The sender, the receiver, and the message

I remember in one of my psychology classes in college (I was a psych minor so I took a ton and can not remember for the life of me which one we talked about this in but anyway) we spent an entire chapter talking about communication. And communicating is really simple–it’s amazingly simple when you consider how much we do it.

Person A has an idea or thought that they want to share. That thought is then coded within Person A’s brain, and Person A sends out a message. Person B takes that thought in and decodes it. Then Person B understands what Person A said.

Sender -> Message -> Receiver
Yeah, Simple!

Our styles of interpretation and how we have learned to communicate as well our life circumstances are what murk up a perfectly simple process. And to avoid getting too scholarly (mostly because the old psychology notes that are permanently stored in the back of my brain are gathering cob webs and dust), communication is so simple and yet so, so very hard. It is a constant battle in the our house.

Josh and I have been together almost 8 years, married for over 3. We have grown and changed as people. We have been together through good times and bad, deaths and births, we’ve laid the foundation of a life down together, and we still communicate about as well as we did back in 2006. And it is the biggest problem in our relationship. In fact, it’s probably, really, the only problem in our relationship. If we could communicate with one another better, the other problems might cease to exist. But I’m stubborn. And he’s stubborn. I like to always be right. He does things he knows will make me angry. I’m very emotional. He has issues with identifying and processing his emotions. I let go of things and can move on. He lingers over things and draws them out for days. All these obstacles make it so that we can not communicate with each other effectively.

Yet, somehow, we’ve made it this far. And we are constantly trying to be better. We are. Our fights are always over stupid things – things that don’t matter and most of them come from that decoding. When Person B takes in the message from Person A, that’s when things get rough for us. That whole life circumstances and original learning of communication takes our supposedly straight line of communication (Sender->Message->Receiver) and turns into a great big ball of wibbly wobbly communication stuff. (If you get that reference, you’re fantastic.)

It goes from this:

Person A

to this:

Person b

which becomes this:

Person b2

and then this:

Person a2

It’s an awful cycle. And the ball of wibbly wobbly communication stuff just becomes more and more tangled and knotted like an unruly ball of yarn until there is yelling and tears. We’ve been trying different ways to keep that ^ from happening. But it does. And it will continue. 8 years is a lot knotting in the giant ball, and untangling it isn’t easy. Some people decide to just cut the string and start fresh with a new ball of yarn, but we aren’t throw in the towel kind of people. Remember, we’re stubborn. And good communication is like any other skill – it takes lot of practice to get better at it. Somehow we made it this far without realizing that we needed to make it more simple and clear. It’s also trial and error. We both get so worked up that it makes everything escalate into something it doesn’t need to be.

The last time we were having an argument we tried just writing things down in a notebook and passing it back and forth until we worked it out. Sometimes body language and voice tone can be your biggest enemy. Removing the element of having to actually talk to each other left the decoding of the message simply to seeing what the other person was simply thinking and putting on paper. It’s hard to argue back and forth like that. And it worked for that particular argument. I’m not saying it’ll always work, but, in this particular case, it did. And it’s progress.

And the real reason why communication has been something on mind lately is because of my beast mode toddler and her serious lack of communication skills. Which turns into momma’s serious lack of patience. Having is 2 year old is hard for a lot of reasons (the tantrums, the food throwing, the stripping of clothes in public, the refusal to eat foods she loved last week, the constant punching of the cat, to just name a few), but the hardest part of it, to me, seems to be the fact that she can’t just tell us what’s wrong. It’s a constant guessing game most of the time.

She knows a few words, but most of the time it’s just screaming or tears or both. And she’s recently learned to throw herself on the floor. That’s fun (not).

I know she’ll get to a point where she’ll be able to tell us what’s going on and what it is that she wants, but it’s hard. And frustrating. Yes, the definition of frustration in the dictionary has a picture of a screaming toddler underneath it.

Scene:

Whining in the backseat.

“Do you want your baby?”

Through tears, “Yeah.”

::hands baby doll::

::throws baby doll on floor::

“Do you want a book?”

Through louder tears, “Yeah.”

::hands book:

::throws book, hitting mommy’s hand in the process::

“What do you want?! Tell me what you want. Use your words”

More screaming with occasional babbling mixed in which continues until she finds her foot and removes her shoe and stops crying.

Fin.

Again, having a toddler is frustrating. And it’s not just the tantrums out of her inability to communicate. It’s also from her inability to fully understand what it is we’re talking to her about. Like, at a roller derby game, and I ask her if she pooped and she responds with a very clear “Yes” and I drag her and a changing pad and diaper and pack of wipes down the oversize steps and through the crowd to the circa 1950s bathroom where I stripped her of her outfit (including a tulle tutu) on a slightly broken, angled changing table only to discover that she did not, in fact, poop.

Or when she’s crying in the morning and I know she’s hungry so I ask if she wants a banana. “No.” Do you want a waffle? “No.” Do you want milk? “No.” Do you want a pony? “No.” (I’ll remember that kid.) So, I ignore her and pack my lunch. Next thing I know, she’s patting the front of the fridge. Of course, I already asked her if she wanted milk. Of course, this is how she tells me she wants milk.

Communication. It’s clearly gotta work both ways.

Whether its a husband or a child or whoever else, communication is vital. There’s so much miscommunication in the world as it is, I know I, personally, have to start getting better at it. There’s so much power in the way we communicate. And I realize that verbal communication isn’t the only form. Nonverbal is just as important if not the most important part of how we interact with one another. As it is, it’s all just something I will need to keep working on. If Ellabelle has shown me anything, it’s not just being able to say words, it’s how you use them.

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Let me be the kind of person my kid thinks I am

A lot has changed since I’ve become a mom. Besides the obvious, that is. I’m an introvert who’s always suffered from shyness on top of the serious lack of self esteem. I opened up a bit in high school and then a little bit more in college, and I thought I had reached my true potential, as close as I was ever going to feel to being an extrovert. Then I had a kid, and I bloomed. The term “late bloomer” springs to mind, but I’m not exactly sure if what happened to me really fits the definition, but whatevs.543906_10100175016807220_683843313_n

See, having a baby changed everything about me – the way I look at the world, the way I look at myself, that way I look, the way I feel, the way I act. Everything about who I am changed. I tried to explain it to Josh because he totally doesn’t get it, but it’s true. I am not the same person I was 2 years ago. 10373989_10100567789547500_6412338567206929721_n

I don’t worry about what others think. I used to be so concerned, even if I played it off, but not now. The neighbors are sitting on the porch? Oh well, we’re gonna play in the driveway and blow bubbles and lay on out bellies and color with chalk. Greasy hair and mismatched clothes be damned. See someone I know at the grocery? Yep, I’m in yoga pants and tshirt and, yes, that is crusty yogurt on my shirt. My kid wanted to give me a hug while she ate lunch. My kids singing at the top of her lungs in the middle of Walmart? Guess what? Payback for all those annoying kids I had to listen to before I had my own. At least, mine’s confined to a cart and not running around like a total monster. 1505322_10100537782247370_2524185201423930971_n

I rarely feel beautiful. It’s a whole internal thing that isn’t even worth going into, but still it’s a daily struggle not to feel like I’m the biggest slob on the planet. But put that baby on my hip and I feel gorgeous. She’s my favorite accessory. She makes me feel comfortable and relaxed because I’ve got my little buddy with me. It’s almost as if having her with me just brings out this inner confidence I didn’t even know I had. I am mommy, hear me roar, or something. It could also be that she’s so outgoing and beautiful and everyone’s attention is immediately turned to her. This keeps people from pay attention to me and that’s all I ever want any ways. As pathetic as it is, I can hide my own insecurities behind my beautiful baby. Let her shine. Let her be loved. To love her is to love a part of me anyway. Still, there is nothing more beautiful than being a mom. 1078564_10100324672491030_1854246357_o

With her, I get to dress up and be silly without feeling like everyone’s judging me. I get to wear princess crowns and play in leaves and it’s not weird because I have a kid and that makes it total normal.

picture taken by Ellabelle
picture taken by Ellabelle

I wear a swimsuit without a second thought because she wants to go swimming. Do I feel self conscious? Hell yeah. Does it change that fact that my kid loves the water and wants to play in it? Hell no. Stretch marks and gut be damned. My kid wants to play, and that’s what we’re going to do. Plus, Miss Flat Abs, come talk to me after you’ve carried a watermelon inside your body for 9 months. We’ll see who’s got judgey eyes then. 1377573_10100373166463720_280199270_n

Being a mom has made me brave. I would never have jumped through a sprinkle before her. I would never have fed a llama before her. Now, I do. I have to be brave so she learns to be brave. Granted, I’m not running into burning buildings or dodging bullets, but being outgoing, to me, is being brave. Facing new things and taking on new challenges makes someone brave. She makes me be brave. 10620570_10100647929321750_8534121516845489860_n

She’s been able to bring a type of peace to my life. She’s the calm in a storm. My emotions are similar to hers, to a toddlers. I feel things very deeply. Anger, compassion, happiness, love – they all run deep. I react in the same way. So when I’m dealing with things, it’s hard to stop me. I’m a hurricane that just needs to run it’s course and run myself out. But, Ellabelle has this effect on me. She can stop everything in it’s tracks and bring me back down to normal. I don’t remember much at all that happened to me October 2012. Josh tells me that when I was feeling the most scared and the most confused, I’d hold her because she was the only thing that would calm me down, that would make me feel better. She’s been able to do something no one else has ever been able to do – she makes me listen, even if it’s just my heart whispering to me what it thinks she needs from me. She keeps me grounded and keeps me sane. She has made me more willing to compromise and let go of my pride. She has made me a better version of myself. 1474597_10100432361241910_747108290_n

Most importantly, she has opened my eyes to what’s really important. Someone was really rude to me at work that day? It’s over. Move on. There’s some sort of ridiculous family drama? It doesn’t matter. Arguing politics? Who cares. People wanting to push their religion? Not worth my time to even worry about. I can’t change people, and being a mom has made me realize that none of that stuff is really that important. I am able to just let most things roll of my shoulders. I can’t let silly things get me frustrated and upset when there’s a good chance that A) Ellabelle is going to notice my bad mood and its going cause her to be in a bad mood or B) Ellabelle’s going to be particularly ornery and that’s only going to enhance my bad mood. Regardless, with a toddler in the house, a living tornado of emotional outbursts, I have to work extra hard to keep my own emotions properly in check. Petty, stupid things just aren’t worth it. 12824_10100123659238200_1844291659_n

I’m living life one moment at a time, one step at a time. I’ve come realize that’s all I can do. I know I’ve heard it, but until something happens to you to make you wake up and realize it, you really can’t wrap your mind around it. I feel like in a way I’ve died. That old me is gone. I have been to the very end of everything, I have felt around on the floor of rock bottom and I’m still here. EB was my life preserve, something to hold onto in the dark. She was the sliver of hope from a lighthouse off in the distance. She saved me in every way imaginable when she made me a mom and she’s a continual reminder of what there is to look forward to. I read the news and see war and destruction and the very worst of humankind and I look at her and know she will be one of those gentle voices in the world spreading love and hope for a better tomorrow. Or at least I’m going to do everything I can to teach her to be that way. 10296167_10100585032582320_4742093574192984985_o

She has changed me and made me better. I’ve learned more from her and about myself in two years of being a mom than I ever did in 17 years of school. Everything Ellabelle does is genuine. Everything she does is the nth degree. There’s no holding back for fear of what others might say or think. She lives life on the very edge of her emotions – when she’s mad, she screams. When she’s happy, she sings. When she’s sad, she cries. There’s no huddling on the middle ground. It’s all or nothing, baby. I’m trying to be more and more like her, more genuine, every day.  10309070_10100559876051210_2043528754616114021_n

I can feel the change in me, even if others can’t see it. I’ve been changed for good. I’ve been changed for the better. Until you’re a mom, you can’t understand. And once you’re a mom, you can’t ever go back. Ellabelle thinks I’m brave. She thinks I’m funny and smart. She thinks I’m beautiful and adventurous. She thinks I’m loving and kind. I want to be everything she thinks I am. 10269289_10100562049730140_7013496600348624827_o

Banishing Sad Amy

I haven’t been myself lately. I’m not really sure why. It could be because I no longer have my job. It could be because I’m stuck in the house all day with a little tiny tornado. It could be because our funds are low due to the lack of job. It could be the no shopping because of lack of funds. It could be the fact that I watched all the seasons of Cake Boss on Netflix in like 2 days. It could be the feeling of silent rejection as not one of the numerous jobs I’ve applied for has called me back. It could be the fact that I feel like this house is never going to get clean no matter how much we do. It could be that we’re trying to stretch a gallon of milk, because we can’t afford to go by another until next Tuesday, between two people which wouldn’t be a problem for most people but I live off cereal and Josh is to milk what Cookie Monster is to cookies. He’s a milk monster.

Ok, sorry, I’m rambling. But the point is that I don’t feel like myself. Yesterday Josh even said, “You are totally bumming me out. If you look it up, there’s a picture of you under “sad” in the Webster’s dictionary.” Yep. That’s me. It’s so bad I’m not even excited about Christmas. Like seriously. Christmas is my holiday. I’m usually aching to have the tree up already, but not this year. Not yet, at least. I’m not sure what is going on exactly. It could be all of the above. But I’m determined to be happier. Not exactly sure how that’s going to work. I guess I’m just going to wing it and see where I land. But no more Sad Amy. No more. She’s being banished from this house. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that I hope will work. I’ll keep you posted. Until then, here’s a cat:

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All you need is love <3

This weekend was all about love. No it wasn’t the kind of love you’ll find in a greeting card or on the calendar. It wasn’t a birthday or an anniversary. It was just simply a weekend filled with things we love.

Like this guy:

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This proclaimed nerd spent his weekend surrounded by the things and people loves: comic books and comic book artist.

It was Cincy Comicon’s first ever weekend and Josh volunteered all three days. He met a lot if his favorite artists (he even got a high five initiated from one if them), bought some comics,

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found his next tattoo,
20130909-235024.jpg and shared with Ellabelle (and me) his love of the world of comics.

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EB and I only went on Saturday, but it was a good time. And I got to meet someone I love – R2D2!!!

20130909-235113.jpg Yeah, I went totally fan girl on the little robot.

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On Saturday morning, before the ComiCon, Josh and I (EB was with Oma and Opa) took Maisy for a nice long walk followed by a car ride. Puppygirl was in heaven. She rarely gets leisure walks anymore let alone the undivided attention of mommy AND the fat man. So even Maisy got to do something she loves – be with me.

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Ellabelle and I spent Sunday with my mom and dad at their house while Josh was at the con. She loves being in the kitchen and isn’t currently allowed in ours so she was so happy to hang out in Oma’s while she cooked.

20130909-235149.jpg Plus Bengals football is back. We love us some football! (Even though they lost) OH AND I got a Sunday afternoon nap in with both my girls. That is something we all three love.

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Something else I love that I convinced Josh to do was to go swimming. I’m a waterbug, and, thankfully, I passed the love into Ellabelle. We took a dusk swim and got the pool all to ourselves on Sunday night. Ellabelle was so happy and had so much fun. She slept good that night!

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So, while I’m sure I could write lines if poetry dedicated to my child and beloved pup, you will not find any sonnets written for the things we enjoyed this weekend. (Especially since I HATE sonnets). We had an amazing weekend. I got spend time with my baby girl as well as my puppygirl. Josh got some nerd time in without having to sacrifice time with me and EB and without boring us half to death. And EB got to hang out with Oma and Opa and play with the “big bathtub”. It was a nice little reminder of what matters most in life: the things (and people) you love.

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Twenty Six

26. It hardly seems like its even possible that its been a year since I tried to write a birthday blog. Yet here it is again. 365 days have come and gone. With it has come trials and struggles and happiness and laughter. Last year at this time I was the mom of a newborn. I had a tiny baby who still wasn’t sleeping through the night. Now, I have a rambunctious toddler who is destroying everything in her path and sleeps more than I do.

This year was an insane roller coaster for me. I have been on top of the world. I finally quit a job that was literally making me sick with worry and stress. I became a full time mommy and I was so blessed to be able to do so. I got to spend the first 8 months of Ellabelle’s life with her, day in and day out. I can already tell you the future Amy is jealous of past Amy because the next kid won’t have that luxury. I found a new job that I actually really enjoy doing. Only downside is the hours absolutely suck. I hit my absolutely rock bottom and lived to come out on the other side. I realized that I really do have people around me who do honestly care about me. I also realized just how much Josh loves me. I realized that I am more than I have myself credit for, and I’m much stronger than I ever thought.

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I had the best holidays this year – from Halloween to Christmas to Easter. I’ve always loved holidays – decorations and traditions that Josh hates or doesn’t understand. He complains for almost every one (except Halloween) about having to drag out my boxes and put them back away. I don’t care though. I love it. And this year, I got to share them. I got to start new traditions or pass on old ones. Granted the person I was sharing them with had little interest or idea what was going but I didn’t care. We wore matching outfits for Halloween, opened her stocking from St. Nick, baked cookies with Grandma, opened presents on Christmas morning (while someone slept), had an Easter egg hunt, waved soggy flags at the 4th of July Northside Parade, ate cake on her birthday. We did it all. I got to be a kid again because I got to experience every holiday in a new way with Ellabelle. I’m even more excited about this year cause she’ll be able to move around and participate more.

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25 was a year full of tragic sadness. One of Josh’s friends lost his wife after 12 days of marriage. She died suddenly and left behind so many broken hearted people. Also, my mom’s cousin died after a long fight against cancer. She wasn’t even 60. She left behind a daughter and a grandbaby the same age as me and Ellabelle. These two people who I barely knew touched my life and changed it. I realized how lucky I am to have my mom and to have Josh. Bekah’s death hit so very close because only months before Josh was faced with the harsh reality of possibly losing Ellabelle and me. I am touched so deeply by the death of strangers in general, but these two hit very close to home. Ellabelle has been to two funerals before the age of one, and that’s a harsh reality for this momma to deal with. Death and sorrow was very much a part of my 25th year.

25 brought me a new job. In march, I started work as a clerk. I work weird hours and never see my husband, but I get to be at home during the day with my baby. So I guess you gotta take the good with the bad.

25 was full of sleepless nights and long restless days, smiles and giggles and lots of tears, new beginnings and sad goodbyes, and now here I am, the “late” side of my twenties. And I couldn’t be happier. I tweeted back in July: “Being an old soul makes for awkward early twenties and the ability to finally start to feel comfortable in your late twenties.” And its true. I’m finally able to embrace my inner 84 year old Yiddish grandmother. I really am that old. I asked for (and got) an iron for my birthday.

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I gladly look forward to year 26. It’s exciting with more discoveries and achievements for Ellabelle and more soul searching for me. I’m trying to define who I am and discover what I was put on this earth to do. I’m no longer able to just sit and twiddle my thumbs. I’m closer to “middle age” than ever and I don’t want to be that person who turns 40 and is lost. I need some sort of definition for my existence and I will continue to look for it and work for it. For now, I know part of my job is to be the best mommy I can possibly be and that’s what I intend to do.

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The contents of the cup

Our life has been pretty damn good lately. I have a job. Josh has a job. Our house isn’t in total disarray. Ellabelle is happy and thriving. Maisy isn’t using the bathroom in the house much anymore and when she does its on her potty pad like its suppose to be. Jericho is throwing up only hair balls and not food. Bellini hasn’t lost his chicken that he loves under the stove. All is well. 166285_10100250408027610_947809993_n
So much so that when I mentioned it out loud last night, and Josh made me knock on wood real quick. He’s always worried that whenever anything is going good something bad is about to happen. Still, our glass is really half full these days.

Except when its not. And that’s what I’m going to write about tonight – that empty part of our glass. I’ve been trying to be more positive these days. I try to focus on the good. So, I prefaced this with all the good. It’s a reminder that my life is just that – good.

But I want to come here, to my safe place, and vent. I want to say how there are days Ellabelle won’t stop fussing.

How there are days that Jericho tries to vomit on my chest instead of, well, anywhere else.

How Bellini keeps using the washing machine and table leg as a scratching post.

How Josh sometimes forgets to do something that I asked him, begged him, to do three different times throughout my work shift.

How I don’t get to folding laundry like I planned.

How our kitchen counter is still covered in papers and bills and appliances that were never put away and empty cereal boxes.

How I feel like the worst mom somedays because I put my kid in her playpen and turn on Yo Gabba Gabba so I can nap instead of spending time with her.

How sometimes I get so overwhelmed with people who I don’t think deserve the time or respect my husband gives them.

How I forget to eat lunch somedays.

How showering has gone from a relaxing experience to a burden I must bear throughout the week.

But I’m not going to talk about any of that. Or at least not going to expand. No, tonight, I come here to bitch about my husband. Oddly enough, it’s in a good way. I miss him. That’s my complaint. I see him 25 minutes a day and its in a car with a baby who is either trying to destroy everything she can get her hands on or is fussy and sometimes, on a good day, its both. 424562_872947659240_152244384_n

I miss talking to him in more than 10 minutes intervals. I miss laying on the couch together. I miss having him lay next to me at night. I miss having dinner together. I miss him playing duty while I craft. I miss both of us giving EB her bath and putting her in bed for the night. I miss being a wife.

This weekend we got a night away from the baby. We had a good time at my cousin’s wedding, but I wasn’t there, not completely anyways. My mind was still with my baby. I’ve gotten better about not worrying about her so much. Still, I feel like I’m having a really hard time being just a wife in those few moments we manage to get without her around. I haven’t learned how to switch off the mommy mode. Maybe I won’t ever be able to. I don’t know. What I do know is I’ve got to be better about it. Josh tries so hard to be a good hubby. He’s amazing. I feel like I’m letting him down on my half of the deal. 465794_10100253218784830_1605736096_o

we clean up good 😉

I have gone from pregnant-and-complaining wife to stay-at-home-mom wife to the MIA wife. I just suck as a wife right now. During the week, we are but two ships passing in the 3pm hour. We get weekends together, and they are currently booked solid. I’m looking forward to August because my calendar is open then and that means more Josh time and more family time with the three of us. I’m sure it’ll fill as we get closer, but still.

So, clearly, my life is still pretty good. My biggest complaint is never seeing my husband. Some people wish to be this lucky. We push on with our days. Hopefully, the cup will stay half full. Or, even better, maybe it will fill all the way up. 946782_645021002181938_324450374_n

Dreary Sunday for Amy

I feel down today. I hate days like this especially when I have no idea why I feel so blue. And then Josh is all, “What’s wrong? Why are you down?” and I can’t give him an answer and then he gets frustrated which, in turn, frustrates me. It’s a deadly cycle.

I think maybe I’m down because I’m back in the house. We were out running a few quick errands, and I was out in the sunshine. The sunshine isn’t welcomed inside this house apparently. With the carport on one side and the shrubs on the other, there’s not much space for the beams to shine in. If we opened up the house, maybe it’d feel less coffin-esque today. It’s gloomy in here. I want sunshine and breezes, but it’s only 39 degrees out and it’s a cold 39. I want spring to get here so I can take my baby for walks and to the park.

The only upside to the cold is baby tights. I love baby tights – bright colorful baby tights. Oh, and naps. Naps are nice on a cold, dreary day, even if it is only dreary in the house.

I’m also blue because I miss my dog because she got in trouble for pooping in the baby’s room. She’s not going to be coming out from under the bed for awhile. In all fairness, she did poop on the rug I bought, the second one since she destroyed the first one. I still miss her though. I wanna snuggle my Moo. I have a chirpy Bean though so I guess I’ll take what I can get. Maybe I’ll feel better after my nap.