Friday, December 31, 2010

Midnight

January 1st, 2011

Happy New Year!

Here's to hoping the year is filled with much joy and many blessings for us all.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

If I Died Tomorrow

There are three things I'd want before I go:

1.  A kiss from my husband
2.  A smile from Kaia
3.  Snuggles from Kaia

That's it.  That's all I'd need to die happy :)

What about you?

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

6 Month Old Baby Genius

I have decided this is what Kaia is.  She's a very clever baby, no denying it.

Her activity center/jumper from Santa has an elephant with a mirror in it.  Today, the sunshine hit it just right and cast light onto the ceiling.  Kaia realized this and was fascinated, obviously, because of the science behind it all.

Then, this evening, she laid on the floor and showed me her newest trick . . . yes y'all, she can roll her tongue!  The girl is, indeed, amazing!

I intended on waiting until Kaia was 6 months to start her on solids but I let her decide and she was ready on the 9th.  We did rice cereal for two weeks and have moved on to oatmeal (I think she prefers this option).  And soon I'll be introducing her to even more exciting tastes!

Oh, further proof of baby geniusness, she can drink out of a cup.  Not a sippy cup.  A regular, big girl cup.  She started trying to get me to let her a month ago and about a week in I let her give it a whirl.  Obviously I hold the cup, but she drinks out of it like you or I would.  And don't worry, I don't give her a lot but she gets sips of water from time to time - OK, you got me, I totally let her try my lemonade too . . .

She still hates her tummy; almost immediately on being placed on the floor she flips over to her back.  Though she loves her sides too and so rocks around that way.  She is capable of a gradual, complete 360 on the floor.  A couple of times she's rolled onto her stomach from her back; well almost, I am convinced she doesn't go all the way over because she hates being on her belly but her legs are all the way over as if she was and her torso, oh so nearly!

This has been a big month.  There was the first Thanksgiving and the first Christmas.  Skype with Daddy made it extra special. 

Her jumper is her new favorite thing.  It definitely allows her to show off her skill and athleticism.

Happy 6 months my precious angel!  Your Mommy never knew life could get this good! 

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Resolution Ideas

The New Year is fast approaching.  I haven't, generally, made resolutions as an adult - not to say I didn't set goals for myself, they just weren't tied to the holiday.  But, this year I think it would be a good start to my year.  I could use the focus.  I am, after all, a list kind of girl.  So, here's what I am thinking so far:

1.  Achieve at least a 3.0 average in my classes this semester
2.  Follow a marathon/half marathon training plan (and not try to do more mileage)
3.  Run a marathon
4.  Throw Kaia an amazing 1st Birthday party - hopefully, be good enough to make her cupcakes myself!
5.  Get Kaia, and myself, on more of a schedule
6.  Get my personal trainer's certification

But I want some more good goals.  They can be short term or longer term.  Any ideas?  What do you think I should add?

What are your goals/resolutions for 2011?

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cupcakes!

Nothing new here but head on over to Kaia's Cupcakes for some recipes and visual delight!

Hugs from Kaia and I!

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry 1st Christmas

Dear Kaia,

Today was your first Christmas, Saturday December 25th, 2010.  You are 3 days away from being 6 months old!  It was a beautiful day here today.  There was a light dusting of snow that is threatening to turn into a thick blanket as midnight approaches. 

You were up early, at a little after 8, with a smile and your sweet little voice to wake Mommy.  We got dressed and ready to go.  Daddy met us online for a Skype party from Afghanistan.  The connection wasn't great but we saw him and he saw us.  He watched you open ALL of your many presents, and stocking.  You were a very spoiled baby.  Funny thing is, you didn't really care about most of your gifts.  You do love your jumper from Santa though (Mommy put it together herself!)  Daddy bought you a little panda that squeeks, Kiyoshi and Jersey adore it and are dying to steal it from you.

Cindy's been here with us.  We are so grateful she's here!  She's been a good dance partner and cuddler for you when needed.

You took a nap early on in the day.  I think all the excitement wore you out.  But you weren't out long and then you were helping Mommy with muffins and cupcakes in the kitchen.

The rest of the day was filled with dancing to Christmas music or a little bit of country, trying out your new toys and books, and good girl time.  Except . . . you got to talk to Daddy again!  He hated missing out on such a big day for you!  But he spent a lot of it with you from across the miles and there will be many more Christmases with your Daddy here my sweet angel.

Mommy and Daddy Love you!

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you and yours had a very special day!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wicked

First, I must sincerely thank you all for your kind comments, support, and understanding during my bloggy break.  I hope you can forgive my absence.  I will do my best to explain myself in this loooong post (sorry!)
Next,
Disclaimer: this post is very honest and involves my own experiences.  It is not easy to talk about and it’s hard to explain.  It may offend some of you.  Some of you may dislike me after reading it and choose to not come back.  If so, I apologize for offending you but I hope you can understand my side of the story too; I will not apologize for the truth.
The definition of wicked: morally bad in principle or practice.
Several years ago, I read the book, Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, and loved it!  However, at that time, I never knew how much I would someday be able to relate to Elphaba, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of The West.  She is described as, “a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.” (Wicked description)  You see, I’m a stepmother. 
When you hear the word stepmother, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?  For many people it’s wicked, witch, evil, nasty, mean . . . the list is endless really.  Let’s be honest, most people do not see, or hear, the word and think love, rainbows, and lollipops.
Well, frankly, I don’t think I’m a wicked or evil person.  In fact, before I became a stepmother, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that would describe me as anything but nice, sweet, loving, or loyal.  If anything, I might be described as too accommodating or too nice (I’m not saying I didn’t have my bad days people, no one’s perfect, least of all me). 
Well, out of the blue, last week, just before the bloggy pause, I got a phone call from someone in Todd’s family.  This phone call was very accusatory, very judgy.  Very, you are not a good enough stepmother.  You need to step up and clean up after his mother.  You need to love him like your own.  Like Kaia.  If you loved Todd you would love him.  There was a lot said.  It was like a water hose really.  And by a water hose I mean a lot of cold, strong, water slapping me in the face that kept coming and I couldn’t hardly breathe, let alone talk and defend myself.  Well, then defend myself I tried.  It’s very hard to explain to someone who is not a stepmom what being a stepmom is like. 
Oh, on the surface it seems simple enough, love and be loved.  It won’t be that hard.  You are the grown-up.  The child is suffering.  The outbursts and meanness are justified and understandable, love through it.
You might be a stepchild.  You might have a friend, a sibling, an aunt who is a stepmother or a stepchild.  They might have shared their stories – good or bad.  But, the truth is, stepmothering is hard.  It is not cut and dry.  It is not always as simple as love and be loved.  Every once and awhile it is.  These stepmothers and their stepchildren are lucky.  Or, they are liars.
I’ve been a stepmother for almost two years now.  We have had my stepson here, with us for one summer, and lots of holidays and vacations.  It has never been easy.  It’s never been stress free.  In fact, I get sick, literally sick, with worry before each and every visit, wondering what we will face that particular visit.  There are fights over food – any food that is not peperoni pizza or chicken nuggets – there are full out tantrums at the store – even gas stations – when every whim is not caved to.  There are I hate you’s and I want my Mommy’s (not from us, if you started to wonder).  There is not listening.  Not following rules because, really, who could blame him?  Rules are a foreign concept at the other house.  There are no thank you’s . . . ever.  There’s more but you get the picture.
But, in one summer (and by one summer, I mean about a month and a half because that’s the point I realized there was a problem), before he went to kindergarten, I taught my stepson how to say the alphabet without skipping a couple of letters.  I taught him how to recognize every single letter (he only knew the one’s in his name).  I taught him his phone number and his address.  I made sure he got to go to karate and swim lessons.  I took him to the park and outside to play.  I held his hand.  I made him lunches and dinners.  And, did I mention I gave birth this summer?  To my first baby, too?  My first.  Do you remember what it was like when you had your first baby?
Well, I don’t love him like my own.  He’s not my own.  He never will be.  He has a mother.  She may not raise him like I would.  I may not agree with one thing she does.  But she does love him.  And he loves her.  I do care about him.  I think what I’ve done for him and what I continue to do, should speak for itself.  I do understand that this, the divorce and remarriages, have been hard on him, confusing.
But, please, don’t for one second think that just because I’m the adult, it means it’s not hard on me.  No one likes being told they are hated.  No likes being disrespected and mistreated.  I don’t care if your five or 95.
And please, take your judgments and hang-ups somewhere else.
Then, if you’re still with me, which God Bless you if you are!  If you are a stepmom, a stepchild, or a friend of a stepmom, please, go read Stepmonster.  It really explains the stepmom’s side, through facts and extensive research, much like Wicked, it really might change your preconceived notions about the nature of stepmothers and “good and evil”.   
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Intentional Blog Pause

Hello wonderful readers who I am truly grateful for!  You've helped me immensely since I started blogging in September.  It's been challenging in a new place without having very many friends here and now having hubby deployed.  You all have helped fill some gaps for sure :)

I may not blog much over the next couple of days.  I had a very hurtful and hard day yesterday that I need to sit back a little and heal from.  I have downloaded myself a little book in fact that I want to focus on getting read that I think will help me get through this.  I will be sure to tell you about the book when I am done.  I hope that you won't forget about me or give up on me if I don't post for a few days but I will do my best to at least put up a little something and try and make sure I visit you all at your blogs too.

Kaia and I did, almost, complete all of our holiday shopping so I hope you all are having a great holiday season free of stress!

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baking Tips?

I need some baking tips.  I've made like 10 batches of cupcakes since I started Kaia's cupcakes and I haven't been 100% happy with anything yet.  Well, chocolate pumpkin came close.  But the problem seems to not be with the recipes as much as with my failure.  Most of them have been coming out either heavy or a bit dry, or both.  What am I doing wrong?!  What are some tips for a moist bakery fresh cake?  I mean, all those box mixes I used to make always came out perfect!  I want my from scratch ones to turn out at least that well - preferably better.  Please help!  I need someone to offer me free baking lessons much as my lucky bloggy friend Elizabeth (Flourish in Progress) got lucky with for cooking lessons.  Anyone?  Anything?  I'd really appreciate your help or advice as I really do want to make Kaia fancy birthday cupcakes myself and not buy them or make them from a box.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Red Velvet

That's what kind of cupcakes Kaia and I made today.  We need to get the recipe and results posted on Kaia's cupcakes.  We are delinquent on that blog lately and have two posts to get put up yet.

Kaia also helped motivate Mommy to work out this evening, I definitely was not feeling it.  But, we did 25 minutes on the elliptical, switching up the workout again.  Then I finished up with 100 crunches, 25 side crunches on each side, 25 reverse crunches and 10 pushups.  Tomorrow I doubt there will be any workout.

Because . . .

We're going shopping!  We probably have half of our gifts yet to buy.  Daddy's bought for, the sisters in law, one niece, brother in law, one part of the gift for each Grandma, my favorite cousin Cindy (she'll be spending the holiday with Kaia and I this year :).  But, there are still so many left to pick up!  Outlets, here we come!

Speaking of shopping and gifts, why must so many things cost so much?!  Todd and I would LOVE to get an espresso machine to make lattes from home but it seems like any latte machine worth buying is at/over 1,000!  And then, of course, someday I'd like to buy a treadmill too which is going to cost at least $1K for a good one.

Though, I do suppose, the best Christmas gift is priceless . . . if only Daddy could come home!

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Inspiration

What inspires you?  Maybe what inspires you will inspire me too.  Please do share.  To give myself a push to keep positive today, here are a list of 10 things that inspire me:

1)  Kaia's smile.  For her, I would move mountains (well, try anyway)
2)  My husband.  His hard work and support inspire me to dream big.
3)  Your comments on my blog.  You inspire me to keep writing.  Even at the end of the day when I'm tired and unmotivated.
4)  Strong women.  Famous or not, who have overcome adversity, prejudice, or any other number of obstacles placed before them.
5)  Skinny jeans.  Well, because they inspire me to be skinny.
6)  Cupcakes, because that's one way I can express creativity.
7)  People in the gym, or out running, because frankly, I've been accused of being type A sometimes and I want to be faster, stronger, fitter than you.
8)  Nurses, because you're already living my dream.
9)  Magazines, 'cause man, there's some pretty amazing stories on those glossy pages.
10)Extreme Home Makeover.  How do you make a house like that in a week?  It's amazing!  And I love the volunteers.  And the families?!  Wow, always so selfless, so positive, so unique, and so deserving.

Kaia and I did . . . dun dun dun . . .

22 min on the elliptical and she cheered me on for push ups and sit ups.  Shocker, I know!  But, I did change the elliptical workout to a hills instead of cookie cutter get on and go and my calorie burn pretty much rocked.

My fabulous friend Christina visited today so that's my 11th inspiration, friends and family that always call/visit at just the right time.  Who could stay down surrounded with people like them?

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Workout

Short and sweet tonight.  Workout - 33 min elliptical, 50 su, 15 pu.  I know, I know I'm not doing well on the switching it up right now but trying to make sure I'm ready for my physical fitness test.  I am planning on starting running again when I start school and can use the gym between classes.

And, because enquiring minds want to know . . . I still have Jersey for the time being.  Though I do have ads out without any interest yet.  I have talked to my uncle (used to train dogs) and an animal behaviorist.  It's not that he is beyond help, but it does become a concern with Kaia here.  I did implement some changes, the animal behaviorist had me immediately take away his bed and have more structure/controlled feedings and I have seen some improvement already.  But, if he bites at me one more time, or shows an inkling of inappropriate aggression again, he is out of this house immediately, one way or another.  The end.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guest Post

Hi everyone, I'm guest posting today over at Sweetbutterbliss.  It's all about fitness motivation so go check it out!

If you're here from Sweetbutterbliss, Welcome!  Take off your coat, have a latte, and stay awhile.  I'm so happy to have you.

Here's a few post that might help you get to know me better:

How it all began. My first attempt at blogging.

My funny post.

Why I will win the mother of the year award.

A letter to my daughter.

Wonderful hubby.

Emotional eating.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit.  Please come back anytime.  I do so love new friends!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

What Would You Do?

My daughter's 5 months old.  My husband's deployed.  I have two dogs.  I have no yard.  Both dogs must always be on a leash.  The weather is getting bad.  And . . .

The older dog, the lab mix, my husband's dog . . . is being a jerk.  No, seriously.  I'm sorry if you're a huge PETA person and you think that dogs are the same as people, but they are not.  And he is a jerk.  Jersey has been being nasty lately.  He's bit at me twice now.  Not nipped.  Bit.  He has tried to attack another, larger mind you, dog in the neighborhood - twice.  He has tried to bite at a man moving some people in.  I know when you take a dog in, as my husband did for Jersey from the shelter 4 years or however long ago it was, that you are supposed to be a responsible pet owner and keep the dog forever and blah blah blah.  Well, he's well treated here.  He's fed, watered, given treats, petted, given toys, doggie beds x 2, bathed, I leave lights and radio or t.v. on for the dogs when I'm gone.  Still he does these things, and did I mention pee in the house too?  Yeah, he also has peed in the house quite a bit since we moved here (he's been house broken for YEARS).  And now he has taken to getting on my bed when I'm gone.  The other day Kaia and I walked back in the house and he was laying on the couch like he owned the place.  When I raised my voice at him to get off he finally sauntered off, went over to his doggie bed and pissed on it.  He won't go to the bathroom when I take him out on his leash now.  And I have to drag the baby out into the cold with us when we go because I'm here alone.  Then, yesterday, he ran out of the house when Kaia and I came home from the grocery store and tried to attack the German Shepherd on his leash (who could, like I said, actually eat Jersey if his owner had let him).

I have explored various options on what I could do (there are fewer options than you may think).  I even called an animal behaviorist people.  I'm at my wits end.  I don't think I can handle it anymore.  I think I'm going to have to get rid of him.

What would you do?  I have a baby, a sweet little baby, who's getting drug out into the cold.  Who might be next on his bite list.  Honestly, if you were me, what would you do?

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Short Sunday Workout

300 jumping jacks, 80 sit-ups, 30 push-ups, 3 sets of 15 bicep curls, 90 calf raises, 200 high knees, 10 squats, and a LOT of walking around holding Kaia. 

Oh, and we made brownie cupcakes which I will try and get up on Kaia's Cupcakes tomorrow.

Happy Sunday night lovelies!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Nursing School

First, I apologize for not reading and commenting on many blogs the last two days, unfortunately, the next two days might not be much better.  Busy, busy!  But I do promise to do my best to catch up.

I registered for my classes today.  Overall, it went well.  However, I did have a lot of mixed emotions.  Here are just a few of the thoughts that circled through my head:

"Is it selfish of me to go back to school?"
"How many firsts am I going to miss?"
"Will Kaia resent or hate me later for this decision?"
"I wonder how Kaia's doing without me?  I miss my baby."
"I can't believe I'm really going to be starting school in January?!  I've wanted this for years now!"
"It'll be nice to meet some new people."
"I wonder how Kaia's doing without me?   I miss my baby."
"I'm going to be out of place.  Most of my classmates are going to be 20-21yrs old, unmarrired, with no children.  I'm going to be the "old" lady in class."
"I like the small campus feel.  Everyone seems pretty nice."
"I think that 17 yr old working in the library was just a bit taken aback when I said I was going to be a new student."
"Todd and I need this.  We need at least one guranteed job between the two of us."
"I wonder how Kaia's doing without me?  I miss my baby."
"Was that my phone ringing?!  Is it Nanny?!  Is something wrong?!"  (It was ringing, it wasn't her, and nothing was wrong)
"How many hours have I been gone now?"
"I'm looking forward to clinicals."
"I really can see myself as a nurse."
"This schedule is confusing as hell."
"This building's not even listed on the map.  I'm supposed to go where?"

But, that's more than enough; you get the picture.  Kaia and Nanny did very well together today.  And, yes, I did check the background check and references.  Clean record, glowing reports.  Seems like I got pretty lucky she's willing to work for me.

I am back to playing Army this weekend.  Tomorrow I take my physical fitness test, the first since labor.  It's not going to be pretty folks.

Todays workout:  33 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, 23 minutes on the elliptical.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Do You Eat Organic?

I was reading my "Glamour" magazine yesterday and there was an interesting food experiment in it where one writer could only eat things she saw advertised on t.v. for a week.  She chronicled her lethargy, changed behaviors, mood swings, etc.  Apparently, we consume far too much sodium and sugar daily and our bodies adjust to this and increasingly crave more and more to achieve the same initial baseline "high."  I guess I've heard this before.  Really, I know I consume way too much sugar in a day.  I mean really, how do you escape it?  It's in everything!

Now, this writer, generally, eats mainly organic so the week was extra challenging for her.  To this I say, "Good for you!"  But, I also say, "How?!"  I genuinely would LOVE to eat all organic, all the time.  It's true; I love Whole Foods.  I love farmer's markets.  I love healthy.  I love no chemicals, no processing.  I love supporting local farmers, bakers, etc.  However, unfortunately, it is just not realistic for me to eat all organic.  It's so expensive! 

Todd and I decided to do one week at Whole Foods instead of the regular grocery store before he left.  We spent as much, if not more, for probably 1/3 of the amount we'd normally buy.  We also frequented the farmer's market many weekends this summer.  The cherries were delicious.  They were also at least 3 times as expensive (close to 5 times more expensive when cherries were on sale at the grocery store) the same can be said for some of our other favorites, locally baked bread and sweet corn.

I know the health benefits can be huge.  I'd love to raise Kaia on organic.  I literally cannot afford it though.

Do you eat organic?  If you do, is it everything on your shopping list?  Or just certain items?  And how do you do it?  Are you rich?  Do you have tips for the average woman on how to shop organic affordably?

P.S.  Thank you to everyone's support and sweet comments.  We got to talk to Todd today and he's safe!  Shew!

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