor of that non-profit Catholic magazine, working for pay part time, and remembering how to cook. Along with, of course, taking care of a baby and law student. I am also looking in to see if my insurance will cover counseling to get rid of this postpartum depression for good. I actually found a group-style support group for new moms at my church, but I don't know how I feel about attending just yet.

So yes, Matt is studying, Abigail is growing, and I'm playing housewife/freelance designer. Welcome to 3L year.

21 September 2011

Probation

I have something fun to talk about today: what happens if your law school loses its accreditation while your husband is a student?

So, basically, Ave Maria School of Law has a cloud of controversy wherever it goes. If you want the full history, just Google the school name and the word "controversy." We took that into consideration when we chose the school, and in the end, we felt such a strong calling to the school, that Matt decided to attend anyway. As students, we have watched the Law School's oftentimes poor handling of sensitive situations, both public situations and private ones. It has gotten to the point now that when Ave does something stupid, we just roll our eyes.

But the latest controversy has my heart dropping: the state's worst bar passage rates. Make whatever excuses you want, but my innate desire for my husband to find work after he graduates is overwhelmingly jeopardized by fear that dropping the name of his soon-to-be alma mater during a job interview could hurt his chances of getting said job. In all honesty, it probably won't lose its accreditation while Matt is still a student, if it does happen it will probably follow after a long delay of bureaucratic paper pushing on the part of the ABA and a probation period. Hopefully by then he'll have a job secured a some time to prove himself in the legal field, rendering the name on the top of his diploma less crucial.

This fear is just another occurrence in the long line of events of law school that really show me exactly how little control I have over my own life. We are very, very dependent on God to provide for us right now. Sometimes I am thankful to have my religion if for no other reason than the relief I get from knowing that I can depend on someone else for a change.

19 September 2011

Complainer

I have intentionally been avoiding this blog lately because I have nothing to post about but complaints and I don't want to be a complainer. When I do think of something positive, I've made a point to post about it. Very briefly, the boxes we mailed to ourselves still aren't here. Everything is in those boxes. I have enough stuff to live for one week. It is going on three. All those programs are taking longer and proving far more difficult to enroll than is necessary. Matt is gone ALL the time and I feel like a single mother all over again. I keep thinking that everything will be better next week, but something else always pops up to wreak havoc. And whenever I think I finally have control over my emotions, my postpartum depression comes roaring back to crush me with feelings of hopelessness.

So that's what has been going on. I guess 3L year really will be different. I have no perspective on the situation because I am to overwhelmed in the happenings of right now. At first I really wanted to get some counseling or something, but Matt said he thinks I can handle it myself.

So there was just a knock on the door and 13 more boxes were on the other side! The rest of my boxes came! Maybe God reads my blog...?

Apologies

The blog post from last week, "Welcome to Holland...Again" was supposed to be posted with visibility level "private." For some reason, Wordpress changed it to public without my knowing. I never intended for anyone else to read it, otherwise I would have kept people's names private.  This is not a blog about the hardships of having a special needs daughter. I apologize and ask that if you did read it, you refrain from discussing it with anyone. Thank you.

12 September 2011

Neh!

Abigail's favorite thing to do is shout, "Neh!" in her high-pitched baby voice. She shouted "Neh!" into the abyss that was our echo-y apartment before we got everything moved in. She shouts it to me from the bedroom when she wakes up from a nap. She shouts it from her swing when I wash her bottles. She shouts it to me when I am holding her when she is full and no longer sleepy. I think "Neh!" is Bitso's way of saying, "I am right here, everyone! Notice me!" "Neh!" in her cute baby voice.

We are all moved in and waiting for the boxes we shipped to ourselves from Michigan. They should arrive tomorrow. I also have to buy a dresser and rocking chair for Abigail's room. But, other than that, we are all in and unpacked. I am sooooooo thankful to have my own space back. So, in case you're wondering, "Neh!" everyone; we're finally home.

I am trying to get everything organized between establishing care with a whole host of specialists for Abigail, let everyone know about our new address, buy dish soap and paper towels, and balance the checking account (okay, I am missing a dozen or so receipts and it is making my life complicated). As it turns out, this week is particularly bad for Matt, as he has a ton of extra meetings and assignments to complete by this weekend, rendering him of little help to me in my struggle against the boxes and the cockroaches. (Seriously, they were not this bad at our last apartment, it must be our proximity to a wooded area). Hell should finally end after this weekend, though, and then life will return to normal. Or, a new normal I guess. My life hasn't been normal since I gave birth. Is it possible that Matt, Abigail, and I can establish a routine of our own? I can't imagine life with a family that revolves around just tummy time and making dinner. I hope we can have that life, devoid of twice-weekly doctor's appointments. Neh!, life of monotony?

07 September 2011

3L Wife and Mother

I am writing this post on Tuesday, but it won't publish until Wednesday. So if you're reading this on Wednesday, right now I am moving in to my new apartment! Eak! Anyway, in my last post, I focused on how Matt's schedule has changed as a result of being a 3L, but now I'll talk about mine (and Abigail's).

I doubt mine will be affected any differently than it was 2L year. Matt will still be busy and studying, I'll get him during the evenings and sometimes we'll squeak a date night in on a random Saturday. We'll budget a lot and freakout about money. I still have Ladies' nights and book club to keep me social. I plan to work part time from home as a freelance designer to keep some money flowing. I also still have the magazine for which I am a volunteer editor. Our fourth edition will be getting some serious publicity and it needs to be stunning. Plus, of course I'll have Abigail. Not only will we have all the normal baby stuff to do, but I also need to get her enrolled into about four different FL programs, for which we qualify due to her health status or our income level, and I need to get the ball rolling on all of them. Then I'll still have the usual doctors' and therapy appointments, although hopefully not quite as frequently as I had them in Florida. I also need to get myself some business cards and work on my portfolio.

So, yeah, I anticipate keeping myself pretty busy, especially in the fall. Matt and I are also going to apply for a game show (yes, for real), called "Take the Money and Run." It is brand new on ABC and ever since it premiered (last month), we have been convinced that we could kick some serious behind. If you win, you get $100,000. I have my doubts, but we'll see if we make it.

Oh yes, on a side note, the hematologist said that there is nothing wrong with Abigail's blood. Her WBC has a tendency to be a bit low, but not low enough to be of concern, so she was released with a clean bill of health. I am excited to scratch her off our list of "Abigail's doctors."

06 September 2011

Our Return and 3L Changes

We are safely back in Florida after a very long two and a half day car ride. Two kitties, a baby, and an overpacked manual Focus with no cruise control. It was, as Matt likes to say, an adventure. Our apartment will be ready one day early, so we will be able to move in tomorrow! We are currently staying at a friend's house while her and her husband are out of town. They arrive the same day we leave. I am very excited to get my life back together! This Saturday is the first Law Partners get-together, and on Sunday we are going to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate Matt's birthday (which was Labor Day Monday), but I am determined to get everything unpacked by this upcoming Monday. The only exceptions are only for the boxes being mailed down, (as who knows when they will arrive), and any furniture purchases we need to make for the new addition to our family (the Salvation Army down here is wonderful).

Throughout this entire process, Matt will not be missing a single class. He made it down to Florida on the Saturday before classes started. Then, he flew back up to Michigan last Friday (no Friday class). Monday was Labor Day, so no class, and tomorrow, move-in day, he only has one morning class, early enough to finish before our appointment with the movers.

Matt really did great meeting all of his summer goals. This third and final year is different from all the previous years because it incorporates job hunting and an externship in with his class schedule. He is taking three classes, is on Law Review, and has an externship with a federal judge in the city just to the north of us. He has been dedicating a fair amount of time to job hunting as well. Then, of course, he has his usual clubs and organizations of which he is a member.

Florida is greeting us in true form, with a thunderstorm and torrential downpour, all thanks to the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. I'm really glad Lee is getting it out of its system today and not tomorrow.

30 August 2011

The Haunting

Today, for some unknown reason, all my depression came swirling back around me. I had been feeling so much better lately, I really thought I had seen the worst. But tonight I have been dealing with things I even thought I had moved past. I am frustrated that I can't breastfeed Abigail and that we didn't bond right after she was born. There is no reason why I couldn't have held her after the numbness wore off, she certainly was in no danger of dying in the 20 minutes it would have taken for me to cuddle with my first born baby. I feel like a failure as a mother. She's not gaining weight fast enough, there is still her low white blood count issue to figure out. I am also frustrated with body, with my weight, with my stretched-out skin.

Why can't I just chill out? I'm finally going back to Florida, we have an apartment, Abigail's incision is healing wonderfully. My incision is healing wonderfully. Matt sent me roses. I'll see him in two and a half days. We're here, we're okay. Why isn't it enough? Sometimes I feel like I'm never going to feel normal and happy again.

24 August 2011

Slowly but Surely

The Baby
We visited the cardiologist (more accurately, his nurse practitioner) yesterday who assured us that everything is going well with the recovery and removed the steri strips from the incision. It is a bit weird to see a 3.5 inch long incision down the front of her chest, but it actually looks really good. She is hardly on any pain killers anymore and napping much better. We were also taken off house arrest. I was in pure bliss wandering the aisles of Meijer picking out Enfamil and watermelon.

Matt is in Florida, crashing with a friend, so I'm doing the single parenting thing, which is definitely taking its toll. I am so ready to get some relief! But now that she is doing better and sleeping more, it is getting much easier to bear.

Moving
We were approved for travel over Labor Day weekend, so we bought Matt's plane ticket to come back up for Friday the 2nd and we'll start driving down bright and early on Saturday. Meanwhile, I am spending the next week and a half packing, visiting family and friends, and going to doctor's appointments.

Me Personally
: ) So now that we are off house arrest, I am feeling much better. There are only two good things about Matt being gone: I can buy whatever food I want and dieting is much easier. After surgery, I resumed my daily walks and calorie counting, and added some ab strength-training exercises. The weight is very steadily coming off, but since I've never weighed this much in my life, even 1.5 lbs/week is too slow!

Florida
Our apartment will be ready about 2 or 3 days after we arrive, but a friend of my generously lent us the use of her house while she is out of town while we wait. I CAN'T WAIT to get everything unpacked and have control over my own life again!

18 August 2011

Guilty and Irony

Abigail is sleeping, which means I should be sleeping. And it's after midnight which means I definitely should be sleeping. Yet here I am. Exhausted and with insomnia. Ironic, isn't it?

Well, I upped Abigail's pain meds today which made her a millions times less fussy and, therefore, my life a million times easier. When I had an emotional breakdown at 7:00 this morning, I decided that something had to change immediately. When we left the hospital, my biggest concern was pain control, so the nurses consoled me how quickly kids bounce back from surgery, light-years faster than adults do. They said that by the two week follow up, kids are usually even off their pain meds! Well, I was thinking that we needed to wean Abigail off rather quickly then, and since she was really fussy but could be pacified with being held or a bottle, I didn't think she was in pain. Matt reminded me that since she was discharged from the hospital so early, she'll be about 3-5 days ahead of "normal" when she sees the doctor again. So, it would make sense if she was still on pain meds. I decided to up her medication to see if it had any effect. The results were immediate. She's been smiling and cooing again, she's back on her normal nap schedule, she naps next to me instead of while being held by me. I seriously feel like I've had a vacation! I can't leave the house to go to the store, I am taking care of her alone, but I feel like I've had a vacation. Ironic, isn't it?

I think I've said this before, but I always feel guilty over everything, and my complaining was no exception. I feel an incredible amount of gratefulness to everyone for keeping us in their prayers. I can't tell you how many people I hardly even know have come up to me and asked how Abigail is doing and tell me they prayed for her. I have people volunteering to come over and help me pack while in Michigan, I have people in Florida volunteering to let us live in their house until our apartment is ready. Matt is currently living with people in Florida who let him ride with them to class and someone even generously picked him up from the airport when he arrived. Sometimes I think about how blessed we are and I feel like bursting into tears of thankfulness. So when I was complaining about dealing with a post-surgery baby at home, I felt awful. Like my feelings of frustration meant I wasn't truly appreciative of everyone's generosity. We are really, amazingly, unbelievable blessed. Even though the situation isn't perfect, ever since surgery, things keep going right. How could I complain? So now that things are going well again, I feel an incredible amount of guilt that I started whining the second something bad happened. If I was God, I'd drop me like a bad habit.

When my daughter was baptized, the priest told us that Abigail wasn't ours, but on loan to us from God. When we die, we will have to account for all of the things we've done for her, good and bad. It's really humbling to think about it from that perspective and makes me act much more unselfishly. Well, I think you could realize that for just about everything. Matt isn't mine, he's God's. And when I die, I will have to face everything I've ever done to help and hurt him. Every blessing I have, in fact, I didn't earn. God gave them to me. And when I die, I'll have to consider how I used each and every one. I don't think I'd be able to figure it out on my own, so its a good thing I can ask God to help me use His gifts in the best manner possible. Ironic, isn't it?

Something kind of funny: so yesterday my grandmother bagged up some trash in the kitchen and told me she'd take it out to the garage after a bit, then she went and laid down. Well, I didn't want her to have to carry it down the long hallway with all of her ailments, so I did it for her. I then felt guilty because I hadn't seen the trash getting full and taken care of it myself. I also felt guilty for taking it out because it was light and therefore a relatively easy chore and maybe she felt like a burden or that I was taking away her independence by doing everything for her. I simultaneously felt guilty for taking care of it and not taking care of it earlier. Is it possible to have a guilt disorder?

16 August 2011

Law School Widow

Yesterday I hated law school with a seething passion. And all it took was becoming the single parent of a post-surgery baby.

Abigail did not sleep yesterday. Her naps were no longer than 20 minutes at a time the entire day. She fought sleep like nobody's business. She would only sleep if I held her, so I would hold her until she was completely out, then set her very gently down. Just in the time it takes to go to the bathroom, she'd go from fussy to angry cries. By the time I finished washing my hands, she was red-faced with tears in her eyes. I know she's uncomfortable, and I make sure she gets her meds on time, but even when I give them to her (orally with a dropper), she cries like I'm pinching her.

So I had a bit of a breakdown. I hated law school, I hated the hospital for postponing surgery, I hated the hematologist for finding things wrong with her blood count. I was mad at Matt for going down and leaving me, I was mad at my todo list of things I need to get done the very week we get home from the hospital. I had about a two second pity party before Abigail started fussing again. When she finally crashed around 7pm, I was ready to crash too. It was a fitful night of sleep, but thankfully she is out right now.

I am alone for another 16 days, so I've mentally divided up the next three weeks in order to help me get through them. The doctors don't want her near germs, so for the next two weeks, we are supposed to avoid stores, restaurants, and even church. I have a fair number of things to do before we move, so I am trying to spread those out over the next three weeks, plus the weeks will be punctuated with the usual doctor's appointments. We need to get blood drawn twice a week, plus a pediatrician appointment this week, a cardiologist appointment next week, and a hematologist appointment the following week.

I can't wait to get my sweet, snuggly baby back. And my own apartment. By this time next month, the three of us (plus the two kitties) will be happily relaxing on the couch in our unpacked apartment. Eak!