My Simply Complicated Life

Welcome to the blog of an ordinary mother who sometimes just might have something extraordinary to say

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Six to One, Half Dozen to the Other

It’s almost unimaginable that as of today, I have a daughter in the latter half of her first decade – that’s right, I am mother to a six year old!  It may be cliché but it really does seem like it was just yesterday that I fell in instant-love with the six pound munchkin whose shrill cries coming from her tiny lungs filled the air…and my heart.  Up to that point, it was the most amazing sound to ever gratify my ears.  Fast forward six years later, the air is still full of noise from that same set of pipes except instead of sweet whimpers, it’s continuous chatter.

I remember the day I saw the plus sign on the pregnancy test and that it had not yet hit me on exactly what was to come.  A few weeks later, however, I drove to work after my first ultrasound appointment with a first look at the little life growing inside of me.  As I listened to the song “Baby Mine,” I cried thinking of this precious gift that my husband and I had created (with the help of our loving Creator – Revelations 4:11) and started to anticipate what she would be like (yes, I immediately had the sense that I was having a girl and sure enough, my feelings were confirmed a few months later at another ultrasound visit).  Then on May 21, 2007, I met my daughter and I was truly, undoubtedly a mom.  And that's when life really began!

There are so many ways I could describe this beautiful blessing of mine.  She is extremely sensitive – both in the way that she is fragile and vulnerable with her feelings but also as a thoughtful, considerate soul who is perceptive to others’ feelings.  She has a playful sense of humor, a desire to please others, a stubborn determination, and a heart made of 24 carat gold.  R is just as lovely on the outside as she is on the inside with a smile that saturates me with a warmth all over, eyes that speak of innocence and approachability, and a little button nose that is just asking to be pinched!

One thing I want her to know is how much I believe in her.  She is smart and incredibly talented especially when it comes to drawing.  I wish I could have a room simply dedicated to holding all of the pictures she has carefully and thoughtfully drawn/colored from her splendid imagination - a room where I could escape from reality and be immersed in one of her castles, gardens or sandy beaches.  She has the potential to be an amazing artist!

In reflecting on the past six years, the thing that resonates most is that she is the person that made me a mom.  She taught her daddy and I how to be parents – starting with the sleepless nights (oh, there were so many) to the heart-stopping scares (her horrible gag reflexes meant several choking episodes) to the happier times (more of these than anything else) where we watched as she learned something new or saw something amazing for the first time.  First words, first steps and all of the other firsts are exciting with each child but it can’t compare to the firsts of your first!

As quick as each day and year have gone by since bringing sweet R into the world, it is even more sad to think that this day has already come and gone.  She is already tucked away in bed (after a day just like any other) and hopefully dreaming of things that make her happy like princesses or flower fields while I am out here reminiscing on as many memories of her infancy as I can dig up in my dwindling memory bank.  She may at times be six going on sixteen but in so many ways, she is still that shrieking little siren that barely fit into newborn sized clothes but who completely stole my heart that Monday morning in May! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Three's Company

It has been 156 weeks, 1096 days, 26,304 hours and 1,578,240 minutes (or in simpler terms, three years) since Hurricane P blew into our lives. Looking at those numbers, it seems like such a long time but like a tropical storm, it has been a whirlwind. Where have those weeks, days, hours and minutes gone? They’ve slipped through my fingers…my tight grip isn’t quite tight enough to hold on to those precious moments.
As the day draws to a close, I find myself reminiscing on the last three years. As recounting with my friends earlier, I remember holding my little butterball (she was 2.5 lbs. bigger than her sister) in the operating room. An hour or so later, in the recovery room, my dark haired little eskimo baby latched on like a pro…fast forward three years and she still is enamored with the milk makers. Since the beginning, she has been a ball of fire. Trying to get a few hours of sleep in the hospital, I sent Little P to the nursery (gasp, I know, I sent her away…it’s much easier to do with second children, trust me). Within minutes, the nurses called me requesting her to be picked up as she was keeping all of the other babies awake with her wails. To this day, she commands attention and makes her wishes known loudly and proudly.
In so many ways, she is still mommy’s baby – whether carrying around her beloved Goo Goo, clutching onto my chest, or snuggling against me to fall asleep. Then on the other hand, she is such a big girl. She poses thoughtful questions, sings (quite well) along to new hits (Maroon 5’s “One More Night” or Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble) and oldie but goodies (B52’s “Love Shack” or Spice Girls “Wannabe”),says beautiful prayers to Jehovah, and enjoys salad, soup and spicy food. Oh and in true spitfire fashion, her favorite color is red.
Before she came along, I was wrapped up in so much love for her sister that I was afraid to bring another child into the world. Afraid I could never love another like I did my first. Magically, my heart expanded and made room (and then some) for my sweet pea. She has stolen the hearts of everyone – her sister is enamored by her, her grandparents beam with pride, and our friends have deep affections for (some are ready to sign the adoption papers).
After three years, I have learned so much about her and from her. She teaches me patience (mostly because she tests it so much), she shows me bravery (showing no fear with much at all), and she imparts sheer delight (with each flash of her signature “crazy eyes”). As desperate as I am to freeze time, I am curious and anxious to see what is in store for my spunky, passionate, witty, beautiful daughter. She is a girl, who like her mother, is stubborn but considerate, affable but cautious, smart but silly, and babyish yet blossoming.
Thank you my darling P for showing mommy that her heart is big enough for a personality as big as yours. Mommy loves you (and your sister) under the sea (my little mermaid) and over the moon (my little star).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Loss of Innocence

Every parent’s worst nightmare became a reality to 20 parents (not including those of the heroic adults who died valiantly and selflessly) on Friday, December 14, 2012.  As an “assume the worst, hope for the best” type of person, I pictured the parents sitting in the firehouse holding their breath as someone new walked in, only to have their heart sink further with each exhale.  Finally, they heard the words that still probably haven’t quite sunk in – “your little boy/girl is not coming home” – words no parent should ever hear, especially parents of little fledglings who have only just left the nest, slowly spreading their wings as they journey into the world.

I cannot imagine the consuming heartache they must be feeling – as if someone reached in and pulled their heart out and crushed it in front of them.  (If you watch “Once Upon a Time,” you’ll visualize this).  I cannot imagine coming into my home and knowing that my child will never walk through that door again.  I cannot imagine replaying our last words to each other, holding on to the last kiss and our last embrace, watching videos just to hear her voice again, or no longer being able to breathe in her smell left on her pillowcase.

Although life goes on for the rest of us (even if we are reminded of it through every form of media), how do those parents go on?  Not having been in a situation like that, it might be easy to assume spending the rest of your life curled into a ball in the darkest room of your house would be your new way of life.  Sounds reasonable to me…but many of these parents have other children who need them and no doubt, are needed by their parents.  As one of the victim’s parents said, they are going to live each day for their daughter – thinking about her, talking about her daily.  What a wonderful way to keep her alive and honor her! 

Sandy Hook Elementary could have easily been my daughter’s school.  In dropping her off on Monday, I must have said “I love you” at least 25 times just in the 30 seconds it took to open the car door, have her unbuckle her seatbelt and grab her backpack before jumping out.  I also reminded her that even when I’m not there with her, I am forever with her as she is with me…and more importantly, that Jehovah God is always with her.  She can talk to him through prayer at anytime – in times of worry, in times of uncertainty, in times of sorrow and even in times of joy.  Because if she were ever in a situation like those beautiful babies in Newtown, I want her to know that she is never alone and is safe in his keeping. 

Today, my kindergartner explained to me that her teacher spoke to the class about their safety plan if a “bad man” were to ever visit their school.  She said they would pile into their bathroom (and was bewildered as to how 13 students and their teacher would all fit) and that they would need to stay completely quiet so he wouldn’t hear them.  My eyes welled up as she recounted her “what she learned/did at school today” overview – this is not something a five year old should be preparing for.  A fire, yes; a hurricane or tornado, sure; a psychopath thirsty for notoriety and innocent bloodshed, absolutely NOT! 

There are a lot of solutions or opinions being tossed around about what could have prevented this tragic event or ways to prevent a similar massacre from happening again but really, the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one, Satan (1 John 5:19) and like these twisted monsters who carry out these wicked acts, he has no empathy nor any regard for any of us.  Our only hope lies in our faith in the ransom sacrifice provided by Jesus Christ which will open up the door for us to have everlasting life like God intended for us when he created Adam and Eve (John 3:16).  Even if all of the guns were completely destroyed and anyone with mental illness found the help that they needed, Satan would find a way for evil to occur.  Even though I know not the day nor the hour, I know in my heart this world cannot go on for much longer heading in the direction it is going in – our salvation is so close at hand and so comforting that I imagine it to be that warm blanket that is right there, ready to cover you when the cold is just too hard to bear any longer.

Each night after she brushes her teeth and empties her bladder, I say a prayer with my thoughtful, inquisitive, beautiful little girl.  We always pray about the promised new system that will soon put an end to this wicked world we live in (Psalms 37:10, 11, 29; Revelation 21:3, 4) and envision being on the wonderful earth God intended for us – no sickness, no boo-boos, no bad guys – just paradise, purity, perfection!  Now more than ever, we pray for those better things to come and to come soon.  And we pray that those who have lost their babies far too soon will hear about this hope and find comfort in knowing they can and will see their perfect little child again (John 5:28, 29) just as they remembered them.

I’ll leave you with this quote that really put into words how much impact these little people have in our lives – “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about..”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Walk to Remember

Six years ago, on a warm Sunday morning in November, I walked down the aisle looking into the eyes of the man I had spent the past four years growing to love more and more with each day.  I was walking toward him, knowing that he was already my best friend as well as knowing all (or most) of his quirks, his strengths and weaknesses, his goals and dreams but still feeling anxiously unaware and excited about what stood in front of us after we said I do.

The day could not have been more beautiful – we were surrounded by God’s beautiful creation as our scenery, our closest family and friends and a reassuring sense of peace knowing we were solidifying our already deep love into something even greater and more meaningful. 

There certainly were blips in the day like when the DJ introduced me by my maiden name as we entered the reception hall or when the caterers broke the glass on the frame that we had our guests sign (as our guest book) but those were so insignificant when reflecting on the joy that was felt by all on that special day.

Fast forward six year later and I can still see the happy tears flowing down my face and that of my groom’s.  I can hear our song playing as we embrace each other as husband and wife, quietly whispering private jokes and giggling in sync.  Although I cannot recall every detail of my wedding day, my heart will never let me forget the happiness and excitement I felt about beginning our lives together as man and wife. 

Six years is by no means long in the span of time.  It still feels fresh and new sometimes even though I have a hard time reminiscing on life before Art.  We have been through a lot in these six short years but those challenges have only helped us to appreciate what we have more and cherish the partner we have gone through those trying times with. 

I married my best friend that sunny autumn day.  If I were walking towards him today, I would be staring at so much more – the person that knows more about me than anyone (and still loves me), the man who makes me feel more beautiful than I’ve ever felt, the husband who gave me the two greatest gifts a woman can hope for (sweet R and P), the father who has managed to land himself two daddy’s girls and a spiritual head for our family who motivates me to be a better wife, mother and person so that I can set a fine example for our daughters.  We may not have the greatest love story ever told but our story is full of greatness and love.  I could read it over and over again, except that our story isn’t complete – it’s only just begun…

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Plague of 2011

Although I do not celebrate holidays including Thanksgiving (as you probably know and if you don't, feel free to ask me about it), today I would like to extend a giant thank you to the public school system, parents who send their sick children to school, and also bacteria.  Of course I am being sarcastic because really, why on earth would I thank public schools or parents who are stupid enough, lazy enough, selfish enough or a balanced-blend-of-all-of-the-above enough to let their infected offspring attend school where (shockingly) they’ll be around other children with undeveloped immune systems.  Not that my kid is perfect and knows or follows the proper sick etiquette but these kids tend to wipe their nose on classroom items, cough in each other’s faces and then hold hands during circle time – one big happy germ-infested class.  And bacteria is just an accessory to the crime, it’s not his fault he’s being spread around haphazardly.
Because of the three culprits above, my family has been plagued with this superbug that refuses to die.  Like the villain in any horror movie, just as soon as you think the good guys have won, in an instant you are screaming at the hero/heroine to “TURN AROUND!!!” because the bad guy is baaaaack for one last hurrah (or in our case, more like the Rocky or Die Hard sequels – you lose count after the third or fourth one).  
What started as sniffles and coughs has developed into an all-around pandemonium of symptoms.  We’ve had two rounds of pink eye, a cough that manifests into dry-heaves and subsequently vomiting, diarrhea and diaper rash, bloody phlegm, fevers and chills, but most recently, the hives due to an allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics.  Last I checked, antibiotics were supposed to help, not make the situation worse!
The hardest part of this all was that this beast of a bug targeted my two innocent beauties, R and P.  It took a shot at the hubby and I which was also a tough blow since it’s impossible to take care of yourself when you have helpless munchkins who need you (and yes, I’m lumping the hubby into the munchkin category because we all know that men revert to infancy when they’re ill but I digress…).  There is not much worse than having a sick child, nonetheless two; and then to try to reassure them that they will get better, oy!  Kids have no concept of time so R likely feels like she has been sick for three years (although it’s only been three weeks but I can appreciate her misconception because it’s starting to feel like years for me too).  Each time R coughs, she nearly spews out anything in her stomach (which isn’t much since her already miniscule appetite is dwindling) and as she does, my heart aches for her.  Then there is P who has woken up twice over the past few weeks looking like she might go blind because her beautiful blues were crusted shut due to the colorful bug known as conjunctivitis.  She has remained pleasant despite the warm washcloth to wipe away the film of green yuck taping her eyes shut each morning and despite the three times a day I have to hold her down to put drops in her eyes.  Sadly, she’s at the point where she laughs about me practicing a half nelson on her to plant the drops in her peepers.
I feel like I haven’t seen my family or friends since jeggings were in style…oh wait, they’re still in style so scratch that.  Well, it still feels like it’s been since the 80’s.  I want desperately to be human again.  I’m starting to feel like our family belongs on one of those SyFy shows.  I miss breathing through my nose.  I miss my kids having normal poop.  I miss all the money I shelled out on doctor visit co-pays in just the last two weeks (almost enough to pay for medical school…in a foreign country albeit).  I would love to be taking the girls to the new Muppets movie today but alas, we’re stuck indoors watching the same old garbage that has been the background noise (that we can barely hear because we’ve all had or have ear infections) while we’ve all been basking in a cesspool of each other’s germs. 
This probably sounds like quite a negative rant and it mostly is; however, to turn it around, I know there are families going through much harder times with children who are sick everyday of their life with viruses or diseases much worse than what we’ve gone through even at our weakest.  Those parents and their brave children make my problems seem so insignificant (which they are retrospectively).  To keep the positivity going (because quite frankly, I need all the positivity I can get right now), I would really, truly (not sarcastically) like to thank the many family and friends who have offered to help us in whatever way we may have needed them.  Although we didn’t take you up on most of your generous proposals, just knowing you were willing to extend yourselves means the world to us.  And also, I am so appreciative of the ladies who work at my daughters’ pediatric office who were working today to see little sickos like mine who just couldn’t wait another day to be seen.  On that note, I will be going to lay down for a snuggle-infested nap with Little P in hopes of kicking our viruses’ butts to the point of no (and I mean, no) return!
(Below is a picture of my two dear darlings in all their gooey-glory)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Family Matters

As I'm watching a movie that involves a paternity mishap, my mind has started wandering onto the subject of family - specifically inherited traits. The child in the movie has distinct characteristics (moans when he eats, thinks he has every disease in the book - hey wait, that sounds familiar…) - all of which link him to his real father. And so it got me thinking about some of the faces I make subconsciously, the protruding bunion on my right foot, my incessant need to ruin surprises or even the foods I refuse to eat just based on the way they look - all pieces of the inheritance that my parents and the generations before them have left for me.

Inadvertently, my parents and grandparents have bestowed upon me some of their worst traits; albeit, they are also responsible for my best traits but it's typically harder to see the good in people and even more so, the good in ourselves. For better or for worse, the mesh of good and bad equals me. That doesn't, however, mean that I cannot change and steer towards another course. After all, we are all granted free will (at least once we turn 18 or leave our parents’ home) which means we have a choice. For example, a child who is raised by an alcoholic father might be more likely to inherit a problem with self-control or addiction but that isn't a one-way ticket to Margaritaville; instead, that child might silently vow never to be anything like his father and push harder than normal to assure that he/she doesn't get to that point. Similarly, I can make the call as to whether I will have an uncontrollable sweet tooth like my father and grandmother or a constant curiosity like my mother. But as evident by my muffin top, I have made a stand on one of the above although I desperately wish I could rid myself of that innate love of all things sugar. As for my nosiness, I'm happy to say that it is a work in progress.

The point is - no matter how hard we try, we can't escape who we are...or who our family is for that matter (even if DNA is the only thing we have in common). We may not even like our family but it's important to remember that God gave them to us - they not only shaped us into the person we have become but they are the bridge that links us to our future (as quoted by Alex Haley).

Although I am no longer Jessica B. (insert maiden name), I have still carried much of the "B" into my own family. My daughters very much resemble my husband but are programmed with so many similarities to me and my side of the family. It's not exactly what I had in mind as an inheritance for my children but in reality, it's a priceless gift. After all, my father's mother is no longer around but seeing some of her quirks in me is a sweet reminder of her that lives on and will continue to live on in my children and so on. It's actually quite a beautiful thing!

There are some people I know that find their family a nuisance or perhaps even worthless. They feel they could do better without them and would rather forget them altogether. No matter how hard we try to avoid them though, perhaps even going across the world - the truth is that they are always with us they are inside of us, deep within our bones.

To conclude, I think this quote sums it up nicely - "A man may travel the world over in search for what he needs and yet returns home to find it." Family is home - they are the only people in the world who know everything about you and still love you for who you are. Family matters - especially this one...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The customer is NOT always right...

....unless I'm the customer, naturally!  Well, I am back after far too long of an absence from blog-la land.  Oh how I have missed pouring out my heart on here.  Hopefully I will not allow as much time to pass the next time around.  I actually owe an entire blog to my beautiful daughter R who turned four last month.  We were away and therefore, she has been neglected in the blogisphere. 

So unto our topic at hand.  The age old saying that the customer is always right is a crock, to put it delicately.  Obviously, whomever coined it never had my client (for privacy and safety purposes, we'll call her Priscilla - safety purposes that I don't want to be reprimanded or terminated for using her real name in a negative connotation) as a customer.  And on a side note, I named her Priscilla because I went to school with a real "peach" (again, to put it nicely) with that moniker.  The originator of that phrase also could never have been a Dell employee which as you'll soon find out (and likely already assumed) is part of one of the examples I will be using to support my stance on the lousy "customer always right" mumbo jumbo.

I have had two (technically three) experiences recently and have been on both ends of the spectrum - client and service provider.  In all three instances, the inaccuracy of the statement has been reinforced. 

Humor me if you will...

Scenario 1: Jessica versus Priscilla - I play the role of the service provider while Priscilla is the never wrong client
My job is to provide Priscilla and her team with qualified applicants for her job openings which I have done.  However, Priscilla has unrealistic expectations and desires that not only go against company policy but also that flat out make no sense.  I would love to tell Priscilla to stick to her job and I'll stick to mine.  Afterall, when it comes to recruiting, I am the subject matter expert.  I would not presume to know how to do her job and even if I did, I certainly wouldn't have the chutzpah to tell her how I think she should do hers.  I would also be much obliged to fulfill her requests if she had the decency to handle herself in an endearing manner.  Heck, I would be happy to help her if she would use any form of manners.  Instead, she is stubborn, demanding and ungrateful.  I am usually the type to "kill with kindness" when someone doesn't warm up to me but in this case, I prefer to have as little interaction with her as possible and would rather invest my kindness elsewhere.

Scenario 2: Jessica versus Dell - I play the role of the client while Dell is the service provider
At the beginning of May, our family computer crashed and burned.  I subsequently was on the market for a new PC (or Mac, although very, very interested in one - I wasn't quite convinced that I was ready to make the switch to a whole new operating system or invest that much money (though in retrospect, the extra few hundred probably would have been a wiser investment but that's neither here nor there)).  After going back and forth for nearly three weeks on whether I was going to purchase or not (and also which brand to select), I settled on Dell because there was a sale which included a basic version of Microsoft Office, a two-year warranty and some other crucial features I insisted upon.  I also have a credit account with Dell which was handy since I had not been saving up for a new computer until our other malfunctioned.  Alas, when interested in purchasing the Dell, I was reached by every method of contact besides a knock at the door.  Fast forward to a week later, my brand new (house-payment equivalent) computer had arrived.  In less than 24 hours of possession, this expensive new member of the family was not charging while plugged in to the A/C adapter.  Lovely!  Naively, I figured I would easily chat with their support folks online and quickly have the issue resolved.  Not so fast, Jessica!  My computer was not recognized so I was instructed to call for support.  Low and behold, when calling, I was told that my computer's warranty had expired (mind you, they were using my phone number to pull up my account and completely neglecting the fact that I had previously purchased products from them that in fact were no longer under warranty).  After an hour and a half of being re-routed to customer service specialists who not only had no idea how to resolve my issue, let alone speak audible English, I finally spoke to someone who was able to "fix" the bug that was causing the charging issue.  Ah, happy Jessica!  The feeling of contentment and excitement lasted a mere twelve hours when later in the evening, the Microsoft Office programs were not opening.  After another merry-go-round with Dell's incompetent help desk, I was told that I would have to reset the computer to factory settings to reinstall the Microsoft Office program as there was no other way to download it or be provided with a hard copy of the software.  Awesome!  At this point, I had already loaded this oversized coaster with photos, music and other goodies.  There was no way I was going to wipe it clean and start from scratch.  I made sure to express my disdain to the poor soul on the other line advising that I was almost to the point of sending the hunk of junk back.  I found it rather funny that when they wanted my money, I couldn't hide from them but when they had my money, they were no where to be found!  I'm still pretty livid about the poor treatment I received and the unresolved Microsoft issue but thankfully a dear friend came through and helped me out in that regard.  (Shout out to V)

Scenario 3:  Jessica versus Anonymous Resume Client - I play the role of the service provider to Anonymous
As some of you know, I run a side business in which I create or revise resumes.  Earlier this year, I was asked to revise a resume for an acquaintance.  Because this was a close enough acquaintance, I offered to provide the service at a discounted rate.  I completed the revisions and sent the finished product off which in turn received stellar reviews.  Everything was great...or so I thought.  A week or so later, the client contacted me requesting that I review their resume which they made some "slight" changes to.  I agreed, however, I was stunned when upon opening the document I realized that "slight" changes translated to new font, new formatting, new verbiage, etc.  It was basically a completely new resume other than having the name and address formatting in common.  I was honestly more than "slightly" offended not only that the client was dissatisfied with my revisions but that they neglected to approach me to adjust to their liking and instead handled it on their own.  Even more so, I was annoyed that I had invested time and energy into developing a product that I knew was good, in fact, better than this new hot mess they had sent for my review.  My blunt opinion would have been that they should have stuck with the version I had provided especially since I look at resumes daily and (not to toot my own horn) know what is considered a strong resume.  This person completely disregarded my expertise as well as my hard work and expected me to critique (and possibly revise) this new and not-so-improved version.  I was flabbergasted.  To date, I still have not received payment but figure this client may not have the funds if they are using that resume to find employment. 

The lesson of the day is that if the saying were true, Priscilla would be Queen of the Universe, Dell would have sent me Microsoft Office 2010 on disc and a $100 credit for my patience and Anonymous could have free lifetime revisions to their resume.  Fortunately or unfortunately (for me), that's not "the way the cookie crumbles."  Life isn't a box of chocolates and the early bird doesn't always catch the worm (ok, ok, enough stupid cliches)...the point is, "you can't always get what you waaaaant...but if you try sometimes, you get what you neeeeeed!"

On a lighter note, I promise to sing a happier tune in my next blog which will be dedicated to R, one of my best and favorite lil customers!