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.

Sample Post — “Functional Geekiness”

Geeks come in all kinds of varieties.  That’s my favorite part of geekdom — how very inclusive it can be, since you can geek out over just about anything.

When I’m looking for geek crafts that are ‘gotta have it’ status, my first qualifier is, “Well, is this geekily functional?”  Oh, and yes, I did just use  the word ‘geek’ as an adverb.  Why not?

Take a look at this adorable baby blanket.  First off — super functional.  Every geek parent will tell you that you will always need a blanket around once you have a kid.  It’s just a thing.  Kids need blankets, lose blankets, spit-up on blankets.

 

So, functional.  Check.

But, it’s also super geeky.  Seriously.  A handmade Spider-Man inspired blanket made in the perfect colors and expertly crocheted to resemble a spider web?  Sold!  You add another layer of awesome to this blanket when you find out it’s machine washable.

Maygin sells this blanket and much, much more epic geekiness over at her Etsy store.  And don’t worry.  I bet she’ll make one in adult sizes if you don’t have a baby geek to spoil.

Everyone is an expert!

Ellie has been sleeping through the night since we brought her home from the hospital. The doctors, the nurses, numerous people told us to wake her up every two hours to feed her.  But, my Nanny’s advice always repeated in my ear:

Never wake a sleeping baby.

We acclimated Ellie to sleeping through the night, by not making her accustomed to waking up numerous times. When people would ask how she was sleeping and I’d tell them she slept through the night, they would assume she was formula fed.

“Nope,” I’d say.  ”She’s exclusively breastfed.”

Other mama-folk would instantly give me their ‘facts’:

 

  • If your baby isn’t woken up every 2 hours, she isn’t eating enough and she will starve.
  • If your baby isn’t woken up every 2 hours, she won’t learn to breast feed properly.
  • If your baby isn’t woken up every 2 years, she won’t bond properly with you.
  • If your baby isn’t woken up every 2 hours, she will dehydrate and die.

I experienced this sort of unsolicited advice with numerous things, not just breastfeeding.  Having Ellie introduced me to this culture of women who believe that having a child instantly made them an expert about everything parenthood.  Don’t get me wrong — I believe that experience is extremely important.  But, it was a broken record of judgment and being told I wasn’t doing the ‘right’ thing.  I was constantly being told that if I do [blank] then [blank] WILL happen.  So rarely was it suggested that something might happen or could happen.  No, these women always believed it would happen.  And if I disagreed with their assessment, then I was making ‘questionable’ parenting choices.

Ellie was still sleeping through the night at 6 months.  I was told that she wouldn’t last with that sleeping pattern beyond one year.

Ellie was still sleeping through the night at one year.  And again they repeated their judgment and nay-saying.

Ellie is still sleeping through the night at almost 15 months old.  And perhaps she’ll have trouble sleeping at 2 years.  Maybe she’ll always be a good sleeper.  But, why turn everything negative?  If she’s a good sleeper, why can’t she just be a baby who enjoys having a restful night?  Why does something have to be wrong if she’s sleeping well?  If I told people she was waking up every 2-3 hours, they wouldn’t respond with negativity or automatically assume the worst.  Instead, I’d get lots of messages telling me how this is ‘normal’ and totally common for a baby.

I remind myself how marginalized being treated this way made me feel every time I see a parent who makes a different choices than I would make.   I also remember how annoying unsolicited advice (that’s really just judgment) made me feel. What is fact for my baby isn’t necessarily fact for your baby.  And vice versa.  

The only baby(ies) we are an expert about?  Our own.  Let’s try to remember that.

* Obviously, medical conditions and the like change things entirely.  Jaundiced babies or premature babies, etc., fall under different parameters.  

A Geek Love Letter

I don’t think many people who knew both Ryan and I thought we’d end up together. I have a larger-than-life personality and I’m often the center of attention. Ryan is more stoic and reserved. When we met, I was in a relationship that was on life support, mainly because both parties were comfortable and overwhelmed with the idea of having to separate our lives after years of them being intertwined.

Apparently, everyone and their mother knew Ryan had a crush on me. Except me. Yes, I can be pretty ignorant when it comes to relationship stuff.

We officially met at a Browncoat event where we were creating post cards to send to Universal requesting a second Serenity film. Ryan says he saw a photo of me online and that’s the primary reason he decided to attend the event. He later told me I was even prettier in person. (An aside, the photo that intrigued him was my Bellatrix costume headshot. We’re such geeks!) If my looks didn’t seal the deal on him wanting to date me, my hilarity did! My postcards were ridiculous funny. They were messages from Satan demanding a second film. How do you say no to that? Ryan kept pretty quiet and in the background. Honestly, I didn’t notice him entirely until I went to say goodbye to him and I think I freaked him out with an attempted hug. I hug people. Heck, I was punished in pre-K for hugging people. When Ryan left on his motorcycle, he became Motorcycle Ryan (occasionally known as Tall Ryan)…but I didn’t really think much else about him after that.

We saw each other again at Blazer Tag where I kicked everyone’s ass. During the last game, they switched the teams up without telling us…and Ryan was suddenly on my team. He started doing some weird Spider-Man moves, which weren’t very efficient. He wouldn’t leave my side, either. He protected me, even though I didn’t need protecting. At the time, I thought he was just a weirdo. Apparently, he was courting me.

A couple days later, we both attended Brenda’s Holiday Party. It was a naughty or nice themed shindig, so, of course, I dressed as a naughty Gryffindor student. If I’m being honest, I think part of me, deep down inside, had a crush on Ryan…so I dressed the part. What really won me over, though, was a long conversation we had about Metal Gear Solid being one of the best games ever made. It was one of our first very spirited discussions and debates. I left knowing I wanted to get to know Ryan more and Ryan left knowing he had to find a way to date me.

It’s strange to think of these first few months together and realize than they laid the foundation for what has turned into a loving, beautiful and committed relationship and the birth of the most amazing little girl I’ve ever known. Back then, I surrounded myself with some very toxic people. I was also in a dead-end relationship with someone who I adored, but more as a friend than anything else. And really, these were relationships I allowed to be a part of my life because I didn’t love myself very much. And having these people around who adored me made me feel better. When I found Ryan, most of these people left my life because they were upset or jealous that I chose Ryan instead of them. I don’t blame them, really. I was never going to be the person they wanted. And I think, at times, I led them to believe I could be because I was afraid of being alone.

Choosing Ryan was out of character for me, back then. Not because of him, but because of me. Choosing the person who offered me unconditional love and stability. Choosing the person who wanted to be with me for healthy, reasonable reasons. Choosing the person who didn’t want to use me or try to get me to fix them. I tried to run away from Ryan many times. So many times that I’m surprised he stuck it out, really.

In the end, I actually asked Ryan out. I figured, what the hell? Why not believe that I deserve a healthy relationship with someone I adore who adores me right back?  And that choice — that leap of faith — has turned into a life I didn’t even know I could dream about.  Now, Ryan and I have our flaws.  We’re both extremely stubborn and passionate.  We stand by our convictions and neither of us will back down when we feel we’re being cornered.  But, all of those things mean that we are fiercely devoted to one another, as well. And we will do everything in our power to make sure that Ellie is the happiest, healthiest baby in the world.

Ryan, you are an amazing father and husband.  I love you more than I ever thought I could love another person.  Thank you so much for believing in me and us.  Thank you for convincing me that I would make an amazing mother when I thought I didn’t have it in me.  Thank you for your sperm assisting in dictating the biological sex of Ellie — I thought I wanted a boy, but she is perfect beyond words.  Thank you for bringing Baby Kitty into my life and for saving Tigger.  Thank you for loving my family and for caring so much about my Nanny.  She made me promise that we’d always be good to each other.  She truly believed that you were the best person I could ever be with — and I agree.  Heck, she said if I left you, she’d adopt you.  Thank you for being such a good role model for my siblings.  And thank you for loving me.  We both abhor Valentine’s Day, since it is a fabricated holiday based on consumerism and gluttony — but I think it doesn’t hurt to have a day where we are all reminded just how lucky we are to have people who love us.  Days turn into weeks turn into months and before you know it, a year has passed by.  My Nanny told me that ‘I love you’ are the easiest words to say, but the hardest words to mean.  I promise to tell you I love you every day — but best of all, I promise to truly mean it.  

Thank you for helping me understand what it means to be unconditionally loved by someone who chooses to love me.

 

My love,

Beth