Thursday, February 27, 2014

How are things going for me?

People always ask me how it's going being back in the workforce. I have to remind people that I still worked when I was home with Joel. I just didn't work a traditional 9-5, but I digress. Well, working outside of the home again has been the biggest blessing for our family.

We were able to stay afloat for most of the time while I was home with Joely, but we never really had room for extras. We had to abandon some of our home improvement projects, we weren't able to save, and we couldn't pay off debts as quickly as we used to. However, we did do some remodeling and we were able to buy a new-to-us car. However, my paychecks weren't steady and in the summer I lost some contracts (and walked away from a horrible writing job) which really rocked us financially. Now, we're working to rebuild our financial security. We have money for extras and we're doing some small DIY home improvement projects.

I have a job that makes me feel like I'm making a difference in the world. I'm able to use my creativity to craft appealing, interesting presentations. I'm able to tap into my curiosity to research, analyze and evaluate various programs. I'm also able to interact directly with youth which is a huge bonus!

Modern Family
When Murad and I first married this was the life I envisioned for us. We get up every morning and help each other get ourselves and Joely ready for school. We balance brushing our teeth, reading, eating, and dressing to get out of the door by 7:30am. Our evenings are spent cooking, watching movies, doing laundry, and playing in the yard when weather permits. We're balancing pediatrician appointments, late night meetings, last minute emergencies, etc. Our life is beautiful chaos.

We probably never would've thought to send Joely to school at two, and honestly, I kind of wanted to steer away from Montessori. It always sounded pretentious to me. I planned to stay home with Joely and send him to his sitter part-time and to the little Lutheran pre-school around the corner a couple of mornings a week. I'm very thankful that this worked out. He loves going to school and I'm so thankful he is able to attend a diverse school with children of all ethnicities. Growing up, my schools were pretty homogeneous until I got to middle school. I was always the only or one of a few black or mixed kids in my school. Joel is learning so much, and I really don't think we'd be this far in potty-training if he went anywhere else.

I think the only Campbell folks not benefiting from me being at work are our dogs. Poor Sam and Maya spend more time at home and go on less walks. Fortunately, I have summers off, so I'll be able to walk them then. Of course, it'll be hotter than Hades when that happens. Oh, well.

That's how things are going for us in the Soup Kitchen. All's good now that Mama is a working again!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wonderful Husband

My husband and son went out of town this weekend to visit my stepdaughter. Last night, he told me that he just wanted to give me a break from taking care Of them. He said, "I hope you didn't miss us. I really wanted you to relax." Relax I did! I feel rejuvenated and ready to take care of my little family. It's so nice having a husband who recognizes all you do to make the house a home, raise the children and love and support the husband. It's refreshing to have someone who recognizes when you need a break. It's also nice to have a husband who can take care of his child all on his own. He knows Joely as well as me. He also did a good job of giving Abby the attention she needs and foster a brother/sister relationship between the two. I love that when he comes home, he ecstatic to see and hold me. I'm one lucky gal! I love my wonderful husband!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Happy New Year, Folks!

2013 has come and gone! While it was a great year, I'm more than ready for 2014! Well, good thing! It's here!
This weekend is a little weird for me. My husband and son are on a road trip. Yep! A father/son road trip. They're stopping at my parents' house tonight and then heading to western Kansas to visit my stepdaughter, Abby. We were able to spend Christmas with Abby and her family this year. Since our spring is pretty hectic, Murad and Joely decided to make a trip to see her again now. She's having a hard time again. They just moved (again)to a different small town in Kansas. I think this makes move #5 for the 2013-14 school year. We talked to Abby about possibly living with her grandmother permanently (we'd love for her to come live with us, but Texas might be too far from her family for her), but Abby extremely loyal to her mom and doesn't want to abandon her at this time. We're respecting her wishes, and offering support when we can.

So, this weekend, they're gone and I'm up late looking through photos from 2013. I like the quiet and having a clean home, but I miss my boys. Fortunately, I have my furry-babies to keep me company.

I've almost got Joel's playroom complete. I need to paint it, but I'm really impressed with how it all turned out. The great thing is that he loves it! He loves to play ball in there, watch TV and color. The room is pretty relaxing. I find myself watching TV in there after he goes to bed. We're kind of preparing the room for him. We're hoping, if it's God's will, that we'll have another baby soon. Joely will then move out of the nursery and into the playroom (big boy room). For now, we're content with the playing purpose of the room. We're actually pretty content with our family too. If we add to it, even better. If not, we're a happy bunch of three (or five if you count Sampson & Maya).

Murad and I refrained from making New Year's resolutions, but we did vow to better ourselves. I'm working with the Plano Environmental Committee to become a volunteer. We're also looking for a way to take a Spanish class. Murad actually suggested it, and I'm totally excited to do something just the two of us. We kind of let those moments get by us in 2012. We were better about scheduling date nights in 2013, but for 2014 we wanna do more activities together. Plus, if we learn Spanish, it'll help us in our jobs. It'll also help Joely. He only gets Spanish once a week at his school, so we're hoping to support and expand it at home. We're also hoping to find a new church home. We're looking for a more open, accepting and service oriented church.

This post would not be complete without an update on our little man! Joely is constantly flourishing. His language is developing daily. Today he saw some lights twinkling far behind a field and he goes, "fireflies!" It was just a cell tower in the distance, but he didn't know. He also likes to point to his favorite Jayhawk shirt. When he says it, he can't pronounce his R's very well. "Mama, it's Jayhawk shit!" So, so funny. Right now he's going through a sports phase. He wants to carry a ball wherever he goes. He's either kicking, throwing or bouncing a ball (he calls basketball "BB-ball"). He also loves to draw pictures for us. One of his favorite activities is cleaning. I wanna see if I can get him a little kitchen set as he likes to point out the fruits and vegetables as I cook. We're working at potty training still. Apparently, he goes regularly at school, but he's not so good about going at home. We decided against moving him up the 3 class until he's pottying at home and school regularly. I think my favorite thing right now are Joely's hugs and kisses. Some days he'll look at me and go, "mommy hug." Then he leans over and gives me the biggest hug. Thinking about those hugs right now makes me miss him even more. Monday will arrive soon and I'll be back to motherhood. I tried to soak up as many hugs as I could before he left, but it's. just. not. enough.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

November is always a hard month for me filled with ups & downs. The beginning of the month is hard because it marks the anniversary (is that the right word?) of when my cousin committed suicide five years ago. I wish I could say that it gets easier, but it really doesn't. Those questions still linger in my and my family's minds. I still harbor feelings of regret, sadness, and anger. Mostly anger. Nevertheless, as I go on throughout the month, I'm filled with anxiety and excitement as we prepare for our annual trip to New Jersey.

This year we didn't know if our trip would be possible. I just returned to work in August and our finances are tight, but we were able to score cheap tickets through Spirit Airlines (I know..they're shitty, but we got dirt-cheap tickets) and Murad was able to work for two days while we were in New Jersey, so part of our trip will be reimbursed. We decided to stay 10 days instead of five (mostly because we could only afford the tickets with those dates). It worked out really well because this may be our last Thanksgiving in New Jersey. Murad's family wants to start doing destination Thanksgivings and having us, along with my brother-in-law and girlfriend, host Thanksgiving here in Texas. I am really excited about that. While this trip was good, I think changing it up will be beneficial for our family, especially as we expand in the future. It's so hard to travel each year and now that Joely is two, we have to pay for his plane ticket. Despite this, I am so thankful that we have been able to travel each and every year to celebrate Thanksgiving in New Jersey. Last year, we went to Washington D.C. and this year we visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Here are some highlights from our trip (and lowlights).

-scoring a parking Groupon for $35. This is seriously awesome considering how much it costs us to park our car while we're gone. The downside was that the lot was not well-lit and the company was kinda shady. They picked us up in a limo when we returned from Philly.
-usually we send Sampson & Maya to the pet hotel while we're gone. This year one of my friends offered to house-sit for us. We got picture messages from her of our babes and it was good to know someone was at our home while we were gone!
-going to the liquor store with my family members! Such bonding!
-sleep-walking into my in-laws bedroom, hitting my father-in-law on the head and climbing into bed with them. yep! That really happened! If you want the full story, just ask!
-going to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty with Murad's family. We did a ferry tour with two stops. It was so cool to see both sites and to witness American history. I know Joely's too young to remember this, but one of the things I'm proud of is that he's so well-traveled. I want him to be exposed to so many places and to see how others live. I'm glad we've started that at such a young age. Also, Joely and his cousin Daniel became Junior Rangers at Ellis Island and got to pose with a Ranger.
-Spending Thanksgiving Day with Murad's mom's family and then coming back to his dad's house for more Thanksgiving celebrating.
-Going to a 76ers game. Even though we lost, I still had a fun. We had really good seats and I just love basketball. It's my favorite sport! I didn't like seeing punk-ass Anthony Davis (former Kentucky player and current New Orleans Pelicans player).
-Hanging out with friends. We went out one night with some of Murad's friends, and we also went to Atlantic City with some friends. We didn't win any money (we lost $30), but our friends won $395!
-Going to an Eagles game! We splurged and bought tickets and I'm so glad we did. We had the best seats we've ever had. It was the perfect weather for an outdoors game and we won!!!! Woo-hoo!

We really tried to do a lot during this trip, but some of my favorite memories come from hanging out at Murad's dad's house with family. Joely really enjoyed his time with his grandparents. He wanted to do everything with Pop-pop and act like his big cousin Daniel. Even though we love living in Texas, it is hard knowing that he won't grow up near any of his grandparents. Murad and I are still trying to convince both of our parents to relocate here, but we'll see what happens. We're just thankful to have them in our lives and to be able to visit them when we can.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Play Room

We never use our home office now that I returned to work full-time. I decided the room would better serve as a play room for Joely. I think I'm going to paint the room a medium blue. I scored a $10 blue locker light and I have a sports themed comforter to go on the futon in there. I'm going to put his basketball goal and bounce-house in there, but keep his bookcase and glider in the nursery. The lady from whom I bought the locker light was also selling some locker cubbies, but I got there too late. I'll be on the look-out for those as well. I have a lot of packing and storage to organize over the next month and a half. My goal is for the play room to be done by the new year. I'm hoping to slowly ease him into this room because he will eventually move into this room.

Halloween 2013

This was Joely's first year to go trick-or-treating. I'm not sure if he understood the concept, but once we got to our 3rd house, he was grabbing handfuls out of our neighbors' buckets. Thankfully, they were all excited to see him. We had a pretty busy week. We didn't get our Halloween decorations up until the weekend before Halloween, and as a result, they're still out. On Wednesday, Joely attended the Safety Kids puppet show our Peer Mediators performed at one of the local elementary schools. Then he came back to my office for some play-time with my co-workers.
That evening we attended one of the high school's interactive performance of HalloWonderland. Then we went to Raising Cane's for dinner to support the high school's student council.
The next day Joely had his Halloween festival at school. He wore his Daniel Tiger costume to school. I happened to take him to school that day and he was a little shocked to see everyone in costumes. That evening, we went trick-or-treating. Joely was so cute. He didn't say trick-or-treat even though we practiced, but he did say thank you to each person. We arrived back home around 8:00pm and let Joely eat a couple of pieces of candy. Bad idea! He was running around like a crack head! It was quite a sight to see. He helped us pass out candy for a bit, and then he crashed at 9:00pm (which is pretty late for this little guy). I was a little worried about going off our schedule, but in true Joely fashion he was up at his regular time the next day.
Saturday night we attended a Halloween party of Murad's old co-worker. We ate well and came home late that night, but guess who was up at 4:45am on daylight savings day: Joel Soup! Oh well! You win some; you lose some!

School Picture

This is one of Joely's school pictures. He was not too happy about taking pictures. Thank God he's good-looking.