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Hangin’ in Arches

When people ask Dave and I where we plan to “end up” after we are all done with schooling, we don’t really have an answer for them. Our families are spread out from Alabama to Alaska, so we don’t have a spot that would be close to all of our family–and although it would be so great if everyone lived close, I kind of like the feeling of freedom we have in deciding where we want to put down roots for our little family.

I used to say “Oh, I think I could be happy anywhere,” and I still believe that is a good attitude to have, but as time goes on I am realizing how much I am affected by the amount of physical beauty in the landscape of any given location. I have been so utterly and completely spoiled all of my life, I really take it for granted. I have only ever spent significant time in Alaska, the Wasatch Front, or St. George (southern Utah), and all three are the sort of place where you see world-famous views outside your window and can drive five minutes or less and hike/bike/canoe/raft/canyoneer/rock climb. etc. So I guess I can’t really say that I would like living just anywhere!

These pictures of me are both beyond painful but they give you an idea of the kind of beauty that was literally in my backyard growing up.

With the possibility of not living in such a picturesque location in the future, I AM trying to be more appreciative of the crazy beauty that surrounds us here in good ole’ Utah, though, and lately I’ve had the bug to visit some sights that we haven’t seen yet, seeing as this will probably be our last summer here. So we decided it was high time we saw Arches National Park in Moab. We haven’t done a little getaway with just our little family of three yet (besides traveling to visit extended family) so we threw together a little excursion.

On the way out of town we realized that we would be passing through Price, where Dave’s paternal grandparents are buried, so we decided to stop and visit. Ella hadn’t been there before so it was a nice opportunity to take some pics in a place that will be special to her in her life. Dave’s dad was adopted as a young child and brought to live in Carbon County, and it is here that he was introduced to the gospel. Though his parents didn’t join the church, they supported his commitment and his decision to serve a mission. They passed away very young so neither Dave or I have met them, but we are thankful for these loving people that have positively affected our lives and we want Ella to know about her great-grandparents on both sides as she grows older.

I love this picture with “Mizukawa” over Ella, who’s just innocently playing with the flowers. It’s sort of symbolic to me of a legacy living on.

We are thankful to know that families are forever so we can meet them someday!

We pressed eastward through some very ugly landscape. Neither Dave or I had ever been to Moab (Arches is like 10 minutes outside of town), so we didn’t really know what to expect. Well, once you get past the barren stretch on I-70 you come into some gorgeous red rock and a really fun little town! It’s definitely a tourist destination so the little downtown strip had a lot of cute little shops and there were a ton of places to eat! I would love to go back and spend some more time there. If you do go we can recommend Quesadilla Mobilla and Milt’s. We got a hotel for the two nights we were there just because we didn’t relish the thought of camping with a toddler, but there were TONS of options of hotels, motels, campgrounds, cabins, even teepees!

Ok enough writing, here are some pics! Seriously this doesn’t do Arches justice. I can’t say enough good about this park. It was so expansive, it felt like another world. When we first drove in both Dave and I both just kept exclaiming, “wow, this is so cool! This is incredible! I can’t believe this is just sitting out here!” Makes me wish I was a better photographer to capture it all.

Ella loved Sand Dune Arch. She felt like she was at her own private beach. 

We were actually impressed with how accessible a lot of the landmarks were. We didn’t really plan on that but Ella could walk to a lot of things herself which she loved. Especially if another tourist happened to have a doggy. 

This world is sure an amazing place, and as we listened to all of the languages we heard as we were walking around we realized how lucky we are to live in a state that people travel from all over to visit!

My Ectopic Pregnancy Story: Part One

So for the past month I have been going through a miscarriage, which we later found out was an ectopic pregnancy (Resulting in a salpingectomy. Yes, I am using the medical term because it sounds awesome.). I wouldn’t say I am the most private person in the world, but I have hesitated to write about or publicize this experience for a couple of reasons. I think the main one being I don’t want to seem like I am sharing this for pats on the back or sympathy. That is mostly my pride talking, but sometimes in this day and age it seems like nothing is private anymore. 

I also don’t want to make anyone feel bad about their healthy pregnancy or like they can’t share happy baby news with me, because that is NOT true at all. So for the last few weeks, I have kept relatively mum about what has been going on, just because I didn’t know how to go about sharing in an appropriate way.

However, I really feel impressed to be honest and open about it, and while I am not sure exactly why, maybe someone reading this will find something they can relate to here. When I found out what was going on with my pregnancy, I immediately wanted to reach out to those I knew who had been through similar circumstances, and I was so thankful for their perspective and thoughts about it. I hope that maybe this could be helpful to someone out there if you do go through this, or any kind of loss, because at the end of the day that’s what this was. This post will mostly be about the physical aspect, just because I want to record it, and I hope to do another post with some more spiritual thoughts about miscarriage, or facing trials in general. So here we go:

On March 10th I found out I was pregnant. While I wanted to feel excited like I did with Ella, something just felt “off.” I think the Lord was preparing me for what lay ahead, honestly, and I am thankful for that. We calculated that I was probably about 4-5 week pregnant. Within two days I started having all of the textbook symptoms of a miscarriage. I called my doctor and they said that it probably was going to be a lost pregnancy, but to come and get bloodwork done just in case. What they do in these situations is measure the HCG (pregnancy hormone) in your blood over the course of 48 hours. Early on in a healthy pregnancy, it should double in two days. Well, mine was going down, which meant that this probably wasn’t a viable pregnancy. 

While it was hard to hear, I wasn’t really surprised by the results, and I just buckled down and tried to get through it. Miscarriage is weird. I guess any personal tragedy is. You usually haven’t told many people you are pregnant, so you have to just try to carry on with business as usual. Inside, you are so so sad. So that totally stunk. But I’ll write more about the emotional side later 🙂 Moral of the story, though, it’s not just emotional–physically, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into and it was not fun at all. I was thankful that it seemed to wrap up within about a week, though.

Anyway, I went into the doctor the next week and it seemed like everything had passed and my body should be on the way to recovering and being back to normal, but they had me take a pregnancy test and it was still positive. The doctor said he wasn’t really worried, though, and that I should come in again in two weeks and meet with a nurse and just do another test to make sure the HCG had left my body. If it hadn’t, that was a sign that there had been some sort of complication, and if it was gone, I could carry on with my life. 

So I wasn’t really very worried, and went on my merry way. I was determined to distract myself and try to fill my time with positive stuff that kept my mind off of the fact that I had lost a pregnancy, so we made some fun family plans for weekend trips and whatnot. While trying to stay busy with fun stuff and not think about things may not have been the absolute best way to deal with the loss, I was coping and I think we were doing pretty well. 

Two weeks rolled around and I went back in–and the pregnancy test was still positive. Now I started to just feel annoyed that I was still dealing with this, but not really overly worried. The nurse had me do another blood test and said they would call me tomorrow with a game plan, but there was probably some retained tissue that I hadn’t passed. 

Sure enough, they called me the next day and my HCG levels had gone up to way higher than they were originally. That’s when I started to worry! The nurse was calm but really adamant that I go to the hospital and get an ultrasound ASAP. I scrambled to find a babysitter for Ella and a way to the hospital since Dave was at work with the car, and I am so thankful for my friends and my sisters who totally dropped everything to make it happen! Thinking about it makes me all teary.
I got the ultrasound in the outpatient center and within a few minutes it was clear to me that something was wrong. To save time I won’t go into detail but I could tell by the ultrasound tech’s body language and just what I was seeing on the screen. They called in the radiologist, who wasn’t really giving me a straight answer, but once he threw out words like, “mass by your left ovary,” I pushed him harder and he said it looked like an ectopic pregnancy, and that my doctor was on his way over. He then sent me over to the main part of the hospital because I was having surgery NOW.

 My completely non-certified definition of an ectopic pregnancy, if you’ve never heard of it (totally understandable, I didn’t know much about it before either), is when an embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, usually (and in my case) one of the Fallopian tubes. If it goes unnoticed it can rupture and not only cause insane amounts of pain, but massive internal bleeding, which can be deadly if not treated. I am so so so lucky that mine didn’t rupture, and I didn’t have to go through the pain and blood loss. In fact, they offered me a wheelchair to get over to surgery, and I laughed because I felt totally fine (should’ve taken them up on it though, since once I got into the main part of the hospital I realized I had no idea where same-day surgery actually was and had to wander around like a little lost child for a while until I found it).

Anyway, I was, at this point, frantically trying to get ahold of Dave at work to tell him to ditch the pizza truck and come be with his terrified wife, my friend who was watching Ella to tell her what was going on (I had told her I would be back in less than an hour, so I was way off), my sisters to see if they could come take Ella off of my friend’s hands and drop everything in their day to take care of her, and my parents to tell them what was happening, etc. Miraculously, it all worked out, and Dave was able to get there, Grace and Anne were champions and took care of Ella like pros, my friends helped with dinners, etc. Everyone was so great and so helpful, and I am forever thankful.

What was originally so rush, rush, rush of course slowed down once I got admitted and in the hospital bed with the IV and the lovely papery surgical gown. Since I didn’t have acute symptoms (aka awful pain) I wasn’t at the top of the list for the OR. Dave and I waited around for like four hours watching stupid TV (it was oddly fun, though, having him all to myself with nothing to do but watch and make fun of silly shows) and the doctor finally came and explained things in more detail. 

Luckily in the meantime we also had time for lots of dorky cell phone pics:

And Dave was kind enough to put my hair in this lovely side ponytail for me when I couldn’t move my arm with the IV (well I could but…..I am way too squeamish and I can’t stand the feeling of that needle moving around in there so I just stay as still as humanly possible). I wish I could claim I was high on some kind of medication at this point but the IV was just saline and I am just a nerd.

It was a huge relief to finally talk to the doctor (just for record’s sake, it was a different doctor than the one I had originally seen, the practice I go to has like ten doctors), even though he wasn’t exactly the bearer of good news, since the radiologist had kind of been dodging my questions (understandably, but I was still ticked in the heat of the moment). He said that the pregnancy had grown to the point that my left Fallopian tube would have to be removed completely (aka, a salpingectomy). This was hard to hear, even though I kind of suspected it already. The reality is, my fertility was being damaged in the prime of my life, when we were still at the beginning of the large family we hoped (and still hope!) to have. However, the doctor was really reassuring that I should still be able to have babies naturally. And Dave was able to give me a priesthood blessing which calmed my fears a lot. 

I finally got wheeled up to pre-op and met the nurses and the anesthesiologist, who were all really nice. As they wheeled me into the OR it was SO sad saying goodbye to Dave. I don’t know why, but thinking about it still makes me cry and in that moment I was fighting back tears like nobody’s business. I just was so thankful for his support and I knew he was worried about me but trying to be his normal, un-shakeable self so I wouldn’t be scared. It’s moments like that when you really realize how lucky you are to be with such a loyal guy. Haha I make it sound like I was having brain surgery or something. In the moment I was feeling a bit dramatic and nostalgic 🙂

The OR was as cold and sterile as I had imagined. Thankfully I got hooked up to the loopy meds ASAP so I didn’t really have time to freak out. The greatest part of surgery is that you are asleep for it 🙂 I woke up an hour and a half later, and I felt some pain but I was just relieved that it was over. Dave told me that Dr. Drewes had come out and told him that everything went great and even showed him some pictures (???? I would not want to see that but Dave loved it of course) which I appreciated.

I got wheeled up to my room for the night, and Dave met me and got me settled in my room. He went home to be with Ella and relieve my sisters, and I had a not-so-great night of sleep at the hospital. Honestly, though, I am thankful that they admitted me, even though I was originally hoping to go home after the surgery. I wouldn’t have slept well at home either, and it was really helpful to have someone at my beck and call all night. AND you can’t beat the constant drink refills! I was just determined to get my money’s worth (hey, I had already been to the hospital for one pregnancy, albeit a different situation, and I knew how it worked) so I ordered the biggest breakfast you’ve seen in your life and enjoyed all four hours of the Today Show in peace the next morning before I was discharged.

My recovery wasn’t actually too bad at all. I really gained a lot of respect for my friends that have had C-sections though, because my incisions were tiny compared to theirs, and it was bad enough for me! I wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavier than a jug of milk for a week, though, which was complicated with Ella. I came home on a Thursday, and we had a lot of help from my sisters and friends until the weekend, when Dave was able to be home and help out, and I was basically fine by Monday.

While this was a hard experience physically as well as emotionally, I really have a lot to be grateful for when I look back on it. And I am thankful for anyone who made it through this colossal and probably extremely boring story. I’ll most some more of my thoughts in another post, but I just want to say that if anyone has lost a pregnancy and ever wants someone to talk to about it, I would be happy to listen! And thanks for listening to me! 🙂

Ella and Calvin

Last weekend we finally made it down to St. George to meet our new nephew Calvin! Dave’s brother Matt and his wife Julie had their fifth baby in February and it had taken us way too long to meet the newest Mizukawa. It was also Dave’s birthday on Saturday, so we had a little party for him too. I shared some pics from the weekend on Facebook already, but I just came across these on our camera and they kill me they’re so dang cute. 

It was Julie’s idea to get some shots of these two next to each other before church on Sunday and I am so glad we did. They have one cousin, Elise, in between them age-wise, but she lives in Nashville, so these are the two littlest Mizu’s west of the Mississip (that statement might not be geographically accurate).

It’s funny how little Ella seems to me, but how big she seems next to a newborn

This is Ella’s, “seriously guys?’ face.

Notice my hands holding her feet so she doesn’t escape.

Cal looks so sweet, and we actually found out that this was the little outfit that Dave was blessed in (Julie found it in our in-laws’ house and thought maybe it was Matt’s but we talked to Dave’s parents after church and they said it was actually Dave’s. BUT, she found Matt’s later so Calvin can wear that for his actual blessing day! I am definitely stealing this little romper if we have a boy later on, though!)

And, she’s done. I was actually shocked she was so cooperative! These are the sort of pictures that I know the kids will get a kick out of when they are grown up! We had a great weekend and we are so happy that Calvin is in our family!

Learn from Our Mistakes: Holiday Travel Edition

I feel that I would be remiss if I failed to document what, at this current juncture, remains one of the top three most gone-awry traveling days of my life, so here we go with the unabridged version. Let’s start by getting it out there that I get serious anxiety about flying with Ella in the first place. I had done four different plane trips with her at this point, and while we obviously survived, I wouldn’t classify any of them as going “smoothly” or “well.” Traveling with a baby is just the pits. Especially when they are mobile, and vocal, and exceedingly angry when confined to one space for more than about three minutes. So even in the best of times I was dreading this flight beyond belief (and I acknowledge that I sound like the world’s biggest whiner because I am thankful I got travel and see my family at Christmas at all).

Our odyssey from Provo to Alaska started with a bang on the Saturday afternoon that we were scheduled to depart, when I was casually texting my dad. Now, I should explain that my Dad had gotten us our tickets to come up to Christmas with his airline miles. I know, another strike against me in the big-fat-whiner column, seeing as these were free tickets. Anyway, my Dad loves to track his miles and flights and everything (like a wizened miser counting his gold) and has an app on his phone that gives flight status updates, etc. During our conversation about something unrelated, Dave and I were zipping up our bags to get ready to head out for our flight, which left SLC at 5pm. I believe it was around 2 or so at this point. My Dad asked how our trip was going so far, and I informed him that we hadn’t left yet, haha silly Dad. He simply texted back, “where are you?” To which I panic-strickenly responded, “HOME!” Then he calls me and says our flight left from SLC at noon and we were supposed to be in San Francisco on our layover right now.

A few calls to United and a few heart palpitations later, and we figured out that, while our flight had originally left at 5, United had changed in back in November and failed to tell us. My dad checked his junk mail folder, trash folder, everywhere in his emal, and there was NO indication of any sort of notification that they had moved the flight UP 5 HOURS. Naturally at this point I am in tears. I had already worked so hard to psych myself up to do this long sojurn with Ella, and now we definitely weren’t leaving on time, and possibly not until the next day.

My dad called back in a little while after talking to United (who, I might add, made no apology or any sort of recompense for royally screwing up. I can’t think of a single nice thing to say about any experience I have ever had with them, and  certainly not this interaction), and he said the best they could do was a flight that left at about the same time, but went through MINNEAPOLIS. Yes, Because it makes a lot of sense to fly eastward and then west again. So instead of a 1.5 hour flight and then another 3.5 hour leg, we would be doing a 2 hour flight and then a 5.5 hour flight, the second of which would be from 10pm-3am our time, resulting in an extremely overtired and therefore LOUD baby.

At this point, I am not going to lie, I seriously considered not going. A cozy Christmas in our apartment, just the three of us, seemed just the ticket. Grandparent time for Ella be darned!

But we knew that wasn’t really an option, so we scrambled to get our stuff in the car and we set off for the airport. Dave and I were both determined to have a good attitude and that we would try to stay positive about this change of plans. Things went relatively smoothly getting our tickets, through security, and even getting on the plan to Minneapolis (except for Dave forgetting about the no liquids rule and having to chuck some toiletries. Gets us every time). By this time it was getting to be about dinner time and while we had snacks with us, we figured we would grab a sandwich or something on the layover.

Airport acrobatics aka operation keep baby distracted 

The only hiccup on this first flight was Ella gagging on a little chunk of bread, and throwing up ever-so-slightly on her shirt and my pants. But luckily I was super-prepared (or so I thought) with one extra change of clothes, so crisis averted.

*I should interject at this point and try to defend my seemingly lack of foresight by saying that since Ella was 14 months old, I really thought that one back-up outfit would be plenty. We were past the days of constant spit-up and blowouts. But I didn’t account for my girl with the most sensitive gag reflex in the land.

Grainy selfies during the good times!

Minneapolis was a blessedly short layover, so short that we didn’t even have time to eat, but Dave was able to run and grab us a Subway sandwich to share once we were on the plan, while I let Ella scoot around a little on the filthy airport floor. She was definitely melting down by boarding time, and we were getting the great stares from strangers that come along with said meltdowns, so we were realllllyyyy hoping this meant she was tired enough to fall asleep promptly once the plane started moving. As soon as we got settled on board I asked a flight attendant for a little carton of milk, and based on how she reacted to flying with me during the summer, I figured that taxi/takeoff was kind of our one shot for lulling Ella to sleep with motion/bottle. Consequently, as soon as the plan started to move, we began our campaign.

Now, looking back, I can see what went terribly awry. I have seen the gallon challenge youtube videos. All of my high school friends did it. I know that the human body can only handle so much milk. But in that moment, when Ella was chugging milk drowsily and nodding off to happy dreamland, all I could think was WE NEED MORE MILK. Therefore, we let our poor child drink three bottles in a row (and at home she normally would barely polish off one, usually more like half, at a time) without the slightest thought of what it would do to her tiny stomach.

Partway through the third bottle was when it happened. If you could think of the images and video footage of Old Faithful and perhaps any larger geysers that exist in the natural world, that was what came shooting forth from Ella. We are talking vomit at breakneck velocity and mind-blowing volume. It hit the wall of the plane and ricocheted to such corners that I was very worried it had gotten on the row in front of us (we checked and it did not, thankfully). Dave was somewhat sheiled by the fact that he was holding ella in a blanket, and he had his coat on his lap. I looked like I had been through a carwash. And you can imagine poor, bewildered Ella.

I would like to say a few words about the passengers surrounding us. They were actually very nice considering the fact that the plane smelled of the aftermath of a baby frat party and Ella was screaming at the top of her lungs. I felt so, so bad for the girl in our row. Luckily she had the aisle, but still. What I was confused about was why she didn’t move, because there were tons of empty seats on this particular flight. I even said, “I am so sorry, I will totally not be offended if you want to move!” but she didn’t…..and had to endure us crawling over her in vomit-covered pants for the next four and a half hours. I also noticed that the guy in front of us immediately turned his air on full-blast. Not that I blame him in the least. Recirculated barf-air is better than stagnant.

Back to the story: Upon this new development I pinged the flight attendant, who helpfully brought us three dry paper towels and a small plastic bag. While I definitely don’t think it was her job to clean any of this mess up, I did think perhaps at least a larger stack of paper towels, or perhaps those moist towelettes they have hanging around would have been more useful, considering the level of carnage. We stripped Ella down to her diaper, and since we had already blown through our spare outfit that was that for the rest of the flight. THANKFULLY, Dave had carried on his suitcase and so I changed into an ever-so-stylish pair of basketball shorts and a T-shirt. That was really a huge blessing because there was no way I could have sat with the situation that was happening on my clothes.

Poor Ella was not only rattled emotionally, but was now wide-awake and had an empty tummy. We were nervous to give her food again too soon, and it was so wayyyyy past her bedtime at this point that naturally screaming was her only option. I felt like the WORST mom on the planet–not only did I overfeed my kid, but she also had no clean clothes and now she was just so sad. We tried to calm her down, but she cried for a good three out of the five hours of this flight, even once we gave her some food and let her play on the beloved iPad. Dave finally coaxed her to sleep around one in the morning. Anyone that has flown with a crying baby knows that when you get them to sleep you act like those snipers that lay perfectly still  in wait–you are barely blinking. At one point Dave leaned over and whispered eagerly at barely-audible levels, “could you scratch my eyelid?” To which we both promptly lost it at the ridiculousness of this situation.

We finally made it to Anchorage, smelly, damp, and a little shaken, but all in all ok. Of course my family had no idea what had happened so you should have seen their faces when we staggered out: me wearing huge men’s clothing, Ella basically naked (this is Alaska in December, mind you), and Dave, surprisingly, not looking too bad. Luckily once our bags came through we were able to dig through and get Ella some clean clothes and a blanket for the car ride.

My saintly mom took the putrid plastic United Airlines courtesy bag down to the laundry room the next morning (without me knowing), and when she brought the clean clothes back up she was like, “wow, you weren’t kidding, that was one of the worst things I have ever seen.” Oh well, we learned our lesson on regulating milk intake, and it was a small price to pay in the end for a classic Hopkin Christmas!

Working Life vs. SAHM Life

*I really don’t want this post to come across like some I have read that seem to be trying to argue that staying at home with your kids is harder than working. Or vice versa. I really think that everyone’s kids, personality, situation is so different that it is really impossible (and kind of rude, really) to try to prove that your life is the hardest. So…..don’t be offended by this post is what what I am getting at.

Ever since I decided that I was going to be staying home with Ella this year, I have been asked many times how I like it, or if I miss teaching. I feel kind of guilty saying this, but it’s actually really shocked me how little I miss working. Staying at home with our kids has always been my dream, and me and Dave’s plan, but it was still a really difficult decision to make, because I really loved being a teacher.

But that is really a story for another post. I can say with confidence and my limited experience that working moms are crazy amazing jugglers and are probably operating at a level of exhaustion that the rest of us could never quite fathom. I only worked part-time for seven months after I had a baby, and I don’t really miss those stressful days.

What I have been thinking about a lot is the difference in “hardness” between my pre-baby life and my current mom life. I think it’s been on my mind because I always hear things like, “this is the hardest stage of your life,” and then I also get told things like, “I just want to quit my job and have a baby (like that choice would be the escape hatch from your problems)” and neither sentiment really represents my thoughts on the matter. I don’t think you can really make a blanket evaluation; there are just some things that are way easier and some things that are way harder about the SAHM life vs. the pre-kids, working/school life, at least, for me.

Easier Things About SAHM Life:

  • Sleeping in on weekdays if I want to….aka pretty much always (depends on your baby’s schedule, obviously. Ella doesn’t wake up until 8-8:30 most days).
  • Your “to-do” list involves things like going swimming, playing outside, and going to the library.
  • Added flexibility in SOME parts of the day (ie, not naptime or baby’s mealtimes). This allows for fun things like getting together with friends in the middle of the day, and boring things like shopping at less-crowded times (snore, but true). Like, the other day Ella and I went into Great Harvest and shared a piece of bread just because. So fun.
  • Avoiding rush-hour traffic. And no commuting.
  • Along those same lines, waking up to a horrible snowstorm and NOT having to drive on a crowded, dark, icy I-15. Making cocoa and watching the Today Show in jammies instead.
  • I am home when Ellen is on.
  • I feel like I have new opportunities to help people since I can be more flexible. I can babysit for my friends who have helped me out so many times, I can help people in the ward clean before they move if they are working on it during the day when most people are at school/work (while Ella undoes all of my efforts….), I feel like I have time for my church calling, etc. 
  • I am my own boss! No one to answer to but yourself. And Dave. And Ella when she is older and realizes that I messed her up. And Heavenly Father. Ok I guess I am still accountable, but I DON’T miss the knot in my stomach that would come as I would log on to my school email each morning, and  wait to see the dreaded emails from angry parents about their kids’ grades. I love not having to answer to people who aren’t my family. 
  • No stress for deadlines, lesson plans, grading, etc. Obviously daily life has it’s deadlines for various things, but not nearly as much as work life.  
    Ugh, being home all day is sooooo boring mom! Plan 1,000,000 stimulating outings for me please!

Harder Things about Mom Life:
  • You’re never “off.” You don’t clock out. Ever. That didn’t really sink in for me until I had Ella and the weight of it all sort of settled like an anvil on my chest. Even when we have a chance to get out with the help of a babysitter you are still watching the clock, making sure you’re not gone too long, wondering how your little one is doing, etc.
  • Weekends and holidays mean nothing to toddlers/babies. Meaning that, although you have “chiller” days when the rest of the world is working, you also don’t get chill days when the rest of the world does. It’s nice to sleep until 8 on weekdays but it would be AMAZING to sleep until 9 or 10 on a Saturday every once in a while :). And Sunday naps are a thing of the past….(*sob*).
  • Same goes for sick days.
  • Along the same lines, life can take on a “Groundhog Day”-esq feel where each day is essentially the same as the last! 
  • It can get really hard to not have adult interaction during the day, especially if you were in a profession where you were constantly socializing and interacting with others. You definitely have to make much more of an effort to spend time with people your own age.
  • A sense of busyness and urgency can definitely add a sense of well-being and purpose to your day. That is probably the #1 thing I miss about “working life.” In the moment it’s hard to appreciate, but waking up and having nothing that you “have” to do that day besides basically feed and diaper a baby can be a little depressing.
  • Along the same lines, while it is awesome to be your own boss, it can also be hard to motivate yourself to get things done when there is no pressing need. I could do laundry today….or I could do it tomorrow…..I could take Ella to the park…..or I could let her play on the floor while I watch Downton Abbey…..the way you spend your hours is really up to you. And that can lead to a lot of self-scrutiny and feelings of failure at the end of the day.
  • Feeling like I have to justify my choice to stay home is hard. It seems like moms are darned if they do (work), and darned if they don’t. I definitely had people in my life that were whole-hearted supporters of me working after I had Ella, which I so appreciated, but I felt like I disappointed them when I quit my job last year. That led to me feeling like I had to fill my day with “stuff” to feel like I was busybusybusy and productive. I could write a whole post on this but I will leave it at that for now.
  • It is really hard to focus and just accomplish a single task with a baby tagging along. Sometimes I would just love to unload the dishwasher or send an email with no tiny fingers grabbing at the clean spoons or keyboard keys! The thought of just sitting at a desk and working on a project for hours at a time sounds heavenly. And getting out of the house takes about 3x as long as it did before.
At the end of the day, although there are hard things about staying home with Ella, I love my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Deep down I know that I am engaged in an immensely important work and that, even though sometimes it feels like Ella doesn’t even like me as much as, say, Dave or basically any of my female friends, I am the best person for the job. These early years are filled with a lot of monotony and manual labor but I know my kids won’t be little forever (possibly the most over-used phrase in all of mom-dom, forgive me). I won’t be changing diapers and picking squashed peas up off the floor for the rest of my life. Or so they tell me.
What do you guys think? Any tips for combating the stuck-in-the-house blues? If you have done the working mom vs. SAHM thing, which was harder for you?

Ella and her “Puppies”

As I anticipated our trip to Alaska, I was a little nervous to see how Ella would handle my parents’ dogs. Seeing as we don’t have any pets, and she spends a lot of time on the floor at doggy level, I didn’t know if they would freak her out. I was also worried that they would maul her. WELL, I had nothing to worry about because Ella was their most faithful fan by the end of our stay.

As soon as we walked upstairs in the morning she would start looking around frantically to see where they were. They sleep in my parents’ room, so when my mom would open their door and set them free, she would start flailing wildly in my arms to watch their every move. Then the process of re-acquainting herself with the “puppies” (I should note that both dogs are actually pretty old, I just called them puppies to Ella because that seemed cuter for a baby) for the day resumed…..
Minor trepidation at first…..
But with some help from Auntie Tess or Grandma….

Ella found her courage once again!

Dear, patient Nugget…

This is Ella’s “I am kind of terrified but also having fun” face.

This too.

But now she is purely loving life.

“Petting” (AKA grabbing fur and skin way too hard)

Sweet, patient Abbey let her take her excitement out on her belly quite a few times.
Yep, it’s enough to make me *almost* wish we had some doggies of our own to play with!