finding happy

10.01.2014

It's night, quiet and still in my apartment. The kids went to sleep early without a fight and I'm sitting alone on my couch in the dim light, legs curled under me and searching for words that are rusty from lack of use. It's clean and still here. The carpet freshly vacuumed, my amber and black orchid candle from Target is flickering on the shelf, making shadows on the wall. No dishes in the sink, the kitchen floor is mopped. Apples we picked last weekend are piled up in the middle of the kitchen table, just waiting for someone to bump into them so they can topple over and get bruised. My husband is gone, and coincidentally the smell of pumpkin bread is floating out into the living room. Late grad school husbandless nights are dangerous for me and my ever growing postpartum gut. I can hear crickets chirping and frogs ribbeting, the light that buzzes in the kitchen and the quiet sounds of my kids sleeping. Their rooms are picked up, my bed is made and everything is completely clean. Finally, the chaos of bedtime nodded off with the setting sun. I live for this time. My house will stay this clean for approximately 12 hours, at which time tomorrow will start and I'll lose the motivation that this day gave me. I clean best when I'm pissed off.


     

Today I woke up in a really really horrible mood. To borrow the expression, I knew today was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Because you know in that newborn stage when the night was looooooong and the lack of sleep is quite literally killing you, and you wake up with your body screaming in resistance, begging for just one more tiny hour of sleep, no matter how restless. But your husband goes to school at the break of dawn, and your toddler wakes up extra early and extra whiney and your baby decides he won't sleep at all unless you bring him into your bed and pat him in 5 minute increments, insuring your wakefulness and his peaceful slumber, and then when said baby is finally sleeping, your cranky toddler comes in yelling that she's hungry, effectively waking the baby and causing you to snap, cue the tantrums and a time out that was probably too long for the crime is was meant for (and it's only 7 AM).

     

 I credit this terrible night to my one time indulgence in like 3 (ok maybe 7) bites of this really amazing ice cream that my dairy-free diet just couldn't resist, and to the fact that I stayed up reading a good book until way past my bed time. There's just not enough time in the day.


All of this converges on the fact that I just don't have time for myself anymore. Newborn-ness is hard.  Hell, being a parent is hard. By the time you get kids in bed, you have a small window of opportunity to do what you want....and looming over that want is the hugely piled sink of dirty dishes that are probably housing a cockroach they've been there so long. Or the toppling tower of partially clean clothes in the corner of your room, or maybe it's the million dirty diapers sprinkled throughout the apartment, reminding you that your day(s) really were too busy to even pick up a diaper and throw it in the trash two feet away. Nights like this happen once in a blue moon for me. I cherish quiet nights alone, with a fresh house, a fresh slate for tomorrow and an early bedtime (after I eat that loaf of pumpkin bread that's baking....still).


Now, today is just one of those days that we all inevitably have, being a parent or not. We all have those who-peed-in-your-cheerios, woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed, terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-days, sometimes for no apparent reason except that the universe wants to hate on us that day. It's no surprise, and complaining about them is my specialty.


Today, after I flipped out on my daughter and sent her crying to her room for an undetermined amount of time and after I kinda sorta glared at my 2 month old as he gurgly smiled at me, I sat at the breakfast table, groggy and pissed off, wondering how the hell I was going to get through this day. I realized at that moment as Viv spilled her oatmeal everywhere but her mouth that I had two choices:

1. Be pissed off and have a really terrible day and equally long day
2. Choose to be happy

So let me let you in on a little secret. I'm a pessimist. I don't choose to be happy. I feel all the feelings, and as stupid as it sounds, I like to feel angry and pissed sometimes. I choose to complain. I choose to be mad. I choose to feel the bad days and I take them at face value. I don't remember choosing to be happy on a day that I woke up mad.

Today, I did.


I see this is a shift in my personality. Life is so much harder when you choose to have a bad day, especially with kids (duh).  As a mom, you set the tone for the day. I realized that I could either be like Rapunzel's mom in Tangled (Viv and I call her the "mean mommy" at our house), or I could grin and bear it. So I did. I took Viv's face in my two hands, asked her to forgive me for yelling at her, and told her that I would be happy today if she would be happy today. "K mommy" she said, and continued spilling oatmeal into her mouth.


And that's what we did. We cleaned the house together, painted pictures, changed diapers, walked to school, and cleaned some more. We played outside, watched part of a movie, and when bedtime came, it came early. I got through this day with a smile partially plastered on my face and a fatigue headache settled somewhere around my eyes. As a result of this fake-it-till-you-make-it mentality, today was salvaged and productive and exhausting. A lot of really great things happened, including Viv exploding with a correct B sound on all of the words we've been working on, and some she just did on her own out of the blue. I cheered like a crazy person, she grinned the biggest grin I've ever seen, and we did a celebratory dance. We (she) ate ice cream with sprinkles after dinner.

Today was a good day. And I'm not saying I will always choose to be happy on days that the universe hates me....but at least I can remember today and think of it fondly as that one time I wasn't pessimistic. Maybe it will catch on.


Maybe next time I'll say,

Screw it, I'm sure as hell gonna be happy today and dammit I'm gonna like it.
(throwing x amount of swear words into a sentence helps too)

These beautiful pictures were taken while we were still in California and Merrill was only 3 weeks old. Done by my beautiful friend Ashley who is so very talented at everything she does. Thanks girl.

a name and a blessing

9.27.2014

Back in August, we were in the process of moving from California to New York and planned a little stopover in Utah to see family and bless Merrill all at the same time. Now....let me preface this by telling you how awesome I am:

That weekend was a crazy one...we had finished our internship, and within 2 days, packed up our apartment, returned every ounce of borrowed things, deep cleaned said apartment only to find out that we didn't need to after we had already finished, said goodbye to our friends (AGAIN) and drove two cars the 12-hours-that-turned-into-16-hours back to Utah with a 1 month old baby. We left California on Saturday, planned to bless him the next day (Sunday), and then Monday Dale packed up everything from our summer into our Saturn to drive across the country to New York by himself, after which he would move back into our old apartment and set it up AND start school before the kids and I got there a week later. I stayed in Utah for a week to recover from the traveling and craziness and gear up for a cross country flight with 2 kids--and luckily my mom flew with me, because HOW????!

SO anyway....it was a little intense there for a good few weeks. We can't thank our friends enough for all their help and babysitting and dishes and furniture and being so helpful with our constant requests to borrow a million things. I can't thank my brother and his buddy enough for flying out to California just to help us pack/clean and drive our 2nd car back to Utah for us so that we could actually get there in one day, or my mom for making that all possible and flying out to New York with me just to help out.

Now, I hope you are all thoroughly impressed with that prelude, because seriously, I feel a tiny teensy bit like superwoman having conquered a move across the country with a toddler and a newborn and still staying kind of sane. Compliments can be given according to your admiration after the jump.


Anyway, August 17th: A sweet, relaxing and small affair with immediate family, perfect for my sweet and relaxed and then-small sweetheart of a boy. Dale did a wonderful job, blessing him with a strong leadership skills and a strong testimony of the gospel among other wonderful things.

Blessing days make me so very thankful for a worthy priesthood leader in my home. I loved seeing my dad, brother and husband all join together to bless my son with power and inspiration from God. And I'm so happy we decided to do it at with family in Cedar...It just made it so much more special, because we rarely get to do things like that anymore, being the world travelers that we are....or something.

     


Viv of course was being a complete brat that day, acting silly on purpose, refusing to put her tongue in her mouth so that she could actually smile, etc, etc. You know, the usual 2 year old antics that make you want to kind of freak out. Still though, we managed to snag a few pictures of these two cuties together, and I'm so glad. They kind of melt my heart a little bit. Two is so much better than one.


    

I'm so happy half of my siblings could be there (missing 3 brothers). I sure miss my family and being able to be together for little events like this, so I'm glad that this worked out. It really did mean the world to me in my post-partum, emotiona hormonal state. I mean, FAMILY IS THE BEST DUH.

And Mo....little Mo. He's a sweetheart, a champ, a snuggler and a mama's boy. That kid...gosh I love him. Isn't he just so squishable?? Isn't his face the sweetest little round pleasant face you've ever seen?? Don't I sound like the most annoying mom in the world??? Do you want to gag yet?????


 I know, I know. I think I'm just making up for all the times I wasn't enamored with Viv when she was a baby and a hellion. Mo is restoring my belief in the magic that is a newborn. I mean, that face though. Am I right or what?

Happy blessing day, Merrill Richard Beard. You are here to do great things, little man. I can't wait for your life.

checking in

9.17.2014

It's been a while, so consider this my check in:


Things here are good. they are really, exhaustingly good. I'm always tired, I've found how amazing I am at multitasking and have been surprised to find all the things I can do while I'm nursing (the list is seriously impressive), and I'm kind of a weird, awkward and hormonal version of myself right now, but things are good. We are good. I'm trying my best to enjoy this stage. It's a hard stage...that's all there is to it. This newborn thing is damn hard, and Dale and I are still reeling trying to figure out life with two. We are doing what we can, when we can, with little to no expectations of what we can and can't do or how much we (I) will be able to shower during the week or how social we'll be or how sanitary we'll look on any given day.


 I took these pictures when Merrill was 3 weeks old on a luxuriously slow morning when the light was perfect and he was a sweet, cuddly ball of squishiness and I was feeling so happy to have four of us tangled in one big bed. He is still a sweet cuddly ball of even MORE squishiness (he's so chunky and I love it! His cheeks could keep a small army alive for a month!) and I still love all of us tangled in one big bed...even though Dale and I are dead-eyed, sleep deprived zombies and the kids are wide-eyed and ready to go.

    

I have neglected this part of my life because...hey. who has time for this stuff these days? It has me feeling a little guilty that Viv has had so much attention on this blog and Merrill is shafted. So for my records, here are a few things I want to remember about him:

 He has a perfect little streak of bright blonde in his hair down by his neck. It's still just as blonde now as it was when he was born. It looks a little bit like the beginnings of a jedi braid or something equally awesome. And his rolls.....ooooooohhhhh his roooooollllls! They are delicious!!



Now he is almost two months old, and such a little sweetheart. He has this little pleasant, slight smile on his face all the time, and though he does cry and always wants to be held and is kind of the worst sleeper ever, his sweet little face gets me every time. He eats like a champ (obviously), and after he does, he's the most talkative, smiley baby. He almost always has a death grip on my shirt and my hair and is happiest when he's laying on my chest with his head is tucked under my chin. He's a mama's boy, and it's about time a kid likes me more than Dale! But really, my back is killing me and I sway and bounce even when I'm not holding him -- yes, I would like a break, thanks Mo.


    

But speaking of dads (just roll with it), it's so heart melting to see these two together. Dale has been busy and wasn't around for the newborn pictures we had taken (coming soon!), so according to my instagram lately, it looks like I kind of had a baby on my very own...immaculate conception and all that. But he IS here! The father does exist! Just thought I'd throw that out there, in case people were wondering at his lack of appearances on my social media (i know it's been the height of your worries).


And speaking of heart melting, these two together is the best part of my life right now. Viv loves him and has from the beginning. She is always covering him with blankets, smothering him with kisses and hugs (literally), smashing his face with her two little hands, yelling excitedly in his face and always asking him "have nice nap Mo?" when he wakes up from his naps. She insists on always helping me change his diaper and loves to include him in anything she's doing. I am so so happy that this transition has been so smooth with her. She has been happy that he's around since the day he arrived, and I'm so grateful for that.  When he was born and she was visiting us in the hospital, she was a little concerned about the bracelets we all had on our arms and wanted one too. So the cute nurses wrote "big sister" on a bracelet and gave it to her. I kid you not, that thing stayed on Viv's wrist for FIVE WEEKS. she did not take it off once, not for anything. It got wrinkled and dirty and started to fade, but she still wouldn't take it off. And then one day, she did, and i have it saved in her little journal. It is something I will always remember about this time.


So, although there is so much going on and so much to catch up on and so little time and so many times I will choose sleep over blogging (over anything really..sex and eating included), I'm hoping to be around a little more, find a little bit of my old self in this old blog and catch up on my life. There's something to getting back into a routine and remembering who and what you are outside of the 25/8 job of being a mom who is also a milk cow and a gold-medalist at multi-tasking and a chef and a taxi, etc, etc.

So that's that. I'll keep checking in and hopefully things will start getting back to normal around here. Until then (who knows when then will be), sayonara peeps. It's been real.

PS: This was written late at night and I was tired but determined to get something done....so if it makes no sense...well, now you know why. I can't be blamed for this kind of nonsense, if that's what it is.

and then there were four

8.03.2014

Baby boy was born a little more than a week ago, and I have to say, I am loving this whole newborn thing (well....as much as you can love that newborn thing). Lack of sleep is no bueno, but when you're getting more sleep than you ever did with your first hellion of a newborn, I'd call that a win. 


Meet Merrill.
He is sweet and mellow.
He has chubby cheeks and reddish brown hair that curls when it's wet (yay!!).
We like to call him Mo
Sometimes he looks a lot like his sister and a little bit like Dale, but the older he gets, the more his own look shines through. Some people (my mom) try to make me feel better by saying he looks more like me (thanks).


June 22nd was my due date, and it came and went without much incident. Except that one incident when Viv accidentally shattered my ipad. that sucked. Made my lack-of-baby-on-due-date day just thaaaaat much better [insert sarcasm here]. but you know. Shit happens.

At my appointment the next day, I decided to take the jump and set an induction date since NOOOOOOTHINNNNNG was happening. I mean nothing. WTH.

The date was set for the 24th at 8 AM.
I wasn't too happy about having an induction, and it turned out to be a long labor that included ice chips, popsicles, really slow contractions and an epidural that ended up not working for most of my labor.

To say that this labor was harder than my last is a severe understatement....it really wasn't fun (ha. ha. ha.). And it had me questioning how people live through childbirth and why anyone would ever choose to deliver a baby without the drugs and how I was probably going to die in the process and how if I did by some miracle survive this that I was going to murder Dale for doing this to me.

Yes. It was bad.
But after much shaking and puking and pep talks and swearing and giving up, they gave me a cocktail of drugs that helped slightly and I was able to NOT die and get that damn baby out of me.

And 3 pushes later at approximately 6:21 PM:
HEY.
Merrill was born.


A squishy, cheeky, curly-haired boy with a tiny little wail and a little bruised face.
7 pounds 12 ounces of baby, 19 inches long, a full pound heavier than his sister.

He was beautiful. With Viv, I didn't fall in love until about a week after she was born. But him? I instantly fell in love with the kid, and there was so much joy and relief that he was finally here, that he was safe and healthy and mine and I wasn't in pain anymore, or pregnant, hallelujah.

They put him on my chest and he cried a little cry and then lay there quietly. Every once in a while he let out a big squawk and then stopped, observing the things around him. I just couldn't believe how sweet he was, and I didn't want to let him go.

So many endorphins....those things are the shiz. They don't mess around.


I was so excited for Viv to meet Merrill, so we got her up there as quick as we could (thanks mom). My heart probably grew 20 sizes when I saw my now giant baby girl walk in the room with a big grin on her face and we showed her the baby we'd been talking about for months. I don't know if she grasped the concept, but she sure loved him right away. She held him and giggled when he moved his feet, and laughed when he blinked his eyes. She has been so sweet with him since, asking to hold him, and always waving to him, smothering him with hugs and kissing him straight on the mouth whenever she can. I love it.



After that it's mostly just a big hospital blur or sleeplessness and recovery. We did the whole hospital thing (which was really too long) and enjoyed the hospital food (but not really) and got some really great sleep on those hospital pillows (right?) and got bombarded by nurses trying to tell me how to nurse (thanks but no thanks).


One nurse told us to stay in the hospital as long as we could, bond with the baby and get some rest. But the hospital is anything but restful, and we missed Viv and our own bed a whole whole bunch. We couldn't wait to break out of there.

So we did. And then we went home.

The first thing Viv asked us when we got home that day was if Merrill wanted to come play blocks in her room. So he did, and she loved it. They have been instant friends ever since, laying in her bed together at bedtime, holding hands and her asking how his day was and if he had fun? She has been incredibly sweet with him...I didn't think I could love her more, but I was most definitely wrong.

And surprisingly, the transition from only child to sibling life has gone more smoothly than I could have imagined. The two-year-old tantrums have intensified only slightly and I'm pretty happy about that.

     

Since then, it's felt so natural and wonderful and I feel like it has always been this way.
It's always been us.
I love our little family.
We love Mo.


He's the sweetest thing; so very chill. He lets me sleep entirely too much (entirely...I can't complain even a tiny bit right now)(knock on wood). He makes nursing seem easy, and the kid hardly ever cries. He has the most beautiful eyes, and he looks incredibly sweet when they're open. I love that little face of his.

Can you tell I'm completely in love with the little boyfriend?
This baby nonsense is already a complete 180 from my experience with Viv.
Completely.

Now, he's only a week old, and I fully expect things to go haywire in the next week or two, with him or my hormones, but as of right now, I'm taking the days one at a time, appreciating the good when it's good. So far it's been really good, and i'm enjoying it while it lasts.


I think there's something about your second that lets you appreciate everything so much more. You know that the crying and sleepless nights will be worth it. You know that things get better eventually and that the sweet newborn cry and soft skin and kissable rolls will be gone in the blink of an eye. 

I hold him way more than I probably should, I don't like to share him, and I'm kind of obsessed with him. And I'm ok with that. 

If I've learned anything about babyhood, it's that they grow up entirely too fast.
And I'm not wishing this one away.

We love you so much, Mo.
Thanks for reminding me how great this can be.


spring break in deep summer

7.07.2014

I'm posting about spring break in deep summer.

I mean.....

I'm just cool like that I guess.
Also because I need to remember the awesomeness that helped me get through the rest of the winter in Ithaca. Dire circumstances, you know.

So, when spring break rolled around, I was literally literally DYING to get out of there. I was about to go completely and utterly insane from the endless, torturous winter in Ithaca. By the beginning of April, it was still snowing. It was still cold. There was no sign it was letting up.


On top of that, I was a pregnant single mom for 2 weeks, deep in the middle of rehearsals for The Taffetas (which deserves its very own post that I'm getting to shortly), late night practices, skipping naps, overusing my friends' offers to watch my kid and trying to stay sane while Dale had school things that included attending fancy parties in New Orleans and eating at amazing places in NYC.

It was rooooouuuugh. I prefer not to live through it again. #ihategradschool.  Luckily, I have awesome friends that saved me and was able to make my husband feel guilty enough to send flowers in the middle of my week:


Finally, Spring break hit and Viv and I drove the 2 hours to the Rochester airport, froze our butts off and luckily made it with all our bags/carseat/stroller-with-toddler combo because some super nice stranger took pity on a pregnant me. The flight went swimmingly, we made it to Sarasota/Siesta Key, and that's when things started looking up.

We of course had no plans except beach plans. And ice cream plans. That's usually about the best planning we do. Viv was so excited to go to the "deach", especially because of her little pink chair we bought for $5. She insisted she carry it herself.


It was a little cloudy and windy the first two days...not exactly the warmest beach days in the world, but we did not care one bit. At that point, low 60's to us was like high 90s -- literally heaven. We stayed as long as we possibly could, eating sandy sandwiches, grapes and apple slices like it was our job. Viv played in the sand, screamed with happiness at the water, ran from the waves and destroyed Dale's carefully constructed sand castles. I basked in happiness, squeezed into a swimsuit too small for me, relaxed in the half sunshine and warmth and actually read a book.

     


     





We took full advantage of our laziness for two days at the same beach. Ate ice cream both days. Walked around downtown Siesta Key and the piers by our hotel. That first night we ate Italian and here's something awesome: I had my first sip of alcohol (completely on accident, mind you), and it was epic.... as in epically DISGUSTING. Imagine me, poor pregnant lady, dying for an ice cold lemonade. Factor in my craving for honey this pregnancy, when lo and behold I see honey stung lemonade on the menu. Delicious. So I order it, but only after do I realize that it's 7 bucks. Ouch. Dale's gonna be pissed. Too bad, I'm pregnant, blah blah blah, internal dialogue and all that. So while Dale is taking Viv to the bathroom for the 100th time, our drinks come and I'm surprised to see my very tiny $7 drink. Like TINY, guys, complete with a little tiny stir straw. And I'm like, come on, what a rip off. Now Dale's REALLY gonna be pissed when he finds out. blah blah blah, internal dialogue and all that.

So I take a sip. EWWWWW. Cough syrup status. I seriously almost gagged and I was like, dude, that is some seriously gross honey lemonade. I mean, WTH?! I was so mad. I JUST WANT SOME LEMONADE DAMNIT! So I wait for Dale to get back and tell him how gross my drink is and have him taste it. And he looks at me weird. Tastes it. I get a weird feeling that I'm missing some mildly important detail here.

Ya, there's definitely alcohol in that Elyse, says he.
I had a sneaking suspicion, yes I did.

And THAT, my friends, is probably the dumbest pregnancy moment of this pregnancy (akin to the time I thought I gave my then-Vivian-fetus fetal alcohol syndrome when I ate vodka-based tomato sauce on my spaghetti-- ya, that was a great one too).

SO I had to be the one to ask the server to get me a DIFFERENT drink that didn't have alcohol in it, because no I didn't realize it did, and yes I am pregnant and no I don't usually drink, I swear, blah blah blah, awkwardness and all that.

Good times for the Mormon pregnant lady and her family. Keep it classy.


On our third and final day, we decided to find a new beach. We found a more secluded place with prettier water, more shells and less people. It was suuuuper hot and proved to be the best day yet. Viv loved the shells and the water was a  little easier for her to play in.




We also had a whale sighting (above), a blue heron sighting (below), and a sting ray sighting (not pictured--but it was the coolest. Someone caught one with a fishing pole!)



On our last night we went to downtown Siesta Key, ate at an amazing restaurant, ate ice cream (again), checked out shops and dogs and parks to Viv's content. We watched the sunset on a beach and enjoyed every last drop of warmth before heading back to frozen hell.



And we really did go back to a snowy, frozen hell, but somehow it was bearable because we saw the sun for 3 days in a row. And we stayed alive until May.

It was a spring break for the books, and I'll remember it fondly as the spring break that kept me sane and helped me keep my hair on my head and my brain in my body.

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