Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rap Music

I've taken a little hiatus of mainstream hip-hop. In our vehicles we mostly listen to conscious hip-hop or rap from the 80's and 90's. Believe me, it has nothing to do with Joel and everything to do with the fact that we're not cool! Although, I will say that conscious rap is cool!

Lately though, I've turned off 90's on 9 and BackSpin for some Shade45 (Eminem's station)! I like the deejays on that station because they make me laugh, and they always get the best celebrity interviews. As a result, I've got a case of I respect you slash I don't respect you at all!

First up: Nicki Minaj
Pros: I love her flow game and the way she makes her voice sound
Cons: I hate everything she stands for. Who the hell makes her stage name Nicki Minaj (It's spelled menage, you idiot!)

2nd: Lil' Wayne
Pros: He's been in the rap game since he was 14!!! He went to college (UofH) and made A's & B's for the one semester he was there. He took hard classes too (Economics, English Lit, etc.)
Cons: He dropped out of college. He went to jail. He's hood-rich. He's got 3 baby mamas!!! He perpetuates the stereotype of young African-American males as being ignorant, promiscuous and deviant.

Shameless Plug

Please like Ashlea Campbell Writing on facebook or visit my blog Ashlea Campbell Writing! I don't sell Mary Kay or Avon, so I will never ask any of you to buy something from me. This is my shameless plug and my way of asking for your support as I venture into the freelance arena. Right now I'm not making any real money, but someday I hope to make enough money to make it a career. My ultimate goal is to teach at the community college (I currently teach one class) part-time and freelance part-time. In order for this to be a reality, I need to score some more gigs. I currently freelance for Leadership Gold 4 Women. I just lined up some guest-blogging gigs on some major blogs, so I'm hoping this will get my name out there as well!

Writing has always been a passion of mine, but it got put on the back-burner once I entered college, graduated and decided to develop my K-12 teaching career. Now that Joel is here, I need a more flexible career where I can easily pick him up from daycare if he is sick, and a career where I'm not under as much stress as I am on a daily basis. I also realize that K-12 education is no longer my love. I want a career that ignites my passion. Since there isn't one out there, I'm attempting to create my own!

If you know of anyone needing freelance writing services, consulting or tutoring, I'm your Girl Friday!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

If I had to write this post on December 22nd, the tone would be quite different than it is today, Christmas Day (technically the 26th). I had a specific vision in my head as to how Joely's first Christmas would be. We would travel to Nana and Papa's house in Kansas. Joely would attend Christmas Eve church service where everyone would ooh and aahhh over him. That evening we would open one gift and my parents (Nana and Papa) would fuss over getting a good shot of him tearing at the wrapping paper. Those dreams were dashed when we discovered that Joely had RSV....

On December 22nd, Joely woke up with a slight cough. We didn't think anything of it because he had been battling an ear infection (more about the possibility of tubes in another post). I sent Joely to daycare so that I could do some packing as we planned to get on the road early the next morning. Later that day Christy texted me saying that Joel was coughing and wheezing. I rushed over there to pick him up and quickly made an appointment to see Dr. Ramirez. Dr. Ramirez's nurse did an RSV test and it came back positive. Dr. Ramirez felt badly because we had been in her office on Monday for an ear infection, and she thought he may have picked it up then. Since Joely is so young, she went ahead and put him in the hospital. She thought that it would help him get over it quickly, but after we got there we realized that any hopes of leaving the hospital before Christmas Eve were quickly dashed.

Murad and I were so scared. As new parents, we didn't know what to expect. Was it life threatening? Is he in pain? Can we do anything to help? The answer to all questions is yes! The biggest thing we could do for Joely was be there for him. There really is no way to treat RSV, but he had the undergo breathing treatments, nose-suctioning and just being in a different environment. Anytime we got Joely to calm down and rest, we were interrupted by respiratory therapists or nurses. He was on an every three-hour treatment schedule. There were a few times when we got Joely down to sleep only to have him stir slightly, wake himself up and start screaming after realizing he wasn't in his nursery. There was even one time after a nose suctioning session when he sat up, looked angrily at the nurse and started pointing his hand. It was so sad, but too cute!

We woke up Christmas Eve day hoping to go home, but Joely still sounded wheezy. his oxygen saturation levels were 100%, but Dr. Ramirez worried that he'd go home and end up back in the hospital. We trust her completely, so we saddled up for another night on the twin hospital bed (yes...Murad and both slept on a twin bed). Through it all, we were thankful to have each other. We quickly learned to lean on each other for support, take turns comforting Joely, and picking our battles with the nursing/RT staff (don't get me started on them!). I don't think I realize how much of a partner I have in Murad. I think I sometimes feels as though as a mother I do most of the parenting, but being in the hospital really showed me that we do a good job of splitting our parenting duties. I think Joely looks to Murad for comfort just as much as he looks to me for comfort.

I also think I really understood the meaning of Christmas (or maybe Easter?). Joely is the most important person in our lives. His health supersedes any grandiose Christmas fantasy I envisioned. I now look back at our experience with RSV a little differently than I did when I learned our Christmas was ruined. Our Christmas wasn't ruined because I had all the family I needed and I got the best Christmas gift ever...taking my baby boy home! Woo-hoo!

In true Nana Babs fashion, my mom found someone to deliver Joely's Christmas gifts to him. My parents' neighbor has a son who lives in Plano. On his way back from visiting his mother, he and his wife are going to drop Joel's presents by. Fortunately, we had bought him some gifts, Christy and Abuela had bought him a gift and the staff at Presbyterian Plano hospital got him a few gifts. So, yes Joely is definitely spoiled....rotten!

While we got to leave the hospital, it was hard seeing the families that had to stay. Murad saw the hospital Santa walking around to different little kids and felt really sad for them. I, too, felt the same way. Here I was worried about a ruined first Christmas, when I should be thankful for my baby boy. Joely brings so much joy to our lives. I didn't think I could love someone as much as I love Joely. He truly is amazing. What would I do without him? I don't want to know. Right now, I want to thank God that I have him as my son!

I leave you with a few Christmas quotes:

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith
There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries. ~W.J. Cameron
I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. ~Charles Dickens
I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month. ~Harlan Miller

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Who's that boy?

Wow! What a weekend! On Saturday, I slept in (thank you, Joely!) and then started cleaning up our pig-sty of a home. I didn't finish, but that's okay! Joel drank really well from his sippy cup. I gave it to him earlier in the week and he wasn't a fan, but on Saturday he was all about it!

Murad's friend Rashad was in town, so they hung out with Joely while I went to lunch with my friend Christina for a belated birthday date! Happy Birthday, Christina! For one month we'll be the same age. I came home and then Murad and his friend went out that night. We had planned to leave for Houston this morning to see a friend, but Murad woke up with a hangover (can you tell that he doesn't drink that often? he rarely goes out and he's a light-weight) and Joel woke up congested, so we canceled our overnight trip. Joel has been pretty fussy all day. He hasn't had a fever, but he's pretty warm. We're taking him to the doctor tomorrow to make sure all is good. Despite being a Mr. Crankypants, he decided to sit up (and stay up). Murad shot this video of him sitting and playing. He kind of started fussing here, so we put him to bed shortly after this. Even when he's angry, he's cute and talented. I hope this doesn't mean he's going to start crawling soon...we still need to get the house babyproofed! *Sigh* He's growing so fast. Maybe he'll be like his mama and skip crawling? Wishful thinking? Probably!

Friday, December 16, 2011


-our district decided to use a new scanning method (and method for assessing student learning for the 1st semester) for our semester exams. the system crashed yesterday. Most of us ended up grading our exams by hand.
-one of my students is hurting. our school community is grieving with her and her family.
-my best friend at work found a new job. beyond thrilled for her as it means she'll make twice as much as she does now. more security for her family. more opportunity for her to grow in a new career field. as her friend I couldn't be happier for her. As selfish Ashlea, I just want her to stay...just until June. I do not know how I will make it until June without her. I do not know how so many of our hurting students will make it without her. She breathes life into our school. She will be missed.

That is all...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


As we enter month 7 of being parents to Joely, we are entering the fun world of foods. Things were much easier when all he consumed was milk/formula. Now, we have to read labels and make conscious decisions concerning his eating habits. We also realized that we need to make changes to our diet as well. While, we've been successful in losing the baby weight we gained (yes, Murad gained sympathy weight), we want to make sure we have good eating habits that benefit us as well as Joely. I already make most of Joel's babyfood from veggies and fruits from local growers (I do buy the little Earth's Best baby foods at WalMart from time to time to see what he likes), but in five months, he'll start eating real food!
Our goal is to do the following over the next five months:
-seriously lower the amount of high fructose corn syrup we digest (it's insane. it's tasty. it's in everything. we eat it everyday.). Yeah, the commercials say it's okay in moderation, but my husband thinks that it's impossible to consume in moderation if it's in EVERYTHING. So, he really wants us to be better consumers.
-cut processed foods and snacks--this is going to be hard. no more lean cuisines for me, damnit! sad face
-in five months, Joel will be able to drink milk. not just my milk. not just formula, but real big boy milk! we need to decide what milk he will drink, since he's not going to drink cow's milk. Murad and I drink almond milk, but I need to see if it's okay for a toddler? I really have no clue what I'm doing in this whole food thing. It's like I went from not caring about what I put into my mouth at all, to caring way too much. I went from cooking casseroles to experimenting, especially with veggies (I love it when my husband turns his nose up at a dish and then ends up loving it!)I also kinda feel like I've stepped back in time. think the 1800's. ugh. Anyways, we hope to make gradual changes over the next five months that will affect our little family for the rest of our lives.
Can you tell I secretly love all this? I complain, but I love it all.I love food. I love creating foods for my family and letting the house smell good from my cooking. I love being a mom and creating a nurturing environment for my little boy. His smile and giggles remind me that I'm living my dream come true.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day in the Life Weekend 2

7:30am - Joel let us sleep in again. Although, we stayed out pretty late, so it felt really early. I took the early shift with Joel since I'm more of a morning person. Luckily, we didn't do any drinking, so we weren't totally out of commission.
7:40am - nursed Joel and fed him some blueberry yogurt. I take my prenatal vitamin (disclaimer: I only take this because I'm still nursing. Someone who reads my blog asked me if I was trying to get pregnant again since I'm taking prenatal vitamins. I've got about a year and a half until we decide if we'll stay a family of three or add some more cuties to our family)
8:10am tummy time - I put some of Joel's toys in front of him to try to get him to crawl. He kept doing the swimming motion and would get up on his arms, but no crawling. He kept getting pissed though when he wouldn't make progress
9:00am - Joel played in his discovery center and then we read a book. Murad comes out for a bit
10:00am - Joel started getting fussy, so I put him in his crib and he went right to bed. I'm still "up," so I clean and rearrange furniture
11:00am - I crawl back in bed
1:00pm - Joel is up, so Murad goes to tend to him
2:00pm - I crawl out of bed, finish up laundry and make lunch
4:00pm - I do my grades for the community college
4:30pm - Murad feeds Joel and puts him in his crib to sleep
5:30pm - start another load of laundry
6:00pm - make turkey burgers - mine with red onion and avocado and Murad's with cheese. sweet potato fries for me and regular for Murad
7:00pm - fight with Murad (well not really a fight. he made a joke and me being extra sensitive due to my hormones being out of whack, get mad and storm out of the room. He comes in to apologize, although I don't think he really knows what he did wrong.
8:00pm wake up Joel and nurse him
8:30pm put Joel back in his crib (I don't usually do this, but I didn't want to risk him waking up at 4am or earlier because he was hungry, especially since he went to bed 2 hours earlier than he usually does)
9:00 shower
9:30pm get things ready for the morning
10:00am go to sleep

Okay, so that's it for Day in the Life for right now. I'll do another one in March when my bub is about 9-10 months.
update: we bought Joel's first sippy cup. Yep.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Day in the Life Weekend 1

7:30am Joel slept in--woo-hoo!
7:45am change Joel for some playtime
8:00am nurse Joel and he eats some yogurt
8:30am I blog while Joel plays on his tummy-time mat and we also watch Ice Age 2
9:30am Joel gets fussy, so I put him down for a nap and I nap too
11:00am we all 3 wake up from our naps, but kind of lounge around in the bed
11:30am - 1pm Joel and Daddy play while I clean the kitchen
1pm Joel goes down for another nap
2pm we wake Joel for a family trip to the local Farmer's Market to get fruits and veggies for the week.
3:00pm we stop at Jersey Mikes' for a late lunch and to catch some of the KU game
4:00pm we come home and hang out for a bit
5:00pm I feed Joely a little early
5:30pm we get his bag packed for a visit to Elaina's house
5:45pm I drive Joely to Elaina's house
6:00pm arrive at Elaina's. Elaina's 3 year old daughter loves Joel and he is amazed by her as well
6:30pm I head back home to get ready for a Christmas Party
8:30pm Murad and I are both dressed and ready for the Christmas Party
9:00pm arrive at the Christmas Party (it was a blast!) We ended up staying until 1am
1:00am drive to Elaina's to pick up Joely
1:30am pick up Joel and talk a bit with Christopher and Elaina
2:00am arrive home and put Joel to sleep
2:30am shower (because I didn't Friday night ---oops!)
3:00am fall asleep

A Day in the Life Weekday 3

5:00am Finally a morning where I did not hear Joel on the monitor prior to my alarm
5:15am I hear him on the monitor
5:30am I let the dogs out, eat breakfast, fill the dog bowls and pack my lunch (don't worry I washed my hands a few times during the process)
5:45am I let the dogs back in and grab Joel
6:00am change Joel, nurse Joel and feed him some blueberry yogurt
6:30am playtime for Joel (I'm running a little late, so he's playing by himself while I get ready for work)
7:00am I dress Joel for daycare and pass him to his daddy
7:05am finish getting ready
7:10am snuggles and kisses to Joely and daddy
7:15am walking out the door to work
7:40 arrive at work
8:30am Writer's Workshop all day in my classes---their persuasive letters are due at the end of each period.
3:30pm 8th grade girls come in to do community service in my room (they rearranged my desks and filed stuff - yay for organizing girls!)
4:20pm walking out the door to pick up Joely
4:45pm I arrive at Abuela's to pick up my little man
4:50pm we arrive home
5:00pm playing with daddy
6:00pm nurse Joel and he eats carrots
6:30pm I take Joel to the nursery and fold clothes. I try to keep Joely up until 8pm (so we can sleep in tomorrow), but he kicks me out at 7:00pm
7:00pm at this time I fully intend to grade papers, but instead I pour myself a glass of wine and make some hot chocolate (don't ask what my logic was)
8:00pm I do some internet surfing, blogging and finally fall asleep around 10pm

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day in the Life - Weekday 2

4:30am - Joel is up playing; I can hear it on the monitor
5:00am - My alarm goes off
5:10am - I let the dogs out
5:15am - I let the dogs back in, eat breakfast, take my prenatal vitamin
5:30am - I reluctantly take Joel out of his crib and skip changing his diaper. I go straight to nursing him. He eats some yogurt and then has some formula(hungry morning from all that singing)
6:00am Joel plays in his Discovery Center for a bit. Murad wakes up because he has to be in the office early
6:15am I read a Doctor Seuss book and Joel tries to take it out of my hand
6:30am tummy time for Joel while we get ready for work
7:00am get stuff ready for daycare and for me to leave (I'm running late)
7:15am walking out the door
7:40 arrive to work late, but relieved because my tutoring kids haven't arrived
7:45am -8:30am tutor
8:30-4:15 work
4:40 pick up Joely
4:50 come home and let the dogs out (daddy isn't home yet)
5:00pm tummy time
5:15pm Joel is fussy so I nurse him
5:35pm Joel eats squash, carrot and banana
6:00pm Daddy is home and ready to play
6:30pm Joely goes to sleep; I start a load of jeans
6:45pm I contemplate making dinner, but Murad says he's not too hungry and neither am I. I eat a banana and some chips, surf the internet, watch TV
7:50pm get laptop ready for webinar/conference call
8:00-8:50pm webinar/conference call for freelance writing job
9:00pm put jeans in the dryer; make a sandwich, get stuff ready for the next day
9:45pm get in the shower
10:15pm read a little and then get tired
10:30pm make Murad come tuck me in, but he decides to pop my pimple instead
10:50pm finally fight Murad off of me and go to sleep.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Day in the Life -- Weekday 1

I'm stealing this idea from my friend Lara. I wish I would've done a day in the life at all the different stages in my life that I have gone through since I started blogging in 2007 (relatively new teacher, fiance, new wife, stepmom, new mom, etc.). I'll try to post as much as I can remember from Wednesday:

4:15am I hear Joel on the monitor playing. I look at the clock and fall back asleep.
5:00am the alarm clock goes off and I hit snooze
5:10am the alarm clock goes off once again and I hear Joel playing once again. I get out of bed and let the dogs out. I hold off on picking up Joel (he usually doesn't get up until 6:00, but the past few days he's had a 4:15am wake-up) I take my prenatal vitamin, drink a Slim Fast and eat a banana (I hate breakfast). I fill the dog bowls and let them back in the house. I make my lunch, and get out Joel's milk for daycare.
5:35 I wake up Joel and change his diaper. He cries of course and I try to soothe him by kissing his belly and feet, but he's not amused. I nurse Joel and he eats a little bit of blueberry Yogurt
6:00am I play with Joel while he's in his discovery center and then watch him on his tummy-time mat
6:30am I decide I should get ready for work. I dress Joel and let him play with his tactile block and watch a little Spongebob. I get dressed for work
7:00am I pack everything together and kiss Murad and Joel good-bye
7:05am I lock up the dogs
7:10 am I sneak back in for more Joel kisses
7:15am I'm out the door finally
7:35am arrive at work--I'll give you the abbreviated version: looked over my lesson plans, taught some lessons, wrote some detentions, consoled crying students, met with a student as part of the Student Assistance Team and got to eat Chick-fil-A for lunch, called parents, emailed parents, emailed co-workers, pumped some milk, looked at my classroom and wondered why it's never clean, looked at my supplies and wondered why kids steal, laughed with students, got annoying emails from people, added more things to my work to-do list, died a little and then came home.
4:15pm - leave work
4:40pm arrive at Abuela's to pick up Joel. Talk to Abuela (Martha) about Joel and my baby bullet (she's thinking of getting one)
4:50pm - go to Wal-Mart to pick up tutoring snacks for students, dog food, and pasta
5:30pm - come home, unload groceries, play-time with daddy
6:00pm - nurse Joel, he eats a little bit of squash and a little bit of apple-blueberry-banana baby smoothie
6:30pm - Daddy and I bathe Joel
6:45pm - Joel is tired so we skip reading and put him in his crib where he falls right to sleep.
7:00pm - cook pasta dinner and French bread
7:30pm - eat dinner with my husband
8:00pm watch Law & Order SVU and alter the semester exam for my 7th grade students
9:00pm - clean the kitchen
9:30pm -11:00pm I'm not sure what I did during this time, but I know it involved watching more TV, surfing the Internet, and showering.
11:00pm I go to sleep!
Stay tuned for an exciting Thursday post tomorrow! (I'm life is not that exciting)

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's funny

How my brain works...Yeah, so a few weeks back I posted photos of the new sofa I just had to have and the color of the paint for the living room. So about that, I've changed my mind yet again. I guess I convinced myself that I really needed this sofa. Sure, I'll get some extra money with my freelance writing job, but why blow it on a sofa? I guess now that I have a child, I question every purchase I make. Having a child really does change you!

So, here's what I decided. Instead of painting the kitchen and the living room, I'm just going to paint this hideous faux-wood paneling white. I think it will brighten up the room. I'm going to cut the furniture budget in half. Instead of buying a new sofa, I think we'll get a nice, comfy chair and a half. It will provide the seating we need, but won't overpower the living room. I also realized that if I would've bought a new sofa, I would have had to buy a new coffee-table; the one we have wouldn't match. Not ready to do that yet, so I think keeping our color scheme, current furniture and adding one new piece, is the best solution.

That's the plan for now. I can't promise that I won't change my mind again, but I can say that any change I make will be one of equal or lesser value in cost. I sat and thought about all the things I could buy with the sofa money:
-pay off a hospital bill
-put two weeks worth of daycare into savings
-put more money into savings
-money for future repairs to the house
-spend money on my baby
-put more money into the Ashlea works part-time fund (I'm definitely working part-time if we have a 2nd baby, but I'd like to work part-time next fall or have a more flexible job...)

Yeah, so I'm thinking one of those things on the list is defintely worth more than a sofa.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Joely Six Months Check-up

Murad took Joely to Dr. Ramirez on Friday for his six month appointment. Hard to believe we're halfway to one! *Sigh*

Joel met all of his developmental milestones except for hand-to-hand interaction. We're going to work on that some with him, but I truly think Joel is capable of doing it; he's just a lazy baby! No, seriously, he is pretty lazy. Joel is all about the shiny and new, so I spent about an hour yesterday putting together his Baby Einstein Discovery Center. He was so excited to play in it. He wanted to show me how hard he could hit the little penguins on the see-saw and I swear he was trying to talk to the lion. So cute! I'll take some pictures soon. My tablet is charging at the moment.

Dr. Ramirez gave the okay for him to start some table foods like mashed potatoes, grits, creamed corn, etc. This is good because Joel has shown a growing interest in what we eat. I'm still in the process of figuring out what types of baby food he likes. Today, I plan to pick up an avocado, some squash, and a potato to make some baby food using my wonderful Baby Bullet! I also have a recipe for a baby smoothie (it's actually a real smoothie, but it was in my baby food cookbook) that I'm going to make today.

My little guy is still little. At six months he weighs 14.6 pounds (5th percentile for weight) and he is 25 inches long (15th percentile for height). I forgot to look at the head on his sheet, and I'm too lazy to go check (maybe that's where he gets his laziness?)

Joel still squeals, screams and sings, but he recently discovered his inner grunts and deep baby voice. He uses this voice when he's playing with a toy. It's almost as if he is yelling at the toy. This is usually followed by him banging the toy for a bit.

At six months, Joel's personality is definitely coming out more. He loves to play games with daddy. In fact, he really loves daddy. When Murad comes into the room, Joel immediately stops what he is doing to give him a signature grin. He does the same with me, but I swear he lights up a little more for his daddy. Joel doesn't like it when Murad talks on the phone. In fact, he tries to over talk Murad until he gives him attention. I love how happy Joel is. Every morning when I walk into his room I'm greeted with a big grin (Joel usually wakes up and babbles to himself for a while before one of us has to go in there). Joel's grin is amazing because he scrunches up his entire face and squints his eyes. It really doesn't take much to make him smile. He just loves life! Either that or he must think his daddy and I are extremely hilarious--I'm sure we look ridiculous when we sing or talk to him, but I don't care!

I absolutely love Joely's belly. I don't know how that fits into the six month's post. I love how soft it is and how he giggles when I kiss it!

Even though we are actually closer to seven months (week-wise), Happy Belated Six Months to my little prince! So thankful for another good check-up!

Thanksgiving Highlights

Enjoy some photos from our trip to Pennsylvania and New Jersey!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We survived!

Let me just preface this by saying that I have the best baby ever! Okay, so as you know I was really, really worried about flying with Joely. Despite meeting the love of my life in an airport, I don't like airports. I love traveling, but airports seriously stress me out. The air in airports is not fresh. I just feel like germs are crawling all over me.I only find myself at ease when I take an early morning flight with few people, which is what we did.

Joel did really well on our flight out of TX. I nursed him before take-off. That was a little awkward because Joel really couldn't get comfortable and kept kicking my cover around. Murad kept trying to cover me up, but I'm sure our neighbor got a few sneak peaks (not that he wanted to see anything that I have to offer). I kept telling myself that I would never see these people again and that made me feel better.

So, after he nursed, he immediately fell asleep for take-off. He then woke up and wanted to explore everything around us. He kept looking at the people behind us. It was too, too cute. Then he got really, really fussy. He started screaming. Luckily, mama's magic milk did the trick and he fell asleep until right before landing.

On the way from Philadelphia to Texas, he did about the same. He didn't scream or cry though, but he did get fussy a few times. He mostly wanted to explore and he developed a fascination with our food and drinks. He kept trying to grab our drinks and snacks as we munched on them. So cute!

I think the hardest part about our trip was having to room with Joel again. For the first two months of Joel's life he slept in our bed with us. Then he spent the next two months in a pack-n-play next to our bed. For the last two months, he's slept in his crib in his room. These last two months have been Heaven. We actually get a full night's sleep, we can stay up late and watch movies, we don't have to whisper, etc. Murad's dad was gracious enough to buy a pack-n-play for his house, but we weren't quite ready to room with Joel again. We had to be extra quiet when he slept. Joel also did not want to sleep at all while we were at Grandpa Joel and Gigi's house. He took very few naps, and didn't sleep his normal 12 hours at night. In fact, I think he slept 6 hours at night with an occasional 1 hour nap. There was one day where he took a 3 hour nap, but that was it. He was so excited that all he wanted to do was play, explore or cry. I would say that was the hardest part about traveling with Joel.

I will post more about Thanksgiving (with pictures), but I just wanted to share with you all my experience with traveling with my bub! I was so nervous before (so nervous that I did not sleep or eat before the flight because my stomach was so upset). I feel more confident about traveling with him. In fact, I may travel alone with him in May. Murad will be in Philadelphia for a friend's wedding and we plan to meet him that weekend as well. I know, right? Who would've thought me traveling alone with a baby? Now, if I can just convince myself to leave Joel for a weekend for a girls' trip...I will be ready in March, right? eh.

I also want to brag because now Joel has visited six states in addition to Texas. That's six states in six months. My parents didn't travel with us much, so I was not as well traveled as he is. In fact, I was 14 when I took my first flight and I think I have been to about the same number of states as he has. Murad and I definitely want to make travel part of his life, so I think it is great that he is starting out early. Okay, so Joel visited: Oklahoma, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. I wonder where he'll go next?

Okay, so I have procrastinated cleaning and unpacking long enough. I think it's harder to come back from a vacation than it is to prepare for a vacation.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Freelance Writing--a success!

As many of you know, I have delved into the world of freelance writing. This journey started out by chance. I thought about freelance writing for a while. Over the summer, I started doing quite a bit of writing on various topics. I guess Joely got my creative juices flowing. I started searching for freelance jobs and had no luck. I just happened to search on Craigslist one day and found a start up company looking for freelance writers. The company provides webinars and coaching for women. The articles I write vary from parenting to finances and everything in between.

I really like the company's mission, and since they hired a bunch of writers, we are kind of in competition with each other to get our articles chosen. I took the job with the intention of building my portfolio and learning a thing or two. I did not expect my first article to be chosen for the company website. Like I said, this is a start up company, so the website isn't up yet and we only get paid if our articles are chosen for webinars. So, I wasn't planning on making any money for a while. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my article was chosen! My article.

I guess the best part about my article being chosen is that it has given me the confidence to pursue freelance writing. With my growing dissatisfaction with working in public education and desire to have a more flexible schedule, I'm really trying to put things in place so that one day I can work part-time and hopefully write part-time (and make money off of the writing; that is important!). That would be ideal because I want to be a working mommy, but I want the flexibility of a stay-at-home mom (like not having to use my days to take Joel to the doctor or to volunteer in his classroom when he's older). If that doesn't work out, I'm totally content with this small opportunity.

I hope this summer to expand my writing portfolio a little more. Right now, I'm focusing on non-fiction (obviously), but I would like to compose some short stories. I have lots of ideas in my little head. I have thought of writing children's stories too, but I think I may not be good at that. Murad has been helping me write my articles by giving me feedback and helping me with the structure of my writing. He has been asked to do some motivational speaking and thinks that if he had a biography, it would help. Guess who he wants to write it?

So right now I am very thankful for this opportunity. If you would like to read some of my work, please visit my other blog: Ashlea Campbell Writing.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Because the Jayhawks stink

and I'm already up late watching the game. Ugh. I love the start of basketball season! Everything good in life revolves around college basketball, especially my Jayhawks! Tonight though....we're not looking good against Kentucky. Since I'm up and can't take my eyes off the game even though I want to, I'll post about my 30th birthday! Yes. In two months I will be 30 years old!
I've been stressing about what to do for my birthday! I've already sown my wild oats (not in the slutty way, but the drinking fact, I really didn't date much before I got married, but now is not the time to go on a kissing binge), but I know my friends and family really want me to have a big birthday bash. Originally, I planned to go to Lawrence and KC for an old fashioned college pub crawl, but let's face it, I'd need 50 naps just to survive. Plus, I'm just not ready to leave Joely yet. I'm so used to hearing him on the monitor at night, waking up to his cooing in the morning and seeing his smiling face once he realizes I'm there. Not to mention I'd have to majorly pump and dump all that alcohol out of my boobs. That's like throwing away gold! I just can't do that!
Anyways, I'm planning a girls' trip in March and if we can afford it, a 3rd honeymoon next summer. I think by March I should be ready, right? Eh. Another reason I cannot go to Kansas for my birthday is because I've had to use so many sick days and we have a trip planned for Memorial weekend and I'll need to take a couple of days then. Yes. This is what happens when you have a child!
Okay, so for my birthday, I know my best friend is flying in to town. I think we'll rent out a room at Family Karaoke Place and order lots of good sushi and large amounts of alcohol.
What I'm most excited for though is my birthday present! We are finally going to update our kitchen and family room. I know! We're old, right? Lame, right? I don't care. I'm super excited. Murad and I picked out a new sofa that we both love! I think it will be durable and last while raising a growing boy. Right now the sofa is about $200 out of our price range. Hoping it goes down in 2012! We finally agreed on a paint color for the ugly wood paneling in our family room. So, yes. no changes. This is it! We are getting an update! The family room will stay white/cream except for the wood paneling accent wall which we will paint "teal lake." We will then carry that color into our kitchen as well. I think it will look nice against our dark cabinets as well as the white woodwork and white kitchen table. It will really help tie the family room and kitchen together, especially since it is a semi-open lay-out. Plus, it matches the plates I already have! So yeah! I'm so excited about this relatively inexpensive update. I realize now that the next update will be pretty expensive: master bedroom/bath remodel...not for a few years though!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Things I love

besides Joely. I need to take some time to write a non-mommy blog post. I also need to reflect on all the good things in my life besides my job. How do I do that without mentioning Joely? I will mention him first and then go into the others. Joely is so great! You know why? He has two cute little teeth! Yep! Two teeth! I didn't even feel them. Abuela pointed them out to me yesterday and we both started jumping up and down in excitement. I immediately called Murad. He was at the gym, but he called back immediately. He was sooo excited! Who would've thought we would be excited by two little teeth. We are also very excited about Joel eating. He loves his rice cereal, apple pumpkin, green beans, and sweet potatoes. He loves eating baby food so much that he grabs the spoon from our hands and feeds himself. He's just a growing, growing boy. We love him so much! Okay, so on to non-mommy stuff that I love! *I love the new Philadelphia Eagles blanket Murad bought. It's warm and fuzzy. Perfect for cuddling up and writing articles, grading papers or blogging *I love leftover Halloween candy *I love reaching my goal weight and getting closer to wedding day weight *I love teaching at the community college and moments when I really get to know my students *I love the community college service learning project I have planned for next semester *I love my new freelance writing gig *I love all the new cozy, comfort food recipes I've discovered or created *I love that Murad loves the food and keeps encouraging me to try new ones *I love when Murad holds me at night *I love that October is over *I love that November is here! *I love that we get to jet to NJ this month for almost a week! *I love that my dad will get to celebrate his 65th birthday with his grandson *I love our house and all the things that make it unique and ours *I love that my straight hair is almost gone and my curly hair is in! I'm almost completely natural and I didn't have to do a big chop! I think so many times I focus on all the negative things in my life. I think so many times I focus so much on my little boy that I forget about myself. This is a blog just for me (and a small tribute to Joely).

Saturday, October 22, 2011


that just happened...

Friday, October 21, 2011

so much respect...

As the weather changes, I'm reminded of just how fast time flies. My baby boy will be five months tomorrow! I've learned so much about myself, my husband, our marriage and of course, our little boy. I think I now have the utmost respect for anyone who dons the title of "mommy!" It's a tiring job, but it comes with the greatest rewards and perks. When I was pregnant I didn't want to hear advice from anyone. In fact, I told people that I didn't want any advice. However, after I hit week 25, I was more open to listening. That is when I started asking any and every mom for advice. One of the cool things I learned as that while we all approach mothering differently we all strive to be the best mom we can be. This really hit home as I read my friend Lara's blog. I realize that we all have certain values that we want to impart to our children, and while they may be different, why not help each other out along the way? I asked myself, do I judge other moms? Do I come across as knowing everything about mothering (because I certainly do not!). I think this is especially poignant as many of my friends are starting to have children and are addressing the formula vs. breastfeeding challenge. Breastfeeding was/is the hardest thing about mothering Joel. I'll admit, I'm pretty lucky. Joel is a relatively easy baby. He laughs, explores, eats, and sleeps. He rarely cries even now when he is teething. My struggles with breastfeeding are pretty minute compared to others' breastfeeding struggles. While I was pregnant, I made sure to talk to both breastfeeding and formula-feeding mothers. This was the best thing I could do. I think it helped prepare me for the challenges ahead and when I faced the possibility of having to exclusively formula feed Joel, I felt a little more comfortable if that were to happen. I visit so many new mom blogs,chat rooms, message boards and I'm part of a few in-real-life new mom groups. I hate, hate, hate the breast-feeding bullying that goes on. We're supposed to support and uplift each other, not tear each other down. Sometimes I feel a little guilty because Joel gets 6oz of formula a day. I then slap myself for feeding in to the bullying. While some of the challenges of breastfeeding have dissipated, they are now replaced with other challenges: pumping. I pump as much as I can at work, but my milk supply sometimes is low. I deal with a lot of stress at my job, so that affects my ability to pump well. Now that Joel is sleeping through the night, I pump at home quite a bit because I'm more relaxed. Pumping takes up a good 40 minutes of my work day which makes it difficult to complete administrative tasks. I find myself asking, "is it worth it to pump?" Then I remind myself that for our family it is. I refuse to let the employment devils win! But I digress... I remember when I first got pregnant I told myself that I would never co-sleep. Who would do that? The child will probably breastfeed for years? I bet that couple never has sex...yeah. I was so wrong. While I was scared for Joel's safety (I don't care what anyone tells you, when you are surviving on sleep fumes as I like to call them, you're not aware of the baby in your bed), the benefits I saw while we tried co-sleeping outweighed the safety risks. Joel's breathing was regulated, he was able to bond with not only me, but his father as he would snuggle to him too, we could place him back on his back if he rolled to his side, etc. We quickly transitioned to the pack n' play in our room. He now sleeps for 10-12 hours at night in his crib in his own room. So yeah, I judged myself before I knew what I would become. A breast-feeding/pumping/sometimes formula-ing, former co-sleeping mama. I am the happiest I've been in so long, but I'm still on the journey and enjoying it. I'll leave you with a picture of Joely and me. Don't we look cute? We kind of have the sporty look going on with my Nike shirt and his windpants. Yeah. Even though I don't have a daughter, I try to match our least in themes. I'm definitely not going to take the twinning further than that. I absolutely love Joel in fall clothes. I take that back, I love him in all clothes. He's so adorable (I'm seriously considering getting him into modeling. I am researching agencies right now) Life is pretty easy when you have a cute son!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Strange Boy....

Okay, so Joel and I have been home together since last Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon Christy called me to tell me that Joel had lots of boogies, was fussy and just not his usual self. I left work to pick him up and Mr. Soup got on the phone to his pediatrician. The next morning, I planned to go to work and Murad was going to work from home and take Joel to the doctor, but guess what....I was sick too! Joel went to the doctor and she confirmed that he has a double ear infection and Bronchiolitis (think another form of Bronchitis). I am pretty sure I have the flu, but I haven't been to the doctor. So, Joely and I have been home the past few days. I missed going to a surprise party for my friend, but there will be other parties. While I hate being sick and hate seeing him sick, it has been wonderful spending uninterrupted QT together. I love cuddling and playing with him. He's still all about playing even when sick. It's also given me the opportunity to see all of his strange habits. They're quite funny, scary, and unique! Nipple Confusion All through my pregnancy, everyone kept saying don't introduce a bottle to him for a long time because of nipple confusion. Of course, my son is the one who ended up with jaundice and had to take formula from a bottle for a week. Did it mess him up? No. Now he hates taking bottles. Well, he'll take bottles from Murad, Christy, Abuela, grandparents, anyone but me! Even though the bottle may be filled with breast milk or a breast milk/formula combo, he gets this weird look on his face. "Don't come with this weak shit, mom! I want it from the spout." Yeah, so I have the opposite problem of nipple confusion. I wonder what will happen in May when I have to wean him off... No Pacifier Joely used a pacifier when he was a newborn, but once he hit about three months he refused to take one. At first we thought maybe he wouldn't take it at home, but Abuela and Christy both noted that he refuses to take one at daycare. Not complaining because I hear weaning a kid off of a pacifier is a bitch. There are some days when I wish he would take one though! Cheap Toys So, last week Joely and I went to Babies R Us to pick out some developmentally appropriate toys. Yeah, so does he play with them? Not so much. His favorite toy is this block thing that my friend gave us. He'll play with it for about 30 minutes...which is like hours in Joel time S&M much? Murad and I discovered that the only way to get Joel to go to sleep is to put a blanket over his head. That sounds horrible, right? What kind of parents would do that? Desperate parents like us. Joel likes for us to throw the blanket over his head and then he pulls it down to his chest. He falls asleep with the blanket in his hand. Joel also likes to turn and sleep on his side. So, we have to stand there and wait for him to fall asleep so that we can remove the blanket and place him back on his back. It's pretty intense, but that's our guy! Fortunately, we do have the Angel Care monitor which alerts us if he stops breathing, but that's not a sure thing. I know it's supposed to be hospital quality, but the ones in the hospital are like $2000 not $200. That's my weird little Joel wrapped up in a nutshell. He's such an individual and I love it. Some days I marvel at how much my life has changed in the last five months. Nothing gets me through the day like picturing his smile and nothing motivates me more than his happiness. I find myself longing for the sleepless nights when he was a newborn. I find myself trying to relive the best day of my life: his birth. I find myself getting jealous of the fact that he is comfortable with people other than me. I try to keep it in perspective though. The grass is always greener, right? I have a healthy baby boy who is growing, thriving, and exploring! He's picked up a few strange habits along the way, but they're what makes him our son!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

19 weeks

Well today Joel is 19 weeks. That is almost five months week-wise. Yesterday he and I ventured to Babies R Us to pick up some toys for him. Of course there are no toys that are labeled "five months," so my choices were three months and six months. We went with six months because he's pretty active, and the challenge associated with toys for that age may be good for him. Plus, most of the six month toys were good for up to 36 months of age. So, we got this toy with balls that fly everywhere. The baby on the box looked really happy. Fisher-Price does a good job of labeling their toys with information concerning the developmental tasks the babies will reach when playing with the toy. With this particular one, he'll increase his gross motor skills, learn cause and effect, and one other skill. The teacher in me is really excited to watch how this toy works to teach these skills and then what we can do to mimic that for a cheaper cost (these toys are expensive...thank goodness we have a ton of gift cards still)
Joely reaches and grabs things, but up until today I didn't see him do it often. Sometimes when I rattle things in front of him, he doesn't really try to grab them. Of course, all babies are different so I wasn't really concerned. Today, Joel and I woke up and we played with one of his block toys. It is a large block that has different things on it that he can move around. He really focused on the items on the block and loved grabbing them and moving them. He got so excited that he knocked it off the table. Mr. Soup was really happy about that. Don't ask why! I guess he likes that his son likes destruction.
After we played we read Trick or Treat with Elmo. The book is pretty busy, but Joely had fun pushing the buttons. He then had some tummy-time and after his time was up, I put on Spongebob and he stayed on his tummy with his head up to watch. So cute! He also grabbed the little music-maker on his tummmy time mat and pulled it to his face.
We tried having Joel sleep in his nursery this week. He slept in there two nights this week (woo-hoo!). We're really trying to be organic about the whole thing, so if we put him in there and he cries for twenty minutes then we take him out and bring him into our room and put him in his pack n' play. I think Mr. Soup and I aren't quite ready to have him sleep in his own room, but we realize that we don't want him sleeping in our room still this time next year.
So, work for Mr. Soup is going really well, but work me is blah still. I'm trying not to get too down about it. I just need to not take my job too seriously. My main concern, as always, is my students. I have to remember to always put their interest first and not worry about all the other stuff that complicates things. I think I'm probably too sensitive in some ways and I want to do the best job all around and not make mistakes. I think I'm probably way too critical on myself as well. I know I feel as though I'm not doing my best as a teacher, but when I look around I see a bunch of people doing even less than me. Not that I compare myself to anyone else...well...yeah..I do..which is why I've been feeling down in the dumps. While another career choice might be ideal for me, I just can't imagine doing anything else. I really do love teaching and I really love teaching middle school students. I just know that the environment in which I'm in is not allowing me to be the teacher I want to be. I hate the current educational climate--high stakes testing, but it's the same everywhere. What can I do? Luckily, I do have an opportunity to be the teacher I want to be every week when I teach at the community college.
So, to add even more drama to my life, my stepdaughter's mother is acting really strange. She successfully turned my stepdaughter against not only us, but also Abby's maternal grandparents; however, now her mother is trying to push Abby onto us more. I can tell my stepdaughter doesn't want to talk to us and we've kind of respected that. When she wants to call we let her talk, but we don't force her to call us. Now her mom calls us and has my stepdaughter call us and kind of coaches her in the background. The other day she called Mr. Soup and told him that she not only wanted Abby to spend Christmas with us, but she also wanted Abby's little sister too. Yeah. Obviously, we felt conflicted. I know that's probably hard on Abby's sister to see her go spend time with her dad and now that Abby has a little brother, her sister is jealous. Our time is valuable though too and we don't want Abby to have to share us with her sister. So, we kind of put our foot down and said no about the little sister and that Abby could spend Christmas with us only if she wanted to. I just wish I could figure out what her mom is up to and how we should act in the best interest of Abby. On top of that, Abby hates school and is being bullied by kids because of her weight and hygiene. I'm trying to see what anti-bullying program they have at her school, but I fear that they may not have one at all. School is Abby's one outlet from her home-life. She excels and always performs above her classmates. An avid reader, she retains and applies so much of what she reads. I'm afraid she'll grow to hate school and drop-out once she reaches high school.
Yeah, so I hate to end this post on a sad note. I have a knack for that right. You can always scroll back up and re-read the section on my little Joely. He's pretty amazing, right?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Four Months

Well yesterday Mr. Joel turned four months. Can you believe it? I can't! Time is flying. I find myself feeling a mixture of excitement and longing for days of old. I miss when he was my little five pounder. I miss when his poop was black and didn't have an odor. I miss his newborn breath. I miss everything from when he was little, but I LOVE how much fun he is right now. Laughing, giggling, squealing, yelling and smiling are all part of his regular daily activity. He can sit up in his little blue chair and he's able to push himself up with his arms on his tummy-time mat.
Today we went to Dr. Ramirez. He is 13 lbs (25%) and 23 inches (5%) and his head circumference is in the 25th percentile. He's ready to start baby food, but I think we're going to hold off until he's six months. Neither Murad or I are ready for him to start it. Some of the things Joel likes to do include:
watching Spongebob
grabbing things and pulling them near his chest
playing peekabo
mimicking daddy's sounds
some of the things Joel hates include:
drinking from a bottle
sleeping in his crib
yeah...we're still working on those. it's not that he hates drinking from a bottle, but if I'm there he prefers drinking straight from the spout. We're working in twenty minute crib intervals. He still prefers the pack n' play. Our goal was to start the transition to his crib at six months, but we figured we'd try it early. I guess he's not quite ready to sleep in his own room quite yet.
Well, Mr. Soup has started studying for his licensure exam again. I think he's ready to tackle it again and do well. WHEN he gets his social work license, we'll be able to afford for me to work part-time. This brings a bit of relief, but also some difficulty. I have really not been liking my job this school year. It has a lot to do with administrative and curricular stuff. It has absolutely nothing to do with the students. Actually, being with the kids is the highlight of my day. I thought this year would be better, but it's not which is a shame, because I had such high hopes. So who knows what will happen with that next year. I'm still teaching one class per semester at the community college and I can always increase my course load. In addition, I scored my first freelance writing gig! I'm so excited to start and I'm hoping this will be the start of something great!
If I do end up teaching or writing part-time there is no way we could afford to send Joel to daycare full-time. His daycare is full-time only (well you can send your kid part-time, but you still have to pay the full tuition). There is no other daycare I would ever consider taking my child, so finding another daycare is out of the question. We really love his daycare and he does too. I think part of the reason he's developing so well because of his time at daycare. It's just a wonderful place for him; it's a true community. They really love him. I never believed that daycare could be good for child (mine sucked as a kid), but now I am a firm believer. Plus, Joel really thrives on the full-time routine. If he only went part-time, he'd lose that routine.
So, yeah. As of right now I plan to continue working full-time, but I just don't know what next fall will look like. I just know that I'm really unhappy professionally (with the exception of my side jobs) and I want to fix it; I just don't know how. I'm so stressed out when I'm there.
On a brighter note: I'm losing weight rapidly! I'm 3 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight and 8 lbs from my goal weight. Because I feel better about how I look, I've started taking pics with Joely. I realized that most of the pictures we have are of Joel and everyone else and very few of me. So my goal is to take more pics of my little man with me. I think we look good together. don't you???

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Soup Kitchen...err... Soup Inn!

Well, things are finally starting to settle down around here and then things are going to get crazy again. Fall is always crazy for us, but it is even crazier with a baby. Now that Joely is here everyone wants to see him. who wouldn't want to see him? he is the CUTEST boy I know!
Mr. Soup and I are just amazed at how much Joely changes each day. Some days he looks exactly like me and on other days, he's a miniature version of his father. He loves to laugh and he's starting to watch television. As a teacher I cringe and I only let him watch it for about 20 minutes in the morning while I'm getting ready for work. I also pull out a few books to balance it out (don't question my logic!) I know it means he's learning to focus. He gets pretty excited when he hears the music for Plaza Sesamo (Sesame Street) though. It's pretty darn cute. He's still talking up a storm and he's quite the chubster. We're in size 2 diapers and 6 months clothes.
He really loves going to daycare. It's so hard for me to leave him in the morning. I just love watching him giggle and cuddle with daddy. Today, Mr. Soup texted me after he dropped Joely off at Abuela's. He was really upset because Joely didn't look back at him like he usually does when he drops him off. He's becoming so independent so soon!
I will say that Joely really thrives with the routine. Mr. Soup says that at 7:30am, Joely starts getting fussy and cranky because he knows they should be leaving for Abuela's. When he gets there and sees Abuela, Miss Christy and the other kiddos he's all smiles! When I pick him up it's a different story. He usually has just woken up or eaten, so he has that drunken/out-of-it look. When we get home though, he's all smiles and ready to play with Mommy!
This 3-day weekend was wonderful. We had tons of much needed family time. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend! The weather was perfect for playing outside and grilling out!
Speaking of weekends, Mr. Soup and I have a ton of things planned for this fall. Of course, we'll watch tons of Eagles games and KU games. We won't be able to hit the bar as much unless we find a sitter and a new bar (the Eagles bar burned down over 4th of July). Oktoberfest will be here. Last Oktoberfest I was pregnant with Joely (I didn't know it which was why I was at Oktoberfest in the first place).The Texas State Fair will start in late September and end towards the end of October! We love walking around the fair and visiting the booths. Joely loves to people-watch, so this will be perfect for him too. We also plan to take a weekend trip to Houston to visit two sets of friends. Joel's Kansas grandparents have already called requesting a weekend visit in Oklahoma City (it's the halfway point between Dallas and Wichita, KS--my hometown). We have friends coming from Pennsylvania in September and October. We have friends coming for Kansas City in December. We'll travel to Pennsylvania/NJ (if we can find cheap airfare) for Thanksgiving. I'm still really nervous about flying with a 6 month old. I know I shouldn't be, but I just fear he'll scream his head off when his ears pop. I wish he was still my little sleeping baby, but Joel will fight sleep, especially when he's in a new environment. I also really worry about him getting sick from the germs on the plane. maybe I'm too worried about this. I need to focus on the positive. Joely will get to spend time with his New Jersey grandparents and extended family. Yeah, so that's our fall in a nutshell. Pretty much booked every weekend until Christmas!
Well that is it for the Soup Family!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Finding a Balance

Let me start this by saying that being a mom is wonderful! This is by far the best "role" I've had in my life. I wake up everyday and marvel at my little prince. His smile lights up the room and can melt both his father and me. He truly is the best thing to happen to either one of us. I don't think we fully realized how rewarding parenthood is until he came into our lives. I think we are now more thankful for our parents and all they sacrificed for us.
I am struggling to find a balance though. Everything with parenting has it's ups and downs. I never experienced a love like this before. I have never been so happy until now. I never have wanted to give all of my being to one person before. Everything in my body is saying give, give, give to this little guy, but I also know I need to make time for myself. It was easy in the summer because Mr. Soup would come home for lunch or encourage me to go out for a few hours in the evening. Now, when I come home I just want to soak up Joely time. I know I need to go to the gym or make time for dinner/drinks with friends, but I just want to sit and listen to Joely talk (he is quite the chatty Cathy). I want to watch as he plays with Mr. Soup. I want to see him explore all the things in his room. This week has been nice because I've been home with him every night this week. Last week was so hectic that I just wanted an easy week. I haven't made it to the gym this week and who knows if I will until the weekend.
In addition to that, I do feel a little guilty going to work each day because I actually like it. This summer my wardrobe consisted of tank tops and maternity jeans (don't worry I retired them and bought normal jeans). I would get excited when I put something else on. Now, I get to dress up and go to work. I get to talk to adults on a regular basis. I really do like being at work. I love wearing fancy clothes, doing my hair and make-up, and even wearing heels. Today I even went grocery shopping with Joely in my fancy clothes and heels (and they say it can't be done! I'll show them) Even being around the students is enjoyable (this too shall pass). I am really, really looking forward to this school year. I didn't think I would. I guess part of me feels guilty. For so long, I dreaded daycare and going back to work. I cried for weeks before. I guess I didn't expect it to be this easy to let him go to daycare each day. Part of me feels as though we just made a really good decision in choosing Abuela's and the other part of me feels like I'm a bad mom. I go from wanting to spend all of my late afternoon/evening time with Joel to feeling so much relief and freedom when I'm at work. I guess I'm trying to find that balance. I'm trying to figure out my "role." Maybe even trying to find myself a little? I guess with being a mom, my role is always changing.
Can I also just vent about how much I detest pumping at work! I actually detest pumping in general. I know I've said it before, but I really just prefer to nurse Joely myself. I love the bonding. There is nothing gratifying about pumping. I don't get to hold my precious prince while I pump. It's just me and the pump locked in a kitchenette off of the school library. I feel like I have to concentrate hard to pump whereas breastfeeding comes more natural. I'm really hoping my feelings will change. I hope I'm just experiencing the back-to-work hump. Joely does get some formula every now and then, but he really doesn't like it. He'll be six months in November. If I still hate pumping, I'm going to start supplementing with formula more and lessen the breast milk. Hate to do that and I really hope I don't have to do that. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Friday, August 19, 2011

We Survived!

We survived our first week of daycare! Well, I should say, mama survived! I thought I was going to lose it Monday. I cried all night Sunday in addition to crying every day of the week last week. I just was not ready to let him go. I got him all ready to go so that Mr. Soup could take him over there. I didn't cry as I dressed him and put him in the car seat. Mr. Soup kept telling me how good I was doing and hugging me. As they pulled away, I went back into the house and started sobbing. Mr. Soup called me ten minutes later saying that Joely did well when he dropped him off. He was all smiles for Abuela and Miss Christy and they oohed and awed over his dimples!
I didn't actually have to work on Monday, so Mr. Soup and I headed over at lunch to check on him (Mr. Soup's idea...he knows me so well!). He was sleeping in the swing (something we can never get him to do here)He just looked so peaceful. That afternoon, I got his stroller together and walked down the street to pick him up. I was so eager to get him in my arms and kiss all over those perfect cheeks.
We kept the same routine of Mr. Soup taking him to daycare and me picking him up. I really like this routine because I have something to look forward to at the end of the day. During the day, I'm so busy that I can barely breathe; however, Joel is never far from my thoughts. I'm constantly checking my phone and I start each morning with a text to Mr. Soup to see how drop-off went. I just can't wait to pick him up each day. He is always happy when I pick him up. Yesterday, he was sitting on Abuela's lap "talking" to the other children. Today he was in the crib entertaining himself by looking at the Mozart mobile. Mr. Soup reports that he is always happy at drop-off, except today he was a little cranky, but that's only because he woke up at 5:00am to nurse and then fell back asleep.
This week was a little difficult because I had something at night 3 days this week. Fortunately, last night I was able to take Joel with me, but I had to have my friend sort of watch him while I met parents. Each day this week I wanted to come home and cuddle, but I was forced to work! Bleh!
I will admit, that I do like going to work. I felt a little guilty at first about this. I really enjoyed being around my co-workers again and I'm actually excited about the upcoming school year. I think I needed to feel good about work again in order to fully accept that Joel would be in daycare full-time. I want to be able to come home to him and give him all of me. I know that's not possible everyday, but I feel like there are things in place this year that will help me enjoy my job more instead of dreading it. I really do love teaching and it's the perfect career for a mom (minus the grading!!!!!!) Also, pumping at work wasn't as bad as I envisioned; however, I still prefer breastfeeding. I am one of those weirdos who likes breastfeeding my baby. At least I can do that when I'm home.
Another reason I feel so good about daycare was that this week I attended Mom's Night Out. Abuela and Miss Christy provided appetizers, cocktails and prizes for all the moms of the kiddos. It was a good chance for me to meet some of the moms. They are all fabulous ladies and I cannot wait for more chances to drink....err...hang out! Surprisingly, I was one of the "older" moms (only by a year or two). This was odd to me because I'm not yet 30 (only six more months) and usually when I was with Abby I was always the youngest "mom." Oh well! One thing I really loved was how much these ladies loved Abuela and Christy! You could really tell that they view them as family and vice versa. It really solidified that we made the right choice in a daycare provider. I know there will be ups and downs, but I am really feeling good about Joel going there. He seems to enjoy it so much and he's such a social baby. He really does well being around not only other babies and kids, but other adults. Part of me didn't want to share Joel with the world, but I now realize I need to share the world with Joel.
I'm quickly learning there is not a manual for motherhood! Learning as I go and loving it! My goal for next week is to figure out an exercise me strength!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Don't Make me...

Someone asked if Joel was six months? Yes. I know he's amazingly advanced, but don't make my baby grow up faster than he is! Ugh! Today was one of those days where I woke up in a funk. I cried because it was my last week day with Joel. Mr. Soup consoled me and told me that it was perfectly normal to feel the way I do. The rational part of me hates that I break down like that. I know Joel will be perfectly safe and will thrive at daycare. I know that being a working mom is best for Joel and me. I know that Joel will not think I abandoned him. I know these things, but oh how my heart aches when I think about leaving him. The separation anxiety is getting to me. The idea of pumping at work is getting to me. The idea of being with 140 hormonal tweens is getting to me.
This too shall pass...right?
On a high note, I lost two more pounds this week! I'm 12 pounds from my weight loss goal. I celebrated by purchasing some new jeans (which ended up being two pairs of jeans, two tops, and a dress all for $60! Thank you, Old Navy!) and a drink from Sonic. This is only the 2nd time I've been shopping for myself, but this was the first time that I did not pick up something for Joel! Usually, I pick up a little outfit or two for him as well. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Nana and Granddad have purchased most of his wardrobe for the first year of his life! Gotta love Carter's! They're the best baby clothes. Nana and Granddad have done a lot for us this past month. From hosting his baby shower to babysitting and just offering their love and support, we wouldn't be here without them! It really does take a village!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Little Man

I do mean that. My baby is trying to grow up so fast. It's cute really, but I'm so not ready for it. The other day I caught him imitating his daddy eating food. Then yesterday I took a sip from my drink and Joel formed his lips like he was sucking a straw too. A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Soup had his leg up on a windowsill and Joel tried to wiggle his leg up in the air too. My friend came over yesterday and remarked that he is active like a big baby. She said, "why is he trying to act like a big kid?" The tummy time mat has become his mat for his attempts at crawling. I put him on it yesterday, went to the kitchen to grab a drink and when I came back he was almost on the floor. He sleeps in his pack n' play through the night, so there are no more late night/early morning feedings and snuggles. He slept in a crib at Nana and Granddad's house. He's just growing up so fast. I didn't want to move him to the nursery until November (six months), but he actually likes taking naps in his crib. Last night he fell asleep in there while I was at the gym. I asked Mr. Soup if we should just leave him in there and he goes, "no, we're not ready for that transition yet." hehe! He's not ready for him to be a big boy either!
This is my last week at home with him and all I want to do is snuggle and cuddle all day. Joel wants to bounce, reach, lean his head back (that's how he got dropped by daddy a couple of weeks ago) wiggle, laugh, coo, point, and everything else. Kisses from momma have taken a back seat to seeing what's going on in the world.
I know I should not complain that he's trying to become independent. He's making my life easy in some ways (he can entertain himself) and difficult in others (he's so active that we can't keep up). I know once he's at daycare, it'll be easy because he'll wear himself out there and then come home tired for us. I will miss nursing him during the day. I know it sounds weird, but I actually prefer to nurse him as opposed to giving him a bottle. I feel like he's safe and warm with me when he's nursing. Plus, I absolutely hate pumping, but I'm going to give it my best shot this school year! Only nine more months until his 1st birthday (when I plan to stop breastfeeding/pumping). Pray that I can make it!
I know every mom thinks their little one is the best, but I really lucked out with Joely. My pregnancy was easy, my labor and delivery was easy, and he's been easy to love and care for each day. I just love him so much and want him to be my baby boy. I'm realizing that he's going to grow and change just as I did. I look back on this summer with such fondness. Our walks in the neighborhood, afternoon snugglefests, and feedings were some of the greatest moments of my life. As we enter fall, I'm excited to watch him grow and for Mr. Soup and I to grow as parents. He's such an amazing! Oh, Joel! I love you so, so much!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Joel's Baptism Weekend

Mr. Soup, Joel and I headed up to Kansas this past weekend. This was our first official road trip in our new car and Joel's first road trip. I will say that he did so well on the way to Kansas. He slept the entire time. We stopped once for gas and so that I could nurse him and change his diaper. It's kind of difficult to breast-feed a baby in a car, but we did it!
We arrived late Friday night in Wichita. Of course, Joel's Nana was up and ready for some cuddle time with her grandson! She was so excited to see him. The next morning we headed up to the church to go over the baptism with our pastor. It was really cool to talk about what baptism and raising Joel in the Christian faith means to us, especially to hear Mr. Soup talk about it. He talked about the fellowship he wants Joel to have with his Christian brothers and sisters. Our hope is that Joel will speak about his faith to others as well and be a light onto others. His baptism was such an important event in his life and he doesn't even know it! What a gift!
After the meeting we headed over to where Abby was staying with her grandparents. What a joy it was to see her. We don't see her often, but each time we do see her we're reminded of what a great child she is! I wish I could say that her home life has improved, but in fact it has taken a turn for the worse. Abby has really had to grow up quickly and worry about things that she should not have to worry about. However, this weekend, she really got to be a kid. She was so excited to meet her little brother, although I do suspect it was a little difficult to go from being her daddy's only child to sharing him. Murad and Abby decided to do a little shopping and he took her up to Chuck E Cheese's to meet up with his cousins. It was good for them to have some daddy-daughter time. I think he realized that what happened last summer had nothing to do with Abby's feelings towards us. She has been put in the position of being the adult at home and she did not want to be away from her mom. She told Murad that she worries about her mom all the time and doesn't want to be away from her. Such a sad statement, but a real testament to the loyalty Abby has for her mother.
I went on back to my parents house to introduce Joel to his Uncle Ryan and his girlfriend Renee. They flew in Saturday afternoon from Indianapolis. Of course, Ryan was immediately in love with his little nephew (who isn't?)!
That night, Murad and I went to dinner at Joel's godparents' home. We had a great evening introducing (we did lots of introducing this weekend) Joel to his godparents. We are so lucky to have them in Joel's life and so glad they accepted!
The next morning we got up bright and early for the baptism. Of course getting there wasn't without its drama, but we made it! The ceremony was so, so special. Seeing him with his godparents was an amazing experience. Listening to the words spoken over him and hearing the prayers said by the congregation made the experience an unforgettable one. This was probably the 2nd best day of my life (besides his birth). I just can't describe how happy I was that day.
We have his candle and garments here and I just keep looking at them. Our church also gave him $50 in a college fund through Mission Financial. We were pretty excited about this, as we've been meaning to do this. I really like Mission Financial because our investment goes towards helping build homes and churches across the world.
After the ceremony we had a lovely reception in church fellowship hall where everyone got to hold Joel! He was so alert and excited to see everyone! That night he slept from 10:30pm until 7am! Wow! He also slept in a crib the entire visit (the crib happened to be the same crib Ryan and I used as babies)
We spent the rest of the day visiting friends. Mr. Soup and I left Joel at home with Nana and Papa so that we could go out for a double date with some friends of ours.
The next day, we hung out around the house (we were pretty exhausted after being on the go so much) and then we headed back to Texas. Joel did not do so well in the car this time. We had to stop 3x. We decided to stay a little longer in OKC and eat a real dinner rather than fast food. We stopped in Bricktown and walked around while we waited for a table. It was pretty fun, but there is not much to do in OKC! ha! After our 3rd stop, Joel slept soundly the rest of the way. I guess he doesn't like traveling during the day, so we're going to have to make sure we travel at night. We did survive though and what a great weekend it was!
This week will be exclusive for snuggling and cuddling with my man before I go back to work! I'm going to try to work-out , go out with some friends one night and maybe squeeze in a date-night too. Ugh and laundry of course...

Monday, August 1, 2011

8 Things You Can't Do Once You Have Kids

I frequent the Nest and the Bump for articles and information, especially now that I'm a new mom. I saw this article on there and was immediately annoyed. Sure there are limitations to what you can do once you have kids. Sure I can't go out and get wasted (mostly because I'm still breastfeeding and that would be a bitch to pump and dump, plus we're still sort of co-sleeping), but I really don't do that often now that I'm married anyways, so no loss. I can still meet up with my girlfriends for happy hour, dinner, movies, etc. It just takes some careful planning on our part. I can still read books. I'm not going to trade in my library card for a subscription to Us Weekly. Not gonna happen. I love books! I can still talk to my friends on the phone, watch TV, etc. I imagine that going to the bathroom by oneself is difficult, but I have yet to experience toddler-hood. If I had read this article before having Joel, I would think my life would be over after having kids. In fact, it couldn't be further from the truth. I get to do the things I love, plus I get to experience life again through his eyes. I now have an excuse for singing in the car -- it makes him laugh. I've always wanted to buy a Kidz Bop album (I know!), and now I can. I get to hear sweet giggles each morning from his nursery. When we go shopping, I have somebody hugging my body the entire time (in his Ergo carrier). If Happy Hour is boring, I have an excuse to leave early. When he gets older, I'll get to hold his hand to cross the street, watch him at sporting events, go to the Circus, go to Spanish story time at the library, etc. I basically have an excuse to be a kid again. I just do it in adult clothes!
Speaking of clothes, I went and bought new clothes yesterday. I didn't even think about if it were going to get stained by Joel because there is this invention called dry-cleaning, people! Sure Joel may ruin a shirt here and there, but at least his mama will look good holding him!
Going shopping post-pregnancy was not as bad as I envisioned. Even though I still feel fat, I can fit in cute clothes! I bought some cute tops, some dress pants and some capri pants. I can actually still fit into a small top and I can fit into my old pant size. The only thing is that my hips are now huge. I knew this would happen because it happened to my mom. Our hips tend to just stay after giving birth. So, before I was small-waisted big booty girl and now I just have hips.
One thing I never thought I would say is that I wish I had smaller boobs, but I do. When I was pregnant, I totally appreciated having big boobs. It was kind of like playing dress-up. Then the lactation consultant told our breastfeeding class that they would get bigger after giving birth. I thought to myself, "how can they get any bigger than this?" Well, they have and it's not fun (it is for my husband). Every top looks inappropriate no matter how modest it is. I now have a new respect for big-busted women. They say the boobs go away after breastfeeding, but we'll see next year if they do. For now, they're here to stay.
One thing that is difficult to do is lose the pregnancy weight. It's coming off though, so I can't be mad. I calculated my desired weight like this:
wedding day weight: 123
pre-pregnancy weight: 135 (they say when you're in love you eat!)
pregnancy weight: 165
Weight loss goal: 130
Current weight: 144
I'm getting there, slowly, but surely...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

We are Family

So our AC went out on Thursday! Can you believe it? One thing I do not like about summer is that it seems so many things go on the blink in the summer. We've had more bills this summer than the law should allow. Thank God we have savings and help from our parents, but we hate to use that as who knows what will happen this fall! Here are some of the things that we've had to pay for this summer:
-A/C in the jetta went out (and something else, but I can't remember)
-master bathroom toilet broke
-A/C in the house goes out
-oh and did I mention those medical bills for Joel's birth keep streaming in each month...
Despite this, I'm thankful that we can still get by and that we've received so much help from our Dallas family. There are days when I think to myself that things would be so much easier if we lived in Kansas close to my parents. I see all of my friends with family near by and I do sometimes get jealous. However, this week we were really reminded that we have a family here. Friends came forward with technician recommendations and we even borrowed a window unit and fans from friends. Joel and I spent yesterday at my friend's house enjoying her A/C. Joel even got to play and read with 3 year old Rowan!
So, even though part of the house is hot, we're still sitting pretty cool until the AC guy arrives with the new fan for the outside unit! Hoping he gets here soon!
So thanks to our Dallas Family! We're so glad we call this city home!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2 days

It is amazing what a difference 2 days can make. Monday and Tuesday I spent most of the days bawling because I was not ready for Joel to go to daycare. I'm still not totally ready for him to go and I know it will be a difficult adjustment for me (I'm sure he's oblivious), but some things have happened that make me feel secure in returning to work.
Yesterday Joel and I went to my neighbor's house to play. She's a stay-at-home mom to two under two. Watching her with the kids was fun, inspiring and exhausting. Being a stay-at-home mom is probably more exhausting than being a working mom, in my opinion. I mean sure we're away from the babes all day (agony), but we can focus on just them when we get home and we can tag-team tasks with the hubby. With a stay-at-home mom it's a constant juggling act. You're the sole entertainment and disciplinarian for the majority of the day. I have so much respect for stay-at-home moms. I know my neighbor doesn't think of it as work (how could you when taking care of cute little babies), but I know she really appreciates adult conversation and her free-time. Luckily, she waitresses a few nights a week and since I'm off this summer we get to hang out with our kids. Next summer I'll be in her boat with Joel being a year old (walking and getting into things) and me being home with him! Let's hope I can survive.
Today Joel and I took a walk down to his daycare to visit. We were greeted by all his new friends. They were so excited to meet Baby Joel. We watched them play some sort of ball game as they got ready to eat lunch. We also received a beautiful diaper cake from them (yay!). Our daycare provider also told us that they bought a brand new Chicco pack n play for Joel to nap in while he's in their care. This is great because he sleeps in a Chicco pack n' play in our room (more on that later). We were really excited to hear that they are taking extra steps towards making their home his 2nd home. Makes my nervous mama-heart feel so much better. I really am excited about him going to daycare. He's going to have so many great opportunities and the socialization....couldn't ask for a better environment for him to learn about sharing and caring. Overall, I am really excited for the life Joel will have. I feel blessed that Mr. Soup and I are financially able to and emotionally (is that the right word?) able to give him the life we feel he deserves. We have so many hopes and dreams for him, but more importantly we're excited to see how he chooses to live his life. I'm trying to focus more on the blessings we have. If I stay in my current career, I will get to be a stay-at-home mom each summer and will have every major holiday off with him. Mr. Soup's career allows him to come home during the day to spend time with us this summer. We still are the most important and influential people in his life, which is what I feared we would lose with daycare. While I am sad about leaving Joel, I do feel secure that we made the right decision for our family. I'm slowly becoming eager for the fall!
Okay so last night was the fifth night that Joel slept in his pack n' play! Yay! He's making so much progress. Hope to have him sleeping in his crib in his room by November!
This weekend I'm going shopping for myself! I haven't done that since Joel was born. Thanks to my mom (for footing the bill) and to my husband for letting me have Friday night (Harry Potter with my friend Christina) and Saturday (for shopping) to myself. I'm getting a nice outfit to wear to his baptism and some back to school clothes. I'm sure I'll pick up a few things for Joel while I'm out. I always do!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

back to school blues

every year I feel a mixture of dread and excitement as I return back to school. Dread because I'll be busier than I can imagine and excitement because I'll have structure. I'm not one of those people who makes the most of my time off. This was true even before Joel. I usually spend my days in PJs, watch TV, maybe hit the gym or pool, etc. Sometimes I struggle to buy groceries. This summer I had an excuse to be lazy because my baby boy was born. It was hard for me to get out of the house each day. I preferred just to sit and watch Joel play, cry and sleep. However, I made a point to do something outside of the home with Joel whether it was a walk, or a lunch-date, or something.
When Mr. Soup and I decided to have kids we knew we'd be working parents. I felt fortunate to have a career where I have all major holidays off and summers off too. However, when I do work, I'm consumed by grading, stupid meetings, tutoring, etc. So, my heart has been really heavy as I prepare to take Joel to daycare next month. I never knew that I would feel such sadness. I have so enjoyed every day of maternity leave. I'm pretty much worthless with Joel around as evident by the piles of laundry that need to be folded, but I love waking up each day, seeing him smile, watching him wiggle on his tummy and watching him explore his surroundings. He looks so cute when he discovers something and focuses in on it. And while I'm sad that he's getting bigger, I love his little fat rolls on his body. His chubby arms and legs are the cutest. Even when he cries, I find it adorable. His little bottom lip starts to quiver and hot tears roll down his cheeks. His hands are so delicate and soft, yet surprisingly strong. I am absolutely in love with my boy.
I know I shouldn't be sad, but I am. It's an end of an era and the beginning of something new and great. I also now know how his daddy feels. He has to be away from him 8 hours out of the day. His time with him in the evening is so precious. Now I will experience that. I do look forward to it in a way because I will be forced to take advantage of each precious moment with him. It will force me to be more organized and disciplined. I look forward to the new family we will welcome in our daycare provider and the friends Joel will make. I look forward to interacting on a regular basis with adults. I look forward to not spending money frivolously. And maybe if I ever get the chance to work from home or work less, I won't be so worthless and the laundry will get done! I'm a big bag of mixed emotions right now. Still want to be a working mom, but wishing I had just three more months at home with him. Wish we could've prepared more for that. I'm quickly learning there is no way to plan for a baby no matter how hard you try. There is also no way I could have prepared to have my heart removed from body. He's it now!