Sunday, November 7, 2010

It takes three to tango

On Sunday, the cabin fever officially set in. It was day six of baby Ben's snuffy nose/cold, and I needed to see real humans. Chris Bunny and Baby Ben don't truly count. Mostly because I call Chris, Bunny, and Ben is a baby. And you should never take anyone seriously who has the word Baby, or Bunny in their name. Don't quote me on this.

Thank goodness Chris was home from work, so after lots of naps and nose blowing (Well, Baby Ben can't blow his own nose, so thats part of his whole issue) we bundled Baby up in lots of blankets and a super cute teddy bear hat, and took a walk to the Maitland library.
Now anyone who knows Chris and I, knows that we are huge book worms. Like super nerdy.

Once in the library Chris went towards his favorite section, and Baby Ben and I went to the Baby Books section. I picked out some cute books like "Ginger Bread Baby" and "My first alphabet" for the little Benny Bug. Each time I picked out a book Ben would inform me if he liked it or not by clapping his hands together. He seemed to be especially excited to read Ginger Bread Baby.
When it was time to go, I passed by a book that was called "And Tango Makes Three" about a family of penguins! Not only do I LOVE penguins, but the title reminded me of the saying I think is hysterical "It takes two to tango". So I grabbed it up and got so stinking excited to read it to Baby Ben that night.

I even told Chris on the walk home about the book, and he got excited to read it as well.
By the time we got home Baby Ben was grumpy, and hungry, so the book was forgotten in the midst of home made baby food and chicken veggie soup for Mommy and the Daddy-man. After bath time, Daddy Jim called, and after talking to him, and cleaning up after dinner, it was time for bed for the Benny bug.
After putting the Bug to bed, Chris and I sat outside with a glass of red wine, and I remembered the penguin book!

So while sipping the wine, I got the book and started reading it out loud (I know our neighbors think we're nuts!), just so we could practice reading it for Benny tomorrow.

Now, Before I tell you about the book, I feel like I need to inform you (In case you haven't read my resume) that I am SUPER DUPER unapologetically conservative. I've worked for seven politicians on seven different campaigns, and six of them were as conservative as it gets. One I'm pretty sure was an under cover democrat, but who's counting?

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, onto the book:
It started out as a sweet little book, about the central park zoo. Aw! Fuzzy little zoo animals are just so precious!
Then onto sweet little penguins. I got a little suspcious when the story started off with a couple of penguins named "Silo and Roy". "Silo and Roy?" I said to Chris Bunny. "Wonder which ones the girl?" As soon as the words came out of my mouth I skipped quickly to the last page of the book (Just call me Harry, Chris can be Sally, for all your When Harry Met Sally fans)
"Baby Tango lived happily together, with her two Daddy Penguins"

Before the last words were out of my mouth Chris let out a shrill little girl laugh, once he'd realized what he'd done however, he changed it to a deep belly laugh, glancing at me nervously out of the corner of his eye.
Lucky for Chris and his little school girl giggle, I was much to concerned with the fact that I'd checked out a gay library book for my precious baby boy!
I gingerly laid the book down on the outside coffee table, finished off my glass of wine, and decided I was going to let Chris pick out all of Baby Ben's books from now on. (Except, that little girl giggle was pretty gay..hehe...)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Roller-coaster rides and dirty dishes

First off I need to apologize for not updating the blog sooner than this!

We've had quite a bit going on.
Here's the short version: (The long version would have you reaching for an alcoholic beverage)

In August-We move to Orlando Florida when Chris accepted a job with Homeland Security.
We settled in an incredible little town called Maitland. We live next to Lake Lily, where Baby Ben and I have perfected our turtle and duck feeding skills. We're pretty impressive. I won't lie.
We found an amazing church that we love, called City Church.

Right when we started to get settled into a pretty easy routine of Chris going to work, Baby Ben rolling over, and me perfecting my laundry folding techniques, Mimzey came to town! (That's Missy Flanagan to everyone but Baby Ben)
Sadly, one day into her visit, my grandmother Puddie started to go down hill, health wise.
Precious Puddie passed away three days later on September 10th. I'll write up another post later on Puddie's death, because there is too much to write on it for now.
Baby Ben and I got on a plane and headed to Mississippi for Puddie's funeral.
Never underestimate the power of a husband who can walk you through security and straight to your gate at the airport. Major cool points to the Daddy-man.

The Bug did quite well on his first flight (I think he thought he was on a roller coaster ride. He kept standing up in my lap when we hit a bump and cooing "weeeeeee!"), and was a precious angel during Puddie's funeral. I couldn't be more blessed.

After returning home (and doing the dishes Chris forgot to do for three days. Ew! Ew! Ew!) we settled back into Florida life. I realized how much I love our little home God has given us. It's not Hernando, MS, but in some ways it is so much better. Chris and I have a lot of past back in MS, and it's nice to start out own story here.

In October I turned 23. It was insanity to look back and remember what was going on in my life that time last year. Let's just say this, Chris was the only one who sang Happy Birthday to me on birthday 22. Haha. A week after my birthday, Baby Ben turned 7 months old! He can sit up all by himself, and is eating us out of house and home. (No really. I caught him licking the carpet the other day)

In late October/ early Novemver, Chris's Daddy suffered a heart attack, and underwent triple bypass surgery. He is finally home and recovering, and we are so glad he's doing better. Sadly, that meant his parents had to cancel their visit, which was scheduled for this weekend. We miss them terribly, but are super excited to see them, and the rest of the Merrifield family at Christmas in Denver. Baby Ben cannot wait to meet all his cousins!

In 9 days, Baby Ben will be 8 months old! He weighs 20!!!!! pounds, and is in 12 month clothing. It feels so strange to have an 8 month old baby boy. We feel like we JUST brought him home from the NICU, weighing a little less than 5 lbs. His jolly personality keeps me laughing all day long. It breaks my heart, but fills me with joy when he smiles at me and I see his Uncle Ben in him.
His blue eyes are one of my favorite things about him, and I can already tell he will be a heart breaker (which reminds me of my pink bike I got at 6 years old that had Heart breaker written across it. hmmmmmm. Wonder if they still make those? haha)

Thanksgiving is coming upon us quicker than usual it seems, and we are super excited that my parents will be here for it (With Uncle Robin!) in two weeks.
In between all of this craziness, I did find time to get some blonde high lights and get back to a size 2 (I know, I was looking pretty Desperate Housewives for awhile there and not in the good way!)
I hear Ben Bug waking up from his much needed nap. He's had a snuffy nose for five days now.
More post to come soon.
Love y'all!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Real men pay their bills

As most all of you know, I've spent the past 5 years or so being a politically inclined girl. This time last year I was campaign manager for the republican candidate in the Tupelo, MS mayor's race. My diet consisted of ritz crackers and vodka and sprite. Maybe more vodka than anything. I can put a yard sign in a yard wearing Jimmy choo heels, and I own more cocktail dresses than I do jeans. I know voter turn out percentages in the last 3 years in Desoto County, all the poll locations in Desoto and Lee County, but I failed college algebra twice. I'd rather organize a GOTV (get out the vote) phone bank than balance my check book.

To say I adore campaigns is a gross understatement. But my only issue with campaigns is:
The candidate.
My favorite politco of all time (God rest his soul) Lee Atwater once said "The biggest pain in the a** to a staffer is and always will be, the candidate"

A volunteer asked me during a campaign how I felt about the candidate. My response was the token "*Blank* is an incredible conservative leader. His is very proactive in the community and has a consistent record of keeping taxes low"
But what I REALLY wanted to say was "Earlier he was walking past my car to the office and I had to force myself not to hit the gas pedal"
Ok so I really didn't wish him bodily harm, but you get the picture.

Candidates can really push a staffers buttons. I always ran into issues of being taken seriously by a candidate. Now a lot of that is my fault. Being 4'11, wearing bright colored dresses, and showing cleavage probably wasn't the best way to taken seriously, but hindsight is 20/20.

Even though many of my candidates nearly made me a crazy person *well, the jury is still out*
they always did the right and honorable thing by paying their bills and never left anything unfinished once the campaign was over. Not only am I thankful to these candidates for always paying me, but I am also thankful to them for the learning experience in working for them, and for all the memories I've acquired along the way.

The last campaign I worked on was a different story; maybe because the stakes were higher. I was pregnant with Ben, married to Chris, and I was no longer willing to throw myself headlong into a campaign without boundaries or concern of how my long hours and sleepless nights would be affecting my relationship with my precious husband, or the health of our unborn child.

Instead I decided to draw healthy boundaries, be precise in my work, keep good records, and spend my working hours wisely. I enjoyed my work on this campaign for the most part. I allowed myself to get sucked into the "ah shucks I don't have any money to pay you but I will soon, and I love the Lord and hate taxes so please give me your blood, sweat and tears".

Everything was going fine until Valentines day, when I was admitted into the hospital with extremely high blood pressure and the possibility that both the baby and I could be in severe danger. Throughout my time in the hospital I (as usual) had my blackbery by my side and kept in contact with the candidate and the rest of the campaign staff.
I was optimistic and yet annoyed when the doctor informed me I had to be on bed rest until my blood pressure went down.
I had been home about an hour from the hospital when the candidate called me. I explained to him what was going on, and that above all I had to get my blood pressure down.

To which his response was to get my blood pressure even higher. "if you have the baby, how will you be working out your work schedule? What exactly is your plan? " he continued to question me until I felt my head spin. I wanted to reply "Well. My plan is to keep my child in my stomach for as long as possible thanks." but I patiently informed him I would work out a plan, and if I had to resign I would leave him with a specific plan as well as give him
two weeks notice and be available to answer any campaign questions.

In the end that conversation and several that followed left me with the realization that my blood pressure was only going to get worse, and my candidate was selfish. He really didn't care about me, or "the people". He cared about winning.
I was at a cross-roads. At that point in my life there were two things vastly more important than yard signs, polls, press releases, and bus tours. Those two things were my husband and my baby boy.
I decided to say goodbye to what had been my life for the past couple of years and focus on what was truly important. I emailed my candidate and resigned. He responded well and politely asked how much he owed me, having not written me a single paycheck in the four months I had been working for him. I tallied up all the hours of work and consulting, took the sum I would normally have charged, divided it by a fourth, and emailed him my invoice. I also sent him a fundraising plan, all my contact list, and other information as well.

A few short weeks later my health continued to go down hill and on March 14th Baby Ben was born. Since Ben spent 3 1/2 weeks in the NICU I did not notice the candidate had not paid me or responded to my invoice, emails or previous phone calls. However as the unexpected bills started to pile up and the Baby was finally able to come home, you bet I noticed he had not paid me for my months of work. I sent yet another email, and an even more detailed invoice.
I got back-Nothing.

It was hard to swallow but now that my invoice is 3 months overdue I have decided to give up on that amount of money and move on. The important thing is I have a sweet husband with a good job who provides for me, and a precious baby who is healthy and gets cuter and cuter every day.
But- I will not be voting for Henry Ross for MS Congress District 1 tomorrow. Real men pay their bills.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Watching the clock

Normally, I'm not a clock watcher. In fact, I make it my business to be extremely non time conscious. Watching the clock makes me nervous. It makes me bouncy-And we all know I'm bouncy enough already.
My habit of not paying attention to the time drove Chris nuts. When we were dating I'd text him and say "I'll be there in 15 minutes" which really meant "I'll be there in 30 minutes. but don't hold your breath" :)

However, Motherhood has truly turned me into a time watching nut.
At 6:30pm on March 14th my doctor called to tell us we were having the baby early. I watched the minutes tick by on the long hand of the hospital clock until 7:11pm when I was wheeled into the hallway. At 7:52pm Benny was born. I couldn't see the clock, and they wouldn't let me bring in my blackberry (The nerve!) but Chris assures me it was 7:52pm.

Once I was released from the hospital I started obsessively watching the time.
"8am, pump for 20 minutes. Pump again at 10am. It takes 45 minutes to get up to Baptist East. Leave the house at 10:15am. Get there at 11am. Scrub up and be ready for Ben's feeding and diaper changing starting at 11:30am. Leave the NICU by 2:25 for shift change at 2:30. When did I pump last? Did I eat lunch? What time should I tell Momma to drive me home to cook dinner?"

I had no CLUE to expect such clock watching. But once Benny got home it only got worse.
The first week I am pretty sure I spent entirely sitting/sleeping on the loveseat with the baby watching the big brown clock Chris's parents got us that we hung across the room.
"Feed and change Benny's diaper every four hours. Pump every two hours. Repeat. When is he supposed to sleep? When do I sleep? Is it ok if I take a shower every other day?Do I stink? If Chris gets home at 5:15 what time do I need to make the bed and clean the kitchen?"

I have these really funny memories of Momma ordering all us Flanagan kids at 4:30pm every day "Ok! Let's clean up before Daddy gets home!!" And now it makes total sense. My Momma was a clock watcher too.

The clock watching has gotten much better now that I let Benny sleep and wake up when he's hungry during the day and at night. Sometimes he sleeps 5-6 hours. It's amazing. We are blessed to have a precious healthy baby, all clock watching aside.

Friday, April 16, 2010

RUN. Don't walk.

Everyone tells you when you're pregnant. to SLEEP. And enjoy that sleep. Because you will NEVER sleep again. Now, I thought all of this was a bit radical. How could a 5 pound bundle of snuggles and cuteness be sole reason for my lack of sleep for the rest of my life? As well as my sweet husbands?
My answer came loud and clear the first night our little spitfire named Ben came home from the NICU.
Holy Cow. I realized that night in the midst of falling asleep feeding him, and crying at the 100th time he spit his pacifier out, that this kid is the culmination of all my misbehaving and then some. He's retribution for all the heck I put my poor parents through my freshmen year, and Chris's punishment for dating too many women in his 20's (Haha. Sorry. Couldn't resist)

Finally at 5am, I swaddled the baby in his miracle blanket *THANK YOU Aunt Julie!!!!* and He fell right asleep. Chris took one look at me, and ran like a speeding bullet to his recliner to sleep for an hour before he left for work and I sat in our bed wide eyed and wondering if I could spell Merrifield correctly at that point.
So my new thoughts on sleeping are as follows....

RUN. Don't walk to bed. And sleep while you can.
And the great news is, I hear it only gets wilder from here!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Scars and Stupidity

While sitting out on the porch yesterday with my Momma and baby Ben, I was reflecting back on my *slightly* younger days and the scars on my body that were brought about by my own stupidity. My Momma seems to think they are reminders of my rebellious ways...I still go with stupidity.
The scar on my tummy is from my naval ring I got at 18 with my ex boyfriend. It seemed like a good idea until Momma saw it 24 hrs later. I think she threw a loaf of bread at me.
The scar on my left thigh is from my jumping onto a file cabinet freshman year. Don't ask....
When it comes to my scar from my c-section due to having a baby.... the root of that might be rebellious ways ;)

I should have known Sunday, March 14th wasn't go to be an ordinary day when I found myself sitting in labor and delivery at Baptist Desoto with Momma due to reeeeeally high blood pressure, answering medical history questions, again....
"Do ya do drugs? Smoke? drink?" my nurse drawled as she typed my answers into a computer next to my bed. " wish" I replied. Everything seemed pretty okay until she asked that question every girl over eighteen dreads while sitting next to Momma-Aside from "Are you sexually active?" The cat's outta the bag on that one already.

"Do you have any tattoos?"
*Dead Silence*
It took Momma about 5 seconds to realize I hadn't answered. "Mary Kathryn Flanagan Merrifield!".
and that's when I knew things were only going to get crazier...

Sure enough, by 6:30pm that Sunday night my doctor decided we were going in for an emergency c-section to get little Benny out. At 7:52pm James Bennett Merrifield was born. Almost Exactly 21 years from the day James Bennett Flanagan jr was born, and three days from the 5th anniversary of his death- His namesake-Baby Ben was brought into this world kicking and screaming.
The decisions I made that led up to Baby Ben's life may sometime have seemed not very wise, but the Lord makes beauty from the ashes of our lives- and the child of my (perhaps) rebellious ways is the reason for my most important scar-And a picture of Christ perfect grace and healing.

Friday, March 12, 2010

But....I EAT oatmeal!

As pregnant people go, I really have been fortunate.
I didn't have weird cravings. My feet never got swollen *until now!*. And I didn't start really showing until I was almost 7 months pregnant. I also gained very little weight, which made it easier on my entire body. Chris probably will debunk my thoughts on being "the ideal preggo". He seems to only remember me crying because he got me a small diet coke instead of a medium, and screaming because the girls at the drive-in forgot to give me honey mustard for my chicken tenders.

He also firmly believes he is a saint for sleeping next to me. He swears I take over the entire bed and kick him in the back nightly. Now basic math clearly proves me innocent being that I weigh a good 100 lbs less than him, and even pregnant am a much smaller person than he is. I also don't think my legs are long enough to reach his back to kick him.
I guess we'll just have to give the poor guy some grace, because I really have been tough to deal with the past three weeks.

At the beginning of my pregnancy I craved oatmeal, and still do. I normally eat it for breakfast or a snack everyday. I don't watch much TV, but I always saw the Quaker Oats commercials and assumed that I was being super healthy by eating "a bowl a day". I even thought I deserved some sort of little medal or perhaps a trophy for craving such a healthy snack. I haven't received either, but I've still got a couple weeks left, so I feel hopeful.

On Valentines day at 31 weeks, all my oatmeal ideas seemed to go to the wayside. While most couples were enjoying a romantic dinner and I'm sure a little Marvin Gaye playing on the radio, I was diagnosed with pregnancy hypertension and felt just awful, due to my blood pressure being super high.

As I was being checked into Baptist Desoto for high blood pressure, the nurse handed me a light blue hospital gown. Terrible color. I'm a winter. I look better in cobalt blue. I gingerly held the gown with two fingers and she explained I needed to put on the gown and sit in the hospital bed so she could hook up a heart rate monitor on my tummy for the baby, and get a BP cuff on my arm to monitor my pressure. After briskly informing me of all this, she began to walk out the door, to my cries of "But I EAT OATMEAL!!!!!!"

I guess I never watched the ENTIRE Quaker Oats commercial, because a bowl of oatmeal a day does NOT make you blood pressure stable. It's for high cholesterol. Dang it.

Needless to say, after two days, I was told to go home, be on bed rest, and collect a 24 hr urine test. Anyone want to know what's slightly less romantic than spending Valentines in a light blue hospital gown and your husband never telling you everyone can see your booty when you get up? Collecting a 24 hr urine test. I'm a very modest person, and I grew up thinking that there always needed to be SOME secrets between me and my husband. Yeah... That and the oatmeal theory didn't quite pan out.

Fortunately for me, little Benny, and Chris's sanity, my blood pressure returned to normal after a couple weeks, I was allowed to increase my activity level, and Baby Ben's growth continued to be healthy.
Everything was going swell until yesterday.
When people ask how I've been feeling lately now that I'm at the tail end of the pregnancy, I say one word. "Old" I really have been feeling old. My back hurts. I miss my ankles.
And I'm carrying a baby who is already certified with a black belt in karate chopping. Ouch.
I thought all this was normal however, until my regular check up with my OBGYN.
The nurse took my bp and her eye brows shot up "Oh my...It's REALLY high" she murmured.
I groaned inwardly and went to get Momma. The nurse put us in a room and soon after my doctor walked in. "Hey Mary Kathryn! are you in bed resting?" She said a little too perky for my taste. "" I replied. "Well you're officially back on bed rest! And you're going back to the hospital today because your blood pressure is way too high"
So back we went. Yay.
They took more blood, took my blood pressure so many times I think I lost feeling in my left bicep, and did an ultra-sound to check out Benny's activity.
As usual my little ADHD baby did not disappoint. He was rolling around, jabbing, punching, and wiggling to the beat of his own music. As the nurse wheeled me back into my room, we came upon the family waiting room. Since I was sitting in a wheel chair I could only see the top of one person's hair. A lonely family member of someone's sitting and waiting.
But I knew that hair anywhere- I did a beauty pageant wave as we wheeled passed the waiting room. My Daddy waved back.
After a couple of hours my Doctor allowed me to be sent home. With strict orders to stay on bed rest. AND another 24 urine test to complete. The medical community sure knows how to suck the romance right out of any marriage :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ice Cream and tears

On Sunday after church and lunch with the family, Chris and I partook of my favorite non-alcoholic past time EVER. We went to the Dip to get ice cream. Well, I got ice cream, he cheated and got fried cheese cubes. I didn't know that was an option or I would ordered ice cream AND food.
The sad thing is, I can recall a time when food didn't mean that much to me.
Oh the skinny, non preggo days....
As Chris and I were ordering our treats, I looked over to the left and saw a teen age girl with her apparent boyfriend. They were hugging, kissing, and having an all around fabulous time.

I couldn't help but smile at them and sigh a little with contentment when Chris pulled me closer and kissed my forehead. I didn't date in high school. I get asked a lot what I was like in high school, mostly because of the nerd factor from being home schooled, I don't have much to say. Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVED being home schooled. But my family was home schooled, before it was cool. Another reason why I didn't date, or comment fondly on my high school years, is because those are the years I remember most vividly. I remember my brother Ben being the sickest then. I also can't ever forget the day he died, when I was a junior in high school.

I leaned against Chris, quietly letting memories take hold, when our order was called up. Chris walked up, got my ice cream, and handed it to me. I turned around to grab it, and realize that I knew the girl who was kissing her boyfriend. This girl, was the girl my brother had a crush on when he died. I grabbed my huge sun glasses I had bought in Italy last year, and quickly settled them on the bridge of my nose, right as the tears came. Poor Chris kept talking about how much he loves cheese, and didn't notice my mascara stained tears falling down my cheeks. My ice cream started to melt down my hand and I just kept staring at this girl.
The day before Ben died, he bought her a bouquet of yellow and purple wildflowers. He also bought some for my Momma, and our house keeper Nadine. I walked in 24 hours later, with Ben gone, and the flowers were in vases all over the house.

Filled with sadness, and a little anger I watched this girl out of the corner of my eye, enjoying the prettiest afternoon of the year with her boyfriend. I wanted Ben back so bad in that moment, I could taste it. It didn't seem very fair to me, that she was being embraced by her boyfriend, living a wonderful life, and Ben died without even getting his first kiss.
I know, that Ben is in a better place. I also am very aware that he is no longer suffering. Sure, all that knowledge is great on paper, but it still hurts.
I whispered to Chris I wanted to go home, and he nodded and opened the car door. As I was getting in the car, I took one last look at the girl- and then I felt a tiny foot kick up into my ribs.
Ben's nephew, Baby Ben was kicking me. Jer. 29:11 came to my mind as we drove home. I felt a ray of joy as Chris's hand held mine, and mine patted my tummy. No words can describe the grief I feel over Ben, but that girl can't do anything about Ben dying. Big Ben spends his days in heaven, living without pain. And now I am blessed to have my days filled with joy with my sweet husband, family, and Baby Ben.