This Too Shall Pass

Life tends to come in waves here. I sometimes find myself bored with the monotony that can occur when your job description is “Mommy,” an all encompassing word that means you do everything and seemingly nothing all at the same time.

But since the fall, the calm of monotony was abruptly disrupted and has been replaced with wave after wave of life. BIG LIFE. Life changing waves that will not stop crashing, leaving me wondering when I will once again be able to take a breathe.

After my miscarriage on my 30th birthday, which, in itself seems a story fit to be written in the pages of a heart wrenching novel, life charged forward with another maybe-kind-of miscarriage in November. We didn’t tell anyone about it. It was a positive pregnancy test one day and bleeding the next. The doctors called it a chemical pregnancy. It may not have even been real.

December came with it’s wave of Christmas cheer and blur of busy as I once again held a lead role in the Broadway style Christmas production at church and we celebrated all of the things that go on with having a 4 year old in Pre-K around the holidays. We traveled to GA to see family and survived more months of nights as my husband continued to trudge through his Anesthesiology Residency.

 

My last GCN performance.

My last GCN performance.

In January, we were met with snow and sickness. Snow that just wouldn’t stop, and my son only attended school for 4 days the entire month. I wanted to be positive about it, but it was completely valid to be going stir crazy with a little one and snow that was too cold and ice-y to even enjoy playing outside in.

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Well, we played a little. :)

 

This too shall pass.

Then I got sick. Very sick. Couldn’t-move-off-the-couch-throwing-up-at-all-hours-of-the-day sick.

A few pregnancy tests later would confirm what I already knew…I was pregnant.

But I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure if it was real and I definitely wasn’t excited since this time it seemed being pregnant meant being dysfunctional.

I gave my husband a positive pregnancy test in a gift bag for Valentine’s Day (and some other stuff too, don’t worry I didn’t just give him a pee stick) and we both were tentatively excited.

At my doctor appointment in late February they confirmed that there was a little baby in there; measuring about 8 weeks. I was given Zofran to try to stop the severe nausea. It helped, but put me in a zombie like state of sleep and no energy. So my choices were throw up all day or lay on the couch like a zombie all day. My son was raised by the TV for about three months and our house was in such a state of disarray that I truly wondered if burning it down and starting over would’ve been an easier solution than somehow figuring out how to clean it up.

This too shall pass.

We told my family and called my husband’s family. “Don’t tell Noah!” My son knew Mommy was sick, but he didn’t know why, and I wanted to make VERY certain that this baby was a sure thing before we told our sweet four year old that he would be a big brother.

My mother-in-law wanted to come up for a visit.

You can, we told her, but the house does not look like it normally does (I never allow company over if my house is not spotless) and you can not wear any perfume or wear anything smelly.

The smell of EVERYTHING made me sick. I couldn’t even stand the smell of our own laundry detergent; we had to re-wash every single article of clothing we owned just so I could get dressed. (All Free and Clear to the rescue!)

“I’m sure the house isn’t that bad,” my mother in law said, until she actually arrived at our house and discovered it was WORSE. “Well,” she said, “it certainly does look different.”

It looked like an episode from Hoarders.

This too shall pass.

My mother-in-law stayed for a week and entertained my TV brainwashed son and did a million loads of laundry and helped with dishes.  She dug us out of a hole I’m not sure I ever would have been able to climb out of.

And then, I started feeling better.

It was the week after my mother in law left that one day, the sun decided to shine.

And my body decided to cooperate.

And for the first time in months, I felt human again.

We even told our sweet little boy that he was going to be a big brother…and he was THRILLED!

Look Whoo's Going to Be A Big Brother!

Look Whoo’s Going to Be A Big Brother!

This too shall pass.

Residency is over in June. So, no matter what, we are starting a new chapter in our lives this summer. My husband began his job search in December, and much to our dismay by March we still had no job. In the midst of my severe sickness my husband finally started getting interviews and was out of town in between weeks of nights. Despite my strong desire to stay in Richmond, there were no available jobs. My husband has always wanted to go back to GA (where we grew up) so most of his interviews were focused there.

We knew we couldn’t stay in Richmond without a job, so we worked diligently to get our house ready to put on the market. Somehow in between severe morning sickness, a traveling and working nights husband, and juggling the care of a 4 year old, our house became not just clean, but also market ready. Surely we would have a job by April, we assumed, and we went about hiring a handy man and a yard crew, renting a POD, and packing and loading and cleaning and meeting with our real estate agent.

April came and we did not have a job. But we had a schedule, and a deadline to get the house on the market if we wanted to really attract the buyers coming in for spring, and a hope that a job offer would come in before our house went under contract. Putting your house on the market doesn’t mean selling it, right?

Our beautiful home.

Our beautiful home.

This too shall pass.

Except it did sell. In three days. We put our house on the market on Friday, April 11th. We had 5 showings, two offers and were under contract by Monday, April 14th at noon. Whose house sells in three days??

But it was not without some drama. Our first offer came in Saturday night, after only one day on the market, for just under full listing price. “You won’t get a better deal than this,” our real estate agent told us. She really wanted us to take it. The bottom line was that it was all just moving too quickly. I didn’t want to sell our house, or leave Richmond, and we did not have a plan of where we were going next. It’s hard to jump when you don’t know where you are landing.

We told our agent we wouldn’t sign anything until Monday and then a second offer came in Sunday night. For more money and a later closing date. It was obviously a better offer for us, but the agents felt we should have gone with the first offer and there was some talk about us being under a “verbal agreement” and making an “ethical decision.” I was guilt ridden and felt pressured and didn’t want to sell our cute little house in the first place. And my husband certainly got the brunt of that emotional meltdown from me.

We did wind up taking the second offer and were under contract by Monday. And that was it. Our home was under contract. We had no job. We were on track to be jobless and homeless at the end of June with two kids. I don’t know the dates, but I do know that there was a day when my husband and I got into a HUGE fight in front of our son. The tension level at our house was so indescribably high and the great unknowns of our future were so looming that it was almost unbearable.

This too shall pass.

A job offer would FINALLY come in on April 22nd. We were elated. It was an AMAZING offer in Atlanta, GA. We finally could feel at peace with what was coming next, even though I was still holding so tightly onto where we are now.

Then, the week where our life status changed every day happened.

On Monday, April 28th, the Atlanta job rescinded the offer. We were back to being on track for jobless and homeless at the end of June. I was a complete disaster. And, as we have come to find out, rescinded job offers? NEVER happen in the field of medicine. We were at a complete loss. On Tuesday, a job in Athens, GA offered a possible part time opportunity. We didn’t know if we could make it work financially, but we were considering it. On Wednesday, April 30th, the Athens job said they may be able to make a full time offer. On Thursday, May 1st, the Athens job officially extended a full time offer in writing and we took it. Because at this point, we simply needed a plan. Shortly after, the Atlanta job called and said there was still a possibility my husband could get that job if he would just wait….I am so proud of him for interrupting and saying that he was no longer interested.

By Friday, May 2nd, we had started paperwork for the Athens, GA job and finally, FINALLY felt that all of the pieces were coming together.

This too shall pass.

As it turns out, juggling a pregnancy, a four year old, church obligations, a new job, selling a house, trying to find a new house, finding a new school for my son, researching a new care provider to switch to in the middle of a pregnancy, doing an opera (yes, I added an opera in there), keeping up with freelance writing, my job for Richmondmom.com and real life (damn you laundry!) is simply insane. I do not think it is wise to change EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT YOUR LIFE ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

This too shall pass. There will soon be a time of calm. There has to be.

But now, right at this moment, we are still stuck in the midst of the waves, just trying not to drown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Snowed and I was on TV

So I accidentally took a week off blogging (again) because it snowed.

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Snow

And apparently, when it snows in Richmond, VA school is cancelled. For an entire week.

I can not tell you how frustrating that is. At the beginning of the week I wrote this sweet post about it on Richmondmom.com. 

By the end of the week I was pulling my hair out. Not literally. More like yelling at my husband and talking myself into online purchases because the little one had not gone to school in 10 days and Mommy was reaching her breaking point.

And here’s the thing; the roads were FINE. There was snow on the ground, but truly there was absolutely no reason school should have been cancelled for an entire week. When we moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Richmond, VA I thought we moved North. In fact, the people in charge of school cancellations here think that the mention of snow is scary enough to close school for a week.

Where have I been? I have been keeping up with my jobs on Richmondmom.com and 5minutesformom.com (because they do awesome things like pay me.) Oh, and I’ve been keeping a 4 year old entertained during his unexpected school hiatus.

Whose up for laundry basket sledding?

Whose up for laundry basket sledding?

And? I was on TV.

Squee!

I was so excited to make my TV debut last Thursday doing a segment on a local morning talk show…talking about baby products! So much fun!

You can watch the TV segment below or by clicking here. I’m the one in the pink. (Curious about my voice? I’ve written about it before.)

 

And you have ONE MORE DAY to enter the Starbucks Giftcard Giveaway! Psst…you would probably win. a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

The Preschool Decision

Ever since my son’s preschool conference in January, I have been plagued with making a preschool decision.

 

For some reason, this decision seems monumentally hard.

 

I have finally succeeded in figuring out why…this is the first parenting decision I’ve had to think about.

 

Weird, right? From the time we find out we are pregnant we have to make parenting decisions. Doctors, birth plans, breast or bottle, crib or in your bed, stay at home or work, decisions, decisions, decisions.

 

The thing for me is, I already knew all of that stuff. I knew I wanted a natural birth (which didn’t happen…I wound up with a c-section.) I knew I wanted to breastfeed and have the baby in the bed with me and do baby wearing instead of car seat carrying. I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom and I knew with 100 percent certainty that those were the RIGHT decisions FOR US. And they absolutely were.

 

When my son turned two I wanted him to start preschool a couple days a week. We found a preschool we loved and even though I had separation anxiety in the beginning, I knew it was a good choice. My son had an excellent year and I adore his first two teachers so much.

 

Then this year he is having kind of an off year in preschool, which made me wonder if his current preschool is still the right choice. He will also be old enough to start the Virginia Preschool Initiative Program this fall, so I wonder if we should take advantage of that resource. After a speech screening we also discovered that he needs speech for slight articulation issues which we have been paying $55 per half hour for once a week. He is not eligible for free services through the school system because his articulation is not severe enough to affect his development. So then enters a financial issue that we can not afford to continue private speech therapy AND next year’s preschool tuition. I am also the Parent Council Chair at my son’s school this year which has turned out to be a huge job.

 

Enter stressed out indecisive Mommy.

 

I think I’m having a hard time separating my frustration with Parent Council duties and my son’s experience at the school. Taking a step back, I realize that I do need to make the separation. I really do not like working with some of the Board members at the school, but if I was just a “regular parent” I would no longer have those responsibilities.
Our first year with his two year old teachers was so amazing, and unfortunately for whatever reason this year  has not felt that way. Part of it is that my guy is more of a “terrible threes than terrible twos” and part of it is that their teaching style seems to be much more supervisory rather than hands on. I also think the class size is too large and other parents have had a difficult time this year too, which is unfortunate. Also each year the tuition rises but unfortunately our budget does not.
BUT, my son still loves his peer group at his current school. He has been with the same kids since he was two years old. Taking a step back, I realize that part of what is making my Parent Council job so difficult is that I’m working so hard because I really do believe in this school and think it’s great. It’s felt right since the first time I toured it and I hate to take him and I away from an environment we’ve both become invested in. I believe his school experience would be teacher and peer dependent no matter what school he went to and know more about the teachers for next year at his current school than I do about ones in a new environment. If he goes back to his current school next year his hours would be Monday-Thursday 9-12, a schedule I feel good about.
The publicly funded (and FREE) Virginia Preschool Initiative program was developed for lower income schools and “at risk” kids, but is still an opportunity for a free preschool program at our local elementary school. The school down the street from us is really working hard to recruit new students and make it a true neighborhood school rather than all of the “privileged families” sending kids to private schools. My concerns are that the school day would be Monday-Friday 8-2 and what he would be exposed to in a lower socio-economic peer group. My son is the youngest in his class, and I worry that a full time schedule like that might be too much for him. Selfishly, I’m not sure I’m ready for him to be gone all day every day. Financially, it’s a great option. Our neighborhood school has this whole parent movement going on right now which is great, but I am nervous about my guy being in the guinea pig class for the new movement of changing the demographics of this school.
I also toured the Preschool Learning center, an entire elementary school devoted to the VPI program. It’s a great concept to have an entire elementary school of 4 and 5 year olds, but I did not feel at home during the tour. I think it was just too big, and it’s hours were Monday-Friday 9-3. With a 15-20 minute drive to get over there, I feel like I would just never get time with my little guy.
I have also looked at other private schools that would be less expensive for us next year, and even one that offers 5 day fours for less than what our current school offers 4 day fours. An extra day for less money sounds great, but I find myself still drawn to our current school because I do believe that in the midst of all of the drama it’s a good school.  And I do wonder about the consequences of changing my son’s  environment for pre-k, then again for Kindergarten, and then again when we most likely will move after my husband completes his residency.
Another factor to consider is our impending move. My husband will complete his residency in the summer of 2014, so we will definitely be in Richmond for one more year. He has applied to a fellowship that would allow us to be here through the summer of 2015, but we do not know if he’s been accepted yet. In Georgia, where we grew up and will most likely be moving back to, the cut off for school is September 1st. In Virginia, the school cut off is September 30th. So here, our son is the very youngest in his class. In Georgia time, he would not be old enough to start pre-K yet, and he will be the very oldest when he does start school there. This is another reason why I’m not sure that going forward with full time school is a good choice at this point.
The other component is speech. After a speech assessment with a private company, they said he needed private speech which we have been doing on Fridays for 30 minutes at $55 per half hour (!) I took him for a screening through the Richmond school system where he could get services for free, but he does not qualify for school services because his articulation issue is not affecting his development, communication, or comprehension. We can definitely not afford the cost of weekly speech and private preschool tuition. I wonder how much he really needs this private speech since the school system doesn’t think it’s a very severe problem.
We are not an older established family like a lot of the families at our current private preschool. We are still at the working our way up point and though tuition increases each year, our budget does not. So between finances, the option for a free state funded pre-k program, and a frustrating year, I’m just not sure what to do.
So that’s where I am now. In between choices and just feeling like this decision is so big because I don’t KNOW the right choice like I did with all of the other parenting decisions.
So many people have talked to me about this from my family to sweet blogging friends on Facebook and Twitter, my friends, and even my son’s sweet first teacher.
My husband is on board with the VPI program because it’s free and he thinks our son might do well with a longer school day and more structure. I genuinely don’t know what would be the best for our son.
I guess I’m writing this post not so much for advice, but for my own processing and to let you all in on the craziness that goes on in my mind.
And now I am going to lay it to rest for a week, because it’s Easter and next week is Spring Break! It couldn’t come at a better time. Happy Easter!

Choosing Memories

We had spent the day getting ready.

Which means I spent hours on make-up and hair in between fixing toddler snacks and playing trains and putting on toddler shows.

We fought about putting on shoes and “please don’t spill milk on your shirt” and “please stop messing up your hair Mommy just brushed it.”

We struggled all day, just the toddler and I.

The husband changed out of scrubs into street clothes and met us at the park straight from work.

We were rushed.

We were tired.

We were all drained.

The toddler had a case of the “I don’t want tos” and screamed and fought and kicked and would not smile.

We begged and pleaded in between rushed and whispered how were your days and looks of desperation.

We bribed with ice cream and even resorted to a scolding.

It was a disaster.

But then our amazing photographer managed to capture these:

My beautiful boy

My sweet family

Fall leaves

The way we were when we were still in our twenties and he was still three

An afternoon in the park (I think this is my favorite)

A silly face

Some of the historic beauty of Richmond(We are right in front of the famous St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA where Patrick Henry gave his “give me liberty of give me death” speech. The sign behind us is noting the historical site.)

A family of three

And so I hope that many years into the future when I see these pictures I will not remember the tired Mommy or the fighting toddler or the rushing over from work husband.

I will choose to remember the beauty of our little family, at that moment in time.

When he was still little, and we were still in this busied, crazy, beautiful stage of life.

*The amazing photographer that manages to make our little family look beautiful is Amy Robinson of Amy Robinson Photography. If you are in the Richmond area, check out her website or Facebook page to book a session!*

 

The Day I Saw the President

The sun was just beginning to peek its way through the trees as I bundled up my still sleepy three-year old son. I comforted him with sweet whispers and wrapped in him layers to protect him from the weather that has ever so subtly and recently brought us into fall.

“We are going to see the President!” I whispered in an excited fervor, as I urged him to put on his shoes.

Not understanding the significance or rarity of such an opportunity  my son whined and struggled, longing for a morning of Disney Junior and sleepy cuddles instead.

When we reached the car, I clicked him in his seat and soothed him and made promises of lunch at his favorite restaurant after the rally was over.

We drove the very short 2 mile drive to a neighborhood just little bit closer to the event than ours, and then my son and I began the walk to the event; a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear the President speak in our hometown.

If we had been able to walk straight through, the walk would have only been 1.2 miles. Due to the heightened security surrounding this presidential event, our walk from the southside of Richmond to the Carillon park where the even took place was 3 miles long; an unexpected undertaking as I embarked on this trip alone with a toddler and no stroller.

Police officers were on tight patrol and the longer walking route was done to endure that no one could enter the event without first going through security. Our walk through residential streets was splattered with vendors selling Obama paraphernalia and I was reminded once again of how we were in the midst of a historically significant election year.

After an hour and a half of walking and lots of toddler carrying, we finally reached the start of the line. There, hidden beneath the trees of a quiet park in Richmond, VA, stood a line of people, all waiting with excited anticipation to see the President of our country. People had been waiting in line since 4:30 in the morning. My son and I finally arrived at the end at 11:00 AM. Leaves fell and covered the crowd in a colorful fall blanket as we joined a crowd of 15,000 people with hopeful hearts.

The crowd waiting to see Obama in RVA, 10/25/2012

A line of people to see the President hidden beneath the fall trees in a RVA park.

The line moved fairly quickly and my son and I were able to find a seat in the grass of the park by noon.

No food or drink was admitted due to security purposes  and admittedly, after our unexpectedly long walk and no food or drink all day, my son and I were both a bit tired and grumpy.

A tired toddler at the Obama political rally

My son and I sat and rested as we watched people continue to pour into the park. Spirits were high and standing there I knew I was in the midst of a group of people who believed in our President and were excited to hear his message.

Music blared through the loud speakers and my son and I passed the time with dancing and cricket chasing and playing with grass.

My son and I at the Obama rally in RVA

 

The Carillon tower decorated with an American flag served as the backdrop of Obama’s rally in Richmond.

Then it started. The large crowd hushed as we were led in the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem under the backdrop of a large flag hanging from the Carillon tower.

 We were led in an opening prayer by a local Richmond pastor. We got to hear speeches by Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-3rd, Former Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate Timothy M. Kaine, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

And then we got to see President Barack Obama.

My view of the rally, 10/25/2012. I couldn’t see much, but I could hear him and I was inspired by being at such an event.

The crowd’s screams of excitement were so moving and invigorating that they washed all previous complaints of tiredness and hunger away.

Here we were, in a crowd of 15,000 people, standing in a park just a few miles from our house, listening to the President of the United States give a speech. I was humbled by the historic significance such a gathering and the once in a lifetime chance that I was able to be there.

At some point before the president arrived my son fell asleep. I listened to President Obama as I held a sleeping toddler. My back ached with the weight of a 33 pound child resting in my arms, but my spirit was lifted by words of hope. My son woke up before the President gave his closing remarks and even got wrapped up in the crowd’s emotions himself, as he offered a few claps and “yays!”

It was a campaign rally, to be sure. President Obama stressed the importance of voting and outlined his policies and even made a few remarks about his opposing candidate, Romney. But when someone in the crowd began to boo, Obama said, “No, don’t boo, Vote!”

Throughout the day, people made comments about my son being there. I heard it all from, “Wow, you are brave to bring him here!” to “He’s so lucky you brought him.” to “I think you are doing a great thing. It’s so important. ” to a whispered hush of “Why would she bring a kid here?”

Perhaps it was a bit brazen of me to embark on round trip 6 mile walk and 4 mile drive alone with a toddler, no stroller, and no food or drink. There were certainly times in the day when I thought that maybe it was just plain crazy. But I am so very glad that we went.

I know my son did not understand the historical significance of such a moment and political policies and elections are (thankfully) not yet a part of his world.

But they are oh so important.

And so one day, when my son gets older, I will tell him that when he was 3 years old he got to see the President of the United States speak at a park close to our home in Richmond, VA. I will tell him that he got to be a part of history that day and how lucky he was to get to hear a sitting president speak in person.

Regardless of your political opinion, I think there is still a sense of awe in getting to watch the President of our country speak. I felt inspired and honored to get to be part of such an experience. And if the President of the United States ever comes to speak at a park just 5 miles away from your house? I think it is definitely worth going.

 

*Here are links to articles in the Richmond Times Dispatch, detailing the President’s time line of the day and an overview of the event.*

Carillon Hosts Obama 

Obama Rallies 15000 at Carillon in Richmond