Monday, January 28, 2013

Hawaii: My Second Semester OR The Semester With the World's Craziest Roommates (including myself)

My second semester at BYU-Hawaii was a heck of a lot more fun than the first one. I finally started to live - and to enjoy the fact that I lived on a beautiful island.

Shout-out to my British Sistah!!
My first step was to move out of my tiny, tiny dorm room (seriously, they were about the same size as a walk-in closet, and you had to share it with another person), and into a house with four other girls. Since I didn't go home over the Christmas break, I was the first one into the house. I fell in love with the place. I missed it when I was away from it. I found so much peace and contentment being in that home - for the first time in probably my entire life, I finally felt like I had found..... home. 

My little bed that I hardly ever slept in because I was always sleeping with my roommate. 
Well shortly thereafter I met the four girls I was going to spend the next few months with. I liked them all right away, and to this day I still love them. They were all so different. I know we didn't always get along (I suppose that's pretty typical for 5 girls living in one house, right?) but man I wouldn't have traded a single one of them. I don't know if any of my roommates read this blog, but if you do I hope you know I LOVE YOU. And please don't hate me for sharing these crazy stories about us.....  You have to admit, these stories are too priceless to not be told. I will try to keep them as anonymous as possible, out of respect to them, and I won't post any photos of my roomies.

So, without further ado, here are just some of the things we had going on in that house of crazy women:

- One day I came home to one of my roommates crying because she thought she had Toxic Shock Syndrome. Because she had a tampon in all day.

- One of my roommates walked around the house in her underwear, no matter the time of day.

- One of my roommates changed from regular clothes to tiny booty shorts when she knew our (young, attractive) home-teachers were coming over to (try to) give us a spiritual message.

- One of my roommates referred to herself as "Beyonce - AKA The Golden Booty Goddess." She would leave me notes like this on my bed:

Or give me coupons like this for my birthday:

- One of my roommates was lactose intolerant. We always knew when she ate ice cream because she would stink up the entire house.

- One of my roommates liked to steal my clothes without asking. It used to bug the crap out of me. I would confront her about it and sometimes she would admit to it, sometimes she would deny it. But I finally caught her when I saw a picture of her posted on Facebook wearing one of my shirts.

- I slept with one of my roommates almost every single night. Yes, in the same bed. No matter what. And no we aren't lesbians.

- One of my roommates was a vegetarian and we would always yell at her when she microwaved her Bocca burgers because they smelled like farts.

- I tried to go clubbing with one of my roommates on two different occasions, and both times we failed. Both times we got lost there and back, eventually found our way, chickened out, tried to find a hotel to stay in, and then just ended up driving home at 3am.

- One of my roommates liked to call me Multiple Sclerosis because my initials were M.S. Once she called me that on Facebook and she got yelled at by someone who really had MS.

- We kept a quote wall up, and I wish I still had those papers but I don't. Here are a few, though:
"I kill you."
"What's that?"
"I want that!"
"Touch my black face."
"You look so hot right now."
"What are you wearing?"
"Word to your mother"
And, anytime someone didn't hear what you said, and asked, "What?" you just simply replied, "I said I like your shirt."

But the winner of them all?

- One of my roommates killed a baby chick. And it was even the vegetarian roommate.
Here's what happened. Chickens run around everywhere on Oahu, and this particular roommate thought it would be fun to have a baby chick as a pet, because they are so cute and fluffy? I'm not really sure. So she caught one, brought it home, and named it Two-Ply because he was going to live in a toilet paper box. That night I went to bed, as usual, in my other roommate's bed. When we woke the next morning, we were confronted by our Roomie. She said, "I have to tell you something, and you're going to think I'm a terrible person." Needless to say, we were a little freaked out and assured her it was going to be okay. She then proceeded to tell us that little Two-Ply had kept her up all night with his chirping, and by 5 in the morning,she had, quite literally, gone a little crazy from not sleeping.
"So, what did you do?" I asked.
"I took him to the ocean," she replied.
Now, this didn't sink in all the way at first. "Oh good, she set him free," I thought.
But then she continued. "I mean, I thought about putting him out in my car but I thought it'd get too hot in there and he'd suffocate. And then I read online that once you get your human scent on the chick, the mama hen won't take him back. So if I just let him loose, he'd die anyway."
I stared at her. A minute ticked by. And then it finally clicked.
"........What do you mean you 'took him to the ocean'?"
"That's what I'm saying! I drowned him in the ocean! I thought it would be the easiest way to do it."
My eyes grew to the size of my now-open mouth as I realized that my roommate was in fact a Chick-Killer.
"You drowned a baby chick?????" Of all the possible things you could do!!! I was floored. My other two roommates heard the news and were so distraught they spent the rest of the morning at the beach, trying to see if they could find its dead body washed up on shore (which was, yes, another crazy thing to do).

So you see? I wasn't lying about the crazy roommates (and again, roomies, if you're reading this, I LOVE YOU! Yes, even you, Chick Killer!) And even with all this chaos going on in my home, I still managed to declare a major (English!), maintain my babysitting job and photographer job, be President of the English Circle Club, date some boys (including my now-husband!), hike all over Oahu, work on my tan, eat Acai bowls as often as I could, and snorkel with the sea turtles. I even started a list of things I wanted to do before I left:

The best part about my second semester - besides meeting my husband - was when my "Little Sister" aka best friend from high school came to visit me. 

I took her out to eat the night she flew in. As soon as the waiter took our order, she got so excited she flung out her arms to give me a hug - she ended up Chuck-Norris-Punching her glass and shattered it everywhere. To this day I still have no idea how she did that, other than sheer excitement to see me.

She stayed for a week, we went exploring and dancing and hiking and swimming and she got FRIED to the max. We had to rub ice cubes and aloe vera all over her body and set her in front of our fan.

 She met my boyfriend (Adam), and she told me she'd kick my butt if I didn't marry him. Good thing I listened :)

 Man, it was the life. You'll have to wait for another post to read about meeting Adam, because this one is already getting too long. Until then, internet!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Choosing the voices

As you may have read, we recently moved Axton into his own bedroom. He had started sleeping better at night, so we thought it might be good to transition. The first night he fell asleep on our bed first, and then we transferred him to his crib in his room. He slept so good that night and we sighed with relief, flicking the nervous sweat off our brow. Well that was easy! 

We thought.

After that first night, it got rough. It was like that one shift undid all the hard work I'd been doing with Axton the last two months (and it really was work - getting him to sleep better. It was no easy task. I"ll have to share later). The next three nights were back to his old habits and I began to panic. I grew more and more frustrated with every one of his wakenings. He slept poorly at night, and so did I. He was cranky during the day, and that meant I was too. After three days of this, I was trying to get him to fall asleep in his crib, without me having to rock him. Some nights he will do this; other nights he will not.

I was trying the Baby Whisperer method - it's a "no-cry" method where you comfort them when they cry (be it picking them up or just patting their back or whatever it is that comforts them), and then stop when they stop crying. And then start when they cry again. Over and over and over again. The author of the book mentions having to do this with a kid 100+ times one night. This method is a lot of work. It requires an extreme amount of patience. Patience that I just did not have that night. Every time I took one step away from the crib, Axton would start crying and sit up, and I'd step back next to the crib, lay him down, and pat him and soothe him until he'd stop crying. After repeating this process about 20 times, and him still not even close to sleeping, my soft, comforting voice had turned into an angry, "Axton! Lay down! It's time to sleep, now stop this!" As if he could understand a firm tone and a threatening eye. As if that was really going to help. Ten more tries and he was still crying, and I had to walk out of the room. Adam saw how mad I was and offered to take over. I should have taken his offer, but I was stubborn. I had weaseled myself into this dark, angry hole and I wanted to get out of it myself.

"No! I want to do this," I said. (Along with a few other choice words that clearly illustrated to Adam where I was at, mentally).

I took a breath and walked back into that room, but both Axton and I knew my "no-cry" method wasn't working. I was clenching my teeth so hard, thinking this has to work. I'm doing it "right," I'm not letting him cry it out, and I'm not "coddling" him either. I was so mad, so upset that after trying so hard to do the right still wasn't right. And I still wasn't being the mommy I should have been.

I never did get Axton to sleep that night - Adam did. He swooped in after I stormed out again and lovingly cradled him and slowly rocked him back and forth until my sweet son found sleep in the comfort of his patient father's arms. I cry now, typing this, knowing that that should have been what I did. My answer should have been love, should have been intuition and exception, rather than forcing a method on him that he didn't need right then.

I spent the next hour in bed reading my scriptures and some articles online, trying to shine some light in the dark place I had visited. I didn't like where I had been, and I lay pondering what I could do to prevent going there again.

One thing I decided was to Carefully pick the voices I choose to listen to
This means that when I read books and articles about parenting, I have to choose to listen to the voices that mesh with how I really feel my son deserves to be raised, not just how good it looks on paper.

It also means I have to weed out the good voices in my own head, and block out the negative ones. Block out the voices that make me feel guilty, that tell me I'm a bad mom, that I never do anything right, that I keep messing up and I'll never find my stride. I have to choose to listen to the voice that tells me my son is happy, and that he loves me, and that he is blessed.

The other thing I decided was to ask myself three questions, and ask them often. They are:

Why am I doing what I'm doing?

Is it really that important?

Will I feel good about it later?

They can apply to any situation - from wasting time on the internet, to making righteous decisions, to parenting. If I had stepped back from where I was that night and asked myself those questions, my answers would have been:

Why am I doing what I'm doing?
Um, because the Baby Whisperer can do it, so why can't I? He should be able to fall asleep on his own, right?
Is it really that important?
Well, maybe not. Especially if it's just this way tonight. Tomorrow he might respond better.
Will I feel good about it later?
The way I'm doing it now? Probably not. I'd feel better if I just cuddled him.

There was another night when I heard Axton cry, and I just could not find the strength to get up. The selfish voices in my head told me to just let him cry it out. That voice was not really mine, at least not my daytime, clearly thinking voice. Because I've never wanted to let him cry it out. But it's so easy to fall into the darkness trap when you're sleep deprived. So I waited and I listened to him cry. I was wide awake. I did not go back to sleep and it did not help matters. And later, I felt guilty about it. If I had asked myself those questions, my answers would have been:

Why am I doing what I'm doing?
Because I'm tired.
Is it really that important?
Probably not. I bet he'd go back to sleep a whole lot faster if I just got up.
Will I feel good about it later?
No, I won't. I will feel guilty that I let him cry. I've found that I've never regretted getting Axton too soon, and I've always regretted getting him too late.

These two things - Choosing the voices I listen to and asking myself three questions - have so far helped me stay in a happier place, and help me thinking clearly when the cloudy confusion of sleepiness wants to take over. I think they apply well in all areas of my life, too, not just parenting.

*As an update, Axton is once again sleeping much better in his own room. It took a few days of adjustment and reassurance and I'm sad I didn't allow him that, that I wasn't more patient and understanding of that, but I am learning to be better.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why I ate cat food as a kid and other exciting stories

 - Last week I tried to stand up and walk out of the bathroom, and only made it as far as the doorway. I called out to Adam in pain, unable to stop the tears from coming. "Adam! Help! I can't walk!"
"What? What's wrong?" he asked.
I leaned against the wall and could hardly talk, or move my feet. Then I started to laugh, and I laughed so hard more tears came. "My legs fell asleep. It hurts so bad, Adam. So. Bad. I seriously cannot walk."
For some reason Adam wasn't laughing. All he did was shake his head and say, "Meghan, you know you're not allowed to read on the toilet anymore!"
It's true. I'm not. For this exact reason.

 - Adam and I actually went on a date. Like a legitimate,  leave-our-kid-with-an-underage-babysitter-date. And it was so super fun. We went out for burgers and fries, then hit up the mall, and ended with an hour of ice skating at our local rink. Axton was still breathing and alive and smiling (when isn't he smiling?) when we picked him up, too, so I'm guessing there will be more dates in the future! Woo-hoo! Go us. Here are some super crappy phone photos for proof:

 - Axton has always loved watching his reflection in the mirror. Well, today he found himself in a glass panel of an entertainment center and he got super excited. He placed his smudgy hands all over it, and then all of a sudden, he smashed his open mouth against it. In essence, he was making out all over that glass. And, unfortunately, it was at that moment that I had flashbacks to me, in oh, maybe fifth or sixth grade, making out with our bathroom mirror, so I could "practice." (Since I had so many kissing prospects at that age?) Yes, I am serious, and yes, I am embarrassed.

 - I won one of many Mommy-of-the-Year-Awards when I found my son sucking on dog food and playing in the dog's water dish. At first I was mortified, but then I remembered how much cat food I ate in my childhood and I figured, Meh. He'll be fine. 

 - You wanna know why I ate so much cat food as a kid, don't you? We had a cat named Spaggettio's growing up (my brother named him, not me) and my bro and I used to play this game where we would follow our cat around and we had to do exactly what he did. Lick our "paws," stretch our legs and yawn, roll around on our backs, and cat food. 

Man I was a strange kid.

I'm relieved to say that we never ventured in the litter box, though.

 - This week I was eating lunch with a friend and she asked me how running was going. Running's been going so-so, and I haven't been going as often as I would like to. I have this date of June 1st in my head - that's when a Women's Half Marathon is happening in Annapolis, and I kind of secretly want to run in it. But when she asked me about it, I realized I had only ran a quarter of the distance I would need to run for a half marathon, and that if it really was a goal of mine then I'd better start stepping up, and quick.

And when I thought about that - having goals and not really doing the things required to reach those goals, I realized I should step it up in a lot more areas of my life - you know, mommyhood, my calling in my church, writing, photography, etc, etc....

So, tonight I ran a 10k (6.2 miles) in 62 minutes. I blasted the tunes and had so many -AWESOME- highs on that run (thank you Taylor Swift). Seriously, if it wasn't for music, I'd never make it around the block. But when just the right song comes on? I can really bust it out. I was so into it that I got and popped a blister on my heel and didn't even notice until I got home. Then I ate four slices of pizza and a chocolate banana shake.

- This month I started watching little Miss Rylee two days a week so her mama can keep her awesome job-related benefits. It's nice having something casual to bring in some extra income, and I also like having a bit of a change of pace throughout the week. It's been interesting watching a two-month-old and an eight-month old at the same time; honestly it hasn't been too hard yet, since Rylee still does a lot of sleeping, and she still weighs less than Axton did when he was born so it's not too rough on my now-buff biceps to just hold her when I need to. The only time it gets tricky is when they both are tired. Axton isn't a very good napper to begin with, but being in a new place makes it even harder. He is also learning that I can't always pick him up right when he wants me to, but overall he's been adjusting great. I'm sure the action will pick up in a few months when they both are crawling....

 - Axton turned 8 months old yesterday, and boy was it a rough one. In the morning, he threw up his breakfast because he was gagging on a piece of paper he had eaten earlier. Then at night he fell out of his crib for the first time (obviously it was the first time or else we would have lowered it sooner), so we lowered his crib, and decided since we were halfway there anyway, we might as well move him into his own bedroom. That's right folks, Harry Axton is out of the closet and into his own room, now. 

Here's a creepy picture of him watching me through the bars in his very own bedroom (even though it's technically about the same size as the walk-in closet he came from, it really is a room, I swear).

This transition was very, I don't know, symbolic or something for me. I didn't cry and I didn't get sad, not really, anyway. In fact, I kind of felt like - it was a breath of fresh air, or something. Like getting our bedroom back was like getting a little piece of myself back that I had sacrificed in the last eight months - something I was glad to do, but now that I don't have to, I feel sort of like a new woman. I went on a complete organizing spree today, wanting this to be a fresh start. I never got very excited about making a "nursery" for Axton because I knew he wasn't going to be in there for awhile anyway. But now that he's got his own little place, I want to make it all cozy and cute. Sometimes I open his door just to look around, even if he's not in there.  

Here's the cute little handprint elephant we had made at the zoo when he was only 6 weeks old. We finally hung it up (since he can appreciate it now, in his own room, and all).

Anyway, so, for Axton's 8 month anniversary, he got gagged, bonked, and thrown out of his room. I swear I really do love this kid. I mean, who wouldn't??

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 - A Review.

This year was unlike any other. This year I became a Mom, did things I didn't know I could do, started from the ground up with a bruised and beaten body and worked my way towards a strong, healthy, new me. A new normal. A new life, one that is filled with hugs and kisses from the two cutest boys I know. Here's what 2012 brought for me.

January - To recover from my wild adventures with Robby, I did a lot of Friends-watching, reading, sewing, and growing a baby.

February - We celebrated Adam's 26th birthday by going bowling (the ball was the same size as my belly). I learned to handle other people's rude comments in the most mature way possible: by bashing them on my blog. I wrote about using Hypnobirthing for labor, and the spiritual experience I hoped it would be.

March - March was a busy one. We celebrated my 22nd birthday

I planned and successfully executed my first bridal shower for my best friend.

We went to a wedding and pretended there wasn't a ginormous watermelon between us as we jived to the music.

And, lastly, I kissed my ankles goodbye.

April - I learned firsthand that pregnancy brain is real. I was given the most beautiful baby shower and one of the most meaningful gifts I've ever received. 

May - I spent the longest 17 days of my life in the month of May, waiting for Axton to arrive. Mom flew in and kept me company and kept me laughing, which I really needed when everyone else around me was having their babies even though "I WAS DUE FIRST!"  I was exactly 41 weeks when he decided to come.

This is me the day before I went into labor. HUGE. Click to read my labor and delivery stories.

June - The first four weeks after Axton was born are pretty much a hazy blur in my mind. There was a lot of snuggling, a lot of napping, a lot of crying, a lot of adjusting, and a butt-ton of love. 

Adam's mom visited at the end of June, and I was glad for her help and company (she let me sleep in in the mornings!)

We went camping and swam in the lake.

Adam gave Axton a baby blessing.

July - We celebrated the fourth of July with Adam's cousin, ate good food and watched fireworks. 

Even now, I can't look at this picture and not think, "I made him??"

My 10-week-old baby and I flew out to Idaho for my best friend's wedding. I reunited with old high school friends.

Axton got to meet Great-Grams Wyatt....

And Grandpa Seely.

August - Adam's dad and wife came out to visit us. We went to Hershey Park and down to DC. 

September - Adam and I celebrated our three year anniversary. 

We went to Rehoboth Beach and, while it wasn't Hawaii, rejoiced and reveled in the beauty of an ocean. 

October - I entered Axton in his first (and probably last) photo contest. We lost (an honorable second place) but man was it fun getting about 300 votes in an hour at 11 o'clock at night.

 I started to feel like myself again, after 6 months of postpartum recovery. I lost a total of 70 pounds in 7 months. 

We celebrated our first Halloween as Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit. Oh, and a pumpkin.

November - I wrote 50k words towards a YA novel as part of Nanowrimo

I flew to Minnesota while Adam was on a business trip. 

Then we drove to Pennsylvania and spent Thanksgiving with my Aunt Nan and Uncle Claude. Kaleo astonished us all by overcoming his carsickness. 

Adam tried to grow a beard. Or a mustache. Or something..

  The little stinker turned 6 months old.

December - We took family pictures.

We flew to Arizona to spend Christmas with all of Adam's siblings. 


In other, sadder news, Adam's grandma passed away Christmas Eve. We were able to say good bye to her at the hospital a few days before she died. 

Another amazing year has come and gone! It's been a roller-coaster, but we feel blessed. Bring it on, '13!