The Truth about Motherhood

4/1/11

I’m just going to say it. I have THE cutest daughter on the planet.

*Whew* Glad that’s off my chest.

Hehehe. Biased much? Why, yes. Yes I am. It is so funny how motherhood taints your vision. I mean, in my eyes, Abigail is literally the end all, be all of cute/pretty/precious. No one tops her. And it is only my compassionate heart and good manners that save all the other mothers of 10 month olds from learning the truth, thankyouverymuch.

Of course, I’m kidding. And of course I know that EVERY baby is beautiful. But it is funny how your mind works once you become a parent. I have always known that your heart just makes the room to love a child when you think you have no room because you love your spouse with all of your heart. But, just like you simply don’t understand what love is until you find the one and “just know,” you can’t understand just how much you can love a child until you have one.  And the truth about my title of “Mother” is that I love Abigail more than life itself. More than I ever knew was a possible capacity. And it’s amazing. Simply amazing.

-Jen

Because I’m used to it…

3/31/11

Do you do things simply because you are used to doing it that way? I am so guilty of that. I realized it the other night when I did the silliest thing, but it is just habit.

You see, in our apartment, the door to our bathroom was in our bedroom. And the lights and fan would wake Abigail up. So, I got used to going to the bathroom in the dark. Weird, but you do stuff like that when you have a baby. Well, now, we live in this house, and not only does Abigail have her own room, but our bathroom door is no longer in our bedroom. It is in the hallway. But, true to habit, I went in there, and took care of things, sans the lights. There was no need for it, it really didn’t make sense… but there you have it. This isn’t the only example, it is just the silliest. But I am so a creature of habit. I’m not one that avoids change like the plague, but I don’t chase it, either.

But I have a feeling this year is going to be a year of change for me. I’m excited for it, too. I’m excited to really ease into my role as Mother. I’m excited for my Pampered Chef business and being my own boss for once. I’m ready for new clothes that fit, and new routines for Abby, and new rules for a new home… Oh – and I’m so ready for a new iPhone – with VERIZON. Because I’ve been patiently waiting for it. FOR EVER. And I am super excited about all of it.

What change is coming your way this year?

-Jen

“Hi”

3/30/11

We’ve seen some incredible cognitive development in Abigail over the last week. We have always seen new things on a daily basis, but this week has been big.

It took Abby quite a while to master the art of reaching for things and grabbing them. It was the first area that we saw any kind of delay (other than the delay of her corrected age). She found it quite frustrating to understand that she wanted the toy in front of her and not be able to get it. You could see it in her face that she was trying so hard, but getting her hand to move where she wanted just wasn’t computing.

She finally figured it out a few weeks ago, and has been a grabbing machine ever since. But this last week, it hasn’t just been taking a toy we hand her. She has been actively and even aggressively seeking out toys out of her reach and finding a way to get to them. She is grabbing everything in sight! It’s pretty neat!

With this development, we’ve seen other things move along, too. Like her speech. As many of you who have met Abby know, she has been “talking” for quite a while. But it’s been almost all vowel sounds, and it was just to make noise. But now, she is talking for real. While there aren’t any words yet, she is talking up a storm. Vowel sounds, mushed together with some consonants. So far we’ve got the “G,” “L,” and “H” down pretty good. And occasionally we get a “D,” an “M,” or a “B.” And the sounds are no longer random babblings. She talks directly to someone or something. She looks directly at whoever or whatever she is talking too… and she talks to almost ALL of her toys. And she responds, with eye contact, when you talk to her.

But the best part is that I CALLED IT!! “Hi” is going to be her first word. It is really the only word she can actually say. And she has said it now, in context. Her Jido (Grandfather in Arabic) said, “Hi Sweetheart” to her over the weekend, and she looked right at him, smiled, and said, “Hhhhhhiiiiiiii.” We were stunned. As of today, it is still a “fluke” as she has yet to do it again. But as soon as I can get her to do it a second time, it is officially her first word. Needless to say, I’ve been saying, “Hi” to her way more than any other word. But it’s on the tip of her tongue, and I can’t wait to hear it again!

She really is incredible. The developmental age of a 6 month old and learning to speak, sit, stand, and even take assisted steps. I’m in awe. And I just can’t wait until tomorrow and every day after that, just to see what she comes up with next!

-Jen

Pictures are worth a thousand words

3/29/11

Here is a sneak peak at Abigail’s latest photo shoot with the amazing Bree Shepard! Can you believe she is 9 (almost 10!) months already? I can’t believe it. And even more unbelievable is that her next photo shoot will be for her ONE YEAR milestone. I have no idea where to even begin with that one!

Anywho – enjoy the photos!

Mommy loves her little princess!

Daddy is teaching her all of his tricks.

The little girl is up to something

She really is the prettiest little girl EVER. (But I’m not biased or anything.)

Can’t wait to see more!

-Jen

Cooking with Gas!

3/28/11

I never really understood the phrase “We’re Cooking with gas, now!” before today. I mean, I get it in the sense that I know what it means: We are really moving along, or we are going fast or some exclamation that means we are no longer stationary.

Well, I get it now! You see, for the last 10 or so years, I’ve been cooking on electric stoves. Dorm rooms and then apartments are no place for open flame. So I forgot how great it is to have a gas stove! But now, in my NEW KITCHEN, I have just that. Gas. And boy was I cooking with it! It was so great to get the oven heated quickly and water boiling before I could get all of my ingredients out. It moved so fast!

Now I get the saying  – cooking with gas really is better and moves everything along. It really is the little things, isn’t it? 😉

-Jen

Settling In

3/27/11

Day one of living in a house versus an apartment and I can’t tell you how different things are! I mean, Anthony and I have lived in a space as small as 925 square feet! So it seems like we’ve gone from a shoe box to a mansion overnight.

It’s so funny how much stuff you don’t realize you have until you move. Anthony and I don’t have a lot of stuff by normal standards. 2 Adults, 1 baby, 1 dog. And all of our worldly goods fit nicely in the back of a 14 foot U-Haul. When it is all in boxes, it looks like SO MUCH STUFF. But now that half of it is unpacked, I’m realizing that we don’t have what it takes to fill a space like this. Hahahaha. Oh well, less is more, right?

We’ve started to put things away – the kitchen is totally unpacked! And all the boxes are at least in the right rooms. The furniture (which looks so sparse in our HUGE living room) has found their new homes and it is starting to look like people live here. I can’t wait to get pictures and artwork up on the walls.

Abigail is adjusting nicely. She’s gone right to sleep with no problems in our new bedroom. We’ll see how sleeping in her own crib will go in a few days… Lots of transition for such a little girl. She seems to like everything a lot, though. She likes the kitchen counter because it is a good height for her to stand on. She likes the living room because of all the sunlight. And she really likes her bedroom.  It is so colorful and full of all of her favorite toys. She sat in her crib with all of her stuffed animals and played (while I supervised) totally by herself for 20 minutes today. I was so impressed.

One of the best things is the driveway. Both cars fit really easily into it. It is a little oversized, which is great because we have an SUV. There is lots of parking around, so multiple cars can be here at once. And we can wash our cars in the driveway! We were not allowed to do that at our last 3 apartment complexes. So, that is a big deal. I wandered down the car care isle at Target today just to get a feel for all the fun times we will have this summer. It is going to be great! It really is about the little things! Oh – and we got Abigail her very first pool accessory today! We got a Speedo Brand infant flotation device. It is green and blue and has little dolphins on it – and it has a canopy for shade! It is the only one we could find that holds 6 month sized infants (everything else was only safe for 9 month sized infants) so it was a must have. We can’t wait for the rain to stop so we can introduce her to her Daddy’s favorite sport! Swimming!

All in all, it’s been a VERY long weekend, but we are doing well and settling in nicely. Can’t wait to show it off when it is all done!

-Jen

We’ve moved!

3/26/11

So, my big secret is out. Today was moving day!

Ok, Ok, it wasn’t all THAT big of a secret. Our whole family knew, and several close friends knew too. But the general public didn’t even know we were looking for a house.

Truth be told, it’s been a LONG road for us to get a house of our own. And even then, I have to say, this isn’t “on our own.” It is Co-Owning. Let me start from the beginning. Last year, when we found out I was pregnant with Abigail, we started house hunting. We qualified for enough to get our first home. A starter house – small, with a yard, and probably would need some TLC, but still – it would be ours. But there wasn’t much out there for us. Nothing seemed to fit, and I wasn’t going to buy a HOUSE simply because it fit into our price range. I knew we either had to love it (the kind of love where we HAD TO have it, or I was going to cry) or it was a no-go. It was a tough market and nothing really seemed to be going our way in that respect. So, we stopped looking, with the intention to pick it up again once Abigail was born… in the fall.

Well, everything last year had a plan, and NOTHING stuck to it. Between keeping our family afloat and paying off the medical bills immediately to keep from drowning, the savings we had stashed away to buy a house was gone. We were back at zero. We really thought it would be several more years before we could start looking for a house again.

But my In-Laws had an idea. You see, they live in northern California, but all three of their sons (with their wives and kids), as well as several members of the extended family live in Ventura county. They didn’t want to move, but they wanted a place they could call a “home away from home.” So they said, let’s buy a house together. We’ll have a room there, and you live in it full-time. When we are there, it will be everyone’s house. And when we are gone, it will be yours.

I know that just about every person I encounter who hears this thinks we are nuts. You are going to LIVE part time with your In-Laws? What crazy juice are you drinking? But trust me, I know what I’ve gotten myself into. (And, for the record, we’ve done it before – we lived with them for 6 months before we got married.) Well, here we are, less than a year later, and I am writing this blog from my new bedroom, which is right next door to Abigail’s, and down the hall from our home office. Just a little further past that is the bedroom where my In-laws will stay when they occasionally visit (an average of once a month). And the kitchen, living room, and den downstairs have all of our stuff in them. PLUS there is a HUGE back yard and a pool! We are so excited. True, when my MIL is here, she rules the kitchen, and true, I don’t get to pick out the colors of the walls of the living room, and true, when they want to host the family holiday get-togethers, I have to say OK and smile about it… but really, I don’t mind any of that. It is a small price to pay to raise Abigail in a HOME.

The best part is that because we are Co-Owning, we are splitting costs, right down the middle. That is how we can all afford it. I would not be able to afford a home this big and beautiful for another decade or two. And multiple homes for the in-laws can get pricey. So we help each other out. And it will allow us to put a lot more $$$ in savings, so we can get back on our feet faster.

Eventually we will be able to afford a home that is totally ours. But until then, I am so grateful for this chance to start over. This past year has been the lowest of lows right alongside the highest of highs. It rocked us to our core and turned everything upside down. This house is so much more than our new home. It is that open window I’ve been patiently waiting for… you know, that one that opens when those doors of opportunity close? It is a fresh start and a way for us to truly put everything that was hard about the last year behind us. We have our health. We have our daughter. And now, we have a home. It’s the best of everything. We are back at the top of our game and going strong. And I’m so excited for whatever is coming at us next.

Thanks to everyone who helped us move today! We couldn’t have done it without you.

-Jen