Sunday, September 30, 2012

Project 52 - Week 18

Despite the MIL's insistence, her hair isn't really red. Just photographs that way a little!
 
Bimmer had her 4 month well-baby visit with Doc Hottie this week. She weighs in at 16 lbs. 8 oz. and is 26 inches long! No wonder her (relatively) new hedgehog jammies unsnap almost every time she kicks. She's a tall girl! These figures put her in the 89% for weight and 96% for height. Puff is happy as long as her height is proportionate to her weight. He's so worried about her being chunky!
 
The best thing, however, is that she is happy and healthy. Doc Hottie says he thinks her blue eyes will stick. And we got the good news that she is not "wonky-jawed." Doc's terminology, not mine! Although her head is still a teeny bit flat in the back, he said it's not worth pursuing a consultation for a helmet. Mommy is sooooo insanely happy to hear that news! We also get to start rice cereal and stage 1 foods whenever we want. I'm sure there will be an update on how that goes! Here's hoping she likes real food as much as she likes taking her bottle!
 
I've mentioned before that Bimmer is a licker. She stuffs her whole hands in her mouth, but everything else just gets licked. But this week I've noticed a little wee bit of OCD in her licking patterns. Whenever she gets ahold of my hand now or Puff's, she will start with our pinky and lick it and then pull the hand back and look at it and then go to the next finger, until she has tested them all. She also does something similar when we read her books. She reads one page and licks it and then when we turn the page, she gets all excited and waves her arms. Then she plunges her face into the book to lick the page. Then she sits back up and goes to the next page before we turn it. It's pretty frickin' adorable.
 
Just like everything else she does. Am I biased or what?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cry Me A River

They say a mother's instinct is a powerful thing. I knew better than to ignore it.
 
At 16 weeks, Puff and I decided it was time for Bimmer to cry it out. Doc Hottie had recommended it 8 weeks earlier, but I just didn't have the heart. But with me starting back to work, Puff and I needed as much rest as we could get. It was time for Bimmer to understand she could last the night without Mommy and Daddy next to her.
 
It was the worst parenting mistake we have made yet.
 
The first night, she cried for 30 minutes and slept for 45. Then she cried for 15 minutes and slept for 3 hours. But then? Then we had over an hour and a half of screaming. When she finally got herself back to sleep, it lasted all of 45 minutes. By that time it was 5am and I went to rescue her. She went back to sleep so soundly with me for 4 more hours.
 
 
 
 
The next few nights were more of the same. The crying didn't tug at my heart, like everyone said it would. It just frustrated me because I couldn't sleep through it! Eventually we hit a night where she was up for over 2 hours and kept getting herself stuck sideways, ramming her head into the side of the crib. Or the time she rolled on to her stomach and stayed face down in the mattress. The worst was the time she got herself wedged into the corner, face down, with her arm stuck through one of the crib slats.
 
The final straw came after a week of sleepless nights and no progress, when over a 10 minute span, she rolled herself over twice to get stuck on her stomach and the third time, she got herself stuck on her side with her face in the side of the crib.
 
This was not teaching her how to sleep through the night. This was teaching her to mistrust her instincts. It was scaring her.
 
I know ultimately, we will have to try it again. But this just wasn't the right time. From the get go, Bimmer has been very independent and cannot be forced into doing anything she doesn't want to do. With me starting back to work, maybe it was just too much major change all at once.
 
 
 
And like I mentioned HERE, not all babies are the same. Just because most babies can be comforted by their parent just patting them on the back while in their crib, doesn't mean Bimmer is cool with that. In fact, the nights we tried to calm her without picking her up? That made it infinitely worse. She's a smart baby. She knows if we are there, we should have the ability to pick her up to make her feel better. We will try again when she can safely roll herself over both directions.
 
Puff jokingly asked me the other day if he was still the only one for me. I had to admit that I have been sleeping with someone else. She's 2 feet tall, has curly light brown hair, and the biggest, bluest eyes. And I will sleep with her for as long as she needs me.
 
 
 
The first morning after we abandonded Operation CIO? I awoke to find Bimmer next to me in the bed, on her side facing me, snuggled up as close as she could get herself, and she had her little arms wrapped around mine, holding it close to her chest. It was awesome to not have her crying.
 
Instead, there were happy tears from Mommy. I think this means she forgives me.
 
 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pack Your Bags

I'm here today to brag about my travels.
 
 

Or well, that seems to be how everyone takes it when I mention anyplace I have ever been. When someone mentions, "Oh, we're going to honeymoon in Maui" my response is always, "Oh, I love it there!" You get the gist. Regardless, people tend to take that as me rubbing it in their face that I've been to all these places. That's not my intention. I tend to take that situation as, "Oh, let's share our common thread and discuss what we liked and disliked about that particular location."
 

Why do people have trouble with that?
 
 

So... take it how you will... bragging or not. I want to talk about all my travels. I feel like this blog has been overtaken by Bimmer lately and I feel like I have much more to share than just the newness of motherhood. I want to start chatting about some of the places I have been and what I thought was awesome. Or not so awesome. Today is my official announcement that I am going to try to expand your travel horizons with info, photos, and stories from the 44 states and 30 foreign countries/territories that I have been to in my 30 years of life.
 
 
 
Just so you're aware, the 6 states I am missing are: Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Alaska. (Puff just picked up Wisconsin and Minnesota last week and I was so jealous I couldn't join him!)
 
The countries/territories I have been to are: Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Dutch St. Maarten, French St. Martin, Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Haiti, Cayman Islands, Ireland, England, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Vatican City, Switzerland, France, Spain, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and New Zealand.
 
And for the fun of it, I think the next few countries I will pick up are: Croatia, Slovenia, and Iceland. Or maybe Turks & Caicos if we get a beach-bug up our butts and want to take the baby on an island getaway!
 
All this to say, please stay tuned for some (what I hope are super interesting) posts about travels. To hold you over, check out some of the Scandinavian cruise updates from our 1 year anniversary trip (HERE) or go outside your comfort zone with the Angola Prison Rodeo in Louisiana (HERE).
 
Pack your bags and get out to see the world! You only live once... may as well see as much as you can while you've still got the time.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Project 52 - Week 17

 
 
My quirky little baby is at it again.

She has decided that her nightly bath time is now her chatty time. I like to think she is telling me about all the fun stuff she did with Nanny while I was at work. She also now laughs when I pour water over her and doesn't freak out if I accidentally get water in her face. It's about my favorite 10 minutes of my day.

During her chat-fests, she is starting to make sounds that sound more like words. There are definitely distinctions between the sounds versus just constant moaning. Although that still happens. Along with shrieking. That's her "singing." But she definitely makes noises that sound like "ha ha" and "awww" and sometimes even a "hi."

In the mornings before work, she likes to lay next to me while I sit cross-legged on the bed and she rolls sideways toward me and puts one little hand up on my knee. It's precious. It makes leaving her that much harder. (That is actually more gut-wrenching to me than her screaming!)

She continues to do some of the cute things she has previously done, just with more gusto. Like playing "peek-a-boo" whenever she has a blanket or burp cloth. She gets the biggest grin when she uncovers her own eyes and sees me or Puff there. And she will sit with me in my lap while I write and pays attention to the keys. She also likes to watch the weather and cartoons. It's just all the bright colors. But sometimes holding her up in front of it for a few minutes is the best way to quiet her! She's still a licker and her hands are constantly in her mouth. Puff said the slobber is starting to bother him. Oh, buddy... he has no idea what's to come!
 
And the biggest thing that happened this week? I was holding her in a sitting position (although I barely have to hold her) and she was on our dresser talking to herself in the mirror. And she kept moving her torso forward to scoot her butt forward to get closer to the mirror! This baby is a mover and a shaker and we are in for some BIG trouble in a few months I think! Time to tape her up in a suit of bubble wrap I suppose!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pots & Pans

I am very grateful to have Craigslist. After moving/downsizing twice in the past 4 years and emptying a storage unit, it has been a blessing to have this available so I could recoup some of my money versus just donating perfectly good items. (Yes, I realize that makes me sound like a horrible person.) During my nesting phase, I needed to get rid of some old pots & pans that had been Puff's way before I was in the picture. We needed that shelf space to make room for formula and bottles.
 
After talking to Rach and doing some searching on Ebay, I realized they were worth well more than I thought. So, I popped them up online, asking $35 for the set. A few days later, I got an email from a lady who was very interested. Now... I always make Puff contact the person if they're not willing to deal with me via email. I don't like to just give out my phone number to any random person on the InterGoogle. I also will never invite them to pick up something from the house if I am here alone. Puff was frustrated with me about the whole ordeal, but did text the woman to see if she wanted to meet up. We made arrangements to meet her at 8pm at Whole Foods to make the swap.
 
Now, I typically would prefer them to come closer to our house, but she lives a good 35 to 40 minutes away, and Whole Foods isn't even 10 minutes from our house, so we agreed. It was worth it for $35 and to rid our house of clutter we can no longer use. She called us as we were about 3 minutes away to say she was in the parking lot, just to the left, in a white Nissan Murano. Puff and I pulled in to the crowded parking lot a few minutes later and couldn't find her. I finally made him call her back, which led to a hilarious conversation between the two of them.
 
Did I fail to mention she was Asian and had a very thick accent?
 
We kept driving around for several minutes and I kept asking him to confirm her location, which got me the shush-wave. If both of us were moving targets, we would never find each other. After what felt like a ridiculous amount of time had passed, I asked him one more time to confirm that she was at the Whole Foods on XYZ Road. Her answer? "Yes! Yes! I'm by the gas station side." Well, there is no gas station at Whole Foods. I asked him AGAIN to question her. "Yes! Yes! I'm at Costco Whole Foods on XYZ Road!"
 
Last time I checked, Costco and Whole Foods are two totally separate places. ::insert giant eyeroll::
 
Thankfully, Costco was just down the street, so we got there a few minutes later. The lady looked at the pots & pans and said she would take them. Except, before she would unzip her wallet, she wanted to tell Puff this long, intricate story. "I was sitting here waiting on you and I hear this lady, Help! Help!" She went on to elaborate that a woman's purse had been stolen from her and the getaway car was zooming through the parking lot and almost hit her Murano. She told us how she tried to get the license plate number, but couldn't remember it because they were driving so fast. And then she made sure to point out the police cars to Puff.
 
How did my husband react? After nodding through her long, barely intelligible ramble, he calmly said, "Now, what happened again?"
 
::insert me banging head against the dashboard::
 
I interrupted her before she could tell the entire story all over again and gave him the gist of the scenario. Thankfully, she took the hint and got out the $35 and handed it to Puff. I was about to have to start faking contractions to get out of there! On the whole, it was one of the better Craigslist swaps I've ever been involved with. Although, that time in Atlanta we watched two women go back and forth over a baker's rack in a gas station only to realize the car wasn't big enough to take it home was pretty entertaining to witness.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bimmer is Bimmer

I am slowly coming to a realization. Or rather, I came to it quickly months ago, but am slowly becoming willing to accept it.

You cannot compare your pregnancy/delivery/recovery/child with anyone else's pregnancy/delivery/recovery child.

It will drive you mad. And you will be petrified of taking a poop after your C-section.

Just because your aunt was in labor for 74 hours, doesn't mean that I will be. And just because you weren't able to eat for 2 days after your delivery, doesn't mean that I can't chow down on Nutella crepes from IHop within 6 hours of giving birth. If you listen to everyone and their advice and wisdom, you'll end up wanting to crawl into an eternal hole!

I understand that people mean well. And sometimes, when I post something on Facebook, I expect people to comment. You know what's super unhelpful though? When I am bitching about Bimmer not sleeping through the night and you decide to point out that your cousin's baby has slept through the night since she was 3 weeks old. Totally not fucking cool. It's in those sleep deprived moments that your comments hold the most weight, and I feel like a failure as a mother.

Another thing I've learned since having Bimmer? That no matter how helpful you think you are being, or how much you just *know* you're right, giving advice to a mother when you're not one yourself holds little merit. I'm guilty of it. I worked with kids and had little cousins and had friends who had babies. But your entire perspective changes when you're the one responsible. When you're in the trenches, you analyze situations differently. You take lots of other factors into consideration. So just because your brother's baby liked to be swaddled, doesn't mean that will work for Bimmer. And just because your co-worker has 12 variations of the same exersaucer, doesn't mean I want that for my baby.

I'm lucky to have some close friends who have gone through all of this before me. And I am beyond grateful that they have been there to answer my questions and offer suggestions. They understand that not all babies are the same. They understand the constant battle in my mind over what is right and wrong. Their support goes a long way when I feel like I am out of options.

My baby is alert and active. She always has been. She does not like to sit still and lounge in your arms. She doesn't like to take long naps. She never has. She wants to be able to wiggle about and move. She wants to be held to check out her surroundings and learn more about the world. I imagine she will be early to crawl and will be into everything possible. She also talks a lot. She knows how to sleep through the night, but doesn't always want to. Sometimes cooing and kicking and laughing at Mommy at 3am is just more fun.

She's not a bad baby. I don't think I am doing anything wrong. But when I hear about babies who are just content to chill, I wonder why Bimmer doesn't do that. When she will sleep through the night in bed with me, but then won't sleep in her crib, I wonder what class on parenthood I missed to get that one right. But then I step back and realize that Bimmer is, well, Bimmer. She's not Layla or Alyssa or Taj or Ashley or any other baby. She does things at her own pace, her own speed, her own way.

Sounds just like her Mommy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Daily Grind

A funny thing happened last week when I went back to work.

I was excited.

I had envisioned having to sneak away to the bathroom to sob about leaving Bimmer. I thought I would want to take my lunch breaks to stare at every photo of her on my phone. I thought every ounce of me would resent having to be at the office.

But it didn't work out that way.
 
That's not to say I didn't miss her endlessly and wish I was cuddled up with her on the couch in our pajamas watching "Criminal Minds" and "Project Runway." But at the same time, it was good to feel needed and wanted in a career setting. All the girls in the office were soooooo excited for me to start and were insanely welcoming. We hit it off right away and I am loving that the office is full of much younger people than my last job. It's good to have other young career-minded mommies to commiserate with.
 
I was always good at what I did for a living. That's not to toot my own horn, but it's true. I was dedicated and focused and busted my ass to make sure things were done. And done right. I fully intend to do that at this new job as well... just not to the detriment of my family. There's a fine line there and I will have to find it. Of course, only having 3 days under my belt so far, it's hard to know how much insanity looms ahead.
 
Puff has been great about helping out in the mornings so I can get ready stress-free and without a crying baby. No... she keeps that for after I'm ready and have held her for awhile and pass her off to Nanny. I had no idea that babies this little had stranger anxiety, but she did about make me cry on Friday morning. She was fine while I was holding her and then screamed when Nanny had her while I went to change clothes. When I came back into the room, Bimmer calmed down and smiled at me and grabbed my finger. But as soon as I let go and walked into the other room to leave, she just screamed as loud as she could. Oh... so heartbreaking!
 
I do think being excited about the work and my work environment will definitely help with being away from Bimmer during the day. She is in good hands with Nanny and (ultimately) I know she will get used to it all. We're all just beginning this new phase of our lives, so it's way too soon to jump in and say that everything is great and we definitely made the right decision. Time will tell if we are doing the right thing. But my initial gut instinct feels good. And that makes that sobbing I hear as I leave the door each morning a bit easier to swallow.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Project 52 - Week 16

 
I'm about to give up on photos since she hates the camera. Boo!
 
I'm pretty sure Bimmer knew something bad was going down this week, because her entire demeanor and patterns and schedule have been all sorts of wonky.
 
The worst has been in the sleep department. All those nights of 6+ hours of sleep or going down in her crib just fine have gone out the window. The past two nights? Puff and I have split having her sleep on our chest because she wouldn't sleep at all any other way.
 
I love the snuggle time. But geez... we don't sleep very well with a wiggly snoring baby on us!
 
So what does that mean? It means that we are finally giving in to Doc Hottie's advice (only 8 weeks late) and we are starting "Operation Cry It Out" effective tomorrow night. It is going to suck... if only because it will keep us awake more than her crying breaking my heart. I know she's OK.
 
Going back to work has been hard. I didn't know that babies this young could have stranger anxiety, but she definitely was wary of Nanny the past two mornings. I hate to leave a crying baby, but what choice do I have? I know she's adjusting as the day progresses, but it's still hard.
 
Here's hoping we can establish some good sleep habits before next week's update. In the meantime, I am going to snuggle that baby and relish in all her fabulous smiles... just not in front of the camera.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Will They Like Me?

I start my new job tomorrow.

I feel like I'm going into my first day of school. The mix of anxiousness and nervousness. The excitement combined with the fact that I am totally petrified of the unknown. Will they like me? Will I trip and make a fool out of myself? Will I know where to go? Ya know... there aren't little footprints on the sidewalk to guide me to the right place. And oh goodness, what will I wear?!? Should I have Puff take my picture before I leave in the morning? I can make a little sign on a chalkboard that says "First Day of Work."

I've tried not to focus very much on the fact that I will be leaving Bimmer. Although I am certain there will be some tears in the bathroom at some point this week at the office. The one good thing is that technology is so awesome, I have tons of photos and videos of her on my phone that I can watch during the day when I am missing her. OK, maybe not every time I miss her. Because then I would just be sitting at my desk watching videos of her dancing to "S&M" by Rihanna. (Did you see that on my Facebook page? She's singing along. It's so cute.)

Back in the spring, I posted THIS about the things I wanted to buy when I got my first paycheck. Seven months have passed since I wrote that. It has been nine months total since I last had to wake up early, shower, and put on dressy clothes and uncomfortable shoes and drive to a place of employment. I think the hardest thing will be that I won't be able to lay in bed with Bimmer in the mornings and watch her wake up. That's my favorite part of the day. The way she stretches and arches her back and rubs her face. Then the big smile she gives when she realizes I am next to her, watching. I will definitely be fighting Puff to keep her on the weekend mornings, that's for sure.

So... what will I buy now when I get a few paychecks under my belt? Well, besides the necessities like car payments, gas, groceries, and the nanny, of course.
(1) Partial funding of a top to bottom painting of all the trim and doors in the house.

(2) A Coach purse - It's time to quit buying cheap-ass embarassing handbags I have to replace every 6 months.

(3) Curtains for the living room - These burgandy/gold striped monstrosities are starting to drive me insane. And that's a cheaper and quicker fix than painting the adjacent dining room. That will happen (for sure) sometime in 2013 though!

I may be a little MIA for a few days on posting with getting settled into our new routine. Or if anyone wants to volunteer to write a guest post or two, let me know! Here's hoping that everything goes well and that Puff and I can begin to enjoy this new next phase in our life. It won't be easy or fun. But it is necessary. And ultimately I hope I can be proud that I am providing for my family.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sound Bite

(I wrote this back in April and am just now posting! Whoopsies!)
 
 
 
It's been awhile since I reviewed any new music!
 
I will fully admit to being a bit out of the loop on much new rock music, since I don't listen to any rock radio these days. However, People Magazine gave me the heads up that a new Shinedown album was coming out in late March, and I immediately put that note on my calendar. Yes, we are trying to save money, but that $12 CD was my big splurge at Target that day. Hey... it was on sale! And, since I've never been disappointed by one of their albums before, I figured it was worth a shot.
 
The album is called "Amaryllis" and that track is actually my favorite on the entire album. It totally gets stuck in my head every time I hear it! But hey... that's better than some random annoying pop song! Or it is to me anyway. The rest of the album is good, but I am going to have to admit that their last album, "Sound of Madness" is by far superior. There aren't any knock-outs on this album like "45" (which is probably one of their biggest hits) or my personal fave, "Call Me."
 
 
 
 
The thing I like best about Shinedown, versus other modern rock bands, is that their lead singer can, well, actually SING. Yes, I'm totally guilty of jammin' to some bands like Nickelback, but they just sorta scream and are mediocre singers. But Brent? Well, that boy can belt it out! It's not necessarily as obvious on some of their harder rocking songs, but "Call Me" is a beautiful example. Oh, I could lick up that boy's voice! Yum! Another total winner? Their cover of "Simple Man." I don't even like when people cover songs, but this one I actually prefer over the original. Basically, all their acoustic stuff is brilliant!
 
 
 
So, now that I've given you some of my all-time favorite Shinedown songs, the final verdict on the new album, "Amaryllis" is two thumbs up. But not as far up as "Sound of Madness." It's a bit tamer, so if you're not as into their heavier rock songs, this would be a good place to start getting into them. They're definitely one of my all-time favorite bands!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Project 52 - Week 15

 
 
Now, I'm not going to say that Bimmer is a "high needs" or "difficult" baby. I'm just saying... well, she knows what she wants. And she is very particular about it.

I've got another post coming up soon about comparing one baby to another, so I'll avoid that for now. But let's point out a few of those things that Bimmer gets her way on...

She prefers to be naked than clothed. I am guaranteed to calm her down if I take off everything but her diaper.

She wants to be entertained. Preferably while being held. She is definitely not chill to just sit there and watch you. If only. Just for a few minutes. That's all I ask Bimmer!

As a newborn, she was having nothing to do with wearing hats or socks. She also never liked to be swaddled. It was like a personal Houdini challenge to herself to get out of the swaddle faster than she did the last time.

She has given up the pacifier. She never took it for Puff and only ever took it for me in dire exhaustion emergencies. But now? Whenever I try to give it to her, she gives me the "Bitch, please. I know there's no milk coming out of that thing" look.

She now looks at her toys if they are within sight. If she doesn't have one in her hand, she looks at you with a "Bitch, please. I see that toy. Why is it not in my hand?"

Apparently my daughter calls me "Bitch" a lot in her inner-most thoughts.

While she is doing much better in the sleeping department, she is still a much better napper these days under two scenarios. (1) She is in the car or (B) She is asleep on your chest. Since I am going back to work soon and won't have that much time with her anymore, I cherish the naps on my chest. Even if it means nothing else gets done.
 
I had mentioned ever since she was an itty baby, she has wanted to have her hands on her bottle. Well, now she can officially hold it by herself if it's not too full. She will even play with taking it out of her mouth and putting it back in. Sometimes I have to help with that part though.
 
She has taken to "standing" a lot in our laps too. She can sustain the weight on her legs for way longer than I thought a 3 month old could.
 
All told, she's an independent baby who wants to figure things out quickly so she doesn't have to wait on relying on her parents to do them for her. I definitely am betting on an early crawler and early walker.
 
But despite all these things she does that make her difficult at times, she also does the sweetest thing these days. When you kiss her on her cheek, she turns her head toward you, mouth open, and plants a big ol' slobbery baby kiss right back on your cheek.
 
Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hike For Your Life

A dear friend attempted to climb Pike's Peak. Here is her amazingly terrifying account of what happened that day...


Fifteen hours after our first confident steps, the four of us shuffled off Pike’s Peak in disbelief. Somehow, Brian, Mary Karen, my husband and I had made it up and down one of the most famous mountains in Colorado. The Peak had not won, even though the mountain had tried her hardest.

 

I guess this all began sometime last year when I had the brilliant idea that we’d hike together to the summit. Brian, Mary Karen, and their kids had finally settled into life in Colorado Springs. They had a nice house, a quiet life, and adventure in the Rockies whenever they wanted it.  We had the perfect reason for a quick visit to see some of my husband’s oldest friends.

 

The problem is, l like the adrenaline of extremes--especially on vacations. Pike’s Peak is 14,115 feet at the summit. It’s an extreme.

 

“Why not hike up Pike’s Peak?” I asked all of them.  “I think we should do it. It’s right there. We can do it together, and then take the train back down.”

 

At the time, this idea made a certain amount of sense. Brian had already climbed it once. We all work out: grueling runs, weights, regular hiking, yoga,  and hours of spinning.  We are not overweight and love the outdoors. We simply had to conquer Pike’s Peak, even if General Pike himself failed.  It’s a famous mountain, and we deserved to traverse it together. If others could make it, why couldn’t we?
 
 

 

It wasn’t lost on me what a unique group we made. One is a direct descendant of Chief Joseph Brant. One is a first generation American. One is a descendant of the folks who founded this place. One is named after a nun. Two are in the military. Two had just met in person after years of knowing each other online. Three have known each other longer than a decade.

 

The morning of the hike, we set out with backpacks full of water, protein bars, sandwiches, first aid, cell phones, sunblock, jackets, and more. It seemed like a lot of stuff--so much that I wondered if we were over prepared. Surely we had too many supplies  for a simple 13 mile hike up a mountain.

 

I was wrong.

 

I’ll spare you the details of the first eleven miles of this hike. We began around 7AM.  For the most part, the first few miles were uneventful. We climbed when we needed to, stopped when we had to, and keep each other in our sights. I felt the air grow thinner as we increased our elevation, but the change in oxygen didn’t seem to hurt until we got to the tree line of the mountain.

 

About that time, I started to feel like a kid in the middle of a severe asthma attack. By the final two miles, I could only take ten steps before I stopped to wheeze and gasp for air. No matter how much I filled my lungs, they could never fill up with what my body needed. My right hand went numb, face chapped, feet shuffled, and tongue swelled. I couldn’t cry or swallow.

 

In short, my body and 13,900 feet (or so) just didn’t agree.

 

Somewhere past the two mile marker, I looked down at my watch and truly took in the time. It was already almost 4PM. We were climbing that slowly. I felt my world constrict.

 

There was no way we’d make the 4:40 train with 2 miles to go.

 

The realization that we would miss our guaranteed way down the mountain sent me into a panic. I sat on a stone on the side of the alpine terrain and looked out of Colorado. I couldn’t even enjoy the amazing view, and barely snapped a few photos on my iPhone. All I could think about was how to get off the mountain.



 

We considered asking a family friend or neighbor to drive to get us, but heard the road would close a short time, leaving us all stuck.  I thought about hitchhiking with someone already at the top. I considered calling a park ranger, but then heard from other hikers on the trail  that could cost $100 to $500 a person.

 

If we wanted off Pike’s Peak, we were going to have to climb down ourselves.

 

Instead of pressing on to the summit, we turned around and started the long road down. We figured the sooner we started, the longer we’d have to beat the darkness and the cold.

 

Friends, I did not begin this trek happily.

 

While it is easier to descend a mountain than it is to ascend, the process still had its own challenges. Most of the pathway is gravel, with large boulders in some places and steep cliffs. One shuffling misstep can send you sliding down a huge embankment. We had plenty of food, but little water. Soon, the water ran out. We simply hadn’t planned for an almost 22 mile hike. We had packed for a 13 mile adventure.

 

Three miles into the descent, I gave in to dehydration.

 

It would prove to be a major limiting factor for all of us.

 

 My legs felt lethargic; it took extreme focus to lift each foot. My tongue tasted like a dry brick and my stomach felt like I would vomit at any second. I saw things a rational mind would have dismissed: Native Americans shaking their heads at me from deep within the trees, floating lights, and a mirage of the Barr Camp site. I said things I didn’t mean and told the group repeatedly to leave me, that I was destined to die on the mountain. I told them I didn’t care if I made it.

 

Meanwhile, it was only getting later in the day.

 

We stopped for some water at Barr Camp, enough for all of us to replenish, and enough for me to get some of the fluids I desperately needed. We rested for a short time but soon had to press on as twilight covered the mountain.

 

The four of us still had around four miles to go when the darkness arrived.

 

To see the path, we took turns using the flashlight apps on our cell phones. We had hiked slowly before, but the dark forced us to walk even slower. Each rock, root, bush or tree along the trail became a major hazard. That’s to say nothing of the wildlife on the mountain. Even though Brian assured us the mountain lions and black bears normally stayed away from the well-traveled path that did not guarantee we would not run into one or that an animal was not going to decide to follow us.


 

We had three cell phones. The battery ran out on each one. We saved the last little bit of the battery on the final one in case we decided to call 911. All we had now was a small LED light Brian found in his backpack and the moonlight to guide us on the path.

 

That was about the time my dehydration delirium gave way to extreme fear. Suddenly, our little band of four had turned into every scary movie cliché that ever existed in Hollywood. The four of us were inside a nightmare.

 

And we had about two miles to go.

 

All I could do was pray our ordeal would be over soon. I recited the Lord’s prayer in my head and focused as much as I could on old hymns I knew and familiar sayings from the Bible.  At one point, I looked over at a flat rock and saw the face of Jesus.

 

Looking back, I should have known then that we would make it off the mountain alive.

 

After all, small miracles began happening all around me. My husband held my hand tighter than he ever has and propped me up as we took each careful step. Brian exhibited a calm leadership that would have made his ancestor proud. Mary Karen had night vision eyes she used to guide the group through the darkness.

 

At about 11PM, we got to the end of the trail. I still felt so dehydrated I could hardly express how happy and elated I felt. We’d made it. We were alive. I sort of blankly stared at the others.

 

Most people would look at me at tell me how stupid, silly, and unprepared we were. The first rule of hiking is to be smart. I get it. There were plenty of things I did wrong. I had trouble, in part, because I wasn’t  ready for the conditions. I overextended myself and underestimated the mountain.

 

But even as I kick myself for once again pushing myself to the ragged edge of crazy, I see lessons. When I think of things I can’t do (and there are plenty of things I am afraid I can’t do), I need to just stop it and realize that I can go further and last longer than I think. When times are tough and unexpected, I need to remember to not give up. You can’t achieve things in life without the help of others (I forget that sometimes).  I’m a survivor. We are survivors. There is nothing I cannot conquer if I am willing to endure the uncomfortable.

 

I’m fairly certain I’ll know Brian, Mary Karen, and my husband for the rest of my life. After all, we almost died together. No, it’s not that. We fought to live together.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Laugh it Off

Do the KKK meet after Labor Day?

Think about it for a second. Then join me in riotous laughter.

OK... so about a month and a half after Puff and I first met, I heard about this festival... the Laugh Your Asheville Off Comedy Festival. As I recently mentioned HERE, Asheville, NC, isn't that terribly far from where we live. So we tried it out and loved it. We made it back in 2011 as well, which is when I heard that KKK joke that has since become my all-time fave joke ever! Since we enjoy this tradition we've established, we invited the MIL to town for the weekend to watch Bimmer for a few hours, while we hit the road for a date night!
 

 

We had dinner at a decent, yet hilariously gawdy decorated, Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown.
 
 
 

Then we took some ridiculous photos while killing time before the show started.
 

 

Then we laughed and were entertained for 2 1/2 hours by some pretty awesome comedians. Never mind the 50 year old woman sitting 2 seats over who thought she was in her living room and decided to put her bare feet across the seat between us so they were virtually in my lap! (Yes, I'm still cringing over that. Needless to say, as soon as Puff and I saw an out to switch seats, we did!)
 

 

And my giant turkey posed with some turkeys on the way back to the car.

Don't worry... no one thought anything of it. Not when a person dressed as a nun rode by on a giant comical bicycle contraption. Oh yeah, and an old lady started singing power ballads in the parking garage. Nope... we were pretty darn tame! Asheville is weird.

It makes us feel normal.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hiring Fran Drescher

I start back to work in a few days. Which means Bimmer is going to have the run of the house. She's in charge.

Just don't tell the nanny.

As I mentioned HERE, I finally got a job and am headed back to the daily grind. Since our daycare still has Bimmer waitlisted for awhile longer, we decided a nanny was the way to go. I didn't have the first clue about how to find someone reliable and trustworthy. Not to mention someone good enough for Bimmer to hang out with for 9 hours a day. That someone would have to be very special.

So, we utilized www.care.com, which had come recommended by a few people in other cities who had success with it. My initial search was based solely on the photos the women had posted. What can I say... you gotta start somewhere. From there, I narrowed it down by people within a 10 mile radius from our house, those with some college under their belt, and those who were available full-time. From there, I started an email campaign.

Of all the emails I sent, we had 4 that wrote back that seemed legitimate enough for me to move forward. Those who took days to write me back got nixed. And the one girl who wrote me saying she "hated" the family she was currently working for? Ha... not so much. Puff and I made a list of questions and we were armed and ready to interview!

KK was the first girl and she was really sweet. She had been born in Africa and raised in Ireland, so she was a little bit, how should I say it, "out of touch" with a few of the references we made to things. She had been with a previous family for a year and spent her summers working at camps up north. The experience was there. The connection was not. Plus, she was outrageously expensive.

CC was the next girl and from the get go, I liked her. She was open and honest on the phone when we scheduled the interview, letting us know she had 2 other families she was interviewing with. She showed up 10 minutes early and we hit it off right away with silly general banter. It was easy going. She also interacted with Bimmer, which I greatly appreciated. She had been with her last family for 6 years and was going back to school this semester. Before she left, I had a good feeling. I told her out-right that we really liked her and she told us that we were her favorite prospective family. She left a good taste in my mouth.

EE was our next interview and she rubbed me wrong right away. After CC had been so awesome, meeting EE two hours later was a let down. Especially since she didn't text me until 5 minutes after she was already late and then was another 10 minutes late. She was a shy girl, who had been homeschooled. She didn't have much experience outside of family and occasional babysitting jobs. When she kept using terms like "God led me to this" and such, I knew she wasn't the right fit. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but how quickly we forget that I have a sign with the word "faggot" on it in my bedroom. (Read about how that story is not meant to be hateful HERE.) She also wanted an insane amount of money. I'm sorry, honey, but you are 22 years old, just out of school, and have no real nanny experience. I am not going to pay you the equivalent of $40,000+ a year.

LL was our last interview, since I canceled BB after she sent me that email about not liking her current family. (Also, BB's email was insanely churchy and I just knew we would offend her.) I really liked LL from the start. She had a degree in early childhood education and she was so sweet and cute. She was just recently engaged and is just looking for a job to kill time before next school year when she will become a teacher. Problem was, most of her experience was with older kids, not babies. And when she made a comment about Bimmer being "good practice" I was a bit concerned. I wouldn't hesitate to leave Bimmer with LL for an evening date night or something, but just not every day, all day. Plus, again, she wanted way more money than her experience warranted.

Did I mention I had already run a background check and called CC's references before we even met with LL? In fact, about 5 minutes after LL left, and Bimmer spit up on me in the front yard talking to our lawn guy, I called CC and offered her the job. She graciously accepted. She was so excited.

And so am I.

We are doing a trial run this week for a few hours while I hit up an appointment. I am finally not losing sleep over going back to work. I am sure that may change as the days inch closer and closer, but for now, I feel like Puff and I made a good decision. We made the best decision.

And even though it is going to rape us financially to have a nanny, we would do anything for Bimmer.

And we always will.