February 5, 2010

Topsy-turvy

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 2:04 am by Erin

I clearly chose the wrong month to try to do the “good things” challenge for myself.  Up until today, 2010 has pretty well sucked.  For 3 days now, I hadn’t been able to come up with good things.  Really.  And the days before that were a ridiculous challenge also.  J and I have been sniping at each other for things neither of us can do anything about, the kids have been in “moods” much of the time, the weather has been cold, gray, and rainy, and the dishwasher is still broken.   The identity theft thing has been making me lose sleep, driving with not only an expired but revoked license is making me have panic attacks everytime I get in the car, as has J’s unemployment and some stupidity on our part through poor record keeping in which we bounced 2 checks.  I had to confront a student who was quite disrespectful to me (and she’s old enough that she mentioned a grandchild in our conversation, so you’d think she’d have learned some manners by now; this is the same one I complained about recently), and have to deal with students who think my policy for not accepting late papers is unfair.  Oh, and I’ve just given the first round of tests and am sure to have some unhappy students when they’re finally graded.

I had been really, really looking forward to having a girl’s night out tonight.  We’d all planned on the date and time already, the only thing we hadn’t decided was the location.  Several people suggested places and the only thing I said was “I’m up for almost anything but I’d prefer not to go to Place X because it’s such a long drive for me.”  Every place that was suggested was quite close to everyone else (they all live close together and I don’t expect everyone else to drive to get close to me) but Place X was the farthest from me by a good bit.  Since I didn’t think it would make much difference to anyone else, I figured we’d go to one of the other places. 

Instead, one girl sent this e-mail this morning: “Erin, we certainly don’t want to exclude you but Place X would be fun and different.  Let’s meet there…”  Well gee, thanks for not wanting to exclude me by choosing the one place that excludes me.  I didn’t even get the e-mail until after my crappy day, which had been buoyed with thoughts of “I’m going out tonight.  I get to hang out with my friends.” 

There were 5 of us who’d made the plans.  I’m much closer friends with 2 of the women than with the other 2; one of the other 2 was the one who sent the e-mail.  The 2 with whom I’m close both called since they got the e-mail the same time I did and it was too late to change plans by then.  “I’m so sorry!” they said.  “I really wanted to hang out with you,” they said.  And one said “___ feels really bad about this!”  Bullshit.  If ___ felt really bad about it, she could have chosen one of the other places that was mentioned.  ___ could have said “Hey, if that’s too far for Erin, let’s save that for a night when she can’t make it and go to another place instead.” 

I was practically in tears as I drove home in the traffic and rain.  Hell, I would have been in tears if I hadn’t been afraid to cry while driving.

I called J, who knew how much I’d been looking forward to it.  He suggested we go out for dinner, just to do something special.  I felt so miserable that I agreed, even though we’ve been trying really hard to save money.  We met at a restaurant we enjoy that (because my luck sucks that badly) is now closed.  But my sweet husband and my kids were there, all of them thrilled to see me.  And my mood started to lift.  We decided to go to another place close by and P asked about it.  I told him where it was and he said “Is that the place with the toothpicks on the table?  I LOVE that place!”  He made me laugh.  When we got there, K clamored to sit next to me and wouldn’t stop giving me hugs and kisses.  My heart felt so much lighter.

And then J told me he got a job*.  After almost a full year of unemployment (it would have been a year at the end of this month), so many of our worries have gone away.  I’m so glad that I didn’t go out tonight so that we could celebrate his news.  Who knew that a crappy day could end so well?

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*If you know us IRL, please don’t say anything yet or post anything on Facebook.  J hasn’t officially accepted the job or signed a contract yet, so we’re keeping this quiet for another week or so until it’s official.

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June 23, 2009

Our 10th anniversary went by without a word

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 7:52 am by Erin

On my blog, that is.  In real life…um, we didn't do anything except exchange cards.  BUT that all changes tonight when we leave for Costa Rica for a few days!!!  We haven't left P since he was about 2 1/2, and then it was just overnight at a hotel while my parents watched him; we've never left K at all.  I'm nervous and scared about how he'll react to us leaving and not being here tomorrow morning.  Or the next morning, or the one after that, or the one after that.  Will it bring back feelings of abandonment, or will being in his own house with his brother and grandparents (my ILs have been here since Friday, so he's well used to them) help keep that at bay?  We're planning to call but I'm still nervous.  Hell, there have only been 2 nights that I didn't put him to bed since he's been home!

Despite my nerves, I am about to go pack.  And we'll have a wonderful time while we're there, even with a forecast for 70s and thunderstorms.  We're staying at a 5-star boutique hotel, which we've NEVER done in our lives, and are treating ourselves royally.  We don't speak Spanish and only have a little phrasebook.  We cannot wait.

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This visit with my ILs has been quite good.  Perhaps it's my gratitude that they're staying with the kids that makes it easier for things to roll off my back, perhaps things haven't been said the way they normally are, or perhaps it's that they're spending so much time with the kids that I've had a lot of time to myself.  Whatever.  It's been a really nice visit so far and helps me feel better about leaving the boys with them.

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J has a job interview this afternoon before we leave.  He hasn't had one in almost 2 months, so if you could think some good thoughts for him, we would both appreciate it.  He's not handling unemployment too well* and getting this job would be a big boost to him.

*I'll write more about that when we get home and my ILs aren't likely to pop in at any time.

January 14, 2009

Welcome home!

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 4:16 pm by Erin

I just wanted to post and wish Erin, John, and Azucena home from Guatemala!  They have been through so much over the past years and are finally home with their daughter.  HOORAY!

December 3, 2008

Actually, today is an incredibly good day

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 9:19 am by Erin

Today, I found out that M, our first referral that we turned down because he has cerebral palsy, is listed as "MATCHED" on our agency's waiting child list.  Thank you, G-d.  It has been over a year since we got his referral.  I am so thrilled that he has a family at last, and that they are the kinds of wonderful people who will be the best family for him.

Today is our referral anniversary for K.  We got his picture one year ago today, feeling the sadness of turning down M's referral and joy of learning that we would have a son.  And there was more joy on December 3rd because…

It is P's birthday.  Today he is 5.  He is an amazing child.  Incredible.  I grow more thankful for him each day.  He is rapidly learning to read, wants to do nothing more than write words (and is good at it if you help him sound them out), is good with numbers, and even more importantly than all of that, is a really nice kid.

This time (12:15 p.m.) 5 years ago, I was feeling like I couldn't do it, I couldn't do natural childbirth.  I was in a lot of pain.  I was exhausted.  I was in transition.  Just over 3 hours later, at 3:29 p.m., I met this tiny, scrawny, and peach-fuzz haired baby boy.  Weighing in at 6 lb 11 oz, born 2 1/2 weeks early.  He was perfect.  And he still is.  Now he's around 40 pounds and seems incredibly tall to me, with dark blond hair and beautiful brown eyes, and the sweetest face and voice ever.

He's giggly, he's funny, and he's sweet.  His teachers, despite all of the issues that we've had this year, will readily say that he's probably the most loving and affectionate kid in class.  And SMART!  He was the first kid in his class to start sounding out words and writing them.  He drew a picture of a rainbow-colored bird and then wrote "RMBO BRD" next to it.  No prompting from them, no help.  On his own.  I was mightily impressed that he was doing that at 4.

I am so thankful for this day in my life.  It could not possibly get any better than this.

October 21, 2008

Happiness is…

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 8:10 pm by Erin

Going up to your bedroom, only to find your husband and adorable baby boy cuddled up on the bed, sound asleep.  Something tells me that once K is in a big-boy bed, he'll be joining P's almost nightly jaunts to our bedroom.  We may have to get a bigger bed.  But there's nothing better than waking up in the morning to find big brown eyes staring into yours, a warm little arm thrown over your neck, and a sweet voice saying "Good morning, Mama!"

May 15, 2008

Why yes, I am an assistant professor

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 8:56 am by Erin

I got the job!

December 31, 2007

This might be the best end-of-the-year that I’ve ever had

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 8:03 am by Erin

I’m still in my sock monkey flannel pajamas at 11 a.m.

P and I baked a lemonade layer cake for the New Year’s Eve gathering that we’re going to tonight.

I have a superhero mask on.

P and I are playing SuperWhy.

He’s also playing on my exercise ball while quoting from "The Cat in the Hat".

I couldn’t have asked for a better end to 2007–I have an incredible husband, an amazing son, another perfect son waiting for us in Ethiopia, and I’m still in my 20’s (for the next 2 weeks)!

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May your 2008 bring everything you’ve wanted, and have a happy and safe New Year!

December 29, 2007

A birth story–and it’s not even mine!

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 8:11 pm by Erin

First, let me just say that it was amazing to be there to help through a birth, to witness new life as it came into the world.  I’m going to write this down mostly so that I don’t forget it, though I can’t imagine that I would.  (I promise not to do this every time I attend a birth, if it happens again, but this was my first as a doula.)

H and C called to ask me to meet them at 1:15 p.m.  I grabbed my bag and birth ball, headed to Ye Olde Chik of Fil-A’s for a quick sandwich and soda, and got to the hospital at about 1:45.  H wasn’t having many contractions, so we went walking through the halls for a while.  She was on and off the monitor through the afternoon.  It went very, very slowly for several hours…contractions every once in a while, but not very strong or long.  We walked a bit and they picked up every time we did, but she preferred to be in bed and stayed there a lot.  We talked a lot between contractions and both C and I did massage during contractions.  C’s parents came by with H & C’s 2-year-old son (they took my class before they had him) at around 4 p.m., but that was too distracting and so they left about 20 minutes later.  Some more of their friends came around 6 p.m. and stayed for about 30 minutes.

At 7 p.m., the nurse came in and mentioned that since her water had been broken for 14 hours, they were going to want to do a septic workup on the baby if it wasn’t out by 18 hours.  The entire staff was extremely supportive and I’m actually really glad that the nurse told H that, because it was the impetus for her to get out of bed and walk around for almost 45 minutes.  The contractions started up again, and now they were very strong, much longer, and started coming about every 3-4 minutes or less.  H was a pro the whole way through–breathing well, relaxing her muscles, and basically listening to her body’s needs.  She went back to her room and kneeled on the bed for a while, which is when things got really tough for her.  Staying upright was her key.  She was put on the monitor again and the contractions were finally registering–her midwife came in and was very pleased, and said she wasn’t going far away because she could tell that H was really working through them.

At around 8:40, H started feeling little pushing twinges.  We got the midwife, who checked her (upon H’s request) for only the second time since she’d gotten to the hospital.  She was 7 cm and the baby was very low.  She cautioned H not to push yet, but told me and C to come and get her as soon as we noticed any pushing signs.  About 15 minutes later, I went to get her–H was clearly wanting to push.  The midwife watched her for a few contractions, checked her again, and she only had a lip of cervix left.  One more contraction and she was complete at 9:10 p.m.  H pushed and their baby boy was born at 9:33 p.m.  It was incredible!  Once the baby crowned, he was out in 2 pushes.

I am in awe that I got to be such a part of their son’s birth.  I held him for a minute after he’d been weighed and bundled up, but the medical people had just cleared out and I wanted to give them their special time as a family.  As I was leaving, H said she had no idea how she could ever repay me for my help and all that I did for them. 

They let me share in their miracle–I could never repay them for that. 

Many facets

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 7:58 am by Erin

Today, I will be witnessing a birth.  One of my very first Bradley couples is having their second baby.  Their first was an unmedicated waterbirth, which they loved.   They didn’t have time to take refresher courses this time around and they had to switch to a less-supportive birth team and hospital than last time (insurance reasons), so they’ve asked me to be there to act as their doula.  She called me this morning a little before 7 to tell me that her water had broken around 5; it’s now almost 11 and they’re on their way to the hospital.  They’re going to get checked in and give me a call, and I’ll meet them there.  My bag is packed, my birth ball is by the door, and I’m all set to go.

I am so excited, I can hardly stand it.  I’ve been a Bradley teacher for 2 1/2 years and as such, I’m trained as a doula.  I don’t work as a doula officially because I can’t guarantee that I can be there due to my job, but I always tell my students that I’m happy to be there if they want me and I’m not at work.  I’ve had calls from almost every student at some point during labor, usually just to let me know what’s going on, but no one has felt the need for me to come down.  I didn’t want anyone other than J and I there, so I completely understand that desire for privacy–but birth is amazing and I love it.

This will be the first birth I’ve ever seen live.  I’ve seen a million videos, but I’ve never seen one happen.  I can’t wait.  I still feel ambivalent about teaching sometimes, but this is truly a miracle and I can’t wait to see it happen.

April 17, 2007

I’m so glad I found teaching

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 12:53 pm by Erin

There are times when I want to bang my head against the wall in frustration at students who just don’t listen, as I did earlier today as my co-worker laughed in empathy.  There are times when I want to cry because I feel like I’m missing that one crucial thing that will make the lightbulb turn on in my students’ heads.  There are times when I laugh ruefully and wonder how they graduated high school without knowing how to write a grammatically-correct sentence.

Then there are other times when I feel like this is what I’m meant to do.  The switch flips and the lightbulb shines through so brightly that I feel I’ll be blinded by it.  Hearing that a student has gotten into a particularly challenging school.  Helping create a path through the advising maze.  Reading a particularly good lab report from a student who has told me that they just hope to pass the semester and knowing they don’t have to worry.  Talking to a student who didn’t understand the interest in biology until she took my class–her father is a biology teacher and she feels like my class has given her a new connection with him.

Yesterday held one of those moments for me.  One of my students has been nominated for some sort of national scholarly award.  As part of it, she is asked to nominate a professor who has had a particular influence on her for an educator’s award.  She asked if it would be OK if she nominates me.  She finds my class interesting enough that she has considered switching her major.  I am so flattered, words can’t even begin to describe it.

All of the hell of graduate school and dealing my advisor led to this.  It was so completely worth it.

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