Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekend Shenanigans

Summer weekends make my heart so full and happy.  The bright mornings, long warm days and cool nights are just perfect.  Add in family, church, friends and food and it's even more of a perfect combination.  This weekend was just that, a perfect combination.  Dance on Saturday morning, dinner with family Saturday night, breakfast out before church Sunday morning, Sunday school, Church then beach and a cookout with friends. 

I pray that this summer is full of  having a house full of family and friends, sweaty, filthy, sticky kids from playing hard and eating too much watermelon and too many popsicles, piles of dishes, chats with friends, playing catch and easy bedtimes.

Sami's Shenanigans

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Photo Dump

This is how we spent our Memorial Day morning.  My father-in-law passed away in 2008 and was a veteran of the Vietnam War.  We go to the Veterans Cemetery every year to pay our respects to all fallen soldiers but this year was especially sentimental because it was the first year Olivia sort of understood what we were doing.  We explained that this is where Daddy's father is and that he's in heaven now with Jesus.  She looked at my husband so sincerely and said "Daddy what happened to him?", we told her again that he passed away and is in heaven and she said "aww Daddy I'm sorry." which sent us all into emotional overload. 

The best thing we bought for the summer was a zoo pass!  We've already used it a bunch of times and Olivia never gets sick of seeing all the animals.  This time we brought her Auntie Melanie whom she adores and we all had a great time. 

When did she become such a big girl?  Swinging "super higher" on a big girl swing...just in her diaper of course since it was so hot and muggy that day. 

Olivia is obsessed with sunglasses and has about 5 pairs.  These are her new favorites!

My little ballerina.  Her 1st dance recital is coming up soon and we can't wait! 

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stacy's Story - 6 months later, a follow up.

I hope you all read this post that Stacy wrote discussing her struggle with postpartum depression.  Here's a quick follow up to show how just a normal morning routine gone wrong can bring back the fears of PPD again.  She's such an amazing mother and I truly admire her courage to share her story. 

Stacy, thank you.  I'm honored to be your friend, that our girls are friends and that you're strong enough to share your story. 

Stacy's Story - 6 months later, a follow up.

Monday morning. It’s raining. Penelope already knows she will not be able to go outside at school and is not happy. Leo spit up all over Froggy (his lovey toy that he cannot sleep without), which I have to wash in the sink cause we don't have a washer and dryer. Bill is switching jobs (again! Poor guy just can’t catch a break), and I had a headache all night resulting in a very fitful sleep. Needless to say it is not shaping up to be a great day.

I get through half a cup of coffee before realizing I left my phone at the dance studio yesterday. So let’s get everyone dressed, nobody matches and Penelope’s pigtails are crooked, throw the rest of Penelope’s cereal in a baggy, grab a soggy Froggy, and away we go.  

Quick stop at the Laundromat to throw Froggy in a dryer. I pull up in front. In the fire lane and leave the kids in the car. I am in and out in under a minute, but still-really, Stacy? Then it’s across the street to the dance studio.  Throw up a quick thanks to the Lord above I have a key and that everything in our lives is in close to home. Grab my phone and print a new food stamps application since I didn’t complete our recertification in time and I have to apply all over again. Leo is on a mat on the floor, but of course he rolls off and is screaming because he hates being on his stomach.  One would think this would be incentive to figure out how to roll back, but he seems to prefer screaming.  Penelope meanwhile tells me she is pooping. I have no diapers.  We are heading to daycare where they have everything, so I don't usually carry a diaper bag in the mornings. Oh, and now the computer is frozen.

Coats back on (did I mention it’s raining?) back into the car, poopy diaper and all, back across the street to grab Froggy out of the dryer. Penelope doesn’t want to get in the car. I scream at her to just get in and sit down (as if she can put herself in her car seat). Leo is still screaming, guess he was hungry. Well, I don’t have a bottle either. No diaper bag remember? Somehow we all get to our destinations-daycare for them, work for me.

I get to work feeling awful and I tell a friend about my morning. She asks, did you follow your PPD rules? I say yes, but 6 months later I should be able to have a better morning than just following my PPD rules. She says two things-first, 6 months is not a long time, and second if you follow the rules it is a good day, remember? She's right. I am, once again, too hard on myself. Not a great morning, but a good morning. And that will have to do.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Not my finest Mommy moment.

Do you ever question the kind of parent you are? The kind of mother you are being, the kind of mommy you want your child to remember? I talk with friends, my husband, my mother, overanalyze every decision, word choice, action, reaction, discipline etc until I just can't think about it anymore.

Olivia is in the middle of her 2 year old tantrums, she's not like this all the time. We have mostly good moments and good days but the times when she's misbehaves it seems like it snowballs from there and after working all day, parenting alone (my husband and I work opposite shifts), cooking, cleaning, trying to fit in exercise and play time I'm on "E" by the time 8 pm rolls around.

The days are long, I want to make the most of the sunlight but sometimes I just count the minutes until bedtime... Then, when she's asleep I can barely pull myself out of her room because of the guilt. Oh the overwhelming guilt I feel for everything. For wishing away the last 30 minutes until bath and bed. For raising my voice at her over typical 2 year old behavior. For not apologizing when I'm out of line. For asking her to play by herself so I can have 3 minutes alone and some personal space. For everything. For my words, my tone. For her apologizing to me for something so toddlerish that I shouldn't expect her to know better. 'I’m sorry mommy' are the most heartbreaking words. There's this fine line that I dance on all day long - being sure I don’t over discipline and at the same time not raise a brat. Balancing when to stand my ground and when to give in. Wondering is she going to hate me? Fear me? Remember her childhood as good or bad, happy or sad?

This weekend was a busy one. We were on the go since Friday morning and didn't stop until yesterday afternoon. Between grocery shopping, helping some good friends, dance, church, dance recital pictures and errands we were out of the house all weekend except to sleep. Olivia was giving me a hard time last night preparing for bedtime and my reaction wasn't my finest mommy moment. I was tired and frustrated and still had a bunch of things to get done before starting my work week. Her going to sleep was essential to me having a few moments to myself amongst the craziness and it just wasn’t going smoothly. She knew I was upset and then she said it. "I'm sorry I made you mad, Mommy."

I immediately started crying. I stopped what I was doing and scooped her up, hugged her tight and apologized for being mean. That is exactly what I was - mean. Mean to my little girl who was just reacting to her crazy busy weekend in the only way she knew how. Me, the Mommy, I'm supposed to be her safe haven, her soft place to land, her security when she needs me and I'm the one who's acting like a child by reacting, rather, overreacting to her typical 2 year old ways.

We hugged and kissed, I apologized only a million times, we prayed and she told me she loved me in between the giggles since she doesn’t know how to hold a grudge. I put her to sleep, left her room and went to bed myself. I couldn’t get her little voice saying those words out of my head. I felt and still feel horrible.

I prayed so hard for forgiveness last night. He entrusted my with this beautiful little angel and what was I doing? I know we all have moments like this. I know I'm not alone which is comforting but last night was different. I'm so afraid to break her little spirit. I pray that I learn to embrace all the little things that go wrong and realize that it's just part of life that they're not make it or break it moments.

I need to slow down, let things happen, understand that everything won’t always go according to my plan and most of all remember, she's only 2 and I'm only learning.

Friday, May 31, 2013

My 6 Week Break

I wonder when I'll realize that I never know best, He does.  

I've written about my faith journey, finding my church, being saved and baptized (here and here) before and recently I thought that I needed a break.  A break from church, from the routine, from the Sunday morning Sunday school and service.  From fellowship.  From God.  

My week is busy, my husband and I each work full time and work opposite shifts, have family obligations, dance class for Olivia, grocery shopping, errands, friends etc.  so when I felt overwhelmed about 6 weeks ago I felt like I needed a break from something and I decided to skip church. 

 As I sat back relaxing that warm Sunday morning I watched the clock.  9:59 I remember thinking that we'd usually be settling into Sunday school - the Shipmates room, talking, drinking coffee, having a snack and getting ready for our lesson.  As the time ticked by I distracted myself with different things.  Glancing at the clock again it was 11:15, just about the time the worship music would be ending and we'd start the service in prayer.  A little pang in my heart told me that I knew I was missing something I loved so much.  The joyful noise that fills the room when the band starts playing and the choir starts singing gives me goosebumps every week and where was I?  At home missing it.  The day went on and I tried to not think about how this Sunday was the first in over a year that I'd missed church.  As the day ended I'd convinced myself that it was no big deal.  

The week went on and then Sunday came again.  I didn't go to church that Sunday either.  Against my better judgement I decided I still needed a break.  For the next 4 weeks I did the same thing.  Mother's Day was mixed in there, my mothers birthday, Olivia had a cold - all reasons I told myself that missing church had to happen.  That it was ok.  

Within these past 6 weeks something's changed though.  I've been irritable, easily frustrated, not praying as much, arguing with my husband over little things.  Doing all the things I do less of when I actually go to church, when I'm in the word, when I get refreshed by his grace each Sunday morning.

So many women from church reached out to me over these past 6 weeks and I love them for it.  Messages saying 'I miss you and the family, are you ok?, Can we pray for you? Do you need to talk? I'm thinking of you and praying for you!'  Each one made me smile and feel a little bit of regret and shame at the same time.  
This past week I knew that we needed to go back.  Being away for 6 weeks had done enough damage.  I'd missed enough lessons, bible studies and time in His presence.  I woke early on Sunday morning determined to go and Satan surely put every obstacle in my way.  My daughter being a bit fussy, spilled drinks, feeling tired and even a flat tire on my way there.  But, we made it. I felt such a peace as I pulled into the parking lot and fell right back into my Sunday morning routine.  The routine I thought I needed a break from felt so familiar and comfortable.  

All of my friends welcomed us back with open arms and hearts.  

It's funny that I took a break because I felt overwhelmed and too busy, little did I know He's my reprieve and my rest.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beaulieu Family Bucket List - Summer 2013

I've always considered Memorial Day weekend the official kick-off to summer (even though New England weather isn't quite cooperating) and now that it's behind us it's time to start checking things off of our Beaulieu Family Bucket List - Summer 2013.

Beavertail State Park, Jamestown RI - Gorgeous ocean views, the salty breeze, the cliffs to climb down into the shallow water pools along the oceans edge.  Beavertail is seriously one of the most beautiful places in Rhode Island.  I can't wait to pack a picnic lunch, teach Olivia how to fly a kite and relax by the ocean. 

Beaver Tail
Canobie Lake Park, Salem NH - I grew up visiting Canobie Lake every single summer, it was my birthday tradition and I can't wait to share this with Olivia.  She's going to love riding the rides, going on the train and ferry, eating the pizza and playing in the splash park.  So much fun in just one day!
New England Aquarium, Boston MA - We've taken Olivia here before and she loved it.  One of the perks of my job is free admission to the aquarium and we definitely don't go as often as we should.  This summer we're definitely going to take advantage of it and visit a few times.  
New England Aquarium
Boston Children's Museum, Boston MA - Like the aquarium, we've been here before and Olivia loves it, we also get in for free with our work badge which is a bonus!  Right in the heart of the city we can visit the museum and see some sights all in one day. 
A place where kids can explore and experiment to their hearts content, The Boston Children's Museum is located at 300 Congress St. along Fort Point Channel.
Boston Duck Tour, Boston MA - I've lived in Rhode Island my whole live, been to Boston countless times and I've never once been on the Duck Tour.  It's a bus/boat that drives in the street and also goes right into the harbor and gives you a tour of the city both on land and in the water.  Pretty cool I think!  I can't wait to check it out.

Boston Marathon Memorial, Boston MA - to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing I want to make it a point to visit the memorial that's set up on Boylston Street where the tragedy took place.  Boston Strong!

Host a BBQ - We had friends and family over for a Memorial Day BBQ and it was!  I can't wait to do it all over again.  I'm thinking smores, fireworks, lawn chairs, sprinklers and late nights outside. Perfection.


4th of July Fireworks - every year we go to the fireworks show at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket - home of the Pawtucket Paw Sox.  They always have the best show and we know exactly where we like to sit!  I can't wait to see Olivia's face!

Celebrate my 30th Birthday - Turning the big 3 - 0 this year and I want to do it with a bang.  Not quite sure what we'll do yet but it will be perfect as long as I have my family by my side.


Beach Days - Olivia loves the beach and asks to go all the time.  We have so many great state beaches locally that we'll have to make it a point to visit each one!  Sandcastles, sandy sandwiches, wet hair and red cheeks!  I can't wait.


Drive-in movie - Now that Olivia is old enough to sit through a movie, the drive-in is a must.  You pay by the car load, bring chairs and camp outside of your car while watching a movie.  It's so fun! 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stacy's Story - Postpartum Depression

I am honored to have my dear friend Stacy guest post today and share her heart-wrenching and heart-warming story of learning to love her son Leo.  Her story brought me to tears and I hope that you enjoy it just as much as I did.  If you are or know someone who is dealing with similar postpartum symptoms please read all the way through and seek help.

Stacy, thanks so much for sharing your story so honestly. 

Stacy's Story - Postpartum Depression

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. My hope was to have four kids. All girls. But like most things in life plans changed, and they changed in a big way.  This is my story. Well, maybe that's not right, it's mine and Leo's story. Who's Leo? My baby boy. My beautiful, smiley, happy little guy. Already seeing the change? There's much more to it. This is not a funny story. It's not even a strictly happy story. It is raw. It is real. It is painful. And if any of it is familiar, please, force yourself to read it through.

Two years ago my husband and I gave birth to a beautiful, 7 lb baby girl. She was perfect. Dark black hair and gray eyes. Like the sea on a stormy day. Within one hour of her life she was taken away from my arms and placed in an oxyhood. My baby couldn't breathe.  She needed oxygen pumped straight into her tiny little lungs for 7 days straight. We finally got to bring her home on day nine. After that Bill and I had a serious talk about having any more children. God granted us this amazing gift and very quickly showed us how fragile she was. We decided not to be selfish. We would be grateful for the one angel baby we were given. It was much easier than we thought. We loved her so much! How could we ever have enough room in our hearts for another child? It was decided, Penelope would be our only child. Spoiled, loved and cherished above everything in our lives. Then, one month after celebrating Penelope's first birthday I found out I was pregnant.

An unplanned pregnancy, and though I denied it at the time, an unwanted pregnancy. We weighed the options and finally decided to put our faith in our Faith. If God wanted us to have another child we would have another child. I had a knot in my stomach when we told my mother. Felt nauseuous when we told my in-laws and then my father and his wife. By the time we were teling our friends the disdain was evident in my voice. I covered by saying I was fearful of a delivery like Penelope's. It was a viable excuse. No one could imagine going through what we went through once, let alone twice. Of course I was afraid. Inside I told myself I would feel better once I knew for a fact I was carrying another little girl. 

And its a boy. My husband is elated. My sister is ecstatic. My best friend actually does a little dance up and down the hallway. And I am miserable. I feel nothing for this alien child inside me. This child that I even refuse to think of as mine. I have no bond with him. I begin using his name, Leo, hoping it will help. It doesn't. How can I feel anything for this child I didn't want? Still don't want. Especially when I am watching this beautiful little girl grow. When she laughs, I melt. When she tells me she loves me and gives me kisses, I feel my heart bursting with love for her. There is no room for this other child. This boy. And I don't just mean in my heart.

We live in a two bedroom apartment. We are struggling to pay our rent already. And now we have a fourth mouth to feed. And where are we going to put him? Questions like this keep me up at night. Cause tension in my marriage. Make me feel even more resentment towards the baby inside me.  Then one night, three weeks before he is due, I go into labor. And barely make it into the delivery room before he comes out.

He cries right away, a sound we never heard with Penelope. And for a moment I think I can love him. I think I just needed to see him. To hold him. And all will be alright. But then I find out Penelope has had a terrible asthma attack and almost ended up in the hospital the same night I was giving birth. And suddenly this new baby doesn't matter anymore. My child, the child I've gotten to know and love for almost two years, needs me. Bill will take care of Penelope. All will be well. I need to focus on bonding with Leo.

I breastfed Penelope for nine months. I never had a problem. I cannot breastfeed Leo for even a week. He doesnt latch right, and my nipples become chapped and bleed. This does not help. It is like he doesn't want me anymore than I want him. Leo also suffers from acid reflux, though I do not know this for two months.  For two months all I know is I have a newborn who cries incessantly. And then my help leaves. The novelty wears off, the holidays are over (Leo was bornDecember 7), and everyone returns to their homes and jobs. Bill too, goes back to work. I am home alone with two very young children.

I will not go into all the details, but will cover some highlights. There were times when I locked myself in the bathroom and cried, while they both screamed on the other side of the door. There were times when I left Leo in his crib screaming while I held Penelope and acted like I couldn't hear him. There were times I would hold him, but away from my body cause I couldn't bear to look at him. There were times I would scream at him-scream-to shut up and go to sleep. I thought about giving him up. I thought about leaving him naked in the bathtub with the window open. I thought about taking Penelope and running away. I hated him for taking time away from my sweet girl. I hated my husband for not understanding. And in the few moments of clarity I had, I hated myself for having such thoughts and feelings. I talked to no one, for who could possibly understand. I didn't understand!! This was not me! I am a loving person, a compassionate person. A person who had dedicated her life to bettering the lives of children!  I have a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. I worked for a year in a preschool with special needs children. Surely, I could find some love for my own child?  I needed help.

I finally talked to my prenatal nurse. I did not tell her everything. She would hate me for being such an awful mother. I told her I was feeling overwhelmed. It was hard taking care of two young children. She gave me rules. Whether she knew that I was suffering from post pardum depression or just suspected, I don't know.

These are the rules:
1 Get our of bed.
2 Get the kids out of bed
3 Get dressed
4 Get the kids dressed
5 Take a shower
6 Make sure to eat and feed the kids 5-6 meals/snacks/bottles

Anything beyond that- ANYTHING, washing dishes, picking up toys, folding laundry, grocery shopping or even giving the kids a bath,-was extra. A bonus. A gold star on my chart of life. There were several days where I did not get a gold star. I only did the things on my list of rules. There were days where I had to force myself to complete some of the rules. But I forced my self to complete my to do list every day. And every day little, by very, very little, I felt better.

And then the day finally came. The day came when I looked at Leo and cried. I held him and cried, and apologized over and over and over again. I told him I loved him and I meant it. I loved this precious little boy more than my own life. My heart was full of Penelope, and it didn't make room. Instead I grew a second heart. A place for Leo alone. A place full of this sweet child. A part of me will never forgive myself for things I thought, said and did, but I will spend the rest of my life loving this little boy and being the best mommy I can, to try and make up for it.

If you are or have ever gone through postpartum depression. Or think you might be, please, talk to someone. Anyone. You are not a bad mother. You are not weak. You are a woman who has gone through a major life event. And most importantly, you are not alone. Follow the rules. Do not live day by day if that is too big. Live hour by hour. Minute by minute if you have to. But most importantly, have hope. You will come through this, and the love you have for your child will be so much stronger, because you had to fight for it so much harder.