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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's so much better than they all said

It's midmorning as I type this and my sweet baby boy is asleep in the [godsend of a] rock 'n play in front of me. He's wearing PJs that are a little too tight, he's almost too big for his favorite nap spot.... and I'm little more than a week from going back to work, back to my "real" life. Seeeeeeriously.

Where did the time go? Just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital, our first Christmas as a little family was a blur and I'm equal parts excited and terrified to take the next step forward in life as a working mom.

In the last month before he was born, I was anxious to get the show on the road. All the well wishers spotting my enormous belly warned me of sleepless nights, crying that had no findable cause, labors that were unending..... you know this song, right? Eventually, I wished we could just do this already, just have our baby so I could stop being anxious and find out for myself what parenthood was all about.

Truth be told, it's wonderful.

It's what people tell you and so much more. Before you have kids, you wonder how you'd ever go without a few hours of sleep strung together, how you'd happily stay home on a weekend night with your husband and baby, how you'd go days without showering or leaving the house.

And now I know. You do it because your baby is the cutest thing you've ever seen. You do it because you love him so, so much.

Allow me to gush, ok? Colin is a total sucker baby. You've heard the term, right? Where your baby "suckers" you into thinking you could have a million kids because he's so easy going? Yeah, Colin is THAT baby. Sure we've had those sleepless nights and some crying bouts, but mostly we've had a little gentleman who just wants to look around his new world peacefully and happily. At least twice in the day, he smiles when he wakes up from his nap. He coos and kicks under his activity mat (he loooovvveeeesss his activity mat). He's calm in the car and likes when we leave the house to see the grocery store or coffee shop or Donutland (because I, too, had to celebrate when they started taking credit cards). Every milestone is so fun.

I am lucky to be his mom and I am genuinely excited to see what kind of person he is going to be. I'm sure every parent thinks these things about their baby, but you guys... Colin is legit :)

So, here we are. I go back to work in a little more than a week. And I can't even.

It's the right choice for me, don't get me wrong. I like my career and need the creative/problem-solving outlets it provides. And you know, bills. But the thought of leaving my sweet boy for hours on end has me tearing up multiple times a day.

So, just like before we had our baby... I'm back to wanting the band-aid ripped off. The dread is always worse than the transition itself. I'm doing what I can to prepare: planning a few outings without Colin, orchestrating the morning routine with Tim, googling aaaalllll the things about work transition, and wrapping my mind around projects to start in on when I get back.

To all you working parents out there, I salute you. If you remember what it was like to head back to work after you had your baby, drop me a note and tell me what helped you make it through the day without crying.

Because I'm ready? I'm ready. Yeah... I'm ready. I think :)

Over and out.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cat's Out of the Bag

For those of you who are friends with Tim on FB and saw his album, we are nearing the finish line on an amazing vacation -- what Tim called a "Babymoon."


I was a little hesitant to see Tim put that out there at first, but then again -- it's the truth, and it's getting weird avoiding all references on social media. So, it's out there! We are having a baby in November! I've been craving lemonade/lemon foods and I've been feeling great.

We have been telling friends, family -- work -- along the way, but have refrained from big announcements. Why the silence after I poured my heart out this winter about our struggles with infertility? For two reasons, I guess...

1. After getting bad news for a long time, you never really get over the feeling that the bottom is going to drop out. (Google is not my friend.) I know so many people who know exactly what I'm talking about. Even though we have had a really smooth/healthy pregnancy so far..... it's just hard to let it be "real." I've had to work hard to just be grateful for every day of this blessing, even if the worst thing could still happen. I Also, I remember how much it stung to see announcements when we were in the thick of it, and didn't want to add to another person's private struggle.

2. I struggle with my personal feelings about big 'ol facebook announcements. But you have a blog! You say. But you have shared super personal things here! Yeah..... I have. It's weird. I feel compelled to put things out there in the social webs... then at the same time, I have a dislike for huge staged social announcements, social TMI and a culture shift toward a "posted" life. The struggle is real, my friends. It'll only get worse when we have a cute new baby (son!) and I'll want to make it rain with updates and photos of him.... only to fret about the unknown dangers of putting his little life out into the interwebs on display. I know. I KNOW.

So, there you have it. This vacation has been like a chapter turning. It's allowed me the mental space to actually feel OK putting these thoughts out there, and process this transition a bit more. It's marked a physical transition where strangers are making comments and where Tim can actually feel our baby kick, too.

And oh, the books. I feel like I'm cramming for the biggest test of my life. All you current parents out there can have a laugh at my expense, but reading books on babies helps me feel like I'll have a tiny bit of control over our lives after we bring an infant home :)

We head back to Iowa tomorrow, back to our lives. We will stay insanely busy with work and family and friends in July, and when you mix extra appointments in there at the doctor and with potential childcare providers (heaven help us), time is going to fly.

But we just feel so lucky. Every day. We are lucky to be where we are, and with so.... so many supportive people. Thank you for being among them!

I suppose that's as good a place as any to close this up. Until next time, over and out.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thank You

I still can't believe I actually published that last post.

But I'm truly glad that I did.

We are so blessed to have the friends and family that we do, and aside from feeling the incredibly powerful weight of your support, you all actually helped me to refocus this season on what really matters in life.... that is, you have everything if you have love!

I tend to start every new year with a silly, out-of-no-where burst of optimism, and I'm totally feeling it this year, even though I have a ton ahead of me personally and professionally that should make me really anxious. But I'm not. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have my moments. But I mostly feel peaceful right now. If that's not divine intervention, I'm not sure what is.... I'm an Olympic worryer. It takes more than a few days off work and a calendar change to make me stop fretting.

So, what's next on the baby front? Tim and I are moving forward with some plans that I have told people about in person, but will decide NOT to talk about more than is necessary for awhile. Basically -- our interventions will either work, or not work! Our loved ones will find out either way, and we'll need time to celebrate OR grieve and then decide what is next.

That's an overly simplistic decision tree, I know.

In the meantime, this spring is a HUGE one for me on more than one front. I think (?) I started this blog right around the same time that I started grad school. Many years, many readings and assignments, and MANY thousands of dollars later.... I'll graduate in May with my MBA. I'm in a condensed winter class now, am taking two electives this spring semester and will cap things off with another condensed class in May. Even though it'll be a really busy time, it feels great to be nearly done.

This year also marks the 10-year anniversary of graduating from Iowa State with my undergrad. When did THAT happen.

We had a good Christmas and New Year's -- did you? I totally re-set my operating system -- I got good face time with friends, we went out and stayed in, and I officially got back in the kitchen. (Through the fall and before the holiday I wasn't cooking much... just didn't feel like it.) I'm back at it now and it feels great to experiment/eat my experiments. (YOU GUYS I MADE FOCCACIA BREAD. AND IT WAS AWESOME.)

I've written before about how I love winter, and I'm still loving it now even after the twinkle lights eventually come down. (In case you're wondering, our Christmas tree has taken up its new spot in the yard until Mas Fuego. #livingtheAmericandream) But seriously, I love how the snow and the cold and the quiet and the dark make us slow down.

Instead of promising myself that I'll save a million dollars or get mega-fit this year for my New Year's resolutions, I want to work on myself in a meditative sense -- live in the moment, work on my relationships and be generous in every way. I'm not sure that resolution + my rekindled love for cooking = fitting into pants. But whatever.

A person's gotta do what they can.

And there's always stretchier pants.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Saying it out loud.

When something in your life is really hard, how do you cope?

Do you distract yourself with projects and plans? Do you barricade yourself in a room with a pile of sweat pants and a TV?

Do you tell everyone you know about your heartache? Do you tell no one at all, maybe not even admitting it to yourself?

Personally, I do all the things. I reach for whatever works for me in that moment. I wear my heart on my sleeve, but then sometimes it's under a jacket. Complete denial that there's a problem is my usual first favorite coping mechanism. Complaining about it to my husband and texting a few close friends comes in second. Retail therapy is third. Bubbly wine is a given. Sometimes whatever my coping mechanism du jour  is actually helps me cope, sometimes it just exacerbates what I'm feeling. But since I'm also a typer-thinker, things I would never think to share widely -- I feel compelled to process out in the open here. (Holla if you feel me, writer/bloggie friends).

Am I crazy?

I've been on a hiatus lately from this blog, just trying to make sense of my own life. My purpose. Call it an early mid-life crisis, but I've turned away from this sphere probably when I needed it the most. Is this part of being a grown up, too? All of a sudden looking around you and asking yourself -- how the hell did I get here? Is this what I want? I have a lot of life left to live.... what do I do to make the most of it?

OK, maybe it's just me.


At this point in my life, I always assumed that Tim and I would be getting around to having a family. The storyline was always a little fuzzy, but the broad strokes were clear for us -- wait until we were out of our 20s to allow time to build our marriage and our lives, then have a kid or two. Raise them up to be the most amazing people we know (c'mon, you think this, too). Kids weren't a goal, per se, but a blended part of the life experience we wanted to have.

When we started down this path, I can honestly say it felt like time. And like a fool, I thought things would just fall into place. That I could control this, too.

It's been two years. And whoa -- I'm learning a lot about what it means to have no control. And what it means to now question EVERYTHING you thought you wanted in your life.

I'm bringing this out in the open because it's a real experience. It's not social media picture pretty. And I've reached the point where I need to process it the way I know how.

Did you know that 1 in 8 women will struggle with infertility? When we first started our own personal struggle, it felt like 1 in 1,000,000. Because the minute you decide that you want to have a baby, there are BABIES BEING BORN EVERYWHERE. EVERYONE IS HAVING A BABY BUT YOU. You walk into the doctor's office to have yet another test to figure out what's wrong with you, and you walk by 7657657653 happily pregnant women. You get invited to alllllllll the baby showers. You find yourself stinging with allllllll the "kids-are-a-precious-gift" casual conversations. You get jealous. And mean.

That's totally how it feels.

Then you start seeing the specialists and opening up to a few people, and then you see the struggle everywhere. And how does that feel?

It feels like your own personal stakes just grew. Every infertile woman's success is your success, every failure is your failure. And it is such a boost and a weight on your heart.

So, here are the facts for us right now:

We have more than one obstacle impacting our ability to have a family.
My biological clock is running faster than most (I'm glad something about me likes to run fast? Ba-dum CHING), and we have a shorter amount of time to try to have a family.
We are seeing specialists to determine our path and then give it a shot. We've done the tests, we've called the insurance to see what we can afford (gulp) and we meet again with our doctor next week to make decisions.
I feel like this is a life game-changer. It's on my mind all the time.

And I feel like freaking talking about it.

Because people rarely do. And I think that's mostly because you don't want extra unsolicited advice or even MORE people in your life as anxious as you are to have a positive outcome to peeing on a stick.....

But I feel like..... if the outcome of this is a shift in the track I thought I was on in this life, I need the support and good vibes of the universe on my side for that.

In the meantime, it's the holidays again. And even though all my usual traditions feel a little more forced, Imma do 'em anyway and try to be grateful for everything we HAVE been blessed with. Because it helps take the edge off. (Thanks Real Simple for the protip... and thanks for reminding me that I'm getting old by taking your advice....#Iamthe30yearoldwomantargetaudience)

And now I better hit publish before I remember how crazy I am for just putting this out there......

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I guess I'm running now?

At some point in my childhood, running became very un-fun.

One day, I was tearing around a playground in hot pursuit of my tag target, the next -- I was practically crying midway through the mile run in gym class. Can anyone relate?

Working out, in general, makes me anxious. (A lot of things do, but that's besides the point). As an adult, I realize that a level of physical fitness is necessary for, uh, a healthy life I guess? And people tell me that working out helps with stress. Which I have experienced. But truly, to achieve the stress-busting benefits, I have to get over my anxiety. It's messed up. I don't even think I need to say that working out in the morning is especially hard. I'm sure you can ready between the lines on that one.

Running is the most convenient form of exercise but the MOST anxiety producing for me. Here is what it looks like in my head when I go out for a run:

OK, here we go. Remember that it's all in your head, just keep breathing
OK, don't try and match your breathing to your steps
You're holding your breath, stop it
Stop holding your breath
You're going to get a sideache, try and breathe
OK, you have a sideache, just don't stop
Whoa, dog
OK, sideache is gone, but now your calves hurt
You're probably running wrong, try and strike with your toes
Who runs like this anyway?
Kid on a bike
Try to pace yourself so you don't end up walking
Try and just get this over with
What are we going to eat tonight? Foooooooooooooooood
When you see other people running on this street, start running again so they don't know how out of shape you are
Make sure you use the downhills to run, it's kind of like cruise control
When you drive on this road, it looks totally flat. It's totally NOT flat
Oh, good -- a song you really, really like. Run now
Your mouth is really dry, stop breathing in with your mouth
OK you can walk now

When I'm in decent shape, that dialogue is a little different, but not completely. When I'm out-of-shape, it's worse. And the worse a run is, the more anxious I am to do it the next time.

Tim, on the other hand, LOVES working out. He's a machine. He could lift all day, run all day -- loves to tell me when he reaches new goals. He's a HUGE cheerleader. If anything, through my runs I'm also thinking about making Tim proud. He's a great influence. I love him (obvi). He's also that guy, the one whose enthusiasm makes my anxiety that much more pronounced. When we run together, he stops when he gets too far ahead of me, sometimes to literally run circles around me. What did he figure out that I haven't yet?

Anyway, I digress.

Back in May, when we were hanging around with Tim's sister and her hubs, we had the brilliant idea to do the Denver half marathon together in October. It would be an excuse, really, for us to get together after they moved to Denver. Of COURSE I agreed -- I'm up for fun in Denver and I could always just back out, right?

So far -- wrong. I'm not backing out. Flights are all but booked.

But I think I decided along the way that I really want to try and prove myself wrong over this. I want to try and combat my anxiety. Basically, just "get over" my fear of running. This feels very 30-something to me.

I still have to do this my way. It's week three and I still haven't done every prescribed weekly Nike mobile app workout. But I HAVE done more working out per week than I have in the last, oh, 6 months. Gotta look at the positive.

I really want to finish strong. I want to finish the race feeling like I worked really hard for it.

But part of me wants to just be OK with finishing the race at all (even if I walk half of it, because that's all I ask other marathon runners right now -- "did you walk any of it?" Like I'm begging them to tell me that they did it by cheating a bit, which makes it OK if I don't train as hard. Grah.)

I'll keep you posted on all this, hopefully I have a happy ending for myself. DOUBLE bonus (and you can bet I've already thought about this) -- completing the half in mid-October means that I start my favorite all-you-can-eat holiday season near the top of my fitness game.

That's worth running for.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I'm back.

.... more than a year later. This blog is like a bad horror movie where the monster doesn't die, right? I'm sure there is a more positive analogy out there, I just can't dig it up. Anyway, you get what I mean.

What was my motivation for coming back? I'm not sure, actually. I think it's the same as it always is post blog-hiatus.... I finally get enough of a breather in my day-to-day to remember how much I enjoy putting thoughts to digital paper, THEN I start to imagine un-realistic future me happily typing away on posts during the nights and weekends (setting: a coffeeshop, the library, smiling with a cup of coffee at my kitchen counter... you get the visual on this?)

And then I decide to post.

I won't be foolish enough this time to promise myself that I'll update this thing more often. But I did try and entice myself with a new blog skin. I have such a tortured creative soul, you guys. I want things to be pretty, I just don't have the patience or talent to do what I want. Graphic design skill? Nope. (And it's not like all I'm lacking is the software and time, y'all. I really don't have the orientation). I'll begrudgingly accept the Blogger templates......

So, what's going on with me? At this exact moment in time, Tim and I have come off of consecutive weeks of plans and commitments (lots of fun ones, some not-so-fun), and I have a week-and-a-half before class starts for me for the fall semester. Summer is officially winding down.

I have some other thoughts that I WILL promise myself to blog about, but as an entre act, here are some of our latest adventures, as seen through the eyes of my phone camera :)

Ben Folds concert at the new amphitheater in town. Was a TOTALLY fun weekend, and we actually got to meet Ben Folds before the concert because he ate at the same restaurant as us! Be still my geeky teenage heart.

We found some decent barbeque in town, which is HUGE for us. Of course, I didn't take a picture of my food, instead I captured the moment they brought me beer in a giant Mason jar. It was a Friday after work, OK? Priorities.

We enjoyed the 10th annual float trip in Missouri with my sister, her friends, and all of us who have jumped on the bandwagon through the years. I have no photos of that event (it's better that way) but Tim and I decided to enjoy a night in Hermann, MO before the float. We took Polly, enjoyed a pastoral BnB, and ate some tourist German food. Mmmm wurst and schnitzle. Don't judge.

Some of my extended family came to town for little Tee's wedding shower and we had a great time. We wandered around NewBo market during the day, walked around the Czech Village in the afternoon and capped the evening at a winery and then with dinner nearby. It was such a perfect (albeit warm) day. That winery scene is one that I really try and capture in my brain, if you know what I mean. Just helps me remember a time when I'm totally happy and relaxed. I try and rifle through those images later when I'm, you know, NOT those things.

I can't remember the last time we got a picture all together like this. Even though it looks like a photo of my mom, Paul, and Maureen that got photoshopped together with a photo of me and Tee.....

I can't even. My baby nephews are selfie pros. Love those boys! I keep these images around when I need to remember happy things too :)

These are supposed to be a real depiction of what's on my phone camera, right? So here it is, me trying out a free sample of red lipstick from Sephora (love that place). What you can't see in this photo? This is me dawdling to avoid working out. 

Until next time, friends (and future un-realistic blogger me will promise you that it'll be soon......),


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

This is 30.

To be totally honest, I've been thinking about writing this post for a year. That's probably the most dramatic that I'm going to be at the prospect of turning 30 -- imagining this post. But I hardly write anymore and I've been reflecting a lot about the past ..... decade... and feel the need to express what I'm feeling. So, here it is friends, an open letter to my 20-year-old self, on the eve of my 30th birthday.

Yo Kate.

(That was not your 20th birthday, but just seemed appropriate. This was taken the fall after your 21st birthday actually. End disclaimer.

But while we are at it, you regret that haircut sometimes. OK, now end disclaimer).

Well, here we are. A whole decade later. 

Your life right now is consumed with college, freedom, crappy summer jobs, and changing tides in your family. This summer is a big one for you, but you'll look back mostly on the happy times. The late-night Perkin's runs with your friends. The concerts and baggy dickie's (future self says -- whaaat were those about). Rolling around in someone's car just to listen to The Used, and dreaming about your future.

Here's what you thought you'd be doing in 10 years, if you thought that far ahead at all:

Location: New York City or D.C. -- or some BIG city. Yeahhh (Future self can hardly say that without a hint of self-deprecating sarcasm) 
Occupation: News journalist or PR professional
Hobbies: Concert enthusiast, having hoards of interesting friends, being cool
Boyfriend? You bet -- he's in a band, but works by day at some stable-job that I find interesting

Here is what you are actually doing:

Location: 40 minutes from where you grew up.
Occupation: Operations director for a marketing company in town that works in higher ed
Hobbies: OMG HOBBIES..... um, cooking, school, movies, playing house with your HOUSE, trying stuff like gardening and pet-training, farmer's markets, hostessing, making plans with people
Boyfriend? Husband actually. You married the nice guy with the red crew cut and loveable family.

I know you'd be concerned with that description, because your life is pretty....uh, conventional. So, here's how it happened:

Location: Turns out, you love your family. What's more, you love being close to your family. In another 6 months, you're going to take an internship for a semester in Washington, D.C. You're going to have a blast, and D.C. will always have a special place in your heart -- but one Sunday night, you'll listen to your little sis's high school jazz concert from your cell phone, and you'll cry like a crazy person because you're not there and nothing is more important to you than your family. You would throw down for them at 20, and that only gets more intense by the time you turned 30. You remember that.

Oh, and you value stability -- you know, good job in a place where you can actually afford to live? Yeah, you like that.

Occupation: The way you're being mentored and educated, you'd never know that at 20 -- you don't know bull about where your strengths are. But no regrets -- in your brief stint as a news reporter, you met some amazing people and told some amazing stories. Your news-friends are some of the most fun, interesting people you know. You learned to communicate by getting to the freaking point and have professional poise in front of others. Those are good skills.

But here's the thing. You're not a details gal. You knew this when mom tried to teach you to play piano and sew. Intricacies aren't your thing. Reporting was hard for you because the smallest error resulted in an embarrassing correction. You also have the urge to lead, put out ideas and watch them grow into successes. Finally at 28, you decided to go to grad school and get your MBA. You like marketing. The ideas-meets-strategy is a good fit. Warning though -- you're officially the Chandler Bing of your friends. No one can explain what you do, and that's OK.

Hobbies: You started this blog as a reflection of your new adult life. 20-year-old you is riding the tide, having fun and going out. As it turns out, you love music, but don't love concert/festival culture. You would gladly trade a packed show to a quiet bistro where you can see the artist think. You'd trade the pretentious I-liked-XXX-when-they-were-first-cool culture for discovering albums of folk artists from 10 years back. You don't like standing packed in with a bunch of sweaty, pushing, breathing people. And GASP -- you missed choirs and choir music. DOUBLE GASP -- your life is so busy now that you rely on others to discover new music for you.

Your hobbies now are like a boomerang shot back to the way you grew up. You like cooking because your mom cooked. You like house projects and historic homes because your home makes you feel comfortable and secure (like your old house did growing up). You just can't take the small town outta the girl, and I swear you are *thisclose* to working your way toward a dream home on an acreage on the edge of some town. (NOT on a farm, who needs that much solitude?.... Just an acreage with a pond.... and room for a garden, and lots of trees..... and ahhhhh, crap.)

Just like you didn't know yet what your career strengths are, you are choosing the not-ideal guys. I didn't say wrong, but you had a lot of mental asterisks in your head at the time. You had fun, you had no regrets(ish), but when you realized the right one was the right one? There's no pressure. People who tell you that the hard stuff comes along with the love.... don't really have love. Because when you pick the right one, the pressure's off. Hard stuff comes along, sure, but the hard part isn't choosing to be together.  You held out. (And you almost didn't give him a chance!) 

You made it through this decade with nearly no regrets. That's something to be really proud of. But because no eve-of-30 post would be complete without a list of regrets, here they are:

-- Before you leave college, spend more time expanding your interests, study abroad and don't be in such a hurry to leave. Your student loans will be there anyway...... (and just sayin' interest rates were AWESOME for you #grownupproblems)

-- Give faith a chance. At thirty, you feel like you have so much to be grateful for, and you only have one thing you can do to express that gratitude (that's church). The longer you go, the more you realize that everything can disappear in a second, and it makes you humble. Even though 20 was tough, you're blessed. Just think about it....

-- The blonde hair you tried not once, not twice... but three times? Stop it. It's expensive and makes your eyebrows look like Frida Kahlo's.

-- Start saving money sooner, stop thinking about things to buy to make you feel better that moment. (40-year-old Kate will probably say the same thing).

-- Relationships -- even the most important ones of your life -- are not absolutes. There are no "traditional" family roles and friends come/go/and then come back. Try and ditch the expectations and make your own rules.

-- Whenever you get anxious and shy before you meet new people? Stop it. You'll be fine and have fun anyway.

So, there you go, 20-year-old Kate. It's been a good decade. Oh! And before I forget, you've been in two car accidents in the last 10 years (no serious injuries other than to your car insurance premium....) BUT YOU STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN A SPEEDING TICKET. 


Over and out,