Saturday, April 30, 2011

Change is not a bad thing

All in one day I went from being a full-time student and employed full-time to being an (almost) college graduate and...unemployed.

What the (bleep) just happened?  Have you ever heard that Alanis Morissette song Ironic?  Yeah, well that's about how I was feeling when I got that call.  "You graduated from college, and got fired the next day...isn't it ironic...don't ya think?"

I honestly don't remember much of what was said other than, "It's not working out...I'm going to lay you off".  I was completely caught off guard.  Panic started to set in.  My mind was racing a mile a minute.  Hello, I have child support to pay.  $#@& Now what??  Deep breath.  Oh no, not the ugly cry.  Deep breath.  Call Tommy.  More of the ugly cry, followed by some blubbering.  Breathe Kellie, breathe.

My wonderful husband responds to my news with, "Ok, so what?"  Now, some of you might think that he was being an insensitive jerk.  Quite the opposite!  He was trying to calm me down and make me realize that we will be okay.  He asks me, "Why don't you just be a mom?" in response to my question of "What am I going to do?".  This man is a genius I tell you!  Wow, so my life totally just changed, I'm no longer crying...I'm actually....happy about this!  I get to focus 100% of my time on my children and my family.  This is going to be awesome!

Deep breath.  Feel the wave of peace rushing over me.   My. Life. Rocks.  And so does my husband.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Just under three years ago I embarked on a journey to finish my undergraduate education.  It had been nearly 10 years since my last college course, so I was definitely out of practice.  I initially decided to finish my education because I was relocating to Florida from Maryland, and I needed something to occupy my time since my three older kids wouldn't be with me.  I figured if I was busy studying and doing homework, I wouldn't miss them as much.  While that didn't prove to be true, it sure did keep me busy!  I discovered how much I enjoyed school again, and how good I felt about myself each time I did well on an assignment.  Those 8 week terms flew by fast at Florida Tech, and each time another 8 week term started I would feel a sense of accomplishment and began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Now, as graduation approaches next weekend, and I'm just steps away from walking across that stage to accept my "prop" diploma, I look back and feel so proud of myself for finishing what I started.

There were so many people who would give me those "looks" when I told them I was going back to school.  Looks that said, "Oh you naive little don't REALLY think you'll be able to finish, DO you?".  That negativity could be felt, but I just used it to fuel my determination to push ahead and finish.  So to all you naysayers and disbelievers--HA!  I did it!

As for the rest of you, who were my loyal supporters and cheerleaders, thank you!

To my husband, Tommy-I could really NOT have done it without you.  All the encouraging words from you, and the many many weekends that we had to cut our fun time short so I could get home and work on homework were not taken for granted on my part.  You never told me that I couldn't go to school because it wasn't convenient for YOU (while I'm sure there were many times that my school work interfered with things you wanted to do).  You never told me that I wouldn't succeed.  Quite the opposite.  Even after we knew we were expecting Tristan, you never told me that I should take a break after having him.  You encouraged me to continue through, and to always challenge myself to do my best.  You listened to all my whining and complaining about professors and homework assignments, and my frustrations with everything from History to Accounting to Javascript.  You made my education OUR priority with all your help and encouragement, and for that I cannot thank you enough.  Now, it's your turn.  I will be here to support you  in any way that I can as you finish your journey and earn your degree as well.  There's no stopping us babe!

To my parents - my other cheerleaders in education.  I know that I had this chance once before, and I passed it up.  For whatever reason, back then, I thought working was WAY cooler than going to school!  Boy I wish I could turn back the clocks sometimes.  When I told you that I was going to go back to school, you did nothing but encourage me.  You're still encouraging me to this day, to return and work on that Masters' (which, by the way, I will...but I need at least a year break before I start working on that...).  A week from today, you will demonstrate your love and support by coming to visit me and by sitting in the audience at my graduation ceremony next Saturday.  I think if I look out into the audience and see you both sitting there, I will probably bust out into the ugly cry because I am really so honored to have you here for this.  This is a day that I never quite believed would ever come.

To my children - Karissa, Nathan, Jacob, Tristan & my step-daughter Brianna - I hope you see how difficult it has been and what a long road it is when you don't complete college immediately following high school.  Brianna, you are well on your way with your dual enrollment at BCC and your Dad and I are both very proud of you for that.  Stick with it girl...the sky is your limit.  You can be anything you want to be.  As for the rest of you, you have a few years left before college will really be on your radar.  I encourage you to do well in school and enjoy learning until then.  The same goes for you all as well-never let anyone tell you that you CAN'T do something.  If you dream it, you can achieve it.  Thank you all for putting up with the many times that our weekends royally sucked because Mom(Kellie) had homework to do.  Trust me, the last thing I want to spend my Saturdays and Sundays doing is staring at the computer.  But, you dealt with it, you never once complained, and now those days are done (at least for a little while!).    I love you all, and I wish that you could all be there to watch me walk next Saturday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A birthday love letter to my daughter

[caption id="attachment_198" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Doting on the newest addition"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_204" align="aligncenter" width="199" caption="Karissa, Spring 2010"][/caption]

My dearest Karissa,

I can't believe it has already been 11 years since you entered this world.  I remember just watching you sleep for hours, too afraid that if I closed my eyes I would wake up and you would only be a dream.  You were such a happy baby, always full of smiles.   I remember sleeping next to you, so that I could keep you close and keep you warm at the same time.  You were my first, so in some ways you were the guinea pig of motherhood for me.  I know I haven't been perfect over the years, and I do have some regrets.  Unfortunately, in life, there are no "do-overs".

[caption id="attachment_194" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="First day of kindergarten 2005"][/caption]

Six years ago when I stepped out on my own, you were forced to grow up just a little faster.  You became the little mommy to your younger brothers when I wasn't able to be with you.  I tried my best to make sure you got to still be a kid whenever you were with me, sometimes to your disliking!  You are a good role model for your younger brothers, always enjoying a challenge at school, and such a loving and caring little girl all around.

[caption id="attachment_196" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Always a loving big sister"][/caption]

The day I married your step-dad, you were so pretty in your little white dress.  You were all smiles that day, sharing in my own happiness and joy.  You seemed really excited to be gaining not only a great step-dad, but a fun step-sister that you could look up to as well.

[caption id="attachment_200" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Mommy's wedding day"][/caption]

The following summer, when I moved to Florida, I knew how sad you would be.  I also knew that you would try your best to be a good student at your new school, and make new friends once you got there.  I saw you thrive at your new school, getting straight A's every report card.  We talked often, and I did my best to come see you as often as I could.  You seemed content, but that little sparkle in your eye wasn't there anymore.  I feel responsible for that.  I often wish there had been some way I could make staying with you guys work.  Then I remember all the reasons that I had to move, and I know that I made the right choice, for all of us.

I remember how excited you were when you found out you were going to be a big sister again!  Even though your little brothers aggravate you often, you were still excited at the prospect of another baby.  Although I know you were really hoping for a little sister this time around, you took the news that "it" was going to be a "he" really well.  I will never forget your first meeting with your baby brother, at your fall concert.  You were so proud, and you smiled so big again!  I hadn't seen you smile like that in so long!  You are such a caring little girl, and I'm thrilled that Tristan has you to look up to as well.  It was really fun to watch you "mother" him, so eager to change his diapers and hold him as often as you can.

[caption id="attachment_199" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Proud Sissy!"][/caption]

I love our little talks over the phone, and I really love hearing you get excited about things that are happening in your life.  Whether it be a friend's birthday party, the talent show at school, or even your upcoming trip to see me over Spring Break, I'm all ears!

So, here it is, eleven years later.   I couldn't have ever dreamed of having a little girl as smart and pretty and loving as you, but here you are.  I am so blessed.  I look forward to a time when I will be able to see you more often, and I know that time will come as you get a little older.  In the coming years you will be both breaking hearts and getting heartbroken, struggling with social pressures at school, and other things that life brings your way.  I just want you to know that through it all, you can count on me.  I will be there for you in any way that I can.  I love you and I'm so very proud to call you my daughter.

[caption id="attachment_203" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Karissa, Summer 2010"][/caption]



Thursday, April 14, 2011

My 6 month "Mommy" report card

It's been six months since Tristan was born.  I have to admit, I had many ideas prior to his birth about how I was going to do things "right" this time around.  I was viewing him as my second chance at being a good mom, and giving him the family that I couldn't give my other three kids.  You know, a mom and dad who are happy being together?

Along with that, I also wanted to invest as much time into him as I could.  I had grand ideas that I would only cloth diaper him.  I kind of gave up on the idea of ONLY cloth diapering, when I realized just how messy some of his blowouts could be and realizing that is NOT something I wanted to deal with while traveling, or at the grocery store, or even at my in-law's while visiting.  So, I gave myself a permission slip to use disposable diapers anytime I leave the house.

[caption id="attachment_214" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Cloth diapers...a great idea I don't use 100% of the time"][/caption]

This worked out great for a while.  Lately, this has come to be more of an obstacle because some days I'm REALLY not feeling the whole wash/rinse routine with the diapers and will make up excuses like, "Well, after he has his big blowout of the day, I'll put him in a cloth diaper".  Truth be told, I am definitely not a poster child for cloth diaper advocacy.  I'm just too lazy to do it all the time.  I know there are moms out there that would NEVER put their child in a disposable diaper.  I'm just not one of them.

Another thing I decided I was going to do "right" this time around was nurse exclusively for at least six months, and not let the doctors pressure me into giving him cereal and/or baby food too early.  There is absolutely NO reason to feed your baby cereal or baby food until they are even 8 or 9 months so long as they are nursing well and mom's diet is sufficient to support baby's nourishment.  I feel my diet is more than sufficient, and I really think I do a great job of restricting my diet to mostly good clean foods so that Tristan gets the benefit of those nutrients as opposed to sodium and sugar overload.  I was successful in this task, and Tristan has just started to try baby food.  We skipped the cereal altogether, as white rice cereal has no real nutritional value.  The multigrain cereals have a bit more texture to them, so we'll be waiting for a bit for him to try those.  So far, his favorites are carrots.  He's working on the green veggies, like spinach, but hasn't really taken a liking to those just yet.  I still haven't started him on any juice and don't plan to.  I think juice is full of sugar and empty calories, so we'll be sticking to breastmilk for now.

[caption id="attachment_216" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Look at my happy boy"][/caption]

Co-sleeping is another thing I've managed to do right.  I can't imagine having to get up in the middle of the night, every 2-3 hours, to the sound of him crying from across this house.  When he wakes up hungry, all I have to do is roll over to nurse him.  He doesn't cry when he wakes usually, because I'm so close that I can respond to him waking up quickly.  I think this is what has helped to make him such an agreeable baby.  He's always happy and smiling (most of the time!).  I will continue to co-sleep with him until he is ready to transition to that beautiful crib we bought him.

[caption id="attachment_213" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Too pretty to sleep in? Nah....Mommy just likes to snuggle him!"][/caption]

All in all, I think I'm doing pretty good.  I've had lots of practice at being a mom, and I will say that I am really enjoying having a baby around again.  Since it's been so long since Jacob was a baby, it's almost like the first time all over again.