Life as a queen in a land of many kings…

Celebrating Life

Life is good!  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  Our vet called on Monday to share the good news we had been hoping for:  Morgan’s lump was benign.  No cancer!  I was so overwhelmed by the news that I nearly cried.  Pure happiness.  I know our days are never guaranteed, but I’m so thankful our years with Morgan won’t feel quite so numbered now!  Once again my mind is filled with those sweet images of Morgan and Westin growing to be the best of friends.  Thanks to everyone for your support.   

2.   This weekend we celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday–the third 80th birthday we’ve celebrated in three years.  I’m so happy to see our grandparents reach these milestones.  Part of our drive to start our family when we did was so Westin would have a better chance of knowing his great grandparents.  It means so much to have them be a part of his life.  My grandfather experienced near-death complications from emphysema almost two years ago, and I feared then that he would never make it long enough to see my children be born.  He beat the odds, and now I have a picture of him holding Westin that I will treasure forever.  There was a time I never thought it would be possible. 

3.  Westin seems to be over the worst of his three-week-long cold!  He’s becoming my little buddy.  Sometimes our time together feels like I’m just hanging out with a good friend, but better.  There’s that uncontrollable, contagious happiness and laughter.  Lately we’ve been playing this little game where Westin sits up between my outstretched legs and we take turns leaning forward and back while I sing, “Row, row, row your boat.”  The grins on that boy’s face are like nothing else.  He looks at me as if I’m the coolest, most fun person in the whole world.  But I guess in his world, I am.

4.  Matt continues to be amazing and supportive.  He cooks dinner, cleans up the dishes, and sneaks in play time with Westin.  He has played a huge role in Morgan’s recovery while my time is consumed by Westin.  Lately I get the sense that he is missing ‘us,’ but he’s understanding when I choose catching up on sleep over snuggling on the sofa at night.  This weekend he and his dad have planned a whole day at Hollywood Casino, and I’m actually really excited for him to have a day dedicated to doing something he really enjoys.  He has worked almost every Saturday lately, so this will be some well-deserved fun.  I hope it makes his heart as happy as he makes me.  (It would be ok if it made his wallet happy too!)

I’m a big believer in “the little things.”  We haven’t been up to anything extraordinary lately.  Some nights last week were a little more restless than usual, some days a little more hectic.  But the little things–my baby’s smile, my husband’s kiss, my dog’s tail wag–make every moment sweet and every day worth celebrating!
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The “C” Word

If you know me, you know I’m insanely in love with my dog.  Morgan was my first baby before I had a baby, and he remains a key member of our household.  He gets more bed space than I do, and I don’t mind waking up with a sore back each morning because I love him and his warm snuggles that much.   That’s why I’ve struggled to write this post, to write about how he might have cancer. 
I pointed out a small growth on the underside of Morgan’s tail at his yearly check up.  Prior to the appointment, I had jokingly referred to it as his “butt bubble” because its location made it seem more like a harmless hemorrhoid than something we should be concerned about.  The idea of it being troublesome came and passed quickly until the vet said what I feared in the back of my mind–it’s a tumor.  It seems benign, he said, but the only way to know for sure is to do a biopsy.  He recommended that we have the tumor removed while it’s still small since the procedure will only become more complicated and risky once it grows.  
At first the news didn’t seem so bad.  Likely benign?  No problem.  Simple surgery?  No problem.  Even the possibility of a malignant tumor didn’t scare me until I admitted to myself that malignant means cancerous.  The dreaded “C” word.
I lost my childhood dog to cancer when she was 6 years old.  It claimed her life before we really even had time to decide what we wanted to do about it.  Morgan’s only 5.  I’ve always told him he needs to stick around for awhile and die an old, happy dog.  I just feel karma owes him that much after the suffering he endured his first few years.  I’ve imagined another 5-8 years with him.  I’ve imagined a walking, talking Westin romping through the house with him.  And now there’s a chance none of that will ever happen.
Sometimes my mind runs wild with thoughts I don’t want to have.  Home euthanasia.  Cremation vs. burial.  Life without a dog.  Life with another dog.  OMG, is this really where we’re headed?  I get emotional if I think about it too much.  I struggle with the idea of losing him so soon, though I know that no matter what the outcome, I’ll remain grateful to have had him in my life and to have given a once-abandoned dog the loving family he so deserves.  Karma or no karma, I remind myself it’s the quality of life he’s had with us that matters more than the quantity.  If he died today, I’d feel satisfied that we gave him the absolute best life.
But mostly I believe he’s ok.  He’s still my Morgan, so full of life–taker of belly rubs, giver of kisses.  I’ll take him to the vet next Wednesday, tail wagging, for that simple surgery for that likely benign tumor.  I’ll hope to never hear the “C” word.  I’ll hope this isn’t the beginning of the end.
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Little Moments

Lately I feel like so much of my pregnancy and Westin’s first few months of life are already such a blur. I know everyone says to savor those sweet moments, even the late night and early morning ones, and while I thought I did, so many of those newborn snuggles are already gone from my mind.

What did it feel like when my baby kicked inside my belly? What were my first emotions when Westin was born? I remember a wave of relief and pride and excitement. And love, of course. But it was mostly an out-of-body experience–there was too much to take in. I quickly fell in love with Westin’s curly hair, though he lost the wave by the next day. What did that look like again? Did he actually fit in newborn sizes? Were his hands really that small? How did it feel to hold his floppy, curled up body during those 2 a.m. feedings? (Was I even awake for them?!) When did twelve weeks of maternity leave suddenly become only five, four, three, two, one…?

I think in many ways I took maternity leave for granted. I loved every moment of it, but in having Westin with me 24/7, I’m not sure I savored the moments the way I do now that they are more limited. I wish we had done more skin-to-skin snuggling. I wish I had taken more pictures of him while he was still pose-able. I wish I had held him more without worrying about all the other things that needed done. I try to give myself that time more now.

Because now, Westin is five months old! And in February, he’ll be six months old. And by next year it seems I’ll be sending him to Kindergarten. It blows my mind how quickly my baby is growing into a little boy. He was such a chatterbox the other night at bedtime, and I gave him a big hug and remarked how only five months ago, all he could do was cry. I miss where we were. I love where we are. I look forward to where we are going. But does it all have to go so quickly? Regardless, I’m loving this journey. Too often it feels like I blink and the day is over, like I can’t stop and savor these baby days, but we always manage to sneak in little moments that leave an impression on my heart.

Someone recently asked me if being a parent is easier or more challenging than I expected. I said it’s easier. But maybe that isn’t the whole truth because being a mommy while being a million other things (wife, homemaker, full-time employee, etc.) can be HARD. It’s a balancing act. It can be overwhelming. There are days and weeks when I feel like Super Mom, on top of the world. And then it all comes crashing down and I have the Mt. Everest of chores to climb while still trying to make the most of the few waking hours I share with Westin through the week. In the chaos of life, I try to remind myself of something I read recently: Sometimes, good enough is PERFECT. Westin won’t grow up to be a better person because I cleaned the house from top to bottom. He’ll be a better person because I spent time with him…and because I spent time with Matt and he got to grow up in a secure and loving environment. So I guess the dirty dishes can wait one more day…

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Welcome, 2012!

I spent about two hours the morning of New Year’s Eve assembling Westin’s jumper.  When I was almost finished, Matt noticed a piece that was defective.  I’m not a violent person, but I wanted to murder that thing!  If not for the need to exchange it or get a replacement part, I would have crushed it or thrown it against the wall or run over it with my car.  Ok, I’m exaggerating, but I was HOT.  What mother of a four-month-old baby has two hours to waste only to find that the thing doesn’t work?!  Imagine all the time I could have spent with Westin or all the chores I might have accomplished…  It was like our crib fiasco all over again.  And the idea of starting over with a new one was maddening.

It was soon after this that a dirty diaper led right to bath time.  Westin kicked and splashed and smiled, helping me to get over my rage.  As I dried him off, it hit me:  we found out about our sesame seed-sized baby one year ago today.  Any anger that remained melted away instantly as I recalled celebrating last New Year’s Eve with a positive pregnancy test.  I scooped Westin into my arms and just hugged him.  It’s amazing what a difference a year can make.  Though we wanted to have a baby, the news that we were expecting still came with shock and excitement.  Was I really ready to be a parent???  My doubts quickly subsided, and one year later, I can answer without hesitation:  ABSOLUTELY!

2011 was a memorable year for us.  Aside from Westin’s birth, we welcomed two nieces into the family and also celebrated our third wedding anniversary.  We had some trials and challenges since Matt worked out of town throughout my pregnancy.  We both fought bouts of loneliness.  Though I had an easy pregnancy, I sometimes felt cheated that Matt couldn’t be home to take care of me and experience the day-to-day journey of my growing belly with me.  EVERYONE worried about Matt making it home to witness Westin’s birth and wondered how long he’d have to work out of town once Westin was born.  We didn’t have any answers.  All I knew is that we would take it one day at a time.  And it all worked out in the end.  It always does.  Westin arrived on a Saturday when Matt was home, and Matt’s working locally now so we can spend our time as a family once again.

We don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, but this year we joked that our resolution should be to clean the spilt, dried up Kool Aid from the bottom of the refrigerator.  It’s been there for a few months, and we’ve avoided the chore since it basically requires us to completely deconstruct the inside of the refrigerator.  These things just aren’t priority anymore, not with all the things we have to look forward to in 2012.  Above all, I can’t wait to watch Westin accomplish new milestones.  Before long he’ll be bouncing around in his jumper and I’ll wonder how I ever felt mad at something that brings us all such joy.  I also look forward to celebrating Westin’s 1st birthday and then Matt’s 30th birthday one week later.  (I’m already contemplating parties for both!)  And of course I’m eager to take the vacation (or two) that we missed last year.

Whatever 2012 brings your way, just remember, it always works out in the end.  I hope these words will guide you through the year.  I wish you safety, health, and happiness.  I wish you strength to get through whatever challenges you may face.  And most of all, I wish you the company of friends and loved ones to enjoy along the way!

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Merry Christmas, Sweet Dreams

Westin’s first Christmas came and went quickly as Christmases always do.  Westin slept through most of it–he slept through the gift exchange at my parents’ house Christmas Eve, and dinner at our house Christmas day, and then all three days following!

I’ve had the joy of staying home with Westin this whole week.  I promised myself I’d take the opportunity to spend time with him, that I’d nap with him and play with him and hold him.  I told myself over and over again that he is #1 priority over any chores or any email or any Facebook update, and I have loved every moment away from the hustle and bustle of “life.”  It turns out four-month-old Westin is quite a fun little guy.  He brings me laughs and smiles I never knew were missing from my life.  I have loved every stage of his development so far, but he is at a particularly fun phase of discovery now.  I have noticed so many changes in him just in the last week or two, and I am so grateful to have had extra time off work to enjoy these new milestones with him.

Westin is suddenly as heavy as “a ton of bricks” as Matt put it.  Our home scale estimates his weight at about 15 lbs, though we’ll get official word from the doctor when he has his four-month check up on January 12th.  (Solid foods, here we come!)  Westin now “stands” and “jumps” when being held upright.  He grasps at toys and Daddy’s beard, and everything goes in his mouth.  He pulls his feet up to his belly and touches his heels to each other while getting his diaper changed.  He laughs and smiles when being tickled.  He sometimes rubs his eyes to wake up or fall asleep.  He has become a pro at tummy time, and today he rolled over from belly to back twice!

Westin is growing and changing so much that I feel like he’s a different person than the newborn I cared for during maternity leave, though I love him just as much and more!  He is blossoming right before my eyes, and that is the best Christmas gift of all.

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That’ll get me through the day…

This morning Westin woke up earlier than usual, so Matt was able to see him before leaving for work.  Westin kept blinking and rubbing his face, not quite ready to greet the day, when suddenly he looked at Matt and managed a little smile.  Matt smiled back and said, “That’ll get me through the day.”

I live for moments like that.  There is joy in knowing my loved ones are happy, that a single smile can set the stage for a good day.  I’m not a morning person, yet lately I look forward to waking up because I know I’ll get to see my smiling baby.  Even when he has a stuffy nose or a wet diaper, Westin usually greets me with a smile each morning.

This always reminds me of something my friend grew up hearing each night at bedtime.  Instead of, “Goodnight,” her dad would say, “Wake up happy!”  I became acquainted with the phrase when I joined her family on vacation, and I thought it was such a beautiful way to start and end the day.  Westin certainly wakes up happy and, in turn, makes me happy.

And there are many more happy moments throughout the day.  A few favorites are when I walk into a room and discover Matt, Morgan, and Westin snuggling together.  Or when I hear Matt reading to Westin from a room away.  Or when Westin falls asleep in my arms and I can just sit and hold him and kiss his soft forehead.  Sometimes that’s all it takes for a not-so-good day to feel like the best day ever.

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You Are My Sunshine

I admit I don’t plan to dedicate much time to this blog in the way of setting up an elaborate profile and choosing a fancy background theme. Of the 150+ themes I had to choose from, I limited my selection to the first 10. But the choice was rather obvious.

When I was a baby, my mom always sang “You Are My Sunshine” to me. This song carried through my childhood and now into adulthood. To honor this history, my mom chose You Are My Sunshine as the theme for my baby shower, and now that I’m a mommy, I understand the powerful sentiment my mom sang to me all those years ago.

In fact, there’s a lot more that I understand about my mom now that I have a baby of my own. I understand the unconditional love a mother feels for her child and the joy and pain and fear that comes with it. I understand wanting to be with that child all the time, to witness every breath and share in every experience. I understand wanting that child to be yours and only yours forever and ever. And I understand that watching that child grow up, move out, and make a life for himself will be one of the hardest (but very necessary) things I have to do as a mother.

But until then, I’ll enjoy my little sunshine, shining so bright. Yesterday, he started giggling for the first time. I’d tickle his chest, and he’d throw his head back and just laugh the heartiest baby laugh. We did this over and over again, and I couldn’t help but smile and laugh in response. He is such a ray of sunshine!

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Rulers of my Heart

I’m so overwhelmed by emotion when I think about “my boys” (as I so fondly like to refer to them) that it’s often hard to put into words just how much I love them and why. But today I will try…

My husband, Matt, is hardworking, dedicated, loving, and loyal. He is passionate about his friends and family; he shows this more through actions than words. Matt takes pride in the things he creates: a gourmet meal; his remodeled man cave; and most especially, our son. He is funny. Just the other night he got the biggest grin after trying to kiss me with toothpaste smeared all over his mouth. In those moments when we spontaneously burst into laughter over the most silly (or sometimes gross) things, I know we are soulmates. I love sharing this life with him. I love learning and growing with him. And I’m grateful for the ways he has helped me manage day-to-day life now that my time is dedicated to our baby. He is the calm to my crazy. I fear there are never enough ways to show him or tell him how much I love him.

Our son, Westin, is only 3 1/2 months old, and already I am so proud and amazed by his accomplishments. He is very attentive and aware of his surroundings. He has learned to hold his head up, to coo, to smile, and most recently, to laugh (though right now it’s more of a gurgle). I love him little but I also look forward to watching him grow and do new things. Westin is everything we could have wanted. Above all, he is healthy. But an added benefit–he’s cute too! With his head of light brown hair (and newly-acquired old man bald patch), chubby thighs, sparkling blue eyes, hairy little werewolf ears, long eye lashes, pouty arched lips, and cute finger dimples, he is perfection in our eyes. And he is such a good, content baby. Some attribute this to Matt’s and my calm natures. Everyone who meets Westin is astounded by how well-behaved he is. He hardly cries, and he sleeps well at night. We are truly blessed to be his parents.

We adopted our dog, Morgan, from an animal rescue nearly three years ago (he is now about five years old). I fervently didn’t want a dog, but Matt persuaded me, and Morgan quickly became our baby. He’s become such an integral part of our family that I’ve almost forgotten he came to us with a sad history; he was abandoned in a foreclosed home and nearly starved to death before he was rescued, nursed back to health, and adopted. Morgan is loving and gentle, fun-loving and so full of life. He’s crazy at times as all yellow labs are (he can jump as high as the top of the refrigerator), but he’s also obedient and loyal. He wags his tail furiously when he’s excited, and that brings me an indescribable joy. He loves treats, walks, new stuffed toys, belly rubs, and snuggles with his mommy and daddy. He’s the most handsome dog I’ve ever seen, and his eyes have a special innocence and kindness to them. He turned me into a dog lover and made me accept dog hair and slobber as a fact of life. (I gave up on the idea of a clean house when I discovered Morgan’s talent for flinging slobber on the ceiling.)

My home, and my heart, are forever changed now that these boys are a part of it.


Outnumbered by 3

In our house, I’m outnumbered by three boys:  my husband, our son, and our dog.  Truly, I wouldn’t have it any other way!  Weekends usually find the four of us piled onto the sofa together with me buried under a pile of boys who all want to use me as their pillow.  I feel so loved being the most desired seat in the house.

I absolutely love life as a wife and mommy.  Each day I feel so blessed for this life, for our health, and for the many things that bring us smiles throughout the day.  I can’t say our day-to-day living is particularly noteworthy, but sometimes it’s the simple and mundane things that make life sweetest.

So here begins my attempt at sharing those special moments with you.  I was once an avid blogger.  I spent my later high school and college years posting three or four times a day–sometimes political, sometimes philosophical, sometimes just recounting a night out with friends, or sometimes counseling myself through a breakup.  I clung to every word and every memory of that time.  I thought those were the best years of my life.

But I’ve found it just keeps getting better–from buying a house, to getting married, to adopting a dog, to having a baby, all while still holding close those friends and family who knew me in my younger years.  I can’t promise I’ll post several times a day, or even several times a week, but I’d like to make an honest attempt at documenting life as a queen in a land of many kings!

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