Three Point Five Years

In three(ish) years, a lot has changed. I went from being a typical college student to…well, whatever I am now. A mother. An almost-nurse. Tired, but happy. A hopeful soon to be home owner. The owner of a seriously awesome new camera.

In three short years…

I had a baby:

Jaundiced Alex, two days old, with mom

One undergraduate degree from Smith College was completed.

I celebrated the first and second birthday with said (no longer a) baby:

Wall-E Cake!  and Alex eating him

Eating birthday cake

I graduated from Pitt with a second bachelor’s degree, this time in Nursing.

And then, to top it all off, I had the most amazing congratulatory dinner celebration last night. A surprise, full of wonderful food, family, and amazing gifts.

As Zach, his parents, my mother, grandmother and long-time friend showered me with love and affection, I came close to tears. As I watched everyone take turns entertaining Alex throughout our long evening, just as they all had numerous times throughout the past year, I came close to tears. When Zach offered me an assortment of my favorite beverages, and as my favorite cake in the world was brought out after dinner, I came close to tears. Every gift I opened? Brought me close to tears.

Again and again I thought about how unbelievably lucky I am. Looking around the room as most of the people I care about gathered to celebrate me and my accomplishments, I felt, mostly, grateful. And also undeserving.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of myself. I am perfectly able to toot my own horn and say that I accomplished a lot over the past few years. This past year (or three, really) has been hard. Really, really, hard. I had to finish up my first degree while staying home with a new baby. I spent the next year taking two classes each term as I prepared to start yet another degree, still staying home with Alex. None of that could prepare me for the challenge of returning to school not just full time, but F.U.L.L. time. Taking more than a full course load each semester and then adding in an average of 24 hours of clinical, all while attempting to still be a mom, a partner, a daughter, a friend…it was almost impossible.

At times, I thought my god, what did I get myself into? I am never going to be able to do this. But then, somehow, it was over.

Only it wasn’t just somehow.

I could never in a million years have gotten through the past three years on my own.

And I can never in a million years thank the people in my life enough.

To Zach, my mother, my grandparents, Zach’s parents, and the friends and family who have supported me:

Thank you. I could not have accomplished any of this, or anything, without you.

IMG_0064

Four More Months Of School

I can’t wait to be done. I miss taking pictures. I miss doing nothing. I miss Alex. I miss Zach. I miss my life.

Alex

Us :)

I miss my blog, too.

Yesterday, Alex asked, “Where did you go, Mommy?”

I told him, “Today I was taking care of sick people.”

“Oh, you took cawe of sick people on da school bus?”

According to Alex, when I’m not with him? I’m on a school bus.

The Little Things

I have come to accept that over the course of the next year I will miss some firsts. And I am in the process of accepting that that is okay. I don’t need to witness the first everything. Instead, I will focus on the adorable, wonderful, frustrating, awesome, silly, things that Alex does now, even if they aren’t brand new. Even if I wasn’t the first to see, or notice.

Take, for example, Alex’s use of “a piece of.”

It all started with his birthday cake. “Alex, do you want a piece of birthday cake?”

“Yeah! A piece of birfday cake!”

Then, for the rest of that day he would ask for a piece of birthday cake. Then, for the entirety of the next few days he would ask for a piece of birthday cake. Then, he would ask for a piece of anything.

“A piece of a yogurt?”
“A piece of milk?”
“A piece of orange juice?”
“A piece of blueberries?”
“A piece of medicine?”

He’s also mastered the understanding of half. He knows when something is broken in half, he sometimes fusses when things break in half, and he has even demanded that I cut things in half. “Cut it in half!” “No! No break in half!”

A few weeks ago, he asked me to cut his milk in half. He was not terribly understanding when I explained to him that I wasn’t able to cut his milk.

It’s the little things that will keep me going this year:

The fact that Alex finally (sometimes) says “Thank You,” even if it comes out as one big word: “Tankoooo!”

The fact that Alex almost always says “Bless you” when someone sneezes. Even himself. He reminds us all to be polite.

The fact that Alex continues to call Batman “Fatman.”

The fact that Alex runs up to me on the days I am able to pick him up from daycare, yelling, “Mommy!” while waving his arms enthusiastically and immediately asking to be picked up for a big hug and kiss.

The fact that Alex loves to build things. He asks regularly to “build a tower? Build a house? Build a tunnel?”

The fact that Alex tells us directly when he doesn’t like something. “NO WIKE IT!” (His “L” sound is still a struggle.)

I take these little moments and remember them throughout my long days at school. When a patient asks me about my life, which so far every one has, I share the little stories of my son with them. It’s amazing what a difference the silly little anecdotes can make for my sanity and for the comfort of someone in pain. I even had a patient tell me, “no wike it!” when I asked how their lunch was that day; a big smile formed across their face.

These little moments have not been well documented in photo form lately. I haven’t touched my camera in two weeks. But I keep these moments in my head, and here in written form. I may end up missing out on a few weeks of Alex’s growth in photos here and there, but I will do my best to keep up with his life here. Even if it means taking ten minutes out of my weekend studying, because I’d rather miss a question on an exam than forget that when Alex was 2 years old he was obsessed with Caillou, screamed, “NO WIKE IT!” and gave the sweetest kisses.

Dinosaur hat (cropped)

Rough Year Ahead

I’m beginning to understand why, on our first day in a skills lab, a professor told my accelerated nursing group:

“Tell everyone you love that you will see them next year.”

When she said that, I cringed. I don’t want to wait a year to see everyone I love. In a year, Alex will be three. I can’t not be a part of his life throughout this next year. There is no way I can possibly just say, “see you next year, buddy!” I can’t survive a year without enjoying date nights, watching quality television and movies, cooking a meal, with Zach.

How am I going to make it through this year?

I don’t know the answer to that, all I know is this: I will make it through. And while I will certainly be less of a part of my son’s life, have less quality time with Zach and more quality time with my 1000+ dollar books, I will make it. The year will go, and I will come out on the other side with a second Bachelor’s degree. I will make it through.

“I’ll see you next year, buddy, more often. But I’ll do my best to be with you one thousand percent whenever I get to see you this year.”

Family shot!

Whirlwind

The last few weeks have been busy.

I took four final exams, a quiz, and did a barrel full of homework.

I had blood drawn, went to seven various other appointments, dyed my hair and didn’t spend nearly enough time with Alex.

I drove six hours to visit my bestest friend in the whole wide world.

I drove another six hours home, picked up Alex from daycare, and spent the evening marveling over the fact that he somehow grew an inch and learned approximately one thousand new words and phrases while I was gone for three days.

Today, I’ve spent the entire day playing with Alex and dealing with ridiculous amounts of paperwork. I’ve printed forms, registered to have my fingerprints taken by the FBI, finally got Pitt to give me my financial aid, and received instructions for my surgery tomorrow. No food, fluids, alcohol, cigarettes, nothing, after midnight. I can’t go to the bathroom in the morning because I will be getting a pregnancy test (no, there is no way) and I must shower not once, but twice with anti-bacterial soap.

This whirlwind has been stressful; it’s been horrendous (I get unnecessarily stressed about exams) and wonderful (spending time with Sarah and her family).

Tomorrow I get to forget about it all. I will be knocked out, cut open, and when I wake up I will get to spend time doing absolutely nothing but resting. And right now? That sounds pretty nice.

But then it will be back to the grindstone. Finishing up all of the things I have to do for nursing school: more clearances, some vaccines and tests, more paperwork, applying for more loans, buying books, and spending as much time as humanly possible with my son.

He won’t be this cute forever. And I need to breathe it all in while I still can.

Alex

Mommy Confession Part II

I confessed recently. I admitted to being sick of being a stay at home mom.

But now I have another confession: I’m scared to death of not being a stay at home mom.

As hard as it can be as Alex’s number one, I can’t even fathom what it will be like to not be his number one. The thought of not being the person who takes care of him the most horrifies me.

Starting at the very end of August, Alex will be attending daycare full time. He will go in every morning and spend all day with his daycare provider. Zach will likely be the one taking him in most, if not all, mornings, and Zach will be the one picking him up most, if not all, evenings.

Two days a week I will have to be in clinical starting at seven in the morning. Seven! That means I will be out of the house before Alex even wakes up in the morning. Two evenings a week I will be in classes and labs until 7 at night. That means that I will likely not be home before Alex goes to sleep at night.

And then? And then there is the fact that I will be a crazy full time student. Not just a full time student, but crazy full time. This program is intense: getting a (second) bachelor’s degree in one year has to be. The studying that I will have to do is going to drain every second of every minute of almost every day that I am not actively in class, lab, or clinical.

All of this is scary enough on it’s own, but then throw on top of that the fact that I will not be Alex’s number one? I’m freaking out.

When it’s time for cuddling before bed, he won’t ask to cuddle with me. When he wakes up during the night he isn’t going to call for Mommy. When he wakes up in the morning he isn’t going to say, “No! I want Mommy!” When he falls and hurts himself, he won’t want me to comfort him. I won’t be his number one.

I’m not scared that other people are going to be taking care of him. I have complete trust in Alex’s daycare and more than complete trust in Zach. Alex will be well taken care of. It just… won’t be by me.

I am petrified.

Playground!

November 4th: More Than Just Election Day

There are 57 days remaining until the end of the year. That means 2009 is right around the corner.

Before 2009, though, three very important dates will pass:

First, my birthday. We all know how important birthdays are, right?

Second, Christmas. I have always loved Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year. Between a birthday and Christmas, you really can’t go wrong.

Third, I will be graduating. Finally. I have worked so hard to finish up my Smith degree, and I just can’t wait to be done with it. I’ll by no means be finished with school, but I will have completed my Bachelor’s degree, and only one semester late.

It’s too bad all of this is happening at once, though. If you have a birthday near Christmas (Hi, Anglophile Football Fanatic!) you understand how much it can be a bummer. Now throwing my College graduation on top of that? Kinda sucks. But it will be an exciting week with a birthday celebration, Christmas, and a graduation party.

On top of all of that, I should be hearing from Nursing Schools regarding my application for entry in in Fall of 2009 sometime this winter. My fingers are crossed.

Now please, go vote. Sure, November 4th is a lot more than just election day: it’s Laura Bush’s birthday and Flag Day in Panama. But if you do nothing else today and you live in the United States, vote. After you vote, you can get all sorts of free stuff. So, if you need a good reason to vote, vote to get free stuff. Also, vote because it is your right. Every vote counts.

A Testament To Our Awful Schools

The class I am taking at Community College is a required course for the nursing program I am interested in starting next fall. It is a second level course, so everyone in it has taken at least one other course in this field.

That said, why doesn’t anyone know anything about what we are studying?

More importantly, why doesn’t anyone know anything about…anything?

(A woman who has two kids had no idea what folic acid is. My professor, who is a Developmental Psychologist (and thus should be up to date with research in development) went on a nice long tangent about how great “Baby Einstein” is. I could go on and on with the things that have made me shudder in that class.)

First night of class. We are forced to do an “ice breaker” of sorts. Giant post-it notes are placed in front of us. Everyone has a few Crayola markers. We are told to draw our lives. On the giant post-it notes. From birth until now. Draw. Our lives. On giant post-it notes. And then share it with the 25 strangers in the class.

Now, I’m not a terribly private person. I will share just about anything with anyone. But I don’t like being told to share my life story with a bunch of strangers who can’t possibly have any interest in my life story because I have absolutely no interest in theirs.

The first person to share their life story: Born. In preschool was molested. In first grade, the “murders started.” Elementary school was awful. Parents split up. Mom died. More murders. Then middle school…

Many of the stories were not much better.

I felt like a horrible human being when I got up to share my story: Born. School. Good school. Lots of learning. Smart teachers. Went to college. Really good college. Had a baby. Still with my High School sweetheart. Love my baby. Yay. (Sure, I’ve had some hard times, but these people really gave me another perspective.)

During that class, a student mentioned they were seven different nationalities all rolled into one. She listed them all, “…Italian, Irish and Yugoslavian.”

The girl who had all of the murders in her life said, “Yugo-what!?”

I’ll give the teacher credit for not making any face or reacting in any negative way. She simply responded, “A Yugoslavian is a person who has ancestors who were from Yugoslavia.” (I can’t give her any more credit because I’m pretty sure she is faking her two Master’s degrees. She has no idea what she is talking about.)

To which the student replied, “Yugo-where!?”

Now, I don’t expect everyone to know the history of Yugoslavia or even the fact that it is no longer a country. It baffles me, though, to think that a college student has never heard of Yugoslavia. (Or that she didn’t have the thought to at least pretend she knew.)

This student has attended Pittsburgh Public Schools her whole life. From preschool until graduation. She has a high school diploma and is now studying Psychology in college. She had never heard of Yugoslavia, didn’t know there was a presidential election in November, had no idea who Freud was, couldn’t believe that she wasn’t going to grow any taller (she’s 22), and had to be told why she can’t be a Psychiatrist with a degree from Community College.

And who says we don’t need to drastically change our schools?

Alex Playing

I hope I can give Alex the educational opportunities he deserves. If that means never sending him to a Public School, so be it.

A Little Down Time

My first final exam was yesterday. As usual, I went in hopped up on caffeine (grande, non-fat, no water chai with a shot, please) and feeling hopelessly unprepared. And, as usual, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

Now I have a week until my next final, and my third (and last) final is a week from Thursday. Instead of taking this time to prepare for the exams, I’ll take it to relax and maybe do a few other things I have been meaning to do:

1. Make some more bread (it’s been two weeks!)
a. Learn how to make some pizza dough from scratch
b. Learn how to make nan to go with curry dinner
2. Go to Whole Foods and Trader Joes
3. Make some appointments (hair, eyebrows, pediatrician, doctor)
4. Figure out some new easy meals to make
5. Compile all of my chicken-scratch recipes into a nice, neat, organized binder
6. Call people I’ve been meaning to call (namely Autumn!)

The list could go on (it always could) but I wont bore you with it.

Instead, here are some pictures for you to peruse:

Poppin' his collar

Alex wearing his cute little rugby collared shirt and jeans. Seriously, he’s way more stylish than I will ever be.

Mr. Grumpy

Gotta love Target shirts on clearance! This one says “Mr Grumpy.” That is only true when it’s nap time or bed time. Otherwise, he’s a perfectly, actually kind of oddly, happy child:

Such a happy kid

Seriously, he’s like a crazy-content baby. If he never had to sleep, he would always be thrilled to be alive.

And because after his baths he always looks so silly, I’d like to share with you Alex, the little aryan baby:

My little aryan baby

I can’t help but look at him with his combed-down hair and bright blue eyes and think of how much he would have been loved during Hitler’s Germany. I know, I know, inappropriate. Too soon, maybe. Plus, in Hitler’s Germany Alex would have been considered Jewish because he is more than 1/16 “Jewish blood.”