Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Also, it's been a while since my last post. Why? Well, it has to do with the content of this particular post. I am a mama, and I work.
Some may say we timed Jude's birth perfectly. The English teacher and band director had their firstborn in June, just after spring semester final exams and right before putting together a halftime show. The truth is, we would have welcomed a baby any ol' month.
I used to think the summer of 2001 was the best summer of my life. That summer I plunged wholeheartedly into independence. I had just finished my first year of college, moved to Oxford to live with my sister, held a job and took summer classes at Ole Miss. Between Trigonometry and my shift at Abner's, Amanda and I relaxed on the couch watching Springer, drinking rum runners, and smoking cigarettes. Those three vices equalled one perfect life. I put sleep on the backburner many nights in order to enjoy a party, earn a little extra cash for closing the restaurant, or carry on conversations about what my future absolutely did not hold for me (i.e. becoming a teacher like my mother--HA).
Fast forward ten years later, and my summer consisted of learning the ropes of motherhood. Once again, sleep took a hike, but this time, I wasn't going to a party. Instead, I was tending to the every need of the latest and greatest fellow in my life. Those eight weeks of learning Jude's different cries (hunger, wet, or just plain ol' pissed off), trying to keep the house in order (that shipped sailed about two weeks post partum), and bonding with my child were some of the most precious times I will probably ever have. However, just as I couldn't drink the rum-runners and smoke the menthols every day (luckily, those were just habits limited to my nineteen-year-old self. She was about a dumbass, by the way), so too did my glory days spent with Baby Jude have to end.
I have to say, I do not feel guilty about going back to work. When I dropped Jude off at Lilly's for the first time, sure I cried, but I knew what I had to do, and luckily I went back to work because I wanted to go back. I do miss Jude during the day, and I'm always excited to see him when I pick him up from Lilly's house. When I returned to work, I realized just how much I missed my colleagues and my students. This job was never just a paycheck to me but instead a really large part of who I am, something God has called me to do. Of course, I never was one to do something for anything other than the sheer fulfillment of it. For the past five and a half years, with very few setbacks, I have looked forward to coming to Holmes Monday through Friday and facing whatever challenge was in store for me that day.
Whenever I am home with Jude, I truly enjoy my time with him. We read stories, go for walks, hang out in the kitchen, and totally take advantage of learning about the new world he and I have both found ourselves.
Of course, I guess my glory days of staying at home didn't really end. Since I get an extended Christmas holiday and ten weeks off in the summer, I guess we could say the glory days are put on "Pause" for now.
Monday, October 24, 2011
For all interested parties, I gained a total of 26 pounds during the pregnancy, and at my 5-6 week post-partum check-up, had already lost 24 of it. Let me tell you something I've learned. Numbers lie.
I may be back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but my body is certainly not back to its pre-pregnancy form. I have slightly wider hips and a mini-FUPA (this is basically a crass acronym that my friend Sarah and I once spent hours (literally--hours) laughing over. I won't tell you what the letters stand for, but it's basically a sagging stomach. And it is ugly.) I only have one pair of jeans that fit (well, they button and zip but produce a slight muffin-top). Once upon a time, I called those jeans my "fat jeans." Now I just call them "my jeans."
However, in recent weeks, I have seen some changes in my body--positive ones.
All of these changes come, thanks in large part, from Reggie Haralson. Four weeks, ago, I made a commitment. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I get up at 4 a.m., leave the house at 4:30, arrive to Goodman at 5, and begin an hour of grueling workouts created by Reggie. He trains the athletes here on campus, and most of my days working out, I think he mistakes me for one of those young, strong, strapping football/baseball/basketball/softball/whateverball players. After the workout concludes, I shower somewhere on campus (depending on vacancies--haven't thought much about what I would do on a day lacking in vacancies. Can't think about it, really.)
I'm not the only one suffering through the workouts, either. Four of us meet up each time with similar goals toward weight loss and fitness. I have to say that these folks make the waking up and facing the seemingly unattainable challenge a lot of fun. Another fun part I experience includes having Reggie demonstrate some exercise that looks like hell would freeze before I could get my body to move like that, and then I turn around and actually complete it (or something like it.)
Today's workout left me speechless and breathless. We had to do chin-ups (among many other things. O.k. simple enough, but no. Not even close. This contraption which we performed this exercise on required us to climb some 2-3 feet off the ground. (To someone as afraid of heights as I am, 2-3 feet may as well be 2-3 thousand feet.)Once we climbed up, we then moved our hands to the handles and stepped both feet into the elastic band (I wonder if others were as terrified of being the one to break the band as I was). With Reggie's assistance (how much assistance is beyond me since my arms were a hurtin'), we did 10 chin-ups. With my eyes closed the whole time, I tried not to think of plummeting to my death. After my last chin-up, I completely freaked out, so Reggie had to get me down. I should have been mortified, but I was actually quite pleased with myself that I didn't cry. I wanted to cry so very badly, too.
But days like today allow me to test my limits and to do what I initially deem impossible. Of course, I hope we don't do any more chin-ups for a while, but at least I know I can do 10 of them. My hope for Jude is that he will push himself beyond what he thinks possible. Just as I'm getting my body back in shape, Jude is starting to grasp the concept of mobility. And once he finally gets going for good, may nothing stop him from discovering what's beyond possible.
Now, for all of those inquiring minds wondering what happens to Jude while I'm G.I. Janing it at work: Jeffrey gets him up and ready to take to the baby-sitter. He totally understands my drive to exercise, and as a bonus, he gets in some quality time with his son, especially since he gets home late on so many of those days. Perhaps knowing that Jude is in great hands while I go about achieving this particular goal motivates me to push myself more.
No, I don't plan on entering any kind of body building contests any time soon (or ever), but I hope I can continue to exercise with these great people and this great trainer. Plus, maybe I'll get a better body than my pre-pregnancy one out of the deal!
Friday, October 14, 2011
We got to the doctor's, stripped the boy down to his diaper, covered him with a blanket, and waited on the nurse to come in and check his height, weight, head, etc. True to form, Jude behaved practically perfectly--never even noticed his clothes were off (a future NASCAR fan I'm raising, perhaps?).
The nurse came back in to do her business, and we found out that Jude's head circumference is...I can't remember, but he currently weighs 13 lbs. 6 oz. (25 %) and is 24 3/4 inches long (45 %). He's a long, lean baby, that's for sure. Through all of that, he never cried, whimpered, anything.
So I figured I have a few good months left before Jude deduces that doctor=shots. He was doing so good and just flirting away with his nurse. This was a piece of cake.
I was wrong.
In came Dr. Stewart, and as soon as he took that baby, that baby hollered, and he didn't stop until that last shot was given--and that was about 30 minutes later. Yep. Jude rejected that doctor like Brett Michaels would reject a woman with conservative style and strong morals. How did Jude know?????
Dr. Stewart, whom Jeffrey claims resembles the lead singer of Staind, is actually very good with Jude. In fact, Jude has liked him the last two visits, but I guess he recalled those 6-8 week shots and won't have anything to do with Dr. Stewart any more.
Some things Jeffrey and I both learned from the doctor:
1. Jude is pretty advanced for his age, and we should go ahead and baby-proof the house--like right now.
2. Crawling is in our VERY near future.
3. The boy is strong. (He did kick the doctor a few times. We'll work on that later.)
4. and I'm excited about this one---time for solid foods that are not rice cereal (which actually translates to food pureed into a fine paste).
And a final thought on the 4 month check-up: I don't know who was more pitiful--Jude or Jeffrey. Hopefully, Jeffrey will come back with us for the 6 month check-up.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Education started with me.
I needed to school myself in taking care of my body to ensure a healthy pregnancy. I took a common sensical approach--if it's bad for you (in other words, if it tastes good), don't eat it.
Once I got that less than fun practice underway, I next learned how to have a baby. Lots of pictures, diagrams, anatomically correct models, and loads of tasteless jokes later, I wasn't what one would call ready, but I knew kind of what to expect.
Then there was the breastfeeding class. Skip ahead to the next one.
The point is, preparing for a baby, for me anyway, was much like preparing for my Masters Comps, except I didn't get three chances with a baby. I only got one shot (anyone else faintly hear Eminem's "Lose Yourself" playing in the background?). I was determined to make it count, and after all was said and done, I'd give myself a B+. ( I totally missed the part in childbirth class about the possibility of the epidural not working.)
Education did not stop with the birth of Jude either. I've gone from learning about baby bathroom habits to learning about clothing sizes to growth percentile charts to , my latest obsession, introduction to solid foods and how to prepare those foods at home (no jar crap for my kid, at least that's my stand for the moment. I've eaten many words since I've become a parent with "pacifier" being the toughest word to chew to date.)
I figure parenting will just be another one of those "continuing ed." courses. There's always something new to learn. Good thing I love school.
All the while I've spent learning how to achieve perfection as a mother (got a looonnnng way to go on that one), I've also dedicated time to Jude's education. Looking for a way to stress yourself to the point of pulling out hair and curling into a fetal position while rocking back and forth? Try comparing different schools' curriculums, tuitions, extra-curricular activities, and classroom/teacher ratios, wait-lists, and that'll do it!
Yep. Jude turned four months old this past Friday, and I've already researched different private schools where he'll start 4-K, driven by them, calculated how much I need to start putting back, picked up the phone and dialed before hanging up after the first ring (for fear someone at the school will discover what everyone else already knows about me--that I'm a weirdo), and mapped out several alternatives of how Jeffrey and I will get him to and from school since both of us commute 30 minutes from our home to work.
Let me back up and explain. Jeffrey and I live in Canton, MS--a place known for its historical Victorian beauty (although, our home is one of the newer ones--a craftsmen style bungalow built in 1924) and terrible public schools. Given that we stay in Canton (and we do really like the area and love our home even more), Jude will have to attend a private school.
Now, don't get wrong. There's always the possibility he will attend Canton Public Schools. See, these four years before he marches off to elementary are his trial run. During this time, Jeffrey and I monitor Jude's behavior and will take it from there. If Jude acts like a good little boy, we'll send him to private school--no questions asked. However, if he decides to turn into a little terror, he will need the survival training that only Canton Public could offer. Simple enough, and so far, Jude's been a perfect angel, as if he already knows Mama and Daddy's scheme.
Jeffrey and I have already selected a school for him--St. Anthony in Madison. We like the school for several reasons. First, Jude has the opportunity to learn our faith, Catholicism, every day, not just at home but in school as well. Second, St. Anthony takes part in the Whole Schools Initiative--a program through the Mississippi Arts Commission that integrates fine arts across the disciplines. My mother did her doctoral studies on this type of curriculum and serves as a field advisor for Whole Schools. In other words, Jude will have a little piece of family history invested in this sort of learning. Third, the student to teacher ratio is small, which is code for "Hurry up and get him on a wait list."
Anyway, of all the schools in our area, we like this one best. Of course, within four years, things could change. We could end up moving, Jeffrey could leave Holmes and take a job in Madison County School District (which has excellent schools as well), Jude could turn into a delinquent and find himself in Canton Public Schools, or we could have a change of heart about some of the other area private schools.
Of course, what we ultimately want is the best education for our child. Unfortunately, the school we really like as of now is expensive but not entirely impossible for us to send him there. Sacrifices will have to be made, but doesn't that hit at the heart of parenthood?
Every day, I compose a prayer for two things: Jude's education and Jude's future wife. I've long ago accepted (begrudgingly so) that my little boy will one day become a man. If these two things fall into place, maybe he'll turn out o.k.
Monday, October 3, 2011
My friend, just like myself, tried to but couldn't. So my question is, what are girls like us supposed to do--starve our children?
I feel fortunate that no one, so far, has approached me about my decision to formula feed. The worst I've gotten so far is "Well, at least you tried," which is actually pretty crappy since I find nothing wrong with a woman choosing not to breastfeed from the getgo.
Fortunately, I've found throughout my life that typically no one really questions me when I have big decisions to make. (Well, there was that stint throughout undergrad where I decided to major in English and even doubled my marketability with a degree in History. My parents, though they supported me, surely had some concerns that I would dwell in one of their attics for the next 30 or so years. I showed them, though. A band directing husband and a Masters degree later, I finally arrived to my career as English Instructor at a community college.)
Anyway, I attribute that I'm never questioned to one or maybe a combo of three things:
(1) I'm already just so brilliant that anybody need not question my motives.
(2) people take notice of my commanding presence (i.e. tall, gym coach-like physique) and find it best not to ask questions
(3) I wouldn't notice someone's doubt if it hit me in the face.
Yeah. The first option definitely proves most befitting.
Back to the baby feeding topic, though. Seriously, I have heard people say things like "No woman lacks the ability to breastfeed". I'm not entirely convinced by this statement's validity. When Jude dropped over a pound of his birth weight in just a matter of days and then took until he was nearly two months to put the weight back on, I think that was my first clue that something wasn't quite working. Not to mention, when I finally gave up the practice, I never had to perform any of those tricks that would help me "dry up," so to speak. So either I'm not a woman (and even though I did drop a gym coach reference earlier, I promise that was me in those stirrups pushing eight pounds of life into the world) or that statement is plain assanine.
I've also heard that same statement backed up with "After all, that's how everyone did it in the old days." Ok. Well, I do buy that. I also believe that infant mortality was higher and, oh yeah, didn't some babies have wet nurses? What ever happened to that sanitary practice?
Anyway, Jude's been a formula-fed baby since about 2 weeks old, and he's happy as a clam and growing like a weed. Maybe he'll be sicker than breastfed babies, but for now, I'll just take the precautions of running a humidifier when he sleeps and bathing him every day. Maybe he'll be morbidly obese one day, but in the meantime, I'll prepare balanced, nutritious meals and encourage daily exercise by playing with him.
So to all those breastfeeding mamas out there. I admire and respect what you're able to do. I wish I was included in that lot. However, I had a choice to make, and I too have a happy, thriving almost four month old.
To my friend: I'm sorry people have been so wretched. You have no idea how this makes my blood boil and my heart hurt My guess is their ability to breastfeed is the ONLY thing that's working out in their lives so they must "latch on" to it. After all, the best way to hide our own inaccuracies is to spin someone else's choice as flawed.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Thanks to the inventors of these, diaper duty has become both easy and economical in our household. Plain and simple fact: babies pee and poop (just like us--WOW). The recepticle in which these pint size people perform this job in can get pretty expensive. This is a Bumgenius 4.0 one size diaper. Some cool features include: it grows with the child up to 35 pounds; it is reusable; it washes well (haven't had a stain yet) with just detergent; it's a time efficient diaper--no spending hours scrubbing needed; and most importantly, Jude seems to like wearing them. The diaper wicks away moisture better than a disposable, in my opinion, and the leaks are not as frequent as with disposables. The best part--I put up a one time expense on these bad boys and never have to buy another diaper again. Sign me up!
I'm in total debt to my friend Libba for using them on her boys (who were born before mine). These diapers came highly recommended by her. Since she's a working mother like myself (and stays waaaaay busier than I do), I figured, "Why not give them a try?" Boy, am I glad I did.
Of course, as with any diaper, there are some cons: the main one being scraping the poop. However, Jeffrey and I invested in the Bumgenius diaper sprayer which hooks up to the toilet and gives off this supersonic jet stream of water to blast that poop right off of there and into the pot. We never have to touch it, and clean-up is done in a cinch!
Another con is the diaper pail. Holy Mackerel! Does that thing stink! At least with disposables, you can stick the diaper in a Diapergenie, and that plastic bag wrapping thingy covers up the odor, but for cloth diapers, it's an entirely different story. However, I keep the odor at bay with Lysol spray and I scrub it out with Lysol lemon scented wipes. That seems to help.
However, with the money I'm saving each week on diapers and the fact that cloth diapering is healthy for little Jude's bum (something I found out from my pediatrician--not sure how it's healthier, though), I guess I can manage the clean-up o.k.
Of course, others' reactions have ranged from utterly disgusted to sheer awe. Just as they don't give two flips what I think of any decisions they make, I could care less what they think of my diapering choice. (Supplemental thought--the second Jeffrey and I announced our pregnancy, people who were parents along with the childless people were hurling opinions at us as if they were stoning a radical religious martyr. The more "You should do this"s I heard, the more I ignored and did my own thing.) However, one opinion outside of our household does matter--the baby-sitter's.
In the near future, I want to write a post on how awesome our child care provider is. I'm not going to go out on a limb and say Ms. Lily loves our cloth diapers. She hasn't said one way or the other. However, she respects mine and Jeffrey's decision and keeps Jude in them rather than insisting he wear disposables. Also, even though I've told her to just put the dirty ones in a plastic bag for me to wash out when I get home, she rinses those dirty diapers before putting them in the plastic bag. I appreciate Ms. Lily for many things since she first started keeping Jude two weeks ago, but this is one of those things that tops the list.
Diapering certainly is far from glamourous. Things that excite me have gone from attending seriously awesome rock concerts to "Hey check out the pressure on this sprayer!" Jeffrey and I made a choice to use these cloth diapers, but I do understand others' choices to use disposables. In fact, friends have given us disposable diapers that their children have outgrown before they finished the package, and we've appreciated the generosity and use them whenever we're away from home for a while. However, I'm not necessarily going to rush out to buy my own since I have a perfectly good set of cloth ones that do the job just fine.
I'm just grateful to have this option available to me. The same people who have expressed negativity toward our decision more than likely aren't people I would turn to for sound parenting advice anyway.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Tonight, I learned that my cousin Courtney got engaged to the love of her life. I am so excited for her! (I actually knew this was going to happen since her mom told my mom who then told me; it's been a long week of waiting to hear when we could all start shouting from the rooftops.) Courtney and I have a lot in common--mainly our love of shopping and accessorizing. Her mom, my Aunt Evelyn, always says she blames me for how Courtney turned out. It's one of the best compliments I've ever received. We have shared some really great times together, Courtney and I, and she even opted to have me and our moms go with her on a cruise for her senior trip instead of traveling with her friends. Since I'm my parents' youngest child, I've always kind of pretended Courtney was my little sister--someone I could love and look after--a way to pay forward all of the love I have received from my big sister. And now Courtney is getting ready to be a married lady!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
I don't know precisely when Jeffrey and I decided we should go forth and multiply, but I do remember we were not always on board with the idea. When we first got married, I had plans for graduate school, Jeffrey wanted to get established in his career, I wanted something that could pass for a career--wasn't quite sure what at the time, and basically children were the furthest things from our minds.
So after we accomplished those life goals, and add to that a brand new (well, new to us; the place was built in 1924) home and a van (to haul Jeffrey's drums, not for kids--actually, Jude has yet to ride in the van), we finally arrived at the inevitable--kids. We felt pretty good about our position on family. We both pretty much agreed on how we would raise them (although I'm still not totally on board with Jeffrey introducing Jude to sci-fi. I mean, I know he's little now, but eventually I will want Jude to date and get married, and nothing repels a woman quite like Dr. Who.) Anyway, we were ready.
It actually took a few years and a lot of heartache before Jude graced us with his presence. I'm not quite ready to share our experience in detail with the world, and I don't know when or if I can ever put that into words, but for those couples who struggle to have children, you are not alone. You really do have to have patience and lots of it (having God in your corner helps too). But here's what I can say about my experience: Jude was well worth the wait, and I'm saying this after having just changed a blow out of a diaper.
I've had many humbling experiences in my lifetime (and my faithful readers who have been following this blog with its sarcastic wit, you've probably already gathered this). However, this particular one takes the prize. I definitely learned my lesson on patience. Now I'm not going to say that from here on out, I will be the most patient person ever put on Earth who makes Job look like a jealous wretch, because even since Jude's arrival, I've had some setbacks. However, my fits are not as frequent as they once were. After all, when something doesn't go as planned, I now have a little face that looks at me daily to remind me to just let it go.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
It's been a few days since my last post, babies can be sort of high maintenance, but I'm finally ready to continue my story.