Growing, Learning, and Enjoying Every Part Of It.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gut Punch To Parenting

Alyssa started 10th grade on Monday. This year is more easy to believe than last year. She is complety a high schooler and I think I’ve come to terms with that. She is a smart, beautiful girl who, as far as I know, has made some good decisions up to this point.
On Monday night I told her to finish up her kitchen chores and get to bed. She was upstairs for a while and I walked to her side to make sure she was in bed and all electronics and lights were off. Lo and behold she was standing in her doorway texting. I took the phone and told her to go to bed. Every so often I will take her phone and read the text messages. I used to do this more when she was in middle school, but as I said, I still do it from time to time. I’d never discovered anything inappropriate or even remotely interesting in the past. Typical teenage girl stuff (i.e. boy band crap, mall shopping, and movie watching).
Monday night changed all of that. I initially read all the texts between her and her “best” friend. Nothing interesting. I literally think all they talk about with each other is One Direction and volleyball. It is very weird to me, but anyway. Then I went to a conversation with one of the girls that lives in our old neighborhood. She was a part of the crew of them that walked home together. It didn’t take long before I read a curse word. The girl injected the F-word into a sentence for no other reason than, what appeared to be, just saying it.  I got upset immediately and thought about calling her mother.
I kept reading and then I saw that same F-word but this time my daughter used it.  The context was one I’ll never forget “Chelsea why didn’t you tell me about the Grandpa. He is crazy, he F-ing ambushed them all.” I literally felt sick and tired at the same time. Like I needed to lay down or I was going to fall down. Then my eyes welled up with tears. I kept reading and she then used the word Hell…asking, “what the hell. Everyone is watching the show but me.” That was in reference to the VMAs. I furiously went through every single text message in her phone as far back as it allowed. Those were the only words I saw from her, and that friend was the only friend that had used such language as well.
Though this isn’t about me, I made it about me for about 20 minutes. I have never felt like such a failure as I did in that moment of reading the F word essentially coming from my daughter’s mouth.  I have never fooled myself into thinking my daughter was perfect. But, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine her using vulgar language. Even when I used to curse a couple of years ago, I never cursed in front of her. I’ve always talked to her about the power of words and using positive ones, and using them for good. In the moments after reading the messages, I felt like somewhere I have failed her. I have led her astray.  Then I got angry. Angry because I know that’s just not true.
I called her into my room and told her what I had discovered. She looked shocked. I told her I was disgusted and disappointed with her language. I asked her why she used such words? Of course her response was “I don’t know.”  After me asking and her answering the same way 3 times, I finally told her, and I meant every word, that I was going to get a belt and give her the beating of her life if she didn’t start being honest and explaining why she was using that language.  She went on to tell me that everyone uses those words, so she did too. She also tried to make me believe that she has never said the words out loud only through texting.  I wanted to fight her. Not whip her, but literally fight her.  I think I only saw red. I have never in my life been so angry toward my own child.
For her to stand there and tell me that she was doing something because everyone else is doing it, made me want to fight, cry, retreat, and invade her school all at the same time. After spending everyday of her life encouraging her to be a leader, SHOWING her how to lead and not follow, and she tells me that in fact she is following. I had to remember again that this is not about me…she is 15 and this is about HER and the choices she is making.
I told her soon everyone will be drinking, trying drugs, having sex, and the like…is she going to do that, too. I reminded her that her choices will result in her consequences, not mine or anyone elses. I told her that the older she gets, the less I can rescue her from bad decisions. I reminded her how young ladies are to carry themselves (in writing and in speech). We talked about following versus standing a part and leaning on what’s right, not what feels right. I told her that my trust in her is not only broken, but it is gone. If I can’t trust her with her words, I surely can’t trust her with her actions outside of my sight. So, she no longer has a phone indefinitely and she cannot do anything without Mr. RFA or I being present unless she is at school.
My husband was shocked that SHE, our seemingly sweet little girl, would use that language. And, he is the guy that thinks teenagers are doing everything they have no business doing. Nothing about today’s youth shocks him, but he, too, was shocked by her. After his shock wore off, he tried to calm me and convince me that I was reacting from anger and hurt.  Maybe I was and still am, and I’m okay with that. There is a lesson in my anger and hurt that she will have to learn from.  He told me to remember my language at 15…my mom told me the same thing. The difference is my mom didn’t give me any consequences.  She was too busy trying to be my homegirl. I’m raising Alyssa to find out before she is 20-something that every choice has a consequence (good or bad). 
To some this may just seem like typical teenager antics, but to me this is a gateway to more poor decisions merely in the name of following the crowd. I DO NOT want her thinking that something is normal, acceptable, appropriate because everyone is doing it. We talk about that all the time. I tell her that the world makes so many things seem acceptable, but she has to discern right from wrong from trendy to appropriate.  She has been given all the tools and the proper foundation, but now it’s time for her to use the sense she has… not shelve it to go with the crowd.
As a mother, my ego is bruised…it is downright shattered. But, more than that I hurt for my baby.  I remember being a teenager and doing the dumbest of things. Much of them were done because my friends did them and made them look fun and appealing. The world was more forgiving when seventeen years ago when I was 15. I NEED her to understand and believe that only she can suffer her consequences. That consequences are real, and that bad ones are mostly avoidable if she does the right thing. That she can have a fun life without using poor language and making reckless decisions. That I DEMAND better from her and God expects the same.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Baby Bump News - Week 21

Guess who we got to see yesterday??? Yep, the babies. Oh my goodness how they have grown. Last month’s ultrasound showed them to be 5 and 6 ounces. This month they are both 14 ounces. Yay! 
When we got in with the doctor she was practically doing a happy dance. She went on and on about how awesome they are growing and how everything looks so good.
This time Baby A was the best little participant. She (I call that one the girl) allowed us to see her beautiful profile. She looks like Baby B to me. They both have their father’s mouth.  Baby B decided he would lay face down today with no desire to say hi to us. He just lied there relaxing.  The view of his spine was a nice one, though. And, we got a glimpse of one of those cute feet of his.
The feeling is getting stronger…I really think we are having at least one boy. I really think Baby B, the one who will be delivered second, is a Boy.  My mother seems to think that they are both boys.
I talked to the doctor about my weight as well. I’ve had a net gain of 1.4 pounds so far. My stomach seems to be the only thing growing. Though I feel like a huge cow.  I know some of that is probably muscle loss as I haven’t worked out in ages. My doctor told me not to worry. She said if I can maintain a healthy pregnancy and manage not to gain 60 pounds that I should consider it a victory. Lol, I agree. 60 pounds was never in my plan. I sure hope the Lord doesn’t need me to gain that much to my babies here.  I’m glad to know that slow to no weight gain is just fine.
I go for my high risk scan – twins, plus fibroid history, plus 33 equals high risk – in two weeks.  And then in two weeks after that I have that nasty glucose test. Though it’s been 15 years since my last one, I remember it like it was yesterday. I had the “cola” flavored one. I remember I had to go somewhere, drink it and wait.  This time they sent me home with a bottle of orange and told me to drink an hour before my arrival.  I guess they trust mommies more now.
Oh yeah…I asked if I could start back on exercise now that I actually have energy for such a thing. My doctor told me to go for it. I asked if I could speed walk on a treadmill. She told me I could do that, light weights, and even stationary cycling. She told me if I feel unusual, to slow it down, but she thinks some good exercise will be good for all three of us.  I’m so excited. I’m going to put the exercise area in our house to good use…finally. I really want to take a water aerobics class, but I don’t know where I would find the time outside of my weekends.
21 weeks and 1 day
Babies A and B are 14 ounces each
Baby A had a heartbeat of 129bpm
Baby B had a heartbeat of 134bpm
They are measuring right on target for 21 weeks
My belly measurement came in at 23 weeks today (I don’t remember belly measurements from my pregnancy with Alyssa)
None (Praise the Lord!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Our First Year of Marriage: My 5 Take-A-Ways

(On our wedding day)

(Speed boating through the mangroves of Mexico)
Mr. RFA and I made it to 1 year of marriage earlier this month (August 4th). Our big anniversary trip didn't happen because of my new job and its demanding responsibilities around this time of the year.
It hasn't stopped me, however, from thinking about that first year. Overall, it was marriage. Not perfect, not terrible, not mediocore...but most of what I expected from marriage. We tried purposefully to keep spice and spontanaety in the mix; we tried purposefully to communicate well and respectfully, and we tried purposefully to make the other person happy and put them FIRST.
We were successful most days and failed miserably on others. Like I said, it was marriage. The beautiful ebbs and flows of a lifetime partnership.  As I reflected back on that first year, here are some of my take-aways:
1. "They" are right; Marriage is hard work. Hard because it is a continuing effort. The moment you stop putting forth the effort, it's clear as day because something will rear its ugly head and try to throw things off course.  The biggest shock of this for me came when I realized that I'm still supposed to put in the work even when I'm mad. I remember before the wedding one of my girlfriends wanted to share some of her marriage advice to me.  She told me that even when all I want to do is kill him, I still have to have the heart and wisdom to clean his laundry and fix his food. She told me that in those moments, that's some hard marriage work, but it's what I must do. At the time,  I thought surely I will always want to do those matter what; he is still my husband, right?  LOL...that's funny now. I remember the first time that scenario happened. Her words came rushing to my mind. But, instead of wisdom, all I could think about was what I "wasn't" going to do.  Without her advice I probably would have gone out and got me and Alyssa some food and left him on his own, but instead I took my nasty attitude in that kitchen and I made dinner, fixed his plate, and we prayed and ate together as a family. I know my act, even with attitude, helped fix whatever we were mad about.
2. Our Commitment is stronger than any argument or disagreement. Notice I said Commitment and not love. I love my husband - more than anything. I am in love with him, too. He brings out good in me that I couldn't tap on my own. But, it's our commitment to each other that drives everything. I've heard that the love in a marriage wavers. Thankfully ours has not. If it does one day, I hope we can continue to hold on to our Commitment - the one we made to ourselves and to God. Knowing that we both believe in that commitment gives me security and makes me feel safe. I feel safe to express myself and I feel safe that I'm not going to fly off the handle with him. Our commitment is stronger than our petty arguments. Those arguments are growing and learning moments, not end of the road moments. When we had our first big argument, I was initally scared that our marriage was in trouble. I went to my husband a day later crying like I had been beaten, telling him that our marriage was in trouble and we needed to go see the pastor, a counselor, and the entire village leadership, lol. He almost lauged, but he saw how afraid I was for our marriage. I thought one argument meant we were on the verge of divorce. He helped me put things in perspective, calmed my unwarranted fears, and in that moment I knew...this commitment was made by both of us, and the both of us will honor it forever...even when we argue.
3. It's okay to go to bed mad. Almost every married couple gave us the advice of never going to bed mad. It sounds sweet and reasonable before the wedding, but afterwards, when real life starts happening, I thought they were all crazy with that advice. I still think that. Here's the thing...We never go to bed without professing our love for each other. Even when I want to kill him and he wants to strangle me, we tell each other we love the other. And, we both know that we mean it. That doesn't mean we have to get to the bottom of things that night, and it certainly doesn't mean I or he stops being mad before our heads hit the pillow. In fact, we tried to take that advice once...and once was enough. The late night hours and circular agruments made maters worse. The next time we were upset and the night fell upon us, we took our mad butts to bed. Waking up beside him the next morning made the night before seem silly and a good night's rest gave clarity and forgiveness. 
4. We are one. This is something I went into the marriage believing would be true and I feel even more strongly about it each day. My husband and I are one in the same. Yes, we have different personalities, likes, dislikes, and some philosophical beliefs, but we are one. Just like an individual we have different parts of ourselves. If someone has a problem with my husband, they have a problem with me and vice versa. I protect my honey like I protect myself. People in my life know that there is no room for discussion where my husband is involved. Only my mother has tried.  She didn't like something he said about not wanting his sons to dance ballet if they one day chose to. She tried to talk to me about how she didn't agree with that...I shut her down before she got out the gate with her statement good. Though, I disagree, that's my husband and I'll protect him, his words, beliefs, and stance in public...period, point blank, the end.  He is the same way. His best friend's wife had the nerve to call me bougie (in a derogatory way) in a private conversation with him. I so happened to be sitting there while he was on the phone and he let her know immediately that her critiques of me are not welcomed.
5. Marriage Rocks. Despite the strain that the first year of merging lives can bring, it is absolutely amazing. I've learned so much about myself in this year...some faults, some strengths, and some valuable humbling lessons. More than anything, I've experienced fun like I never have. It's not the kind of skydiving from 12,000 feet type fun. It's more of the I get to live with, make love to, talk to, and make life decisions with a man who is my absolute best friend...everyday! There is someone who allows me to be a woman, because he fills the role of man. I don't have to try and be all things like I once did. I can play my part and have full faith that my husband will play his. I freely stand back and allow him to be our leader, and he stands up while pulling me up beside him to be his partner in all things. Marriage also allows me to be more selfless. While putting my child first was a natural thing, putting another grown person first was not. Everyday I get better at it and it is enjoyable. To know that my husband knows I think of him before I think of me, makes me feel like a fantastic wife. And, to know that he thinks of me before he thinks of himself, gives me a high I've never experienced before.
I look forward to many more years with my Mr. Right For Aretha! When I think about the different chapters of life that we'll get to experience together (God willing), I get so excited. My life partner Rocks!! I'm thankful God put us both at that Uno table on August 13, 2011. When I sat down, I never expected to meet my husband while slapping down a draw4. God's plans are perfect. Here's to many more August Fourths!!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Permanent Housing

We are finally out of the apartment and into our home. All together now - "Thank you, Jesus!"
Last night was our second night in the new house. I love it! What I don’t love is the moving process. Thankfully, this time we had movers to get our things from storage to the house, but they didn’t cover unpacking and putting away.  There is so much stuff lying around that I don’t even know where to start. I gave Alyssa a list of things to do today and hopefully by the time I get home, most of it will be done. 
Yesterday I went and bought all new door knobs for the house. I didn’t like the other ones…they were gold. One of the pits of an older house are the gold fixtures. What the heck was the infatuation with that in the 90’s??  I guess someone will ask the same question about brushed nickel or stainless steel in 10 years.  While I was at it, I also bought new shower kits for the guest bath and jack and jill bathroom. They, too, were gold. We also found a great new vanity and sink for the downstairs guest bath. There was a pedestal sink in there previously…yuck.
The painters arrived this morning. I’m nervous about the color.  I purchased two samples and ended up not liking either. I’m going with light gray, but I don’t want it to look like dingy white.  Alyssa and Mr. RFA said my eyes are weird because they saw gray.  I saw dingy white. This morning at the last minute I changed the color with the painter. It’s still gray, but a tad darker…still light, in my mind. I hope when I get home I’ll love what I see.  I don’t think my husband will allow me to use more of the budget to get the painters to come back and change the entire downstairs just because I have color remorse. 
We’ve decided to hold off on updates to our master bath. He wants to paint and we also need new faucets, shower trimmings and cabinet knobs. Oh and get this. My husband, whom I love and adore very much, has come up with the genius idea (note my sarcasm) to install a laptop or book tray in the toilet room.  All this means is that he’ll spend more time in the bathroom…I’m opposed to the idea of it, but I won’t stand in the way of his grand ideas…this time.
We had some cleaning women come in on Tuesday before we started moving things in and they did a good job. I think I’m going to use them once a month to do the deep cleaning for us and we’ll take care of the other stuff ourselves.
Oh yeah…we also found an awesome new microwave/wall oven combo. Of course the one we have now is white…that just won’t do.  I can’t wait until it’s installed. Everything else in the kitchen looks modern expect those ugly white appliances. Now we still need to find the cooktop and new dishwasher. I hope the white appliances sell well on craigslist…cost recovery is a sweet thing!
Okay, that’s it for house stuff.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Baby Bump News - 20 weeks

Today makes 20 weeks. It’s amazing how fast I feel like time is moving through this pregnancy. Yesterday, I took some time to reflect on the journey. It is amazing the way we feel in the midst of what we perceive to be a “storm.” From August until we got the positive pregnancy news in May, I was scared. I kept a  mostly positive outlook on things thanks to my wonderful honey bunny, but there were parts of me that were scared. My husband reinforced faith and urged me to be strong. He knew without a doubt that everything would be ok. I believed as well, I think I just couldn’t handle the unknown…the month after month of negative test results. Because of my history with fibroids and myomectomies, I felt broken.  Looking back on that now, I feel bad about having been scared at all.

In reality we tried from August to April – 8 months. One of the women I met when I first moved here just gave birth to twins. She too went through IVF and she and her husband had been trying for 3 years. How silly did I feel after finding that out?  Very.

I typically try to keep things in perspective; realize that things are not as bad as they seem in the right now, but I had several failing moments during our 8 month trying period. I am so grateful that God blessed us despite my wavering. Favor is an amazing thing…and I don’t care what anyone say, my house is favored!

The other thing that I thought about was the fact that we had a plan and we worked the plan. I’ve never been one to sit around and wait for things to happen; not when I can be actively doing something. Because of my fibroid history, we had spoken with a fertility doctor before the wedding. We were clear with him that we were not having sex before marriage, but that once we said “I do,” it would be on and popping and we wanted to be monitored to see how the recent myomectomy was impacting things. He told us to start trying on our wedding night and come see him in December if I hadn’t gotten pregnant yet.  We went to see him in December and we got started on a plan complete with tests and such. I thank God that we had the insurance coverage and financial means to do that instead of having to try without direction for years.  

On to the babies...We get to see them again next week.  I’m so excited. This time is feel s like it’s been ages since I’ve last saw them.  I’m ready to see them wiggling and jiggling around in there.  According to my internet research, at this point they should be about 10 ounces and 6 inches long. Wow…they are growing rapidly. 
I have more energy, but if I’m not careful I expend it too quickly and then I’m left feeling exhausted. For example, I’m like the queen of energy in the house because if I feel any sense of tiredness I can sit and recover quickly. However, if I’m out and walking around…it takes about 45 minutes before I’m looking for a place to take a nap.  It’s weird.
I have serious leg cramps at night. They are calming down, but last week was painful. It felt every other time I switched positions my legs would cramp up causes me to jump out of bed in pain in an attempt to stretch them out.
My sex drive had declined more than I would have liked it to, but it’s on the comeback…oh yeah. Happy mamma and daddy equals happy babies, lol.
I think my belly grew between today and last week. It is getting big and my husband is started to make belly jokes. I’ll let him have his fun now, but I told him to get ready for me to bring sexy back after these babies vacate my uterus.
Other baby news:

I found their cribs!  I was torn between one at Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us. The ones at BBB were about $300 more each than the one I found at BRU.  I like the one at BRU better, for price, but mostly because of its design. I didn’t want a crib that had the wide back because I would have to place it on the wall the long way.  I wanted one of the traditional looking cribs that I could place on the wall the short way (like twin beds)…here is a picture because I think I suck at this description.  Actually, I put the two that I’m still a bit torn over (both from BRU).

I'm leaning toward the bottom picture. I really love the curved lines, but there is something about the straight lines in the first picture that I like also. Which do you like?  Do the curved lines look more feminine?  

I think that 's it for now...The countdown is on...The babies will be here in 3 months and 28 days...what, what?!?!?!?!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Gratitude and Praise

A lot has been going on over here. Work is busy, home is busy, but guess what?? Life is wonderful. Sometimes I have to literally stop and bask in my blessings. We closed on our new house yesterday. For a moment (a few days) we were both so tired from driving all over the metroplex to get Alyssa to practices, camps, and tryouts, work, etc. that we lost sight of how blessed we are. It didn’t take us long to put things back into perspective. We talked and understand that some people, people very close to us, are struggling right now. Some of them don’t know how they are going to pay rent or have gas to get to and fro. We were spending our energy griping about our energy levels, when not once did God not show up and show out on his blessings for us. We’ve added miles to both cars, but not once did we have to worry about if we’d have the money to buy gas to drive those miles. Not once did we have to worry about where we would live between closing on one house and moving into the other. Not once did we have to worry about whether Alyssa would eat well. It is so easy to get caught up in our privileged lives that when anything is different, breaks routine, or makes us uncomfortable we go straight for the gripe.  I hope that over the next week before we move into the new house that we remember what we remembered yesterday in that closing office…We are blessed. God shows our family much favor. Favor that we sometimes don’t deserve, so we better show gratitude and praise all the time.