Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mark Memory--First day together in Shanghai

WHAT? Blogging twice in the same week!??!?!? MADNESS!!!

I've decided that for myself I should record more memories. Not necessarily the ones going on right now, but memories I have of the past that maybe I won't remember as well later? Even if I do remember, it'll just be something fun to write down. So here's my memory of the day:

Shanghai, China, June 2011

Mark took this picture after I fell asleep talking over Skype
(it became a common occurrence)
I knew I wanted to marry Mark Ackerman. Well, actually I'd known that for a really long time, but I finally knew that he wanted to marry me too! After skyping every day, always saying I love you, Mark being adamant that we should finally "officially" be in a relationship the past April, talks of when we would get married, and finally his flying from Hawaii to China for an internship (but, you know, really for me) made me pretty sure this was gonna happen.

I had been in Weihai, China since February teaching English. It was I think early in May when Mark mentioned when we was going to be in Shanghai and I learned that I would have a long weekend and some of my other fellow teachers were already planning a trip down to that same city. Next thing I knew the first weekend in June came around and I was flying down to Shanghai to see this dreamy guy again. I wouldn't be able to see him until the next morning, though, so I was going a little crazy. We were able to set up a time and meeting place, though, and I was pretty sure I could get their via the subway (or whatever you call it).

That morning I said "seeya suckas!" (probably without the suckas part) to to my fellow teachers and headed off to the main station in Shanghai--the clock tower right outside the station, to be exact. You must know, I had no phone, and almost no clue how to speak Chinese. I mean, I knew a little bit, but very little.

Our first meal together after six months apart
I got to the station just fine on my own, but where was the clock tower? After walking up the stairs and out the station and back and forth the length of the station I could find no clock tower anywhere. Did I get off at the right station? Yes, I was sure of it. But where was the clock tower? Maybe it was across a street somewhere? But there was nothing but buildings after a road that led to some apartment complexes. I walked back and forth, back and forth, but nothing. I would reach one end of the station and it would be a road and then a staircase leading down to the trains. I would walk to the other end and find a McDonald's the rails where the trains crossed. I wanted to ask someone but not only did I feel stupid, I didn't know how. I finally asked someone by pointing to my dictionary at the word, "clock" but all they did was point at the station! Maybe they thought I meant the train times which were posted on the front? I was starting to get more frustrated after getting the same response from two more people.

Rain. It started to rain. Not really hard, but enough to get my clothes a little damp. I wanted to cry. I almost did. I walked along that station for maybe an hour--going inside the Mcdonald's to get away from the rain occasionally.

At the aquarium in Shanghai 
After an hour it finally hit me. The people weren't pointing at the station itself, they were pointing to the OTHER side! But, how do I get to the other side? I couldn't read any signs when I got off the train, but judging by the pictures one staircase just led to more trains and the other led out here. The road I had found on one end didn't look like it went to the other side, but I figured that was my only option. At this point I worried if Mark was still waiting for me at all.

I walked down the road and luckily found it led to another road that seemed like it would lead to the other side of the station. Except, the station was sort of down this hill from the road and there was a cement wall and a small gate lining that hill. I was so excited I could actually see the clock tower down the hill, but there was no sidewalk or anything leading to it. There was only this road. Luckily I saw other people walking along this road, cars dodging them as they drove past. So, I followed. Then came the point where the hill had lowered and all that was in my way of getting to that tower was a small wall and that gate. By myself I would have at least really hesitated before climbing over, but after seeing other people do the same, my courage perked up. I had to first pull myself up onto the base of the gate/top of the cement wall which was probably as tall as my waist. Then I had to swing my legs over this gate. It was a small ordeal, but I had made it!!! How crazy that this was the only way to get to the other side! Who created this?! (Later I learned that in fact that other staircase which I thought led to more trains led to the other side...yep).

Well, it didn't matter because I had finally reached the clock tower. But no Mark. It had been about an hour and a half since the time we decided to meet, so maybe he went home? But I couldn't believe that. Was this the right clock tower? What a stupid question, of course it was. But what could I do now? The rain had cleared up on my walk down that road and climb over the gate, but it started again. I circled the tower over and over until the rain started getting harder. I spotted a McDonald's (those things are seriously EVERYwhere there) and ran inside. I heard McDonald's usually have wifi there, but I didn't have a computer or anything to check my e-mail. I stayed in there for a while until finally the rain had turned back to a slight mist.

Shanghai--pretty excited to finally be together!
I walked back across the street to the clock tower and determined to wait there all day if I had to. Then, there was this guy with an umbrella, squatting down, staring at where people come out of the station. He wore flip-flops, a white t-shirt and brown jeans. I was so excited to see him I wanted to yell!

I started off walking, then jogging over to him. The excitement filled in my chest as I saw his eyes light up after turning to see me. Right as he started to come my way the inevitable happened. I slipped and fell on my butt.

The pain in my rear and the puddles seeping through my clothes to my skin had no effect on my spirits though--this was going to be one of my favorite days, dry butt or no.

Mark of course smiled, but also looked concerned as he helped me up and asked if I was okay. I laughed and of course said I was.

What followed was a great day of sight-seeing and finally being together after six months apart. It turns out the moment I had finally gotten to the clock tower is when Mark had gone to buy an umbrella or try to e-mail me from somewhere. He had waited for me for two hours and would have waited all day.

One day later and we were engaged, but that's a different memory for another time. That first day--wandering in the rain and falling on my butt--started out miserably but ended up being one of my favorite memories.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Confessions of a Young Mom

This is my confession:

Sometimes I let myself wonder if I'm "cut-out" to be a mom. Mostly for the following reasons:

1. Boredom. I stay at home with my now eleven-month old baby all day. I don't live close enough to any family members and haven't made good enough friends to feel like I can go "hang-out" all day with people. So, almost every day it's just me and Ellie. It's fun to play with her for a little while, but am I expected to play with her for eight hours while my husband is away at work? Straight? The internet says that if I let her watch too much TV with me that I'm a bad mom because it could cause problems for her later--ADHD or something. Also I can only watch so much TV during the day. I try to read, but of course at eleven months, whatever I'm 'playing' with is way cooler than anything Eleanor is playing with, so then it's really just a constant game of tug-of-war. We both get pretty sick of that game after a while. Then of course I try to write or do other things on the computer, but then she can't stand that I'm ignoring her and once again playing with something cooler than what she has. So, she cries at my feet instead. This is something else I can only take for so long. Eleanor could do it all day though. So, what can I do? Sit there. Just sit there. All day. Watching her play and occasionally interacting--sneaking little moments that I can to read, work-out, or write--those little moments when she's preoccupied for a few minutes or right before she's noticed I'm not paying attention to her anymore. I'm bored SO much of the time. I'm thinking this will change as she gets older, but as of right now I have to wonder, do 'good' moms do nothing but play with their baby all day?

2. Not being able to get out. This kind of goes along with the boredom thing. But, the thing with Ellie is that she really is such a good baby when she's entertained, and entertaining her is usually not that hard to do. She's super social and is great when we do get to go and do other things with other people/kids. I would love to do some kind of volunteer work in the community or get involved with things. But then I think, who would even let me volunteer with a baby tag-a-long? Even if I knew she'd be fine just being in a new place, I couldn't go and try to do anything. Then, of course, even if I did find something to get involved in that Eleanor could come along with, I don't have a car. I guess that has nothing to do with whether or not I'm a good mom, but I'll admit sometimes I think about some of the things I could do if I didn't have to stay at home with her all day.

3. I am so much more impatient than I ever remembering being pre-baby. Eleanor is like her mom--utterly depressed without attention. She's also like her dad--bored with things way faster than should be possible. So, the result is a lot of "fake" crying/whining. All the moaning and screaming without the tears. I get so sick of it some days I just want to scream. My worst confession is that I actually have a few times. I'm pretty much completely positive it's impossible for this child to play by herself for more than three minutes at a time. The worst is when I try to do dishes while she's awake--she just pulls on my legs and "cries" the entire time. It doesn't matter how many toys I put on the floor next to me. Who knew someone would hate me doing dishes more than I do! I am, thus, often very frustrated and frazzled throughout the day as I try to do things around the apartment or for myself.

I guess if that's it I can't be doing too terrible, right? Hmmm.

At any rate, I feel like the only things I hear on blogs and from moms is how wonderful being a mom is and how perfect their children are (I'm aware this is untrue and simply my self-pity fooling with my brain). Granted the moms who have a few more kids will usually rant about how crazy keeping track of more than one is--and how their life is constantly going. Those, I'm sure, will be comforting to hear/read in the coming years, but for now I feel like, AM I THE ONLY ONE?!??! I hope not. That would make me feel preeettty stupid.

To end on a much more positive note, these are some of the things that make it all worth it:

1. It's so easy to make this baby girl laugh it's ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome, that is. She laughs ALL the time and all day, so long as anyone gives her any attention. Sometimes all I have to do is make a silly face and she's laughing and jumping and clapping. Too cute. She LOVES to play--way more than she loves exploring. I'd say she's pretty typical compared to her age group when it comes to loving knew things, but there's a reason she rarely leaves the room I'm in--and if she does it's not for very long. She could miss an opportunity to play and laugh with me!! Sometimes I think even her laughing is sounds forced--even if her parents aren't that funny, she'll give us a courtesy laugh just so we'll keep playing. It's really incredibly cute. She's definitely the FUNNEST baby I've ever played with and it does make our days SO fun!

2. Talk about SOCIAL! If you haven't guessed from everything I've already said, Ella LOVES people. Almost all people, though for a while she was really scared of guys (I think she's almost over that). It makes it SO easy to go anywhere because I know people will love her because she will love them and everyone will love each other and it will be a great time! Pretty much every Sunday at church is like this--she smiles at anyone sitting next to us and immediately has a friend: See ya later when I'm hungry, mom and dad, I've got people to meet!! It makes church, parties, hang-outs, reunions, ANY social event even more fun having Eleanor there! She probably cries less outside the house with other people than she does inside the house with just me. That thought could make me sad, but I'm grateful to have such a social baby so I never have to dread leaving the house!

3. Ella Mei is so sweet and absolutely the EASIEST baby to console. Meaning if there ever is anything wrong, all I have to do is hold her for a couple minutes and/or distract her with a toy or a mirror (her reflection is the surest way to make her smile) and it's like nothing ever happened. Aside from when she feels she needs attention, she RARELY cries and it's so easy to stop if she does! She might bump her head or fall, but play with her right after and she'll probably not even notice. It's so uncommon for me to ever feel like I don't know why she's crying--I count myself beyond lucky for that!

4. With how much Eleanor loves everyone ELSE, it's so special to see all the signs that tell just how much she loves me! Before I became a mom I would've found that statement ridiculous--she's my daughter of course she loves me! But, after having Ellie, those signs that she loves me as her mom are always treasured moments that what I do is worth it and wonderful. I feel fulfilled--complete--not just that everything I do matters, but that it matters to me. I feel this way when she cries when she sees me leave the house; when I come home while Mark is trying to put her to sleep, but upon seeing me she gets so excited it takes an extra twenty minutes; when she's hurt and all she wants is me; when I go into her room in the morning and her face goes from crying to complete excitement when she sees me; the moments when all she wants to do is be held by me. Those little things are what add up, making my life the best that it's ever been.

I guess in the end I always have doubts of whether I'm a complete disaster of a mom--and I'm not fishing for any approbation, but I suppose most moms probably have similar feelings at some point or another. And. I'm far from hopeless--I've got plenty more kids to raise before turning in my test scores! ;)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Life is just Scootin' By

Why isn't my baby crawling yet? Why doesn't she have any teeth? Is she a pickier eater than other babies? Am I feeding her enough baby food? Am I feeding her too much baby food? Is it too early to start on finger foods? Should I have started forever ago? Other babies are practically walking at her age, is she not normal? Or are those babies not normal? Why doesn't she always sleep normally? AM I EVEN A GOOD MOM?!?!?!?

Occasionally I get a little crazy like that. But, for the most part I try really hard to put mommy-anxieties away and realize that of course all babies develop in different ways and at different rates and Ellie is probably the most normal baby ever! And, am not a bad mom--am actually pretty freakin' good at it! ;) Ok, well, I try anyway--and that's all anyone can say.

So, Eleanor hasn't started crawling and has HATE, HATE, HATED her stomach since the first time she was put on it. So, I've had pretty mixed emotions. On the one hand I feel like if she would just start crawling she would be okay entertaining herself at home for longer periods of time when I have to do things like make dinner or, you know, blog. I love playing with her all day, but let's be real, this little one has got to learn how to do some self-entertaining every once and a while. Though, she's actually not that bad sometimes.

ANYWAY, so on the other hand I think it's way convenient not having to re-arrange our small and still not completely unpacked apartment so she doesn't crawl into everything. I mean, self-entertaining is great......until she starts sucking the ink out of our pens.

Well, despite all of my mixed emotions, Ellie, for the first time ever, moved forward BY HERSELF on her stomach TODAY. Yeah, it was "epic," as they say. And I'm way excited!! It kind of takes her a while to get anywhere still so I don't really have to she doesn't seem to particularly like it--it's a lot of work. The point is: now I know--this girl means business.

I know, I know... that means the title to this post was probably a little too punny to be funny.... haha.... ok.

Here's the poorly taken video of one of her FIRST stomach scoots ever. Enjoy... though probably not as much as I do.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Declarations of Little Importance.... but cute pictures too

I'm pretty bad at posting pictures on facebook... mostly I'm lazy, but, I have been taking pictures! Of Eleanor that is. I took a lot of pictures while Mark and I were apart for a month so he could see her growing the little that she did. He was in CA and I was in Utah with my sisters while he worked and saved enough money for us to get an apartment. And now, we're finally here! Well, been here for a few weeks. Anyway, LOVE the apartment, LOVE California, LOVE LOVE LOVE finally being with the hubster!!!!! I'll take pictures of the place later as I get further into decorating it. I think for one of the first times in my life I'm going to try to BE CRAFTY!  I know, crazy, right? I was the girl in my church youth programs who always got the pity looks during our crafty-nights. No one ever said anything, but they didn't have to, because I knew the glob of glue and string and paper in front of me was all my doing. And I never minded, I pretty much have tried to stay far away from things that involve glue and paint and colorful paper and string. But, I think that I'm going to give it a try. This means you may or may not see pictures of my achievements--simply because I don't know if there will be any, or if there will, I'm not sure how long it will take. But, I am determined to try!!

I'm determined to do a lot of things here. Mostly to stay busy. Since Eleanor was born I have always been with someone(s) all day--first Mark while he was looking for a job and then with my sisters right after he found one. But, now it's just me and Ellie all day and I'm having to make up things to do. Luckily Eleanor is the chillest baby ever so I can plan great plans! Like getting back to my home-schooled roots and studying countries, philosophy and cultures. Also I'm planning on learning to sew, decorate, cook, take decent-looking pictures for once, maybe even (if I'm really that bored) make cute cards--all of the domestic things I've avoided like the plague for most of my life. It should be interesting. And, of course, will all be done slowly one at a time as Ella Mei lets me.
In the mean time, here are some pictures of Ellie from last month.

I just realized Ellie is wearing her pajamas in almost all these pictures.... You might be interested to know that I've come out of that lazier point of my life and now get Ellie dressed in cute outfits every day. One step at a time, right!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Being Mom

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while (it's supposed to be the mushy one I've previously alluded to). Yet, I still don't know exactly what I'm going to write. I think I'll start and let myself ramble to wherever my fingers take me. So, here it goes, be prepared for something most likely long and most definitely unedited.

I always knew being a mom was important, but that doesn't mean I always wanted to be. I never DIDN'T want to be a mom, but I was more of a "I want to work for an NGO when I grow up" type of a girl (no, really, that's what I told people when I was, like, 13), not the "I want to be a mom when I grow up" type of a girl. I had plans. But, as I got older I slid back and forth on the importance of starting my own family. Finally, right before I turned 20 I decided having a family would be the most fulfilling thing for me to do with my life--not the only thing I would do with my life, mind you, but the most fulfilling. 

Well, I got the feeling like I should start praying for it. It felt weird so I didn't do it very often, but I did do it. About one or two months later Mark and I started dating. A year later from then we were married. A year later from then we had a one month old baby girl. Yeah, be careful what you pray for. 

But really, I couldn't be more happy. I still have plans, dream, goals---things I'm going to do with my life. Little Ellie will just have to come along for the ride.

The thing is, even though I always knew motherhood was an important role, I didn't know it would feel like it does sometimes. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm in a constant state of lovey-blessed-wonderment [Note: I like the way I described that]......[Note: I haven't done "Note:" in a long time], BUT, there are those moments. 

Sometimes, I'm in complete shock--I think, "THERE IS NO WAY I'M A MOM!!! NO WAY, MAN, NOOOOOOOO WAY!" But, then there are times where it makes so much sense, the thought of me not being a mom makes me think, "PHHHHSSSS, what ELSE would I being doing with my life? Probably not existing." And then there are really special times where I look at this little thing I helped create and think, "How did I get so blessed? How is it possible that I can love someone so much who is so small and so new to me? How can I ever live my life to deserve her?"

The thing is, being a mom of a newborn is stressful. She's been sick this past week and waking up constantly at night just screaming. I've really had it easy with Ellie being such a mellow baby, but for a few nights I got a glimpse into the lives of moms with colic-y babies who won't stop crying even when comforted. Unfortunately, I can't say I felt much of that lovey-blessed feeling during that time [Note: Yeah, I know, I'm trying to be better about that. I've been working on empathy for how she is feeling, instead of getting frustrated].
Totally my new favorite picture of us

Being a new mom (or, from what I gather, any kind of mom) is also time consuming. Yes, I have plans I plan on still accomplishing, but don't ask me how far I've gotten in the whole "achieving" thing. Actually, don't even ask me about the plans at all. Almost every day I look forward to nap times when I can shower, brush my teeth, and BLOG of course [Note: sarcasm].....[Note: maybe because I haven't used the "Note:" for a while, I'm over-using it. Sorry.].

Yet, with all of that, she is still my number one and those special mom feelings still exist--I just don't always take the time to notice them.

I can't wait to see her get older, but at the same time the thought of her ever not being my almost six-month old baby makes me want to cry. Is it just me, or do I sound like an emotional wreck?

Well, this has taken some interesting turns. I think I'll end on this:

One of the most special feelings I have that sometimes brings tears to my eyes is that Eleanor was meant for me, and I for her. Sometimes I get this strong feeling that that she and I were best friends before we came to earth, and that while I was chosen to be her mom, we were both meant to learn from each other. It's an overwhelming feeling that I am to take care of this precious light to the world--that I am responsible for teaching, nurturing, and filling this amazing spirit with so much love. But, I can also be taught by her. Maybe that is one of the real objectives of motherhood and family rearing--to aspire together to be what we otherwise couldn't without each other. One thing's for sure: Eleanor is one special little girl and I am beyond blessed to know her, let alone be her mom.