A Busy Day for the Nelson-Campbell Family

I struggled to go to sleep last night, so when it was time to get up, make Ellie’s lunch and wake Ellie up, I didn’t even hear Ryan until he was walking down the stairs with Ellie.  She got into bed with me and we snuggled for a little while, but then it was time to get up, brush her hair and get dressed.  Normally, Ellie goes to school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so she wears the uniform for that day — navy polo and khakis.  Since we have Dragon*Con this weekend, she had to go to school today, so she wouldn’t miss out on any of the three days for this week.  Well, Tuesday’s uniform is a maroon polo and black bottoms.  We completely forgot about the black bottoms…and put her in her khaki jumper.  We did this for a couple reasons:  1) She loves her jumper and 2) we could only find a size 4/5 maroon polo, so we needed something that would cover most of it up.  In the end, it looked like she had two dresses on, because the polo was longer than her jumper!

We also had a bit of an ordeal finding her jumper…but eventually found it in the last place we would ever look.  Isn’t that always how it happens?

We drove to the school and Ellie wanted to take morning photos by the school sign.  When we walked in the back, she sat down and took off her shoes.  When Ryan didn’t close the shoe bucket all the way, she went and closed it properly.  Ryan got scolded a bit.  Ellie walked up the stairs and for the first time, we ran into other parents as they were leaving.  Tuesday is a much busier day!  We put Ellie’s lunch box and water bottle away…and then she automatically attached herself to me.  She knew I was going to leave soon and she was extremely upset.  I held her for a minute or so and gave her bunches of kisses, but then I gave her to the director of the school and we left.  It was hard…but I know that the minute I leave, she’s fine!

We drove home and I went to work.  We hit some gnarly traffic thanks to a combination of a train, construction and school starting.  Before I knew it, lunch time was here and we had to head back to school to take photos for their website.  The school eats up natural light, so we had to get creative when taking photos of the kids.  We placed them next to the door, so I could open it and get more light or moved their tables closer to the window and opened the blinds.  Whatever was needed to get the light I needed for the photos.  Also, while I know I’m a good photographer, it was weird to take photos for someone else.  When it’s just for me, I know exactly what I need…and I know how to achieve it.  I don’t think I am a fan of doing photography for hire.  Too stressful!   But, the kids were wonderful and it was so nice to get to see Ellie in her element, especially before she knew we were there.

We went into her classroom and they were going over counting and working on which number is bigger and which number is smaller.  Ellie then went to work on her fractions.  She did 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and 1/5.  We all moved into the main room and worked on different math problems, as well as sorting.  I’m happy to share that Ellie did not throw all the beans in the air this time.  It was time for the kids to eat lunch, so we left quietly.  We heard Ellie crying, but she only cried for a moment.

When it was time to pick her up and bring her home, she was pretty excited to come home with us, although I think she would’ve preferred to play outside all by herself for an hour or so.  She asked to take her end of day photograph with a new pile of rocks.

Ellie is really blossoming at school.  She has made a couple new friends and the teachers seem to be very fond of her, as well.  She’s a teacher’s pet, for sure.  But, was there ever any doubt?


Ellie Loves School — But She Also Loves Mama

When Ellie woke up, Ryan carried her downstairs and she crawled into bed with me.  We snuggled for a while, but then it was time to get up and get ready for school.  I brushed her hair and helped her get dressed.  She wore her khaki skort and a navy blue polo.  She chose a new pair of Batman socks…and her favorite blue shoes.  One of her friends had a birthday party during lunch today, so we only packed some fruit and a water bottle for her.

We drove to school and all seemed well.  When we got out of the car, Ellie wanted to take her morning photo, so we posed by a street light this time.  As we trotted into the backyard of her school, so she could take her shoes off, she still seemed fine.  We walked up the stairs, went inside and put away her washcloths, lunchbox (still Spider-Man so far) and water bottle.  We chatted with the director of the school about some photography she needs done…and as we were about the leave, the waterworks started.  ”No, Mama!  Please don’t leave!  Mama, noooooo!”  And she jumped into my arms.  I told her she had to go to school, but that I would be back after lunch.  She still cried.  The director of the school helped sit her down by the toys and as we left, she screamed and cried and gave me the saddest face ever.  We walked toward the front of the school and the director’s husband (he’s the one working with the design company for their website who gave us more specifics about the photos needed) met us by the front door and told us to quietly come inside the school.  All we could hear was Ellie playing with her friends and laughing.  Once we were out of sight, she calmed down and went back to business as usual.  Mir, the director’s husband, told us a story of when his first son went to school and a similar thing happened.  It was before camera phones and that kind of instant communication we’re all so used to…so when he left the school and his crying son, he just sat at work with a pit in his stomach, because he didn’t know if his son was better yet.  He wanted us to see…or, well, hear, that Ellie was already better, so we wouldn’t feel bad.  It was a lovely gesture.

When home, I got to work and had a lot of emails to answer and paperwork to complete.  Yada yada.  But then, I heard my phone buzz…and the school director sent me pictures of Ellie eating pizza at the birthday party.  See, Ellie doesn’t like foods that get her hands messy.  She gets frustrated.  Also, she’s a pretty healthy eater…so, pizza isn’t really something she’s ever tried.  They cut up her pizza into small enough pieces so they were bite sized and easy for her to pick up and hold.  And she really liked it.  (In the car on the way home, she said, “Mama, I ate pizza!  Yum!”)

We went back to the school during my lunch break to pick up Miss Ellie.  They were finishing up story time when we got there.  Once Ellie realized we were there, she walked over and took us to her classroom.  They worked on continents again today, so the first thing she did was take me to a puzzle map and tell me where Africa was.  And then she pointed out North America.  She also worked on more shapes, letters, numbers and sorting skills.  I’m sure she did even more, but that’s all she told me about.  Her teacher, Ms. Cheryl, took photos of the kids today, so I was able to see what Ellie did.  I loved it!  And, of course, Ellie started a little bit of adorable trouble.  Every time one of them would write a letter, she would tell them to all raise their arms and say, “We did it!”.  She does that a lot at home, whenever she’s particularly proud of herself, so I’m not surprised she told her new friends all about this fun tradition.  Apparently, they did this 6 or 7 times — for 6 or 7 different letters.  And the teacher got photos of the entire thing!

We talked to the director about hosting some fun events

After she showed us what she learned today, she wanted to sing and dance and play with all of the toys.  We let her sing for 5 or so minute, but then it was time to head back home.  We took her end of day photos with her sitting on the rocks.  She sure does love rocks of any kind, lol.

She goes back tomorrow, since we leave for Dragon*Con on Wednesday night.  I bet she’s going to be excited to wear a different color polo.  (MWF is navy.  TTH is maroon!)



Ellie’s Winning at School

Today was day 3 of Ellie going to school.  Right now, she’s on a 3 half day schedule on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I finally got in more of her uniform items, so she was able to wear a khaki dress and navy polo outfit with her Batman socks.  She was particularly happy about this outfit.

We packed her lunch early this morning.  She got a sandwich, grapes (half order), watermelon, yogurt and a bottle of water.  After Monday, the director said we might want to give Ellie some yogurt, since she tried to share everyone else’s yogurt.  She even mentioned that Ellie has the healthiest lunch of all the kids…but that’s just what she likes to eat.

We drove over to the school and Ellie asked for her morning photo.  She wanted to sit down this time, so we found a nice little area near the front of the school.  We walked to the back entrance and Ellie sat down in the pink chair and took off her shoes.  When she went inside and saw everyone, she showed them her Batman socks!  The uniform states she needs to wear white socks, but we saw other kids weren’t following that rule, so we let Ellie break it, too.  Rules are meant to be followed, unless they are superfluous!

Ellie put her lunchbox and water bottle away and we refreshed her change of clothing (her shorts got wet on Wednesday), washcloths and her pull-ups.   We also noticed that they hung up all the family tree projects.  We definitely have the prettiest family tree!

When it was time for us to say goodbye, Ellie got upset and said that she is “Mama’s baby”.  She ran over to me and ask me to hold her like a baby.  The director reminded Dr. Ellie that she had work to do.  She was still upset that I had the leave, but by the time we were about 2 minutes away from the school, the director sent me photos of Dr. Ellie checking in on all the kids.

That definitely made us feel better.  I’m glad she deals with us leaving so well.  She always does during child watch at the gym…  Ellie just takes a little time to adjust, occasionally.

When we got back to the school to pick Ellie up, the director and Ellie’s second teacher, Ms. Cheryl, told us all about Ellie’s week.  They went over identifying  and drawing shapes (and Ellie pointed out a circle, triangle, rectangle and square for us), as well as how many sides the shapes have.  Ellie independently told us that a triangle has THREE sides.  And a square has FOUR sides.  She was very happy to share this with us.  They taught her the 7 continents (Ellie colored a picture of an adorable koala) and the 7 days of the week.

They also traced letters and worked on their sorting skills.  They have two sorting stations.  One has small beads.  One has two types of beans.  Ms. Cheryl was concerned because Ellie did an awesome job of sorting the different color beads…  But when they gave Ellie the beans to sort, instead of sorting them, she decided she’d rather throw them all in the air and yell, “Don’t spill the beans!”  Hey, Poppy…  Yeah, you!  See what you did?  You got Ellie in trouble at school!  When they asked us why she’d do that, we explained that Ellie was taught the absolute wrong way to play that game and that is why she decided to throw all the beans in the air.  Thankfully, she cleaned up her mess, since she’s good at putting everything away.  I just stood there laughing and thinking that my grandpa was going to get a phone call later today.  Mainly because I think he’ll find this hilarious!  :D

They had a “cooking” class today, which Ellie really enjoyed.  The director got to learn a little about how particular Ellie can be about color choices.  They had a bunch of different aprons available and Ellie kept turning them down until they got the her favorite one.  They took different fruits and dipped them in different sauces.  Ellie didn’t want the sauces (they were all sweet), but she loved eating all the fruit.

At lunch, Ellie was happy with all of her food…until two kids pulled out rice from their lunchboxes.  Ellie loves rice more than anything else.  It’s her favorite food.  The paperwork we were given specifically said no rice, or else we would have given her some.  Needless to say, she’ll have rice next week!  One of the kids came up to me and said, “Ms. Ellie’s Mom, Ellie tried to steal my rice with shrimp and peas!”  I’m not surprised, lol!   The director also said that Ellie will only use the green place setting for lunch. And that she wants everything put on a separate plate.  She’s so my kid!

Before we left, the teacher gave us all the work Ellie did this week.  It’s so cute to have a bunch of schoolwork to put away for her.  Wait until she’s older and we can show her when she drew a triangle in school… or colored some Ellie-Picasso hybrid picture.  Her teachers said she is a sponge and is very bright.  They said her hand-eye coordination is off the charts and her fine motor skills (like holding a pencil) are very advanced.  These are all things we’ve known for a while now.  They are especially impressed with her retention.  I am, too!  That kid remembers everything!

The director asked if I would come to class for an hour or so next week and photograph all the kids.  She also asked if we’d make aprons for all the kids, since she doesn’t have enough for everyone.  (She offered to pay, of course.)  I love that we’re a part of this brand new school and get to help them out in this way.  It’s a great experience and we love being part of this community.  And Ellie seems to really enjoy all of her new friends.  On the way out to the car, Ellie asked for her end of day photo.  We took it by a tree.

Now to finish the day and talk to Ellie a little more about Australia, since that seems to be her favorite continent right now.

Schoolie, Day 2

Ryan went to wake up Ellie and the first thing she wanted to do?  Snuggle with Mama.  Man, my life is hard!  :P

After 10 minutes or so of snuggling, we got up and brushed our teeth, our hair and got dressed.  Ellie asked me to put her hair up in pigtails…and wanted pink hair ties.  I originally grabbed navy hair ties to match her school uniform, but she wasn’t having it.

We packed her lunch in her Spider-Man lunchbox: sandwich, grapes, watermelon and a bottle of water.  If you see a cute lunchbox set, let me know.  I want to add a few more to her collection.  Especially if you find a Bubble Guppies set.  If she has to wear a uniform, then her lunchboxes, nap mat covers and wash cloths will have a lot of personality!

We drove Ellie to school and she instantly fell into her new routine.  She wanted to pose for photos with her lunchbox.

Then, she sat down outside on the little pink chair, took off her sneakers and put them in the outdoor sneakers container.  She walked up the stairs and went inside and put away her lunchbox and water bottle.  Finally, she sat down and played with her new friends.  When we were ready to leave, she said goodbye without any tears!

The rest of the morning and into the early afternoon allowed us to work in peace, which was nice.  But it was still so darn quiet!

Ellie had “homework” (well, really the adults…) from Monday that we never did on Tuesday, so I finished it up.  It was a family tree with the nicknames of all the people on the tree and a photo of them.  Since Ellie has no blood siblings, I included a picture of Tigger and a picture of her cousin, Austin.

When we got to the school, Ellie was reading a story with the director of the school.  When they were done, Ellie read another story with her other teacher.  The director told us that Ellie is her new teacher’s assistant.  In just one day of school, Ellie already knew their routine down to the minute.  When it was time for lunch, Ellie let everyone know.  When it was reading time, Ellie reminded the teacher and her friends.  When it was time to bring the nap mats out, Ellie lead everyone over to their mats so they could get them.  The director was impressed with Ellie’s memory…and I let her know she’s always been like that.  In every class, she is the one who is most concerned about following the routine.  If a step is missed, she will remind her instructors.  It’s amusing…and reminds me of someone else I know.  (Ahem.)

Today, they worked on shapes and math (focusing on 0-4 and not just memorizing but grasping the concept of quantity), along with general reading and learning letters/phonemes.

Ellie didn’t want to head home today.  She was very excited about reading all the books (and putting them away when she’s done, because she was raised well!).  Once done with what seemed like the 10th book, Ryan took her by the hand and she walked with us to the door.   We stopped and she put on her sneakers.   As we were walking to the car, she said, “No Mama, over here!”  She wanted to take end of day photos by the school sign again.  I have a feeling this is going to be our routine for a while.  Ellie loves routine!

Another successful day of school, Ellie Belly.  So excited to watch you learn and grow and develop new skills!


Ellie is going to schoolie!

A couple of weeks ago, an Austin Mamas member posted about a relatively new AMI Montessori program in Round Rock.  She recommended it highly to the other mamas of the group (most of whom I despise).  Normally, I take their recommendations with a grain of salt…but after researching this new school and its director, I thought it might be a good fit for Ellie.

We love teaching Ellie here at home.  That being said, my work schedule is jam-packed and Ryan’s work schedule is now so full of Geek-a-bye Baby work, that we’re unable to give Ellie a steady curriculum.  We have activities every day (multiple activities most days), but they aren’t as consistent as I would like.  Thankfully, she is a bright, well-adjusted little girl!  And she’s advanced well beyond her years.  But a lot of that is just Ellie being Ellie.

When we visited this new school, we instantly loved the location and the look of the school.  It’s definitely a Montessori school, but with a slightly more traditionally structured learning environment.  A good mix of Montessori with standard school.  But it definitely leans a lot more Montessori.  In essence, Ellie still gets plenty of free and guided play, but the lessons aren’t freely chosen.  There is a more structured list of activities they go through each day.  Ellie enjoyed her visit to the school.  She played with just about everything she could get her hands on!  The director’s sons were there and one of them played a number of puzzle games with Ellie.  They were impressed with her aptitude for puzzles.  After we finished touring the facility, Ellie even wanted to try to go potty on the potty, because it’s a kid-sized potty.  That silly girl has been potty trained since about 2, but then decided she wants to only pee in diapers.  Hopefully they’ll be able to help us with getting her to pee on the potty again.  When it was time to leave, Ellie didn’t want to go.  She wanted to stay and count everything, read everything, play with everything.  A very good sign.  And the best part?  They offer a lot of different plans for attendance.  We opted for 3 half days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) to start with, but will likely move to 3 full days after Ellie gets accustomed to going to school.

That visit occurred on a Friday and we signed her up for the school the following Monday.  It just felt right.  A small school with a lot of one on one attention and a focus on advanced learning and learning that is truly designed for each child’s aptitude.

We had to wake Ellie up earlier than normal, so when she woke up…she wanted to snuggle with me in bed.  We snuggled for about ten minutes, but then it was time to get up.  We made her some breakfast and I sat down with her while she ate.  We got dressed up in her school uniform — navy polo dress (she can also wear regular polos) and khaki shorts (she can also wear skirts, jumpers, pants).  She also has to wear white socks, so hopefully that helps with her getting acclimated to wearing socks…and less smelly feet!  She cried a few times because she wanted me to hold her or keep snuggling, so we knew leaving the school was likely going to be harder than normal.  See, we drop Ellie off at child care at the gym almost every day.  And she trots over to her favorite child care facilitators and waves goodbye to us.  Sometimes she wants a kiss…  Not always, though.  But when she’s grumpy, it’s always harder.  She’s more clingy and just wants Mama to hold her.  The entire time.  And she’ll cry and cry and cry.

We got in the car and drove over to her new school.  When Ellie got out of the car, I gave her a brand new, Spider-Man lunchbox filled with a sandwich in an Elmo container, watermelon in a Spider-Man container, goldfish crackers in an Elmo container, and a Spider-Man water bottle.  The first this she said was, “Mama, it’s heavy!”  We walked over to the school’s sign and took lots of photos.  Since she’s so sleepy, they were sleep face photos.

I’ll need to get more photos on Wednesday and Friday and call it the First Week of School.  We held hands and walked to the door.  Ellie wanted to play outside, but I told her she needed to drop off her things and visit with her teachers and friends first.  We walked up the stairs and said hello to everyone.  Ellie instantly sat down and played with the other kids — they were playing LEGOs.  Ellie LOVES LEGOs.  We put all of Ellie’s stuff away: lunchbox, water bottle, wash cloths, pull ups and wipes, change of clothes, Batman flip flops.  And the director gave me homework: a family tree I need to put together for Ellie.

I took a few more photos and then it was time to say goodbye.  Ellie cried, but we said our goodbyes and left the school.  I’m certain she was fine moments after we were gone.  She loves playing and the other kids likely distracted her.

It’s weird to think that she’s starting school.  I mean, I know everyone says this…but I remember her still in the womb like it was yesterday.  That being said, I don’t feel time is going by quickly.  We pack so much fun into every single day.  I am just so happy that she wants to go to school and that the director feels she’s so impressive for her age.  I make sure to stress that it’s all Ellie.  She was born and at 2 minutes old, she looked me straight in the eyes, smiled…and held my finger.  She’s an old soul and has a wonderful sense of self.

I’m excited to talk to Ellie all about her first day at school.  I can’t wait to watch her continue to develop and change and learn and grow.  And now for Mama and Dada to figure out how the hell to deal with spending the first half of the day Ellie-free.  It’s so quiet here…  I think I need some white noise!  


30 Before 30 Bucket List

When I was younger, I put together a “30 Before 30 Bucket List”.  I never really thought about it again until the July 27th, 2013 started creeping closer and closer.   It was something my friends and I thought would be fun to do — 30 things we hope to achieve before we’re “old”.  And before you expect to see “travel to the moon”, we tried to make these attainable goals.  Real world options.

As I looked at the list, I realized that what I wanted when I was a kid…and what matters to me now aren’t in exact alignment.  That being said, I’ve also done almost everything on the list.  So, now I need a 40 Before 40 list…and I obviously need to make it more EPIC.  :D



1. Fly a plane.

I achieved this goal fairly young.  By 14, I was learning how to fly a plane.  Now that I’m 30, I’m thinking about spending more time flying and working on getting my license.  Why not?  I need more 40 by 40 goals!

2. Swim with dolphins.

For our Honeymoon, Ryan wanted to swim with the dolphins.  At first, I wasn’t that interested.  Well, apparently, 20-something Beth totally forgot that young Beth wanted to do this.  I wonder when it stopped being a goal?  Well, needless to say, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will NEVER forget.


3. Sing in front of an audience full of strangers.

I’ve been singing as long as I can remember.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  If you’ve ever driven in a car with me, you know that I remember every lyric to every song.  Ever.  I’ll sing to songs I hate!  Well, at a convention in Chicago, we went to a bar and they had Rock Band Karaoke.  Basically, you’d go on stage with your friends and perform while also playing the game.  We performed Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.  And, it was pretty epic.  I was petrified, of course.  But, not only did we ROCK at Rock Band, but we also received some pretty loud applause.  You know, I need to do that again.

4. Hop in a car and drive, without know your destination.

I love spontaneity…as long as it’s planned.  Just kidding.  Well, sort of.  I’m not the type to just fly by the seat of my pants.  I’m a planner.  Well, over 10 years ago, my then boyfriend and I decided we wanted to take a trip.  We weren’t 100% sure where, though.  So, we bought a road map, printed some very generalized (and WRONG) Mapquest direction that would help us go out in the west-like direction and we hit the road.  It ended up being an AWESOME trip.  We tried to find Area 51 (and almost got into a lot of trouble), we got lost in Big Bend when Mapquest tried to lead us into the center of the park, instead of camp grounds, we ran out of gas in a town that didn’t have 24 hour gas stations, we were stuck on a winding road that had mountain on one side and a long drop down a cliff on the other, we saw George Carlin perform live, we stayed at a swanky Las Vegas hotel, we made snow angels at the Grand Canyon, we met Filipino people at an adorable grocery store in Lake Tahoe, we tried to drive my little sports car up a steep mountainside in the snow without tire chains.  And more!

5. Have an affair with a famous person.

OK, so I was a precocious kid!  Well, this isn’t 100% true.  I did not have an affair with a famous person.  But, I was pursued by a famous person…and I got to turn them down.  So, I could’ve had an affair if I wanted to, but I think getting to say “thanks, but no thanks” is even better!

6. Pay a stranger’s tab at a restaurant

This is another close one.  I was at HEB when a woman left her wallet home.  She seemed honest and super sweet.  She also seemed very flustered.  Her bill wasn’t tremendously expensive, so I paid for it.  It was part good Samaritan and part me needing to get somewhere and wanting the line to move.  :D

7. Start a charity.

In 2007, I was able to accomplish this goal.  I’ve always been involved in charity work, in one way or another.  My mother and Nanny instilled that in me.  When I had the opportunity to start my own charity, it was a life long goal coming to fruition.  6 years later and we’ve raised over a quarter million dollars for the charities we love and support.

8. Buy my own car.

I helped pay for my first car, but someone else’s credit assisted me in that process.  Same with my second car — it was my money, but their credit.  In 2012, I bought two cars.  With my own credit.  I know that seems like a simple thing, but to this New Yorker, it was a big deal!  Credit is so important and I’m so proud of myself for being able to buy my own items using my own credit.

9. Become a homeowner.

While we haven’t purchased a new home yet, our financing has been approved.  So, really, we just need to find a home we love.  I call this one a win!

10. Travel to another continent.

I’ve had to fortune to travel to two different continents, Europe and Asia.  I hope to travel to all of them before I die.  I guess this one is being added to my 40 by 40 list.  I was going to travel to a third continent, but then my Nanny got sick.  We’ll make that trip to Australia and New Zealand soon.  

11. Take a cruise.

Little did I know that I’d become a cruise-a-holic!  We went on our first cruise for our honeymoon and have since gone on as many as we can since then!  We really want to go on one of these amazing National Geographic cruises, though.  They cost a cars worth of cash, so that might be a 50 by 50 kind of list item.

12. Start my own business.

Well, I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember.  Selling candy at school, my yarn jewelry business when I was in 4th grade.  Heck, I remember hosting a garage sale when I was 6 or so and selling off dishes and glasses that weren’t supposed to be sold!  But, Geek-a-bye Baby is really my pride and joy.  I never thought my geeky baby items would be as popular as they are, but I can truly say it’s a blessing to have something I am so passionate about be so well received. 

13. Learn as many languages as I can.

I speak 6 (or 7) fluently and can buy shoes in over 20.  Language is something I’ve always had a passion for and will always continue to love.  In 3rd grade, I was disrupting the class far too much. The school opted to allow me to take some supplemental language classes to help keep me from distracting my friends.  I always knew I had a gift for language acquisition, but this taught me that I could also learn in a traditional classroom setting.  

14. Live in another country.

My time in Russia is something that completely changed me.  Russia is so very different from the US.  The people are different.  Everything.  I was able to shut down my computer, disregard my cellphone and just experience Moscow.  I truly hope we get to live in another country again.  It’s something I believe is important for Ellie to experience.

15. Find a Happily Ever After partner in life.

I don’t think young Beth ever thought I’d be married right now.  Or have a baby.  But, boy is old Beth happy I gave this life a chance.  While Ryan occasionally infuriates me, I know it’s because we so very passionately love each other and our stubborn natures, at times, cause us to forget to see the forest for the trees.  I am so appreciative of that kind of love.  I can’t imagine my life without it.  And while I never really thought I’d get married, I’m super happy I did.  I mean, we have an Ellie Belly.  Epic!  And, we had a beautiful wedding.  And, well, we have each other.

16. Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

Did it.  Never again, lol.  Stupid young Beth…  Don’t you remember you hate people?

17. Ask Tom Hanks to adopt me.

Thanks to twitter, this has been accomplished.  Oh, and young Beth?  Guess what?  One day, you’ll meet Tom Hanks.  And touch him.  Yup.  That totally happened.  And it was AWESOME.

18. Get a tattoo.

You got a few of them.  And they all rock.  

19. Write a book.

I published a few children’s books when I was younger.  I really hope I finish that novel one day.  You know, in all my free time.

20. Walk on a runway.

Heh, I never thought I’d EVER walk in a fashion show, but thanks to friends who are amazing designers, I’ve walked in a few.  Hope to do that again one day!

21. Be a superhero!

Thanks to another super talented friend, I have an EPIC Batwoman costume.  I really need to be able to wear it again one day.

22. Go skydiving.

I got to do that in 2011.  And will totally do it again one day.  BEST. THING. EVER!

23. Catch a game ball.

Well, I didn’t technically do this.  But, Ellie was given a game ball.  And Ryan caught one while I protected Ellie from getting hit.  So, I think it counts!

24. Run a marathon.

I ran a marathon when I was in high school.  I truly hope to be able to do that again one day.  

25. Travel to all 50 states.

I am SO CLOSE.  I need to visit Hawaii.  We’re planning that trip, but it won’t be until 2014.  That being said, I’ve been to Alaska.  That has to count for something!  :D

26. Own a pair of Manolo’s

Done and done.  

27. Be asked for my autograph

Not a HUGE fan of this, but I’ve been asked to autograph more than a few items in my day.  When I was younger, I wanted to be famous.  Now, I’d rather just be happy. 

28. Meet an astronaut.

I’ve had the fortune of meeting quite a few astronauts so far.  I’ve done two special tours of NASA, as well.  I hope to travel to space before I die.

29. Be proud of my job.

I quit a few jobs that most people would dream of having, but I’ve always believed that you need to, above all else, love what you do.  I love the field I work in and I love the work I’m doing.  Happy I can say that.

30. Have one perfect day.

I’ve had so many perfect days in my life.  Seeing the whales with my Nanny in Alaska, marrying the love of my life, the birth of my daughter.  I am a blessed person.


So there you have it.  My 30 Before 30 goals.  Most of them have been met.  Some of them were…interesting.


So, 40 Before 40 next.  I want to visit at least two more continents AND I want to be in a movie.  Let’s make it happen!




35 pounds — and still going!

6 weeks ago, if you told me I’d be 35 pounds lighter, I’d tell you that’s impossible.  I was so desperate to get healthy and lose weight.  I tried so many different things — medicine, exercise, diet.  Nothing was working.  I was gaining and gaining and gaining.  I started getting really angry with food.  I didn’t want to eat, because I didn’t want to gain.  But, even when I didn’t eat, I’d gain!

Well, 35 pounds later and I’m finally on a good road to get to my goal weight.  That road means another 65 pounds, but I feel that’s totally attainable.

Lots of folks are asking what I’m doing to lose weight.  And, really, it’s nothing special.  I’m calorie counting.  I just started exercising last week.  My body was still VERY weak from my lupus flare-up, so Ryan and I decided to wait until we lost at least 20-30 pounds before doing any real exercise beyond normally routine.

Last Thursday, I took a water aerobics class with my aunt.  It was a great option for me, since it’s low impact.  And best part?  It was SUPER fun!  So, we attended another class on Saturday.  Ryan and I enjoyed going to her gym so much — we joined!  We’re now members of the YMCA.  Yes, yes, sing all you want…but it’s actually a really great gym.  And, other than a bible by the front door, I don’t feel like the religious aspect is going to be an issue for me.

Ellie has enjoyed her two stays in their child care program.  They have large rooms full of books and toys with an ample staff of care takers.  This Saturday, they didn’t want to let Ellie leave.  They told us she was very helpful and very sweet.  Apparently, she was cleaning up the messes the other kids were making.  Not surprised, since we always make her clean up her toys and books here, as well.

Another perk of joining is that we love their outdoor pools!  Ellie really enjoys being in the water.  She also loves sitting on the edge of the pool and kicking.  I taught her all about the fun of splashing.  (Especially splashing other people!)

So, all in all, things are going well.  I’m excited to get to 50 pounds lost.  Not sure why, but that’s a big milestone for me.  Maybe because it’s my halfway mark?  Or perhaps because that will be the lightest I’ve been since giving birth to Ellie.  I’m really excited to see that number on the scale.  Until then, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing — and won’t worry too much about what  the scale says.

20 pounds…and counting!

So, blogging hasn’t been on my agenda recently.  Well, not for my personal blog anyway.  And while I have a lot of catching up to do, I figured I’d start of with something simple.  An accomplishment.

Recently, my bff got married.  And I had so much anxiety about her wedding day.  I tried everything I could to lose weight.  Diets, starving, constant exercise, medicine from the doctor.  You name it.  And I kept gaining and gaining and gaining.  And I got more and more stressed.  I didn’t understand how this was happening.  How could I eat so healthy, exercise daily and GAIN WEIGHT?

While at her wedding, I met a lovely friend of hers.  And she had recently lost 30 or so pounds.  I was in awe.  I wanted to try the diet she was on.  When I found out it was a cleanse, I remember reading about a cleanse on a Lupus forum that was recommend to help get lupies like me out of a flare up.  So, I chatted with her about the process and her weight loss journey.  And then she said something that really made sense.  Maybe I’m holding onto my weight because of other trauma.  She was totally right.  I was.  I never really allowed myself to mourn all the loss I experienced last year.  So, I let it go.   It’s not forgotten, but I forgave myself for wanting to move on — and the weight has been flying off.  I visited my Nanny for the first time since she passed.  I mean, I talk to her every day…but I never visited her crypt.  I just couldn’t.  Visiting her meant this was all real.  My best friend was gone and she wasn’t ever coming back.  Seeing her and putting my hand near her and letting Ellie give her a kiss — it was so needed.  I needed to do that.  I needed to show Nanny I was OK.  And I needed to tell myself that it’s OK that I’m OK.

I started this weight loss journey on May 22nd.  And I’ve lost 20 pounds so far.  All the clothes I bought are loose, which is a blessing and a curse.  Thankfully, most of the items I bought will work even when I’ve lost another 20 pounds.  Everything except the jeans.  But, what can you do.

Ryan’s lost 10 pounds so far, as well.

We’re just calorie counting right now.  Eating healthy, tasty food and making sure to eat less calories than what our bodies burn each day.  Super simple, straight forward and delicious.  I had my wisdom teeth pulled out, so it helped with the craving portion of that first week.  It was perfect timing.  Best part?  I feel better.  My lupus flare up has ended!

I have 78 more pounds to lose.  That sounds like a lot.  And it is.  But, I finally feel mentally ready to tackle it. I know it is possible.  And I know it will take some time.  But…it’s worth it.




The Life of a Lupie

I haven’t been in the mood to post very much.  I’ve been dealing with my favorite time of the year — a lupus flare.  And yes, they occur multiple times during the year, but for some reason, springtime bothers me the most.

A lupus flare, or flare-up, brings with it lots of symptoms:

  • persistent fatigue
  • persistent weakness
  • body aches
  • fever
  • hair loss
  • nose bleeds
  • mouth sores
  • skin rash
  • hives
  • painful, swollen joints
  • cognitive dysfunction
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing up blood
  • persistent headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • persistent foot and leg swelling
  • puffy eyelids
  • and more!

And, yes, I tend to get all or, at least, most of those symptoms pre and during flare-up.  Most people I meet don’t really know much about lupus.  Those who say they know what lupus is typically just have an either basic or TV-influenced opinion or knowledge base about it.

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease.  Chronic means that the symptoms typically last longer than 6 weeks, and can often last for years.  Autoimmune means that your immune system can’t tell the difference between foreign invaders (viruses, bacteria, germs) and your body’s healthy tissues.  Your body creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue, instead of the normal proteins, called antibodies, that protect the body from foreign invaders.  Lupus is a disease of flares and remissions.  Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening.  Lupus is not contagious.

I have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.   Systemic lupus can be mild or severe.  I have a severe form of lupus.  Living with lupus isn’t impossible.  But, it requires a lot of life changes.  I’ve been fighting them, but I feel like I am getting closer and closer to being in the right place in my life to be able to accept and embrace those changes.

Ever since having Ellie, I have been in a pretty constant state of flare-up.  This is common and expected.  Unfortunately, my “lupus fog”, or cognitive dysfunction, has been fairly aggressive.  That is the hardest part for me to cope with, actually.  Mental fatigue, memory impairment, difficulty expressing thoughts.

Many of the medicines that could possibly help me feel better are, unfortunately, not safe for me to take while I’m still breast-feeding Ellie.  Add on top of that a difficult time finding an endocrinologist — and you have a lupie who isn’t currently taking any medicine.

All in all, life with lupus is just like life in general.  There are challenges, but nothing impossible.  Hopefully, this insight helps you understand lupus a little better.  And maybe, it’ll help you understand me a little better, too.


Accepting the New Me

We recently went to All-Con, a small-ish pop culture convention near Dallas, TX. I’ve been going to All-Con since 2008. It’s one of my favorite conventions for a few reason. It was the first convention I attended with Austin Browncoats. And it’s where I met Brooks, who is a very dear friend.  It also has a great sense of community even though is cover a broad spectrum of content.  Over the years, some of my nearest and dearest friendships have started at All-Con.

When I first started attending All-Con, I was…precocious. I was 24 and I felt very desirable. I had a failing relationship at home, another guy I wanted to be in a relationship with and I still felt very alone. It was weird to go back for the full weekend as an entirely different person. Married, a parent, and 50 pounds heavier.

All in all, it was a great weekend. We got to spend time with old friends, spend time with newer friends.

The drive up took an hour or so longer than usual due to construction all over IH 35, which was a pain. When we got there, Stephen helped Ryan unload the van while Ellie and I spent time together.  It took the hotel 90 minutes to get us a crib, which was annoying.  We wanted to put Ellie to bed, but that took a lot longer than expected since they couldn’t deliver a darn crib.  We had to make a makeshift barrier between us and Ellie so she couldn’t see us.  She’d rather sleep in bed with us, but we’d rather have our bed to ourselves.

In the morning, Ryan and Stephen set-up the booth while Ellie and I slept in. Not a bad way to start a convention. I ordered an omelette from room service for Ellie and it cost $23. I hope we ate gold for that price. Jeez. In general, Friday was pretty tame. Ellie ran around in her Star Wars romper and made lots of friends. Not surprising, I’m sure. And my Geek-a-bye Baby items sold really well, which is always exciting. We went to dinner with Stephen and found out that Ellie was cutting another tooth, which made for a slightly irritable toddler. Roon had his Garrison dinner, so we didn’t get to spend much time with him, but he did get Ellie some adorable toys, including a crocheted ray gun. I was supposed to go to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but Ellie didn’t want to go to sleep and I didn’t want to leave Ryan with a screaming baby.  Instead, we went out and bought Ellie some medicine and tried to help her get comfortable enough to sleep.

Saturday morning arrived earlier than I had hoped. We got ready and made some juice — and Ryan took Ellie to the breakfast buffet so she could have eggs, melon and some potatoes. Apparently, she made a number of friends while eating breakfast because a number of people stopped us later in the day to say hello to their breakfast buddy.

An old creep who used to visit the booth a lot in 2008 and 2009, primarily at the Sci-Expo/Dallas Comic Con events dropped by to ‘shop’. While there, he was looking at me strangely. He asked if I was the person who used to sell tea. And kept muttering to himself, while fiddling around with his antiquated cell phone. I told him I was the person who sold the teas, but that our teas were at another event this weekend. He then muttered more surprised sounds and scrolled through his cell phone and produced a photo of me from 2008 and said, “Wow, you look different.” Yes, I am fat right now. Yes, I have 50 pounds that just don’t want to leave my body. Yes, I exercise. Yes, I eat well. Yes, my thyroid is inactive and we can’t seem to find a medicinal regimen that doesn’t cause me to have a Lupus flare up. Yes, I know I used to be super skinny. And yes, it is FUCKING CREEPY that you still have a photo of me in a belly dancing costume from 2008 on your fucking cell phone. No, I don’t need you to then show this photo to anyone who will look at it so I can be treated like some circus freak compare and contrast — just for your amusement. I’m sorry that the body I have right now isn’t great for your creepy fantasies, but seriously? Have some tact. Do you think I haven’t noticed that I’m huge? Do you think I like looking this way? Yeah. No. Delete my photo, freak. You need a hobby that isn’t stalking random girls. Seriously, though. He had a few photos of me from MANY years ago. He said his girlfriend sent them to him, as well. Including unposed, candid shots. Uhm, lovely. The saddest part, I looked so unhappy in those photos. Lesson — I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and depressed. And as annoyed as I was when he did that, I instantly thought to myself — “I wouldn’t change a thing.” Back then, I was surrounded by fake friends and in an unhappy relationship. The only thing I’d change — is having my Nanny back.

This interaction led to a really great conversation with Drunk!Brooks. I am depressed, but not about my life as it is. I am depressed because I am happy. Yes, I know — that doesn’t make much sense. But, hear me out. My Nanny left me almost a year ago. And I miss her every day. And I cry because Ellie is missing out on having the most amazing person in her life. But, I am so happy right now because Ellie enriches my life so tremendously. And Ryan and I have such an amazing marriage. And I’ve finally surrounded myself with an amazing support network of friends. And things seem to be going my way — but Nanny still isn’t here. I think I have survivor’s guilt.

I’ve made some amazing strides in my goal to reclaim my body, but nothing consistent. I need to commit to my Paleo lifestyle that I know makes me feel better. Period.

Anywho, that Saturday was hilarious. Drunk!Brooks found me at the end of the day and wanted the bottle of wine from my wedding I brought up for him. His costume was specifically made with pockets deep enough to carry a wine bottle. Oh, Brooks! The best part about our 20 minutes together? The next morning, he didn’t remember any of it, which started The Hunt For Red Portuguese Wine.

That night, we went to dinner with Emily and Matt, our button friends. It was really nice to see them. Part of my new lifestyle includes reclaiming friends that I haven’t seen in a while. For a period of time, I had a friendship that was really isolating me from other folks. I’m sure it was a mutual thing, in some ways. But, it wasn’t healthy. And now, I’m working on re-establishing meaningful connections with friends I’ve missed. We talked about lots of things, including Emily working on the new Geek-a-bye Baby website design. A while ago, someone logged in and deleted the theme for the site. Which was a blessing really, because now I’m going to get a professional makeover!

We stayed in front of the restaurant for a while and talked about life, the universe and buttons. It was raining cats and dogs, but Ellie didn’t seem to mind. When Uncle Roon had to leave, Ellie tried to chase after his van. It was so very sweet. She yelled, “Roon!” That’s her buddy.

Sunday lost an hour and boy did we feel it. Since Ellie was cutting a tooth, she woke up a few times. We got up and Ryan packed the car with our things and then took Ellie to breakfast. Sunday was a pretty slow day, which is typical. Stephen left early — and then there were 3. Around 215pm, Brian ran over and said a Firefly panelist backed out and they needed me to sub in for him. Oh, unplanned panels. So, I walked into a room full of Browncoats. We talked about costumes and props mainly. In the end, a handful of people stopped me afterward and said they hope I run that panel again next year. It was very sweet of them, all things considered.

Eventually, Brooks found his lost bottle of wine, but it was a bit of a caper. Lots of misinformation and lost time due to a wine blackout. We even interrogated a few people.  In the end, Brooks remembered that he hid the wine so the stoners wouldn’t steal it. Even black out drunk, Brooks will protect the wine! Gosh, we’re an episode of Cougar Town. :P It was such a joy to spend even a little time with my Brooks.

When the convention came to a close, I played with Ellie while Ryan tore down the booth, with some help from our friend, Dan. All in all, it went by fairly quick.

The weekend was a great success and I left feeling really great about my life. I saw lots of people there who I’ve missed and lots of people who seem stuck in the past. But, as long as we’re all happy, right? Unless you are creepy stalker guy. And then you need to delete my photos from you phone.