Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's that time of year

Sometimes I enjoy seeing just how tired I can make my mind and body. Just when I think I have reached a new state of exhaustion, I push myself to the next level and feel an all new sense of accomplishment. 

I only wish this was talking about exercising.

Currently, I am eye-ball deep in photo editing for clients who are dying to get Christmas cards ordered, printed, and mailed by, well, Christmas, which is promptly following in 2 weeks. I am so grateful for the "business," but I am absolutely going nuts over the amount of time it takes to complete such tasks. I keep having to remind myself that it is one day at a time, and often one hour at a time.

It's the time of year for me to be putting together the Ernstberger family highlight video that I have done for probably 4 or 5 years now. I always enjoy giving it to the family when we celebrate our Christmas together and taking the time to reflect over the past year in photos. I have been going through my albums and I found a lot of nothing. Don't misunderstand, I took some great photos of Noelle and I am so thankful to have the physical proof that those memories exist somewhere in my tired mind, but I also found a shortage of photos that show that we actually did anything worthwhile over the past year. This is a depressing thought...

I've been a bit weepy and sad over the past few weeks...maybe even months. I'd like to say I don't know why-- but actually I know exactly why. Luke and I want to expand our family and we have been quite unsuccessful in that endeavor for a relatively long time. It's hard to remain faithful and optimistic at a time like this. I don't expect sympathy or really for anyone to care. I don't write this blog for anyone but myself-- but if you pray and want to shoot one up for our family, I'd appreciate it.

So, as we head into these last two weeks of this holiday season, I'm trying my best to renew my spirit, restore my faith, establish optimism, and take a few deep breaths. All will be well, all will get finished...and sooner or later, I'll get the gift I'm really asking for. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blog Neglect

I don't know why I have been so neglectful of my blog these past few months. It makes me sad because I haven't been great about documenting the things that make our lives what they are. We go places. We do things. We see people. We spend time together. We take pictures. I promise, we do! I don't know why I can't just open up the computer and write it down, and I have a feeling I will regret it in the future.

So...I suppose I will start with the biggest update for our family! Abe & E had their baby! Baby J is, as I always a knew, a girl! Baby J, now Baby Joyce, was born on Friday morning. Elizabeth was of course a rock star and delivered her without an epidural. We headed to Greenfield after a chilly photo session for me on Friday night and got to hold her and spend time with the new parents! :-) We are so happy for Abel and E and know that they will be the best parents. I definitely took tons of pictures, and I can't wait to upload them.

Luke has been busy with residency, but not so busy that we don't see each other. In fact, I'd say we have been blessed by this residency program and have had to make very minimal adjustments to our lives as a result of it. Of course, I hate the call evenings, and I hate the times that he thinks he will leave at 4:30 and then actually leaves at 6:00, but we so fortunate that he loves the program and loves what he does every day.

Noelle is awesome as usual. We have been doing some fun Christmas activities lately such as picking out our tree and decorating it, and then also taking her to the Minnetrista Luminaria walk last night. She was pumped to see horses and lights and hear Christmas music. Everything is so fun and magical through Noelle's eyes. She makes each day brighter and happier.

As for me-- I am finally getting a grip on school, and I feel like I am enjoying it again. There are always ups and downs for a teacher, but right now, I have had a string of really good days and I am hoping to keep up the positive energy.

It's a rainy, dreary day, Noelle is napping, and I have my sweats on. I'm going to lay down and capitalize on this little slice of Heaven!

Friday, November 18, 2011

heart of the mama

To love you more than I ever thought possible...
To do anything I can to protect you from pain...
To love you enough to tell you "no" when you need to hear it...
To help you with even the simplest of tasks...
To play with you until fatigue closes my eyes...
To laugh with you just to make you laugh harder...
To sit with you until you fall back asleep...
To ask myself over and over again how God knew I wanted exactly you...
To dream of the day I see you in a wedding dress...
To cry when you cry, no matter the reason...
To recognize that this is the most important work I'll ever do...
To experience joy through your eyes...
To feel brand new and special first thing in the morning...

Noelle, you are the best part of me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A little Uppy Date

Oh...where to begin? The past few weeks have gone by really quickly, and I am completely shocked that we are looking at the first week of November being over already. Where does the time go? And is there another phrase that basically means "Holy Shit, I'm getting older by the second and my baby isn't a baby anymore?" aside from the cliched "Where does the time go?" If you know of one, let me hear it.

Since my last post, I had Fall Break, which is a nice (and welcomed) break from school. Though I still love teaching and know that there's nothing else that I can see myself doing as a professional, it has been kicking. my. ass. this year. It has left me with very little time to do anything that I sincerely want to do, and thus my blogging, crafting, cooking, organizing, cleaning, exercising, and overall cleanliness have taken a back seat.

Over Fall Break, we took Noelle to a little pumpkin patch and farm. It was pretty cute. The cutest part was when she exclaimed "OH MY GOODNESS!" when she saw a cow. I about fell over dead from the cuteness overdose. We also took her to the Muncie Children's Museum. It was alright. Not much has changed since the last time I was there, which was when I was like 6. But, it was a lot cheaper and closer to home than the Indy Children's Museum, and when all Noelle really cared about was playing in this little water table, I high-fived myself for not spending the $17 per adult and the 3 hours total in the car to take her to the big museum. Maybe next year.

Halloween, of course, was a highlight. Between Luke's residency party and taking the Nugget trick-or-treating (i.e. to my old neighbors at my parents' house), it was a good time. She was a garden gnome. I'm sure she will hate me later for it, but the costume was a hit.

I'm toying with the idea of starting a new blog for my crafting and cooking expeditions. This one is pretty good for emo-rants and picture updates, but as far as all the other stuff I like to do (when I'm not all "wah wah wah, my life is hard..."), I'd like to have a place to organize it. I could just get a binder...but I think I'll go the blog route. So....be looking for that you loyal readers. ;-)

Thanksgiving is in less than 3 weeks. I didn't know if you knew this, but it's on a Thursday this year.

P.S. The Colts suck.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sweet joy

As I sit here and enjoy the last hour or so of my weekend, I find myself smiling. I'm alone. Noelle's alseep. Luke was home but was called to the hospital because someone else needs him. I've never been good at sharing, but I'm learning.

I made the comment today that we need to take more pictures of Noelle. When she was younger, I was snapping photos all the time, but as she has gotten older, I've found that my camera battery is dead more often than not and I am lacking the motivation to charge it.

I know I should be documenting every second of our days together, but I think the reason why I'm not reaching for my camera as much is I am enjoying truly experiencing each memory with her, and not from behind a camera. I'm enjoying every interaction...every laugh...every word...every everything. I'm making pictures in my mind more vivid than I could ever take.

She's more than what I asked God for. There's a palpable sweetness to her that even strangers can feel. An angel on Earth...and I can't believe she's mine...ours...mine. She's growing so quickly and changing so rapidly. Tonight, she counted to 7.

When she says "Mama," it's like it comes from the bottom of her soul...like it's the only word she needs to know for the rest of her life. She hugs with her whole body and kisses with her whole face. Even when she cries, I find her insanely cute.

She walks on her tippy toes. She laughs when we laugh. She dives to the floor on the last verse of "Ring Around the Rosie," and it might as well be Christmas morning when we turn on Yo Gabba Gabba.

She's pure, simple, sweet joy.

And she's mine.





Ours.
Mine.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Got the fever

I have started and quit this post about 3 or 4 times now. I just don't know how to say what I want to say...so I guess I will just say it.

I want to have another baby!

Like...yesterday.

I think it's been so hard to write it because I'm worried I'll get unsolicited opinions. I don't want to hear about how having a 2 year old and a newborn is hard. I don't want to hear about how it's expensive. I don't want to hear about how I'll have 2 in diapers and 2 in daycare and 2 extra mouths to feed. The chaos we will experience will truly only be such a short time in our lives compared to the lifetime we will have with our family...our complete family, the way we have always wanted.

Noelle is so perfect and amazing and sweet and smart and beautiful. Why wouldn't we want another one? I would think it would be the terror child that never sleeps and is allergic to everything on Earth and causes you to go prematurely gray that would convince you that one child is enough...not the other way around.

We want our children to be close in age. Noelle is already 19 months old. I know people who have had their 2nd child by the time their first is 19 months old. I'm not saying that it's the most ideal, but those families seem to be doing just fine and loving their lives and children.

So...in a nutshell...Baby #2, where are you? :-)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Balancing Act

Long time, no blog.

If you think this one's bad...you should see my photography blog. It is sooooo out of date that it's not even funny. I don't think I've written a quality post there since the beginning of the summer. BAH!

I'm struggling with balancing my life right now. If I had a balance (like an actual balance that you, well, balance things on), it would be heavily weighted down by SCHOOL/PHOTOGRAPHY, and the other side floating so high up in the air would be the FRIENDS/FAMILY/EXERCISE/HOBBIES/FUN side.

Ugh. Big, fat UGH.

How do people do it? And by people, I mean the cute little put together moms who always look so polished and refreshed as they beebop out the door to work, and then arrive home just in time to get an amazing dinner started with a bottle of wine on the table just as their hott hubby strolls in and says "Thanks, Babe, you're the BEST!" all before she puts on her yoga pants and sweats it out so she doesn't look like a fat, frumpy mess? I KNOW there are women out there like this, and I just want to BE one of them.

There's got to be something that can be removed from my plate. I think what I am going to have to start doing is leaving school at 4:00 no matter what. I can't keep staying until 5:00 or 5:30. It's not good for my sanity or for Noelle's. I NEED to be able to decompress and have some time in my evening. I NEED to be able to wind down and breathe and relax and enjoy the things I used to enjoy, such as exercising and sewing and crafting and other things.

So, I'm going to do it. I'm leaving at 4:00 and you can't stop me!

As for photography, I am way over-scheduled. I am behind on sessions, and I am putting my foot down that I am no longer scheduling sessions from now until January. I can't. I won't. I need to have a break.

I think I would feel so much better if I had time for some physical activity. I miss Zumba so much and the friends I made there over the course of 2 1/2 years. I enjoyed that outlet a lot and I have been hesitant to try it in Muncie because I know it won't be as good as Fishers. I know this because the instructor in Fishers is DA.BOMB and that's all there is to it. So I am being a Bitter Betty about it and am digging my heels in. As a result? I'm getting fatter. By the DAY!

The joys!

I wish I could write a non-whiny post. But I can't. I tried. Didn't work.

So, here I sit. Saturday night. Luke's on call. I am about to embark on an editing extravaganza to end all editing extravaganzas. Don't you wish you were me?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Big word for a little girl

The time had come. I walked into daycare at about 5:00 p.m. on Friday, and my baby girl was crying. This is never a good sight to see...especially when you feel horrible all day for having her in daycare in the first place.

So, I quickly ask what happened, and I was told that Noelle had to be scolded today. SCOLDED! As Noelle was sniffling hard and had tears streaming down her cheeks, I asked what she did. They said that she walked across the room and smacked one of the workers in the face for no reason! Now, I wasn't totally shocked because Noelle does have a "heavy hand" when it comes to hitting. She has been known to hit me on the arm and sometimes the mouth but she usually is giggling and not realizing that hitting is bad. We always take her hands and tell her a stern "no," but we haven't gone much further than that with discipline. I am a really big believer in discipline, but I also really believe in age-appropriate discipline. Children have to understand that what they are doing is wrong for the discipline/punishment to mean anything. And I am not, nor will I ever be, a spanker. Never, ever. Why would I teach my child that hitting is wrong through hitting her?

I digress.

They didn't do anything inappropriate, but they wanted her to say she was sorry. This is a pretty huge concept for a little girl to understand. Because Noelle says any and every word in the dictionary, she did say she was sorry and gave the girl a hug. I then scooped her in my arms and held her, and as she was still sniffling into my shoulder, she kept uttering "sorry....sorry..." Oh, it was the WORST! So painful and heartbreaking to hear your little baby girl crying sorry into your shoulder.

The whole way home she continued to sniffle and say "sorry" every few minutes. I couldn't help but in those moments feel an extreme amount of love and defensiveness for my daughter. I kept telling her how good of a girl she is and how much I love her. I told her hitting isn't nice and it hurts people, but she's not a bad girl.

And then my guilt turned on full blast. I went through all the ways that this incident was my fault. First and foremost, if I didn't choose/have to work, then she wouldn't have been in daycare to begin with. She would have only hit me in the face and I could have dealt with it in my own way. Second of all, if I would have left school early like I wanted to, then I would have been there before the assault was committed. I got there too late, and too late it was.

Ugh.


Sigh.


Sniffle.

If Noelle truly understood the word "sorry," then I would tell her I'm sorry for not being the most perfect mommy on Earth. I'm sorry you have to get up at 6:00 a.m. and go to daycare all day for 9-10 hours. I'm sorry that things are hectic and crazy sometimes and you don't get all of our attention.  I'm sorry that you might think I don't love you as much as the mothers who stay at home love their kids, but Heaven knows that's not the case.

I'm sorry.

Monday, September 12, 2011

3 Years

It's been 3 years.

Three years ago this day, we were excited to go to our first baby doctor appointment together. We weren't too nervous. We didn't know we had a reason to be. We were just excited and ready to meet our doctor and possibly see the little peanut on the ultrasound screen.

Everything changed so quickly. I still hear the words and see Dr. Ertle's face as she expressed her sympathy and disappointment for us. We lost the baby. Still...so haunting.

In some ways, it hurts more now than it did then. Before, I didn't know what I was missing. I had never been a mommy before. Now, I am so aware of the profound love you feel for your child, and my heart aches for the one I never held.

I suppose the biggest lesson I learned throughout the whole process is that time heals all wounds. I'm not saying it doesn't hurt and that there's not a scar...and that a little part of me doesn't die with every story of another woman's miscarriage or pregnancy loss...but I am saying that I am no longer raw with emotion and I can talk openly about the pain I felt then and the peace I feel now. I can thank time and faith....and if I am being honest...I will give about 75% of the credit to time and 25% to faith. I'd be lying if I said my faith wasn't shaken, damaged, and bruised through it all...but I'm working on healing that, too.

So, to our first baby, who we loved before we ever knew we lost...we still think about you all the time. And you have the coolest little sister in the world.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Suck it up, Ashley.

Do you ever just get so sick of yourself that you wish you could just step outside of your body and go be someone else for a while? If so, then you and I should talk.

This start of the school year has NOT been easy, and each day I say to myself that I should just be thankful to have a teaching job and I should embrace the challenges and not obsess over them. Usually by 9:00, my attitude is turned completely upside down, and I am riddled with "Why I am doing this?" "When will this get better?" "I'm just going to leave and pick Noelle up and stay home the rest of the day." Is it really the school year that's getting me or is it, well, me that's getting me?

I have such a problem with expectations. I expect too much out of people, things, events, holidays, meals, etc, etc, etc. If things don't go the way I have choreographed them in my head, I tend to literally WIG out and become completely handicapped for an obscene amount of time. I am getting to the point where I am just trying to accept that this is who I am, and I am no longer trying to change myself, but I am trying to give myself a way to express my disappointment without letting it ruin my whole day, week, month, or year.

I had SUCH high hopes for school this year. I worked in my room religiously during the summer. I have done research, made plans, thought ahead, and after 4 solid years of teaching, I have a pretty good idea of what has been working in my room and what needs to change. I was ready to face this year head on and I declared that it would be the BEST year EVER!

In steps the State of Indiana and the Department of Education. In steps Tony Bennett, not the singer, but quite possibly the biggest douche bag on God's green earth (i.e. State Superintendent) to just ruin all my plans for a good year. (see this extreme disappointment I get?) Merit pay, no seniority, score-based pressure, mandated subject area schedule, and tons and tons and tons of hoops to jump through that require hours upon hours upon hours of work outside the normal school day...I could go on...

However, as I left for the 3 day weekend, I told myself that I would not walk back in those doors on Tuesday with the same shitty attitude I have had for 3 weeks. I have sulked and complained and rolled my eyes and faked a smile and shuffled into school with the same enthusiasm as my kids (which is not a lot)...and it's not working for me. If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten. My mom has always said this. It annoys me, but it's true. And that's why it annoys me.

It's so much easier to just sit and be pissed and bitch to anyone who has at least one ear, but it never works out well for you in the end. If I put in the effort to be POSITIVE and happy with the way things are, I might be working harder on the front end, but I feel it will pay dividends in the long run.

So, in essence, I'm done with myself. I'm buying a new version of me this weekend and can't wait to test her out Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goodbye time

It hits me every morning. Same time. Same place.

It's the feeling I get when the day care door closes and I walk out to my car, right before I drive to school and spend my day with 24 children while someone else spends their day with mine.

The heartache hasn't lessened even one year later. It just doesn't feel right. I trust the day care. I like the people who work there. Noelle likes them, too. But all of that means nothing when I think about how I miss 10 hours of my baby's day. I see her for 30 minutes in the morning and about 2 hours in the evening.

I'll be quite honest. I hate my job right now. And that's exactly what it is...my job. Not a passion. Not a love. Not a calling. It's a job. And it sucks. I'm miserable. I thought this year would be positive and easier because I wouldn't be driving 2 hours a day and spending $300 a month on gas. I thought that it being my 5th year of teaching would make it slightly less taxing on me. I thought I had it under control.

But this year hasn't started off well, and it has nothing to do with my class. It has everything to do with state mandates that would bore/bring anyone to tears. The state has sucked my passion from me, and I can't help but want to cling to my baby and say forget it.

The thought occurred to me on Friday at lunch that I could walk away from all of this right now. I could leave and never come back. I could stay at home and post pictures on Facebook of me playing with my baby, go out and about, do arts and crafts with her, clean my house, put things away, unpack the last boxes, sew like I used to, plan meals ahead of time, eat something for lunch besides grapes, drink a glass of wine and BREATHE. I can't do any of those things the way it stands now. I. can't. breathe.

I don't know how to make it better, and I don't want to plague anyone else with my "issues." I just want to enjoy my life, and no matter how hard I try, I can't.

Tomorrow, 7:00 a.m., which has now become our goodbye time, will come too soon. And I'm not ready.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Greetings from Muncie & the at-home Internet.

Yes, I made it two, long, agonizing weeks without TV or home internet. As of about 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, we were in business and I was a happy camper.

You may be wondering what I have been doing lately. You may not be. Either way, I'm going to tell you.

We have been really trying to get the house put together. I care about it a little more than Luke. In fact, I am straight bothered by things not being put together at this point. We still don't have a kitchen table for the eat-in area. We still haven't touched the sunroom, which desperately needs a paint job as well as a new rug and maybe, oh, some furniture. The dining room just has a table in it. Nothing is hung on the walls. Don't ask about the office. So basically, I'm not too happy with the status of the house right now. Luke has been very busy at the hospital, forcing him to work long hours and then be exhausted when he comes home. He doesn't want to do much on the GET DONE OR ELSE list at the end of the day. I can't say I blame him, but I also don't know how it will ever get done if we don't just gut through it.

I have started school. I will cautiously say, "So far, so good." I feel like a seasoned vet already. It's amazing the difference between my first, first day and my fifth. The kids don't scare me, the parents (rarely) intimidate me, and I feel like I have a good grip on my classroom management, routines, etc. I'm quite pleased with the start of the year. Let's home this optimism continues and that I am still feeling good next month or even next week.

Noelle turned 17 months old last week. It's so hard to believe, and I am so tired of saying that it's so hard to believe! I wish I could keep track of how many words she is saying now. It is truly mystifying. The child hears a word once and then knows it for good. I believe it is true that a child's brain is more susceptible to learning before the age of 3. To say she is a sponge is an understatement. She copies everything we say and do...good and bad. We love her more and more each day, and every time I look at her, I get more excited for the future with her. I'm not wishing this sweet age away, but she truly gets more fun as she gets older. I can't wait until she starts putting words together into sentences and telling funny stories.

Anyway-- I don't know what else to share. I hope to get back into the groove of blogging about actual subject matter, rather than just giving a lame update about what I have been doing lately. I just wish I could print a T-shirt that says, "I'm not normally like this. I just moved, started school, and am trying to please everyone in the world."

I hope the real me returns soon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Stop looking for me.

I appreciate your concern. I have seen the Missing posters. I'm OK. Really, I am.

It's been about 10 days since I last posted. There are two reasons for this.

1. We have been moving like mo fo's.

2. We have no TV or Internet.

Yes, you read that correctly! I have not had TV or Internet in the full week since we have been in Muncie! The horror! Basically, I had the appointment all set up for them to hook up our U-Verse on Monday, August 1st. I called to do this over two weeks ago. The problem was that the old owners did not disconnect whatever service they were using on time, so there were "conflicts on the board." Therefore, we lost our appointment and I have had to engage in some horrific phone tag between myself and ATT. I have spent hours on the phone with them, trying to get them to see that they need to hook up my TV and Internet soon, OR ELSE. They don't know how crazy I am! Especially after a week without Real Housewives of New Jersey, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Teen Mom, So You Think You Can Dance, or 48 Hours Mystery. I haven't had Internet aside from my iPhone, so I am overloaded with photography inquiries, online bills to pay, school email to check, and blogs to write!

The first appointment they could get me was going to be August 25th! Seriously! Then they moved it to August 13th, and that was the soonest they could do it. So, we have another week of this ridiculousness. What an awesome way to spend my last days of summer vacation! Ugh.

Aside from that mess, we have moved in and are busy painting, cleaning, and unpacking. The house was supposed to be cleaned by a professional and the carpets were to be cleaned prior to our moving in. Well, let's just say that anyone who paid money for this house to be cleaned was royally screwed over. There's dog fur in every corner and crevice of this home, including IN the washing machine. I have been cleaning and sanitizing like nuts. It's insane how little pride people take in their own homes.

If you take away the cleanliness issue, it really is a beautiful home. It is spacious, updated, and pretty. We are very happy with it and feel relieved to have signed a 3 year lease. It is in a great location and it takes me a whopping 5 minutes to get to Noelle's day care. I am so excited about that! Once we get everything the way we want it, we will really be happy here.

Of course I miss our Indianapolis home and neighbors, but we are settling in here and trying to stay positive. I will be in Indy quite frequently due to photography sessions, so I will be able to visit my regular "spots" pretty often. Our new neighborhood seems like the farm team to the retirement home, as our neighbors are all white-haired. Oh well-- at least it's quiet.

So, that's what I have been doing lately. School starts in 5 days. I can't believe it. I am not ready, but I am also pretty excited about a new school year. It's so much fun to start fresh with new kids. I have a feeling it will be a really great year!

Thanks for checking on me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another lame update. Sorry.

I wish I could sit down to write a post that doesn't have to do with moving, but for another week, that's what it's going to have to be. We move Saturday. Sa-tur-day. Saturday. I can't believe it. We are so crazy busy right now with things to do that we can't see straight, but I keep telling myself it will all get done and we will survive.

We have been trying to squeeze some fun in amidst all the chaos. I turned 27 about a week ago, and Luke took his girls out for a very nice dinner to Stone Creek Dining Company, which is a place we had never been before at Hamilton Town Center. It was super awesome food and a great atmosphere. We will definitely be back. As much as I tried to be pretty for the evening, I think Noelle stole the show! She is always such a little attention-getter. Her Papa is going to have a lot of boys to beat off with sticks in about 15 years. Oh boy!


We also celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. It's (insert really awful cliche...i.e. awesome, amazing, crazy, beautiful) to think that we began this journey four years ago and now here we are! Luke was just starting medical school and I was just beginning my teaching career. We lived in the glorified ghetto of Indy's northwest side, and we knew jack shit about life or anything for that matter. That was one miscarriage and a 16 month old ago. We dreamt of buying a home and moving on to the next "big thing." Now, here we are, preparing to move out of our first home and start another chapter of our lives (I hate that cliche, too).

We celebrated by going to a movie (insert boy band squeal!) and a late dinner. It was fun actually going to dinner when it was dark out (in the summer, no less) like all the important cool people do. We ate at Cooper's Hawk which is an amazing restaurant that again we had never been to before. I am a huge fan of Moscato, and this restaurant had hands down, the BEST Moscato in all the land. Seriously. Better than Olive Garden's. Better than Oliver's. Better than any other brand in the grocery that I have tried. It was soooo good. I am still dreaming about it. We owe Aunt CeCe big time for watching Noelle and taking good care of her while we got our "young and kidless" on.

Let's see...what else is new? Hmmm. I have added Body Pump to my exercise regime. I do it before Zumba, so that is two hours of fitness classes twice per week. I am sure I won't be able to keep this pace up for long, but it has been so fun getting stronger and just completely pumping away my stress. I absolutely love the way working out feels. If only I could get over my love of food and then maybe you could tell that I love working out.

I won't let this lame-oid post be the last one from Indy. I will do something special, I promise. I know you're on the edge of your seats.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I have avoided writing this blog post for a while now, going back and forth between treating my blog like an actual journal full of honest thoughts or just as a way to document the casual happenings of life, staying comfortably on the surface of feelings and emotions. I have decided to go ahead and treat it like a journal and see how I feel afterwards.

It's the time of year to start thinking about Baby #2. When Noelle was born, it was March, which ended up being just fine, but I had to take a maternity leave and return to school when she was about 9 weeks old. It sucked, to put it lightly. Those around me might try to downplay it and say that everything worked out and it was probably good to get back into the swing of things and be around other people and I only had to work a few weeks before summer and blah blah blah. No. It sucked. Asking a mom to leave her very small baby, no matter how much that mom loves her job or how much she loves the childcare, it still sucks. And hurts. And is not fun.

So, I swore that the next time we had a child, I would make my best efforts to have a May or June baby so that I wouldn't have to take time off and then return so soon. I also wouldn't have to deal with the mess of a maternity leave sub screwing everything up in my classroom, only for me to return and clean up the mess. Well, if you do the math, a May or June baby would mean getting pregnant in August or September. Which is really soon.

Is it too soon? Is Noelle too young to be a big sister? In theory, 2 years apart sounds like the standard spacing for a large(ish) family. Luke and I have not disguised our plan for at least 4 children. I want my kids to have many siblings, and after having the world's most perfect child the first time, how could I not be aching for more?

However, I am terrified that having another one will ruin Noelle's life. Seriously, I am. Everyone I have talked to who has two children close together says it is the best thing...that the older one loves "helping" and holding the baby and sharing toys. However, I have seen first hand at photography sessions that the older one turns rebellious, feels left out, doesn't want to "kiss the baby" if we pay him to or bribe him with cupcakes and milkshakes. I am worried this will become Noelle. Our sweet little muggins will just turn into a terror and resent us for taking away her "one and only status."

But then I see the sweetness of it all. I see the older sibling feeling like the baby is like a gift to him or her...that the two grow up to become very close and are built in best friends. I see that it is fun and crazy to have two so close together, but you are at least still in the "baby stage" from the first one, so you don't have to go from a 7 year old independent child to a baby who relies on you for everything.

I might as well have been an only child. My brother is 7 years older and moved away to Missouri for college when I was 12 and returns once or twice a year. I always wanted to a little brother or sister. But if I would have gotten one, would my life have been vastly different? I am sure different in both positive and negative ways.

I feel like this decision is 100% more difficult than deciding to have a first child. It's not even the financial responsibility that scares me. It's the time. Do I have enough time and commitment and patience to be a mom to two children and still feel like a human? Me not working is not an option at this point-- so two children in daycare...and how much more difficult will it be for me to do photography? My mind is absolutely swirling, and I feel a lot of pressure.

It's the epic battle between head and heart. Do I choose what my heart longs for, or do I let my reasonable head win?

As far as comments go-- if you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FINALLY!

Wahoo! Yippee! Pow pow! Yee haw! (blows on finger guns)

We got the house!

Really, this situation could not be more perfect for us. We still get to own our home in Indy, have renters to pay the mortgage, and then we get to rent this home in Muncie for three years! We are very happy and relieved that everything is working out.

Now we actually have to move. Yikes. :-)

Check it out!
http://idx.cblunsford.com/showdetails.idx?mls=7&script=res&mlsnumber=44720

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

There are no words.

I've been trying to find the words.

And then I saw this.

It's an often occurrence when Noelle toddles up to me as I am kneeling on the floor and proudly shouts, "Mama!" and then throws her arms around my neck. We probably look a lot like this picture. Both smiling. She squeezes me as I hold her close. 

How does it go from A to Z...from that photo above to a baby lying dead in a swamp with duct tape on her mouth? How are there no explanations, no reasonings, no truths, and now no consequences? How do you celebrate that your own life is spared but that sweet little girl will never be able to throw her arms around your neck again?

How is that the "Beautiful Life?"

The beautiful life, Casey, is waking up to your daughter bouncing in her crib and excitedly chanting "more!" in anticipation of breakfast.

The beautiful life, Casey, is watching her wear your sunglasses around her neck as if they are a necklace.

The beautiful life, Casey, is playing in a swimming pool, swinging on a swing, or going down a slide as her curls blow in your face. 

The beautiful life, Casey, is watching her face light up the first time she eats ice cream or bounce up and down to the tune of a favorite song.

The beautiful life, Casey, is reading stories to her and listening as she points out the objects on a page and calls them by name.

The beautiful life, Casey, is changing the diapers, waking up at 3 a.m., holding her when she cries, and caring for her when she's sick. It's beautiful even when it is not easy.

We spend so much time telling and teaching our children that lying is wrong. That you should own up to your mistakes. That you should take responsibility for your actions. That you should be a kind and loving person to others. The verdict that the jurors handed down yesterday not only served no justice for that poor baby girl, but it completely goes against any morals we try to instill in our children. 

Soon, she will be free. She will be free to live the life she wanted without Caylee. She can dance on tables and enter hot body contests and wear the American flag as a toga until her heart is content. 

She may have her freedom, but as long as my little girl is throwing her arms around my neck, I am the one with the beautiful life. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Officially Off the Sauce...Tomorrow.

Some people are alcoholics.

I am not one of them.

However, I am addicted to a dark brown, bubbly little elixir that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I drink it.

Diet Coke.

Eff that Diet Coke.

My addiction to it goes in phases, but I have been stuck in a pretty long phase for a while now. I would say that I drink one every day, at least. I might have more than one. Some days, I might not consume any other liquids other than Diet Coke. And I LOVE water, so for me not to drink it at all in a day, that's something huge.

You see, I have been believing this lie that Diet Coke is healthy. OK, maybe I didn't really think it was healthy, but I thought it didn't really hurt you. Afterall, it wasn't regular Coke with all that sugar. I was just consuming gallons of cancer-causing aspartame daily. No biggie.

Aside from the cancer threat, I have read some articles lately about how your body processes fake sugar in a very similar way to what it does with real sugar. Basically, excess sugar turns into fatty acids in your body, and the fatty acids basically turn into fat that becomes stored. Lovely! (I know my husband is a doctor and all, but I am not exactly sure how correct I was in that description. I did read a lot of articles today, though.)

So, this might explain why I have made an effort to eat better and I have been working out, but I have seen no change in the scale or in the way my clothes fit. Don't misunderstand...I am NOT perfect in the food/fitness department. In fact, I am salivating over the ice cream I am about to disrespect in a few minutes. However, I think I do better than most at making good choices and I have added Body Pump to my fitness routine each week in addition to Zumba. Something should be happening, and my belly getting bigger shouldn't be that "something."

I expect for me to have horrible caffeine withdrawal headaches. I expect for me to crave Diet Coke like never before. I expect for me to be faced with many trigger situations (i.e. walking around Target, driving in my car, working in my classroom, going out to eat). I expect for me to be extremely irritable and PISSED that I even have to give up one of life's simple pleasures. However, I am sick of being a fat ass, and I am willing to do just about anything at this point to drop some el-bees.

I will have you know that I am drinking my last Diet Coke right now. Yes, I went to McDonald's specifically to get one. Yes, it tastes amazing. Yes, I'm scared to say goodbye.

Here goes nothin'...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Still WAITING!

Luke called the other lady's realtor today. I was hoping she would just say, "Oh, she wants to get things finalized now! No more waiting until July 10th!" But no, she did not say this. However, she didn't say anything discouraging either. Basically, the realtor said that she still wants to wait, but no one else is looking at the house and she does not see it selling in a week. She said the owner is really willing to work with us, so that is good. It's just not on my time table. Of course...nothing really is. Ever.

So, we will call her back in a week and see if she wants to wait the 2 more days until the 10th. Then, at that time, hopefully she will come to her senses and rent us the house! We do know that she won't be moving until after July 20th, so I am sure if we do get the house, we will be moving in on August 1 just as we are moving out of our house, but oh well. That will give me 11 days before school to get things in semi-order. Until then, I am obsessing about how I would decorate the house, furniture and accessories to buy, and what color I want to paint the walls. Unhealthy much? Yes, I think so.

I am also obsessing about what all we need to do in our own home before we can turn it over to our renters. Yikes. Surely I will be plenty busy with that. I am trying to develop a master to-do list to keep me going, and one that does NOT involve going to Pier 1 every other day looking for "necessities."

We need to order some moving boxes so that we can start packing and cleaning room by room. So, that brings me to...

1. Order moving boxes. Done by July 5th.
2. Begin packing rooms we do not necessarily use, which in our house would be the "office," attic, garage, and yard barn. I'd like this done by July 15th.
3. Next will come packing up the stuff we do not NEED to use daily in Noelle's room, the living room, our room, and the kitchen, as well as the bathrooms. Basically, everything needs to be packed up but the necessary furniture and a few outfits to recycle as we continue to live here until the end of July. I want this done by July 25th.
4. Then will come the cleaning. I think if we give it a good 3 days of hard work, that should do it. So, this should be done by July 28th.
5. I would like for the moving trucks to be here to get everything out of the house and our big furniture moved on July 29th.
6. I will have people come to clean the carpets on July 30th.
7. I will make one last look-through in the house on July 31st to make sure we didn't forget about something.
8. August 1-- turn over the keys!

Now, that's just the stuff for this current house. Hopefully the owner of the house we rent (wherever it is) will clean it pretty well, but I plan on having the carpets cleaned professionally and deep cleaning the house on August 1 (or whatever day we get possession).

As soon as we get an address, I will be doing all of this fun stuff:
1. Change of address with banks, credit cards, magazines, my job, and post office.
2. Getting new return address labels (thank you Vista Print)
3. Ordering change of address post cards to mail to friends/family (again, thank you Vista Print)
4. Getting utilities changed over to the renter's name and setting up utilities in our name in Muncie

All of this while doing 10 photo shoots (as of now), celebrating my birthday and our 4 year wedding anniversary, working in my room at school, and trying to have a little fun. YIKES!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The pieces are falling into place

Over the last week, we have had a few developments in our housing situation, and I am cautiously optimistic as I share them with you.

First, we decided last week that we were going to list our house as "For Rent" as we had four showings in three months while it was for sale. Depressing. Annoying. Frustrating. All of that...and we are officially ready for a vacation from the real estate world. We will try again in 3 years. We decided to rent it out under the strong advice of our realtor and some other friends who have had success doing it.

I made a little ad on Craigslist and posted it, thinking surely no one would want to see our house and our asking price was too high. Well, within 24 hours, I would say I had at least 10 inquiries, and over the past week, we are probably up to 20. We were all set to go with one of these people and begin the screening process, but a couple of sorority sisters of mine from college contacted me about renting the house, and by the end of Saturday afternoon, they decided to rent it! This makes me happy because I know that they will take care of it and we are not losing our Indianapolis "roots."

Their move-in date is August 1...which means that we have to be out of here by then! That gives me seriously one month to get everything packed up and organized and somehow to transported to Muncie to a location yet to be determined! We haven't heard back on the house we'd love to rent there, but we are thinking no news is good news because the realtor said she would call us if someone else wanted the house. I am assuming the owner just wants to wait until July 10 as she initially stated (don't know why when you have willing renters, ready to sign the lease at the price you want RIGHT NOW!). I am hoping that she decides this week to give us a call and tell us we got the place...but until then, I have to wait very impatiently.

I have decided to throw my energy into our new bedroom that we are creating. Luke and I (mainly I) decided that we would get new bedroom furniture upon our move to Muncie. Our bed was purchased for $15 at a rummage sale, and I used it in college and through our first 4 years of marriage. It has been painted 3 times. Our dresser is one I had in my bedroom at home and then in college. The "armoire" (which is HILARIOUS because I don't know if you could call it that) was found in Luke's basement at home and we painted it black and called it a day. Our mattress is relatively new as we bought it when we got married, so that will be staying. Everything else will be listed on Craigslist soon! Anyway-- Luke and I have different styles and ideas of what we want our home to look like. If Luke could have a house like the Jetsons', he would. I like modern, but I also like a little mix of rustic, vintage, and modern. I like clean lines, but not razor sharp lines.

So, after two full days of traipsing through furniture stores (with Noelle running around like crazy), we found a bed at Crate & Barrel that made our hearts sing. I would post a picture, but the picture doesn't do it justice so I will wait until it is complete. It is a warm, honey color made out of white oak and teak wood. We really love it and hope to find some beautiful dressers to compliment. I am thinking of going the "mismatched but I meant to do it" look. I don't know yet. But I am obsessed with searching for the perfect pieces, which will keep my occupied until 13 days from now when we hear about the house....not that I'm counting!

Things are coming together, but now I am freaking out about the move! This is crazy that it is really happening! I downloaded Martha Stewarts moving checklist, and I had to laugh as the first thing on the list is "HIRE A MOVER!" Hahaha, oh Martha...if we all had millions like you...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our girl!

Noelle has been a non-stop, busy little girl as of late. She is on the go, into everything, and loving every minute. Her favorite things to do are to get in the cabinet under our bathroom sink and get into a mug of makeup brushes that I don't use. She loves to put them on her face and pretend like she is putting on makeup. I also find these not-so-cheap Bare Escentuals makeup brushes all over the house. I need to just get her a set of her own, but something tells me she will always like mama's better!

She LOVES books! LOVES them! She is almost always holding a book. One of her favorites to pick up and carry around is the Merck Manual, which is about a 5 inch think medical reference guide. She can barely hold it, and she brings it to us saying "book," wanting us to read it. Yeah, right honey! She loves everything about reading and being read to. If we sit Indian style (not politically correct, I know), she will start about 3 feet away from us, turn around so her back is to us, and "back it up," by walking backwards until she reaches our legs. She will then sit and listen as we read her a book. We usually don't get past the first few pages before she is up and wanting another book. In fact, a few nights ago, I read her about 10 different books before bedtime.

Noelle also loves to sit in her cute little rocking chair in her room. She will just go in there by herself and sit with her snacks or grab a book to read. It is so cute.

She also loves to play with the doctor kit I got her in celebration of Luke's graduation from med school. She always brings the big box to us and says, "out!" Her favorite instrument is the syringe. She likes to take out the plunger part and blow into the tube. We are not sure how she got that idea, but it sure is one of her favorite things!

We have started brushing her teeth every night now. We used to just do it when we gave her a bath (or when we remembered, which was seldom), but now we try to do it each night. She loves brushing her teeth! I think she just likes the fruity toothpaste, but it is fun watching her try!

She is just talking up a storm. We think she has about 15 words that we can plainly hear and understand. It's amazing how quickly she is picking things up. Her new thing is when we carry her into a store, she will say "walk." She wants to walk in the stores, not ride in the cart, which can be a problem when she wants to grab everything off the shelves. In Kiawah, she grabbed a jar of salsa and dropped it on the floor of a grocery store. It shattered and made a big mess. Thankfully she wasn't hurt, but I was embarrassed as I found the manager and told her. Oops!

Noelle is just the joy of our lives. Her laugh is infectious. Her smile is adorable. Her personality is sweet and a little sassy. I love her so much.

Crossing my fingers and toes!

This housing situation has been one of the biggest up and down roller coasters of our lives. I don't think we had any idea how difficult it would be to 1) sell the house we currently own or 2) find another home that we would like to live in. It's a lot like when I was trying to find my first teaching job. Before I graduated, I had a very specific set of criteria for my future job. I wouldn't teach a grade higher than 3rd, and I wanted to be in Indy (north side to be exact), blah blah blah. Then, as the summer went on and I wasn't getting any calls, I started to lessen my criteria. Well, I would teach 4th or 5th grade. Then, as it came to be about 2 weeks before the start of the school year, I gave up any criteria and just said, I WILL DO ANYTHING! Thus, I got a job teaching 4th grade in Muncie of all places. It has been a great fit for me for 4 years, and I am thankful that I opened my stubborn mind to the opportunity.

It's a very similar situation with the house-hunt. At first, I was very optimistic that we would sell by the end of May. HA! FUNNY, ASHLEY! I also said I couldn't stomach the idea of having renters or us renting a house in Muncie. Now, as the months have gone on and we have had a few positive showings, but no offers or anything close to that, I find myself this close (holding my fingers about a 1/2 inch apart) to listing it on Craigslist to rent and being done with it. I have already put feelers out on Facebook about it among friends. I am not opposed to the idea, as long as we do it the right way and have trustworthy people renting from us.

On Thursday, Luke and I will look at two properties to rent in Muncie. Yes, I said rent. Who knew there were other properties to rent besides BSU rentals? Luke has been working hard at driving around in ideal neighborhoods and writing down numbers of agents of homes that are for sale. He has called a page full of people asking if their clients would rent to a teacher and a doctor with an adorable 15 month old. Hey, we'll even let you give her a hug if you want. He hasn't had too much luck, but we do have a very promising house that we will see on Thursday. In fact, I can't WAIT to see it in person because the online photos are great. This house would be a great location, size, style, and fit for us. In fact, I love it already and am already attached. This could be bad news. The story is apparently the woman who is moving just got divorced and is moving to New York. She said that if it doesn't sell by July 10, she would "highly consider" taking our 3-year rental offer. The price is pretty reasonable...in fact she is willing to rent it for about $50 less than what her mortgage payment is, which is pretty nice of her. I am hoping that if we go and see it Thursday and LOVE it, that she will forget about the whole July 10 thing and just let us do it then.

So why are we now on the renting bandwagon? Well, let me list the reasons why renting will be better for us this time around.
1. We do not know how long we will be living in Muncie. It could be 3 years, 10 years, 30 years, or 5 years. We do not want to be held down to a property here the way we are being held in Indy. As lovely as our home is, we are having a hell of a time trying to sell it (as with many other people we know), and we don't feel like turning around and playing this game again in 3 years.
2. Do I really even need to list any other reasons? OK, I will. The idea of not being "responsible" for covering home repairs is pretty nice. Or praying property taxes. Or home owner's insurance.
3. There's something about not being "tied" to a property that is kind of liberating. I say that in the same breath that "owning" a home gives me great pride, but it also scares the shit out of me. Signing all those papers at closing is not something I want to do again for a little while. We might have signed Noelle up for an arranged marriage in those papers-- I don't know...didn't read them!

Now, I know the argument that we are not going to be building equity in the home and that we will basically be throwing away money for 3 years. I get that. However, we very well might be throwing away money on the house we currently own just to try to sell it, AND after 3 years in our home and putting on a new roof and siding as well as upgrading many features inside, we haven't gained hardly any equity in the home. We are looking at barely breaking even with it. So, I am not sure the "equity" argument stands unless you plan to stay in the home for 30 years. And who does that anymore?

So, please, lady I don't know with a really pretty house in a nice neighborhood that would be perfect for our little family...please have mercy on us and let this piece of the puzzle fall in place. Please?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vacation Recap

Well, it's been a solid week or so since we returned from paradise, a.k.a. Kiawah Island, South Carolina. This was my fourth time going and the first time with a child of my own! Two years ago, the last time we went, we were hoping that we could start a family very soon. We had already had the loss of one miscarriage, and we were praying every day that we would have a baby to bring to Kiawah the next time. Sure enough...our dream came true!

We had a great time with Luke's family. Of course, we greatly missed Abe & E, as they were unable to make the trip this year. However, we managed to have fun and relax in the 90 degree heat. We also managed to protect Noelle from sunburn, which was a major victory.

Here are some highlights of the trip.

Introducing Noelle to the ocean for the first time and watching her toes wiggle in the sand as she exclaimed "Wa wa!" We walked the beach in the mornings and enjoyed the peace and quiet.




Noelle took a bath with a couple of cousins. She also peed on the bathroom floor.


Noelle loaded down with SPF 50, giving her a nice "face mask."



We enjoyed a little carnival at the resort. Our nephews were fearless as they went down the large, inflatable slide. Noelle fell asleep before it started, so she stayed at home with Nona.


We spent the day in Charleston and enjoyed looking at all the shops.



Our nephew, Juda, was baptized while we were in Kiawah.


Luke and I got to enjoy a date night out on the last night to a nice Italian restaurant and a movie with Seth & Liz. The grandparents watched all of the kids....and survived!


We really had a great time, and we are already excited to return!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who knew?

Who knew that watching calories and trying to eat more fruits and vegetable would actually lend itself to weight loss?

In two days, I am down 2.5 pounds. Only approximately 22 more to go... (nervous giggle)...

Feelin' Good

It started with the back of my insurance policy envelope and a black Sharpie. Sipping my 3rd Diet Coke of the day (yipes), I put pen to paper and began with one word. Mortgage. Next to it, I wrote the monthly amount. Beneath that, I wrote out all of our other "fixed expenses" until the legal sized envelope was full to the bottom. My stomach twisted into a knot, and I contemplated just sniffing the heck out of that Sharpie until my anxieties faded away (does that work? I have always been intrigued by "huffers"...), but as I persisted with finalizing this list of responsibilities, ending it with the $540 we spend a month on Noelle's daycare, I realized one thing....one very important detail.

I WON'T BE DOING THIS ALONE ANYMORE!

It dawned on me that we will have TWO incomes very, very soon. In fact, Luke's first day on the job was today. We will be FAR from rich, but do you know how good it felt to realize that the sole responsibility of paying our mortgage, TV/Internet, phone, gym, life insurance, electric, gas, water, & Noelle's daycare bills will not only fall on my shoulders? Knowing that Luke will be able to contribute takes so much stress off of me.

When I finished my list, I smiled. I SMILED....at a list of bills?! Maybe those Sharpie fumes were working afterall...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Greetings

Hello from vacation! I am writing this with a frosty, cold, alcoholic beverage next to me. OK, I lied, but it's a nice thought, right?

Anyway, I am on vacation in South Carolina...Kiawah Island to be exact. We are here with Luke's family, and we are having a great time. Noelle has now officially seen, touched, and played in the ocean. She has exclaimed "wa wa" many times (water), and she has enjoyed swimming in the pool as well. She has managed not to get burned, rockin' the SPF 50, sun hat, and swim shirt daily. She is pleasantly rosy-cheeked and sleeping in her pack 'n play as I type.

We have long-awaited this vacation...as I believe we scheduled it in when there was still snow on the ground. Luke and I both have deserved some rest and relaxation, away from the stress of school, residency,  and the selling-buying-moving trifecta of horror. Unfortunately, my phone has not been ringing with people wanting to see the house while we were gone, even though we left it in pristine condition-- not an easy task to do when leaving for a week and with a bouncy 15 month old undoing all you have done. Whatever.

While we are loving it here and enjoying time with family in the sun, I must say that I am infused with a little guilt-- a little disappointment. I am disappointed in myself because I did not get my act together in time to actually look decent non-heinous in a swimsuit. It's pretty ridiculous that in the 15 months since Noelle was born, I have not gotten these last 10 pounds off my body. And it's not even like they are a "good" 10 pounds (as if there was such a thing-- but some women seem to get to choose where their weight goes and it isn't all bad). They are ugly, stubborn, jiggly 10 pounds that mock me as I stare at them in the mirror with my 2 piece on, wishing I would have just gone with the "mom uniform..." a modest one piece with a knee length skirt. I slap my forehead in stupidity and shudder as I make my way out the door. I have decided that I officially do not give a shit if my stomach is tan, so I am gonna keep that covered up for the remainder of the trip.

As soon as I get home?? I am gonna be hitting it hard to get this weight off. I no longer wish to torture myself on vacations that should be full of fun and frolicking without worrying about how unflattering of an angle you are working. At least now my schedule is wide open and I can work out whenever I want and not eat dinner at 9:30 p.m. like I was doing before school was out.

Cheers to a great summer ahead!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reflections of the 4th Year

As my 4th year of teaching comes to a close (in just 3 short school days), I find myself with mixed emotions. This always happens at the end of a school year. The wear and tear of 180 days begins to show on my face, on my body, in my disposition, and I am ready for the sweet freedom of Summer. However, a tinge of guilt usually strikes in the final days, where I start to think...these kids weren't really that bad...we have come a long way since August...they are really a sweet group...I will miss them.

As I was grading reading letters each student wrote to me after they were instructed to discuss their growth as readers throughout the year, I found myself smiling a lot as many children offered up compliments to me that they were not instructed to write. They wrote things like, "Thank you for teaching me so much." "Thank you for being a great teacher." "I had the best year ever." "I will miss you."

In that moment, I felt overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction. I was reminded why I wanted to be a teacher...not to get end of the year gifts or compliments...but because these kids really felt like I taught them something, and that's all I ever wanted to do in the first place.

Victory.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flashback: Easter

I am calling this a flashback, but really this is me attempting to make up for my shitty blogging habits I have had over the past few weeks. You're probably sick of hearing me complain about my black hole of a life right now, but lemme say it once more, this time of year is NUTS anyway, and throw in trying to sell a house is just an all around horrible idea.

Anyway-- we did celebrate Easter, and it was a lot more fun this year with Noelle this age. Not that she wasn't adorable in her little Easter outfit last year, but seeing her collect eggs and get excited was too much fun.

Luke had to work at the ER on Easter Sunday, so we spent a quiet day at home. My mom and dad joined us for a nice dinner later.

However, the highlight of the day was when Noelle and I were at Meijer picking up some items for dinner, and she decided that she would have her first ever GRAND MAUL TEMPER TANTRUM! This child is perfection defined at any other time, especially in public. Not that day, nope. I had a McD Diet Coke (duh), and she decided she wanted a drink. I didn't think that I wanted to start her on Diet Coke at her age, so I didn't let her have any. This provoked her to start arching her back, throwing her head backwards, and screaming at the top of her lungs. Given that it was Easter Sunday, most people were at church, which meant that the store was pretty empty, allowing her screams to echo throughout the entire store...from produce to lawn furniture.

I began sweating and making my way toward the check out as soon as possible. I was even stopped by three different people, offering to "help." I don't know how they could have helped me...but I thought it was sweet to offer.

Anyway, after I got her home and she calmed down, all was well again. We had a nice time, and Luke got to come home and spend the rest of the day with us.

Mama Bear

On Sunday morning, we were at church. We don't go as much as we used to because my photography sessions sometimes get in the way. However, I had a free Sunday due to rain, and we got to go to St. Simon.

We went ahead and went in the cry room, not because we were worried Noelle would cry, but mainly because we were late and Noelle likes to get up and walk around. She doesn't like to be held much if we aren't going anywhere. So...cry room it was.

Noelle was a perfect angel, per the usual, just looking at her book and making all the old ladies fall in love. There were just a few other children in the room, one looked to be her age, and the others were a couple of years older.

Noelle started taking interest in the toy box, situated in the middle of the room. The other kids were playing there, so I think she wanted in on the action. She would take about 10 steps toward the box, and then she would turn around and come back to us. I try not to hover, so I just let her do her thing. She would then get the courage to go about 20 steps, then come back. Finally, she made it to the box, and she was proud of herself. She was so interested in the used, junky old toys that she dropped her precious stuffed cat Bella on the ground and didn't think twice about it. I saw a little drooling gap-toothed tot with pig tails eyeing Bella, so went and snatched her up before it was too late.

Anyway, my point to all of this is that each time Noelle took her steps toward the box and the other kids, I felt a tightening in my chest. I didn't know why I was having anxiety until I thought about it for a few. I was nervous for Noelle because I wanted the other kids to like her and want to play with her. I couldn't believe I was worrying about this as Noelle is only 14 months old, but the thought of her experiencing rejection at any age or time just made my stomach hurt. I wanted to protect her and tell all the little kids that Noelle had really cool toys and was a nice little girl and she would be a great friend to any of them, but I wanted to see what she would do on her own.

Like a normal 14 month old, she didn't really interact much with the other kids...that is until the little boy who looked to be about her age bumped into her and sent her straight to the ground. No babies were hurt in that collision.

Fast forward a couple of days, and we were at the Castleton Mall play area. It wasn't busy, so we let Noelle get in there. We were close by because that place can get a little crazy. Anyway, she was attempting to climb the two steps up to the slide, and she wasn't quite getting it fast enough for these two kids impatiently waiting behind her. You know the gestures you make when you are walking behind a slow old lady at the mall, and you just want to say, "Move along grandma!"? Well, these kids were doing that to Noelle, and I immediately took on my Mama Bear disguise. I wanted to knock the kids to the ground or tie their shoe laces together, but I gently helped Noelle up the steps and guided her down the slide before Hurry-Up Henry and Impatient Isabelle could hurt Noelle's self-esteem.

If I worry this much about Noelle and how others are treating her now, I can only imagine how my heart will break the first time someone doesn't want to be her friend or says she can't sit at their lunch table or if she gets cut from a team or if a boy breaks up with her. I see kids mistreating other kids all the time in my class and school, and before I had Noelle, I didn't think much about it. Now I find myself counseling my kids, trying to get them to see that their words and actions can be hurtful.

Kids will be kids...until it's your kid, and then it's a different story.

Dr. Luke

When I first met Luke as high school freshmen, I knew two things about him. 1) He was really quiet. 2) He wanted to be a doctor. Who would have guessed that we would end up together or that we would even see that long-awaited dream come true? Regardless of how we beat the odds...of a long-distance college relationship...of getting into IU Med School...of not filing for divorce after having children which a few of our friends have already experienced...of getting our first residency match choice...the fact is, we have beaten all of them and I have me a real good lookin' doctor man pulling me a Pioneer Woman meat loaf outta the oven that he made all by hisself. That's a good man right thur.

Anyway...a lot of people say they are going to do something when they grow up, and then life gets in the way. No one would have faulted Luke if he would have decided to go into a profession that was mildly less difficult, stressful, or debt-sucking. They are always looking for male teachers these days. However, he stuck with it, held on to his goals, and now he can look in the mirror and see an MD staring back. It's pretty cool.

Luke graduated last weekend after a nice little build-up of exciting activities. We had his friend Taylor's wedding, who married a fellow med student, Andrea. It's so cool to realize that Luke didn't even know Taylor existed before med school, and then he was actually in his wedding. Taylor and Andrea will be moving soon to Texas, just as a few of our other friends will be moving far away, too (Hey, Amanda!). I'm really bad with goodbyes and refuse to think that we will never see these people again, so I try to avoid acknowledging it all together.

The night before the graduation, we had a senior awards banquet to attend at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. It was really pretty and we felt privileged to get to attend a function there. It was good food and some nice speeches to listen to. I just couldn't stop thinking about how proud I was of Luke the entire evening, and how he deserved to enjoy every bit of this entire experience.





The ceremony the next day was at the Indiana Convention Center downtown. I was mildly disappointed in the venue. For the money that these men and women have paid, you would think you could have the ceremony in a little more charming of a venue instead of a huge ballroom that seats 3,000 people. I was also disappointed that other health degrees such as Masters of Public Health and Health Administration graduated with the med students. First of all, their guests took up a TON of the seats...the place was full 45 minutes prior to the ceremony and we were pretty much in the next to last row. Secondly, it made the ceremony about an hour longer than necessary. By the time they got around to the lousy old MD degrees, people were a little restless. I know everyone needs their moment, I would have thought that's what the IUPUI graduation was for the next day. Thankfully, they had a videographer who was filming them getting their degrees and hoods, and then that video was projected onto a big screen, so we could at least see him doing his thing. All in all, it was a dignified ceremony, if you forget about the little 4 year old girl sitting in front of us eating an ear of corn. At 10:00 a.m. That's Indiana for you!





Afterwards, the family that attended came to lunch with us at Bella Vita at Geist. It was good, and we had a good time relaxing after all the excitement of the day.

I still look at Luke and think, "A doctor? Really?" Sometimes, I still feel like we look 15 years old...which I suppose really isn't all  that bad. Life was good and simple then. Let's go back to that.

Congratulations to my accomplished, wonderful husband who spent 20 years of his life taking classes and preparing for this distinguished degree.

Now cut that meatloaf.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm baaaaaack!

The bad news is, it has been 11 days since my last post, if you can even call it a post.

The good news is that I am fully inspired to blog about many different topics in the coming days, and I have even drafted a list of blog topics as they have popped into my mind. First on the list is Luke's graduation (!!!), but also on the list are Noelle's latest advancements, some great recipes I have tried, some crafts I am excited to make, recent ponderings about life, and other wonderful subjects.

So...thanks for your patience as I went through a month long emo phase. I appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hopeless

In one word, it all feels so hopeless.

If my negativity annoys you already, then please click the X and leave.

Right now, I am gonna wallow.

I have gone back and forth between feeling like we are going to make the biggest mistake of our lives or we have already made it. Every other day, I tell myself, this is good...we will be fine...we will find a place to live...we will sell our house....we will be happy...there's life beyond the Super Target....but I just am losing hope.

Thus, I am hopeless.

I am sad and extremely depressed about it all. I am tired of physically talking about it because I feel like I annoy everyone who hears me. So...I will light the keys ablaze with my typing as I spill my guts to the interwebs. Sorry in advance.

Our house has had a measly 2 showings in one month. Personally, I think that sucks, and neither one were all that positive. Between being told that they didn't like where the master bedroom was in the house, that our kitchen and bathrooms were outdated, and we needed to tone down the teal color in our living room because it makes it look "small," I really am completely PISSED OFF at this process and no longer wish to participate.

Honestly, I have commuted for 4 years. I feel like I could probably do it for 3 more. Luke is hardcore against the thought, but it keeps running through my mind.

Also running through my mind is the LACK of options in Muncie for us to live. I am not so sure we are going to buy anymore, given that our own home is sitting happily on the market, and a home probably ain't gonna sell like a hotcake in Muncie. The thought of renting, especially in Muncie, sounds revolting to me. I have rented in Muncie, as a college student, and I throw up when I think about our options. I have always taken such pride in my home, and now to think of having to "put up with" something that will just be OK for 3 years really, really devastates me. This is me...not caring about how bad that sounded. I don't want to live in a dump, and I don't want to pay an arm and a leg to do it, either.

This is me...lovin' life...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Update in short sentences

2 weeks.
2 weeks since my last blog post.
Pathetic.
Lazy.
A healthy combo of both.
Can I at least say that April was my least favorite month of 2011?
I am so happy to see it go and I welcome May with open arms.
May will be quite busy...between 2 weddings, a (med school) graduation, 12 photo shoots, and the end of the school year.
I get tired just thinking about it.
I like writing in short sentences.

Noelle has words now!
Buh = book.
Gog = dog.
Ight = light.
Bewwa = Bella (her stuffed cat)
Uh oh = oh oh.

She also points to her eyeball, hair, ear, and the light when you ask her.

The house situation is disappointing at best.
2 showings.
Negative feedback.
Suck, suck, suck.
Ready to throw in the towel.

Hoping something good happens soon.

Right now...we must celebrate...
for this blog will soon become Mrs. E and the Future MD!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Baby steps

I realize I have been really down on my entries lately, and really the only explanation I have for that is I have been really down in my real life, too. The stress of all that's been going on has really taken a toll, and each day seems to be a struggle to keep it all in perspective and put one foot in front of the other. Nonetheless, I do it...not only because I have to but because I want to, for Noelle, and Luke, and myself. I know, because life experience tells me it's true, that everything is going to be fine...but it is just so hard to remind myself of that constantly-- 24 hours a day.

Anyway, there have been plenty of good things going on, all of which are helping the cause. First and foremost, Noelle is WALKING! She walks everywhere now, and only resorts to crawling in situations where she wants to get somewhere fast. She is so good at the walking and looks like such a big kid when she does it. 

She also is talking a lot more. She is beginning to say recognizable words, and I can tell she is learning their meanings. Luke taught her "light," and when you ask her where the light is, she looks up every time. I haven't had the heart to tell her that not all ceilings, skies, or vehicles have lights directly overhead, and sometimes lights can be on tables or walls, but we will save that for another day! 

She also says "book," well, all but the K part. When you ask her to get a book, she will walk to her room and start pulling all of her books off the shelves. She also understands dog and cat, and last night we could have sworn she said "Bella" (more like Bewwa) as we were reading her a book with a cat named Bella in it. 

She hugs her stuffed animals with intention now, and she is the sweetest little girl on the planet (but we already knew that)!

Another step in the positive direction is that I did not get a RIF notice on Friday when our superintendent handed out letters. No one at our school did, thankfully. There were 3 elementary teachers who received the letters, however, and I am sad for them. However, it is every man for himself right now, and I have to count my blessings that for next year, I still have a job.

Now, if only ONE person would want to see our house...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Day That Never Was

Two years ago today was the due date for our first pregnancy. That pregnancy ended in miscarriage 10 weeks into it, and we haven't been the same since.

Did our lives end? No. Did they change forever? Yes. Will this day always have a tinge of sadness, even when it is beautifully lit with spring? Maybe. I don't know yet.

What I have to remember is that without the experience of our loss, Noelle most likely would not have come to be...or at least not yet. I highly doubt we would have had a child in April and then turned around and had a baby the following March...though I suppose you would never know.

Baby #1, who we believed also was a girl, is playing and celebrating her 2nd birthday somewhere.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When it rains

I haven't wanted to write for a while. In fact, I still don't really want to, but I am worried that if I don't write, I will fall off the wagon completely and never return. I don't want that to happen, so I am going to stumble around until I find what I need to say. The house is quiet. Noelle is asleep. Luke is working from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., just like he did last night. I am alone in more ways than one right now.

It's sad how isolating trying to sell a house can be. We are afraid to have people over, for fear getting the house dirty. We feel we are slaves to our phones, waiting for that call to say we have a showing, even though the house has been listed for 2 weeks no one has wanted to see it. Well, someone called to see it but then cancelled the next day. We are on edge, scared, nervous, and sad all at the same time. We smile and nod when people say that this is all part of the plan, and the house will sell, and we will find something else, but behind our smiles, we are scared shitless that we are going to be put in a difficult situation in a couple of months. Just know that as much as I say I am calm and "not worried" about it, that it couldn't be further from the truth.

I heard a rumor that this week is when our corporation lets teachers know if they have been RIF'd (reduction in force; i.e. laid off; i.e. nice way of saying "fired"). Last year, my corporation laid off everyone beneath my year of experience. I was safe. They called back several of those people who they cut because they ended up needing them anyway. This year, they anticipate cutting around 6 teaching positions, at least 2 of which from the elementary. Who knows where I stand now? I believe there are 4 under me. Next year? They anticipate cutting another $400,000 from the budget, which means we will have the same situation again. My biggest fear, aside from the pain and anguish of "losing" my job, is that we will have sold our house and moved to Muncie, only for me to get laid off and not have a job to go to each day. The whole point (well, not the whole point...Luke's residency was a major factor) of moving to Muncie was so that I wouldn't have to drive an hour each way to work. If I lose my job, I will be stuck in a town with a couple of other school corporations that are not in any position to hire anyone, and I will probably be hauling my ass back down 69 each morning, only this time heading toward Indy at 6:30 a.m. I don't know what makes me think that I would get hired in Indianapolis, but at least there are more options.

As I was cooking a dinner tonight that was far too complicated for the lackluster taste it delivered, I was resentful of Luke, who was deliriously happy playing with our giggling 13 month old, while I was trying to put together something edible and before 9:30 p.m. I kept thinking how I should be the one with Noelle, and how she never cries when I drop her off at daycare because she probably doesn't have any attachment to me anyway, given that the most time we spend together is when she is strapped into her car seat, facing my back windshield for 2 hours a day. Typing that brings tears to my eyes.

When I get home at the end of the day, the sheer physical exhaustion, coupled with the emotional exhaustion, tempts me to find a place on the couch and stay for hours...and many nights here lately, that's exactly what I have been doing. Few behaviors can make a person feel more worthless, but here I am, caught in this habit of vegetizing myself after 5:00 p.m. The stomach cramps, knots in my shoulders and neck, throbbing aches behind my eyes, and pricking pains that feel like they are coming from my hair follicles really keep me from wanting to do anything productive or good for myself.

Let's see...in the past 7 days...I have experienced public shame and humiliation, the disappointment of a cancelled house showing, and just today, I was notified that over $2,000 in fraudulent charges came through via my PayPal account. Of course I realize that "attitude is everything" and if I think about all the negative, I will never, ever see any of the positive, but I am at that place right now, and I can't seem to snap out of it.

I have been down before, and I have gotten through it just fine. There is a process that I must go through, and no amount of force feeding of positivity will help. It has to be a decision within me to want to stand up, dust myself off, and put all of this to bed. Until then, my misery is looking for company.

And a drink.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Help.

I have had a horrible week, and it is only Wednesday.

No showings on the house.

Loads of trouble at school.

Luke working ridiculous ER hours.

No time to just "be."

Feeling the stress already as it manifests itself in stomach cramps, headaches, blurry vision, and nausea. I don't think I have counted down so hard for anything in my life than the end of this school year.

To think, it wasn't even bad until Monday.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Life as we know it.

Hello Stranger Blog. It's been over a week since I sat down to let you in on the happenings-o-life. Not much to say, except for that I feel that change is all around me, and I am trying to embrace it all.

Basically, we live in a museum. Yep, yes we do. Our house is officially on the market, and if you want to buy it, you can click here.

Anywho, we live as if we are in a movie where they get locked in a department store overnight so they go around and do whatever they want while the store is closed and then by the time the store opens in the morning, everything better be put back where it was. That's exactly what we are doing, except it really isn't as fun as it seems on the movies. Having to have a picture perfect home (when it wasn't to begin with) by the time we leave the house at 6:30 a.m. just on the chance that someone will call and want to see the house while we are gone during the day is really difficult. I mean, I can count how many times I have made my bed since I was physically able to do so on one hand, so making my bed every day, even on weekends, really blows. I just hope it is worth it.

Noelle is loving her life, learning new things, having fun, and being super cute. We have been so busy around the house that we decided to put her to work. She has to mow the lawn:



She needs to feed herself. We don't have time for "here comes the airplane, open up the hangar!" games anymore:

And her new favorite thing to do this cute little face:

She is officially sproutin' an 8th tooth, but she is truly taking it like a champ, as always. In fact, baby girl slept from around 7:30 last night until after 8 today, which is late for her, so I almost went in to make sure she was OK, but I weighed that option against accidentally waking her up and me not getting time to clean up around the house or eat my waffle in peace (MOTHER OF THE YEAR!). Lo and behold, she was fine. I knew she was. But still...12+ hours of sleep is kind of freakish.

You may be wondering about my McFatty-ness. Well, I took cleaning the bathroom as an opportunity to put away the scale (because what potential buyer wants to see that I have to weigh myself every day?). So, I hadn't weighed myself in a week, but it turns out that the scale was still my friend. Not up, not down. I have a goal to shed 10 big ones before we head to South Carolina on June 3. I think I can do it. No, really, I do. Stop laughing. Gosh.

Still no fast food for this girl, though. Eat my shorts, Ronald McDonald.