Friday, May 19, 2017

7 Weeks!

How far along: 7 Weeks

Size of the Baby: Raspberry

Baby Development: Baby is about ¾ of an inch long, and developing organs, bones, and teeny tiny eyes and ears.   

Total Weight Gain/Loss: 0

Maternity Clothes: None needed, but real life: I bought two pairs of maternity shorts from Target because their stretchy fabric is perfection.

Gender: Unknown. Peyton and Noah both think it will be a boy; my nephew Brayden said it will be a girl, but then later changed to boy so that he and Noah would equal. Chris goes back and forth on what he hopes for. Grandma “Nannie” is hoping for all things pink. I tend to lean toward boy, but only because I already know our boy name. Up until recently, Baby had a tail, so I will officially remain on the fence for now.

Movement: Too early, but I can feel my body changing. For instance, when I lay on my stomach, I can pin point exactly where all the action is. It’s like a tiny little buildup of baby pressure.

Sleep: I am exhausted all day, but don’t sleep well at night – mostly because I have insane dreams!

What I Miss: Being able to predict my mood swings. I used to be able to warn Chris when they were coming; but these days, LOOK OUT, Daddy! I also haven’t made it to Yoga, but that’s mostly because youth baseball is taking over my life.

Cravings: None, but I have had some taste bud changes. The only time I’ve actually gotten sick was after drinking sweet tea. The only beverage that sounds good is water, or occasionally milk. I also suddenly love Bean Dip from Taco Bueno – and I have hated bean dip my entire life. I also don’t crave sweets at all, which was a total weakness before I was pregnant!

Symptoms: I pee .all.the.time.  I’m beyond tired, and struggle to keep my eyes open at work. And I get the craziest mood swings - the tiniest little things can set me off! I haven’t cried very much, but I am very easily irritated. On the bright side, no morning sickness! The only time I get nauseous is when I get too hungry.

Best Moment this Week: Setting up our appointment to tour the infant room at Faith Early Childhood Education!

Not-So-Great Moment this Week: Learning that child care is .e x p e n s i v e. In what world can I come up with an extra $175 a week?!

Looking forward to: Our first OB appointment next week!

Next Thursday, when we hit 8 weeks, both kids have their last day of school, and I have my first OB appointment. I can't wait!

Leading up to the positive…

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
I had my usual mug of Red Diamond sweet tea for breakfast. It’s my favorite drink.
I immediately threw it up.
For lunch, I sat in my car eating Taco Bueno. Actually, I devoured the bean dip. It’s delicious. Best bean dip ever.
Except that I hate bean dip of all varieties.
What is happening, taste buds?
[*Side note – I actually wrote this in the memos on my phone because I thought it was so odd]
Tuesday April 25, 2017
While waiting for Peyton at the dentist, I made a cup of coffee. Immediately, my stomach was in my throat. It was everything in my power to not get sick in their waiting room!
Wednesday, Aril 26, 2017
I was supposed to start today, but nobody ever showed. I just got off birth control on March 1, so I assume my body is still adjusting. But I do start to wonder…
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Aunt Flo is still a no show! I started putting two and two together, and decided that THIS IS IT. I drove my happy bum to Target, acquired the almighty Starbucks (all praise the Caramel Macchiato with Coconut Milk!) and peed on a stick. Alas, it was negative.
At baseball practice that night, I told my fellow baseball mom Lindsay that it was negative. She said, “You will know when you are.” This really stuck with me, because I really THOUGHT that I was. “No, trust me – you will know.”
Fast forward a few days…
Monday, May 1, 2017
Chris was in Las Vegas for work, and I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, tried yoga rests, counted breaths… nothing worked. I was wide awake at 3am, with a feeling in the pit of my stomach. Lindsay was right – I would KNOW. I just didn’t have an explanation for HOW I knew.
Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017
I woke up almost an hour before my alarm (for those of you who are counting, that’s 2 hours of sleep, and I haven’t slept soundly since!), and immediately took a test. There is was. A double line. A faint double line, but it was there. I wasn’t sure I trusted my own vision, so I sent a photo to my friend Shannon in Maine. She confirmed, which is basically the Biblical Word for me.
Peyton had another dentist appointment at 9, and my doctor somehow got me in to see him at 9:15. One urinalysis and a blood sample later,
[no, that is not my actual peed upon stick. thanks internet]

I am 4 weeks and 5 days, give or take; and Baby Neal is the size of a poppy seed.
Estimated Conception: ummthatsnoneofyourbusiness, but the Easter Bunny was nearby.
Estimated Due Date: January 4, 2018

Yay Baby Neal!

& baby makes five

Ummmm so I believe I might have missed a few things since 2015, yes?!

1. Spoiler alert - we got married. Yaaaay matrimony!
2. We sold our house, moved all 4 of us into a 2 bedroom apartment, and are one measley month away from finishing construction on our dream home. Yay American dream!
3. My eggo is preggo!

In the grand scheme of things, Chris and I have been together for almost 5 years. We will celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary this September, and just found out last month that we are expecting our first baby together.

We have friends and family who live as far west as Alaska, and as fear east as Maine - not to mention the sister and niece who live all the way in Iceland! I hope to document this pregnancy for those who want to feel close when the miles just won't let it happen. And of course, for my momma, who was pregnant when there weren't apps, blogs, or 3D Ultrasounds. You better believe she has the WhatToExpect app on her iPhone and she is following Baby's every step!

Bear with me as I'm sure I will let fly a few curse words, many mood swings, and the occasional humble brag that I have yet to encounter much morning sickness.

Let's go, baby!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Learning Diversity from Preschoolers

It has been said that playing youth sports can lead to benefits such as higher grades, greater self-esteem, and stronger peer and family relationships[1]. What I learned, however, was that volunteering to coach those youth sports can lead to just as many unexpected benefits for the adults involved.

When my future stepson, Noah, decided to play tee-ball, I had no idea I would end up volunteering to coach. After all, I had no biological children on the team, and I would be the only female assisting. But when the director of the league said that if parents didn’t volunteer there would be no 6-and-under tee ball team, we took action. My fiancĂ© volunteered to be the head coach for fourteen children between ages 3 and 6; and I volunteered to assist him. He had never coached – or really played – baseball in his life, and it had been well over a decade since I picked up a glove. Together, we prepped practice schedules and batting lineups, and I set out to find team uniforms.

When we had our first practice, I quickly likened coaching tee-ball to herding cats. I was suddenly in charge of fourteen kids with little to no attention span who all came from different walks of life. There were four girls, ten boys, one Hispanic child, one African American child, one Native American child, one child with ADHD, one child who (by no fault of his own) wasn’t old enough to comprehend running bases, and several children who cared more about hugging my leg and chatting than they did playing ball. While working with the parents, I learned we had one single dad, three sets of divorced parents and corresponding step parents, one set of adoptive parents, one periodically disabled parent who had recently undergone back surgery, and one parent who had recently lost her husband; and then there was me – someone who had no legal claim to any child on the “Glenpool Wolfpack” team, and was suddenly in charge of helping make sense of the madness that is coaching preschoolers. It was easily one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my adult life.

In an office setting, employees are consistently taught that sensitivity to cultures and appreciating diversity is imperative to a positive work environment. Imagine my surprise when I realized that coaching a group of fourteen kids under age six would require the same range of sensitivity and understanding! How I spoke to one child sometimes had to be different than how I spoke to another child: talking about “mommy and daddy” in front of the child who recently lost his father may be more hurtful to him, while the adopted child hearing a teammate ask her, “how come you don’t look like your mom and dad?” may create a potentially uncomfortable conversation. The spectrum of sensitivity and understanding of different backgrounds and lifestyles that came with this voluntary job was something I never expected to encounter. By the end of the three month season, I learned that it was important to get eye-level with this age group; and it was just as important to do the same with their parents. I learned that some parents desperately want to help in any way they can, while it was a challenge to ask some parents to even bring their child to a game on time. I learned that even though I may need to cater to fourteen different developing personalities, it was vital that I treat every child with the same amount of respect and adoration.

Every child was coached to their ability rather than a set standard, but every child, no matter what, got a high five and a “Great job!” from Coach Courtney. There were nights after games that I felt I was more exhausted from trying to coach these fourteen personalities and wrangle them into the dugout than I was after an eight-hour work day. There were days when I had more angry phone calls and text messages from parents than I did visits from students in my office. There were moments that I wasn’t entirely sure that I could remember which child required which type of coaching. But there was not a day that went by that I did not appreciate every single one of those booming personalities and differences. Children were creating dialogues with me about differences that I simply cannot experience in a work setting – “How come his mom is never here?” “How come that dad is in a wheelchair?” “Why didn’t that person’s grandma ever bring us snacks?” It was an invaluable opportunity to talk to very young, malleable minds about the fact that not everyone is the same. Some people have one parent, while some people have four; some dads stay in wheelchairs, while some walk, some run, and some aren’t with us anymore. Some people have the opportunity to buy us snacks (“Isn’t that nice of them? Let’s go say thank you!”), and sometimes people aren’t in a situation to afford it (“But let’s go tell her thank you for coming to watch us!”). Seeing their sweet faces process this information and realize that it’s okay that their friends are different was something I will never forget.

By the time the last game rolled around, I desperately tried not to shed tears during our last team huddle. I never would have imagined that while coaching a six-and-under tee-ball team, I would learn more about life than they probably did about the sport. Differences aren’t just important in the workplace. Lifestyles unlike mine shouldn’t only be respected as an adult. Diversity lives in every age group, not just at the office. I feel honored and blessed that I was able to both coach and learn from a group of children who left a mark in my heart, and helped me celebrate their individualities in a way I didn’t know existed.

[one player not pictured]

[1]True Sport: What We Stand To Lose in Our Obsession to Win.” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency;;

Monday, June 1, 2015

Meet the Maids Monday: Katy

'ello lovelies! I haven't written in awhile because, well, life. School is out for summer (for the kids anyway - blast you, higher education!), Peyton and Chris flew to Washington DC and back, my brother's wife had baby boy #2 (omgomgomg I'll show you his precious little chubbiness soon), Chris and I are working on cleaning out the storage so we can have a garage sale, and we've been binge-watching Game of Thrones like the mad king himself is forcing it upon us and threatening death. No really, it's serious business.

SO. That being said, all those fabulous adventures should really be documented, mostly so that my feeble aging busy mind won't forget them. Our wedding is nearing the double digit countdown, and what better way to document my adventures in nuptialing (hey, it could be a word) than to start
  Meet the Maids Monday?!

[matron of honor]

Katy and I have been friends since, well, birth, essentially. We first met in preschool - yes, you read that right: preschool - and have been adventuring together ever since. We've remained friends through two school districts, 178 different hair colors, failed mutual friendships, many (many) failed relationships, trips to the lake, trips to the hospital, nights we may never remember, others we wish would die a painful death, and everything else that 24 years of friendship might entail. We cried at Disney World when we saw Cinderella's castle, and we set Bob Marley's bar on fire in Jamaica. We've been inside a car when it rolled upside down, and we've sat together in silence trying to get our lives right side up. She is a strong, fierce woman who has taken charge of her life and deserves every.single.positive thing that comes her way. Three years ago, I had the privilege of standing next to her while she said "I do" to her husband Jace [my future hubs was also in attendance, of course, but admired me from afar because he had a date - ha!], and 3 short months from now she will stand next to me while I agree to love Chris forever. There isn't a single person on this planet who knows my heart the way that Katy does; we've said for years - we are soul mates. Those guys we love are just lucky to come in second!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pee Wee's Big Adventure

There have been a couple some several moments during my two and a half years as a Step-Whats-It when I have questioned my thoughts and feelings. Typically, this happens during negative times. When I am feeling discouraged or my tank is empty or I just down right don't like what is happening right then, I find myself asking, "Is that how parents are supposed to feel? Is it normal to just want the day to end and everyone to go to sleep so you can start fresh tomorrow? Am I allowed to feel defeated? Am I doing this right?" I'm sure I already know the answers to all of those questions, even if I never really feel they are validated.

Still, on more than one occasion, I've found myself questioning my ability to parent, constantly searching for that daggum validation.

Today, I found it. Or rather, it found me.

At this point in my Step-Whats-It-dom, I am on a first-name basis with the school counselor. We used to share emails and phone calls rather often (toooo often!! I told myself). But over the last few months, they have lessened.
That is, until this morning - the first day back to school after spring break... at 11am... when the direct line to my office phone rang. I know that number. I know who that is. I can feel my face getting hot already. Hello anxiety. Hello school counselor. There is nervous laughter on the other end of the phone as she tells me that P's English teacher is in her office, and they haven't talked with me in awhile. What does that mean? How have we not chatted often enough this year already? Then she says, "Courtney... Are you sitting down?"

I literally rolled across my office in my desk chair and prepared to grab my inhaler for whatever startling detail about my step-kiddo she was about to tell me. I stop when she says, "It's good. It's great. P entered one of her essays into a national competition - and she WON. Courtney, she won the grand prize. P is going to Washington, D.C.!"

I wanted to say a million positive things. I wanted to say how proud I was and that I knew she could do it. I wanted to tell her I loved her and I was so happy to be involved in this moment. I wanted to tell her something. Anything! But the words didn't come to me. Heck, oxygen wasn't even coming to me at that point. And suddenly, I realized I was sobbing at my desk. Huge, can't-hide-behind-them, grasping-for-breath, kid-like, gargantuan bucket of tears because I am .so.very.proud. I know this child didn't come from my body, and I didn't carry her for 9 months. I don't know every story, and I sure don't know every wound. But I know in that moment I didn't feel like a Step-Whats-It. I felt like a mom. I'm so proud of her. I'm proud of this girl. I'm proud of who she is, and I'm proud of what she's done, and there aren't enough cells in my worldly human body to be able to express the magnitude of that feeling. 

And the thing that gets me the most... The thing that still has me choking on my own breath is that she is being recognized for something she created, all on her own; for an ability nobody on this planet has but her. Even with missing huge chunks of her childhood and experiencing things no little girl should ever have to witness or feel, she was able to create a magical piece of work that not only impressed the people who love her, but a group of strangers who saw so much potential in her that they want to fly her to our Nation's Capital and shower her with additional knowledge and encouragement. She is going to gain an experience so few people have the opportunity to do.

She deserves it. And that is the validation. 

[And she's beautiful to boot]

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

If You Give A Guy A Flauta....

It is rather well-known that raising a child is expensive. Raising two is even more expensive. Raising two while also planning a wedding, running out of room in your current home, and finding a way to pay off $20,000 in student loan debt is really freaking frustrating. And expensive.

Still, Chris and I find a way to save at least a little bit of cash so that we can treat ourselves to dinner one night a month. I think it's very important to find the time and resources to celebrate our successes, our lessons, and our wild adventures together.

Yesterday, I took off work to finish my Christmas shopping (and no, I did not finish it - shopping fail), so Chris and I met for lunch at Cafe Agave for one of our monthly outings. We've been trying new places lately, and this was a spur of the moment stop. We had that we had a lot of leftovers. I sent him back to the office, and then off on my merry way I went!

I found myself parked (for-ev-errrr) at a busy stoplight near the mall. I made eye contact with a discheveled man on the corner, holding a sign that read, "Disabled Vet. Anything Helps." For whatever reason, I found myself compelled to do something. I started digging around for change or cash or anything resembling money, but lo and behold, I had absolutely zero cash or coin on me. Not a cent. The only thing I could find in my sweet little fleet vehicle was a Styrofoam box with two leftover flautas from lunch. I laughed aloud, thinking, Good lord, Courtney, no man, no matter how desperate, is going to want your luke-warm man-handled leftovers.

At this point, I know the light is getting ready to turn. The man is still looking at me. I still have no money. I start to have one of those weird, panic-y, "oh my God, I have to do something, he's watching" attacks. So I rolled my window down (all the way, which is totally against the rule that my mom taught me when I was a teenager). I told him I had no money, but I had some left over food; then held my box up to the window like some sort of desperate-for-validation orphaned cartoon child. I expected him to laugh. I expected him to say no thanks. I expected him to do a million different things other than what he did.
[Yep, this was me.]

He said thank you. He wished me a Merry Christmas. And he took his sign and the Styrofoam box to the sidewalk - well away from the corner and from traffic. He sat the sign behind him so that no one saw it. He limped and crouched his way to a sitting position - and he ate my luke-warm man-handled leftovers with such delicacy, it was as if he wanted to remember every single detail. 

It was then that I realized he only had one shoe. The other foot had a sole-less shoe top on it; made to look like a shoe, only there wasn't really a bottom. I turned to face forward, and my light changed. 

Yes, both literal and proverbial lights changed.

I was so happy that he ate my leftovers, I cried my way down the road to the mall.

I'm not saying you should go give your leftovers to a stranger on the corner in order to validate a good feeling or the spirit of giving.** I'm saying that I was so worried about whether or not my gift was good enough, that I failed to realize my gift was good.

We should all stop wondering whether Aunt Bea will like her scarf. Whether Grandpa will like his popcorn. Whether your significant other will like that sweater. Whether you will like all of the gifts that you will receive this season.

The important thing to remember is that you like each other enough to give something. Anything. It doesn't matter if it's a scarf or a Lego or a leftover flauta. It doesn't matter whether the gift is good enough. It matters that you love them enough to give. It matters that you do good.

**Footnote: Really, I think this would be awesome - if you can pay for the person's Starbucks drink behind you, can't you take a sandwich to guy a street corner?

Merry Christmas, from my family to yours <3