Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sharing My Heart With Her

Before Rory and I were parents.. before we were even married, we discussed religion and how we'd introduce it (or not introduce it) to our future children. Rory comes from a family of mostly non believers and though Rory went to a Christian camp and was in a youth group, he never opened his heart to God. For Rory, the universe is just too big and too great for it to have been made at the hand of a God. For me, that is the exact reason why I believe there is a God. We live in an endless universe and yet, we're here because of God's love.
We talked about wanting to raise our future children with open hearts and open minds and we still very much want that, but something happened when Logan was born and my heart felt a little different.

I was raised Catholic. I went to a Lutheran preschool, a Catholic Kindergarten, Catholic elementary school, Catholic junior high, and a Catholic high school. There was never anything else but the belief of Jesus and prayers to Saints and God's angels.. my life was Church and faith. When I was 19, I made the choice to leave the Catholic church (because it filled me with fear) and I found myself more in love with God and worship at a non-denominational Church. I pray every day, I am a believer in Christ. I would say that I am not a religious person.. I am a person whose faith is very important to her life.
Talking about God and Jesus every day is not something that is odd to me so I found myself talking to my daughter about it as well. When she was a tiny little bundle, I would pray over her as she drank her nightly bottle.. when she got old enough to see that there was a crucifix in her room, we said "thank you and I love you" to Jesus.. last Christmas when she was more cognitively aware of the season, we talked about all of the pieces in our nativity and she loved that baby Jesus was already recognizable to her. Before she was born, I didn't have any visions of myself praying with her or talking to her about Jesus.. I just figured that her faith would develop naturally (if at all) in whatever she wanted to believe in.

Talking to my daughter about Jesus and His love for us is something that gives me an overwhelming sense of peace and love. My heart is full when she asks to kiss Jesus goodnight and I am cherishing this love that is growing in her heart as well.
There will come a day when she may not want to believe in God anymore and as heartbreaking as that may be, I believe in God's plan and in His path for her, so she may open her heart again one day. She may decide to be Jewish, Agnostic, Buddhist.. whatever it may be, as long as she is a good person and kind to others, I will be proud and happy.

My faith in God has shaped me and saved me.. it's not for everyone. Whatever it is that she wants to put her love and faith in to is her choice; nowhere does it say that you can't be an incredibly caring and kind person if you're not a Christian. I am looking forward to seeing who she grows up to be, no matter what her faith is.

xo
-Ali

Monday, January 5, 2015

I Am Healing

Without a doubt, 2014 was the biggest year of growth for me; bigger than becoming a wife, bigger than becoming a mother. Last year I reflected on why I was who I had become and I made a conscious effort daily to become a better person.

I spent many years very angry at anything and everything; I frequently felt attacked and subconsciously allowed myself to put distance between myself and people that were close to me. For a long time, I didn't think anything of it.. I just felt the way I did and that was that. I had settled for the person I had become; distant and very sad on the inside.

At the beginning of last year, I had secluded myself from family, friends and even Rory; I just held on tight to Logan. Somehow I felt this was everyone else's doing but my own. I believe that all of the sadness I was feeling inside led me back to a place I didn't think I'd be at again. I started to have the same reoccurring nightmares about my horribly abusive relationship that I had suffered from years before; I couldn't sleep, I would wake up and immediately have a panic attack.. every day I felt beaten down from these nightmares about a man who broke me physically and emotionally. It saddened me even more that I was not completely present with my husband and my daughter so I decided to step way out of my comfort zone and I started seeing a therapist. 

I was officially diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder; something I never dared to say because I felt that was reserved for war heroes. My diagnosis was a bit of a relief in that I felt like I wasn't just being dramatic or dwelling or I simply "couldn't get over it".. I was truly mentally and emotionally damaged from the years of abuse.

The label of PTSD empowered me and for once in a long time, my mind felt clear enough to really take a look at myself. Who had I let myself become? I didn't want to be secluded, I didn't want to be quick to anger, I didn't want to be alone. I had become that way because my traumatic experience changed me. Before meeting that man, I was a shy and sweet girl. I loved everyone and I trusted everyone. Spending three years of being hit, dragged, cut, yelled at, cheated on, belittled, and lied to changed how I felt about the world and how I felt about myself.

It's a new year and I feel like I am on my way to being at peace with what happened to me.. which I finally understand is much different than closure. Closure is something I thought I needed and now I know that there is absolutely no closure for a person who has suffered abuse, there is only forgiveness and strength to live the rest of your life without fear. 

Knowing why I became who I was has helped me take the steps to change in to who I want to be and who I was meant to be. Really, I am just allowing myself to be who I was before the abuse.

It feels good to be me. 

"I'm battle scarred, I am workin' oh so hard
To get back to who I used to be.."
-A Fine Frenzy "Near to You"

xo 
-Ali

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Year in Review


This year was full of change. We had two big life changes in particular; we moved and we have a new baby on the way! Each change began with lots of tears and devastation, but we came out on the other side of both and are happy and healthy. Our new home feels more like home than anywhere we've ever been and baby girl is doing well and growing; we're ending this year on a good note.

Last year I wrote down some goals I wanted to keep (you can read them here) and I did pretty well with most of them, but let a few get away from me. I didn't get to make my quilt and with having to move, saving was pretty impossible; every few years, we get a good chunk of savings and then we have to move and come up with rent and a security deposit so it disappears. This year was pretty hard financially with the move, our TV broke, Logan needed a new car seat, I needed new glasses... life happens and it gets harder to keep up with it all. The hardest thing has been all of the medical expenses with this pregnancy but somehow we hang in there and for that I am grateful.

This year I am not going to write down any goals for myself other than to be the best wife and mother I can be. I want to go in to the new year with the goal to live each day the happiest I possibly can.

What I do want to do is take some time to look back at a few of the wonderful memories we made as a family a midst all of the transition, hard times, and months of feeling sick!
Disneyland- February 2014. We had such a great time  watching Logan's reactions to everything.. it was her first time there being able to walk around herself and join in on a dance party! 
Duck Park- March 2014. This was a hot day! It was Logan's first time feeding the ducks and huge geese. We spent a few hours there, just the three of us and it was perfect.
Trips to the Farm- Spring, Summer and Fall 2014. Underwood Farms was our home away from home for most of the year. We had many play dates and lots of mom and Logan dates. We bought gorgeous produce to bring home, rode the cow train a million times, fed animals, pet goats, enjoyed the Harvest Festival, and so much more. I can't wait for them to open up again in a few months so we can go enjoy our farm days!
Road Trip to Monterey, Santa Clara and Gilroy- July 2014. We took a long road trip up to visit my dad for a few days and stopped at the Aquarium on the way. The rest of the weekend was hot hot hot (110 degrees at the garlic festival and we also were soaked in sweat when we visited a little zoo near my dad's). This was our one and only getaway this year and it was just enough to refresh us and I love the memories we made.
Three Year Wedding Anniversary- August 2014. Our one year anniversary was spent moving, our two year was spent at home, and this year we made it out to lunch! We're getting better at celebrating!
See wedding photos here and here.
Big News!- November 2014. Logan talks about baby sister being in mama's tummy and we're so excited to have Wesley join the family! I am antsy to see her in a week at my next ultrasound; I had been going to my OBGYN once or twice a week and saw her each time so I've missed her these last three weeks!

Through the ups and downs, it's been a wonderful year! I met a girl who has become one of my best friends, I rebuilt some old friendships, I believe this year was my year of growth; I feel happy, I feel connected, I feel at ease, I feel so much love for the people in my life, I feel like I have become who I am supposed to be right now.

Happy New Year friends!

xo
-Ali

Friday, December 26, 2014

52/52


A portrait of my child once a week, every week in 2014.

Opening up every one's Christmas presents in the morning sun.


If you've been reading along, then you know that I won't be continuing this portrait series in to the next year; it's really become more of a chore than anything. As much as I love being able to see her grow from week to week, there's just a lot of other things that I'd rather be focusing on. I am going to make it a goal to blog about more meaningful things in the new year and not have my entire blog be all photos of Logan because I haven't written anything else in between portraits.

**You can see all of her portraits by clicking here if you missed any**

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and we'll be seeing you next year!

xo
-Ali

Friday, December 19, 2014

51/52


A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014.

She's been sick with a runny nose and a cough off and on since the first week of November. This morning she woke up with a more severe wet cough and a fever so I took her to the emergency room; she has a double ear infection and bronchitis. I'm grateful she's getting antibiotics on the first day of her new symptoms so she can start feeling better as soon as possible. There's nothing more horrible than being in the ER with your sad sick baby.

Have a good weekend guys.

xo
-Ali

Friday, December 12, 2014

50/52


A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2014.

I'm expecting some two year molars to make an appearance soon with the way this girl has been chomping on her fingers, toys, and straws.
xo
-Ali

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Where We've Been


There's been many times over the last several months where I am in the middle of something and I think, "I'll sit down and blog today.. I'll write about so and so.. yes, that's what I'll share." Though I have many of these moments, I just don't have the time to follow through and honestly, if I do find that I have time, I'd rather be taking an hour or so to myself while Logan naps sitting on my butt and catching up with my favorite TV shows. This whole end half of the year has been crazy; so many changes, so many emotions, so many doctors appointments, keeping up with my Etsy shop, dealing with illnesses and trying to keep up relationships; I'm exhausted.

I'm feeling like we've been so busy and so overwhelmed with what's been going on in our lives this year that we have not had any time for each other other than a brief dinner time and television watching for Rory and I after Logan has gone to sleep. I am aching for a getaway, a break and I don't see one happening for a while (definitely not until next year). Employers started calling them "mental health days", I'm ready for a few. I am ready for lots of smiles and sweet moments, just the three (four) of us.

Though the second half of this year was nuts, it's really been since October that we've been put through the ringer. October 1st was the day that I officially knew what was happening with my body for weeks already; we were going to have another baby. We were thrilled and grateful and also a little nervous because what would life be like with two, but excited nonetheless. Fast forward to my first appointment at eight weeks.. the doctor saw nothing inside the sac that was visibly there. She said "it may just be too early, but let's see you back here in a few days." My heart was broken. I was thinking missed miscarriage for that week I had to wait. There was a lot of crying in this house and I didn't think I'd be able to survive if it was in fact a miscarriage. To me, life begins at conception; a life is a life no matter how small and new. I felt that I wouldn't be able to cope with my body rejecting a life.
At the next ultrasound Rory, Logan and I all waited anxiously for some news.. she saw something! Relief? Well, she saw something but couldn't really see a heartbeat yet. Another week of waiting, another week of emotional turmoil.. then, a heartbeat.
Everything with Logan was so easy; she was so active in all of her ultrasounds, she never gave us any fear that we may lose her. This is a whole new experience, one that I never wanted or expected to go through. I've been at my doctor's office for ultrasounds and blood-work almost weekly for my entire first trimester which has been both emotionally taxing but also reassuring; to be able to see how she's growing and thriving gives me a sense of calm that I really needed. She's ok and I am so grateful.

We've been sick with colds, sinus and tonsil infections, and good ole morning sickness. We've thrown a birthday party, baked for Thanksgiving, gone to and from countless doctors appointments, somehow kept up with all of those bills ($50 co-pays each time!), and we are still pushing through.

This year was an absolute roller coaster ride full of epic highs and lows; we were so distraught with having to move and here we are in a gorgeous home, we felt the joy of the news of a new baby and felt the heartache of possibly losing her to joy again in her health and growth. I feel like we've gotten through the worst of it and now is the time to start feeling at ease about everything. Now is the time to feel good again about being settled, being healthy, being with friends and family at Christmastime, and to look forward to a weekend getaway in the near future to celebrate it all.

xo
-Ali