29.5

Today’s my half birthday. Twenty nine and a half. 6 months til the big 30. I used to love my half birthday. It was always exciting. I’m a weirdo and always made a bigger deal out of it than most people.

12 1/2 meant I was almost a teenager. I couldn’t wait to be 15 1/2 to go get my temps. 20 1/2 meant 6 more months til I was 21. But there’s no looking forward to being 30.

Our society puts so much emphasis on youth and beauty. We don’t take care of our old. They get very little government support. They have the worst health care coverage. Many are left in nursing homes to die as if they’re a burden. Old people should be celebrated, but, they aren’t. So what’s the appeal of growing old?

Josh told me that at 30 you start to come to terms with your mortality. I mean that does make sense. Most people have jobs and kids and responsibilities. Once you enter your 30s you kinda know where you’re going to be for the majority of the rest of your life.

I had a case at work this week that really bothered me. This old lady had killed herself at her nursing home, and I had to sort through the requested photos of the scene (my job is weird and disturbing sometimes). What bothered me most about the room was how empty it was. No pictures. No personal items. No blanket from home. Not even a plant. The room was empty of anything that showed this women was loved by someone. Now, I didn’t have the whole story obviously. All I know about her and her back story came off a Deceased Person form. The picture painted by the room though was enough.

I don’t want to end up alone. I want my children to come visit me. I want to have so many fond memories that I have too many photos scattered around. I don’t want to be old and in a diaper and stuck in a nursing home with no hope. I know it’s inevitable (hopefully not the nursing home part) and maybe this is what dealing with my mortality is. I just don’t want to come to a day in my life where I have no hope for the future. It seems like such a horrible place to be.

And now that I’ve thoroughly depressed myself about getting older, let’s focus back on the now. I’m still young! Well, sorta. I am an 84 year old Yiddish grandmother named Eunice on the inside. She likes to knit and bake and talk about how foolish youths are, but I’ve still got plenty of life left to live. I get to wake up and feel the sunshine and hug and kiss my babies (who are still little babies) and run without too many pains and eat without worrying about how my stomach will handle it. 30 isn’t old. 30 is just the beginning of a different type of life stage.

I’ve made a 30 before 30 bucket list back when I turned 29, and I’ve been working on it a little bit. Statistically, at this point, I should have 15 of them done. I definitely don’t. I also had to go back in and change a few because they just ain’t gonna happen (like going tubing when it’s been in the 60s all winter). So here’s my full list and what I’ve accomplished so far:

30 before thirty

  1. Go berry picking with my girls
  2. Go on a hayride
  3. Play in the rain with the girls
  4. Knit 10 scarfs to donate
  5. Get hair professionally dyed
  6. Write at least once a month
  7. Pay off a bill
  8. Fix the roof
  9. Organize the house completely
  10. Fix/replace the oven
  11. Go on a family vacation
  12. Get another tattoo
  13. Save $1000
  14. Lose 30 pounds
  15. Finish painting the kitchen
  16. Family portraits taken
  17. Paint pottery
  18. Make a cake entirely from scratch
  19. Visit Carew Tower view deck
  20. Visit Sunlight Pool
  21. Run some sort of race
  22. Take Josh to the Taste of Cincinnati
  23. Go camping
  24. Got out to a fancy dinner
  25. Own a king size bed
  26. Make smores
  27. Donate my hair
  28. Make $50 on etsy
  29. Go see a dermatologist
  30. Make something out of blown glass

So here’s what I’ve accomplished:

– go on a hayride
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-fix/replace the oven
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-family portraits taken
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-go out to a fancy dinner (Anniversary at the Melting Pot)
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-own a king size bed
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-make $50 on etsy
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So I’ve only actually finished 6. I’ve got about four currently in the works though. So it’s not too bad. Some of them are rather lofty goals anyways. So yeah, 6 months left to kick this list into gear. 6 months til I become “old” whatever that means. 6 months til a trip with my Joshie to celebrate another year.
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Resting and learning to rest

So, 2016 went out with a bang (or a surgery, same diff) and my 2017 started nice and slow. I literally slept for most of the first week. Pain pills and walking around the house like an old person kept me going. I hardly ate because I didn’t feel like it. When I was awake, I was depressed – depressed because I couldn’t hug my babies (like Matilda had to literally be kept away from me), I couldn’t spend time with my husband (cause I was so tired), I felt like I was failing as a mom and that I had failed myself somehow because my organ needed removed. None of this was true and Josh tried so hard to remind me of this. He did such an awesome job being a full time dad and taking care of a whiney sick wife. It was very hard on me because I hate just sitting around. It was also hard to do anything. So my body forced me to rest. I think it’s what I needed especially after Christmas. With being so busy almost everyday, maybe my body was just ready to take it easy. Funny how your body always seems to know.


We were both so relieved when I finally started feeling better on Friday, and on Saturday Oma watched the girls so Josh and I could go out for his birthday. We went down to Newport to eat at Joes Crab Shack because Josh loves seafood. The first thing that greeted us upon arrival was a firetruck. Josh pointed out this isn’t exactly the best sign at a restaurant you’re planning on eating at.


It was freezing, and the restaurant had a pipe burst. There was water flooding out of the bathrooms that a guy was trying to mop up. Thankfully, the kitchen was not affected. We had a nice quiet lunch, and Josh got him some mussels so he was a happy birthday boy.


When we got back my parents house to get the girls, Ellabelle had helped Oma bake a birthday cake for Josh. Ellabelle insisted it have strawberries on it. She then proceeded to pick off and eat every strawberry off the cake.


On Sunday, we went BW3s with my parents and Angie and Mike to celebrate Josh’s bday. The girls were awful as usual while out at a restaurant. However, they were both very happy to have a captive audience. Ellabelle ran back and forth around the table, and Mattie was unhappy because she wanted to run around too but was strapped into a high chair. Ellabelle threw a massive fit when we left because she was given a balloon by a table next to ours and she let it go almost as soon as she had it. She wanted another one and we were not about to ask the nice strangers for another so that mean the world was ending.
If you’re signed up for the Red Robin card, you get a free burger and so we went and got burgers for Josh’s birthday. We like to extend the birthdays around here. I’ve managed to stretch mine for a whole month before. Now, mind you, this was Monday. The first day back to work for me following my surgery as well as the first day of my “healthy lifestyle change.” I did not enjoy my salad for lunch and needed something fattening. Thankfully, I’ve been doing a lot better with the eating better and eating the right things when I do eat. That first day was rough though.


So, I came back to work and, while I was gone, I had received an invitation to my promotion ceremony. So I got to dress all nice and go to the Chief of Police’s staff meeting and he read a little thing about me and we took pictures and I got a certificate. It was all very exciting. Josh is jealous. He’s never been promoted so he’s never gotten to do this. He still makes more money than me so I’d rather have the cash then the certificate, but I get his point.


So I made it through my first week back fairly easily. I had a rough time with my incisions hurting, and I had to switch to yoga pants instead of work pants to help, but I pushed through. Martin Luther King Day was that next Monday. So, I took Ellabelle to see Moana in theaters. We went to one of those super fancy new theaters with the huge reclining leather chairs. She loved it and the icee and the movie.


She did super well during it. I thought she’d be a pain because this was my first movie with her and others who have taken her said she likes to talk and move around a lot, but she did great. Moana was absolutely adorable, and she loved it so much she’s getting the bluray for Valentine’s Day.
The next week ended in a down note – Donald Trump was inaugurated into the office of President. Hearing him referred to as president still makes my skin crawl every time. I’m still in denial about it, I guess. In an effort to help myself feel better about the world I’m raising two young girls in and to actually get out there and do something, I made Josh go to the local Women’s March.


He was reluctant at first, and not because he doesn’t support women’s rights. We got down there and the crowd was huge. It was amazing. Being surround by people who think like us and feel passionate about the same causes was something we needed. We live in a very conservative area and it’s so easy to feel lost and alone. Josh told me he was really glad I made him go. And we took the girls too. I wanted them to be a part of it even if they likely won’t remember it. Unfortunately, it looks it’s a fight they’ll be fighting along side me someday, but we have to start somewhere.


Ellabelle loved it because she thought she was in a parade.


After the march, I took Josh to his friends house, and he went off and had a guys night. So it was a girls night at the Hawkins House. We napped and hung out and made brownies and watched Lego Movie while we ate brownies.


We had a quiet morning the following day and then we went over to Oma and Opa’s house. Maisy had a puppy play date with her cousin Beanie. Maisy scared Beanie and chased her around the house at first, but eventually they both settled down. I don’t think they’ll be best buddies anytime soon, but at least they’ll be able to hang together in the future if necessary.

Josh and I both took our birthday holidays from work on the 27th. We literally slept all day since we were both so exhausted. We ran up to the Disney store though because I wanted to get Ellabelle’s Valentine’s Day gift because she wasn’t with us.
We all watched Big Hero 6 on the 28th. I’m not good at relaxing and sitting – especially for a movie. But I love my whole family being snuggled up on a couch. January’s was slow paced compared to December and even November. So I’m working hard on just being at home and being relaxed on weekend.


Ellabelle got her first library card. She was so excited. She picked out books for herself to check out, and she wants to go back to visit already. I’ve been trying to instill in my girls the love of reading, and so far so good.


Our month ended on a not so great note -Miss Ellabelle was sick. She had a bad cough and kept wanting to sleep on the couch which is way out of character. So Josh had to stay home with her. She’s doing better, but this crazy Ohio weather (mid-50s one day, snowing and 20s the next) is so hard on the girl’s sinuses anyways that it makes colds even worse.


My February is looking crazy on the calendar because there’s nothing planned. Sure, Valentine’s Day is in there, but my weekends are blank. I think I may be kinda happy about it. Like I said, I’m not good at doing nothing. So it’s a constant process to grow and slow down and just be. But I’m working on it. I want to be better. I want to learn to be more present. We spent most of the weekends in January at home. I was still healing, but it was nice to kinda hibernate. I love spending time with crazy girls. They keep things fun in the house even if they also keep it very loud and messy.

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.

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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