Thursday, November 14, 2013

No One Really Wants to Wear Pants

The terrible twos are here to stay at the Skimbo house.  If there was any doubt they had arrived, this past weekend defiantly made that clear.

First there are the tantrums.  Oh lord, those tantrums.  Mostly revolving around having to get dressed or wear a diaper.  I am a terribly unreasonable mom who insists she wear pants and not pee on the floor.  I'd like to say that I have learned to roll with the screaming fits, but instead it clearly stresses me out.  Mostly because I am trying to get to work, or church or be somewhere when Reagan decides naked is far better than any clothes she owns.  The only exceptions (and even these are not with any certainty) are made for mickey clothes and consist of mostly PJs.  So if you see a kid at day care with boys PJs on and wild blonde hair, she belongs to me.  People often mistake her for a boy because I can't find a single mickey shirt for a girl.  But hey, dressed is dressed and I pick my battles.  Most of the clothes we bought or were given to us haven't even had the tags removed because she is such a nightmare to try and get dressed.  
Those cute boots Nana bought - torture
The new Minne Mouse jacket - disgusting
Dresses - "I no like it no more!!"
Jeans - suffocating
socks - for wussies
Pants - definitely not ever going to wear pants.  Those are the worst.
And the list goes on and on.
I have had minimal success letting her pick out her clothes or letting her dress herself.  Some days that works, mostly she screams until she pukes and I give up.
In an effort to keep my sense of humor about this I had a good laugh at this video.  Part II is just as good.  Convos with my 2 year old - pants part 2



But like any respectable 2 year old, we don't limit tantrums to one category.  She can also lose it over unexpected things like having only one sippy cup of juice, or only being able to carry three blankets, and not having ice cream for breakfast.  A few nights ago she totally lost it because I sat in the chair in our living room and not my assigned location on the couch.  It was really tragic.  Just last night she sobbed because I had the audacity to try and read my own book on MY kindle.  "Dats mine!" You know that website "Reasons my son is crying" well I could add a few good examples myself.

Reagan has also grown 2 inches since her August 24th birthday.  This now means she fits nicely into all those 2T size pants she refuses to wear.  She can reach counter tops and all sorts of stuff that was previously safely out of reach.  It also means she is just tall enough to be able to slide her leg over the crib and tumble out at her leisure.  I now refer to 2:30 am as the sob and shuffle hour when she makes her great escape and finds her way to my bed.  While I think snuggling with her is adorable, I am far too much of a light sleeper to really enjoy co-sleeping.  Its more like Reagan takes over the bed and I barely snooze for the rest of the night.  She flops around, talks and cries out in her sleep, and often wakes up to check if I am still there.   And the kid snores... just like her Dad.  Its much worse when Chet is home because she refuses to sleep in the crib AT ALL and I end up with everyone piled into my bed. Even with a king sized bed (and I would get something bigger if that was an option) I am cramped and never sleep well.  After a week of this I am exhausted.  So we ordered a mickey bed (flat out bribery in an effort to get some sleep) and plan to try and transition her to that and hopefully she will WANT to stay put.  Heck, we even paid a little extra for the tent topper (also her Christmas present) but I have very little faith the first few nights of a "big girl" bed will go well, thank goodness I can try to nap this weekend.  Wish me luck, the bed arrives on Friday. 

But what far out weights the sleeping and screaming issues is the start of potty training.  Reagan is growing more and more aware of the potty issue and often asks to sit on the potty.  We aren't pushing the issue but indulge her when she asks to sit, something also being encouraged at daycare.  We even got a mickey potty which she used with great enthusiasm for a couple weeks, even once peeing on it!  But the excitement wore off and now she will only use the big potty.  This hasn't been all bad... until Sunday.  Sunday she had a BM and decided to remove her diaper and use her poop to cover the bathroom.  I am talking floor, bath mats, cabinet doors and just for fun she brought a bunch of her play kitchen toys to the party as well.  When I discovered the mess I about lost it.   There is nothing worse to truly ruin your mood (and day) than having to scrub the floor covered in pooh.  IT.  WAS.  BAD.  I may never really recover...

Me: Reagan are you in big trouble?
Reagan: Yea, I a trouble maker.

I wouldn't really call Reagan a difficult child, no more so than any other kid at this age.  She has her difficult moments, certainly a lot of them lately, but that's how it goes.  Maybe its my 32nd birthday that is coming next week, or the shift from Reagan the baby to Reagan the little kid but it seems I have a lot less control over my house lately.  It feels like a lot of time I am struggling and less and less time enjoying the moment. I feel I have a lot less "good days" and more like "good moments".  Quality time with her is hard, when every day is scattered with meltdowns and times outs and struggling to find a balance of giving her what she wants and establishing myself as the parent.  

For me this has been particularity hard because I have lost a lot of "me time" in this process.  I really enjoyed the couple of hours I had to myself after I put her to bed, to read, watch TV, relax or whatever by myself.  As in ALONE.  As in quiet time where I didn't have to watch for poop incidents.  With her sleeping with me more and more, or taking hours to get her to go down I have lost my free time to just recoup from the day.  I also used to get up each morning and have some alone time as I got ready for the day but when Reagan is in my bed, she gets up with me and even showers with me.  Have you tried washing your hair and holding a toddler?   At its best we have fun splashing and sorta get clean, at its worst I go to work with half conditioned hair.

When I turned 30, I was totally fine with it.  I had just had Reagan a few months before and life was hard but fulfilling.  I was a new mom, adjusting back to work but had so much to look forward too.  Now facing 32, I am struggling.  Struggling to feel accomplished, struggling to feel I am balanced, struggling to give enough love and discipline.  Sometimes I think about the things that are hard for me now and I think - its small stuff, temporary stuff.  And while that is true, its also stuff that devours all my free time and has emotional consequences.  One day the poop story will be funny, but today it's still a cringe worth memory.   Her school picture where she is perfectly holding two snow balls is karma for all the rough stuff lately. 



It's not all bad.  Sometimes its really funny.  I smile every time Reagan calls Lobsters "monsters" and thinks elevators are "alligators".  Sometimes when she puckers up and asks for kisses I melt.  I adore walking in the door and she comes running for a hug.  We have tea parties in the tub and adventures on campus during game days.  Those same nights when I lose sleep because she is flopping around being a bed hog she sometimes puts her forehead on my cheek and whispers in the dark "My mama".   I just hope the stuff that leaves impressions on us both from this period of terrible twos is that we are getting through it together, that it's me and her not me vs her.   I hope its the good stuff we remember, not the bad days.  I hope the good days start to grow in number. 



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The 2nd Baby Debate

To have another baby or not... that is the question.  This dreaded decision has been bouncing around my brain for months now and I am no closer to making a decision now then I ever was.

It was pretty clear I had a pretty rotten pregnancy (read a few of my posts from the summer of 2011 and that was no secret).  I had terrible swelling, which has left me with minimal nerve damage in several places.  I got one of the worse cases of PUPPS the doctor had ever seen, and it lasted for several weeks before and after Reagan was born.  Imagine being covered in the pregnancy equivalent of poison ivy, without any real medication to treat it.  By 39 weeks I ended up being induced due to preclamsia and labored for almost 12 hours without much progress.  We later learned most of my pain was coming from my cathader, and I never progressed past 2 cm.  I had an emergency c-section when my kidneys stopped functioning due to my high blood pressure and I was so drugged up I don't even have much memory of the day.  It was not the joyful experience I envisioned and sadly I was so medicated I was barely able to stay awake for the delivery.  It seemed once one medical intervention was made it was a landslide of issues.  My recovery was very slow and painful.  I am allergic to several narcotics so I was also limited on my ability to take pain relievers after my surgery.   It took me weeks just to be able to get around the house.  It was no fairey tale, and I still cringe to even think about going down that path again.  Nothing went according to my plan, and I still struggle with not getting a chance to experience labor or pushing.  It took me a long time (and a tattoo along my c-section scar) to come to terms with how everything played out.  All in all, it was a tough ride and I don't know if I could handle a second spin around that track.

Then there is the whole police wife life to consider.  I solo parent frequently, and thats not an easy task.  I also work full-time and I feel stretched incredibly thin on most days.  Sort of like I am barely keeping my head above water.  I'm holding on alright, but its a thin thread that allows that to happen.  This morning that thread broke, Reagan's hysterics broke me.  She was just exhausted and did not want to leave the house for daycare.  I had left her with a sitter last night so I could work late but that meant a late bedtime for her.  She is also on the last day of her 4 day stretch without her dad (he works four 10 hour shifts that don't allow him any time with her) so she is already clingy and hurting for her Daddy.  For a daddy's girl, time away from him slowly wears on her and Tuesdays are the hardest time.  By Wednesday morning I can always tell she has had enough.  Unfortunately, its career fair week so I am needed at work.  She begged me to go back to bed, screamed to "Stay home!"  and I could do nothing to calm her.  It's heart breaking knowing she just wanted time in her own home and I couldn't give that to her today.   By the time I wrestled her into clothes and got her to day care I found myself in tears too.  Hello Mommy guilt, happy Wednesday.  How in the world would I juggle another kid in this chaos? On those really bad days that I feel I barely survive what would another child do for that struggle?

Without close family, how do people do the multiple kid thing?  I am worried I just don't have enough sanity left to successful do it with 2 kids.  I never pictured myself with an only child, but I also never pictured myself raising a family without the help of my extended family.   I just don't know how to take more sick time, pay more daycare and delivery bills and still make things work.  Maybe I should say, and still be happy. 

The newborn, infant stage is especially terrifying.  I think about how much I have already given up and I can't imagine the additional sacrifices that I would need to have a second baby.  The sleep, the money, the ability to plan and participate in things.... and I have to remember that though Chet helps when he can I still do the lion's share of this ALONE.  Its me who has to carry, deliver, and care for both kids.  I don't really have a partner in this, and I don't know if its something I am willing to take on knowing how hard that is without much help. 

Travel is also always on my mind.  Thats a big part of this decision too.  I live 26 hours from my family, which means flying is really the best option.   I get terribly homesick and try to get home twice a year.  That can be expensive for Reagan and I and it means a chunk of my salary goes to those costs every month.  It's even worse when all three of us travel... now imagine it for a family of four.  The reality is I would not be able to fly home nearly as often as I currently do.  I would be giving up time with my extended family to have another child.  And that means they would all miss out on time together.   I desperately want Reagan to really know my family, and that means they have to have a relationship that lets them spend real time together.  At some point we could drive the trip, but that too would have its own set of challenges. 

But on the other side of this decision is the idea that Reagan won't have a sibling.  I think about my own childhood and all the memories I have with Juli and Josh.  Would our beach trips have been as fun without them playing in the waves with me?  Would snowmobiling have been the same without Juli riding behind me?   Would Christmas morning be as special without them tearing into gifts beside me?  When I was in college I used to make the long 8 hour drive home to visit during breaks and it became a sort of tradition that when I finally pulled into the driveway I would blare my horn repeatedly until my brother came running to engulf me with a bear hug.  I love that memory, I don't want Reagan to miss stuff like that.  Me and my sister used to fight like cats and dogs, but even the memories of trying to ditch my little sister are special to me now.  I remember getting blundled up on snow days and going exploring around the farm to find the biggest snow drift with her.  Exploring grandmom's creek, riding bikes on our country roads, working on the Christmas tree farm, jumping on the trampoline, swimming in our pool, and so many more everyday things were infused with spending time with my brother and sister.  How can I expect Reagan to do those things alone?  Sometimes this part of the equation seems so much more important that the money and travel arguments.  

For the most part I feel content with just Reagan.  I feel like her and I could take on the world together and that doing special things and making plans for us is manageable for me.  I think about getting season tickets to the football games with her, or flying to Disney.  Traveling together to visit PA and the beach would be possible and fun.  Packing our stuff to go to the zoo or tailgate works for just us two.  But with a third, I know there will be things I just couldn't do or couldn't afford.  Do I limit our activities to expand our family?  Do I give her a sibling but take away family time?

There are times when I feel confident I am ready to make the decision to not have another but it is shortly followed by a wave of guilt.  I feel selfish too, like I am making it easier on me by choosing to just have one kid.

And there are other times when I see a picture of two siblings snuggled up and think about how special that is, how that would be worth the sacrifices.  There really is no substitution for having a brother or sister.  I think maybe it would be hard only temporarily and as they got older it would be better.  Even though Chet has some family here in Oklahoma, they live 2-3 hours from us and we are rarely included in their plans.  With Chet working most holidays, its often just Reagan and I for memorial day, labor day, Easter, Halloween and the other smaller holidays.  I know those times would be more special if she could share them with a sibling.  She doesn't even have a cousin!  The poor kid is all by herself, will there be a day when having me isn't enough for her?

Sometimes I think about never being pregnant again, and that sort of hurts too.  Am I really ready to say never again on growing a baby bump and meeting another little person who came from me?  Can I really never give Chet the chance for a son?

So here I am teetering on the fence.  Leaning one way today and the opposite way tomorrow.  The truth is I am not ready to make this decision and while I want to just put it on the back burner and give it more time that is also a difficult thing for me.  Trusting God's plan is very hard on this subject.  Maybe it will never become any more clear than it is now.  The decision is a big one, and I hate not knowing what would be best for my family. 


Monday, June 10, 2013

Scary Lessons

This weekend I learned a scary lesson about being a mom.  It takes your full attention, 100% of the time.

I took Reagan with a friend and her two kids to the pool for the day on Sunday.  We were all enjoying the beautiful sunshine and kiddy pool area.  The pool had a gradual slope into shallow water, about 3 feet deep at the far end.  It had a great water fountain and was perfect for Reagan to run around.  She was having a great time, chasing my friend's three year old in and out of the water.  Because he was three and she wasn't quite two yet, they were able to play well but he could navigate and stand in the entire pool, where Reagan could only go about halfway.  Her exuberance to follow his every move required me to also stand in the pool so I could make sure she only played in the area where she could easily get in and out.   And for the most part, she knew her limitations, a few times taking a face dive into the water but she was able to pick herself back up.  I knew sometimes she would try to go in too deep, but I was watching her play. It was fun, we are all laughing and having a great time.

I had also brought a few water toys, some of which floated on the water and when abandoned by the kids they were pulled into the pool's skimmer.  At one point I turned around to dig out a toy from a skimmer.  I grabbed a little scoop we had also brought in order to avoid the gross bugs in the skimmer's basket and triumphantly pulled out the lost toy!  When I turned around Reagan was face down in the deep section of the pool.  I grabbed her from only a couple feet away and quickly set her on the pool edge.  She coughed few times and took a couple big breaths but was unhurt.  She didn't even cry at first, just held onto me.  My heart was racing, my mind a mix of relief and fear.  I thought about drowning, and dry drowning and all the other stuff I had just read this week.  Was she OK?  How long had she been under?  What should I do now?  How terrible of a mother am I?  Brain damage?  Lungs full of water?  She quickly picked up on my anxiety and the fear gripped us both.  I held her tight for a long time and covered her with kisses, so thankful she was not injured. 

After a few minutes it seemed she was ok, her only lasting effect was being a little scared of the water.  I sat down with her at the pools shallow water side and snuggled her close.  I was over run with emotions about how scary that had been, how quickly it had happened and how much I could have lost.  My friend, who had been standing right next to the skimmer when I was fishing out the toy, tried to calculate how long I had been turned around.  30 seconds?  1 minute?  I couldn't remember, it felt like only a short time but was I distracted longer?  After a call to my mom, who is also a nurse, she assured me Reagan would be OK.  She explained if she had been under for more than a few seconds she would have coughed much more.  But she had only sputtered a couple times and then caught her breath easily.  She was now breathing fine, talking and behaving normally. 

Reagan slowly got over her water fear with some encouragement from me, though even a few hours later she was much more hesitant in the pool.  That was fine with me, the kid had been fearless before so a bit of hesitation and the urge to hold my hand was not a bad thing.   We stayed to swim for several more hours, with both kids returning to laughing and running around.  I brought out a picnic lunch and everyone tried to relax back into a fun day. 

I beat myself up a bit later that night.  Especially when I told my husband what happened.  He was obviously angry.  The truth is everyone gets distracted, but I should have done a better job watching her when I knew she could over do it in the water.  No excuses, this could have been avoided.  I am just thankful that I was right there and turned around when I did.  My story has a happy ending and I am sure similar situations have not. Through the night that followed Reagan woke up several times crying and I couldn't help but worry that she was having nightmares about what had happened that day.  No doubt the incident was scary for her too and now I feared those feelings lasted for her.  I comforted her best I could and prayed equal parts thankfulness she was OK and she that she would forget the scary moments. 

We have a big job as moms, I am in charge of another person's life.  I am responsible for her and I need to take that more seriously.  Yes, the pool can be fun but my priority has to stay focused on her safety.  It was a small mistake to turn around, but it is something I am determined to learn from.  Heed this mother's advice and make sure you don't take chances with your child's safety.   This summer I have been really trying to give Reagan happy days.  Watermelon in the shade, chalk and bubbles, kiddie pools with water slides, fun in the sun.  But I also need to make sure I am safely letting her enjoy the warm weather.  Yesterday, I made a scary memory but I hope to out number them with many more happy memories by summers end. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

My hands were your hands

I have lived so far away from most of my family and childhood friends for so long that part me had taken it for granted the amazing support system I have.  I really hit me this week how immensely important my friends and family are, and how willing they are to help me.

I know people can give lots of ways to help tornado victims, and no doubt programs like the Red Cross, World Vision and many others are doing an amazing job getting money and supplies to the hardest hit locations in Shawnee, Carney and Moore Oklahoma.   But I wanted to directly help.  So I reached out to my support system.  I asked them to trust me by wiring money directly to my account via paypal so I could purchase supplies.  I asked them to do so in the next two days.  I asked as many as I could and hoped a few would reply.   Whats nice about my plan is that dollar for dollar I was able to put it toward needed supplies and I was able to do it fast and get it to the tornado site fast.  This quick turn around is critical in times like this when immediate help is necessary. 

The money started to trickle in.  Then faster, and then even more came, and wow it just kept coming.  Chirp went my phone over and over, "You received $$$ from someone".   I kept a running total... and it just kept adding up.  I kept sending my mom messages with the new totals, always blown away by how generous everyone has been!  48 hours after my initial plea I had $720 to spend!  WOWSERS!    When I starting looking at the donations, I realized people had sent me money from 8 different states!  Shout out to Missouri, Texas, New York, North Carolina, Georgia, California, Washington, and of course PENNSYLVANIA! 


I immediately called around to see if the local stores had enough diapers in stock only to find supplies were limited.  Thankfully I just started a free month of amazon prime so I was able to get free 2 day delivery.  I made a huge order online on Tuesday so it would arrive by Thursday.  I spent $350 which gave me 1,384 diapers and 2,496 wipes.   That's a lot of clean butts we can help out with.  


 Next stop was the local walmart, which by Wednesday had been able to restock a lot of the needed supplies.  Since I am 30 miles from Carney and 60 miles from Moore I have the advantage of being close enough to help easily but not so close that supplies or roads were unavailable.  I used an updated list that was sent out from Carney to get specific supplies that were needed in the area.  My friend Rachel helped me pick out items and track our spending.  We foolishly started with only one cart, quickly filling it and moving on to fill a second!  What was funny is twice we thought we were done only to get another message about another donation so we kept piling on the supplies!   Then again after I had checked out and loaded the jeep I got a last minute donation and ran back inside to spend even more! 

We purchased another $450+ in supplies with some help in donations Rachel provided as well!
Including:
10 plastic totes/bins
heavy garbage bags
and entire bin full of baby food
bottles/sippy cups
children's bowls and utensils
nuks/pacificers
a LOT of individual wrapped snacks 
medicine
sunblock
laundry detergent 
dryer sheets 
toilet paper

Partly, I was surprised how quickly I spent the money but when you buy the jumbo packages in multiples in tends to go fast.  I was no less impressed with the booty I was able to pack up.  It was a ton of good stuff.  Between the diapers and supplies I filled my jeep TWICE.  

On Thursday and Friday I helped pass all the this stuff along to my friend (and Badge Wife!) Tawni, who was loading an entire trailer full of stuff to take to Carney.  Rain delays meant she will travel down tonight (Friday) to start helping with relief efforts.  We decided to send this stuff to Carney (only 30 miles from me) because this area has received a little less help than Moore.  Moore has much more damage but has also received a lot more national news so the help is also more available.  

As for the next steps, there is a lot of clean up to do.  This weekend I am holding down the home front by providing child care so others can head to Carney and Moore to aid in clean up and organization.  But the needs are still here.  Specifically I have been asked for gift cards to purchase fuel (for tractors, chain saws and other equipment), sock and shoes, and even more plastic containers.  People are trying to salvage things from damaged homes and need safe, dry places to store items they want to keep.  If you want to help me continue to get items to Carney or Moore please use PayPal ( https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/send-money-online ) to send me instant money. There are NO FEES if you use your bank account or PayPal balance. This is also a secure way to send money, without sharing your banking information.
Use my email address: andrea.skimbo@okstate.edu

What I have noticed is that everyone here is doing their part.  No one is shrugging this off, everyone is finding some way to contribute.  But that's part of Oklahoma culture, to help your neighbor.  I am sure I will be involved with helping in some way or another for a long time.  I hope to go visit the tornado sites at some point to help with clean up or rebuilding.  This effort will not stop after the news coverage does, we will be rebuilding for a long time. 

What really blows me away is that my friends and family that sent money to help aren't from Oklahoma.  They are all hundreds and hundreds of miles away but they are still willing to do their part to help.  In prayers, in donations, and in love.   I know lots of you have told me that you are proud of me, and thank you for saying that but really I am proud of you guys.  It sort of went without saying that I would help people so close to me but your gifts were not expected.  It means a lot then when I asked, you were there for me when it mattered most.  I was able to count on your support and it IS making a difference.  Thank you to all those who trusted me to send money, it was well spent.  

As I said in my picture on facebook "Today I was your hands.  Today, your heart was with my heart".  I couldn't have done what I did without your help, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  My support system is awesome.  I hope you all realize how much of a blessing it is for me to have you in my life.  When I tell this story of how I received so much, so quickly people keep asking "How did you do that?".  My answer is easy - I have a lot of people who love me and want to help me.  I have people who know God teaches to have a giving heart.  I have family who trust me, I have friends who support me.  I am not a lucky girl - I am a blessed girl! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

60 short miles

May 20, 2013 will be a day remembered in Oklahoma for a long, long time.  I know for me, yesterday made a permanent mark on my heart.  Here in Stillwater, we were about an hour away from the large tornado that tore through Moore, OK.  I was in my office at Oklahoma State University helplessly watching the news as a mile wide tornado devastated my state. 

Do you know what you do as a tornado destroys everything in its path 60 miles from you?  You pray.  That's about all you can do.  Because 60 miles away means the skies in Stillwater are clear, even sunny.  The horizon is quiet.  A few rain storms and dark clouds came through and I watched the weather report carefully, but my town was in the clear.  My home stayed put.  My family stayed safe.  My car remained untouched and my roads home were clear.  But 60 miles away was a very different story. 

I have lived in Oklahoma since July of 2006, so I have now experienced 6 tornado seasons.  Each with their own warnings, passing storms and damage.  I have run for cover when the sirens have gone off in Stillwater.  I have hid in my closet several times waiting for the storm to pass.  I have packed emergency kits, and worried about stock piling supplies.  I have called my mom many times to express concern over the looming storms approaching.  Two years ago around this time we had a small tornado in my own yard, thankfully only damaging several trees including a 40 ft tree that was torn up by it's roots and laid down along side my home.  I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time and terrified.  I remember crying in the closet because my swollen feet wouldn't fit into my shoes.  But the damage was minimal, life carried on.  Branches were quickly cleaned up, stumps were removed and all evidence of our close call disappeared.  I mostly forgot how quickly things can change, how fast it can go very, very bad and how small you really are in the eye of a tornado. 

Picture taken at our home in May 2011 of tree pulled up by tornado.
Do you recall the feelings of invincibility everyone has at some point in their life?  Perhaps it was something small like skipping a flu shot because you wouldn't get sick this year.  Or taking a chance walking home in the dark one night.  Maybe you speed on the highway because the cop wouldn't spot you.  Perhaps you spent hours in tanning beds as a college student because the danger of skin cancer couldn't touch you.  Or you got into a car with a friend who had a couple drinks because they were fine to drive.  I know there have been times for us all that we felt the bad things couldn't reach us, the chances were in our favor, the risk wouldn't hurt us.  Thats how most Oklahomans feel during tornado season.

But then yesterday happened.  And something changed for me.  Perhaps it was the fact that I am a mommy now.  Perhaps it was the massive damage and dozens of lives lost.  Maybe it was the children who were killed in their elementary school.  It could have been the heartbreaking news coverage of loss.  It suddenly felt like 60 miles away was nothing at all.  That could have been my daughter swept away from  her school.  That could have been my home reduced to wood pieces and trash.  That could have been my family searching desperately for each other.  My invincibility is now gone.  My fear of facing a tornado is real.  I no longer feel like this couldn't happen to me.  Because 60 short miles away it did happen.  I will never be able to dismiss another tornado watch.  I will never be able to leave Reagan at her school while we ride out a storm.  I will never be able to walk away from a weather report with dangerous predictions without worry and fear.  Even today people reminded me, Stillwater has only had one death due to a tornado.  I don't care, 60 miles away that isn't the case.  I am now afraid, for myself and for those already effected.  Tornado season hasn't passed us yet, and even when it does May comes around each year with all new dangers.  I now feel very, very tiny in the eyes of mother nature.  I am now very aware how horribly dangerous this time of year is my state.  It could happen to me.  It did happen here.  And it could happen again. 

Picture taken in the debris in Moore, OK on May 20, 2013
I watched as much news as I could take yesterday and then I just sobbed.  There are parents still waiting to hear about their children.  There are little ones lost forever.  I snuck back into Reagan's room last night and watched my peacefully sleeping toddler.  My heart broke for those families who won't get the chance to do that again, my soul wept for their loss.  I traced my finger down her arm and I wove my fingers through her hair.  She was safe and sound tonight because the deadly storm was 60 miles south of us.   60 short miles meant I tucked her into her warm bed tonight and went about a normal evening at home. 

The oddest part of this is that my life pretty much continues on as normal.  I did laundry last night, packed my lunch, showered and went off to work this morning.  But 60 miles away people are digging through debris hoping to find a survivor.  I sit in air conditioning and type while others stand in line for food and water.  My life remains almost unchanged while others lost everything.  The only difference was the path of the tornado, the only thing that separates my regular life and life threatening situation was 60 miles. 

Do you know what you do the day after an F5 tornado destroys everything 60 miles from you?  You make a plan to help.  Please consider helping me purchase supplies to send to Moore, OK. I am collecting donations Tuesday and Wednesday to purchase baby supplies including diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, baby food, blankets, and other items.
Please use PayPal ( https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/send-money-online ) to send me instant money. There are NO FEES if you use your bank account or PayPal balance. This is also a secure way to send money, without sharing your banking information.
Use my email address: andrea.skimbo@okstate.edu

I will personally be purchasing and loading the items, so this isn't just cash I am handing off, it will be used properly and is very needed! Every bit helps, even $5, $10 or $20! My group, Badge Wives, will be transporting the items so this will directly reach the area.

When you lose your invincibility but keep everything else, you find ways to give to those who lost so much more.   Kiss the ones you love, and take tornado reports seriously.  Pray for those effected and God bless Oklahoma.   

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I love Reagan, Reagan loves Minnie Mouse

I'm an angel, don't listen to my mom!
As a working mom, sometimes I feel like I only get the worst of my kid on work days.  I have the joy (ahem, sarcastic font intended) of waking her each morning to get up and get ready.  Some days she gets up on her own, but even then I am dealing with a grumpy mess of a toddler.  Like her Mama, she hates to be woken up.  It makes me a grouch, and I see the same exact reaction with Reagan when I have to get her up.  She fights me to get out of the crib, its a wrestling match to dress her and even breakfast is usually shoot down with defiant "No!" to everything I offer.  Even on a good morning, when I see the glimmer of some smiles and laughs, is still paired with at least one sob session. 

When I pick her up from day care after work, I can tell she enjoys school and loves her teachers.  Her teacher says she has great days, promises she was engaged and had fun!  But when we get home, the happy child is short lived.  There are always tears and tantrums involved with bath time and PJs.  Sometimes she loves the bath and has a fit when I make her get out, sometimes she is sobbing her way through the whole thing.  Lately it also seems she equates wearing a diaper to torture.  It just feels like her attitude gets worse and worse as the night goes on.  Small stuff will set her off, and sometimes the meltdown is so long I just have to walk away.  Do we really need to completely lose it because your cookie is broke in half?

Have you seen the hilarious website "Reasons my Son is Crying"?  Good stuff.  
Reagan's list would include:
I made her wear a diaper
Her poptart broke
I made her sit in her high chair for dinner
I put her in the tub
I took her out of the tub
Mickey Mouse club house is over and I won't replay it for the 3rd time
The cat went outside
I opened her fruit snacks by tearing the side instead of the top of the pouch
She can't carry all 20 books 
I peeled her banana for her and wouldn't let her eat the skin
She had to wait till I peeled an orange before I let her eat it
Her hot dog was hot
She has to put her cup down in order to get buckled in to her car seat
I rolled the window down too much

So my typical work day is summed up with me starting the day with a grumpy girl, working 8 hours and picking up a happy kiddo only to watch her mood deteriorate during the short couple of hours before bedtime.  She laughs, plays, crafts, talks, sings and naps at school; none of which I get to enjoy.   Its frustrating to feel like I don't have quality time with her during the work week.  I don't get to see her at her best, I don't get to share in the things she enjoys, I don't often get to build memories that I savor.  It's survival mode during week nights, just get through it.  I would prefer to be making the most of it but instead I am struggling.  Occasionally, she snuggles onto my lap so we can ready books or spends time playing with me.  But those moments are fleeting and flanked with tears and tantrums.  It's even harder to enjoy the good stuff when she has been pushing my buttons all night. 

I realize this is an important stage for her.  She is pushing every boundary I set and full on cries to be told no.  I grit my teeth and push on because I am hoping this will help establish rules in our house.  I can't even count the times when I have remind my husband that Reagan is not the boss, he is!  She doesn't want to go to bed?  Too bad, it's bedtime.  She doesn't want to get out of the bath even though the water is cold and she is a prune?  Too bad.  She doesn't want footie PJs, too bad.  I stick to bedtime because lost sleep means she is extra miserable.  I don't want her sitting in a cold tub to catch the sniffles.  I have felt her ice cold toes in the morning when she wears the Pjs without feet.  I stick to my guns because I know they are best.

She wants to watch Mickey mouse over and over, so I set a limit and stick to it.  I can survive the tantrums, though my nerves are taking a real hit.  I have also uttered the phrase "If you want to be mad about it, fine!  But that's the way it is kid".  I try to be flexible, this isn't boot camp but I also can't let her run the show.  I think I have a good balance but her reactions tell me this is still a time of adjusting and figuring out whose in charge.  Am I really so terrible for making her wear her coat?  Good grief...

In my limited time with her, I am often the bad guy.  I am the enforcer.  Of course I bend and give in once in a while but I mostly try to keep the structure.  Salt to the wound is that Daddy is her clear favorite.  Those mornings I try to nicely wake her, the first thing she says is "Daddy".   She prefers him, sometimes leaving me while playing to bring him over to our activity.  The stinker even sometimes calls out to me just so she can say Daddy to me. 

Reagan: Mom
Me: Yeah, babe?
Reagan: Mama
Me: What Reagan?
Reagan: Mommmy, mommy, mommy...
Me: Reagan, I am right here.  What?
Reagan: Daddy!

Diaper Wedgie
This is definitely a hard time of trying to figure out what my kid needs from me.  I try not to take it personal that she prefers Chet, but it doesn't seem fair when I do the lion's share of the child care.  Of course she doesn't evaluate that.  If the number of diaper changes determined who she liked most, I would win by a landslide (Did anyone else just picture a landslide of diapers?).  But right now, Mom isn't much fun.  Dad bribes with candy and mom lets her cry it out in her room till she can pull herself together.  Dad brings home fried chicken and mom makes her eat vegetables.  I get it.  If I am the enforcer, he is the softie.  I am business and he is fun.  Perhaps this is why I enjoy taking the funny photos of her.  My revenge for always wanting Daddy will be pulling out this shot to show her first boyfriend. 


But some nights I just want to enjoy my daughter and that seems hard to do.  Either she is in full brat mode (AKA nothing will make her happy) or I am just to tired to deal with the tantrum and fussiness.  This is a stage in life for me I really wish I could be at home with her.  I am missing all the good stuff.  I am working while she is growing and I will never get this time back.  Is this the case for everyone with a 1 1/2 yr old?  Is this just the reality of a toddler?   Someone tell me that this too will pass.  I just need a fun weekend to recover from an already difficult week.  I need some quality time with my happy kid to make up for a week of cranky pants.  Tuesday night she threw up on me from being so worked up and then not even an hour later she peed on me because she had pulled her diaper all wonky.  Sigh.  Why all the fuss?  I really have no idea.  Even though I tell her I love her each night, she only proclaims love for Minnie Mouse.  And this is the life of a working mom. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Having it all

As a women, not to mention working mother, I can't help but struggle with the question of having it all.  And in my recent weeks, I also have to ponder the idea if I am able to satisfy my idea of having it all, will that also play a role in my personal happiness? 

I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a parent.  My desire to have a child has been there for as long as I can remember, so when Reagan came along I was thrilled.  I remember driving home shortly after my husband and I had decided to start trying and I just burst into tears because I was so excited that this stage of my life was happening.  If you had asked me that day, I would have told you I HAD IT ALL.  I was married, had earned my Master's degree, was a homeowner, working full-time, and now I was starting a family.  That was my definition to having exactly what I wanted.

As it always does, time and circumstances change.  And a baby changes everything.  After Reagan arrived and 9 short weeks later I returned to my job, I became uncertain if I could balance working full-time and motherhood, let alone be successful at either.  Without a spouse who had schedule flexibility or the ability to spend a lot of time at home, the majority of childcare feel to me and I started to buckle under the burden.  Now I had the family I wanted, but could I still say I HAD IT ALL?  If you had asked me this about a year ago, my sleep deprived, stressed out self would have told you I had too much.

Again, time changes things, and I started to find my groove.  My husband took a new job which gave him a lot more stability in his schedule and I found that routine helped me feel more balanced.  I could sleep through the night again finally and I wasn't crying just thinking about my crazy schedule.  Though we are not without our ups and downs, unexpected issues, and occasionally suffer from every germ day care throws at us, life got better.  At least it felt more normal and manageable.  So now, did I have it all again?  Was this what life was "supposed" to be like in order to have it all?  

I've decided the whole idea of trying to evaluate having it all is complete crap.  It's focused too much on other people's opinions, status quo, accomplishments, and possessions.  I decided to try to take a different point of view.  Did I feel the life I was living was rewarding, blessing God, and building up others?

CNN has had a few articles about this lately, mostly from the after math of Yahoo!'s CEO making major changes to telecommuting.  The article I read yesterday had some interesting view points from women in a variety of life stages and careers.  My favorite  line was from Valarie Kaur who said "I am learning to embrace not just my career but my own fuller vision of what makes a good life."   I imagine we may define what makes life good differently, but I also bet we can all relate to that desire.

I recently wrote about my desire to seek more joy in my life, and I think if I can better understand how I would define the good life then the joy will also find me.  

I enjoy my job, I feel as though I have a purpose and impact at doing what I do.   However, I also need to be able to feel guilt free when my time and energy goes into that job.  That's something I am going to have to figure out how to overcome.  It's not wrong to work (or to stay home for that matter) but it is wrong to feel guilt about making that decision.  It's a reality for me that my income is necessary for my family so working is best for us.  There are advantages and disadvantages of this, no need for debate.   Working is my reality, so I need to push aside mommy guilt and find joy in my work.

I also enjoy leaving my job at 5 pm and going home to spend time with my daughter.  I enjoy weekends off, and the ability to take sick leave to care for my child or vacation day to spend time with family.  These things are possible because of my job.   I find it absolutely necessary to leave work at work, and devote time to just being present and engaged with my daughter.  For me, joy is found when I can completely unplug from the office and just be a mom.  Having the ability to seperate work and personal life is critical for me and also thankfully possible. 

In my case "having it all" will mean going to work with a guilt free, cheerful heart and savoring the non-working time by spending it loving my kid.  It can not be about achieving a certain job title or pay check.  I won't find joy there, but I find it in the balance I strive to achieve in work and family.   

Perhaps I am not as career driven as some, or define the good life in the same you would.  That does not matter.  I have to keep striving to find a way to find happiness in the things that do consume my time and energy or to change the things I give my time and energy to.  In that mindset I will feel content, and in that I will find joy.  When I can choose to live a life that my maker would approve, finding joy will be his blessing.   

video
And if bubbles in the tub isn't joy, what is? 

Monday, March 4, 2013

I traded my diamond for Joy

Over the summer I was browsing on the board walk when I found this unique ring that had "JOY" engraved on the band.  The word stuck with me because it was something I had been hearing a lot about lately, but wasn't feeling.  It's no secret that this last year has been one of the most difficult for me in my personal life.  My feelings about living far from family and childhood friends changed from un-bothersome to heart breaking and I have struggled to find my footing in my life as a working mom.   In my marriage, this is definitely a time of turmoil and in a journey of hills and valleys, this is a deep valley. 

I am a big believer in the fact that you make your own happiness.  It's not found in money, or possessions.  I can't make it appear with a new job or a good nights sleep.  I can't buy it or borrow it from someone else.  It won't come when I finish a to-do list or be lurking under a layer of dust to clean.  I won't stumble upon it on the most beautiful beach or find it in a box of tasty cakes.  Trust me, I have looked both places.   People can surely add to your happiness (I know my daughter has grown mine 10 fold!) but you must have some of your own to build on first.  And that is where I have been failing.  My mother told me, you have to find joy in the situation; its the only thing you can control.

My struggles come from the ease in which I can list the problems in my life.  It hit me with some sort of shock this week that I have been behaving down right unhappy.  I can tell you why, but I couldn't tell you how to fix it.  I could list my issues, reasons to be mad, sad, lonely and discouraged.  I could focus on the negatives all day long, and honestly I had been.  I was not seeking joy.  I was not even thinking about it.  That JOY ring that I bought this summer had been misplaced, and I thought it gone before I even had a chance to wear it.  Then my daughter discovered it in my travel tote over the weekend, surprising me that it has not been lost after all. 

This week I slipped off my diamond, and replaced it with the joy ring.  I wanted to get into the habit of thinking about joy and this was a great reminder for me to do just that each day.  It wasn't about forgetting my marriage or my vows, those remain important to me, but right now my priority was to change my daily outlook.  I don't want to be unhappy anymore.  I don't want to be angry.  I want to be joyful.  Even in my current situation.  After all I can't change a lot about my life right now, and as difficult as it is to let go of that control, I am really going to make the effort to give it up to faith and trust God's plan.  A joyful plan.

So instead of listing my problems, I am going to list my joys.
I have a healthy, happy daughter who is the light of my life.
I have a supportive family, that even from thousand of miles away loves me.
I have a savings account with a balance and I can pay my bills each month.
I have a job I find rewarding and I know I make a difference in students' lives.
I have a church in which I have grown friendships and connections.
I have a loving God who will never abandon me, even when I struggle and fail.
I have a group of friends that has accepted and strengthened me, who share my struggles and work through them with me. 
I have a home, health insurance, running water, and food everyday.  Things I often take for granted.

I do have joy here, I just have to see it.  I have to seek it.  So despite all my reasons for feeling anything but joy, I am putting them aside and choosing to find happiness right where I am.  Today, its all about joy. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Toddler Rules

Someone has already engrained these principles into my daughter so it's to late to save me.  Try to save yourself if you can, or at least prepare yourself for the realities of life with a toddler.  They are smarter than we give them credit for...

I want this candy RIGHT NOW!
1.  Weekdays mean you need to be woken up (so be cranky) for school but on the weekends when Mom has the time to sleep in, rise well before expected for no reason at all.

2.  Every time you sneeze or cough feel free to let a fart out as well.  Show no shame.

3.  Wipe your buggars on mom's work clothes.  If she has on sweats or a tshirt you can wait for the tissue.  Same policy for sticky fingers. 

4.  Use the power of the whine to your advantage. 

5.  Use the power of the scream to your advantage but save this for public outings or when the whining doesn't work.  Be sure to make it pitiful. 

6.  Mud and puddles are for the sole purpose of jumping, falling or at least stomping through.  Take special care to do with on the way to the car for an outing.  Bonus points for if you can indulge this glorious behavior while on the way to church. 

7.  Insist on carrying both blankets, two nuks, a sippy cup, and several books.  Cry simply because you can't seem to juggle it all and mom will carry it for you. 

Making a mess is hysterical!
8.  Perfect the crazy laugh.  Unleash it full throttle on seemingly unfunny things.  Especially after you hear a parent say "Shhh"

9.  Only poop in freshly changed diapers. 

10.  Really need to get your way with mom?  Stick out the lower lip in a perfect pout and let one tear slide down your cheek.  Golden ticket!

11.  When mom drops you off at daycare or sunday school wail for a good 5 minutes.  Just long enough to make her feel guilty but not long enough to ruin play time. 

12. Change what you enjoy eating day by day.  Keeps mom on her toes.

13. When all else fails, try Daddy.  He is way softer than Mom.




Monday, January 14, 2013

Celebrating 10,000 views

Since I started this darling little blog in March of 2011, it has grown to be quite a fun way for me to outlet whats been going on in my life.  It started with baby bump updates, then the blog morphed into life with a baby.  More recently I have posted about the struggles of marriage.  I talk to God, write letters to Santa, and even confront my cankles.  Not much is off limits and I try to cover a lot of different topics.  I am an open book, and this blog is a great way for me to get things off my chest and really face whats going on.  Sometimes I celebrate, brag and rejoice, other times I share anger and pain.  It's the honest side of an average life.  This is normal, this is me.

But whats really interesting is, I have had more than 10,000 views Wow!  I never imagined that many times someone would click to check in on what I have to say!

My most popular post (by far) with more than 500 views is It's my blog and I will whine if I want to post.  Re-reading this post, I can clearly remember how absolutely miserable I was.  Oh the swelling, oh the heat!  I am so very, very glad that pregnancy is over.  And trust you me, I vow never to be super pregnant during another Oklahoma summer.  It.  was.  awful!   I do wonder why this post has so many more views than others?  Did the link get posted to some message board?  Am I picked up in a google search?  How did so many more people find the page that I am hopelessly complaining about my pregnancy woes?  Even the other popular posts only have around 150 visits, so compared to 500+ thats a big difference.  I don't know enough about these lovely internets to be able to really understand it.

The blog is also very educational :)
We all know now that diesel is bad for unleaded cars. 
And that being a working mom can be really hard, as evidenced by my really bad day.
Don't forget all my wisdom on breast feeding and the joys of the stomach bug.
But mostly the blog is just entertaining.  
I made my best friend cry in the post about cleaning out my beloved jeep.
I shared about how Chet broke my heart when he changed his mind about the baby name.
The truth about how I evaluated my Dad

The most interesting thing about this blog is the feedback I receive.  You will rarely notice a comment on the blog but I receive a lot of private messages, texts, emails and phone calls from friends and family who relate.  People even thank me for talking about some of the harder things.  Like struggling with the decision to stay and admitting emotional struggles with Extinguishing Anger.  Why aren't more people willing to talk about this stuff? I know I am not alone, but I am one of the few who choose to be so open about problems.  Everyone has stuff, you just get to read about mine. I promise these type of posts will continue, I never run short of sharing my struggles and I know I am not alone in working through them. 

Here's a big thanks to those that do follow me.  If you would like to get an email notification when I post, please send me your information.  Looking forward watch for upcoming posts on a letter to my husband, the empty church pew beside me, and being on the fence about deciding on a second baby.

Want to write a guest post?  I have a few friends who have their own struggles which differ from my own, and I think it might be great therapy for them to write as well.  No names needed.  If you want to write something, feel free to pass it along!  You can email me anytime by clicking here!

So whether you think I am crazy or brilliant thanks for checking in.  Please come back.  I have so much more to say and share!  And at the very least, I am usually good for a laugh my own expense.