Autumn is Ending...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And winter is near.....

And this is one of the redeeming qualities of the colder weather.

I'll work on finding more than that to be grateful for when it is freeeeeezing and gloomy. For now, though, I'll just sip my chocolate and wistfully bid farewell to my favorite season.

Anyone want to share the winter delights they look forward to?

No One Likes a Frowny Face....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"No one likes a frowny face,
Change it to a smile....
Make the world a better place by smiling all the while..."

It's no good to leave to bummer post on the top of the pile... So though I am still very busy, the least I can do is give you some fun new photos to look at!

I took Noah out to get some fall photos in his birthday outfit and the party hat I made him. If you don't regularly read Noah's blog, you might have missed THIS classic:
But it wasn't ALL tears... Here are the two I managed to catch before he tried to escape... Resulting in being grabbed and placed back in position, resulting in an angry kiddo, resulting in the first photograph. Ah, this toddler-in-training..... :)

Enjoy the happy version of Noah, and here's to a wonderful holiday week for all of you!

Keepin' It Real: November is Runnin' Me RAGGED

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Jodie's suggestion (it's cathartic! Put it out into the universe and let the universe give a little back to you), I am sharing from a venting email i tossed off tonight to very patient friends of mine:

"As for me? I.................I'm just TIRED. and OVERWHELMED. Nothing bigger or more malignant going on. I am: sick of the clutter that only I see and therefore only I tackle... and I do not have time to deeply address the clutter because my spare moments are spent cleaning up the daily messes or keeping up on business emails or (let's admit it) with my online girls. And then evening hits and i need to be WORKING, or I feel like a pile of useless procrastination... so evenings are out for any personal catch-up. Add to that my back has been really hurting for over a week-- a sore, tight, muscle-y ache that only deepens as I sit in this chair longer...

Add to that I have this absolute NEED in me to be creative, but the pro photography isn't filling that need, and yet it consumes my every moment, so there IS no time for ME. Real "Me Time".

The more I type, the more I just want to cry.

I am just beaten down. And it is just today. Tomorrow, I'll put on my superhero cape again and manage with a smile on my face, and truly not even feel beaten down. Until I trip over another pile of crap or Noah fights another nap or I realize we're on our last roll of TP or some other trigger. Most days, most of the time, I am FINE. It's just when one thing trips me on my path, the rest of it comes ZOOOOMING back into focus and I remember how MUCH WORK I ALWAYS HAVE TO DO. And I feel alone. and I feel like NO ONE CAN SAVE ME, or provide relief.... and I have to just grit my teeth and push through.

and I am scared that this is what my entire mothering career will feel like. Not 100% of the time, but in consistent waves. Consistent enough to wear me out and kill my spirit a little more each time I freak out.

And what might possibly help here? Oh, let's just conjure up a no-holds-barred dream list:

1. cleaning lady

2. nanny 1 or two days a week

3. a project room of my own

4. Joe knowing how to eliminate clutter, instead of just reshuffling it, or worse, not even noticing it.

5. three or four photography sessions a month. No more than that.

6. regular exercise.

7. drinking more water.

8. Praying more consistently.

9. Feeding my spirit more consistently.

10. Close friends nearby, so we could make the boys watch the boys and I could go to a dang movie or dinner with some girlfriends.

11. More space

12. less stuff

13. personal chef

14. jacuzzi

15. massage and pedicure and haircut and highlights

....So. Obviously, as I was typing all that, some possibles flowed out. Some of those are do-able. but when i feel so MIRED, starting any healthy activity seems impossible and insurmountable. And that's what i gotta fight.

Anyhoo... more than you bargained for, but I just hit a breaking point this evening, and your asking me about it made me force myself to sort it out.

Anyway, I'm out...



And there is me. Genuine, real, and OVERWHELMED. I wrote that email at about 6:30 p.m. and it is now 11:30 p.m., and already I am feeling more okay with life again. I took two hours tonight away from my computer and the photo editing and I watched the Thursday shows (LOVED poor Toby's facial expressions the whole time! Loved Steve Martin on 30Rock. Didja know he plays a MEAN banjo?! Not on the episode. Just in real life.)... and while I sat and watched, I worked on a little crafty and then cleaned up a Craig's List toy for Noah that turned out to be pretty cool, bot that I'm not looking at it in the corner and only thinking of Stranger House Filth.

And after my two hours "off", I was able to get back to my ever-present task of editing photos and I have been working hard.... and so. And so I feel a bit better.

and tomorrow is another day. And we'll see if it ebbs or flows. I can handle either one.


{photo is not actually from today, but from another classic "life is overwhelming me" post back in January 2007. But it is a pretty accurate representation of how my life is flowing, and how I'm feeling!}

On November 18, 2007:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

********************Noah's birth story****************

There is So Much to Say. Where Do I Begin?

How about at the beginning? My water broke at about 5 p.m. on Saturday night, the 17th. It was funny, because I really wasn't SURE that's what had happened. It felt mostly like I had peed a little, but without any control over it. Kinda awkward. So I let it go for a moment, deciding to wait to see if it happened again. Well did it ever!! For the next twenty minutes or so I kept feeling these little trickles (never a gush), and finally (after consulting my nurse hotline AND Katie) woke Joe from a pre-work nap to tell him we should probably go to the hospital. Thrilled to call in to work, he got up and we calmly tied up a few loose ends around the apartment, adding a few things to our pile already packed and ready to go. We called our families to tell them we were headed in to check if it was REAL labor, and then headed out.

We got to the hospital around 6:15, checked in, and got to our delivery room. The nurses determined pretty quick that this was indeed "real labor" and got me hooked up to monitors and IV. The room was comfy (for a hospital delivery room), and we settled in for a long night. I had begun feeling mild contractions in the car, and they stayed pretty mind for a few hours. I had also already been dilated to a 3 at 80% effaced all week, so the early labor work had been done. We decided to hold off on Pitocin and the epidural for the time being, just to see what my body had in mind for the evening. The pain wasn't really unbearable. Joe's sister Mary arrived to lend some support and she hung out with us through the early waiting phase.

After nearly three hours of waiting, however, I was still a three. We reluctantly agreed to the Pitocin and she started it REALLY lightly at about 9:00 p.m. At about 9:30 p.m., some REAL contractions began, and I managed them by sitting on the birthing ball and clutching my belly while Joe rubbed my back. We hung out that way for 30-45 minutes, and when the nurse checked again, I was at a 4. She said we needed the contractions to be closer than 4-5 minutes apart, so she upped the Pitocin a bit more. Within minutes, the contractions got harder and more frequent.

At this point, my coping mechanism involved a weird focus activity-- I found that if I said the 50 states alphabetically, rhythmically, sometimes picturing them on a map, sometimes picturing unique features of each one, I was able to NOT go crazy with the pain. I mean, even at a 4-5 dilation, these babies were HARD! Yikes!! When the nurse popped in at about 10:30, she checked me, said I had made it to 5, and asked if this was the time for the epidural. YES YES YES YES, please. I was done. I'm a bit embarrassed to cave at only a 5, and am AMAZED at all you non-epidural women, but WOW. It was time. She said he was just down the hall and it shouldn't be more than 15 minutes or so, and you better believe I watched that clock between "Alabama...Wyoming!!!" and the next chant. And it was more than 15 minutes, let me tell you.
Joe was AMAZING. He was calm, responsive, not annoying, soooo sympathetic, and very willing to push that massager into the small of my back-- HARDER, JOE!-- when I barked at him to do so. He was right there for me until the epi guy showed up a bit after 11:00 p.m. After one failed attempt (blood in the catheter means he nicked a vein), he smoothly got the epidural in while I sat on the edge of the bed, hugging a pillow, humming, and rolling my feet in circles to keep from crying out from the contraction pain. The epi pain was NADA. No biggie. By 11:30, the epidural was working, a Foley catheter was in place, and the blessed numbness was letting me take a much needed rest.

My parents and sister Beckie showed up at 12:30 a.m. from Columbia, MO and they and Mary took turns coming in to chat while we watched the baby heartbeat tape and contraction tape record their findings. We were fascinated by the contractions especially, since they would rise and fall steadily without me feeling an ounce of pain. My family would sometimes tell me when a big one came along, 'cause I didn't know. The nurse came in around this time and took my blood pressure. It was REALLY low, due to the epidural medication, and she immediately upped my fluid IV and put me in an oxygen mask. I never felt any different, but this low blood pressure became the issue of the night. At one point, it got down to an 86/46 and she had the epidural guy come in and give me a shot of something to help my pressure go up. This happened twice between 12:30 and 3:00 a.m. My two other sisters, Sarah and Kirsti, arrived during this time and I still felt fine so we all chatted for a while. Throughout, the nurse would keep coming in when my pressure dropped and check the machines and my fluid. I stayed on oxygen for most of the time. She said it was because she didn't like how my baby's heart was responding to each contraction. She told me it wasn't cause for alarm, but we needed to perk him up. Reassured, I was able to stay so relaxed and peaceful throughout all of this late-night stuff. I even got a good little nap between 3:30 and 5:00, when I was woken by a new doctor, a heart specialist, telling the nurse that she wanted the fetal heart monitor inserted for a more accurate read.

At this point, nearly 12 hours after arriving, I was dilated to an 8. The heart doc told me that they had been monitoring my baby's heartbeat all night and were concerned by the distress it was showing. She told me that the little monitor that was being inserted into my baby's scalp was to determine more accurately if we needed to do something more immediate to relieve the baby's distress. She said it was very possible we were heading into C-section territory. Still a bit groggy from my nap, my heart froze. I had never considered this to be a possibility. While the room was clear of personnel, I asked Joe to get my dad so I could have a blessing. I still felt that Noah could come on his own. The blessing was sweet, and brought me peace, but immediately afterward, my on-call OB came in to say that they had decided the surgery was best and explained the procedure and got the preparations started. There was no sense of EMERGENCY, just an efficient process that would help my baby have a smoother entry into the world.

I cried a little with Joe. This wasn't how I had pictured things. I was sad that after all that time and work, we would have to "give up" and let them do it their way. I was sad that the whole "movie scene" wouldn't play out the way it should. Still, we wanted what was best for our baby, and so we took a deep breath and readjusted our ideals.

The epidural was cranked up to high, the bed was wheeled to an operating room, Joe was put into disposable scrubs and a blue sterile curtain was hung in front of me to block the surgery from germs and my horrified eyes. Everything moved so fast at this point, and before I knew it, the cutting had begun and Joe was holding my hand, helping me through it. He got the camera ready and within minutes Joe was saying "there's his head!" and the surgeons were saying "Oh he's a BIG one!" and the sound of suctioning and crying filled the room. Joe took photos (including the REMARKABLE one at the top of this post) and then watched in awe as they carried our screaming son to the warming table to my right. I looked and all I saw, honestly, was this FAT, PURPLE, CONE-HEADED UGLY thing. I thought, "Darn it... I guess I'll have to get used to him." (Isn't that AWFUL??) But within minutes he had pinked up, a hat was hiding the cone, and his angry cries were too irresistible. I loved him. Joe just stood and watched, took some photos and video, and I finally asked him if he had even touched him yet. Joe looked surprised, said no, and I told him to get over there! It was comforting to know that even if I couldn't hold him just yet, Joe could be there instead.

Finally, FINALLY, after what seemed like hours, but what was really probably only ten minutes, they let Joe bring him over to me. For the first time, Noah stopped crying and I reached out to touch his face. I couldn't speak and the emotions flooded in powerfully. (one of the most meaningful photos Joe took was this one:)

I spent more time with my new son in the recovery room, where we got a little skin-to skin time as I practiced nursing. He then got taken away for his bath and other things, and I got settled in my room for a nice. long, post-C-section four-day stay.

So. Wow, that was lengthy. But it's a story I want to remember, and it is a relief to have it down now so I know I won't forget the little things.

Yes, it was unexpected and sad for me to have the surgery... but ultimately, I don't regret a single moment of my time in the hospital. It was the most peaceful, affirming experience i could have had, and we left, nearly a week later, rested, informed, practiced and ready to try real life.

Now, what y'all were REALLY looking for, this whole time... More photos!!!!

{right after delivery}


{getting weighed}

{Dad's moment}

{Family moment}

{bonding in the recovery room}

{a quiet evening moment with Dad}

{they're so irresistible when they sleep!}

{look at that face!!}

{a favorite one... taken by Joe!}

P.S. That cone head thing went away within hours, and I honestly think he might be the best looking baby ever. Am I biased? Never.

(and aren't you impressed to learn that Joe took most of these?? I love it!)
{reprinted from my November 23, 2007 entry}

And to finish, a video:

And that's my memory. My most important journey so far in this life. Thank you for letting me relive it here. I'm off now-- to go enjoy my sweet son on his birthday! There are toys to be played with, people!!

Joseph Noah Southerland
Born: November 18, 2007
Time: 7:22 a.m.
Weight: 8 pounds 5 ounces
Height: 20.5 inches

A Year Ago...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This was me*...

These were my thoughts:

"Dear Noah-
It's time to HATCH! With eleven days to go, I'm happy with you coming any time. My belly is big enough, your room is ready, the diaper bag is packed...Doc says you've already dropped in my pelvis and signs point to an arrival any day. And while I've loved that your due date is Thanksgiving Day, I'm truly fine if you want to come earlier.

Because we're EXCITED!! We feel you bump around and it makes us want to play with you in person. We want to see your face, your fingers, your toes, your knees! So come on out and join us, anytime!

We love you,

Mom & Dad
~Nov. 11, 2007"

This was what we had been working on...

This was one of the last photos of my life B.C. (before children):

And this:

Was only hours away.

Tomorrow, little man. Tomorrow will be your birthday. And I'll get to retell your birth story one more time.


*Maternity photos in the collage taken by Kate Benson

Oh, My Heart Swells...

Friday, November 14, 2008 the sight of these eyes... those lips, this face, this baby of mine who is about to turn one year old. Oh, be still, Time, for just a bit longer, and let me keep this baby for a while yet...


Today, I off-handedly combed my kiddo's hair into this silly mohawk... and let it stay. And then, because it amused me, I determined to get a photo or two of it. Somehow, the PhotoGods were happy today, because in the dim, indoor, grey mid-afternoon light, my settings managed to hold, my baby managed to stay still for a few moments, and I managed to catch some of my favorite photos yet of this little love of my life. Here, a couple more...

and if you want to see a few sillier shots from the same 5 minute window, go check out Noah's blog... I have just a few more to amuse you with.

Happy weekend! I am going to go hang out with my boys now.

Flashback Foto: 1990

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So, yeah-- in the 1980 photo, I am the grumpy-face in the middle. What a little snot, right?? My sour, "You Can't Make Me Smile With Your Squeaky Toy, Mr. Photographer" face is what worries me about my future with Noah and other subsequent kids. If I was such a stubborn, difficult kiddo, doesn't it follow that I'll be "blessed" with more of the same? :)
Anyway, glad you all appreciated the humor! And yes, if I recall correctly, my mom did make all the pink dresses. She amazes me.

as for today, I wasn't planning on so many "flashbacks"... Ha! But thinking about my adventure tonight (to be explained in a moment), I realized I HAD to share some classics with you first:

{eight grade class photo}
Love the bangs? The Coca-Cola shirt? The gentle acne? The awkward teeth? Oh, and that silver on my shirt is a pin. Shaped like an "E". STYLISH. And those earrings? The smaller version of those famous "Jodi Watley Hoops"? Totally not pierced. I bought them at Claires, bent OUT the pierced part, and pinched them on my unpierced ears. I'm AWESOME.

And then this one:

{me in front of one of my bedroom walls, eighth grade}

Um. See my "wallpaper"?

Jordan Knight, all the way, baby!!!!

Yeah. I'm going to Kansas City tonight, to see the New Kids on the Block. With my two high school best friends. And I will try to connect with my jr. high best friend while there, the one who started me on my three or four year mad obsession with the NKOTB.

It's gonna be GREAT!

Ah, to be thirteen again, right??

Hope you enjoyed the flashback, and please feel free to click "play" on this video to get your NKOTB fix, since you're not going and I am. NYAH-NYAH!

{seriously. still cute. I still love him. *blush*}

Flashback Foto: 1980

Monday, November 10, 2008

{Just for fun}

Any guesses which one I am? (No fair telling everyone, family members--*pointing finger at you*) And once you think you know, WHY do you think that is me, and what are your thought about my visage? Funny stuff, here!


Sunday night... actually, officially Monday morning now. That means I need to go to bed!
I have an easy day tomorrow. Just me, my baby, and my home that needs some tidying. Maybe a walk to the post office. Maybe a trip to the mall to exchange a couple of things.

Maybe pajamas all day.

Who knows?

All I know is-- it's a rare treat, and I am going to go slow, stay in the moment, and enjoy my little world.

A Grey But Lovely Morning

Friday, November 7, 2008

#1: View from our steps
#2: Baby snuggled on my lap, watching Dad work
#3: Baby venturing out to join Dad at work
#4: Baby back on my lap

Cell phone snaps.... Since the last thing I was thinking about as I headed downstairs to help/watch Joe leaf-blow was taking photographs... It was 8:00am, Noah and I were still in our jammies, and we were just headed out to take care of a necessary chore before the leaf collection truck came into our neighborhood.
I grabbed a box of Rice Chex to sustain the kiddo and I, and we settled on the front steps to watch Joe work his magic. Honestly, watching the leaves obey the manufactured wind was mesmerizing. I was lulled by the sight, Noah was lulled by the sound, and we both absentmindedly grabbed fistfuls of Chex as we let the quiet, grey, gently-paced morning fill us.
Periodically, drops of rain would threaten (you can see them in photo #4)... but never really took over. Joe methodically took care of the leaves, and Noah and I.... we just enjoyed the time outside.

I love these moments-- when I am truly IN the moment, and not worrying about things needing to be done, things not happening, things to try to change/fix/alter...Not worrying, period.

I really love my life. I do. The ways I spend my days are satisfying, fulfilling, and bring me deep joy and satisfaction. It's just that often, I spend much of it thinking ahead, worrying or planning. So too often, I forget how much I really do love my life.

I am grateful for yesterday morning, for the peace of just sitting, just being. It centered me. Prepared me to enter more fully into the present moment, a state of mind I am striving to hang onto for as long as I can before the everyday worries and concerns creep back in.

So far, so good.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

How can you resist this sweet little mouse??

If I was more with it and savvy tonight, I'd have some mouse-y puns to throw your way.... But alas, my brain is a bit mushy after a long full day throwing Noah an early birthday party with all his grandparents and two of his aunts. So forgive the lack of charm and wit. Hopefully the photos will amuse you enough to fulfill your needs.

And the party was a great, fun, delightful little success. I'll tell you about it sometime soon! There will be cupcakes and cuteness and all sorts of little moments. It'll be good.

Hope your weekend has been as marvelous and delightful as mine has been!
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