Sunday, December 30, 2012

Another letter I wish I had written to my daughter

Diana turned 4 months on Friday, so I know I don't have to think about her leaving any time in the near future.  That being said, I also know that time is going to FLY - and I am going to wish I had said some of these things to her before she heads off into the big, crazy world. 

So, Diana - this is a letter that I wish I had written to you, written by another mom that looked at her young daughter this week and also realized that the day will come when she won't live under Mommy's roof anymore.  Just because I didn't write it myself does not mean that I don't relate to every word below - or mean it with all of my heart.  Love you to the moon and back, Mommy.  

P.S.  When I just searched for an image to post with this letter and typed in the words "girl going to college", I am straight up horrified at what I found.  Please, please, please don't ever pose for those kinds of photos.  They will haunt you forever, as in someday, your son or daughter might find them.  

Dear Viv,

Tomorrow, you're headed off to college. Your Dad and I are so fucking proud of you. What, you didn't know mom dropped F-bombs? I've been saving them up until you left the house. Your poor Dad is going feel like he's living with Sam Kinison.

Since your high school years were not nearly as tortured and awkward as your mother's, perhaps you will not feel the need to go full Girls-Gone-Wild bananas in college like I did, but just in case, here are some helpful guidelines:

Do not drink the punch. It's flammable and toxic and boys have most definitely peed in there. If you must drink, stick with beer, which will hopefully fill you up before you can poison yourself.

Please don't do drugs. But if you're going to try drugs, do like mom always taught you at Whole Foods and buy organic.

When you go out at night, always use the buddy system. (Your buddy is a nice girl from your dorm. Preferably a Mormon.) When that cute lacrosse player wants to show you the roof of his fraternity house, ask yourself, is my buddy here? No? Then go find her and walk home together.

No naked photos. If some boy you like really needs a permanent record of your boobs, suggest that he draw you from life, Titanic-style. He supplies the diamond.

Make friends with girls. Guys can also be terrific friends, but until the When Harry Met Sally theory of gender relations is formally disproven, some of those friendships may be lost to unrequited feelings or bad kissing. Girls are for life.

Speaking of permanence, I hear tattoo removal is quite painful.

Don't automatically skip the opening band. The Beastie Boys once opened for Madonna.

If someone offers you a chance to march on Washington for a cause you believe in, go. This rarely happens after college, and never again does it come with a shiny bus and matching t-shirts.

Courses like philosophy, art history and literature will open your mind, unveil the beauty in the world and make you really good at crossword puzzles. That said, it wouldn't hurt to take an accounting class.

I know it's more convenient, but remember that texting will never be as satisfying as an in-person conversation. Would you rather have a pizza described to you or delivered to your door?

And one more thing I learned in college a few times over: A broken heart feels like the end of the world, but it's just the beginning -- as well as the foundation for all the best songs and poetry.

Viv, I hope you'll take some of this advice to heart, but whether you do or not, I'll still be there whenever you need me. Once upon a time, I knew a lot about great novelists and boys. I can still talk with some authority about boys. (Or should you fall in love with girls, I'm a quick study.)

I'm so excited for you. As it says in our story book, I love all that you will be, and everything you are.

Love you madly,

(Written by Amy Wruble:  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Song: I Choose by India.Arie

My friend Alison introduced this song to me as an anthem for the days I need a little spiritual pick-me-up.  It's a great song for reminding me that I am in charge of my reaction to life - I may not be able to control my circumstances, but I can most certainly control my reaction to them and the attitude I bring to each day.   I am not defined by my past, and I can CHOOSE to move forward any time I want!

"I Choose"

Because you never know where life is gonna take you
and you can't change where you've been.
But today, I have the opportunity to choose.

[Verse 1:]
Here am I now looking at 30 and I got so much to say.
I gotta get this off of my chest, I gotta let it go today.
I was always too concerned about what everybody would think.
But I can't live for everybody, I gotta live my life for me.(Yeah)
I pitched a fork in the road of my life and ain't nothing gonna happen unless I decide.

(And I choose) to be the best that I can be.
(I choose) to be authentic in everything I do.
My past don't dictate who I am. I choose. (Yeah)

[Verse 2:]
I done been through some painful things I thought that I would never make it through.
Filled up with shame from the top of my head to the soles of my shoes.
I put myself in so many chaotic circumstances, but by the grace of God I've been given so many second chances.
But today I decided to let it all go. I'm dropping these bags, I'm making room for my joy.

(And I choose) to be the best that I can be.
(I choose) to be authentic in everything I do.
My past don't dictate who I am. I choose.

Because you never know where life is gonna take you and you can't change where you've been.
But today, I have the opportunity to choose. (Hey ey)
I used to have guilt about why things happen they way they did cuz life is gone do what it do.
And everyday, I have the opportunity to choose.

[Verse 3:]
From this day forward I'm going to be exactly who I am.
I don't need to change the way that I live just to get a man. (NO!)
I even had a talk with my mama and I told her the day I'm grown,
"from this day forward, every decision I make will be my own." And hey!

(And I choose) to be the best that I can be.
(I choose) to be courageous in everything I do.
My past don't dictate who I am. I choose.

(And I choose) to be the best that I can be.
(I choose) to be authentic in everything I do.
My past don't dictate who I am. I choose.

Because you never know where life is gonna take you and you can't change where you've been.
But today, I have the opportunity to choose. (Hey ey)
I used to have guilt about why things happen they way they did cuz life is gone do what it do.
And everyday, I have the opportunity to choose.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why going to a Zac Brown Band concert is kind of stressing me out

Tomorrow night, S and I are going to see the Zac Brown Band concert at the BJCC.  I love seeing live music and have been excited for this show for week, but now, going to the concert is majorly stressing me out. I feel like it's like cramming for a test and prepping for prom at the same time!

About a week ago, I had the thought that I needed to spend some more time listening to the music of the band in order to better enjoy the show.  Now, I find myself driving around listening to all ZBB, all the time.  I almost feel like I am studying for a if learning the words to the songs is going to enhance my experience at the show or that there is going to be some penalty if the band plays a song I haven't heard before.  What is that all about?? 

Then, for Christmas, my brother in law and his girlfriend got tickets to the same show.  Initially, I was excited for them to be going to the same show, but then, the conversation turned to what we were all going to wear to the show and panic began to set in.  I have never been a girl that gets dressed up for shows - I always thought it was kind of silly to get all gussied up for a concert, since it was pretty unlikely that anyone from the band was going to look out to the audience and see some girl all dressed up and decide that she was "the one" (and admit it, that's the main reason girls get dressed up when they go to shows!).   However, now, I want to pick out the perfect outfit to wear when we go see the show - and I have spent more time than I care to admit, mentally going through my wardrobe to see what would be the best combination.  What is that all about?? 

Here's what's really going on:  I want to look "cool".  I want to have that moment where my husband or someone I don't even know looks at me, and I am perfectly lip syncing along to the song being sung from the stage, or even better, actually singing the words and harmonizing (the music geek in me just can't help attempting to harmonize!!).  I want them to think, "Wow, look how cool Jeannine is...she knows all the words!", or even better, "Holy cow, is she harmonizing??  She shouldn't be down here watching the show, she should be on stage!"  I want my brother in law's gorgeous girlfriend to have a minute where she looks at my outfit and thinks, "I wish I could wear that outfit and look like that!" or "She always looks so put together, I am so impressed" (which is what I usually think when I see HER!).

Especially since having the baby, I have been kind of struggling with my identity and self confidence.  Alright, that's a lie.  I have been REALLY struggling.  After years of working in a "cool" industry like radio, I now feel more defined by my role as a mom.  Can being a mom be "cool"?  Let me wipe the spit up off of my shoulder before I let you answer that question.

I am also struggling with my post-baby body.  My weight has been a struggle for a lot of my adult life, but I had gotten down to a good healthy weight for the wedding and was feeling pretty good about myself...before I got pregnant.  Now, I am staring down the barrel of needing to lose 40 MORE pounds to get back to where I started.  That will do a number on your psyche, or at least it has on mine.  Nothing fits right anymore.  I am still wearing maternity clothes a lot of the time, and the clothes that I have either gotten as gifts or as "holdovers" until I lose the weight are in sizes I was hoping never to see again.   I know that this can be temporary - but for today, I am not feeling that hot.

With all this said, I know that tomorrow night will be fun - if I can just take the pressure I've put on myself off and remember to just enjoy the show, and also, if I can remember they are performing for me and not the other way around. 

Anyone relate to feeling like that?  Have any tricks to get out of your own head when stuff like this comes up?  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How I embarrassed myself at church last night

Last night, I went to a meeting at my church, and when I was leaving, I stopped in the parking lot to talk to my friend Meredith for a few minutes.  After a much needed catch-up session, we quickly said goodbye and rushed to our cars to get out of the cold.

As I was getting into my car, I intended to let out a sigh - a sound of contentment and happiness.  I was feeling good because I had just spent some time with good people, and when I am alone, when I am happy, I often let out big sighs or make big noises like the Carol Burnett "Tarzan Yell".

(If you've never tried it, I dare you to do it and tell me it doesn't feel good!  I used to watch The Carol Burnett Show with my mom, and always loved it when someone would ask Carol to do the Tarzan Yell because it gave me a chance to test mine out, as well, as I played along at home.)

Well, I guess that, as a new mom, I have transitioned from sighs and Tarzan Yells to making raspberry noises that sound something like this:

So, I let out a sigh/raspberry - for a good 20-30 seconds.  It felt AWESOME, and I smiled as I finished.  I got into my car, and as I was looking left to reach for my seat belt, I saw a guy in the truck next to me staring at me with disgust on his face, and slowly back his truck away.  At first ,I could not figure out why he was so weirded out by my raspberry noise.  I know it's a little weird, but it's certainly not disgusting.  Then, it hit me:

The guy thinks I farted!  This random church guy thinks I farted for a good 20-30 seconds, and then, got into my car, smiling to myself about it!  Oh NO!  I tried to lower my window to tell him it wasn't what he thought, but it was too late.  He was gone.

I've never seen that guy before; he wasn't in the meeting I attended, and honestly, now, I couldn't pick him out of a two person line up.  It was dark, and he was wearing a baseball hat.  So, there is no way for me to track him down and clarify what really happened.  Now, I just have to live with the fact that out there, somewhere, there's a guy who thinks some lady at church let one rip in the parking lot. 

If you are him, by some incredible chance, please know that I am not that kind of person, and if you heard a guy telling a story about that happening, please set him straight! 

Am I the only one that has things like this happen to them?  Have any fun stories to share??

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Diana's First Christmas

It was a lovely first Christmas with Diana - S and I were reflecting as we drove home from Blountsville yesterday about how truly blessed we are - we have family that loves us and a healthy (and happy!) daughter.  Our families (and Santa!!) were beyond generous with the gifts they gave us, but the best part of all of it was the time spent together.  We made some great memories together, and since Santa brought me a new camera, we documented a lot of them (I think Diana is going to grow up thinking the paparazzi are following her around).  

Not feeling Mommy's new camera

Playing with Mommy

Up in the air!

Mommy is so silly!

Walking with Aunt Darby

Checking out the tree with Daddy!

Worn out from all the festivities

Santa Loves Me (or at least that's what my shirt says!)

Playing with Nicole, Aunt Dana and Nana

Snuggling Mommy while everyone opens presents

Story time with Nana and Uncle Tyler

Tuckered out again

Daddy putting together my new walker!

Loving my new walker!

Watching Mommy open my presents (gotta keep an eye on her!)

Christmas is hilarious!

For more pictures, check out this gallery:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday Song: Think Good Thoughts

Driving home today, this song came up on my "shuffle", and I listened to the words more carefully than I usually do.  Anybody else ever think that God talks to them through the radio?  This is my theme song for the week! 

Colbie Caillat - "Think Good Thoughts"

I'm just gonna say it
There's no use in delaying
I'm tired of the angry hanging out inside me
So I'll quiet down the devil
I'm gonna knock him with a shovel
And I'll bury all my trouble underneath the revel
When I'm alone in a dark, dark room I have to tell myself to

Think good thoughts, think good thoughts
Imagine what the world would be if we will, we just
Think good thoughts, stop the bad from feeding
Oh won't let the negativity turn me into my enemy
Promise to myself that I won't let it get the best of me
That's how I want to be

Na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na (x2)

I'm not saying that it's easy
Especially when I'm moody
I might be cursing like a sailor
Til I remind myself I'm better
Cos words can be like weapons
Oh when you use them you will get them
Oh oh but I'm not gonna let them take away my heaven
And when I start feeling blue I remember to tell myself to

Whoa whoa whoa
Think good thoughts, think good thoughts
Imagine what the world would be if we will, we just
Think good thoughts, stop the bad from feeding
Oh won't let the negativity turn me into my enemy
Promise to myself that I won't let it get the best of me
That's how I want to be

I just think of rain on summer nights
Stars filling up the sky
Sun shining on my face
Making a secret wish
Finding my happiness
That always makes me hold my head up high
I wanna hold my head up high

Oh I wanna think good thoughts
Oh imagine what the world would be if we will, we just
(Think good thoughts)
Wouldn't that be something
Oh won't let the negativity turn me into my enemy
Promise to myself that I won't let it get the best of me
That's how I want to be

Na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na (x6)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gratitude in the face of the Sandy Hook tragedy

Like everyone else, I was heartbroken as the news came in about the senseless tragedy in Newtown, CT at Sandy Hook Elementary.  The more details that became confirmed, the more that the whole situation seemed like it was out of some awful movie.  I just didn't want to believe that any of this was real.

What on Earth could make someone want to kill children?  How could things get so bad, so quickly?  How would that community, those families, the children and teachers left behind ever recover?

When tragedy strikes, I want to hide my head in the sand, and avoid the news, avoid the conversation about events, avoid the chaos, avoid the speculation about the details and motivations.  It literally makes me sick to my stomach to think of the terror those children and adults felt, and it brings tears to my eyes every single time I hear one of the stories of  the lives that were lost.

Then, it becomes time to "walk the walk".  If I truly believe that there is something to be grateful for in EVERY circumstance, I need to spend some time paying attention and looking for anything positive in what seems like a completely tragic circumstance.

Here goes - today, I am grateful for:

- being able to go home and hug my daughter at the end of the day.  The day before the shooting, I was feeling pretty grumpy about having to sit up with her because of her cold.  On the night of the shooting, I went home and held her all night long. 
- the "angels" that blocked the stupid protestors that were attempting to draw attention to their ridiculous cause by protesting the funerals.  There was literally a human wall of bikers (aka Hell's Angels) that blocked their attempts, and eventually, the protestors stood down and left.
- the movement to perform acts of kindness in remembrance of each of the lives lost - what a fantastic way to honor their memory. Instead of focusing on the awful details, instead, we can be looking for opportunities to perform a random act of kindness in their memory.
- a renewed conversation about how to keep our children safe.  I don't know what shape those measures will take, but as a new mom, I am grateful that this is causing our leaders and educators to revisit ways to keep our precious children safe at school.
- a revived sense of community.  I feel like everyone around me is being just a little nicer and more patient with each other.  Maybe I am imagining it, but it seems like after such an awful event, it makes all of us sit back and realize what is truly important.
- the power of prayer.  I've heard it said that when faced with a situation you feel powerless over, that you really have two powers:  the power of prayer and the power of example.  In this case, I am wearing out my ability to pray - for the families, for the classmates, for the first responders, for the funeral workers, for the community, for the country, for our leaders, for our educators, and more.  When I feel lost and scared, which is often, at this point, I can close my eyes and connect with a Power greater than me and ask Him to protect us all. 

I have to admit that I don't feel as "light" as I usually do after putting together a gratitude list - but I do feel better than when I started.  I hope you do too.

What did I leave out?  What else could we be grateful for, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting?  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Who else feels like they are failing at motherhood?

The Huffington Post always hooks me with their catchy article headlines - but THIS one definitely caught my eye:  "Why You're Never Failing As A Mother".

Um, hello??  Are you reading my diary?? How did you know that I feel like that??  I love my daughter - but I feel like I am failing every day with her.  I have all these ideas of how things "should" be with her - and I never quite achieve that ideal in my head.  My "to do" list currently remains largely undone:  sending out birth announcements, making Christmas cookies, printing out pictures of the family to decorate her crib at day care, starting her baby book, sending out Christmas cards, getting laundry folded, spending the allotted time on her tummy each day, daily FaceTime appointments with friends and family, etc.

Most days, it's just a matter of survival, especially when S is traveling for work - making sure Diana's fed and clothed, has her diaper changed and a place to sleep when she wants to.  I do the best I can, but feel like I am falling way, way, way short every single day. 

So, that is why I kind of want to hug Amy Morrison from the Huffington Post today.  She wrote this:

I've gotten a lot of emails from women saying they feel overwhelmed by motherhood. Not in a dangerous way, just in a "I totally suck and I don't know how I'm supposed to manage all this" kind of way.

To this I say, you're not supposed to.

If you think about it, if you had a baby thousands, if not hundreds of years ago, you would have had your mother, all your sisters (all of whom were probably lactating) and your nieces all taking care of your baby. They would help with food preparation, show you how to manage and make sure your baby wasn't eaten by a bear. Your kid's feet probably wouldn't have touched the ground until they themselves would be able to carry around an infant.

Back then, the point of a child was to have free labor in the fields and someone to take care of your old ass down the road, and not much more.

As for the past generations that like to tell you that they raised six kids on their own and did it without a washing machine? Well, sort of. Keep in mind child rearing was viewed pretty differently not that long ago and you could stick a toddler on the front lawn with just the dog watching and nobody would bat an eye at it -- I used to walk to the store in my bare feet to buy my father's cigarettes when I was a kid. As a mother, you cooked, you cleaned, but nobody expected you to do anything much more than keep your kids fed and tidy.

My grandmother used to tell the story about how she forgot my mother at the grocery store in the early '40s. She walked up to the store with my mother sleeping in her carriage, parked it outside with all the other sleeping babies (I'll let that sink in), went inside to do her shopping, then walked home, forgetting that she'd taken the baby with her. She quickly realized her mistake and walked back and retrieved my mother, who was still sleeping outside the store.

There were no flashcards, there was no sign language (unless you were deaf), there were no organic, free-range bento boxes -- your job was to just see a kid through to adulthood and hope they didn't become an idiot.

Hey, I'm not judging, and I'm not saying one way is better than the other, but I'm just saying that we are part of a generation that considers parenting to be a skill. Like a true skill that needs to be mastered and perfected and if we don't get it right, we think our kids suffer for it -- and that's hard sh*t to keep up with. That's not to say other generations didn't have it tough or think parenting was important, but there just wasn't the same level of scrutiny that could be liked, tweeted or instagramed all at once.

You are in the trenches when you have a baby. To the untrained eye it seems pretty straightforward and easy -- you feed them, you bathe them, you pick them up when they cry -- but it's more than that. It's perpetual motion with a generous layer of guilt and self-doubt spread on top, and that takes its toll.

Feeling like you also need to keep on top of scrapbooking, weight loss, up-cycled onesies, handprints, crock pot meals, car seat recalls, sleeping patterns, poo consistency, pro-biotic supplements, swimming lessons, electromagnetic fields in your home and television exposure is like trying to knit on a rollercoaster -- it's f*cking hard.

We live in a time when we can Google everything, share ideas and expose our children to amazing opportunities, but anyone that implies that they have it figured out is either drunk or lying (or both), so don't be too hard on yourself.

Your job is to provide your child with food, shelter, encouragement and love, and that doesn't have to be solely provided by you either -- feel free to outsource, because they didn't just pull that "it takes a village" proverb out of the air.

Mommy and Me classes, homemade lactation cookies and learning Cantonese is all gravy, and if you can throw them in the mix once in a while, good on ya, Lady. I have about 9,000 things I've pinned on Pinterest and I think I've done four of them, which is fine by me, because those are above and beyond goodies, and not part of my just-scraping-by norm.

It's an amazing and exciting time to have a baby right now, but always keep in mind, no one has ever done it like this before -- you are pioneers that have to machete through the new terrain. Chin up. Hang in there. And remember, you're doing a great job.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Taking her cuteness for a walk

We went for a walk this afternoon with my friend Catherine - she and I can solve all of our problems in one spin around the neighborhood! It's like free therapy...

It was a little chilly today, so I wanted to bundle Diana up! She is officially the cutest baby alive - check out this hat!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Diana's Baptism

Presenting Diana for baptism
Pastors laying hands on Diana to baptize her

Pastor Jim showing off our sweet baby to the congregation
Diana resting on my shoulder after being baptised
Happy Family Picture (might be a Christmas Card!)

Yesterday, our little family had a very special day - it was Diana's baptism at Riverchase United Methodist Church. S and I have a special relationship with our pastor, Jim, because he is the father of one of S's best friends - so, he has literally had a front row seat to our relationship.  He watched us on our entire journey from when we first started dating and S brought me to church with him for the first time, to when we got engaged, to when he officiated our wedding last year...and now, to the baptism of our sweet baby girl.   I misted up a little as he commented on that before performing the actual baptism, and paused to think of the incredible journey that both S and I have both have to travel to be able to come together - and to become the parents of this beautiful baby girl. 

If my faith ever falters, all I ever need to do to is look at my incredible husband and perfect daughter.  For years and years, I questioned why I hadn't found "the one" or why I hadn't had children yet. Now, I know.  God had something better in store for me than I could have ever imagined.  I am beyond grateful for the blessing of my family, and for our extended family that all congregated for this blessed moment, as well! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Grateful on a Friday...

Fridays are my "long day" at work - wrapping up the past week, and prepping for the next, taking care of all the extra items that will need to be attended to for the weekend to go off without a hitch, without my physical presence being necessary.  So, while I am exhausted beyond measure when my day starts, and usually more tired when the day ends, I am always grateful for the moment I can walk out the door, knowing I put in a full week's work and my slate is clear to start the next.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A healthy, happy baby girl that smiles when she sees me and gives the best snuggles known to mankind.  There's very little that can be wrong with the world when I have a sweet smelling bundle of love up on my shoulder.  She's also having a blast learning all about the world - every minute of every day presents a new experience for her.  In just the span of a week, she's learning how to sit up more straight in her exersaucer, grab onto her toys hanging over her playmat, and to hold her head up to gaze out at the world when she's sitting in my lap.  It's pretty incredible.
- A walk with a dear friend - a chance to get exercise AND get caught up?  Heck yeah!  I'll take it.
- Dinner tonight with my dad and his wife, my in-laws, my husband and my daughter.  Having us all at one table doesn't happen often, and tonight, it just all kind of came together.  Plus, we had Mexican food - which is my favorite!
- Friends that remember to check on me/pray for me/encourage me - it always makes my day when someone remembers what I am going through.
- An opportunity to raise almost $10,000 for needy families this morning through our on air auction at work.  It's one of my favorite parts of my job, and today, we made enough money to help 20 families have a better Christmas.  Awesome.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Another day of being grateful...

I totally just got out of bed to come write this gratitude list - if there is someone, somewhere handing out gold stars, I kind of want one.  Honestly, it was easier to get out of bed and just do this than to sit there and lay awake feeling guilty, thinking "I just committed to doing this can I already be slacking off?" 

So, here we are....

Today, I am grateful for:
- A gorgeous afternoon to take Diana for a walk (it might be from global warming that we have 70 degree days in December here in Alabama, but for today, I am just grateful for the sunshine!)
- A free flu shot (my health insurance isn't as good as it used to be - but today, I got a free flu shot!)
- A husband that likes to cook - how awesome is that??
- Support from friends and family when I need it - I felt lots of love today.
- A mean comment yesterday that got me remotivated (no, that's not a word...but you know what I mean....) to get back on track with losing my pregnancy weight.  A guy I hadn't seen in a while asked if I had had the baby yet - all I could do at the time was say "yes" and show him a picture, and then, text my friends to complain.  However, one of those friends said "Let's be accountable to each other" and we worked out some guidelines to live by for our new commitment to eating better and getting some exercise. 

Dear God, thanks for all of these blessings and the countless others that I didn't list.  Thank you for being able to turn what seems like the yuckiest event into something that shows me just how well I am taken care of.  You are pretty awesome at that.  Amen. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Today, I am grateful for....

In the month of November, it was fun to see the wide variety of things my friends were grateful for - they were posting them as their Facebook statuses each day, with the heading "A month of being thankful", in honor of Thanksgiving.  Each time I saw one of those, it was a good incentive to pause and take stock of what I am grateful for in my own life. 

I used to do daily gratitude lists - but as life got busier, I've let them fall by the wayside, and I can feel the difference in my attitude.  If I don't take the time to pause, take stock and search out the things in my life that I can be grateful for, I can very quickly turn from having an attitude of "I get to _____" to "I have to ____", and then, resentments can start to pile up as I rush about to check things off of my list of things I "have" to do. 

Especially this time of year when there's extra pressure to do all of the fun Christmas festivities (they are supposed to be fun and festive, right?!), I can get extra cranky if I am not careful.  So, after some reflection, here's what I have for today, in no particular order:

Today, I am grateful for....
- A comfortable rocker/recliner in the nursery to take naps in with Diana
- The miraculous recovery of my friend J from her aneurysm
- Being able to send out a quick email to friends and family to connect/get support and be flooded with it
- Discovering three new recipes on Pinterest that my husband and I like enough to add to our repertoire
- Coffee, without which I would be falling asleep at work

Honestly, I don't feel much better right this second - but I know, from experience, that I will if I stick with this practice.  I hope I am motivated enough by that to try again tomorrow! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Diana is trying to tell me something VERY important!

I realized over the weekend that I hadn't been taking as many photos or videos of Diana in the past couple of weeks.  It wasn't a conscious decision to slow down - it was just one of those things that happened when life got busy.  Apparently, she is ready to tell me her opinion on that!! 

Last night, when I went to get her ready for bed, she started trying to talk - and I couldn't help but get tickled! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why I Love The Song "Silent Night"

Last week, our radio station flipped over to playing Christmas music, so we were reminiscing about some of our favorite Christmas songs.  My favorite has always been "Silent Night" - especially after my mom found a way to make it even more special.  There wasn't a dry eye in the studio - and since we talked about this on the air, we have received lots of people requesting to hear the story again.

Our dog does a drive by on the baby

I make little videos for S when he's traveling for work - I want him to be able to see Diana, especially when she is in a good mood and being all playful.  I just didn't expect his dog, Bama, to make several cameos in this one - silly dog! 

This is one we took to share with our family that lives out of town - it's Diana's new favorite trick!  She likes to have us hold her under her arms and push off with her legs to stand up! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Time to go back to work

This week, I go back to work after being off for the past 10 weeks - I've been in my little maternity leave cocoon, which has been incredibly challenging and awesome, at the same time. 

I have never been so tired in my entire life - and I thought I was prepared for being tired by doing a radio morning show for years, and getting up at 4am.  Silly me.  So many people have suggested that I should "sleep when the baby sleeps", but unfortunately, I have never really been a good sleeper.  I wake up at the smallest sounds (and Diana makes a lot of small sounds), and it takes me a very, very long time to fall back asleep.  It's always been that way, and even when I am exhausted, it seems to be the same way. 

Spending time with my daughter has been incredible.  In just two months, she's already becoming more of an actual person - a real human being - rather than just a wobbly blob that needs me to feed her every few hours.  She has the best smile, and each time she smiles, my heart melts a little more.  This week, she has started to really hold her head up, and to push off of my lap with her strong little baby legs to make herself stand up - and she swells with pride when she does.  Just this morning, she almost rolled over from her back to her belly - I am sure it's going to happen any day now.  I am going to miss those moments. 

However, I am ready to go back to work - I am ready to feel creative again, talk to adults (other than my husband, who works at home!) on a daily basis, and get back to what I love to do.  I feel guilty even typing those words, because I often feel like I "should" want to stay home with Diana all day.  The honest truth is that I think we will both be better off with a little outside stimulation.  I have a pretty great situation, workwise.  Because of my schedule, I am finished most days by noon-ish, so I will still be able to spend a lot of quality time with my little one, and do what I love for work. 

Will it be a constant struggle to try to find balance?  Of course.  Will I miss her while I am at work?  Of course.  Will I have days where I want to throw in the towel and quit?  Of course.  But overall, I think I will be a better mommy if I am happy - and once of the things I have learned while being away from work, is that work makes me happy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Race For The Cure This Weekend

I used to say that I had the best reason ever to support Susan G. Komen For The Cure:  my mom.  Now, I have TWO of the best reasons to support Komen:  my daughter.  I sincerely hope to raise her in a world that has found a cure for breast cancer.  Please consider supporting me in the Race For The Cure this weekend - every little bit helps get us closer to finding a cure!

Thank you, from all three of us, for your support!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Best part of my day...

Diana has had the sniffles for about 10 days now - so, when she sleeps, she makes a lot of noise. That means that I don't get much sleep, even when she dozes. It's been a long day today - but this moment makes it worth it.

Funny for different reasons

Both of these articles cracked me up this morning...for very different reasons:

A collection of advice for Dads - a MUST read for men, and a fun read for women:

I had never heard of a "gateway food" before this article:

Hope you have a day you can be grateful for! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tummy time

Today, when we were doing our "tummy time", Diana got a little sleepy... Isn't she precious??

Friday, September 28, 2012

One month old today!

Someone once told me that when it comes to kids that the days are long, but the weeks, months and years are short. They weren't kidding! I can't believe she is a month old already!

My little miracle...

Friday, September 21, 2012

The valuable lesson an iPhone taught me

When we were engaged, S had a work phone that he HATED, but it was free, since it was through work.  He really, really wanted an iPhone...I had one, he was jealous, and he wanted one.  When we were together, S would scroll through the apps and talk about how much he wanted one, one day.

One night, S got more serious.  He started sounding like he was really ready to make a move and go buy one.  We talked it out, and I thought I had convinced him that it would be silly to spend money on a phone when he has a free one through work.  After a few minutes, he said, "OK, we can be done talking about this...", and I felt satisfied that I had convinced him of my argument. 

Flash forward to the following day when I went to go visit him at work.  I asked him a question, and he said, "I don't know the answer to that, let me look it up on my fancy new iPhone", and whipped it off of his belt clip (another issue for another day!) to look it up.  I was shocked!  What happened?  I started arguing with him, and said, "I thought we decided you weren't going to get an iPhone, and here it is less than 12 hours later, and you got one!"  To which he responded, "No, what I SAID was that we were done TALKING about it.  I already knew I was going to get one and didn't see the point in continuing to talk about it when my mind was already made up!"   

I was furious because it was long commitment, lots of money, etc...but I learned a valuable lesson about listening more carefully and picking my fights.  Did I really care about the extra money, or was I more worried about the larger issue of us learning how to make decisions together...or was I even more worried that he was a man with his own ability to make decisions and might not always listen to what I thought was clear logic?? 

As it turns out, it was the latter - and part of what I had to learn (am still learning) is that just because he doesn't "listen" to me, doesn't make it the wrong decision and also doesn't mean that he doesn't value my opinion or love me. It also doesn't mean that we are going to go broke, that he's irresponsible with money, or that we will be always fighting about money.  I am not in charge of him, just like he's not in charge of me.  We are both adults with incomes, and up until we got together, we were both able to make completely autonomous decisions about how to spend our money - now, we were going to have to learn how to compromise, how to give and take, and how to let one another have some latitude to do the things they wanted to do with the money they earned and not let it impact our relationship negatively. 

It meant that we were two adults with different opinions, and that sometimes, it's alright to disagree. 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Girl

Her belly is full, so she is a happy girl! Love that little smile!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Questions I Can't Answer

I remember being a small child, and thinking that my parents knew EVERYTHING.  I even remember trying to test the limits of their knowledge by asking them questions that I felt that they couldn't possibly know the answer to, and still, they always knew.  It was very comforting, and awe inspiring. 

There are times that I still call my dad for advice or information - I just did it last week.  An alert came on in our new car, and S was out of town, training for his new job, and my first thought was "Dad will know".  Sure enough, I called him - he knew.  He actually had several suggestions of how to fix the problem - that's how smart he is about things! 

Fast forward to three weeks ago, when S and I became parents, and it struck me:  Diana is going to look at US the same way!  What??   That can't be right!  We are morons!  (Alright, I'll speak for myself...I am a moron, S is pretty darn smart about most things.) 

Right now, it's pretty simple because her needs are simple.  If she's crying or fussy, there's only one of a few things wrong:  she's hungry, wet or dirty, wants to be held or tired.  I can totally wrap my brain around that.  Four things.  

What I am worried about are the harder questions that will inevitably come.  Not the "where do babies come from?" kind of questions - although, that is sure to be an awkward conversation for both of us.  I am more worried about the questions that I still don't know the answers to, even though I am 36 years old, questions I don't know if I would know the answers to if I lived to be 136, questions like "why does God let bad things happen to good people?"  or "why are some people so mean?"  or "what happens when we die?" or "why does anyone watch the stupid Kardashian shows?"

Honestly, those are questions that I would like the answer to, as well.  I just don't feel like the right response is "I have no idea, kid.  Let me know if you find someone that has the answer to that."  I guess I have some time to think up creative answers to those kinds of questions, considering that she can't even talk yet...but all of the sudden, it seems like I need to shape up, grow up and learn more, quickly.

Anyone else ever feel like that?? 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Diana Dawn is here - and she's growing up so fast, already!

Diana Dawn is finally here! She arrived on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 1:19PM, via c-section at Brookwood Hospital in Homewood, Alabama. She weighed in at 9 pounds, 7 ounces, and measured at 22 inches long - and came out with a full head of gorgeous dark brown hair. I know I am biased, but Diana really is the most beautiful baby ever born.

It's been hectic, to say the least, since her arrival - which won't surprise anyone that has ever had a baby. She is a champion sleeper - when she sleeps, she sleeps hard, which is actually something I prayed for since my side of the family is riddled with insomniacs and light sleepers. She takes after her Daddy, in that regard...thank goodness! Her favorite spot to sleep is always in someone's arms, or right up against Mommy's neck (which I am not complaining about - it's heaven!).
I had my heart set on breastfeeding Diana, but after some serious effort and serious frustrations on both of our parts, it turns out that the best system for us is for me to pump, and for her to take a bottle...and for us to supplement with a little formula when she gets hungrier than I can keep up with. I worried a lot about what other people were going to think of the fact that I am not doing traditional breastfeeding, but as Steven reminded me more than once, we had to do what was right for our family and she is still getting the nutritional and health benefits of my breast milk with the method we have adopted. She lost a lot of weight while she was in the hospital, but now, with our new system, she's back up to 9 pounds, 8 ounces as of our pediatrician's appointment on Wednesday. What a relief!
Someone told me once that when you have a child that the "days are long, but the weeks fly by." That has certainly proven to be truer than I ever could have anticipated. I can't believe it's already been over two weeks since she was born! The days just get away from us so fast - between feeding her, pumping, changing, rocking, trying to sleep myself, etc., they are long days, but they are clipping by so quickly. I have been so lucky to have a great deal of help - whether it was my incredible mother-in-law, who came to stay while S was out of town training for a few days for his new job, or friends that came with meals, or to clean, or ran to the store to pick up the things we needed, I have only had to ask, and whatever I have needed is taken care of.I am sort of obsessed with taking pictures and videos of Diana. I love every new facial expression, sweet noise, and movement. I love how she looks when she sleeps. I love the sighs of contentment she makes after she has a full belly. I love the way she flails her arms wide when I lay her down to change her, as if to say "Wait! Hug me first!" I love how she's already learning how to focus on her mobile that hangs above her bassinet. I've become one of "those people" that documents everything (and I am trying very hard not to post every picture because I know that everyone is not as obsessed with my kid as I am!). Every single thing she does seems to be photo or video worthy - especially because she is growing and changing so much already.Today, I realized that she is growing up already. I went to put a diaper on her, and it just didn't quite fit. I thought maybe it was just because she was laying on it, or I hadn't arranged it properly. However, after a great deal of finagling, it finally occurred to me: she's outgrown the newborn size! How do I have a daughter that is already outgrowing anything? She just got her. Later today, I noticed that she was getting increasingly frustrated when I was feeding her at how slowly the milk was coming out of the bottle, when it finally occurred to me: she is ready for the next stage of bottle! Two things in one day!? I am not ready for this!

Monday, August 27, 2012

What a difference a year makes

Us - August 26, 2012

Today is our one year wedding anniversary - and tomorrow, we go to the hospital to have our first baby! What a difference a year this time last year, I was counting down the hours until I could walk down the aisle to the man that had promised to spend every day trying to find ways to make me happy. Today, I am counting down the hours until "we" become a "three".
Us - August 27, 2011

To my dear husband: Quite simply, thank you for making all of my dreams come true. You have erased all of the tears and heartaches on the very bumpy road that brought us together. God was truly showing off when He made you - and you have set the bar extraordinarily high by the example you set of how a man should love a woman. Thank you for choosing me, for sweeping me off of my feet, and for loving me more than I ever thought it was possible to be loved. Thank you for following through on your promise to find ways to make me happy every day - and thank you for letting me love you in my clumsy, over-the-top, fumbling way, for bearing with me while I adjusted to life as a married...and then, pregnant woman..., and for accepting me, just as I am. Thank you for taking care of me, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I love you to the moon and back....TTBFE, Jeannine Michele

Our friend Kristi came over yesterday and took these photos of us, so we would have evidence of how things were "before baby".

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why I need YOUR help supporting Komen's Race for the Cure this year

I am a proud Board member for the North Central Alabama chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Why do I support Komen? For one reason: I do it in memory of my late mother.
(Mom's last Christmas - December 1999)

My mother, Diane Jenkins Jersey, was the best woman I have ever had the honor of knowing, and it would mean more than anything to have her alive today. I am preparing to become a mother for the first time myself, and her presence is the single thing I want more than anything. Unfortunately, she passed away from breast cancer 12 years ago, at the age of 50.

If you had known my mom, you would know that she wanted nothing more than to raise her children and see them become parents…and then, spoil her grandchildren completely rotten. I hate the fact that she missed on the chance to live long enough to experience that joy, especially now that the arrival of this little one is imminent.
(Mom and me - April 1976)

My mom was first diagnosed when I was a senior in high school, and battled bravely and valiantly while my brother, a junior named Kevin, and my sister, a middle schooler named Jessica, went about trying to live our lives as normally as possible. She tried to keep the true extent of her illness from us, wanting us to be shielded from the side effects of the chemotherapy she was taking, and if we ever expressed concern for her, she valiantly deflected it or assured us that she was in good hands, that my dad was taking good care of her, that the doctors and nurses were providing excellent care, that her friends were supporting her, and that God was comforting her.

Just in time for my high school graduation, my mom finished her treatments, and at my graduation party, she bravely debuted her new shorter haircut, going without her wig for the first time, in public. I had never been more proud or more impressed by her strength.
(Mom and me - circa Summer 1995 or 1996)

She was in remission for about 6 years after that. My brother and I both graduated high school,
and went off to different colleges. My sister began her high school journey, and with each passing year, we settled into a more confident security of Mom’s future health. Mom and Dad started planning for retirement, and even bought a home down at the beach so that they could start making the transition. Mom had a renewed spirit, and spent the next years active in her church, volunteering and having adventures (she even went parasailing!).

Around the time of my college graduation in December of ’99, Mom started to make comments about shoulder pains and not feeling 100%. She thought it was just the effects of turning 50 that month, and assured us that she would tell her doctors about it if it got worse. She continued to be active in her church and with various support groups, and even helped to organize fundraising events – all the while, her cancer was back…and we didn’t know yet.
(Mom and me at college graduation - December 1999)

One of the things that haunts me is that I vividly remember my mom saying when she was diagnosed in 1993 was that all she ever really wanted was to see her kids graduate from high school, that anything over that would be a bonus. My sister graduated from high school at the end of May of 2000, and within three weeks, on Father’s Day, my mother was so jaundiced that she had to be hospitalized. She never came home, and our family has never been the same.

Diane Jenkins Jersey passed away on July 11, 2000 from cancer that had metastasized basically everywhere: her liver, pancreas, brain, and bones. By the time she was hospitalized, it was too late to treat her any further, and we had to say goodbye to the best woman I have ever known.
Even 12 years later, I miss my mother with a fierceness that I never thought possible. I literally
feel like a part of me is missing. Especially now, as I am preparing to make the journey of motherhood myself, there are times each day that I reach for the phone to call her and ask her a question or share a fun update with her. Heaven may have gained an angel that day, but the world is worse off without her here.

Quite simply, through the money raised by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, more moms, sisters, daughters, friends, wives, co-workers, neighbors, and aunts will get to live to see another day. Every woman deserves that chance.

So, why do I support Komen? So that no other son or daughter has to lose their mother. So that no other husband has to watch his high school sweetheart slip away. So that no other sister has to say goodbye to her favorite sibling. So that no other friend has to be deprived of the companionship of an incredible woman. So that no other grandchild has to grow up hearing stories of how Grandma was when she was alive, but instead gets to know the loving embrace of her arms.
This year, I will not be able to walk or run in the actual Race for the Cure here in Birmingham, but I will be participating in fundraising. Please consider making a donation at:
Every dollar counts.

Friday, August 24, 2012

And so, we wait...

On Tuesday morning, while I was at work, I started having some serious contractions - nothing regularly, but enough to get my attention (and that of my coworkers that witnessed them). I called S to tell him that instead of meeting him at our scheduled doctor's appointment that afternoon, that it might be better for him to pick me up and drive me. The last thing I wanted was to be cruising down 31, and crash into the car next to me when I had another contraction!

At the doctor's office, we had our last ultrasound done - and it was determined that this baby was already measuring at 41+ least 8 pounds, 15 ounces. That's not too surprising since we are both kind of big people ourselves, but as the person responsible for actually birthing the child, it did get my attention.

Next, we had a "non stress test" done. (I sincerely don't know why they call it that, because I find it kind of stressful, actually.) We get to watch the baby's heartrate, and see how my contractions measured, and if the baby is affected by them. The heartrate looked good - as it turns out, this baby isn't stressed out at ALL by my contractions, probably because he or she knew that they weren't actually going to acheive his or her arrival any time soon!

Finally, we met with Dr. Brown, and after a pretty uncomfortable physical exam (which I won't detail, in case you are squeamish), she snapped off her glove, sat down and said, "Well, I don't normally do this, but I am going to recommend we schedule a c-section for next week. You'll be 39 weeks pregnant by then, which is a good benchmark for the baby's development, and I think it would be better to go in and get him or her, then to let him or her try to arrive naturally."

After a moment of letting that settle in, she started to explain why. As it turns out, the baby's head is sitting right on top of my pubic bone, and the space between that bone and my sacrum isn't big enough for the head to safely fit through. Doctor Brown said we could try to see if it would work out - but that we would risk brain damage or permanent nerve damage to the baby's shoulders, and damage to me, as well. For most people, this would probably have been shocking to hear, but as it turns out, my mother had the exact same issue...only she found it out after hours of laboring with me! They had to do an emergency c-section to get me out safely. I had informed the doctor of that on our first visit - and she had kept an eye for it all along. We were hoping that because I am significantly taller than my mom, that I would be able to do it the "regular" way, but it turns out that I am more like my mom than I realized!

So, we set on a date - next Tuesday - for the big arrival of this precious baby. Doctor Brown wanted to go Monday, but that's our first wedding anniversary, so we wanted to have seperate days, if we could. (Start laughing now, because you know what they say about the best laid plans....)

And now, we wait...

I am laying low, for the most part, which is REALLY hard for me. I have had more than one friend tell me that I am a human doing, not a human being. I like being busy, but this week, the best plan of "action" is for me to sit down or even better, lay down, and rest. Any movement brings on a contraction, and we want this baby to be fully cooked by next Tuesday. I have had many offers of help and support and prayers and love from S's fantastic family and all of our friends, which I am immensely grateful for, and this week has been spent getting our proverbial ducks in a row, as much as I can from a prone position.

Unfortunately, my side of the family is all far away, and because of a serious health issue with my dad this week while he was up in Maryland, he and my stepmom Carole will be up there when baby finally arrives. Of course, I would love for them to be here on the big day, but really, all I care about for my father is that he get better! Baby will be here waiting when Dad is finally capable of traveling. After spending most of his week in the ICU, the doctors felt confident enough to send him home yesterday with strict orders of taking it easy, and lots of follow up appointments scheduled. Carole is an excellent caretaker - and my sister has been helping to keep an eye on him,, he is in great hands.

So, we are waiting on BOTH fronts...for baby to arrive, and for Dad to heal up! We will spread the news when we have news to spread - until then, we are just waiting...and waiting...and waiting....

Monday, August 20, 2012

As a point of reference...

Today, I went to the hospital to visit a friend - and ran into a woman pushing a stroller with twin boys in it. One look at me and she exclaimed, "Woooo! When are your twins due?"

Sigh....shouldn't she (of all people) honor the rules about not commenting on the size of a pregnant woman's stomach?

To be fair, things are getting a little out of control in the belly area. As a point of reference, this is S's head next to my ever expanding belly. He has a normal size head.