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.

-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!


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?