Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brooklyn's Vocabulary Decoder

Brandon and I have been very blessed by Brooklyn over these past two years. She took to a schedule easily as a baby, she sleeps 12 hours, enjoys napping, hasn't had a problem with transitions (we're in her third residence now- two apartments and one house), and is overall just a very sweet girl. She's kind and generous, wanting to help and share for the most part.

However, she's far from perfect, and never more obvious than when she's trying to talk. The girl loves to talk, loves to say things that she knows how to say. The problem is that she thinks she can say a lot more things than she can. Brandon and I often have to guess 6-8 words that sound close to the sounds she's making and still get it wrong. And if the two of us can't always understand her, what chance does the rest of the world she communicates with? She is smart, but enunciation is certainly not her strong suit. Therefore, I've decided to create a Vocabulary Decoder to have on-hand to turn to in times of need. You know, like a handy Spanish-English dictionary when you're in Mexico and trying to tell the taxi driver where you need to go.

Brooklyn's Vocabulary Decoder

Brooklyn's Word:Oh-oh
Possible definitions: Uh-oh, Open, Orange, Over

Brooklyn's Word: No
Possible definitions: No, Milk

Brooklyn's Word: Kuh-kee or Kuh-koo
Possible definitions: Pumpkin, Color, Costume, Cowgirl, Castle, Cracker

Brooklyn's Word: Tah-too
Possible definitions: Tattoo, Tower, Potato, Toy Story, Cheerios

More to come. It's a work in progress. But this should help with anyone who babysits her in the near future. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pictures With My Husband

This is a picture of Brandon and me at his cousin Haley's wedding this past weekend in College Station. Before this, the most recent photo I had of the two of us together was

this one, taken in San Antonio on the Riverwalk at the spot where Brandon proposed to me. This was over Easter weekend, April 2011 (funny- I'm wearing the same necklace). You have to go back even farther than that to find one of JUST the two of us. All the way back to

this one, from Kerie and Oscar's wedding in NOVEMBER 2010. That's right. Brooklyn was 1 month old when this picture was taken. 1 month.

We take plenty of pictures of Brooklyn and plenty of one of us with Brooklyn, but it's very challenging to find a way to take a picture of the three of us... who will take it: Sasha? LB? Cats aren't very good photographers, I've been told. They lack opposable thumbs. And when there's someone as lively and adorable as our daughter around, why take pictures of ourselves? We're old news. We go visit family and they say how much they miss Brooklyn! Aaaaand I guess they're happy to see us too, as an after thought. I get it!

But on the way to College Station this weekend I told Brandon I specifically wanted a picture of just the two of us because it had been months (I underestimated, it had actually been almost exactly two years) since we had one. I was prompted by my friend Wendi, who I notice always seems to take the time to appreciate her marriage to Wade by taking pictures when they go out on dates, to games, or for a getaway weekend. And she's got an ADORABLE 16-month-old little boy who could very easily steal all the photo ops. Wendi seems to be the one person I know who consistently remembers to document the joy of being married, not just the joy of being a parent. She obviously understands something that just recently hit me: if I didn't have Brandon, I wouldn't have Brooklyn. If I didn't have my husband, I wouldn't have my daughter. Isn't that all the more reason to want to love and brag on my spouse? Sure my daughter is cute, but so is my hubby! Aren't they both gifts and blessings? Then why does one get all my attention and the other so little?

It's funny... we just moved up classes at church from the Young Marrieds to the Young Families. No longer are we discussing how to treat our spouses, but how to raise our children... as if you can do one and not the other?? Just because we're parents doesn't mean we're not also spouses, and we still have to work on our marriage... even more so now, really, since we have a little one watching us constantly.

Some questions have come up throughout different studies I've been doing... does your daughter know how much you value marriage? Does she hear you saying positive things about her daddy? Does she see the two of you embracing and enjoying each other's company? I can say I hope so, but I'm not sure I can say 100% that I know so.

Taking pictures together doesn't fix anything, but it does show a priority I'm putting on loving my husband and wanting to remember special moments. Someday Brooklyn will appreciate all of these pictures because she'll grow up knowing that her parents are always going to be okay, always be together, and always be there for her. I suspect she'll like

this one most of all: this is the first picture ever taken of Brandon and me. It is from July 2003 at the end of a Little Kids Camp counseling session at Iron Springs Christian Camp. I had talked to Brandon before, but really got to know him and play around with him that week. I thought he was so cute that I decided I just wanted to get a picture with him so I could remember him better. We didn't go to the same church or school, so it would take some planning to get together and hang out... which never happened. Every time I called him he was busy with baseball or work so we didn't end up seeing each other for two more years. Enter another counseling session at Iron Springs Christian Camp and it's all history from there. We started dating, got engaged, got married, had Brooklyn and are now awaiting the arrival of Peyton. Funny thing is, I had completely forgotten about that picture. After that week of camp, I started my senior year of high school and got into a relationship that led me down some wrong paths and eventually made me very depressed and confused about my life in general, all the while God still periodically in a while planting small but fleeting seeds of "Remember that Brandon Strother kid? I wonder what he's up to" hints in my mind. When we got home from camp in 2005 and were talking, deciding whether or not we should start dating, I looked in my photo album from the summer of 2003, just to see if I had ANY pictures of him from that week at camp. Lo and behold- it all came rushing back as I stared at this picture of the two of us. Me: grinning ear to ear, grabbing him tightly for a friendly photo. Him: smiling almost awkwardly at why an older girl had her arm around him for a picture. It's my favorite picture of us, and I think it always will be.

That was the starting point of us, and eventually, of our family. I want more pictures like that to show how we've progressed along the way. He'll be 26 on Monday. I'll love him more on Monday than I do today. I want pictures of us when we're 80 and wrinkled, hair growing out of moles our glaucoma-ridden eyes can't even see anymore. I'll love him more then than I can ever imagine now. And I want pictures upon hundreds of pictures documenting that love for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Overachiever Syndrome

I've always been one to diagnose myself when I've gotten sick or hurt. For example, I've never had a doctor tell me that I am/was lactose intolerant, but I'm sure of it. When I was 16 and started getting really sick I kept a food journal and found that I always got sick in correlation to eating a dairy product. Stop eating dairy and voila, no more sickness. This would also explain why I don't like cheese, milk, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and all other dairy items besides chocolate and ice cream (how can you not like those, right?). I figure it's something I've grown into and out of sporadically during my life, based on my 8-year-old self's entry in the Dr. Seuss book, "My Book About Me", in which I emphatically state that my favorite foods are hot dogs, ham and chicken, "But don't give me any pizza- I can't stand it!". Anyone know an 8-year-old who hates pizza? If so, I'll bet it's because they always feel sick afterwards! Regardless, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Why diagnose myself? Maybe it has to do with the fact that my family doctor growing up was a quack not too bright, in my opinion. When I went in with what I now know was a torn meniscus and the only way I could explain the pain to her was that it felt like my knee cap was out of the socket, she replied with, "What you're describing is impossible". I was sent home with a recommendation for Tylenol and nothing else. Nevermind that I was brought in screaming, crying, and in a wheelchair because I couldn't bend my leg. Or how about the time I cut my cornea and her idea of fixing it was to put a giant eye patch on my eye. This did nothing to the pain or the tearing up, but did luckily make me look like a special needs pirate, which was EXACTLY what I was looking for that day.

I'm better about trusting doctors now, especially since I had one I really liked in College Station and now here in Sugar Land. I've got a couple of very smart friends who are in or just finished med school and trust them too, but I doubt any of the aforementioned people could diagnose me with what I've decided that I've got:

Overachiever Syndrome.

There's got to be such a thing, there's just got to.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
  • Inability to relax
  • Fatigue
  • Sense of laziness
  • Aches and pains
  • Memory loss
  • A full calendar
  • An empty gas tank
  • A fleeting yet overwhelming sense of "What have I gotten myself into?"
  • A love for people
  • To-do list full of projects
Here's what a typical night of mine looks like: I sit in my chair and think, "Man, I didn't do anything today. Oh wait... I scrapbooked 14 pages of Brooklyn's birthday, 2-year portraits and our trip to Chuck E. Cheese. I went to Ladies' Bible class, I got groceries, I took a shower, I took a nap, I made dinner, I gave Brooklyn a bath, I read my Bible and I wrapped Brandon's birthday presents. I guess I did okay".

Every night I think that I could have and should have done more that day. Even on days like the one I just described, which was, I kid you not, my Tuesday. I know I've got a problem. Anxiety has always been a part of me. I'm on medication for it (couldn't self-diagnose that one. Needed help. Can't prescribe medication on my own). I have almost an inability to relax because I never want to feel lazy. I hate asking for help doing things because I am an independent person who can do things for myself, thank you very much. I love to help others who are in need of help because I am a stay-at-home mom with a flexible child, so I have the time that many others don't have because they have to work. I try to use that time to my advantage by getting things done. I'm constantly volunteering my time to bring food to people, babysit, work at church, etc. and when I look at my overly-organized, color-coded calendar I sometimes think, "What have I gotten myself into?" The thought quickly passes as I sign up for another activity (that's where the memory loss comes into play). Story of my life.

Here's what's different: I've never tried to make a change to this lifestyle. I like to be busy, I enjoy helping others, and I love the feeling of accomplishing something and being able to check it off my to-do list. Now I'm trying to change, and it's very, very difficult.

This entire pregnancy with Peyton has been harder than it was with Brooklyn. I have been more sick, more sore, and more exhausted. Blame it on the 25 extra lbs my body started out with from what I didn't lose with Brooklyn or blame it on Brooklyn being a typical toddler who runs and jumps and plays all the time. Whatever the culprit, I am feeling weak in body, mind and spirit.

I pulled my groin about 2 weeks ago. Self-diagnosis, yes, but Brandon seems to agree. Could just be extra stretching getting ready for baby, but it's contained to one side of my body so probably not. It's so bad that I can hardly walk sometimes. I lay down on the floor and can't get up. I cry out in pain when I try to roll over in bed. Lots of dramatic noises that I honestly can't help. I hold Brooklyn and walk down a hallway at church with her and feel like I'm about to fall over. I'm already waddling from being 28 weeks pregnant, now on top of that I've been limping too. Brandon says the best thing for it is rest... which is one thing that anyone with Overachiever Syndrome is not good at. Needless to say, the pain remains.

I've finally wised up though, and remembered what we learned in last spring's Ladies' Bible Class- someone else's need does not necessitate a response from me. Sounds selfish, right? True, we should be selfless and willing to accommodate others, but the point is that we stop doing so at our own expense. I've been selfless to a fault, and my body is kicking my butt for it.

Brandon and I used to argue over a fundamental difference between us: I see things that need to be done and I do them. Brandon is very willing to help if I tell him what to do, but he doesn't naturally look around and see what needs to be done. Flaw here is that I don't ask for help... see previous paragraphs. Now that I've come to the realization that I am only hurting myself by doing things the way I've always done them, I'm having to ask for help a lot more... which makes me feel lazy. Laying around resting my muscles feels lazy. What do I do all day? Play and take care of Brooklyn. Brandon teaches 200 kids and then coaches after school. I feel awful asking him to do things that I feel I SHOULD be perfectly capable of doing myself. But truth is, I'm not perfectly capable to do many things at this point.

 I don't think it's pride. I think it's that I like my busy life and enjoy the things I do.

Regardless, here's my vow:

I will not volunteer for anything else between now and Peyton's birth. Events I've already committed to are one thing. I'll keep doing choreography for the high school despite how ridiculous a woman in her 3rd trimester looks dancing to Lady Gaga and Abba. I'll be handing out candy when the kids go Trunk or Treating at the Pumpkin Patch party at church. I'll stay to help out in the preschool classroom for the 11:00 service on November 4th. BUT THAT'S IT. In an effort to keep myself healthy and sane and keep this baby in me til he's full term, for the next 2 1/2 months I will NOT be a babysitter. I will IGNORE all Care Calendar requests to make food for sick families or those with newborns. I will NOT travel any FURTHER than College Station and no LATER than Thanksgiving. I do not want to be forced onto bed rest, so I'm forcing myself to just rest.

It's going to be quite a challenge for me, and I don't think I'm going to enjoy it. Prayers are always welcomed. Who knows? Maybe the combination of prayer and a more simplistic lifestyle is the prescription I need to heal my muscles and my Overachiever Syndrome.