Monday, April 30, 2012

Absolutely Not!

We’re coming up on the five year anniversary of moving into our house, and I’m happy to report that we have finally done something with our backyard…or at least part of it.  We bought our house shortly after we got married, and thought—at the time—that it would be a good idea to buy an acre lot.  Looking back, I think that we probably bit off more than we could chew.  But here we are, five years later, and we finally made some real progress.  Don’t get me wrong—we have been working on developing our desert space on and off for the last five years, but now, we finally have something to show for it.

Since we live in the desert, we decided to put down artificial turf.  Many of you might be wrinkling your nose at the idea—and I know that my husband initially did as well—but I just couldn’t, in good consciousness, throw away the amount of water that would be needed to keep up a nice lawn here in Arizona.  I admit, it’s a little “crunchy” to walk on, but overall, we are so pleased.

(Sorry...I seem to run into problems with turning pictures from my phone)
That tree you see in the corner?  That is the tree that we planted the week that Ella was born.  We had been wanting to add a tree, and it just made sense to plant it at the same time as Ella’s birth so that we could marvel at the growth each year (though I admit that I never got around to taking a picture of her in front of the tree on her birthday).   
(I apologize again for not knowing how to turn these pictures)
 If you look carefully, you’ll see that the placement of the brick patio didn’t end up perfectly in line with the tree, so the path narrows a bit in that corner.   It shouldn’t be a big deal because—like I said—it’s artificial turf, so it’s not a big deal if you step off the path to walk around the tree. 
But my husband—bless his heart—had the nerve to suggest that we cut down the tree—the “Ella tree”—so that we could fix the corner to look like the others.  My response:  “Absolutely not!”.  Perhaps the tone of my voice made him reconsider his proposal, because he didn’t push the subject.  I recognize that my “magical thinking” isn’t real, and that cutting down the “Ella tree” doesn’t mean that we would be causing her any sort of harm, but it just feels so entirely wrong to even consider doing such a thing.  Who cares if the path isn’t perfect?  She’s not going to be perfect either, and we will most definitely love her anyway!

I’m very excited to have this new space for Ella.  She came home yesterday and immediately walked to the backdoor pleading “Outside? Outside?”.  We’ve been having amazing weather in the evenings, and I’m so glad that she has this new space outdoors in which to play.  I look forward to playing catch and soccer with her in the future, but for now, I’m totally enjoying her fascination with moving the rocks and picking up flower petals.

Today’s blessing was the chance to go out to lunch with my supervisor and our “big boss lady”, who shared a really nice compliment with me and told me that I’m doing a great job of balancing being a mom and a good employee.  She can be a little on the critical side, and is never afraid to share her mind, so I feel that I must be doing something right to get such a compliment from her.  I really am blessed to have two amazingly strong women (and mothers themselves) as professional role models.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Old Reliable

I decided to start tracking my temperature again this month.  From what I can tell, I ovulated on Monday (day 24).  Before Ella, tracking my temperature and being able to confirm that I had indeed ovulated was very reassuring.  I think that--for me--there is a fine lines between being "aware" and being "obsessed", but I think that I'm doing a pretty good job so far of not crossing over to the point of no return--and I have two ways to prove it:

1.  On a whim, I bought an ovulation predictor kit back in January when my husband was out of the country, but haven't gotten around to ever using it.  I may use it next month; it just hasn't been a priority yet.

2.  I'm headed out to New York for work trip #2 and didn't bring my thermometer.  I'm fairly certain that I ovulated earlier this week, so there's really no point in tracking it these couple of days while I'm in the middle of a two week wait.  

I am hopeful that even though my cycle seems to be a little on the longer-than-average side, it seems to be fairly "regular" least from what I can tell so far.  Time will tell...

So like I said, I'm headed out to New York for another work trip.  My husband has Army Reserves responsibilities this weekend, so my mom was gracious enough to come out to watch Ella.  She hasn't attempted to say "Grandma" yet, but proficiently signs the word (which is good enough for my mom, but it's her goal to teach Ella the spoken word this weekend as well).  As with my dad, Ella is clearly smitten with my mom, and had the giggles since her arrival yesterday afternoon.

This week's blessing is that we're having our backyard done, and it's looking so good!! The brick patio is just about done, and Ella couldn't wait to break it in with her little horse. It's like she knew that the patio was designed just for her outdoor entertainment (which really, it was).  The artificial turf (remember, we live in Arizona, and I just couldn't justify the real stuff) goes in today, so I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished product when I return.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

First Night Away

Last night was my very first night away from Ella.  In the last eighteen months since her birth, there have only been a handful of nights when I haven't been home to put her to bed, but I've always been able to give her a kiss while she sleeps, and have been there to greet her in the morning.  But not last night, and not tonight either.

I'm in Chicago for work, and while I'm thoroughly enjoying this trip, I admit that I sincerely miss my baby girl.  I know that she is in good hands with my dad.  He is absolutely wonderful with her, and she really seems to be enjoying her time with him.  But I admit that I miss her.

Thanks to modern technology, I've been able to Skype with them a couple of times.  I have even been able to maintain my New Year's Resolution of reading to her every day by reading her a quick picture book (and I trust that she's getting plenty more books read to her by my dad, who read to my brothers and I each night through high school). 

We have one more presentation to do tomorrow afternoon, so our flight isn't until later in the evening, which means that Ella will be asleep by the time I get home tomorrow night.  But at least I know that I will be able to wake up with her on Monday morning. 

Today's blessing was a really successful day here in Chicago!  We saw some great students, I ate a lot of great food, and I spent time with some great colleagues.  Yes, I'm sad to be away from Ella, but it's also a blessing to be able to travel and do what I love, knowing that she's in good hands with my dad.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I've Been Replaced

My dad is here to visit, and I think that I may have been replaced as Ella's "go-to person".  She is completely in love with her Boppy (or "Boppa", as she calls him).

I picked Ella up a little early from daycare yesterday and told her that we were going to go pick up her Boppy from the airport.  On the entire 15-minute drive over there, all I heard coming from the backseat was "Ella! Boppa! Ella! Boppa! Mama! Ella! Boppa!".  She clearly was excited to see him!

I travel to Chicago for the weekend, and since my husband is also traveling, my dad was kind enough to fly out to spend some quality time with Ella.  I probably could have found a friend to babysit Ella for the weekend, but my dad was more than happy to oblige, since he hasn't seen her since her birthday in September.  My mom comes out next weekend when my husband and I again both travel.  It's unfortunate that they don't live closer, but I am so very appreciative that they are willing to travel to see Ella and help out when we need it.

I was blessed the other day to be awarded with a campus award for one of the groups that I advise.  This will be my last year working with this group, as my responsibilities have shifted and a new advisor will be taking over.  It was a really nice culminating experience after working with this group for the last five years.  It has really been a blessing to work with some really amazing students over the last five years. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Well That Was Also Embarrassing!

Apparently this just isn't my week.  After Wednesday's "tinkle" episode, I had another less-than-ideal situation yesterday.

Ella got sick earlier this week, and apparently shared her germs with both me and my husband without either of us even realizing it...until we were both at work yesterday afternoon and both started feeling miserable.  Not knowing that he was feeling like crap as well, I called him to see if he could perhaps pick her up from daycare so that I could go straight home.  I work five minutes away from her school, and we live a half-hour away, so it doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's how yucky I felt.  Little did I know that he was feeling the same way, so I sucked it up, left work an hour early, and went over to get her.  As I was walking through the courtyard, I got that undeniable feeling and I knew I was going to get sick. 

I got to her room, walked right past her, told her teacher I needed to use the restroom, and promptly threw up in the little child-sized potty.  Poor Ella--she was standing outside the door asking "Mama? Mama?".  The teachers were very kind and understanding, but suggested that I perhaps take Ella's blanket home with us for the weekend "in case" she didn't come back to day (I can take a hint--she's home today with my husband).

We made it home, and although we didn't demonstrate the most engaging parenting strategies for the evening, we somehow made it through to her bedtime.  Poor Ella--she kept trying to get both of us up off our respective couches, and I kept telling/signing to her that Mommy and Daddy were both hurt.  She went to sleep at 6:45, and I followed suit at 6:46 (my husband never actually got off the couch until this morning).

I have a lot of appointments this morning, so it's back to work for me, while my husband stays home with Ella.  He had planned to take today off to work around the house, but he and she will have a lazy play-day instead.  I'm feeling okay so far, so I just hope that I can make it through the day.

Today's blessing is knowing that the weekend is in sight.  My husband and I have been running in different directions lately, and we'll be traveling for the rest of the weekends in April, so we're really looking forward to the chance to celebrate Easter together as a family...assuming that we all feel well enough to celebrate.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Well That Was Embarrassing!

So this morning, I learned the hard way that I apparently should have done more Kegel exercises when I was pregnant with Ella.  Without going into all the details, let's just say that a lingering cough and a full bladder lead to an embarrassing situation.  I don't know if any of my colleagues or students actually noticed, but I was definitely self conscious as I left our staff meeting and made a beeline for my office. 

Let this be a lesson to any pregnant readers out there:  do your Kegel exercises!

Today's blessing was learning that my husband and Ella will get to join me on my upcoming work trip to Seattle at the end of the month.  We had a great time last year, when Ella was right around seven months old, and it will be so different this year!  But we're looking forward to a great weekend away together. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Hurt & The Healer

I heard a song on the radio that brought back so many memories of times of doubt and pain.  I wish I had this song during those times to remind me of a Healer that can use that pain and bring healing.

by MercyMe

The question that is never far away
The healing doesn’t come from the explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have
All that remains

So here I am

What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive

Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide


Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

So here I am

What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive

Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

It’s the moment when humanity

Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

I’m alive

Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into your arms open wide
When The hurt and the healer collide

Jesus come and break my fear

Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide 

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here 

I recognize that having Ella changes my perspective, but I believe that God starting bringing a new sense of peace into my life even before I found out I was pregnant with her.  I do believe that God has the power to heal.  I still feel that part of me died when I lost my first three babies, and I still think of them often as I marvel at Ella.  But my hurt collided with the Healer, and the Healer won. 

I just thought I'd share the song with anyone out there who is still struggling with the pain.  It brought me peace, and I hope that it can do the same for you.

Today's blessing was getting out the door a couple minutes earlier so that I could take my time dropping Ella of at daycare this morning.  I'm usually pretty tight on time, so I don't have time to--literally--stop and smell the flowers with her, like she often wants to do each morning.  But today, with gorgeous weather, we got to explore the flower beds near the door to her daycare and really enjoy the beauty of the desert.   

Sunday, April 1, 2012

If Only It Were That Easy

I have another colleague in my office who I just learned is pregnant.  As we were chatting around the lunch table about all the babies that our office has experienced over the last couple of years (five births since 2008, with two more on the way in Fall), she had the audacity to say "must be something in the water".  Sure, I get that it was intended as a joke, but you and I both know that it's clearly not that easy.  And so without making too big of a scene, I said so.

I realize that pregnancies might come really easily for some, and they might even feel like it's okay to joke about it.  But for me, pregnancy is a beautiful and delicate thing that could come and go so quickly.  It's a special and sacred time--one that is full of wonder and awe, and yet also has a bit of worry and fear attached to it.  Perhaps I would feel different if it were as easy for us as drinking the office water, but our history has shaped us.

I have a good news-bad news sort of update on our attempts at "hoping to conceive" a sibling for Ella. The good news is that my cycle showed up at 36 days, so shorter than the previous month.  But the bad news (if you can really call it that) is that it did indeed show up, despite some pretty well-timed anniversary celebrations.  I'm a little sad, but ultimately, I'm pleased that my cycle is becoming more "regular", so that's what I'm going to focus on.

 Today's blessing was the chance to snuggle with Ella a bit as she went down for her nap.  The poor girl played hard all morning, and then started falling asleep in her high chair during lunch, with her little head bobbing everywhere.  She will often fight going down for a nap, but this time, she was all cuddles as I lay her down.  She's turning into such a sweet girl.