A Little Humor to Get You Through the Day


10 Steps to Getting Ready (with a toddler)

We all know that once our precious little angels begin to crawl and walk there is no stopping them. All of the sudden you are screaming “Grab the baby gates!” and “Did you shut the toilet lid?” because you never know what (seemingly) harmless household object they will get into next. When you turn your back for a second they have unraveled four paper towel rolls, squeezed out an entire tube of diaper rash cream, and poured out a box of cheerios on the floor. Keeping your toddler in check and being a functioning member of society can be a challenge. Sometimes we wish that parenting came with a manual, especially one that tells us how to wrangle a two year old with the ability to demolish a living room in under two minutes. With this in mind I have compiled a list of 10 easy steps for getting ready for your day when you have a toddler in your life.

  1. Decide what your plan for the day is. Do you need to leave the house? Will you be having any visitors today? Then, yes you need to put pants on. And a bra, maybe.
  2. Realize that you haven’t showered in about three days and even the dog doesn’t want to come near you anymore.
  3. Try (unsuccessfully) to get your little one to take a nap so that you can enjoy the peace and quiet of a warm shower.
  4. Check the time and notice that you now only have 30 minutes to get ready or you will be late.
  5. Consider going back to bed instead.
  6. Say “Let’s get a shower with Mommy!” in an attempt to get clean somehow.
  7. Stand under the water for five minutes while your toddler tries to climb up your legs and screams for “boobies!”
  8. Attempt to put on clothes until you notice said toddler pooping on your white carpet. Then, try to remain calm when they step in it.
  9. After cleaning up poop, chasing your little naked monster around the house, and wrangling them into a diaper throw on the first thing you see that doesn’t stink.
  10. Decide that everything can wait and put off leaving the house until tomorrow

———————————————————————————

Life with a toddler can be crazy, but it’s also precious. Live it up and don’t forget to laugh.

The End of An Era


Last week brought about the end of an era! After three years and three months I have finally completed my graduate program. I will be receiving my Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing with a Nonfiction concentration. It feels unreal to me because I have been working on this degree for so long. Through a full-time job, pregnancy, anxiety attacks, birth, a new baby who grew into a wild toddler and now I am actually finished! It feels amazing and sad all at the same time. This was such a long time goal of mine that I feel sort of stumped now that it is over.

For my final project I turned in 84 pages of my memoir. It’s only about a third of the way finished, but it is a really great start. My goal for 2015 is to finish the first draft of my book. I’m not sure when it will get published, but I know one day that it will. My dream has always been to inspire others with my writing and if I can just encourage one person with my story than I will have done something great. My professor gave me some really nice feedback and encouraged me to keep at it. He said I had a really great voice that resonates with people. I’ll take it! Now if only I can hold on to my motivation to keep going.

Things are always busy these days at our house. Sophia bug is 16 months old! I know it feels like yesterday I was writing about her birth. She is a busy, active, smart, independent little girl. She is definitely not a baby anymore. She loves to run around, hug, kiss, and chatter up a storm. She also uses sign language quite often. My favorite sign is for “milk”. When she wants to breastfeed she signs “milk” and climbs up into my lap. She also says “meh-meh” if I’m not paying attention. It’s adorable and so smart. She is also a lover of music and dance. She will sing along with Alvin and the Chipmunks and dance to any music that she hears. She will even shake her little butt to the music.

I love being able to stay at home with her, sometimes it is a challenge because having a toddler is like living with a tornado, but I am truly grateful. Richie works full-time for a local company doing IT work. Then as soon as his work day is over he heads to school for night classes! I could not be more proud of my husband. Working full-time and pursuing a college degree. It is hard and exhausting. So a major shout out to my love, you are amazing! He works hard every day to take care of me and Sophia and gives me the ability to stay home with her every day. Even though I am a writer, I don’t have the words to tell him how much he means to me and how much his support is appreciated. I’ll just keep it simple, I love you, Richie. You truly are the best.

Life in America has been good, Okinawa creeps up in my thoughts often. I never thought I would miss it there, but I do. Great friends, food, culture. Almost seems like a dream most days. Although I am happy to be back with family and friends here. Okinawa changed my life and brought about the most amazing things including my marriage and family. In just 10 days it will have been one year since we left Okinawa. It’s definitely been an interesting start back in America and I am ready to see where the next year takes us.

If you are still out there reading, thanks for sticking around! I’ll update again soon. Maybe share some of my writing with everyone.

<3.

A Writer Writes


It’s been about 9 months since I have updated this particular blog. For that I am sorry. I have been sort of busy trying out this new thing called mothering. I really think I am getting the hang of it. But there is one thing I truly miss and that is keeping up with my writing. Don’t get me wrong, I write all the time for school or in emails or texts, but I don’t usually take the time I need to write, to practice my craft, and to share my stories.

Today I turned in my final project for my 10th Masters class. That is 10 out of 12 meaning that I only have two classes left until graduation and both of those are workshops. I almost can’t believe it. It doesn’t seem like it is really that close. Originally, I was supposed to graduate by December 2014, but I took off some time when my Nana came to visit me in Japan and last summer when we moved back home. I didn’t want to waste my classes by not paying attention. I think that this program turned out really well for me. I learned alot about research, literature, writing papers, and then I learned a lot about writing, critiquing, and sharing. To believe that I am finally in my “thesis” classes seems to good to be true (I say “thesis” because it is not like a doctoral thesis in any way. It is more about the writing).

As I was looking over the course descriptions for my next class I read the introduction from the professor and this is what struck me, “A writer writes…” She was saying that graduation, publication, or accolades do not make the writer. The only thing that makes a writer is if he writes. Most days I’m just Momma, but today I want to be a writer. I want to be a writer on more days because I love it and I miss it.

I am excited for the opportunity that this class is providing because it will give me that push to write every day. I will be working on my memoir, To The Ends of the Earth. (This is a very old, very rough draft so please bear with me if you choose to read it). I already have close to 30 pages of content that I can expand on and really work with. I hope one day to publish and share my stories with the world.

So for now, I’m back in the blogging world and I hope that I don’t let myself leave for so long. I have so many stories to tell. (My little girl is almost one years old!). I think I’ll leave those for another day.

Aly

Welcome to the World, Baby Bug!


On December 12, (my due date) I woke up with a small trickle of water coming down my leg. I thought my water may have broken, but there were no contractions. A few hours later, Richie and I went to my doctor’s appointment and as we were waiting for the doctor I realized my water was definitely leaking. She told us to head over to labor and delivery. We went home to discuss our next options. Basically, when your water breaks the hospital has to admit you. Even if you have no contractions and are not dilated at all. This makes it difficult to have a natural labor and delivery because after about 12 hours the hospital will induce you with Pitocin (artificial oxytocin) because of “risk of infection”. Now, from what I learned, the risk of infection is small, but its still a possibility. So Richie and I waited a few hours, filled ourselves up with a big breakfast to get energy for labor and then headed to the hospital. At that point I was feeling antsy and just couldn’t wait. Unfortunately for me, when we got to the hospital I was barely one centimeter dilated, no contractions, no labor yet my water was broken. The hospital admitted us at 2 p.m. on December 12. They let me “labor” on my own for 9 more hours. Around 11 p.m. there was no progress in dilation or contractions so they said they would have to induce me with self-monitored Pitocin. I was disappointed, I had planned to have as natural, unmedicated birth as I could, but since we had chosen to check in to the hospital there wasn’t really anything I could do at that point. Would my body have gone into labor on my own within the next day or two? Most likely. Was there a possibility of infection if I didn’t start laboring? Yes, there was that risk. We decided to go with the hospital’s plan and induce because I didn’t want to risk that infection. The Pitocin hit me like the worst pain ever….I had to be attached to fetal monitors, blood pressure, IV….the works. Still, I wanted to try without medication. I think that lasted an hour or so.

First, I asked for an IV narcotic which was pain medicine that helped me rest from the contractions, after a few  hours, I was in severe pain (Pitocin is like super labor because it forces your body to contract). I decided that I needed the epidural. It was a hard choice for me, but I knew I couldn’t tolerate the pain that was shooting through my body. I had truly wanted to have an unmedicted birth and didn’t like the idea of an epidural that would basically numb half my body. It had a lot to do with my anxieties and my fear of putting additional medications into my body.

In the end, I decided though for myself that I wanted the epidural. It did take off the edge of the pain a little bit. I didn’t experience that numbing sensation at all though. I could still feel my legs and my hips. Sometime during the birthing process, Sophia cocked her head to the side in a position called Asynclitism. It happens and it doesn’t cause problems, but for me it was extremely painful. The epidural didn’t help with that part of the pain, so my amazing husband spent hours pushing on my hips to help me get through the pain.

After having been checked into the hospital for about 24 hours, I was only dilated 9.5 cm with an anterior cervical lip.I pushed for several hours and Sophia’s head finally turned. The anesthesiologist came back in and put more medication into the epidural. This time it took some of the pain away in order for me to sleep for one hour. I woke up from my nap ready to push and having strong  urges. I was determined to give birth to Sophia without any more interventions and I could feel the atmosphere in the hospital room was shifting and the docs were considering vacuums and possibly a C-section. Before my nap, I won’t lie, I was considering telling them to do anything to get her out. Once I had a little rest I had a renewed sense of purpose, I wanted to give birth to her vaginally and as naturally as I could at this point (after the Pitocin and epidural that is). With some helpful encouragement from my doula, my wonderful husband and awesome nurse, I was able to deliver her after another hour and a half of pushing. A last minute decision to bring out the mirror gave me energy to keep pushing at the end, when we could finally see her hair (a full head of dark hair) I knew that I could do it. It only took a few pushes after that to get her all the way out and Richie and I experienced a moment of pure elation. We both cried our eyes out when we finally got to meet our daughter, Sophia Elyse. I’m not exactly sure all the details, but this is how I remember my labor. It was a very long, long process and there were several times that I felt I was about to give up.

I have to give a special thanks to my husband who never left my side. He rubbed my back, pushed my hips when they hurt, held my hand, kept me drinking water and coached me through my pushing. I could never have done it without him. Thank you for giving me my beautiful girl and helping her arrive into the world. I love you, Richie.

Stay tuned and I’ll write more about our first few days in the hospital.

 

 

Cerebral Palsy: Game Changer?


Yesterday, I wrote about going to the hospital for our appointment. Thank goodness Richie could go with me, sometimes he just can’t get away from work due to all the world saving that he does :). We went over to the “new” hospital (It’s only been open since March and I swear it reminds me of a hotel-very posh) and met with the maternal fetal specialist who specializes in you guessed it… mamas and babies. We had an interview to discuss my  own journey with cerebral palsy and the circumstances of my own birth.

I was born very prematurely at 29 weeks. For those of you not familiar with pregnancy, babies usually come between 36 and 40 weeks. I must have been eager to start my life because my mom hadn’t even had her baby shower yet  when I decided to come into the world. The doctors tried to stop labor, but I was determined to be born. I spent two to three months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) growing and incubating. Maybe one day I’ll share the article I wrote when I interviewed my mom…if I can find it. Anyway, around two years of age after a horrific surgery on my tiny baby legs I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a disorder, often being considered a birth defect, that affects your muscles, motor function and more. I was born with the condition, even though doctors did not diagnose it until my later years. So what does this have to do with Sophie bug?

My primary care OB was concerned because she didn’t know the effect my CP would have on labor and delivery and if I was an at risk patient for any pregnancy complications. When she mentioned this to me, I was shocked. CP is a part of my daily life that I don’t think about. It almost never crosses my mind. It surprised me that it after all these years it could still have an effect on my life. After meeting with the specialist, it was decided that my mom’s care was pre-term labor and that currently I’m not at any risk for pre-term labor or complications (Yes!). As for labor and delivery, I may have to work a little harder than other people because I may not have as much physical stamina, but I am doing prenatal yoga every day and doing my best to keep fit. So long story short, we decided I would have a normal pregnancy and be seen by the regular doctor since my blood pressure, weight and all my other levels are in average range. As for my anxiety, maybe it’s all in my head (ha ha ha, pun intended).

Truthfully, I was relieved. I never wanted to be treated any differently because of my CP. Physically, it is noticeable….I walk with a limp most days, but in all other ways you wouldn’t know. I don’t have a speech issue or a motor skills problem, I attended all regular schools, enjoyed schoolwork, good grades, extracurricular activities…the works. So I never wanted to any special treatment or pity or anything, I just wanted to be “normal”. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve noticed anyone responding differently to me because of my CP, maybe that’s because I choose to surround myself with intelligent people instead of ignorant or judgmental people. Do others notice my slightly awkward gait? or the fact that it may seem that I’m limping? Probably, but I don’t. And for once,  I’m glad to just be considered ordinary. I don’t want to be back in physical therapy and I don’t want to have to go through anything extra to have my baby.

The appointment ended on a high note, we got to see our little girl on the ultrasound again :)….I swear I have had more ultrasounds than I can count! Not only is she beautiful, she has perfect little feet and she is a mover and a shaker. As much as I complain that pregnancy is making me anxious/crazy feeling, I know for once I’m not just doing this for myself. All the other tough things, the CP, the surgeries, the casts and crutches….were all for my benefit to make me “better.” Getting through my pregnancy healthy and happy….has the greatest reward I could ever imagine.

Our Little Princess Bug


I never really imagined having a baby. I mean I imagined being married and having a family, but I never pictured a baby more like an instant family like you see in picture frames. For being so imaginative, I could never picture the whole story, just bits and pieces. I think this is because God loves surprises. He loves us and wants to give us joy in our lives. Experiencing life and not knowing exactly what the future holds is part of that joy.

Many of you know that I have been struggling with my anxiety lately and if you didn’t you can read more about it in my previous post, Getting Along and Overcoming. I’ve always been a “worrier” and stressing over things that were mostly out of my control, but I believe that my pregnancy hormones, homesickness and a combination of factors caused me to flounder a bit over the past month. Yesterday, I was having a “normal” (read-anxious, but functioning) day until I decided to take a nap. I had a terrible nightmare/dream and woke up sweating and freaking out. Then, something happened….I felt relaxed. I became aware of my surroundings, realized I was safe and okay and I felt better. I spent all night puzzling over the feeling because, to be honest, I haven’t felt relaxed in months. I thought I might be losing my mind ( I see now that was me still worrying haha) but I woke up today and realized that I feel happy and hopeful for the first time in a while. I’m not saying I feel 100% better and like my old, outgoing self but I don’t have that lump in my throat and knot in my stomach and I just know that God is telling me not to worry and to experience life.

And I am going to try the best I can. Richie and I have been blessed, beyond measure, that in just three months we will be meeting our own little princess. I still have a hard time imagining her, I wonder what she will look like and who she will take after (I hope and pray she has her Daddy’s mellow side). I’m scared, but in a good way finally. I feel like its scary because she will be so new and she will need us to take care of her, but I know that I’m going do my best to make sure she is happy and loved. That’s all that matters. No one should feel like they aren’t loved and I know the world is a tough place, but if all I have to give to her is the power of how much Richie and I (and God) loves her, then I know everything will be okay.

As I type this, she is kicking away like she knows that she’s going to be the center of our world. We have an appointment today at the hospital with the high risk OB/maternal fetal specialist to see if my cerebral palsy will need to be addressed in labor and delivery. I’m also going to discuss my options with her as far as anxiety and taking vitamins and other alternative healing methods. Hopefully, she will tell us that we can just be seen here at our regular practice. Wish us luck.

I hope one day if she ever forgets, Sophia can read these blogs and know how much love we have for her already.

Writing is Joy


I love to write. Whether it’s poetry or memoir or even casual blogs…I love it. I always have. I think it’s the one thing that I can see myself doing as a career and the one thing I can say I truly don’t feel is a chore. Now, writing for school can seem like  a chore and writing things that I find boring can seem like a chore, but deep down I love it. I am really proud of myself for the progress I have made in school (my creative writing program for my Master’s degree) and the progress I have made on my own personal blog. I seem to start my blog and write in it 2 or 3 times and then forget about it for months. In the beginning of 2012, I would write for a few weeks and then stop. In August 2012, I wrote several blogs and I did again t in November 2012 then again in January/February of this year. It’s like I would take several months off from my blog and I don’t want to do that anymore. I love writing and I love sharing my views even if no one reads them. My progress has been great this time. Since the end of June I have written a blog almost every single week, sometimes more!

The sad thing is I forgot how much relaxation and serenity writing brings me. As I suffer from anxiety, pregnancy hormones, raging emotions I know that I can easily turn these stressors into writing and it brings me joy. I guess sometimes we forget. I don’t want to forget anymore. I have 94 days left in my pregnancy and then a whole new amazing, awe inspiring, life changing chapter of our lives will begin. I need to embrace it and write about it. I want to say thank you (again) to all my readers and family and friends who stick by me, pray for me, send good, happy vibes my way. You all are the best. You help remind me who I am when the world around me seems dim. <3.  

Look out for more writing, more chapters to my memoir, To the Ends of the Earth and more updates about baby bug. I may just share another short post later today <3. (I know, I know three blog posts in one day! It’s a miracle.)

Finally Friday!


I worked hard this week. I probably say that often, but this week I accomplished a lot in the way of work. I had my clubs back page to do (a monthly advertorial that lists events going on at our clubs/restaurants), and my feature story. To many, this may not seem like a huge deal, but to me it is. I can become somewhat of a perfectionist, in the way that I worry that my work isn’t complete even when it’s finished. This was a challenging article for me to write as well because the subject was cooking, and to be honest I’m a pretty boring cook. I usually stick to noodles, steak and chicken. So this was a learning experience for me as well as a feature article for my job. The article itself won’t come out for another month, but the text version is complete….now for design, layout, editing and printing, but fortunately, these tasks are for my teammates here and the printing company. Either way, I’m glad to say that I finally have a completed draft, though it may change between now and then, it feels good to have something finished.

I counted and over the course of 21 months I have written 6 features, 2 photo essays and three restaurant reviews (not to mention the advertisements and event advertorials I have done). Not to shabby, I’d say. I feel that a quality in myself that I have to work on is to speak up and propose my ideas for articles, in that way I think I’d get more writing experience and coverage. For a first writing job after college I think I have done pretty well. I’ll have to remember this for my next job interview, when they ask about a situation or quality in your work that you would like to improve….I definitely want to speak up and share more ideas with the team instead of being shy or even timid. I hope that the next job I take whenever we move back to the States offers me great flexibility and creative room. To see my name in print offering some really interesting topics (sumi-e painting, various restaurant reviews and food reviews, traveling around Okinawa on public transportation, snakes!) that I most likely would not have considered writing about on my own personal time. I also hope that this blog shows my dedication to writing (Hello Future Employer! Pick Me!) and the passion I have for all types of writing.

To some people, it may sound crazy, but it’s all I ever wanted to do…write poems, write stories and these days write non-fiction features. I never really enjoyed my newswriting classes, but I made up for it in my magazine and feature courses. I knew that these were the perfect mix of truth, yet telling the story in a creative way. I think that journalism as well as story telling is essential to us. Journalism reports the truth, but stories, legends and tales all give us a break from reality when the world seems too dim.

I’m glad it’s Friday, the bug is keeping me awake at night. Richie has baseball for a few hours, so I think I will cuddle up on the couch and watch NCIS after I get home from work. I’m also going to post some of my previous articles from the magazine if anyone missed them the first time around.

And Baby Bug is….


A girl! We confirmed today that Baby Bug is a healthy, 11 ounce baby girl-Sophia Elyse. The appointment went really well, minus the fact that you had to go with a full bladder (sort of uncomfortable) so that the sound waves can travel easier/faster. The ultrasound tech was extremely nice and told us each time she was doing a measurement. She checked out everything on me to make sure it was looking good…and then she moved onto the baby :).  She measured the arms, legs, the femur, from knee to hip, from knee to foot and from hand to elbow and elbow to shoulder. She also measured the head and checked for the brain, the four chambers of the heart (we saw the heart beating! It was 150 beats per minute), we also saw the two kidneys and bladder. Sophia was jumping on my bladder which was apparent as her little feet were kicking and wiggling away. She was also covering her face with her hands and hiding from the ultrasound camera as well. It’s obvious Bug is going to be a gymnast/dancer or something because she was rolling and swinging and dancing all around on the screen.

Richie and I are so estatic that everything is going so well so far. I have another appointment on Friday to read the radiology report with my doctor. Wish me luck!!