The Girliest Weekend of My Life

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There was shopping

and little pink headbands.

There were heels

and little princess books.

There were desserts galore

and soft little stuffed animals.

There were tears of sadness and joy,

and there were calming little sing-song toys.

There was hours of laundry

and a teeny tiny teapot set.

There were hugs and kisses

and cuddly blankets with silk lining. 

There was pink nail polish

and tons and tons of gifts.

And there were games and snapshots

and memories with lots of love and “thanks.”

Stressing out sales associates

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             I pull into the parking lot on a mission.  I could wear something I already have, but I want to buy a new dress and I already saw some that I liked online.  I can do this.  It’s 12:15.  That gives me 30 minutes to find something and be out the door so that I can be home by 1:00, finish getting ready, and by out the door by 2.  The only thing I don’t have time for is shoes so it has to go with shoes I already have.  So I walk in and I know at this store, they pounce, so I’m ready for it.  Right away:  “Hey!  What are you looking for today?”

                “Um, I’m here for a dress,”  I declare.

                “Baby shower? Everyone seems to be looking for a baby shower dress today!!!”  She’s as cheery as ever and prancing around in her dress and boots.

                “Yep!” I respond.  “Good guess!” I say though I don’t really mean it.

                “Awesome!  When is it?” she asks.

                “It’s today,” I say knowing she is going to respond with something crazy.

                “TODAY?  Oh my GOSH!  What time does it start?  Where is it?  Do you even know what you want?” she yelps.  Her eyes just doubled in size and now she’s freaking out.  Aren’t I the pregnant one with a baby shower today?  Pull yourself together lady or leave me be I have a dress to find and you’ve already just killed a few of my 30 minutes.

                “It’s at 3:00,” I tell her, “It’s at my sister’s house so it’s not too formal.  I’d like something with sleeves that goes to my knees.  I’m not picky on colors or prints I’d just like to find something that has a nice fit.”  The thing that I love about pregnancy especially when it comes to clothes is that you get what you get.  My belly is big.  It is totally acceptable for it to be hanging out and over my pants. It’s supposed to be.  I can’t nip, tuck, squeeze, hide anything even if I try and I find that awesome.  This is going to be cake.  The only thing I want to avoid is material that stretches to a point that makes it see-through.

                “OK!  We can do this!” she panics.  And off she goes running through the store.  In no time, I have a couple dresses picked out and so does she so she sets me up in my own fitting room and I have at it.  I tried on the first one.  It was alright, but not what I had in mind.  Within seconds, she’s already back with another dress.  At this point she’s breathing heavy.  Can someone get her a bag?  I think she’s hyperventilating. “I have a backup at home.  I just wanted to shop,” I lie hoping that will calm her down, but she just smiles. 

                The thing is, I appreciate her help.  I really do.  But, this is why I online shop.  I know what I like and I’d like to pick it out without someone badgering me and asking me a million questions.  And to be honest, aren’t I an ideal consumer here?  I’m going to be in and out quickly and she’s going to make the commish for it.  The way I see it, calm down.  If the worst case scenario is that I don’t find anything I like there are a million other real world problems out there.  It’s going to be a long miserable life if this baby shower dress ruins my day. 

                The second dress I try on is good enough, but there’s one more of the seven that I think is really cute.  So, I try it on and it’s a hit.  I just have to steam the bottom because it’s wrinkly.  Sweet!  It’s only 12:30.  I’ll have time to paint my nails! 

                I walk out of the dressing room with the dress I want to buy and the extras.  I hang them up and walk to the register.  She’s back.  Prancing in her boots and dress, she’s still panicked.  Breathe.  Here’s the dress.  I’m checking out and I’ll be on my way.  No need for panic. 

                She checks me out while the girl behind me strikes up a conversation.  For some reason it’s taking her forever to ring me up so she’s stressing.  I hope she’s not like this all day for her sake.  Finally she finishes, wishes me well, and I’m out the door.  As I’m walking out I hear, “Sorry about the wait.  Did you see how calm she was?  Her baby shower is TODAY and she just came in right now to buy the dress!”

                I smiled.  I came.  I conquered.  I’m out the door with time to spare.  Why shouldn’t I be calm?

1 in 88

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I’ve been hearing these commercials on the radio lately from Toni Braxton and Tommy Hillfiger and a couple others encouraging people to be aware of the early signs of autism so that it can be diagnosed.  They say knowing early enough can make a world of difference.  They’re right.  That seems true of most things: the sooner you educate yourself about the unknown, the sooner you can act, the more prepared you’ll be, the better the results.  I love the movement forward.  I love that they are trying to spread the word.  This can happen to YOU and YOUR family!  Try to understand it.

Be aware. 

I’m confused.  What about people who aren’t having kids?  Or people who have kids who are already grown?  Or what about kids in general?  What does the world do to be aware?  Shouldn’t the whole world TRY to understand it?  Do they?   

Also, I don’t understand.  Do we embrace it?  Are we scared of it?  Is it trying to be fixed?  Awareness, what’s that?   

Those commercials hope to bring on awareness, but I wish they provided so much more.  This topic is on my mind daily.  It’s a passion.  It’s almost an obsession.  It’s a world I am so intrigued by.  I admittedly know so little, yet every day I am blessed to learn so much.  I don’t expect people to be passionate about the same things I am, but I feel like if they really knew, they might be.

This started when I was young.  Dad and I have only two movies we quote religiously: Tommy Boy, and Rain Man.  “K-mart sucks!” every time we drive by.  Trying to understand a character like Raymond took watching that movie 1,000 times.  And even still, watching it, isn’t living it.  Fast forward to high school.  My P.E. teacher asked my friend and I if we would take the adapted P.E. class and work with a unique bunch of students.  There was a range of students with a variety of disabilities.   I wasn’t happy about it at the time since I’d be away from my friends and I loved sports, but how could I say no?  It changed my life.  That class brought me so much joy.  That class contributed to my perfect attendance.  That class shaped our future and turned half of us into the teachers we all are today.  I LOVED it!  I loved them.  Naturally, I had my favorites.  But again, it didn’t make me an expert.

My first half of student teaching probably should have been rough.  It wasn’t.  There was Artie.  And who doesn’t want to spend the day with Artie?  He never looked at me in class, but he was always listening.  He was always doing his work and asking questions at the appropriate times.  He was a vocab WHIZ after hearing a word just once and there I stood, every time, in complete awe.  And, Oh yeah, who doesn’t love a 15 year old kid who can find a Golden Girl quote for EVERYTHING?  “Picture this!” and then he would give a line from Sophia and often end with “Oh, Rooose!”  He was infatuated.  He had all of the seasons on DVD.  It’s unbelievable catching an episode sometimes and thinking back to Artie.  I didn’t realize at the time how racy they were!

Then it’s the first time I meet my husband’s (boyfriend at the time) family.  It was my first trip to Pennsylvania.  Everything is centered around food.  It’s time to go eat our fifth dinner at his grandmother’s house.  I’m introduced to everyone and they’re all great.  The first thing his mom says is “She’s a Special Ed teacher from Chicago.”  She said it because that’s what Megan used to do.  His cousin Megan is there with her 6-year-old son and her 2-year-old daughter.  Evan, her son, is sitting in the other room playing quietly with his trains.  And Ella is everywhere.  I’m dying to sit with Evan and ask him a million and five questions to get to know him, but I didn’t want to show my obvious intrigue after my introduction, so instead I watched Ella.  Someone had to.  I remember being the only one trying to watch her from the other room while we ate and everyone laughing at my paranoia.  She came up to me with a hand full of sewing needles stuck to the palm of her hand at one point.  Yeah, paranoid was right.

We got in the car after leaving his grams and his mom has a ton of questions for me.  “What do you think of Evan?  He never eats dinner with them.  He’s always in the other room with those trains.  He will only eat Lunchables.  And she gives it to him.  You believe that?  He’s so pale.  Do you think he’s alright?”  Wait, I’m pale!  And we’re concerned about Evan?  What about the little acupuncture queen that could have stabbed her eyes out?  I did everything I could to be very vague about Evan and keep light of the conversation.  I’m not going to “diagnose” him or judge Megan.  I just met her.  Megan is his mother.  She knows.  She’ll do what’s best is all I wanted her to hear from me about Evan.   

This was five years ago.  Present day: Evan is a mini Sheldon Cooper.  Flawlessly hilarious and shamelessly egocentric for all of the right reasons.    He’s brilliant.  How many State Science Fair competitions, Spelling Bees, and Math Bowls can this kid win?  And if you ask him about trains you better keep up.  His clever insults sting.  He’s obsessed with swimming too, but if it means he has to play with some annoying younger cousin, he’s out.  You know what you’re going to get from Evan.  I love that about him.  He’s doing independent high school level work and he’s 11.  If anyone’s “alright” it’s him.    

Now here I sit at my desk and I’m thinking about another fellow Lunchable lover who has had a really hard week.  What’s with the Lunchables?  Well, what’s more routine than the same packaging every day?  The same amount of bologna, the right amount of cheese, and the perfect sizes they are to fit on the perfect amount of crackers?  Ahhh…something to depend on.  He craves consistency.  So here we are.  The most inconsistent two weeks of the year.  ISATS.  And it’s March.  And it’s still snowing.  And that’s enough to drive him mad.  He loves snow, but by now it should be warming up.  The bells aren’t on so he’s looking at the clock every three seconds.  Not only is every class a different length of time, but all of his classes are flipped around.  First, third, fifth, seventh, lunch, eighth, second, fourth, ninth.  We’re at a level 9 and the day hasn’t even started yet folks.  And the schedule is going to change tomorrow, and again next week.   We’re not even considering that he’s surrounded by buzzing bees all day long.  They tap their feet, their pencils, sing songs, breathe funny, invent noises with pens in their mouth…the list is verrrry long.  (I get it dude, they drive me nuts too!)  It’s amazing we’ve only had a few meltdowns actually. 

Anyway, I think about this student.  He is in a world mom and everyone else wants him to adjust to.  She wants him to be as included as possible.  He’s forced to TRY to adapt to everyone else when his little world inside is so so different.  It makes me sad how little is available to him.  For the most part, he’s fine.  He’s a happy guy.  But when he’s not, he reacts.  He reacts loudly and reverts back to toddler meltdown status over something seemingly VERY unnecessary.  Only to him, it’s earth shattering and he’s had enough!  Maybe I’m being overly sensitive for him, and it’s not a big deal, but he’s got high school to survive and I’m very, very worried for him.  So this takes me back to awareness and what that means for kids just like him or who are even MORE sensitive than him.  I’m not his mother or his guardian.  I don’t get to decide how to guide his future.  I’m also not his future teachers or the kids in the hallway or in his classes.  Right now, I do the best I can to teach and manage the bunch I have while keeping all of their needs in mind.  (I love how that fits in one sentence like it’s nothing.)  But, be aware?  That’s unsettling.  World of difference?  I don’t think so.  1 in 88?  That’s everywhere.  This world is changing, are we aware? 

Who am I to judge?

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It’s way past my bedtime, but it’s time to slice about my day.  For some reason, I have brainstormed a list that I thought would at least get me through the beginning week or two of this month and the topics don’t interest me today.  Maybe it’s my mood.  Maybe it’s my attitude.  Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and feel different.  Twelve hours later and I’ll get a serious case of the shoulda coulda wouldas which I hate or the I-really-shouldn’t-have-said-that which I hate more, but I’m going to go for it.

I’ve passed on a lot of judgment today that I’m not proud to share.  If I’m trying to make myself feel better I’d say it’s just “questioning” the choices of others or I can qualify it as being human nature, but I’m pretty sure it’s just judgment.  And I really need to work on it.

People on my newsfeed were obsessing about what they were giving up for Lent today.  I rolled my eyes because ironically, there were quite a few I know haven’t seen a church in decades, but why do I care?  Who am I to judge?

I read an article about not using the ‘r’ word and some comments that followed.  This has ALWAYS been a peeve of mine and I seriously wanted to rant.  They sound so ignorant using the word so casually as a slur, but it’s their choice.  Who am I to judge?

My husband and I walked into a Baby Basics Class tonight.  There was a woman there by herself looking mad at the world.  I didn’t judge her for being alone.  I just didn’t appreciate the dirty look I got when I smiled at her.  She assumes I’m judging her…and now I am. 

 In front of us sat two pediatricians.  Really?  But who am I to judge?

During break, a woman next to me who was having twins asked the class leader a question about formula.  Then the class leader asked her a few questions back.  One of which was: “Ok, so twins, natural twins…?”  I thought.  What the…did she really just ask that?   But, who am I to judge?

Then another pediatrician walks in to present for the class.  And she’s missing a front tooth.  And there I go again… I have to stop!!!!

I realize the Lent obsessers are trying to better themselves, and the people who use the ‘r’ word don’t realize how offensive it is to others.  That woman with the dirty look had a day I know nothing about.  I can understand that the pediatricians are just future moms who have husbands and the woman having twins maybe wanted to talk about her in vitro.  For all I know the pediatrician’s tooth fell out today or it doesn’t bother her at all.  She was great by the way.

 Here’s to letting people be who they are.  I’m going to work on it.    

One smile…

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Stale haze

sticky bottles

last night’s smoke

grumpy faces

stern demands

dirty words

fingerprints

loose change

ice melts

gray stubble

shaky hands

Sunday morning

proud taut hats

they gather

trickle in

they gruff

one smile…

and then, the stories.

But what if she doesn’t like to fish?

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Pregnancy week 30.

I’m counting the days I’ve made it so far, and counting down the days until this event happens.  Actually, it’s an app on my phone.  It does it for me.  I log in daily and it fills my head with what I can expect for the day/week.  Sometimes it puts my mind at ease and others it’s completely unnecessary.  Nonetheless, my life happens in “weeks” now.

I’m sitting on the couch with my husband talking about all the million ways our life is about to change.  I’m convincing him the class I forced him to take wasn’t a waste of eight hours on Saturday.  He’s not buying it.  I’ve got a million things on my mind now and my to-do list just somehow doubled.  I’ve got to find us a pediatrician, sign up for daycare, tweak our registry, and the list goes on.  I’m putting together a “birth plan” in my head just like the app, the nurse, and the books say.  A plan?  Ok.  I thought this is one of those forced times where I just had no choice but to go with the flow.  Here is my plan: labor on my due date so I can prepare, fast, easy, painless as possible, and a healthy baby to take home.  Let’s see how that goes.  This is getting nuts. 

“We” had no idea how many decisions needed to be made and how many tasks there would be to do.  So to avoid the tasks, I start to ramble on and on about how it’ll never be quiet again, we’ll never get to sleep again, we’ll never see our friends again, etc. ranging from some realistic points to the slightly dramatic and wahhh wahhh wahhh.  I still don’t know if I just wanted to whine or if I wanted to see how in touch he was with all of this.  His one response finally comes out.  “I’m thinking about Michigan,” he says.  “What if she doesn’t like to fish?”

 I lost my breath.  I became completely silent.  My eyes must have bulged out of my head.  IS HE KIDDING!!!!!!!  THAT’S what he’s thinking about?  My mind is racing a million miles a second at all times and all he cares about is the fishing she may or may not be doing YEARS down the road?   Unbelievable….

Pregnancy week 32.

My tasks still are not finished.  I’ve added more to the list.  Work is crazy.  I’ve already blabbed about the fishing to a few people to wear off the shock of how completely different my thinking is compared to his.  I can only recognize this feeling as jealousy.  He doesn’t have to suffer all of these pregnancy symptoms and he barely has to plan anything so how realistic can his expectations be?  How nice that must be to daydream about fishing.  I wish!

Pregnancy week 33.  Day 4.

Last night I found the book my sister bought my husband:  My Crazy Pregnant Wife!  I asked him about it.  I was curious if he could relate to it in any kind of way.  He said, “It kind of prepared me for the times you’re talking about how the world is turning upside down and how we’re going to have all of these crazy changes.  You know, you’re usual psycho routine.”  He expected it.  He knew it was coming.  And he knew I needed to get it out.  And, yes, he calls me out on being psycho when he knows I need to hear it.

Pregnancy week 33.  Day 5.

I’m driving to work this morning and I started to think about the talk we had last night.  I tried to connect it back to “Well, what if she doesn’t like to fish?” and I had a few thoughts:

-That’s just him.

 

-This is the guy I met 8 years ago.  I said “He’s the kind of guy I should be with” to one of my friends who said “I know.  I’ve known this since I met him.”

 

-This is why I married him.

 

-This is the guy who decided to change his whole career path a week before he was supposed to start because he wanted to be a hands-on dad who can attend recitals and coach little league and pick up from daycare before me so he could have his special time. 

 

-This is the guy who cooks dinner every night, runs to the store at 2am because the Tums just aren’t cutting it and not because he feels like he has to…he wants to.

 

-This is the guy who brings out his pillow and blanket to the couch when I’m walking circles around the house at night because I. Just. Can’t. Breathe.

 

-This is the guy who painted and set up the whole nursery at the first opportunity he could.  

 

-He gets it.  He thinks about it all the time.  He has his own worries, but he also is so totally excited to be a dad that he’s not thinking about the first few weeks/months of surviving a newborn because he knows everything is going to be ok.  We’ll survive.  People survive.  We’re going to enjoy this.  We already enjoy this!   Stress be gone.  We’re having a baby girl!!!!