It Takes A Village

click image for source

click image for source

I am scheduled to return to the office tomorrow. As this realization washed over me yesterday, I became extremely sad. To boost my spirits I took Watson for a long walk, hoping that the adrenaline would keep the sadness from getting any worse.

The walk in itself didn’t accomplish the task. However, on our way home I saw a woman, hands full, who was clearly in conflict as she left her car. I called out to her and asked if she would like some help. She gave me a puzzled look and then accepted. I held a package for her as she retrieved her child from the back seat. She thanked me as she, again with her hands full, made her way to the house across the street.

Not only did this good deed make me feel better, but it reminded me of the African proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Although I may be returning to the office full-time, I have a wonderful support system of family, friends, and colleagues who can help me navigate the day-to-day struggles of a career mom. I realize that asking for help on this journey isn’t so bad after all and am prepared to face tomorrow head on with an optimistic attitude. (However, I TOTALLY wouldn’t mind if this big storm comes through tonight and the university closes 😉 )

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Getting Into A Groove

All the warnings in the world couldn’t have prepared me for how much my world would change after both finding out I was pregnant and then starting a new job.

Both have their challenges and their triumphs, and I think I’m finally finding a good rhythm. With a little over two months to go until Baby A+ is due, I know it will be short-lived. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying this ‘quiet time.’

baby bump purple

So, since we haven’t really spoken in a few weeks, where do I begin after such a long absence? I guess this past weekend is as good any another point.

We took our babymoon to New York, kicking off a month filled with baby activities. Without gushing too much, it was glorious. Even with a bit of rain, we balanced hanging out with friends, trying new eateries, a museum visit, a Broadway show and even managed to squeeze in a walk through Central Park.

NYC JAs

In somewhat related news, I can’t believe I’m in my third trimester. Hitting 31 weeks tomorrow is making the impending arrival of our little girl more of a reality than some abstract idea. Delivery is still a big, scary unknown for me, but I’m doing my best to manage my thoughts and ideas by educating myself just enough to kind of know what to expect without being overwhelmed. Truth: some days are better than others.

I’m still exercising, although not to the extent that I was in the beginning of my pregnancy. With the mornings being darker, I’m taking the time to alternate sleeping in with some light strength training. Watson and I are making our morning rounds, as it’s good for me to start my morning outside. Getting my endorphins up and enjoying the sunrise make even the groggiest morning better.

morning sunrise

Work is good, but we’ve got a busy few weeks ahead of us. Adding this to what’s going on in my personal life has resulted in a few instances of stress/anxiety-induced tears, but in our two years of marriage (and especially the past few months) he’s become an expert in managing my emotional surges.

I think that hits all the major points of what’s been happening over here. I’m hoping to have posts with a bit more detail regarding the pregnancy, books I’ve been reading, and other fun things, but for now, let’s consider ourselves all caught up.

What’s been happening with you? Any exciting news I should know? Spill! I’ve missed all of you.

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!

Linking up with Katie at Healthy Diva Life for Marvelous in My Monday!

New Beginnings

[taps the mic] Hello? Hello? is this thing on?

A little over a month ago, I started a new job. It was scary, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and exciting all at once. You see, my employer didn’t know I was pregnant before extended the offer. (Which will be another post on another day, but certainly something that added to my stress level and anxiety about the change.)

It’s everything I hoped it would be and more. I’m working with three different entities in a university setting. My co-workers have been extremely welcoming and incredibly kind. My supervisors have all been open and receptive to both my news and ideas. In addition to all that, the work is exactly what I liked most about my previous position and seems like it could provide more flexibility to me in the future.

Yet, new beginnings are hard. I miss my old co-workers. I miss my 10-minute commute. I miss having my husband on the same campus. However, I also know that this was the right decision. Not just for me and my sanity, but for our family as a whole.

we dont look back.disney

I’m not the only one starting anew this fall. My absolute favorite barre teacher, Rachel, has returned to the classroom. I attended her last class and to say it was bittersweet would be an understatement. Once we bought our house, I began traveling 20 minutes to the gym twice a week so I could continue to take her class. She gave me the push and confidence I needed to substitute teach for her on occasion. She reawakened my love for barre and ballet in general. She also became a friend.

We gathered together a few weeks ago to toast to our new beginnings. While we both know it’s not a goodbye – more of an ‘I’ll see you later’ – it doesn’t make the transition any easier. We spoke of how we know each of our decisions is right for us at this time, the anxiety that comes with starting something new, the change this has and will bring to our families. We also spoke of our excitement, our passion, and how our new journeys will fill a void that we didn’t realize we had until now.

It was wonderful.

Since then, things have only gotten better. I’ve enjoyed the lingering days of summer and, as usual am anxiously awaiting the start of fall. The JA and I feel like we’re in a really good place (and I’m probably jinxing myself by saying that), Baby A+ is doing well, and Watson’s still up to his normal shenanigans.

But Ma, you left that whole roll of hot dog buns just sitting on the counter...they were begging to be eaten!

But Ma, you left that whole roll of hot dog buns just sitting on the counter…they were begging to be eaten!

I’ve missed this space, but working on websites/social media all day does isn’t exactly inspiring me to come home and get back on my computer right now. I thank you for being patient, and promise to be back soon.

xoxo,

J.

Spilling the Beans

Not sure how you all would feel about pregnancy updates/details, so I’m going to keep these catalogued on a separate Pregnancy Page. Check it out for all that’s going on with our family as we plan to welcome Baby A+ in December.

preg header blog.jpg

I found out I was pregnant on April 19th, the day before Easter. I had felt some nausea on and off for a few days and, although it wasn’t bad, figured that it might be a sign. So I waited for the JA to go out and took a pregnancy test. It turned out positive.

So then I took another one, just to make sure. This one didn’t show a result.

Obviously, I had to then take a third. Positive. Oh boy.

Yes, these are also three different tests. Don't judge.

Yes, these are also three different tests. Don’t judge. The record number, for our OB, was six.

At this point, our neighbors were scheduled to arrive at our house for game night in a few hours. I quickly baked some carrot cake cupcakes and tried to figure out a cute way to tell the JA. I wanted to tell him prior to their arrival for a multitude of reasons: 1 – I wouldn’t be drinking that night; 2 – we also were attending Easter Vigil, which is one of the longest Masses of the year. I didn’t want nausea to hit (or anything worse to happen) and for him to be left worrying as I beelined out of the church.

So he came back from the gym and I blurted out, “So, I think I’m pregnant..” as he stood at the bottom of our stairs. Smooth, Jess. He replied that I’m never allowed to bake carrot cake anything again, as he would forever associate the two. And then, being the loving husband (and now father-to-be) had a look of both shock and awe on his face as he ran up the stairs to hug me.

Just to make sure, I took a fourth test the following morning. Still pregnant. Okay. This is really happening.

We weren’t exactly trying to get pregnant but weren’t NOT trying, either. It was a pleasant surprise. However, this made it difficult to track, being that my periods were a bit irregular. We told some close friends that we had begun our journey, but not our families.

We confirmed the pregnancy with my OB, I ran my half marathon (with the blessing from my doctor), and tried to figure out a way to tell our parents. Mother’s Day was around the corner, and while we only had an estimate of how far a long I was, it wasn’t far enough that I was ready to share just yet.

Then fate stepped in.

There’s a huge community yard sale in the neighborhood adjacent to ours. We walked around, picked up a few things for the house, and also scored a bassinet (for $5!) and couldn’t resist picking out a few baby clothes. [Let me tell you, smuggling that bassinet into the house without anyone seeing us is a story in and of itself!]

I had already purchased spa gift cards for our mothers and decided to place a onesie in the box as well.

grandma onesies

Our parents came over for our monthly dinner date, we had the moms open their gifts, and lots of joy (and maybe a few tears) followed. We vowed them to secrecy until we confirmed how far along I was and made it out of the first trimester.

The rest is pretty straightforward – calling family and friends, announcing it at our Memorial Day gathering to friends, finishing with an announcement a few weeks later to the other side of the family, and then to you all and on social media.

Special kudos to those who stuck with me this entire post – I’m hoping not all of these updates will be this lengthy, but who knows?

Five Ways to Keep the Romance Alive When Time is Tight

As you can imagine by my sporadic posting schedule, things are still a bit hectic for us right now. The end of the school year is upon us, wrap up events are happening in the evening, the JA has returned to grad classes for his summer session and, well, we kind of want to spend time with each other without one of us using an electronic device. (Easier said than done, my friends.)

However, in these crazy times, we’ve found a few ways to keep our relationship steady without having either one of us feel neglected.

romance

1. Spend some time apart. This may seem counterintuitive, but when I’m stressed I get cranky. No one likes a cranky partner. By taking time to ourselves – whether it be at the gym, a happy hour with friends, Book Club, or a run – we can get all our negativity out of our system before unleashing it on the other person. Makes for more quality time AND a happier couple.

2. Make time for each other. Even when the JA has an incredibly long day, he does his best to at least take five minutes to sit with me and chat about his day. It’s not much, but it’s better than him just entering the house, kissing me on the cheek and heading straight to bed. Communication is integral to any successful relationship, so by setting aside even a little bit of time just for your partner, it can go a long way in making them feel important.

3. Laugh. During busy times, tension can run high. To paraphrase the cinematic classic (Legally Blonde), “Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” By diffusing this tension, you not only are producing endorphins to increase your own mood, but you’re making memories with each other and bonding through giggles.

legally-blond

4. Chat it up. I mentioned this before, but when we feel like we’re on opposite schedules we up our communication. Texting, email and quick visits at work help reinforce the foundation of love we’ve already built. A simple, ‘I miss you’ or ‘Hope you’re having a good day’ can make a big difference in getting you through until you can spend some face time with each other.

5. Small gestures/gifts. Everything from making the bed to sending a bunch of flowers to work let’s your loved one know that you’re thinking of them. Having the knowledge that the other person in your relationship cares enough to take time out of their day to do something for you puts a smile on your face and helps ease the pain of their absence.

How do you and your partner keep the connection strong when time is tight?

Falling In and Out of Love…with Blogging

It seems like every month I hit a point when it’s difficult for me to find the words or the time to write. I, obviously not having posted since last week, am currently in one of those phases.

Blogging is ebb and flow for me. There are days when the words and ideas just seamlessly stem from my fingers and I feel like I could write for hours. And there are days that I’m tired and nothing’s coming to me and I have no images and I just feel like an epic fail.

creative_color_pencil

There are also days where I fall into the comparison trap – belittling myself and this space to the point where I think, “What would happen if I just stopped blogging? Would I have more time? Feel more fulfilled?”

Some days the answer is yes. Sometimes it’s a resounding no. The topic was posed to a blogger community and at that point I wanted to scream, “Yes! I’ve wanted to stop blogging – but could I do without it?”

And right now the answer is no. Another day, it could be yes. And then I’ll re-evaluate.

But like any love worth having, blogging and I will have our ups and downs, our good times and bad, our fantastic days and the days I want to just up and quit. Those hard times are when I remember why I started blogging in the first place:

I blog to put a voice to this time and place in my life.
I blog not simply to be heard, but to help.
I blog to be an inspiration and friend to those who need it. To reach out and maybe make someone feel that they are not alone.
I blog because it’s the only way I can get away with posting an excessive amount of pictures of my dog without being labeled crazy. Right, Watson?

It's okay, Mom. Let's take a walk and talk about your feelings.

It’s okay, Mom. Let’s take a walk and talk about your feelings.

I blog to form a relationship with my readers – who cheer me up with their comments, likes, shares, words of encouragement, texts emails, and overall support. Thank you for reading both the good posts and the not-so-great ones.

I blog for you, but selfishly, I also blog for me. Writing keeps me sane. It helps me channel my energy into thoughts and words. It clears my mind and clarifies things that I wouldn’t have thought if I weren’t writing them. It keeps me accountable for my actions, goals, and dreams.

So blogging is not only a relationship for you, my readers, but also a relationship with myself. One that sometimes gets put on the back burner, one that is sometimes shaky and insecure, one that sometimes empowers me and makes sure I’m keeping myself happy.

Blogging and I have been on the outs recently. But writing this post is helping to clean the slate, get the creative juices flowing, and hopefully puts me back on track.

Thanks for sticking around & I hope all’s been well with you!

Time for A Change

I’m a pretty predictable person. I like routine, and tend to stick to it. I can have the same thing for lunch every day of the week and not tire of it. I can listen to the same song on repeat for hours on end and still find it as enjoyable as the first.

But yesterday, I got the itch to change. I hit the breaking point, took a leap, and did something drastic.

hair

I don’t think my hair had been that long since before my wedding in 2012. Chopping it off and giving it its ‘summer blonde’ color was just as exhilarating as it was when I did it back then.

Seeing the hair fall to the floor did give me a minor panic attack at first, but I love my stylist and she’s never let me down. The color is perfect, the cut is divine, and why is it that even when washed it my own sink, my hair is always so much softer and smoother when a stylist touches it? Totally not fair.

cut 5-14

Here’s to a new season and changes to come!