Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Play Room

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

Halloween 2013

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

School Picture

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

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How I Know We're Soulmates

I know it sounds cliche to say that as the years roll by I fall more in love with my husband, but it really is true. We're approaching year 5 in March 2014. Since becoming parents 2 1/2 years ago, our relationship has changed dramatically. While some grow apart, I think I've realized more and more why we're supposed to be together forever. That's not to say that our marriage is not without challenges, but each day we're learning more about how to make our marriage work. I think the hardest part is putting our marriage first, but we're slowly learning.

1. We both love old homes.
We've been talking about moving in four or five years to a bigger home, possibly a two-story home (if we can afford it). We really love living in Plano, so we'd likely stay in this area maybe within our neighborhood. Our house was built in 1973, so it's definitely seasoned. We love that. Our home has so much character. I also like that there is only one other look-alike house in our neighborhood. We've been driving around looking at neighborhoods, and I think we were both relieved that neither one of us wanted a "new" house (something built in the last 15 years) or to try to build a house (not that we could afford to anyways).

2. We both love the terrible-twos.
The terrible twos are terrible most days, but it's because there is a lot of learning going on. Learning on our part and Joely's. We love watching him learn something or figure out something. We love watching him attempt to be independent. This really is a magical age.

3. We believe in relevant consequences.
Last night we went to dinner at my cousin's house. We both felt a sense of relief in learning that she and her husband do not spank their son. I always thought spanking was the norm and that you weren't a good parent unless you spanked. Recently, Murad and I realized that spanking didn't work with Joel (we rarely did it. I think only when he did something dangerous). In fact, we realized that Joely responded better to different consequences. Time-out has been such a blessing to us. Joely actually likes time-outs because he can remove himself from the stressor or distraction, he comes back refreshed and ready to play. Also, Joely really understands verbal communication, and can read non-verbal cues very well. Today, he just started saying "sorry" when he does something wrong. More importantly, we don't want Joely to ever fear us. We want him to come to us if he's in trouble. We also want to show him that just like we expect him to respect us, we respect him as well. We are his parents and he is our child, but we can still show mutual respect.

4. We love discounts.
I think most people like to brag about how much money they spend on things. We like to brag about how much money we save. If you come to our home you'll see very few "new" items. We do that we because we like recycled and repurposed furniture. It makes our house feel like a home. It also feels good to say that we bought a "brand new chaise lounge from our neighbors for $50," or "I got this Nike outfit for Joel for $12 instead of $50."

5. We realize we're works in progress.
We're still learning how to be adults. We're still navigating this world in which we live. We make mistakes daily. Big mistakes. Small mistakes. We're learning how to manage our money better (funny how more money really does create more problems!) Saving more, etc. We're learning how to parent as well. Fortunately, we try to laugh as we go through life together.

6. We've learned to lean on each other.
I think now more than ever we reflect on our vows. We've learned to support each other through the hard times and what support really is. Each day we learn something new and it brings us a little closer to each other.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Peaking in...

Today, I had the chance to peak in on Joely during free-time. His class was in the gym playing. The girls all sat in a circle talking and playing with small objects. The boys threw balls and chased each other around the gym.

"It's already starting? The boy/girl segregation?" I asked his teacher.

"Yep. Already. They do it on their own," she replied.

When Joely saw me, he stopped chasing the ball and ran up to me. "Mommy, mommy!" I could just melt. He threw his arms around me. Then he did something he's never done. He ran back to his teacher, inched up close to her and gave her a hug. Could he be any sweeter? I need to remember these times when he's on the floor having a tantrum, or when we get a report from school saying he bit someone (we're a week and a half bite-free!). I also love hearing his sweet little singing voice. Yesterday, he sang all through the grocery store. Luckily, he has a pretty good voice.

I leave you with a picture that Murad snapped today. He said he turned around to check on Joely. Joely found his Spiderman sunglasses in Murad's backseat and put them on. He's so obsessed with putting things on head: necklaces, hats, bowls, sunglasses, Murad's XBox gear, etc. He may be too cool for school, but he'll always be my baby! Ignore the fact that the backpack is around his back, please.

Monday, September 30, 2013

We've Survived!

We made it through one month of preschool! Today, I paid the tuition for October (ouch!) and realized that we had successfully made it. It hasn't been without ups and downs. Joely still has anxiety when we drop him off each morning, but he loves it once he gets there. He's had some issues with pinching, scratching and biting other children. We're not sure if he's doing it to be mean or because he likes them. We're trying to model good behavior and it seems like we have some good days and bad days. Nevertheless, his teachers and director are all very supportive of how we address it at home and address it the same way at school. I think that's what has been very important to us. We had such a horrible first daycare experience that I quit my job and worked from home for a year. I sent him to an in-home daycare with one other kid part-time for that year and now we're back, but in a whole new situation. I was hesitant about putting him in an actual daycare center/preschool as opposed to an in-home daycare, but all of my fears have been put to ease. Everyone at his school knows him. Everyone at his school smiles and seems happy to be there. The kids seem happy to be there. We love that the center is filled with activities and equipment that appeal to the multiple intelligences. We also like that there is not a big focus on technology. I can't tell you how many schools we visited that boasted using (which we have at home, but we use it sparingly) or some other technology application. His school library has two or three computers that students can use, but it's definitely not the focus like at some places. Speaking of library, Joely loves to "read." Instead of reading to him, Joely wants to get "book" and show us the pictures, "see, see." It's so cute. I love hearing his little voice getting excited about what he's learned. Joely is also a pretty popular guy at school. All the kids say hi and bye to him when we drop him off and pick him up. He loves to sing in the circle with the kids. I'm just so happy that things are working out for him. This makes returning to work full-time 10x easier than I expected. I'm feeling very blessed to be in this moment. I feel like we finally have the life we envisioned when we married (well, before we married). Murad and I muse that we're finally having "kid" problems. No more baby problems. I thought I'd be sad. I will admit there are days that I long to hold a little 3 or 4 month old, smell a baby's breath, and nurse a baby (I know. I'm weird). However, I am completely in love with this little boy. He has given us so, so much joy. He's been such a light in our lives. He's more than we ever could have asked for, and at times I feel as though we don't deserve him. That's why I'm so glad that we found a school that fits him. I'm glad we found a school where he is loved. I'm glad we found school where he learns. I'm glad we found a school where he's happy! This one thing makes me feel as though I'm doing something right as his mama.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I have not blogged in a while

Tonight, I felt completely overwhelmed with laundry and housework. Our laundry baskets are overflowing, and there are clean clothes that need to be put away. I cleaned half of both bathrooms. And don't even get me started on organizing our office. I took cleaned up some, folded some laundry and then decided to sit down and update my blog. However, I'm just now getting around to it because I've been reading about everyone's wonderful lives on Blogger. I will say, it's so much more fulfilling to read blogs than Facebook statuses. I feel like those are kinda like short screams. Blogger makes me feel as though I'm watching a play. I picture you writing your posts. Some of you I picture with pumpkin lattes from Starbucks, while others I picture stealing some alone time near a good window. Thank you for letting me peak into your lives.

So much has occurred since my June 20th post. I'm working full-time again. Joely is in preschool. Murad is running groups for MDA. Our house is falling apart (not just because of laundry and cleaning...) Nevertheless, we're all happy and healthy, for the most part.

June kind of hit me hard. I applied for, interviewed for and accepted my dream job with my old district; however, many of my writing and online teaching contracts ended unexpectedly. I scrambled to find work and really struggled to make ends meet. It was a difficult time for me, but I'm very fortunate to be able to slowly pick myself back up financially. I'm also learning to take it one day at a time, celebrate successes, problem-solve for failures and be thankful that I got through the summer. I did have a great time working at the writing center, editing dissertations, writing for online magazines and teaching high school students through Upward Bound.

Since the middle of August, I have been working for my old school district as a Student Assistance Program Specialist. You might ask what that position entails. I sort of work as a prevention specialist by coordinating many of the prevention programs - bullying, drugs, & alcohol. I also do team-building on the secondary campuses for teachers, other specialists and student groups. Things I love about my job:
-getting to dress up each day
-having a cubicle
-wearing heels every day
-free bottles of water
-visiting all the schools
-working with kids
-learning about all the different schools
-my coworkers
-having a 12 minute commute

things I don't like:
-my feet hurt all the time
-my knees hurt
-it's cold in our office. like really, really cold

Since I decided to go back to work and Joel's sitter decided to go back to school, we started looking at preschool/daycares. We toured what seemed like thousands of schools (it was like five) and finally found one we loved. It's in Richardson, so I get an RISD teacher discount, but it's close enough to Plano that Murad can take him to school on his way to downtown Dallas. It's a Montessori school with a daycare in it, so Joel goes to school from 8:00am-3:00pm. From 3:00pm-6:30pm are daycare hours (and 7:00am-8:00am). Murad usually drops him off at 7:45am and I pick him up around 4:45pm most days. We have really been impressed with the education he's receiving. He barely talked before and now he's saying sentences. He puts his toys away and his plates away at each meal. Today he spilled yogurt on himself and he came up to me and asked, "Can you help me?" Tonight he told Murad, "Daddy, I'm tired!" He's started singing his ABC's and he's counting more. He loves to read us books and he holds up the pages to us so that we can see the pictures. Of course, he's still obsessed with Elmo, so most of the books he picks feature him. He also loves looking at the babies in the nursery at his school. Sending him to school has not been without challenges. He cried everyday for the first couple of weeks. Yesterday, he threw up 3x at school and once at home. Last week he got in trouble for pinching and biting the same kid two days in a row. Today, he got a bad report for scratching two other kids. We do not know what is going on. We've tried lecturing him about his behavior, but it's kinda hard because we're doing it so late after the fact. I tried acting out with Elmo & Cookie Monster as models how to behave. He rolled his eyes. Oh yeah, he's been rolling eyes at anyone who says something he doesn't like. His behavior sometimes rivals that of a teenage girl. I know all this is normal toddler behavior, but it is overwhelmingly frustrating. I just wish I knew what was going through his head. I can't help but wonder if it's something more than normal toddler behavior. Is there something we're missing? I could worry myself into a frenzy if I let myself. I think some of it is guilt too. Our previous, previous daycare providers were less than stellar which prompted me to stay home with him. Also, Murad had a lot of apprehension about me returning to work. I know he loved having me home with Joely, and like me, could see the benefit of Joel having a stay-at-home mom. However, I do think Joely having a mom who is happy with her career is okay too. I feel like we have a new life each year, and I'm falling in love with our new life and finding joy in all that Joely is learning even if it means I have to share him with others.

Maya has to have surgery. She injured herself playing/fighting with Sampson. I'm too upset to really finish typing about it. They always go crazy in the summer due to the heat, but this summer was bad. I love my Maya.

Yeah. Our house. We planned to start renovating our master bathroom. We've got foundation problems to fix. So, for now we're all using Joel's bathroom until we can finish gutting ours....I must say that despite all the issues this house has, I love it. It's so perfect for our little family. I feel like we've really made it our home. I also really love living in Plano. Each day I discover another treasure (usually a restaurant). I'm so glad Joely will grow up here. I have to remind myself that despite all the hurdles that I feel were suddenly thrust my way, God has given me the strength to get through them. I'm also very thankful for the life I have. I'm finally doing a job I love. Murad loves his job. I feel like we've finally arrived where we thought we'd be when we first started this journey together. It seems so surreal. I have to remind myself that it's real. When I get down on myself, I try to remind myself that I have a beautiful family and rewarding career.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Meatless Monday...Extended?

Once a week, I try to cook a meatless meal for my family. This usually occurs on Monday (thanks, Foodbabe!), but I'm happy just to get it in one day a week.

The end of May and the beginning of June was a roller-coaster time for our family. We experienced many highs and lows. We had visitors, we traveled, we cried and we celebrated. We also ate a lot of fast food. We ate a lot of bad food at restaurants. We ate a lot of junk food at home.

When I returned from Wichita, I decided I wanted to sort of detox from everything bad. I didn't fast, but I didn't eat meat. I came back craving veggies. So, on Wednesday I picked up a bunch of fruits, veggies and wonderful sprouted grain tortillas. I made yummy burritos, veggies pizzas, salads, and other vegetarian dishes. On Sunday, we celebrated Father's Day with donuts and take out from Applebee's, but I ordered tilapia with steamed veggies.

Today is Thursday and I have not had meat since Sunday (if you count fish). I'm not saying that I won't eat meat, but at this point I like exploring the veggie options. Murad has been surprisingly supportive. While he isn't joining me on this journey, he does provide me with encouragement. Today he picked up tacos and made sure to get me black bean tacos! So sweet!

I went to the doctor on Wednesday and I've already lost four pounds. When I see immediate results, it motivates me to continue on this journey. After I left teaching, I started gaining back the baby weight I lost. I'm hoping that with this new lifestyle change I'll have more energy to exercise and get my weight back to an ideal size. If I lose ten pounds, I'll be happy! Since I'm returning to work full-time this fall, I'm sure I'll lose more weight!

If you have yummy vegetarian recipes, please send them my way!

Monday, June 17, 2013


So, I have so many updates regarding our lives. I'm so bad at blogging. I feel like I come on here every few months to update and then I run off!

Okay, so first things is first. Joel is 2!! Joel celebrated his 2nd birthday May 22nd! Yes, our wonderful prince has been here for two whole years. We celebrated his birthday on June 2nd (we still act like he was born in June even though he arrived three weeks early). We had a great party at our home. We pulled out the sprinklers, filled up the baby pool, and set up the water table. I bought a ton of sand buckets and bubbles for the kids to use and take as favors. Murad grilled burgers, and I made pizza balls (thank you, Pinterest!). We also had a delicious buttercreme cake (you know the Campbells love cake!) I think Joely totally enjoyed the party. The next day we went to visit his pediatrician. He's perfectly healthy and at 27 lbs (10th percentile) and 34 inches (50th percentile), he's growing up well. She told us to keep a list of the new words or phrases he says. He's about average in language development, but she wants to make sure he keeps it up.

Prior to Joel's 2nd birthday, my in-laws came to visit over Mother's Day weekend. They came in town (with Murad's stepbrother in tow) to visit Qadree's new home. Qadree (my brother-in-law) moved out of our home in January and purchased a brand new (like, it was still being built) home in March. While we were sad to see him go, we are excited for this new endeavor. We had a great time with them, but as always it was too short. Our boys spoiled Murad's stepmother and me! We had a lovely brunch at Blue Mesa.

In May, we discovered that my dad's brain tumor returned. It was almost eleven years ago that my family traveled to Arkansas for my dad to undergo brain surgery. At the time, the doctors could not get all of the tumor due to its location. They assured us that a gamma knife could zap it if it started to grow. Unfortunately, a gamma knife causes swelling which could lead to paralysis, so when doctors discovered it returned, we didn't know what to expect. My parents traveled to Houston at the end of May to meet with a specialist. Fortunately, the specialist determined that surgery was not the best option. My dad will undergo radiation treatment in Wichita. Even though the trip to Houston was stressful, we got two visits to Plano from Nana & Papa! Joely was so excited to spend time with them!

After my parents left, we spent a week here, and then Joely and I traveled to Wichita to spend a few days with Nana and Papa before dad starts radiation. We also paid a visit to the Sedgwick County Zoo! I'm not sure if Joely was too interested in the animals. He wanted to eat, eat goat food, and run around the animals. He had no interest in petting them or looking at them. He did like the gorilla though, go figure.

Yesterday, we celebrated a wonderful Father's Day. Father's Day usually is hard for Murad because he has such a strained relationship with his daughter (through no fault of her own), but he said yesterday was the best Father's Day he's ever had. All he wanted to do was spend time playing with Joely. It started off kinda rocky because my car battery died while Joely and I were out buying donuts for Murad. He picked us up and paid for a new battery for me. We came home, entertained some out-of-town visitors, made phone calls, opened gifts and napped. Murad gave Joely a haircut, and then I picked up Applebee's for us to eat. By the time I got home, Murad had already put Joely down for bed. We stayed up, ate, and watched True Blood and the Oz Great & Powerful movie. It was a great day and I'm glad he enjoyed it!

Please keep Abby (my stepdaughter) in your thoughts and prayers. We know some things are going on in her home that shouldn't be, but we're hoping that someone will take action. Unfortunately, that means that we can't see her or talk to her at this time. It's been hard, but we have to do what we can from a distance to protect her.

Well, I started off doing lots of blogging for the dental marketing company, but they let me go. Actually, I kinda wanted to get let go. On the day of Joely's birthday, the owner let us know of a mandatory three day training the next week. When I told them I couldn't make it, they seemed put off (I kinda need more than five days notice , especially for a contract job!). In addition, they changed the due dates and turnaround time on many of our writing assignments. I could have adjusted, but the wanted the new due dates to go into action immediately. At this point, I was already done with them, but I expressed my concerns and asked for additional time to adjust. At that time, they let me go. I was actually relieved when I saw my name missing from the weekly calendar. I'm sure they're a great company, but I'm used to working solely online (which I thought this would be with the occasional monthly meeting). Now I have more time to devote to my contract jobs. Right now, I'm finishing up a big project for an online educational company. Ironically, I'm writing study guides for the Texas English II Exams. Once a teacher... I'm also writing articles and case studies for an herbal supplement company. In order to make ends meet, I've been working as an online TA, but the university recently eliminated my position due to low enrollment. I still work 2-3 mornings a week at Collin's Writing Center and I'm going to teach at a summer camp in July.

What I've discovered is that each semester, I have to "find" work. Working as an adjunct means that I'm not guaranteed classes. I would've loved to taught at Collin or Texas Wesleyan this summer, but they didn't have enough classes. Contract work is kinda the same. Some months are really good, and other months, not so much. Nevertheless, I've made it work and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I only send Joely to daycare 2-3 days a week which means that I get to watch him grow and learn. However, I realize that long-term this will not work. While I haven't taken any money out of my retirement account, I haven't put much in. Also, Murad and I finally decided that we would like to have another child in the future. I don't know how I could save up for a maternity leave like I had before. Plus, doing contract work is great with a toddler, but won't work with an infant. I loved having 12 weeks off to bond with Joely when he was an infant, and I want that with another baby. So, I made the decision to return to the traditional full-time workforce this fall. I'll still work in education, but not as a teacher. I'm still waiting for the HR stuff to go through (fingers crossed), but I'm pretty excited!

This means Joel will go to daycare full-time. His current sitter will start college in the fall, so this means she can only watch him 2-3 days a week. We're looking at preschools to send him to on the opposite days. Hopefully, this will help him transition to full-time preschool in the fall of 2014. I'm glad that Joel kinda got the best of both worlds. I was able to be home with him during a big period of growth and learning. I also got to see firsthand how my parenting shaped him. I also got to partake in daily love-fests with him. I love those random hugs and kisses he gives me throughout the day. Man, I'm tearing up just thinking about going back to work.

Monday, April 22, 2013

23 months!

Next month my baby boy turns TWO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


So, as many of you know I left full-time public school teaching at the end of the last school year. I knew when I left that I would not come back to teach in that environment. There were many reasons for my departure:
1. I wanted to spend more time with Joel. I never planned to be a stay-at-home mom, but there were many things that happened that led me to stay at home part-time with Joel. We had a horrible experience with his first daycare provider. We love his current provider, but we wanted to take on more of an active role in his daily life. I didn't want to feel as though his child care provider took my place. I know that probably wouldn't have happened, but I just see more of a disconnect in our generation with our kids. I'll discuss that more in another post. Anyways, Joel goes to daycare 2-3 times a week and we love it.
2. I became disillusioned with public school teaching. It just wasn't fun anymore. I no longer had the desire to spend extra hours tutoring, attending meetings, or conducting state-assessment prep camps. When Joel was born, I also stopped believing in public education, and that has become a big issue in our family as we have to decide quickly if he'll attend public school or private school or a mixture of the two.
3. I wanted to pursue a college-teaching career. I still do, but it is difficult to get a full-time teaching job at a community college or university, so I've been teaching part-time, which works well for our family.
4. I wanted to pursue my writing career. Back in 2007, I really started to delve into creative non-fiction and fiction. It started with creating little stories for my students. I also did a 3-week writing workshop through my school district one summer which helped to solidify that desire. Murad always encouraged me to write, but I never had the time and after many rejections, I just didn't know what to do. This past fall, I started writing again. I was hired on at a few educational start-ups doing script-writing and passage-writing, but was let go due to lack of funding. I also did publish some articles here and there and started a small resume-writing service, but didn't have much success. Well, now I have a steady freelance gig with Modern Dental Practice Marketing! I write blog entries for dental practice blogs. Looks like there will be more opportunities to do website-writing, etc. Since the blog posts are to be written as if I work at the dentists' office, I will not post links to my posts on my Ashlea Campbell Writing blog. In fact, I am thinking of taking down the blog. I can do a lot more through my Facebook page and it seems as though more people follow me there than on my blog or Twitter. Anyways, I'm excited about my new journey. I promise to post more of my writing when I can!

I leave you with a picture of my boys! I love them so much and couldn't imagine my life without them. Our little man will be 23 months tomorrow! We're a month away from two! He makes me smile so much. Today, we played in the yard, took a walk and watched movies on the couch. Perfect Sunday with them. Of course, he did eat everything in sight today, but that's my son!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring is Here

It sure doesn't feel like spring is here. Well, now it does. Our house is a hot 77 degrees. Earlier last week it was cold though. What gives? None of us have adjusted well to all the weather changes. Joely was really sick on Easter and most of last week. Thank God we have that Nebulizer; it's been such a life-saver
Tonight was the championship game for NCAA Men's Basketball. Louisville beat Michigan. I'm thankful for that since Michigan beat my Jayhawks in the Elite Eight. One crazy thing happened this year was that the university in my hometown made it to the Final Four. Yes! Wichita State University Shockers made it to the Final Four. We were in Wichita last week for Easter and were able to watch the game in Old Town with lots of Shocker fans, and lots of Wichita natives like myself. Although I am not an alum of Wichita State, I did take U.S. History After the Civil War there one summer and I also attended band camp there the summer after sixth grade. I also did countless activities there, so you catch my drift. No matter what though, I'm always a Jayhawk! I bleed Crimson and Blue
We've had some big changes and not so big changes in our home during the month March
1. We bought a new car! We bought an SUV (read: mom mobile) two years ago before Joel was born. We traded in Murad's 09 Ford Fusion for a 2011 Kia Sorento. Murad was going to drive my 04 Jetta and I'd drive the Sorento. We kind of ended up sharing the Sorento because the Jetta had so many problems and we wanted to keep the miles low on it. Well, we finally traded it in a few weeks ago and purchased a 2012 Nissan Altima. So now I'm back to driving the and Murad drives the Altima. We all feel a little safer on the road. I think we had starting skipping a lot of the big and small maintenance issues with the Jetta, and as a result we just didn't know when it'd die on the side of the road
2. We started remodeling. Over Easter our contractor pulled up the carpet and stained the concrete. We're going with the stained concrete look until we can afford to put down hardwood floors. It's so nice!!! This summer, we are gutting our master bathroom. We're extending the size of our master closet, putting in double sinks and a whirlpool tub. We're saving a ton of money by putting in some sweat equity, but our contractor is doing a lot of the big stuff
3. we got new jobs..again. So, Murad had been working in hospice and it was great and a payraise, but not enough for the work he was doing. Such a shame because he really loved his clients. Now, he's working for the county as a court investigator and loves it! Last week, I was hired on as a content manager (read: freelance writer) for Modern Dental Practice Marketing. I'm so excited about this job because I will work with get to start my writing career! The job is local, so I'll get to interact with other likeminded people, but it's work from home so I'll get the flexibilty I love. It's contract work for now (they had just hired a full-time writer when my application came in), but I have the opportunity to move into full-time work and still work from home. I'd really love to do that and give up some of my other jobs (namely teaching online). In addition, I'm still doing resumes and writing projects for clients. I'm now delving into editing. A friend of mine is writing a book and asked me to look over her first chapter. I loved, loved, loved reading and suggesting edits. I'm hoping my experience with MDPM will help me develop my editing skills and that I will be able to add that to the list of services Ashlea Campbell Writing provides.
4. Our Joely just keeps growing. He's now taking showers instead of baths. This has helped tremendously because we've all been so sick and the hot, steamy showers helps break up his mucous. He also loves to pee on the floor before getting in the shower and he does it when getting out of the shower. I'm using this as an opportunity to place him on his potty. Today I did it and he screamed. I'm hoping he'll warm up to the idea of peeing in the potty instead of on the floor. Joely can count to four. He loves to say two which is great since he turns two next month. I keep asking him how old he is and I'm trying to coach him to say two. Hoping he gets it down by May 22nd! Joel has a great obsession with airplanes. There are quite a few that fly over our house on the way to DFW and since we live next to a hospital we get a few helicopters flying over us from time to time. I think it's only fitting that he likes airplanes since his dad and I met at an airport. He got some cool airplane PJs from Nana and Papa for Easter. He looks so cute in them. Joel is finally starting to understand what no means. He loves to say it loudly at Kroger too! More importantly, he understands that when I say "no, no, no," he needs to stop doing whatever he's doing and repeat "no, no, no" after me. Saturdays are daddy/Joely days since I teach. Murad snapped a picture of Joel in the wine aisle at the sandwich shop. His caption read, "he darted to the wine aisle; just like his mom. smh." I could only laugh. My dear, sweet, future alcoholic (I kid) son
5. Abby is going through a lot right now. She's been asking to come stay with us more since her mom is so unstable. Not sure if she'll be down this summer, but it's looking like she will be for at least a week. Just keep her in your prayers. Hoping her mom gets her act together and that Abby can do well there, or that she can be where she needs to be.
6. Murad and I celebrated four years of marriage on March 21st! We celebrated in true Campbell fashion: lunch date without Joely and filling out brackets for March Madness. It seriously is our favorite time of year! Even though KU didn't go as far as we wanted, we had a great time watching basketball with friends, with family and with each other. I feel like NCAA March Madness should've been incorporated into our vows. Either way, it's a part of our family and it's what we love! I'm including a picture of us on St. Patrick's Day. We all wore green, but Joel is wearing the same Rock Chalk Shamrock shirt he wore last year (it's a 2T shirt). He can finally fit it! LOL

Happy April!! Hoping for some nice, spring weather!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A New Year of Happiness

The fall of 2012 was a rough time for me. I always get a little depressed in the fall, especially around November. My cousin committed suicide four years ago, so each year I get a little depressed around his death. Usually at the end of the month I pick myself up especially when we travel to NJ for Thanksgiving. This fall was a little different. Like I said it was four years ago that my cousin committed suicide. It was four years ago that Barack Obama was voted into office, which my cousin got to see. He didn't see his inauguration. While I was happy to see Obama elected into office again, it brought back that time in my life. A few days before the anniversary of my cousin's death, my dear friend's father passed away. He lost his battle with Alzheimer's, and while I was so sad for my friend, I could not help but think of how full his life had been. And then of course, I felt sad about my cousin whose life was full of despair. And while I know there was nothing I could do to change things, or stop him, that guilt never goes away. And it makes you think how can someone do this? But I'm learning to accept what happened four years ago.
I started feeling rejected by family as well. Like I mentioned before, I had a cousin who up and decided to no longer speak to me or acknowledge my existence. That hurt because I thought we were close despite being step-family.
While I don't regret my decision to leave K-12 teaching full-time, last fall I felt as though I was at a stand still career-wise. There were no adjunct teaching positions available at the community college where I previously taught, so I ended up taking a position at another community college. While I was thankful for the opportunity to teach and earn money, I quickly discovered the college was not for me. I love the students, but I couldn't adapt to the lack of organization and administration. I don't think the administration cared for me much either. I hate to leave places on bad terms (and I didn't. I did my job and did it well despite how much I hated it.), but I was so ready for the semester to end
I also started a small writing service. While I had high hopes for the company, it didn't do well. I averaged one or two clients a month. Not good! I really started to doubt my writing skills.
Murad and I reached a rough patch too. Communication is always hard in marriage, but the past fall was extremely difficult. Between job changes, medication changes, and raising a toddler, we just weren't communicating.
So, I've slowly worked at picking myself back up (Not that I was ever really down. I mean things suck sometimes, but I still have a pretty rockin' life!). I can honestly say that I woke up extremely happy on Friday. I thought about this new year and things are really looking up professionally and personally
I'm back teaching one class at my old community college which I really love. I also somehow stumbled into teaching at a university this semester, and it looks like the demand for instructors isn't going to slow down at all, so I'll have steady work each semester. Oh and the pay is so much better. I absolutely love it there. The administration is great and I'm basically left alone to teach! While I do miss K-12 teaching from time-to-time, especially when I receive sweet emails from former students, I have found my niche in teachin developmental literacy courses. Someone asked if I want to become an English professor, and while that would be nice, I'd rather becomea full professor of Developmental Writing or Reading.
I've seen a steady increase in the number of clients of Ashlea Campbell Writing. I am mostly contacted for resume and cover-letter writing services, I have new cient for different writing projects. My favorite so far: a scavenger hunt for a PTA Multicultural Night.
My husband is pretty amazing. Our communication is getting better, and I think I had forgotten how much he goes out of his way to make me feel like a princess (or queen). He's also been very patient with me as I exit my funk and he's encouraged me to keep following my dreams. If it wasn't for him, I'd still be teaching public school. He saw my unhappiness and encouraged me to leave. He believed in me and still does. While he can piss me off royally some (most? just kidding) I'm so lucky to have him by my side. He's had a rough time lately, but he's always happy despite rough times. I guess that's what makes us different. He ha such a hard life. He can get through the setbacks because he still has me and Joely. I had an easy life (not easy, but I had it pretty good growing up) and sometimes the setbacks are a major blow.
Lastly, my family stuff? Well, I can't bring my cousin back, I can't force my cousin to talk to me and I've even lost some more family members along the way, but I'm learning to accept everything. It's not easy, but I have to not let it affect how I see me. The truth is that I'm pretty awesome. I have a career in which I'm happy and making money, a wonderful husband, a perfect son, two loveable dogs, and a wonderful home. When I think about all of this, it makes everything else with which I was concerned trivial. Instead of dwelling on the past, I want to live each day to the fullest. I'm excited for a new year of happiness. When I'm not happy, I hope I can pick myself back up and move on.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Joely updates

I decided to provide some updates on Joel since he has changed so much in the past months and weeks. As much as I want to keep him a little baby, he reminds me that he's determined to be a little boy
1. Joel loves to sweep with a broom. The last few weeks have been rainy and our dogs have tracked in lots of mud. Joel has grown accustomed to seeing Murad or me sweeping up dirt in the mornings. Now, Joel gets the broom out and sweeps before heading to his high chair. If anyone knows were we can get a child-size broom, we would greatly appreciate it
2. Joel loves to load and unload the dishwasher. Today after breakfast I washed dishes and put dishes in the dishwasher. Joel came over, so I gave him a (plastic) plate to load. He did it perfectly. I gave him a spoon and he did that as well. He just loves to be a little helper
3. Joel refuses to use his "baby" flatware when eating. He now uses the same forks and spoons that mommy and daddy use to eat
4. Joel loves to dance. I mean he dances anytime music plays. His dancing consists of stomping his feet, but it's still dancing
5. Joel is in the toddler group at the library story hour. We had tried the toddler group over the summer, but we still wasn't ready, so we kept him in the infant (0-20 months) group. Now he's in the 18-36 month group and he loves it. He still has a hard time remembering not to run under the parachute until after we sing "Ring Around the Rosy," but he's learning.
6. Joel's vocabulary has expanded quite a bit. He has now added phrases and one complete sentence. Here are some of his favorite things to say
"Abby"- he says her name probably ten times a day. Even though he's not old enough to fully understand who she is, we try to talk about his sister and show him pictures of her. I guess it's working because he loves saying her name
"Why?" - he usually asks this after we tell him to stop doing something
"Hi!" - he's always saying "hi!" It's usually to his cell phone or to strangers
"Eww!" - lately he's been saying "ew" when someone (usually his dad) does something gross. He must've learned it at daycare, right? How does he know when something is gross? Enigma
"What are you doing?" - he started asking me this question this week. The other day he picked up his cellphone and put it to his ear: "Hi! What are you doing?
7. He finally has an interest his LOL Elmo. He likes to tickle "Melmo," talk to "Melmo" and give love to "Melmo."
8. Joely has been "using" the potty, but nothing has hit the bucket yet. We're just glad he sits on his potty chair
9. Our friends were kind enough to gift us their old toddler bed, so we're getting it ready to put in Joel's room. Not sure how this will go, but we're excited as he has already "thrown" himself out of his crib once
10. Finally, Joely will go on his first time away from mom and dad. We've both been away from him overnight, but he's never stayed away from both of us at the same time. He will get to spend the night with Nana and Papa while Mom and Dad head to Kansas City to see friends and celebrate our 4 year wedding anniversary. Nana and Papa's excitement is through the roof as they've already bought diapers and alerted most of the city of Wichita of his arrival. Joel will have his two best buds, Sampson & Maya, there for support. We're hoping he does well with them so that we can plan more trips in the future. Well, that's it on our awesome little man! Hard to believe he's 20 months. He's given us so much joy over the past 20 months!