Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dirty 30!

Well, as many of you know, I am now thirty years old! My official birthday was Thursday. I can hear the "womp, womp" in the background as you realize that I was at work on my birthday. Definitely not fun, but my students made it a success. One student brought me a cupcake from Sprinkles, another one brought me a (fake) Gucci scarf, and I received handmade countless posters (including a Jayhawk one). One of my students brought me whole wheat toast with Nutella. This may seem a little weird, but we bonded over our love of whole weat toast and Nutella. I think we are the only ones in the school who eat it for breakfast each day.

When I got home, I spent most of the afternoon returning phone calls. Mr. Soup and Joel showered me with cake and a homemade dinner! I requested no gifts, as Murad shelled out a lot for my push prize (I absolutely love my Galaxy tablet; it's the reason why my Facebook page has a million pics of Joel) and Christmas. After Joel went to bed, we watched a movie and hung out.

On Friday, I went to Happy Hour with my work friends. It was fun and low-key, which was what I needed after a stressful week. We went to Kelly's Eastside Bar in downtown Plano which was convenient for me!

On Saturday, we started our day with a serious talk. I know that seems weird, but it was really needed. Mr. Soup is worried that I'm not getting enough "me-time." I think he's worried because of the stress of my job, motherhood and supporting him after his test. When I went to happy hour on Friday, I called to I check on Joely and he goes, "GO HAVE FUN!" Easier said than done, right? He's right though. I've been guilty of putting Joely first all the time. Since Murad takes Joely to work and I pick him up, Murad is going to pick up Joel twice a week (that's all that his work schedule will allow). I'll have time to go do my "me-time" stuff. Whether it's working out, meeting for coffee or a drink with friends, or whatever, I'll have those two afternoons to myself. I'm really excited about this, but also nervous. Picking up Joel is the highlight of my day and I treasure the time we spend after work; however, I know Murad is really looking forward to getting me back to "me." I know a lot of it has to do with my work situation, but I am thankful to be employed. I also think that I don't always realize how much work it is to be a mom. I used to scoff when people said that being a mom was hard. I LOVE mothering Joel each day. I didn't ever think of it as work, because I enjoy it so, so much. When I step away and realize how much work it is though, I can see why I am a little overwhelmed. So much of who I am is devoted to Joel (as evident by the fact that 99% of my blog entries are devoted to him; I promise that will change!), but I am more than his mommy.

After our big talk, we geared up for my birthday celebration. It was a much needed night out. We left Joel with the sitter who would have been more than happy to keep him overnight, but Murad and I are just not ready to leave him overnight with non-family members. We're getting there though...Anyways, I really wanted to celebrate my birthday in downtown Plano. I know that seems weird to celebrate in a suburb, but Murad and I really love our town. The restaurants and shops in downtown Plano are unique and the nightlife is vibrant. It's becoming more "urban" and we love spending time there. We wanted to share that with our friends, so we headed over to Urban Crust for a pizza dinner. I absolutely love their Genova pizza - eggplant, basil pesto, tomato sauce, goat cheese and argula..YUM! It was great to share good food and drinks with friends. Afterwards, we went upstairs to the rooftop bar to hear the DJ spin. the rooftop bar (called 32 Degrees because they serve all drinks at that temperature) was so much fun. Immediately brought me back to being in college. We had fun drinking, doing silly dances, and people-watching! Such a fun night and I'm so thankful for the people who made it a blast!

We headed over to pick up our little prince who graciously let us sleep in until 8:00am today. I then took a five hour nap while Joel and Murad had some daddy-time. We have been lounging around because our 30 and 31 year old bodies can't handle 3am bed-times. Although I loved the night out, it won't be a regular occurence.

30 is here and I could not be happier. I may not have all the answers, but I'm surrounded by people who love and support me. I'm figuring it out one day at a time. Here's to 30!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Way too many Changes

When it rains it pours...
Joely is going through a clingy phase, which I am totally loving right now. He always wants to hug and love on his dad and me. It's great, especially since I spend my day with 120 kids who don't appreciate me. As a result, he hasn't been much fun at daycare. Abuela and Miss Christy report that he's quiet and not as playful as he used to be. I think Joely is an observer, but I do worry what that means. He's used to silence (we try to keep the TV off when he's up except for 30 minutes in the morning--I know...bad, but he loves Spongebob in the morning), tons of attention and he's used to playing by himself (he won't even share his toys with us). I welcome this clingy stage, but I worry what it means for the future, especially if we have more kids. Would he be a good big brother? If we don't have anymore children, will he develop the social skills he needs? Ah, how my mind works.

We also have to face the reality that he may not be able to go to daycare in the near future. Our daycare status is kind of up in the air with Christy leaving in May, the city enforcing stricter guidelines on the number of kids and Abuela's landlord selling her house. We are hoping and praying that he'll go there for at least another year, but at this point we just don't know. I started looking at other home daycares in the area and I just wasn't happy. All of them had violations from the state. Abuela has zero violations. I know that doesn't seem like a big deal, but when it's your pride and joy, you think differently. I just can't imagine sending him elsewhere. I just want the best situation possible. We've thrown around some possibilities.

-Our current one is to continue working our current jobs and look for another home daycare.
-I planned to work part-time and still send Joely to daycare full-time if Murad got his license. Now We're considering working opposite shifts: me part-time teaching at night and him during the day full-time. This would be good except: 1. there is no guarantee with part-time employment, especially with time off if I had another baby. 2. Joel would lose the socialization of daycare. 3. I would lose my "me" time altogether by mommying during the day and teaching at night. 4. Murad and I would rarely see each other. I'm not too worried about this one because my parents worked opposite shifts and made time for date-nights, lunch dates, etc.

Despite not knowing what is going to happen, I delight in this season of change. One of my weaknesses is control and this uncertainty is forcing me to let go and let God. I'm also trusting my husband more. He's been hounding me about getting more me-time. Today I went to happy hour with some friends. I called Murad to see how Joely was doing and he goes, "go have fun!" I don't think he understands how difficult it is to take off the mommy-hat.
Even though things are a little stressful right now with Murad being down, not knowing about our daycare and other things, I'm still extremely thankful for the life I have. I turned 30 yesterday, and for the most part I'm living a dream life that most people would envy. We may not have money, but I am employed, I am healthy, I have a home, I have two great dogs, I'm married to a man who loves me more than anything, and I have the sweetest prince of a son.
While I may not have the answers to what our future holds, I know that as long as Joely and Murad are with me, we'll make the best of it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How do you mend a broken heart?

I wish I could mend my hubby's broken heart. I hate to see him so, so down. I thought he was on the up and up, but Sunday was worse than Friday. We didn't go to the park. We didn't go to downtown Plano. At one time, I saw him closing the blinds on all the windows I had opened. He didn't even realize he was doing it. It was all subconscious. I wish there was a way to let him know he's not a failure.

He is reaching out and I'm thankful for that. I'm also thankful for the smile he gets on his face when Joely squeals with laughter. That boy seriously loves him some daddy. I'm thankful that hearing his daughter's voice cheered him up. Last night she called and he was thrilled. She was too. She genuinely sounded excited to talk to him. Afterwards, he said that Abby was such an inspiration. Her life is a lot harder than most kids. No matter what life throws at her, she is always cheerful, happy and usually smiling a big Campbell grin. I reminded him that she gets that from him.

I've never met a person so passionate about achieving his goals. When I met Murad he had barely graduated from a private college in New Jersey. He was going back to school to get a drug counselor certificate. Before moving here, he decided he wanted to go back to school the right way. He wanted to be a role model for his daughter since she didn't have very many. His first time in college, he was on an athletic scholarship. He also bounced around from college to college before finally graduating. This time, he was determined to do it right. He went back to school and got not only another bachelor's degree, but a master's degree. School wasn't easy for him either. Growing up he was in special ed due to reading problems and was always made to feel dumb when compared to his brother. He never let that get him down. Now, I see those insecurities creeping back in. The "I'm not good enough," is back.

I know that once he gets his license this will all be behind him,
but it is just so hard right now to realize that. He is not only a role model for Abby and Joel, but he's an inspiration to so many people. He's an inspiration to those who were called dumb or told they couldn't do something. I hope that he'll share his story with the world. I love him so much. I'm so lucky that he's my partner in life and the father of my son. He is my hero!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

this weekend

This weekend was not quite the celebratory weekend we envisioned, but it was a good one. I made M get out of the house and join his guy friends for some good ol' fashion video-gaming. Yes, we're nerd-bombers, I know. Tomorrow we plan to head to downtown Plano for some fresh air and to pick up some veggies at the farmer's market.

M also made a plan to practice acceptance find closure about the exam. He's also finding ways to prep himself for the test in April. I am so stinkin' proud of him. As much as it hurts my heart to see him hurting, I'm so proud of him. Today, he goes, "Ash, you working part-time and having more financial freedom would've been an added bonus, but I really, really wanted this license for me and I still do." I'm so glad he hasn't lost his drive. Like I said earlier, he truly is the best social worker out there. I truly believe it is his calling to be a social worker.

Ironically, I had been having panic attacks (not really) about the possibility of working part-time. I guess it's because of the "if you don't work, you don't get paid" thing. Despite having a more flexible schedule, I would miss money if Joel or I got sick. My part-time jobs are so erratic and having researching many, I did not find one that would guarantee a steady paycheck or benefits. We could add Joel and I to Murad's insurance, but what if we have another baby? I would need maternity leave and most part-time jobs don't offer that. So, my goal is to find a job/career that I love as a full-time job or make the best of the job I currently hold. Since teaching at the community college gives me the teaching freedom I so need, I'll probably continue doing that. Ashlea Campbell Writing also provides a creative outlet, so I will of course keep that up. Those part-time jobs give us a little extra cushion for travel and since we're about 80% sure we want to have another baby in the next year or two (Murad 100% sure and me 60% sure), we need to start saving for another car and for me to take unpaid time off (I really wish I would've taken 6 months off with Joely, but I'm determined to do it right with the next one...oh the things you learn!)

Another reason I need to work full-time is because of private school tuition...yep that's right. I finally won the private school debate! Okay, so we compromised. Prior to Joely being born I was pro-public education. As a product of public education, I believed that it was best. Plus, I felt that private school children were always socially awkward and sheltered. Stereotype, I know, but I felt it. Since Murad and I could not afford a home in Dallas and pay private school tuition, we bought a house in Plano where the schools are supposedly superb (we're not balling by any means, but our modest home would have been nearly twice as much as what we paid to live Plano. this is why people fled to suburbs like Plano and Richardson in the 70's and why they're heading to McKinney, Allen and Frisco now)

When Joel arrived, that all went out the window. I just wanted to keep him in a little bubble world. I actually wanted to homeschool him (no lie), but then I realized I would have to teach him math....Math is something I should not be doing, let alone teaching. As a teacher, I see the good and the bad with public education. I will say that some of it is frightening. Despite all my worries, M felt strongly that Joel and any subsequent Soup children needed to attend public schools, especially for the social factors. Well, somehow we stumbled across this article and M changed his mind. Even though the article has traces of racism and classism (it's like a private education "white-flight"), I mostly identified with the statements about students being ignored and the lack of opportunities available, especially at the secondary level. And even though we're not ballin' and we have no idea if me working full-time will help send Joel to school, our goal is to have him attend public school K-8 and private school for high school. Like I said, I don't know if this will work, but it is our goal for him. As an educator and mom, I want him to get the best education possible.

It's weird how my thinking has changed since Joely entered our lives. For the most part, I'm the mother I always envisioned I would be; however, every now and then I find myself becoming so consumed by something that I can hardly concentrate. The private school thing had been weighing my mind ever since Murad said no to it back in June (yes, I realize that he's only a baby, but I'm a planner). Now that we've reached a compromise that I can live with, I feel so, so much better.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sad post

So, M missed passing his social work licensure test by 4 measly points. He had done so well when we studied, but that four hour test killed him. I just don't know what to do or say to make him feel better. He really wanted to get a better job so that I could work part-time. Recently though, I decided that I still want to work full-time (I thrive on getting dressed and going to work each day), but just not at my current job. Maybe this is the motivation I need to find a new job or career.

On a positive note, he plans to take a prep course and take again in April. I'm really impressed with his ability to bounce back. The thing is, I know he is the best social worker out there. That damn piece of paper is the thing keeping him from helping people. The part that really kills me is that his score is passing in other states. All of those who sit for the LMSW exam take the same exam. The state determines the cut-off for passing. I wanna send a big Eff you to the state of Texas. I know when he passes, this will all be behind us. April isn't too far off so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.I just hate for his heart to hurt like this! I love, love, love him and want this for him so badly. Seriously, he is the BEST social worker!

In other areas of our lives, things are going pretty well. Besides hating my full-time job, I'm loving teaching a new course at the community college. I'm so excited for all the things we're going to do this semester and my students are eager to learn. Ashlea Campbell Writing is taking off! This is truly what I needed! I love writing and the challenge associated with it. I'm gaining more gigs. Since one is a start-up company, I haven't received my dough yet, but they're launching this month!!!! I did my first guest blog entry and although I didn't make any money, it was really therapeutic for me. I wrote about what worked in our blended family. Even though things aren't the same with Abby, it was nice to revisit the good times with our family.

And to end things on a not so depressing note, Mr. Joely is growing, growing, growing! This week, we transitioned into 9 month pants! He's getting so long. As I type this he is rolling and scooting across the living room. For someone who can't walk or crawl he gets around. He's so freaking curious! I love it. I also love how he squeals when Murad walks into his room. He loves, loves, loves his daddy. He also can't stand to be away from me. This is a feeling I can't describe in words. I love feeling needed and wanted by him. I know in 12 years he'll be pushing me away.

Since the weather is nice, we may take a walk in the park. Let's hope I don't get bit by a dog again! And on that, we're outtie!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting my life back a little

This post is probably TMI, but I really don't care. I'm slowly getting my life back. We have decided to wean Joel. And by we decided, I mean Joel decided. In mid-December I stopped pumping at work (talk about a relief). The stress of my job combined with weight loss made it hard to effectively pump at work. I was still able to nurse Joel in the morning and evening though. After his hospital stay my supply decreased dramatically. Nursing at home became a pain especially with those two teeth in full biting mode. Joely started pushing me away, and we were both in tears. I really beat myself up about it for a while, especially since I planned to nurse for 13 months. I'm now starting to accept that this chapter in our lives is over. Joel just doesn't want to nurse anymore, not even for comfort (tear). Now that he's eating more and more solids, he's also taking in less formula/milk. If I give him a 6 oz bottle of milk, he'll mess around and only drink 3 or 4 oz. It's weird, but I guess it's expected. My mom said my brother was the same way with her, and she forced breastfeeding with him three months after he was "done."

I'm excited to have my life back in that regard. I'll have more free-time and now. I can work out again, and get rid of that extra skin around my tummy. Despite being excited about getting my life back, I am sad about no longer nursing Joely. I know most women hate breast feeding, but I loved it. I felt so needed, loved and warm. I really did bond with my boy during that time. I think about how cute he used to look all curled up on his boppy, and it takes me back to when I had a wee-wittle one. He's now such a big boy now eating his big boy food. While I'm excited to watch him grow, I can't help but miss my baby. I wish I could go back to those early, sleep-deprived days. I had no clue as to what I was doing (I still don't), but I was so overwhelmed with love and worry. I miss that frustration and aching that I felt as we took our son home and tried to figure out what to do with him.

Now we have a curious boy who loves to play, laugh, learn and eat. I want to appreciate this time now because I know in a few months, another entry like this will appear here. I'll miss my little boy because I'll have a big walking and talking boy. Sigh...

On a brighter note, I no longer teach Saturday mornings! I've been teaching Saturday mornings at the community college for the past year and a half! I signed up to teach Monday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings this semester (what was I thinking?). Luckily, my Saturday morning class was canceled due to low enrollment. It means no extra money, but somehow we'll manage. We always do. This means more fun time with Joely and maybe a chance to sleep in---ha! I've been kind of MIA at church on Sundays because I work furiously on Sunday to get all my Saturday morning stuff done. Now, I can make church a priority again.

So, I'm happy to report that I'm getting my body back, my Saturday mornings back and my church-going Sundays back! Woo-hoo!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Taking Risks!

One of my freelance job assignments was to write about taking risks! This was difficult for me because I generally do not take risks. I realize now that I am taking one of the biggest risks (for me) of all: delving into this freelance writing world! I really have no idea if this is going to work out financially, but I am optimistic. Focusing on this has made me 10x happier and able to get through my job each day. Even though I'm taking a risk, it's a very calculated one. I'm trying to make sure all my ducks are in a row. I'm also thinking about the far future. In 20-some years when Joely is off to college (tear), I won't have to retire when we move to Seattle; I'll still be able to work as a freelance writer.

Anyways, I'm trying not to get too excited by it all. Who am I kidding? I can't help myself. Don't forget to like us on Facebook!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Joely Likes

-biting, especially people's (mommy's) breasts. he even smiles after he does it.
-throwing toys - any and all; everywhere. I started putting small toys on his highchair tray to distract him while I get out his food. He picks them up and then throws them and laughs
-he likes lifting toys over his head, especially his My first story reader and steering wheel
-attacking other babies at daycare. Abuela and I truly think he wanted to play, but the other baby was not having it!
-grunting at the dogs
-feeding the dogs
-crunchies (they're like Cheetos puffs for babies)
-pulling mommy's face
-pulling blankets over his head and then pulling them off
-kicking everything, especially when he's on the changing table
-splashing water

Joely dislikes

-afternoon naps (really naps in general)
-being forced to sit up
-not being able to crawl to get a toy that's out of his reach

That's our Joely! At 7.5 months, he's such much fun to watch. He's such a learner and observer. Even though my sweet newborn has been replaced with a toy-chucking menace to the nursery, he's still such a sweetheart. Every morning he reaches for me and pulls me in for a big sloppy kiss and then wraps his arms around me. He's a good 15 pounds, but he's growing longer which makes me think I should wash some 9 month clothes this weekend. I cannot believe how quickly this time has gone. I miss my baby, but I'm in love with this little boy.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Different Kind of New Year's & Resolutions

Well, for the 2nd year in a row the Campbells have stayed in for New Year's. We got invited to a couple of parties, but we're still in the "only family and friends babysit Joely," mode. So, we opted to party a little bit at home. Maybe next year we'll be more apt to leave him with a sitter.

Murad and I picked up some steaks and shrimp. Murad cooked the steaks and I made a shrimp/rice pilaf and champagne cupcakes. Joely was super-lame and went out to sleep at 7:00pm. I fell asleep around 9:30p and woke up to Murad jumping on the bed at 11:58 with sparkling cidar. We stayed up and watched the ball drop. I then watched old epidsodes of Tosh.0 (love that show) until the west coast ball dropped.

Today we did little things around the house. Murad cleaned out the gutters and helped me work on putting together a linen cabinet for the master bathroom. We mostly just spent the day with Joely. We reflected back on how great 2011 was for us and what we look foward to in 2012. We have some pretty big milestones as I turn 30 (January) and Joely turns 1 (May). We also have some traveling to do as we'll travel by plane to Philadelphia again in May and we plan to make a trip Kansas to see family in March. No summer trips planned,but I'm hoping that maybe we can do a weekend in Houston or San Antonio if we can't afford to take a big trip. Here's a short recap of 2011:
January - my 29th birthday and we found out Baby C was a he!
February - big snowstorm!! missed five days of work!
March - Murad and I celebrated 2 years of wedded bliss! Murad was inducted into the South Jersey Track & Field Hall of Fame
April - Wichita baby shower
May - work baby shower, 5 year annivesary of when we met, 1 year anniversary of closing/moving into our home, gave birth to Joel Tariq Campbell
June - my parents and my in-laws came to see Joely
July - we started getting more sleep
August - Joel was baptised at my home church in Wichita, Joel started daycare
September - Joel had his first ear infection
October - State Fair of Texas
November - Joel's first plane ride
December - Joel's first Christmas / hospital visit oh and on December 31st, Joel ate his first Gerber crunch!
So what are my New Year's Resolutions? See below:
Eat better
Now that Joely is eating, Murad and I are trying to be better models. My goal is to buy our produce from local growers. Luckily, we have a great farmer's market down the road!

Achieve my career goals
I feel like I spent most of 2011 defining my career goals, and now I want to go after them. I need to stop being afraid of the risk and do it! I feel like I've put lots of things in place, but I have yet to really act on them.

Get Organized
Who doesn't put this on their list? Laundry is my biggest foe. let's hope this linen cabinet helps!

Pay down debt and put more in savings
I always do a good job at this, but always good to have as a reminder

Put more money in Joely's college fund
because damn it's going to be expensive to send his ass to college!

Read More
I've really slacked off on reading. I used to read every night before bed. I'm lucky if I can keep my eyes open before my head hits the pillow.

Gain some weight
I know this seems weird. I've lost all the baby weight and then some, but now I'm not able to nurse as well. My goal is to nurse him (not exclusively) for 13 months so end of June. Right now I'm only nursing twice a day and he's no longer getting pumped milk during the day. =(
People have asked what I've done to lose weight, but I don't have a magic trick and my stomach still has lots of extra skin, so it's definitely not cute. I attribute my weight loss to a few things:
-Joel is my first child and it's easier to lose weight after the first one (or so I've been told)
-eating smarter. I eat a lot! I snack throughout the day and I don't limit myself. I just make better choices
-drinking more water
-active child - When I left the hospital in May, I immediately lost 10 lbs. Then I lost five more and then I was stagnant. When Joel hit about 5 months, the rest of the weight just dropped off. I think I lost 20 lbs in a month. Joel is much more active. He's not crawling, but he finds ways to get into trouble. Plus, I have a tendency to pick him as much as I can for hugs and kisses. It's like lifting weights.
So, while I'm glad I have lost the baby-weight, I'd rather pack on a few pounds so that I can pump more and nurse him more. I'm totally not against formula, but man does his breath stink when he drinks it!
That being said, I do miss Joely being a little baby. I'm thinking maybe in 2012, I'd have another baby? Nah! Just kidding! I'm cool with just Joely for now, but I'm getting to a place where I'll consider trying for another baby in late 2012 (like December 31st) or 2013. I'm not gonna lie though, I am totally content with Joely. In fact, I cannot imagine my heart opening up anymore because he has totally stolen it. I just want to spoil him rotten forever, but I know that will change. Right? Well, nevertheless 2011 brought so many blessings to our lives. I cannot wait to watch our son grow into a little boy in 2012.
*disclaimer. I'm using Internet explorer and it's super slow. For some reason Firefox isn't working. So, I apologize for all the typos!*