Thursday, September 29, 2011

Life's Lessons: Downtown Edition

Life With Baby Donut

Hello, Friday! How ya been? I've been forgetting to link up to Life Lessons the last few weeks, and now that I'm in the swing of things with my new job I finally have the time to do it! (Andohya I remembered, too.)

1. I've been commuting to the Loop everyday for software training. It's nice because I only take one train and I'm in the Loop for a total of 3 stops before I get off and walk a block to my building. Software training for work can be incredibly boring.

2. It can also be pretty interesting and exciting when you're a nerd such as myself.

3. 9-5 training over a 5 day period, however, is far too much. Me no likey.

4. I am fully convinced after the last two weeks that liking your job makes all the difference in the world. From now on, I will never work in any job I don't like for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

5. Last weekend we went to a birthday party, a baby shower, a meet & greet with Hannah's future prom date (Hayden), and my cousin's wedding. (Not necessarily in that order.) That was way too much for one weekend. #stupidness

6. Going back to software training, I've been struggling to make time to pump during the training because the 15 minute breaks they allow us (two of them) are not long enough. So I've been taking 25 minute breaks. My instructor is cool with it.

7. It is not, however, easy, because my daughter is self-weaning so my supply is dropping and her EIGHT TEETH have made the girls a little sensitive as of late.

8. My not-yet-ten-month-old has eight teeth. Eight individual pearly whites. Ochocinco. That makes my head and boobs very hurty.

9. Eight teeth also means she's incredibly interested in Big People Food and she's quickly losing interest in purees. She'll eat the purees, but only if she's still hungry and there's nothing left. Kind of like how I'd only marry a Packers fan if we were the last two humans left on earth, and there were no sheep. Are there sheep?

10. Everyday I look at my bitty baby and I can't get over how BIG she is. She's got her dad's build and height for certain. She doesn't like to wait for anything--a trait she gets from me. She's so ready to be a toddler. The next two months are merely a formality as far as she's concerned.

11. Speaking of Big People Food, we discovered this week that Hannah likes, nay, LOVES pasta! I made Pasta alla Norma a few days ago and she nomnomnom'd on penne after penne until she was full. Carbo loading? She really IS my daughter!

12. Pasta alla Norma, if you don't know, has eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onion. Hannah tried each vegetable, except for the onion. She ate all of them and loooooooooved it. I'm calling it a parent win!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Yes. Yes, I am. Exhausterpated. It's my made up word, yo!

All week I've been in training for a software program for work. I'm actually learning it this time instead of being self-taught like at my old job, and unsurprisingly if I learned nothing else this week it's that I was doing a lot of things wrong. All that time = wasted.

The fun part of all my training is that it's downtown so I can take the L everyday and my commute is less than 30 minutes. THIRTY. MINUTES. Amazing!! I don't mind my hour+ commute, but having a short distance to travel is super fun.

Work is really heating up. My school's annual Homecoming celebration this weekend so I'm going to be gone a total of 20 hours or so on Saturday and Sunday. Booooooooooooooooo! BUT BUT BUT! What makes it worthwhile is that I really like my job. Really. I'm super happy at work. I am excited about going to work each day, and the time passes quickly because my brain is engaged, I'm not just hiding out, hoping I won't piss anyone off before I go home. Miracles happen, people. blogging has taken a back seat this week because I'm short on time between work and home. I will be back with a vengeance next week, though! I've still got to post Hannah's 9 month update, photos from the apple orchard, etc.

Monday, September 26, 2011

These Things I Want To Remember

Hannah's first year is quickly coming to an end. In a few months, my sweet baby will be one! As each day passes, I realize that I'm starting to forget some things, and I want to write them down so I can look back at them some day, and maybe even share them with her when she's older.

1. One of the first things I said after she was born--if not the first thing--was "She has back hair." She was white and gray and covered in goo, and she still had a fine layer of lanugo on her in some spots. I guess after the rush of labor and pushing my baby out of my body, words and emotions escaped me.

2. One of the most amazing, shocking things when she was born? That her body temperature was exactly the same as mine.

3. The small, soft noises she'd make as a newborn, and how even moving her head back and forth required so much effort.

4. The first time she smiled at me. On purpose.

5. As she became more aware of her surroundings, and hearing her test out her vocal cords to make sounds to communicate with us.

6. Hearing "ba ba ba" and "da da da" for the first time, and hearing her repeat it back to me.

7. The first time she sat up and got onto her hands and knees after I laid her down to bed, complete with shit-eatin' grin and a that "Screw you, big people!" look in her eyes.

8. The way she laughs when she learns something new.

9. Her smile and giggle when she bounces in her jumperoo.

10. The way she reaches for me when she falls down (or when the floor falls up) because she's hurt and all she wants is a little comfort.

I'm going to miss this stage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

PYHO: I am enough.

I had a friend for a while in college and afterwards. We don't talk much anymore, it's been well over a year since our last conversation. Like every good creeper human old friend (?) occasionally I'll find myself looking for her blog in my bookmarks to see what's new, if there's anything worth reading up on. And lo and behold, I find her blog has changed. Again. There's usually a final post directing readers to a new blog designed to reflect a new position or outlook on life, and that is only if the blog hasn't been deleted entirely from the Internet's memory. I've gone back and forth over this pattern in my head, and while part of me admires the visual change, the new blog commemorating this new start or outlook, the commitment to "the new me her", the other part of me is left scratching my head. I've seen her blog frequently over the last few years, and much like Madonna sans entourage and strange British accent, she goes to lengths to completely reinvent herself and find a purpose in life. If Carrie Bradshaw were here, she'd probably say, "I can't help but wonder...what about her isn't good enough?"

I've blogged before about the struggle to keep it all together. It's hard to balance everything in life. Quite frankly, there aren't enough arms on my body or hours in the day to make it all work. How can I go to work (and perform well!), bathe and feed my baby, and keep the house in decent shape? How can I find time to fit in piles of dirty dishes, laundry, go over the budget with Graham, and still watch Glee and play on the interwebs? How can I remember to make time for myself in all of this?

I can't. Something's gotta give.

With my new job, there's a definite balancing act we're working on these days. We're trying to find a new routine that works for us and is best for Hannah. It hasn't been easy. I've been dealing with a lot of guilt over the last week, wondering if we made the best decision. What if I was staying home? Then Boops and I would be together all the time, and I wouldn't miss her all day. But if I did that, our income would take a hit, and I'd feel guilty about that. And, knowing myself as I do, I'd eventually tire of being alone with Hannah all day. I'd crave adult interaction.

I keep feeling like I need to be more, do more. I look around and feel like a bad grownup because the house is a mess. I clean but then feel like a bad mom because Hannah wants my attention and is starting to cry and crawl towards me. I play with Hannah on the floor and Jane comes scrambling over as she's been recently diagnosed with ADD--Affection Deficit Disorder. If I devote my time to Hannah and the cat, it's only a matter of time before my husband starts to feel neglected. And if I throw myself into everything else, I start to deteriorate.

It's really easy, looking at blogs, to compare yourself and feel less than. SAHMs make me feel guilty for working. Working moms make me feel guilty for not making more money, or making enough. But then I have to stop myself and say, "You ARE enough, dammit."

My family doesn't need a super woman. They don't need me to rearrange my life and priorities. I don't need to delete my blog and start over to convince myself that this reinvention is going to fix some or all of our problems. What my family needs is for me to be me. They need me to be a mom who plays with her baby when the dishes need to be done. They need me to know when to stop blogging because laundry is piling up. But what they need more than anything is me. Me & my undivided attention.

I'm enough. I'm good enough. My working-mama-laundry-slackin'-commuting-back-and-forth-self is enough.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Work Update: One down!

Why hello there! It's been a few days. I've been thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire in my new job this  past week, leaving me little free time.

Overall, I really enjoy it. I love some of the work I'm doing. I was annoyed at the start of the week when I had to do some clean up left behind by the woman I replaced. She was given a few assignments that never got what the hell was she doing? Who knows?

Regardless, I'm glad to be there. I'm happy, and that's huge. I'm not earning any more or less than I was earning before (though the drive/travel up there does require a little more spending on our part), but I don't dread every step of the way. I don't have a huge knot in my stomach each morning. I don't feel worthless when I talk to my boss. In my previous job, I felt those things everyday. Not fun! My apprehension at the end of my maternity leave in March was...awful. I didn't want to leave my baby, but I didn't really want to return to work there, either. After being on basically a second maternity leave all summer, I knew it would be hard to return to work. I was afraid I'd have the same apprehension I had in March, but surprisingly (and refreshingly) I didn't!

I don't want to go into too much detail...maybe some day. But for those who aren't "in the know", my old workplace was so terribly toxic for me. I came home everyday tired and grumpy. I complained about everything there. It began to affect my whole outlook--my life, my marriage, my cat! I started to look for a new job over a year ago, and then we found out I was pregnant. There was no point to leave. I had time built up and days set aside for my maternity leave. I couldn't very well begin working at a new school or new company and then have to take a maternity leave after four months. I knew it'd be best to stick it out and just deal with all the crap I had to deal with. And I did, or at least, I tried. And it wasn't terrible...I knew my last day was coming, and I left my classroom in excellent, more-than-capable hands. I had almost 4 months to stay at home and far, far away from my job.

When I returned, I thought that maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe things had gotten better? Wrong. Terribly wrong. There were major issues with the leadership there that were causing, in my uneducated opinion, a functional breakdown in the course of the school. When I came home at the end of a day, I'd be tired and worn out. I was so angry all the time. I realized it wasn't fair to keep working in this environment. It was affecting my marriage, my daughter, my home....even my cat. I couldn't keep doing that to myself, let alone the rest of my family.

Once I made the decision to leave, I felt so much better. I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The day I turned in my keys and pulled out of the parking lot was a good day indeed. Hannah was in the backseat and I told her to take a long look because we wouldn't be back anytime soon. A good friend of mine was really encouraging and helped me sort out all my conflicting emotions. In an email, she told me, "One day you'll drive past that place and you'll say to Hannah, 'I used to work there, and I got out. I left so I could go back to school and make life better for all of us.'" That was pivotal, and so, so right.

I was nervous to begin working in my new job. I was afraid that perhaps I'd made myself look too good on my resume. Perhaps I'd misrepresented myself in my interviews...what if I wasn't as awesome as they thought I was? But after a week, I'm feeling much more confident about my job, my abilities, and the co-mingling of the two. I really like what I've done so far, and everyone I work with has been exceptionally friendly. And, major bonus: I eat for free on campus. WINNING!

I know there will be days and weeks and months where I am not honeymooning on my job. There will be days where I come home angry and tired. As long as the good days outnumber the bad, I'll be alright.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My first day: Who else would like to see the girls?

I started my new job yesterday. So far, so good. It was, naturally, a lot of orientating and learning about the school and my department. I think I'm really going to like it there, and I can see myself staying there until I get my degree completed. Or, another great opportunity could come my way next year! Who knows?

I spent the day getting familiar with the computer and the programs on it. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon yelling at MS Outlook because it wasn't doing what I wanted it to do. Good to know that some things never change, yes?

I've got quite a bit to accomplish this week, but allow me to tell you a story.

I am sitting in my new office. Pumping. The office door won't shut completely because it's old and warped. Throw in some humidity and it just doesn't close. I was able to close it by propping up some old computer towers in front of the door to keep it shut.

I was warned that Big Boss doesn't acknowledge closed doors. A few people told me Big Boss will see a closed door and walk right in, seemingly unaware that the door might be closed for a reason. I thought Big Boss might stop by today to see how things were going, but I figured I had some time. I set up my pump and got to work.

Weeeeeeeeellllllllll......a few minutes in, I see the door jiggle. I say, "Hello? Please don't come in!"

A few moments pass. I feel a tingle on the back of my neck. My spidey sense tells me it would be wise to turn around. I move my swivel chair around so I'm facing the wall. (For reference, my pump was set up on the desk, which is L shaped and faces the door. If you're at all familiar with breast pumps, you'll know that this was an awkward set up once I turned.)

Mere seconds after I turn around, I hear the door jiggle again. The computer towers jump forward, and Big Boss sticks his head in the office!

Quick thinker that I am, I ducked down and asked for a moment to compose myself. I turned off the pump, buttoned up my blouse, and stepped out of the office to have a lovely, jovial conversation with Big Boss. He seemed to be completely unaware of what just happened, though he did ask if I had Hannah with me in the office, so I think he may have figured it out.

SO. Since the Hilarious Gods Of Awesome keep doing this to me....who else wants to see my boobies? I might as well just put that out there since the universe keeps putting me in this oh-so-OSSUM situations. Between the UPS guy and Big Boss, it really can't get any more mortifying.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why I Never Have To Sign For UPS Ever Again, or Why Our UPS Driver Doesn't Come Back

I can't believe I'm about to share this story.

Back at the end of May, when I was still at work, I picked up Hannah from the babysitter's and walked home. Graham had a meeting after work and took the car. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and as soon as we got home I left the door open and opened up some windows to let in some light and air.

As soon as I took Hannah out of the car seat, she started rubbing her face in my shirt and headbanging my boobs. Much like me, she makes her motives clear. I said to myself, "Screw it!" I unbuttoned my shirt completely, dropped it on the bed, and walked into the living room so I could nurse Hannah and spread out on the couch.

About 10 minutes in, I hear a truck outside. I glance over my shoulder and see a UPS truck out front. The driver approaches the door, holding a small box.

The doorbell rings.

The screen door opens.


He says,

"UPS!" As friendly as he could possibly be!

Cut to....

Me. On the couch. Nursing.

Shirtless. Boobies and stretchmarks on display. Child slurping hungrily.

Me: (smile) Oh, just drop it on the couch! I'd greet you, buuuuuuuuuuuuut.....

UPS guy: (white face, open-mouthed)(backs away)

He runs down the walk and hops into his truck, never to be seen again.

No, really. We have the same UPS guy in this neighborhood. Hannah's sitter has lived around here since 1998 and has always had the same driver. Since that day, anytime UPS comes to the door, or anywhere near our block, it's a DIFFERENT DRIVER. And they all just drop the packages and run. I am. not. kidding. We are officially "that family".

I don't know how to feel about this. On one hand, GOOD! He shouldn't ever come 'round these parts again! Who just walks into someone's house?

On the other hand....what the hell??? Did my stretch marks scare him off? Is there something off-putting about my home? Or was it the mere sight of a topless, stretch-marky woman relaxing on the couch with a suckling infant a bit too much for him to handle?

I imagine he thought his, "Dear Hustler, I never thought this would happen to me" letter would have ended much differently.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

PYHO: Ten Years Later

In lieu of a PYHO this week, I'm posting my own 9/11 story. A brief PYHO is at the end, reflecting on what it means now that I'm a mom.

Let's be honest: We've all been waiting for this coming September 11th since the first awful one ten years ago. In the early years, the first few anniversaries, historians and pundits all wondered and asked the same questions. "What lessons will we learn from this? What will Americans take away from this? In ten years, twenty years, what will we know about this day?"

Ten years ago, I was a high school senior. My priorities were simple. Keep dating Graham, find a college to attend in the coming fall, and find a way to convince my dad to let me take my car with me to college. I had simple needs and wants, concerns that most 17 year old girls have.

That morning, I woke up conscious of the crisp air, the warmth of the sun on my arm as I drove to school, and acutely aware of how blue the sky was in Chicago. It was a perfect fall day. Driving to school we listened to the radio and I laughed as I heard about someone flying a plane into the World Trade Center. Hadn't someone flown a twin engine into the Empire State Building a few months back? "Morons who can't freakin' fly! It's probably raining and cloudy over there, too." I had no idea.

When I got to school, most girls were already buzzing with the news. I walked into my first period class, Chamber Singers, and Ms. Cunningham had the TV going. It was an old model TV mounted to the wall, black and white with a relatively fuzzy picture. I remained fairly unconvinced that this was a "major, catastrophic event" until I saw Ms. C's face. I looked up at the TV and could see a split screen. Both towers were on fire, and the Pentagon was also in flames. I heard Tom Brokaw's worried voice and prayed to God it was just a bad news day, a freakish series of events that this was all happening today.

We, the Chamber Singers, were preparing for some event....a school liturgy or some performance. I can't remember that detail now, but I do remember Ms. C positioning her piano so that she could see the TV so she could watch while we sang. I remember Sherri Devereaux gasping, her face white, and pointing to the screen. I remember all of us singing and staring at the TV as the first tower fell. I remember praying that everyone got out, doing my best to be optimistic that the tower hadn't yet opened for the day so that no one would be inside, then knowing full well that at 9:00 Chicago time, lower Manhattan would be filled with tourists and New Yorkers alike.

I remember going to Ms. Cruse's American Government class next. I remember the smell of the building that day, the heat of 900 girls crammed into an all-girls Catholic school. I remember rushing out toward the marble lobby because it was cooler, and looking out the front entrance expecting to see.....I don't know what. I remember the rush of cool air on my skin when I walked into Ms. Cruse's classroom with all her west-facing windows wide open. I remember my polo shirt clinging to my back and my polyester skirt hot on the back of my knees. I remember Ms. Cruse coming in to our room in a blue and white sleeveless dress, saying, "Okay, let's talk about what we know." I remember our Principal, Ms. Nolan-Fitzgerald, coming over the PA to pray and encourage students and teachers not to dwell on the events of that day, and to focus on school work. She cancelled all after school activities that day, and our theatre director, Ms. B, was pissed. "We have rehearsal!"

I remember going home, listening to the radio, and hearing the DJ on US 99 choking back tears, encouraging everyone to fly their flags no matter what, even if they weren't properly illuminated at night. I remember passing house after house with a flag out front. I remember talking to my friend Katie later that night, and I remember wanting to not talk about it anymore. It was too confusing, too overwhelming. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn't as bad as we all thought. Maybe they'd find more people alive than dead.

A year later, my family drove to New York City. Not just to see the damage, which at that point was basically two large holes in the ground. We also went to see my mom's cousin, Nunzio, who lived in NYC with his wife and kids. Nunzio, by the grace of God, skipped a work meeting that morning to have breakfast with his kids. He would have been in the towers had he not gone home.

I'll never forget the silence at Ground Zero. In a city of millions, surrounded by traffic and buses and noise, there was a perfect silence. I wasn't sure how to process what I was seeing. I wasn't looking at a smoldering pile of rubble. I wasn't looking at a cemetery. I was looking at what appeared to be a construction zone. I didn't feel reverent or overwhelmed by emotion, just....uneasy. Instead, I paused and swallowed a lump in my throat whenever I passed a board with a handout, a picture, a "Have You Seen Me? Last seen in the north tower!" My heart dropped for those families. They will never know exactly what happened to their loved ones, and I don't know if that's for the best or not.

Shortly after Hannah was born, hours after they'd stitched me up and wheeled us downstairs, I looked at her and held her close. Maybe it's strange, and perhaps I can chalk it up to the post-labor euphoria and adrenaline I was feeling, but I'll never forget looking at her and thinking, "He's still out there." I was so sad that I had brought a child into this world and the mastermind behind That Day was still out there. Ten years ago, we never would have imagined that he'd still be alive. "Mission Accomplished", right? Wrong. Of course, Hannah and That Man only lived in the same world for a matter of months. She will never know the fear of watching the nightly news and seeing a poorly cut video of him released by his minions. She won't ever have to look at him and wonder what exactly he's orchestrating next, and for that I'm so very thankful. all the unfortunate aftermath, even ten years later, and ten years from now, she'll never know what we lost. On that day, she will never know what each American lost as we watched the towers come down. And she'll never be able to fully realize it. She'll always have to take off her shoes at airport security. When she goes on her first plane trip without me, I won't be able to walk her to the gate and say goodbye. She'll never be able to get on or off a plane with her mom and dad waiting at the gate. She'll never be able to get on an airplane, with our without me, without me sending up a prayer. She'll never know what it means to "fly the friendly skies".

I am glad that I don't have to explain the events of That Day for quite a while. I have a little more time to mentally prepare myself for that conversation. I hope, for the sake of all of us, that she never feels indifferent towards 9/11. I hope that no matter what, no matter how we talk to her about it, that she knows exactly what that day means to everyone who lived it. I want her to know why we remember it. I want her to know that it's more than just a day of service and remembrance, though service is an excellent way to celebrate the lives lost That Day.

Funnily enough, Hannah was born on December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day. I hope that as she grows, she understands the importance of 9/11 and December 7th and her place in American history.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A note for my newest followers...

Hey! I've got new followers! Sweeeeeeeeeet.

I'll get along to checking out all your blogs soon, but I thought it best to post a few things about myself first, sort of a "get to know ya" (which might be completely pointless if you've already creeped on the rest of our blog).

Feel free to comment and add your own tidbits about yourself.

1. I curse a lot. Fair warning.

2. I'm working on it, though.

3. Currently battling postpartum depression. Hence #1.

4. I already swore a lot before then. Just as my husband!

5. I'm mildly obsessed with my cat and may subject you to photo essays (such as this) with cat-ese captions from time to time. Fair warning.

6. I'm a mama to a sweet baby named Hannah. You'll see a lot of her 'round these parts.

7. Married to Graham, who is incredibly tolerant

8. I've got a raging caffeine addiction.

9. I have a nephew! I finally get to live my dream of being a super cool hippy aunt. Someday, I'll take both kids to the state fair, feed us all nothing but junk food all day, buy all-day-midway passes, and end the day with a puke session of epic proportions.

It's the right thing to do.

10. I also tend to do things like this. And this. And this. I.....might need a new hobby.

Thanks for visiting! XO

Friday, September 2, 2011

Life's Lessons: End of Summer Edition

Life With Baby Donut

I cannot believe it's September. Wow. I can't even wrap my mind around this.

1. Summer passes much more slowly when you're unemployed. But not nearly as slow as if I was unemployed through forces other than my own.

2. Speaking of employment, I start my new job on the 12th. Wahoo!

3. This summer has given us time to relax as a family, have some day trips and a mini-cation, and enjoy the lazy days as they come.

4. It's also given me time to make ice cream. Homemade. Ice Cream.

5. Which, btw, isn't exactly "easy".

6. But once you get the hang of it, it's not all that hard, either.

7. Speaking of summer and the end, pumpkin spice lattes are back at Starbucks. Oh geez....

8. Those are the death of me every year. Oh, I do love them.

9. As I'm writing this, I'm listening to The Warblers. Hannah? Oh, she's rocking out.

10. I need to keep my camera handy for moments such as these.

I Heart Family Picnics 2011

I am terrible at taking photos every year at the family picnic. Some year I'll get better at it.

Anyway, in July, we all got together in Plainfield for the annual Foley Family Fiesta, a.k.a. I Heart Family Picnics #something or other. It's a good time to see everyone, and this year was special not only because it was Hannah's first outside picnic (after last year's car accident/t-shirt fiasco), but because our second cousin Peggy is engaged to her long-time boyfriend Jeremy. 

Not too many photos of this year's picnic, but it was a good time. Hannah got to swim in a legitimate pool (i.e. not the 6-incher we have in the garage), we got to eat some food, and we had a great time relaxing with the fam.

Really unsure of this "swimming" thing.


Hannah and Daddy

Aw crap...Justin lost the baby.

Me, sucking at bags.

Who took this photo? I think that's Justin, Graham, Mary, and maybe Hannah.

Mary and Justin, head to head

Hannah and Gramps

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hannah says....I've got a cousin!

When we explained the concept of  "a cousin" to our daughter, she was totally pumped. Someone to hang out with and have fun with? Someone to play with? Someone to cause mischief and mayhem with? Yessssssss! So, aside from the little guy's parents, no one was more excited to welcome Declan to the world than Hannah.

We hope you're listening, dude!