Finding Happy

One of my biggest pet peeves these days is that no one is real anymore. Not online, not in person. We are all in silent competition with each other with who lives the best life, and no one is winning. So, I'm going to do my best to attempt to be really real here.
Last night Caleb and I were both just feeling really low. It was weird, because yesterday was a really good day. Caleb got to work from home, which was awesome. He wasn't busy, which was even more awesome. We spent the whole day as a family, and it was great. So this dark cloud that settled over our home was a surprise to both of us.
We started talking and decided we both just felt sort of dissatisfied, I think we're having a quarter-life crisis. 
As most of you know, Caleb just started a new job. And it's a great job. He's really liked it. And with the pay raise, I've been able to stay home with Dayen, which has basically been my dream forever.
We feel like everything we've been working towards and dreaming about is here. Obviously we still have goals and dreams, but suddenly we are on the wrong side of a lot of the BIG things. The wedding, the first kid, the first home. We are officially settled into the day to day. We feel like all that's left is the "enduring to the end."
We feel like we've arrived, and it was sort of anti-climactic.
We feel like now that we're settled into these lives, we can both look into our futures and see where we're going to be twenty years from now. And it's kind of unsettling.
I know that sounds strange. Three years ago I would have killed to be in this position, but now it feels strange to be so stagnant. I feel like I spend all day every day taking care of this person who has yet to appreciate it, and who loves to throw spaghetti all over my clean floors. I feel like even though I'm so happy and fulfilled to be where I am, I might wake up in twenty years and wish I had done more. Caleb feels like he's fallen into a routine that he's going to have until retirement.
I can acknowledge that in twenty years I will probably laugh at myself that I thought I had it all figured out right now. I know that lots will change, and we may end up somewhere I never expected.
It's just that right now, it all feels pretty predictable and monotonous.
And the reason I wanted to blog about it at all, was that I know we're not alone. I see it, and general unhappiness and dissatisfaction, all around me. And I have a groundbreaking theory that I'm going to talk about in my webinar, for only 39.95! (Spoiler alert: the fix is essential oils!)
Just kidding.
But I do have a theory.
It has to do with something we learned about in High School: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
It basically says that until our needs from the lower tiers are met, we can't even be concerned with the needs of the higher tiers.
It makes sense: If you don't have food, water, or air, you're not going to be concerned about whether you have friends. (Unless, I guess, they're the ones providing the food, water, or air.) You need those basic things, and then your concern becomes having shelter, and making sure your financial needs are met. Once those things are all in place, We worry about having friends and a companion. And only after that are we concerned with our confidence, or the need to be a unique individual.
My theory is this: we are all way too high up on that gosh-darn pyramid. We're spoiled. We've had it so easy. If you want to take this moment to have a little pity party about how your life hasn't been easy, then go watch a Netflix documentary about starving children in Africa and then get back to me.
Of course we have our challenges, but from day one MOST of our needs are met. Most of us have food and water, a home, friends (or at least access to Facebook and the idea of friends) and we're all stuck on that green tier that tells us the ONLY important thing now is our self-esteem, our emotional needs.
Is it really that surprising that depression and anxiety run so rampant in our society? It's all that's left! No one is going to be on Facebook complaining that they are trapped in a box and don't have any air. If we're being honest, we've all arrived. We might still be saving for our first home, or searching for our soul mate, but ultimately we are way up on this pyramid and we aren't very happy about it.
Like I said, I just had a theory, not a cure. If any of you have any grand ideas, we can collaborate and make millions (although if gluten ends up being the problem, we'll just have to admit they told us so.) 
As far as I can figure, and because most of us pampered babies aren't going to reach self-actualization in this lifetime, the only thing we can really do is CHOOSE happiness. Every day, over and over. Even if we occasionally get knocked down a tier or two. Even if that anxiety monster is eating away at you and telling you there is nothing to be happy about. It seems like every study ever done on a human tells us that we all follow the same basic patterns, we are all predictable and basically animals in a zoo.
But I believe that's why our agency sets us apart more than our giant brains or our fancy cars. (Take that, zebras.) We get to choose, but we also have to choose. Everything else may have been easy, but this one won't be. This is our challenge...should you choose to accept it.
Or, you can just go cry to your mom like Dayen always does. It works well for him.

I'm Not Good at Sports

It's a known fact about me, something I will willingly admit: I am not good at sports. It's my excuse to not look like a fool when I end up needing to play some sport. It's something that, at 25, I can accept and laugh about. It's just not one of my skills! I don't play sports, or do college math, or perform onstage. But it's ok, I'm crafty! I write! That's who I am!
It's become a mantra of sorts: I don't play sports. I don't play sports. I'mnotathletic, IDONTplaysports.
Which is why it was a surprise for me, and everyone who knows me, when I decided to join a league softball team this year.
(Disclaimer: I now realize that a city women's softball team isn't a nationally syndicated event. The other players are not body-builders on a roid rage and out for blood. But before signing up, I truly did not know this, and it was terrifying.)
The thing is: I haven't always been bad at sports. In fact, I used to be really great at Basketball. I played at my house almost every day, even in the winter. I could make a basket from my knees, which usually helped me beat my brothers and dad at HORSE. I beat all the boys in the hoop shoot contest that year. I wasn't badatsports then.
In fact, the more I search my brain, the more I realize at that age I didn't have any reservations about sports, even the ones I wasn't the best at. I never remember feeling nervous during gym. I never sat out certain events pretending I was sick. It didn't matter if I was the best because only one person can really be the best, and good for them, right?
So, what gives? Why am I so convinced that I'm terrible now?
The furthest I can trace it back was 6th grade.
Picture it with me: the most awkward years of your life. You are growing up, but you're still a kid. Suddenly they make you shower in gym class, just what you've been needing to come out of your shy-shell. All your friendships are rocky, boys are starting to seem less obnoxious, and suddenly your mom is embarrassing you everywhere you go.
It's not exactly the Golden Years for your self esteem.
Dance class was bad enough. Please, someone explain to me why twelve-year-olds absolutely MUST learn the Boot Scoot Boogie? But gym was the icing on the cake. Suddenly it was apparent who was good at sports, and who was not. I remember one girl was really good at soccer, and she became instantly cool. She also had pretty hair, which probably helped.
It was the year you started pretending to be on your period to get out of attendance. It was the year my teacher made me run the mile even though I had a doctors note that I had strep. (After reading it, she backed away and covered her mouth so I wouldn't get her sick. She was not my favorite.) I remember one day we split up into groups to play volleyball. In reality, none of us were probably very great at it, but that doesn't stop the one competitive poophead (I usually refrain from using words like "poophead" on my blog, but it's necessary here) who thinks it's the Olympics and yells at everyone who isn't good.
That whole class was like a slow unraveling of my self-confidence. First, I realized the girl was pretty competitive. Then, that she was really competitive. Then, I realized she would yell at people if they missed the ball, or the serve, or failed to perform to her standards. THEN, I realized she would yell at ME. Publicly! It was humiliating and I was terrified that she was going to do it again. She did.
Of course, there were plenty of other girls in the class like me, who didn't have a competitive bone in their body and who were just as frustrated with her as I was. But none of us stood up to her, and by the end of the class I was a lot worse at volleyball than I was in the beginning.
I think, at all ages, we do this. We listen to what people tell us about ourselves, and we absorb it, and we become it. That girl and I even ended up being sort-of friends, and I'm sure she has no recollection of this day. But it was that day, and many like it in the years to come, that have led 25 year old Anndee to shy away from all sports or anything remotely "athletic." She told me I wasn't good, and to this day I believe it.
Thankfully for us, I think it goes the other way too. For some reason I can distinctly remember this day in 1st grade: We were learning math, and our teacher was a little frazzled. She taught us something, then got distracted and came back a few minutes later to teach us the same thing again. One kid raised his hand with the answer (which she had given us a few minutes before, unbeknownst to her) and she went crazy with praise. "You are so smart! You are like a math genius!" All of us tried to protest: we all knew the answer! She had just told us! But it fell on deaf ears. "I can't believe you knew the answer to that! You are going to be very good at math."
That day always stuck with me (probably because of the gross misjustice of it all) but the crazy thing is: he really did end up being good at math. Maybe he would have been a "math genius" anyway, but I firmly believe that positive affirmation like that made a big difference in who he would become.
On the same token, I think my love of writing came from a teacher and positive affirmation early on. In 2nd grade we would have "writer's workshops" everyday and they were always my favorite. My teacher would constantly tell me that I should write children's books someday. When I published A Place Like Heaven, I sent her a copy. 
Overall, I think it's unavoidable. Us, and our kids, are going to hear from some sad soul, somewhere along the way, that they aren't good at something. All of our self esteems take a hit sometimes. But I think it's important that we don't take it on: don't make it your mantra. Other people can tell you what they want about you, just don't tell it to yourself.
Which I guess, if I was to be psycho-evaluated right now (which I probably should be) that would be why I joined this softball team. A tiny step towards being good at sports.
And I will be the first to admit, the natural athletic abilities are definitely not there. My main goal in every game is just to make some contact with the ball. I stand in right field and pray the ball won't come to me. When it does, I'm tempted to run it to the bases, because that would be less embarrassing than my attempts at throwing. I strike out a lot, I spend more time swatting at bugs than I do playing, and I don't understand 80% of the lingo. ("I got a popfly and the short stop fouled the umpire." "...Yeah you did.")
BUT... it has been a lot of fun. I have been really lucky to have a fun team that doesn't take it too seriously and helps to point out my strengths. They try to help me do better without tearing me down, and I'm very grateful for that.
I see a lot of people making fun of it for kids these days, but I am a firm believer in the participation trophy. When I used to figure skate (Oh yeah! I did that too!) every time I fell down, my coach would clap. Because it doesn't matter if you catch the ball every time, or hit a home run. It doesn't matter if you land that Waltz Jump. What matters is that you are out on the field, or lacing up your skates (be careful not to combine these two), what matters is that you TRY.

Now, Dayen keeps crawling up here and trying to type, and I told him, "You can't write a blog!" which I immediately realized went against everything I just wrote, so here is Dayen's two cents.

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Baby Therapy

You know how if you are having a hard time in your marriage, you can go to marriage counseling? Well it's come to my attention (the voices in my head pointed it out to me) that what we are seriously lacking in our society today is counseling for the other relationships in our lives! Sure, I believe our marriages are the most important ones, but I'd still like to have healthy relationships all around. Mother-daughter therapy, to get those rough teen years out in the open and so she can finally confess that she holds the fact that she had to give birth to me against me. (I've been through it now, mom. I understand.) Brother-Sister Therapy, so they can finally apologize for chasing me around with dead spiders and ripping out all my dolls hair (ok that one was 100% Cody) and I can apologize for... Ok I can't think of any transgressions on my end but I'd still like some healing over the spider issue. Even Stranger Therapy, so I can finally discuss how it felt when that jerk cut me off in traffic, or when that lady at the grocery store parked her cart in the middle of the aisle for 20 minutes while she mulled over cereal choices.
All of those would be beneficial, but what we really need is mom-baby therapy. I say specifically mom-baby because dad's (in general) don't seem to have the same problems. Dads are the fun ones who make them laugh and play on their level, then mysteriously disappear when the diapers are full.  
Moms are different. We're there from the beginning. I remember right after Dayen was born, he was screaming like a banshee (that metaphor is overused, but what else can you say? Screaming like someone who got their leg chopped off?) and the second they laid him on my chest, he relaxed like, Oh there you are! It was incredible, but any close relationship like that is bound to run into some problems. 
The first thing I've noticed, and only recently, is Jealousy. He's possessive. I'm telling you, if he was my boyfriend you'd all be telling me to run. Neither of us are allowed to get too close to anyone else, because... Well in his mind, the world would implode. Sometimes, when he feels he's not getting the attention he deserves, he will go to someone else and laugh and play and pretend to be having the time of his life, and all the while he will sneak dirty looks over in my direction like see how quickly you can be replaced, mother? 
This all seems to lead into general inappropriate behavior. I mean, the kid has no concept of what is socially acceptable. To screaming (like someone who just got their leg sawed off) in the grocery store for no apparent reason, to yelling nonsense at the top of his lungs during the prayer at church, it's like he does the opposite of what etiquette and common courtesy require on purpose. Along those same lines is the physical abuse. I remember as a rough and tumble kid always having bumps and bruises, but I never realized being a mom was easily as dangerous. I am always getting kicked, smacked, and poked in the eye. He thinks my hair is a perfect tool to help him stand, and he flings toys at my head just to see what will happen. Just yesterday I walked into the bathroom with him on my hip, and before knew it he had grabbed the bottle of soap off the counter and hit me right in the temple with it. You never know when it's going to happen. You have to constantly be on your toes. And when you inevitably get hurt in public, you have to fight back tears and paste on a smile like, "Really, it's no big deal! I was asking for it!"
And of course, because I feel I should admit some guilt in this relationship, there is the codependency. Although he can go awhile being entertained by someone else, eventually it all comes back to needing mom. His brain must be a constant loop of, "I'm hungry, where's mom? I'm tired, where's mom? I'm bored, where's mom? I pooped, where's mom?" (Which of course leads us right back to the inappropriate behavior!) Whenever I try to edit pictures he will pull himself up by my chair and say "mommommommom" until I can't take it anymore. I mean it's adorable, don't get me wrong. And like I said, he's not entirely to blame here. I've been known to miss him so much in the middle of the night that I sneak into his room and wake him up just to rock him. In my mind, this is a beautiful gesture of maternal love, and bonds us for all time. In reality, it is a nightmare which I always immediately regret, because Dayen is not a kid who takes his sleep being interrupted well, and no matter what I do he is not going to fall asleep in my arms after that. Apparently the only mom who can really get away with that is the majorly creepy one from that majorly creepy kids book, Love You Forever. (You know what I took away from that book? That the moms creepiness was apparently genetic because the son eventually creeps into her window to rock her- forget the fact that she clearly didn't want him to have a key- and that they also might have a sleeping pill abuse situation going on in their house- and also that the author did not put much thought into the phrase that is repeated ten million times throughout the book. You really couldn't make it rhyme, at least?)
I truly believe some sort of mother-baby counseling could really benefit us through this rocky time in our relationship. Until then, I will show him some ink splotches and see what I can glean from that.


Our whole marriage, Caleb worked late nights & slept in most mornings. Now that he's waking up early day after day, he falls fast asleep really quick every night. Which should be great, but it's also had one super-creepy side effect: he's started sleep talking. Like, nightly. 
Now this isn't totally new to me. In college I shared a room with my friend who sleep shouted things at me all the time. (My favorite: "You, me, and Kayden! Six o'clock!") But she at least had the common decency to sound groggy when it happened, and she'd fall right back asleep afterwards.
My dear husband, on the other hand, is a wild card. I never know what he's going to do. And I genuinely can't tell if he's truly awake or not. He just says things so clear, too clear for someone who is apparently REMing it up.
Like tonight: I stayed up reading for awhile after he'd gone to bed. When I clicked off the lamp it must have somewhat woken him up, because next thing I knew, he was sitting up on his elbows, his face not one inch away from mine, and just sitting there
Me: Caleb? What are you doing?
Caleb: What do you mean?
Me: You're just sitting there all creepy! Stop it!
Caleb: I'm just looking at you!
Me: It's pitch black in here!
Caleb:... But I can still see you. 
Me: (pocket dialing 911) How? 
Caleb: What do you mean how? (and then he scoffs, like I'm the crazy one.)
It's not even like you can talk to him and learn his deepest, darkest secrets. It's literally like being thrown into someone's dream. It makes no sense.
A few nights ago, he turned over and, clear as day, asked me, "Do you still have the same iPhone?"
You mean the same one I had when you fell asleep? Believe it or not, yes! 
Sometimes we play the "you're not really awake" "yes I am" "prove it" game, but it generally produces confusing results. 
Me: Prove you're awake. 
Him: I really am! I don't know how to prove it. 
Me: Ok, you sound normal. I guess I believe you. 
Him: Good. Thanks. I'm really proud of you for throwing this party. 
Me: ....aaaaannnnnndddd apparently you're asleep.
The problem with these late night chats is that they usually wake me up, and I have a hard time falling back asleep. And what's even worse, he never believes me about it the next day! It's getting to the point I think he really believes I make it up for attention or something. I'm starting to feel like I'm losing my mind. And he's the crazy one, not me! I'm normal! I'M NOT CRAZY.
So, I'm laying here trying to fall asleep, half afraid that my husband is going to turn over at any moment and ask me if I want to go snorkeling with the queen tomorrow. And there is nothing I can do about it.
This isn't really where I thought life would take me. But at least he's cute.

It has begun

I'm going to need both grandmas to take a deep breath and read this post through to the end before you get too excited, ok?
And keep this in mind: when I was pregnant with Dayen, I had full blown anxiety attacks when my friends announced they were pregnant with their second babies, and their first babies were still babies. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my closest sibling is 5 years older than me, but having kids close together was never on my radar. I just don't see the appeal of multiple kids in diapers, multiple nap schedules, basically anything multiple and tiny.
And the risk involved! It would take a lot to talk me into a second kid in under 3 years, but there is the worlds smallest chance that I could have twins, Heaven help me, and then you have THREE under three and from there you basically never wear make up again and turn into a crazy momster 24/7.
My heart is going a million miles a second just thinking about it.
But if I thought I had any control over, well, anything, I've finally learned that I just plain don't. Not even over my own mind or emotions.
I went to bed one night totally content with my one sweet, adorable baby, with no thought of future babies and no plans of even having thoughts of future babies for at least a few more years. Because, give me a break, I'm pooped! I see women popping out a baby every year (looking at you, Duggars!) and I want to cry! How do they do it? Do they like pregnancy more than I did? Because I love Dayen, but that whole getting him here thing was worse than being water boarded. (I assume, but I'm fairly certain.) I never slept. I was sick all the time. I had heartburn more painful than I knew you could experience. I had horrible things happen that even I am too ashamed to blog about. And it lasts for SO LONG! How, how, how do you willingly sign up for that again?
But then I woke up one morning, right after the Day baby's first birthday, and my body, my hormones, whatever- completely betrayed me. It was like my body realized, "Now is an acceptable time for you to have another kid." And even though it was pure torture, it just expects me to go through it all again. Just willingly walk into 9 long months of probably feeling a lot like I did just a short year ago. 
And it's playing dirty, too. Because suddenly my sweet little baby isn't such a baby anymore. I can see him growing into a little boy every day, and it's baffling to watch. It's cruel! I spent all that time cooking him up, all those hours in labor, and all I get is a few short years before he starts being embarrassed to be seen with me in public?

It just isn't fair! It all happens so quickly. He turned into a toddler overnight! 
These pictures were taken less than two months apart. Two months and my chubby baby turned into a kid! It completely blindsides you even though every one tells you how fast it's going to go. When you're up all night with a teething baby that's been crying for days, you don't believe them.
But I believe them now! And I finally figured it out. It's not another baby that I want (at least, not yet.) I want to start over with the same baby! I would willingly go through that awful pregnancy and labor all over again to see Dayen as a tiny baby one more time. To let him fall asleep in my arms more, to revel in that new-mom feeling that is so unlike anything else. 
It's such a strange feeling because the baby that he was is just gone, replaced with this older, larger, less-cuddly kid. I know it sounds stupid- I get it- but it's a loss. My brain truly can't understand where my baby has gone. 
And he's still a baby! Oh, it's going to get so much harder. I know that. 
Me and my little buddy have a lot of our firsts behind us. I can't replace him with baby #2, and having another one will likely be worlds different than it was the first time around.
But I will always be grateful to this sweet kid for going through all this with me. For being so understanding when I had no clue what I was doing. For being so insanely easy, cute, and fun. For making me a mom.
I'm excited for that next step some day. I will love to be a mom again.
But for now, I'm going to go snuggle this cutie while he's still too little to stop me, I'm going to kiss those cheeks as long as I can, I'm going to take and post way too many pictures so I won't forget what he was like. 
I'm going to enjoy this. Today, right now.
Next time I complain, remind me, will you?

Diaper Rash

Yeah, you read the title right. I am writing a blog post about diaper rash, because apparently that's who I am now. 
There will come a day when Dayen might kill me for posting this, but he gets the WORST diaper rash. I mean, it's not his fault. He inherited, unfortunately, my extremely sensitive skin, and no matter how quick I change him, most days he is bright red and screaming and can't even sit it hurts him so bad. 
Guys, it's really bad.
So, being the concerned mother that I am, I've of course been looking up every possible way to treat it. I was even tempted to try DoTerra oils, which I fully believe to be a huge crock, or maybe some ItWorks wraps because everybody is freaking out over those these days. (Note to all my ItWorks salesman friends: you guys start making some diaper cream, I might buy it. Because I need that a lot more than I need a quick fix to slightly differ a normal looking persons stomach. Priorities.)
Enter Google. My best and worst friend for all questions remotely medical. After scaring me that diaper rash could be a sign of a much more serious issue, it gave me a few options to try.
And trust me, I tried them all. All the creams and powders, the diet changes. But, lets be real: any of us would get diaper rash eventually if you had to wear a diaper and, ahem, do your business in said diaper. Round the clock, everyday. It's just a fact of life for babies.
But finally this morning I decided something had to be done, and I read you can give them a bath with baking soda. Of course, I didn't think of this until I'd already taken off his diaper, and I wasn't going to put on a new diaper for ten seconds while I went and filled the tub. Besides, by BFF Google told me to let him go without a diaper whenever possible to keep him dry. This was the one hint they gave me that I had any hesitation about. I mean, sounds more than a little risky. But it would be less than a minute while I filled the tub. What could happen?
So I set him on the ground, butt naked (sorry teenager Dayen) and went to fill the tub.
Any of you out there with kids can probably guess what happened next.
I returned, not 30 seconds later, to his carpet completely covered in poop. He had clearly pooped, then crawled through it a few times. (Again, sorry teenager Dayen, but you kind of deserve it for making me clean that up today.) Dega was standing there staring at it all in horror and looking at Dayen like you are gonna be in so much trouble. He should know.
Google fail.
I sort of went into my-house-is-being-destroyed panic mode and realized I just filled the tub! So I carried him (at arms length, mind you) down the hall and plopped my little poop-covered baby in the tub... And immediately realized all I had done was made a little poopcuzzi for him. He squealed with glee while the little poop nurdles floated around him and he tried to catch them. First I tried fishing them out myself (while muttering "being a mom is the grossest thing I've ever done) and then finally realized I would just have to drain the whole tub and refill it. Goodbye, carefully made baking soda mixture I so lovingly tried to use to heal my child's diaper rash. Goodbye, clean tub. See ya later, sanity.