Thursday, March 31, 2011

Papa, Daddy, Father, Pops, Dad

Tonight as I read Ayla The Christmas Baby for the umpteenth time, she surprised me when I turned to the page with camels on it.  She said, clear as day, "Camel!"  I immediately guessed that Brandon taught her "camel" during his many nightly reading sessions with her.

I like putting Ayla down to bed, but I won't deny the fact that her insatiable hunger for just "one more" book often wears me out.  I love when Brandon puts her to bed.  I think it is great papa-Ayes bonding time, and he is the best EVER storyteller.  He has a voice for every character and an accent for every cultured story he reads with her.

Some people complain about their hubbies and their lack of participation in parenting.  I've heard and read tales of dads who just don't "get it" and would rather parent from the sidelines.  I don't get that.  Stereotypes often peg dads as the breadwinner and not much else.

We are both the breadwinners in this house.  There wouldn't be any bread without both of us working.

Having a hands-on man in my life makes me so happy!  I really can't complain.  Well, I do complain, but only of those little nuances that occur in couples from time to time.

Brandon cooks dinner.  He cooks breakfast.  He tries to sneak spinach into everything we eat!  

In those long days and nights following A's birth, he took care of me and he took care of her.  He was up in the middle of the night, every night.  He was at every prenatal appointment I had, and he has been to all but 1 of A's pediatric appointments.

He colors, he does puzzles, he reads stories, he snuggles.  He changes diapers and cleans up puke.  We discuss poop color and frequency, how much she's eaten and what she's had to drink.  We are on the same page when it comes to discipline and our goals for her... wanting her to learn, be happy, and we want her to be "a good man in a storm."

There is no parenting task that he is unwilling to do.  There is no household chore he won't take care of if it needs to be done.

He listens to all my car seat ramblings; he calms all my worries.  He supports me and challenges me.

The first words he said to me when I told him I was pregnant (at 5:30 am on a Monday morning) were, "I'm going to be a dad!"  He smiled ear to ear.

I don't know what I'd do without him.  I don't think I could handle a man that wasn't a hands-on dad and hands-on partner.

This one's for the dads, the papas, the fathers...all the men out there who stand by their family and jump in feet first.  Without men like you, what would we do?

This is especially dedicated to my Brandon for being such an awesome dad and partner.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm that Mom.

I'm THAT mom.

That's right, I said it.

I'm the mom who agonized over breastfeeding, trying everything in her power to make it work.  I'm the mom who cried when she fed her precious newborn the last of her mother's milk.

But I'm also the mom that fed her sweet baby formula when there was no choice left.

I'm the mom who posts every article and video on the importance of rear-facing and extended rear-facing babies in car seats.  I'm the mom who agonizes over the number of moms who choose not to follow these recommendations, even when they have read the cold hard facts.  That it is 500% safer for all babies in a collision.  It actually makes me nauseous because I know the devastation that can be caused by a collision.  It stole my grandparents away from me, away from my mom and her siblings at such a young age.

But I'm also the mom that didn't know better until a friend (not a pediatrician, shockingly, who still gives wrong recommendations) told her and shared information with her.  (I thank God she felt that I was willing to receive information and not take it as an insult or slight against my parenting.)

I'm the mom that made baby food from scratch and when buying jarred food, only bought Earth's Best because she couldn't stomach the idea of feeding my precious baby food out of #7 plastic, with its toxic components (Gerber products are packaged in #7).

But I'm also the mom that started feeding her ravenous baby at 4 months (2 months prior to the AAP recommendation) and occasionally feeds her baby Chick-Fil-A.

I'm the mom that feels strongly against My Baby Can Read and other programs promising to make her child so much smarter and advanced.  I'm the mom that thinks and knows from my educational background that a reader is made by being read to and learning to love reading.

But I'm also the mom that will put on Elmo or Clifford when her little one requests it.

I'm the mom that loves her daughter more than life itself.  I'm the mom that would do anything for her child and sacrifices her own little luxuries in order to make her toddler's life richer.

But I'm also the mom that gets so frustrated with her child that she has to take a mommy time-out.

I'm the mom who is amazed that as she writes this, her child has almost managed to open a Capri Sun (100% juice...) on her own.

But I'm also the mom that allows my child to have juice.

I'm the mom that didn't plan on becoming a mom when she did.

But I'm also the mom that was ready for the gift and trials motherhood brings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why do I share the things I have learned?

"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. If one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will be responsible for the violent act. The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people's children."
-Lilian Katz

This is why. 

Stress stinks, arrid works...

My stress levels have been SO HIGH lately, and not for any one specific reason.  I have been having terrible migraines with shoulder and neck pain on top of horrendous tailbone pain (cracked tailbone during childbirth almost 2 years ago) to boot.

I do not often talk about my job on this blog, as I know that many teachers have faced serious consequences for airing their negative views or opinions in a public forum.  However, I will say that there are a number of things going on in my state (merit pay + eliminating tenure, pay freeze for my entire career, standardized tests) that have caused many of my wonderful friends a great deal of turmoil, stress, and anxiety.  There are, of course, the perks of the job that are priceless, for instance receiving a note from a parent letting you know that they will never forget the difference you made for their child.

My sweet daughter has been very rambunctious and has been learning a lot about boundaries and limitations.  It is exciting and fascinating to see her grow and learn and change.  But it is also exhausting.  She continues to test things out on me (her newest thing is spitting, as I've mentioned once before) but won't try those same things with Papa.  Some are quick to assume that he is more consistent at disciplining her, but the truth of the matter is we are on the same page.  We are consistent, together.  Not sure why its me she is doing all this boundary/limitation learning with me, but it is certainly wearing me out. Some days, I feel more frustrated with her than delighted, and that of course stresses me out.  I just think I'd be doing a disservice to moms out there to say that it [motherhood] is always sunshine and lollipops.  When I feel so stressed with her, I feel terrible.  That mother guilt that seems to plague so many moms that I know, including myself. 

There is also the stress of being broke and the trials and tribulations of being a homeowner that have been taking a toll on me as well.  

I am in the process of making changes to try and reduce these stress levels.  I am thinking that the first step in this process is to win the lottery.  Recently, a person bought a $20 lottery ticket from my Publix with a winning total of $3 million dollars. Then, I will work on having a perfectly behaved child.  I imagine that things will just fall into place with the state of education, and I am working on inventing a self-cleaning house.  As a result of this lack of stress, I will feel healthy and rejuvenated, springing from bed first thing in the morning, fresh as a daisy! 

I'll get back to you when that happens.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just one of those days...

It has just been one of those days.
You know, one of those days where you feel...
and just overall "blah."

Yeah, one of those days...

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I am not Catholic, so when I observe Lent it is simply because I love the idea of changing habits, giving things up, and improving myself however I can.

I couldn't figure out what to give up this year, so I decided this evening that I will take some things on instead.  I am going to just map things out a little at a time, maybe week by week, and I am going to set off to accomplish each task on the list.  Michele Connolly's blog about doing mini-missions to get things accomplished and organized has really inspired me!

This week's goals:
1. Clean off and clean out my bedside table (its driving me nuts).
2. Clean out the fridge before grocery shopping (I do this pretty regularly...after our company/big barbeque it def needs done again).
3. Do some kind of exercise as many days of the week as I can (major struggle with Ayla girl under my toesies!)
4. Get stamps for Save-the-Dates and get the rest of them ready to send (almost done addressing all of them...)
5. Sort through Ayla's clothes for things that are too small (feel like I constantly do this one too!!!)

Let's see how this week goes!  Happy Lent!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Sun, Part II.

The Sun, Part I was supposed to be about how my whole world revolves around Ayla.  Then, I got sidetracked and typed out (somewhat) her birth story.  

So, back to the point.

I've come to realize that my whole life revolves around Ayla.  For instance, if I want to go to the store or get money from the bank or do anything involving anything, I have to consider several things.  Is Ayla ready?  Am I ready with the things Ayla might need (aka snacks and other distractions & diapers)?  How much longer will it take me to do this and do I really need to do this after all?  I mean, who needs groceries?  And when she was little, it was even more involved.  The car seat that was her chariot  was so heavy to carry such a small baby in to go everywhere.  To the car.  Inside the store.  Back to the car.  Phew!  Plus, the water for the formula and the formula and the other many things we thought we might need.  Then, we'd be in the store and she'd totally not be digging being the car seat, so we'd have to rock and bounce her through the store.  Now, this wasn't always and every time, but it was enough times to be memorable for sure!

My social life (or lack thereof) revolves around Ayla.  We sometimes have Ayla stay with our wonderful and awesome family while we go out, but most of the time we don't.  When I leave Ayla, I miss her. I feel guilty. I feel like I already miss so much while I'm working, so it is extremely difficult for me to leave her to go out and do something.

Conversations revolve around her, too.  Many days after duty ends at work, I talk with my friend Michelle as we head back to pack up for the day.  Just the other day, we had a conversation about boogers and fingernail dirt.  I. kid. you. not.  I'm a picker, so of course boogs hanging out of A's nose drives me bonkers!  She has actually resorted to snuggling up to me to avoid the picking.  Sorry kiddo!   I talk about the latest gross/cute/exciting thing she has done.  I talk about her fevers/what she eats/her latest cute and/or gross habits.  I talk about the latest book/toy/activity she has been into these days.  In the first 6 months of her life, I talked SO MUCH about her poop/pee/formula consumption/other bodily fluids.

When we go out to dinner with her, I think about what she's going to eat.  I think about making sure she eats enough and not just a meal of ketchup (which she mostly prefers these days).  I think about if she's chewing her food enough, and I catch the upchuck when she tries to swallow a piece of boiled egg before chewing it (happened just last night).  I think about how annoying it is when she throws pickles and a breakable (broken) plate overboard (happened last night too).

I think about Ayla in everything I do.  In the way I drive, in the choices I make with what I buy/what we eat/what words I say.  

She amazes me, she really does.  This little person, growing and changing and becoming right before my eyes.  It really is a miracle, that we get to raise a baby.  That anyone gets to.  It is such an enormous task, and I think even the most prepared parents spend most of their parenthood learning as they go.  Even though we shape our children, I have to say the longer I'm a mom, I think that our children really shape us.  I'm not the mom I want to be yet, but I know that I'm doing things right because my world revolves around her.  I do have my own interests and a career and friends and a fiance', don't get me wrong.  Its just that I think having her in our lives has shaped and motivated us.

Things that have recently amazed me about my little bitty:
  • She is putting lots of words together to express herself.  I imagine she'll be speaking in full on sentences before she's 2.
  • She is pretending with her toys.  She will make a person figurine walk or a doggy toy bark.  She pushes her baby in the stroller, then takes her out.  Then she insists that the baby get buckled in again for "safety" before wanting to take her out again two seconds later.  (When I buckle her car seat, I sing "Buckle up for safety, for safety, my darling."  She sings safety to me, and she mimics this with her doll).
  • She does the sweetest little things out of nowhere. Like the other morning, when she was home sick with me, she woke up and kissed me on the tip of my nose as a good morning.  :)
  • She can identify parts of a story by their pictures and says things to go with the picture that are actually what is happening in the story.  Her favorite to do this with is Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.
  • She has taken a real interest in pointing things out and naming them.  This isn't new, but the things she's pointing out and naming are new.  I love that her vocabulary is growing by the day, literally.  Her new favorite things in the house to look at are a decorative owl, eagle (that was my grandfather's), and turtle.  She also loves looking at our pet frog (insisting, "See!  See!") and my classroom pet crab ("crabby" as she says, who is here for the weekend).
She is bright, she is warm, she is the source of energy for our family.  She keeps us connected, brings us together.  The day begins with her and ends with her.  She is my Sun. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

End of an Era

Last night, my future sis-in-law/babysitter/friend, Danielle, called me.  We played phone tag, heck I even pocket called her!  When I finally answered her, after first rejecting her call on my cracked phone whilst trying to answer, she said she had something to tell me.  Of course, I always expect people to tell me they are pregnant, which in this scenario would not be possible.  Anyway, she told me that as of May (the end of our school year) she will no longer be watching Ayla.

This hit me like a ton of bricks.  I wasn't blindsided by this though.  I've known that this was always a possibility and probability.  But it didn't make it any easier.  In fact, I cannot even sit here typing this blog without getting all teary-eyed.

Logically, I know Ayla will be okay.  She will thrive, in reality, and probably love being around lots of kids and working on a learning curriculum with teachers.  

I'm just not sure if I'll be okay.

To understand where I am coming from, you'd need to know some history.  First of all, from the first time I met Danni, I knew I liked her a lot and hoped Denny would date her for a long, long time.  Danni was one of the few people that found out I was pregnant in the beginning.  When she felt Ayla kick through my belly for the first time, she cried.  She got all teary watching Ayla's 4D video.  When she asked me if she could be there when Ayla was born, I was surprised but welcomed the idea.  She took pictures-amazing National Geographic type photos-while I had Ayla and in the moments after.  She saw Ayla's face before I did.

Over the last two years, we've had ups and downs, no doubt.  People are only human and have their own opinions and ways of handling things, but the good news is we've always been able to find a way through those ups and downs.

Over the last two years, she has texted me pictures on an almost daily basis so I never had to wonder how my sweet girl was doing or what she was up to.  She has kept track of nap length, number of poops per day, and how much Ayla was or wasn't eating and drinking. (Seriously, I just can't get through this without bawling).  She has taken thousands of pictures of all the cute, silly, gross things Ayla does.  I have never had to worry, not for one moment.  You can't put a price tag on that, and if I could pay her my whole salary and still be able to pay my own bills, I would.

It has been a wonderful journey with her, these first two years through motherhood.  Not only that, but we've grown closer and been through a lot together her and I.  I don't know if I would've gotten through these years without knowing her love for Ayla and Ayla's love for her.

For example, today when Ayla woke up from a nap, she said, "Debbie, Skor, cat, Arielle, Danielle, Tim, toy, play."  Debbie is Danni's mom, Skor is their dog, the cat is theirs (Butterscotch), Arielle is the 3 year old she watches and Tim is the 15 month old she also watches.  What a sentence!  What a way for her to tell me, "Hey Mom, I'm enjoying being here with you, but can I go back to my regular routine?"

I don't know how I'll do it.  How I'll take her to a daycare center where, as much as they may care for her, they will never love her the way I know Danni does.  I don't know how I'll make it through the day without wanting nothing more than to race out of work to go get her.

But I will do it.  I will get used to it, and when I see Ayla thriving and making lots of new friends and learning 101 new things as she grows, I will know the time was right for this change.  How I wish I could be one of those people that handles change with grace and acceptance, but that's never been my strong suit.

So, with tears streaming down my face as I write this, I guess I am writing this as my thank you to her.  My thank you for the endless days of being worry-free.  For the photos of my little girl, where I get to watch her grow before my eyes while I'm away at work.  For the special visits to work to have lunch with me.  For helping me raise up such a wonderful little girl, with so much love and kindness and intelligence.  There is never a way to thank someone for that.  The experience has made my life and especially Ayla's so rich and beautiful. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Sun, Part I.

Until you have a child, you never realize just how much revolves around one tiny person.  In fact, even during pregnancy, your life is claimed by something outside of yourself (well, inside technically, but outside of your life experience to that point).  

When I was pregnant, everything revolved around my belly.  How big it was, how high or low, did I mention how big?  Everyone was so fixated on that one thing, and I have to admit, I was too.  I remember longing for my "bump" to appear so I could look pregnant instead of just chubby.  Before I knew it, around month 5, I was having tremendous pains that had me convinced something was terribly wrong with Ayla.   That pain would be called round ligament pain as my body was growing quite literally by the second.  I remember at the end of one weekend noticing how big I had gotten just since that Friday. Every day, it seemed, someone was asking me about how far along I was, how long was left, and boy, I looked like I might pop any day.  

My afternoons were filled with milkshakes and prenatal appointments.  My mornings were gagging on my toothbrush and faithfully taking my prenatal vitamins.  In the beginning, I followed all the rules.  No soda, no lunch meat, no feta, etc...  Once I hit the safe zone of the 2nd trimester, I was over it.  Dr. Pepper was my new obsession, though I limited myself as much as possible (I never had more than a can in a day, and even then, not daily).  I was also in love with milkshakes and the famous Wendy's Frosty.  Several things repulsed me, most of all fish and mushrooms.  Blech!  

Before we found out Ayla's sex, we obsessed about whether we wanted to or not.  Rather, I didn't, but Brandon did.  It was so important to him; he was hoping and wishing for a girl.  It didn't matter so much to me, and at the end of the day, I didn't want to miss one of our few peeks at our baby growing in my Buddha belly.
We did birth classes.  Read the baby books.  We had the baby BBQ in lieu of a shower.  When we got close to the end, I started trying everything I was being told to get things going: old wives' tale of mac 'n cheese with A1 (sounded good to my preggo self, wasn't so hot), walking through the mall (ended up with wicked contractions in Hallmark, the few that I actually ever felt), and as my buddy Stacy said, "bend and thrust."

What ended up happening was not the way I had hoped for it to happen.  You see, my high risk ob-gyn (due to my RSD) knew that I should NOT have a c-section due to the effects it could have on my neuro problems.  He was equally concerned with the size of the baby.  She was measuring ahead and an ultrasound (though the margin of error was a pound + or -) saying that she, at 38 weeks, was measuring in the 8 lb. 6 oz. range.  

If he had been able to, I am sure he would have stripped my membranes (though I didn't want that at all), but he couldn't get to them.

He wanted to schedule an induction, I didn't.

Memorial weekend was full of BBQs and busyness.  On that Monday, we were at B's best friend's parents' house enjoying lots of good food (and a Mt. Dew for me).   I was having contractions while sitting down, so I took that as a good sign.  But I also wasn't feeling Ayla move, and of course this freaked me out due to the comment from ob-gyn that he had a 9-month pregnant woman come in with a dead baby in her womb that she hadn't felt moving.  Sidenote: WTF-who says that??  My placenta was anterior (knowledge thanks to my awesome 3d/4d ultrasound tech/owner who was amazing), so me not feeling her wasn't that unusual.  But Doc told us that if I was having contractions to call him and come into the hospital, as it would be easier to keep them going than to start them from zero.  Well, we called him, packed a bag (just in case, and who ever really knows what to bring-my top items were pillow, blanket, and my own pjs to wear during labor), and headed to the hospital.

When they got me in a room (thanks to my pre-registering during my blood pressure scare early in May), the nurse told me to put a gown on.  I was like, "What for?  I am here so they can monitor the baby."  I wasn't putting that shitty hospital gown on, ever.  The baby was good, and I was having contractions (that I wasn't feeling).  My BP was high, as it had been my last month of pregnancy.  I wanted to go home.  I felt like everything was out of my control, this little baby that my life had been revolving around, was basically going to come into the world on someone else's terms.  

We decided to stay, due to my BP concerns and lack of feeling contractions, which would have possibly progressed my labor too far for me to get an epidural (another must have for RSD patients).  I made them move me to another room because the one I was in had a whiteboard/corkboard that was covered in scribbles, and if I had to give birth in that hospital, I needed to be in another room.  Again, I felt like I was trying to have some sort of control, as very little was in my hands.  Doc suggested Cervadil, which turned out to be a waste of money and time sitting in my cervix overnight.  

A nurse came in the next morning and told me to take a shower so they could come in and break my water.  The part of my birth experience that upsets me most is that B & I both heard Doc say that it would be an OPTION in the morning, not a requirement.  His manner in dealing with me when the nurse called him to tell him about my "refusal" was infuriating.  

I told the nurse that I wanted my epidural before they broke my water.  At this point, I wanted to just have something in my control.  So it was.  Epidural inserted, water broken, and pitocin administered.  The day was spent napping, brushing my teeth, updating Facebook, and texting folks.  Luckily, I had an amazing nurse who had a daughter I used to teach when I was an intern.  She was amazing, and I am glad I got to spend the day with her instead of nurse #1 or Doc.  The last time my wonderful nurse checked me, I was at 10.  She notified Doc, and they agreed to let me rest (I said "I'm so tired!") also get some oxygen for the next little while.  

Around 3:00, I had my feet in stirrups.  Doc didn't arrive for another 15 minutes.  WTF.  The nurse had me doing some practice pushing while she massaged my perineum.  My mom said to her that she should deliver my baby, and I agree she would've done a lovely job.  Doc came in, chomping away at his gum.  He had me push.  Everyone encouraged me (I had an entourage...B, my mom, his mom, my sister, and my future sis-in-law).  My mom kept saying, "Just one more push, just one more push!"  I had to tell her, "I know you're trying to be very helpful, but please stop saying that."

After the longest 30 minutes of my life (along with Doc asking if I wanted to "tear" or "be cut" to which I told him, "Whatever you think."  I wasn't feeling up to making a choice...and already knew what he'd decide), my precious baby was born.  The moment I saw her, I thought, "Is this really my baby?" due to both disbelief and my baby with a very Asian looking face (I'm guessing due to the major swelling I had, she did as well).

She became The Sun the moment she was conceived.  Everything revolved around her then, and it still does now.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Memory lane vs. money

I find it interesting that the childhood memories I hold so dear to me are rooted in such simplicity or wrapped up in the kind of trouble that only a child can get into.

When I was a child, my dad bowled in a Tuesday night bowling league.  My mom, baby brother, and I stayed home with my mom and little brother.  Some evenings, my mom had her daycare kids late.  I was always a super scaredy cat kid, especially once the sun went down. We used to watch a show called "Rescue 911" and after that "Unsolved Mysteries" came on.  I often wondered, in my 4-year-old mind,  if they really answered 911 calls the way they did on the show ("911, what is your emergency?"), so one night, I decided to find out for myself.  I dialed 911, got an answer.  I was so shocked and amazed by what I'd just done that I called back.  Shortly thereafter, the cops arrived at my house, just as my dad was leaving the driveway.  Luckily, my mom vouched that my dad was indeed my dad, and the officers inquired as to whether there were kids in the house or not.  I remember hearing this all go down as I sat on the dark stairs leading to upstairs.  I fessed up.  I don't even remember if I got in trouble, but I always was a self-punishing child, so I'm sure that made it easy on my parents.

Another fond memory of my childhood happened during many of my long summers.  We always, always had a kiddie pool, and one year, my older brother Dave & I took a small slide we had and set it up to land in the pool.  Those two cheap items and our childhood imaginations fueled many hours of fulfilling play time.

I remember catching fireflies in the summer and riding my bike up and down the driveway and swooping back around from my neighbor's driveway.  Dale, the neighbor, was a good old guy.  He was a veteran who eventually lost his legs and drank beer morning, noon, and night, but his ramp was the hub for the neighborhood.  My father took good care of him doing everything from mowing his lawn to picking his intoxicated rear-end up off the bathroom floor when he missed the seat.  During the state fair, we watched the fireworks from the upstairs of my house, long before the trees matured enough to block the view.

We had shaving cream fights, and we ate macaroni with hot dogs cut up in it.  We read books, lots of books checked out from our local library.  We didn't go on fancy vacations, we didn't own a swingset until I was too old for it (but still enjoyed anyway), and we didn't have all the latest gadgets.
Children today have so much.  Children have IPods and laptops.  They enjoy luxuries that I won't even buy for myself.  They go on amazing vacations.  Many children have not just one of the latest hot, new toy, but they have one of every hot new toy.  Children have learned to ask, "What do I get?" when something is asked of them. A sense of entitlement instead of a sense of personal achievement.

This is, of course, a generalization.  I do not apply these statements to everyone, nor are they aimed at anyone.  I just can't help but notice.

I am guilty of wanting to give everything to my daughter.  I want so much for her.  But I don't get it all.  I don't want to raise her to expect it all.

I expect her to keep her room clean because it is the right thing to do.  I expect her to help out around the house and do her homework...because it is the right thing to do.  I am not going to give her $5 for every A she earns or every time she lifts a finger around the house.  I am not going to negotiate with her when it comes to her doing the things I believe will build her character.  Now, I'm not saying I won't celebrate her accomplishments or acknowledge her achievement, but sometimes doing the right thing and doing well needs to be its own reward.

I want her to know the value of a dollar, and I want her to understand the economic choices adults must make to survive and support their families.  Hard work is a skill and trait that I want her to earn the only way one can-through doing.  I want her to be charitable and to think of others before thinking of herself.  

Society is consumer driven.  We live in a have more/bigger/better and buy more/bigger/better world.  People flaunt their big, bigger, and colossal purchases with pride, as if owning something improves the kind of person they are.  Competition and keeping up with the Joneses is driving people to debt and deeper debt.

New things are fun.  They are exciting.  I enjoy shopping just as much as the next person, and I splurge when I should save.

But my mind is on change. My mind is visiting my memories.  I want to provide Ayla with what my childhood provided for me.  It wasn't the hottest new toy or the latest greatest vacation.  But it sure did make some wonderful memories and instilled the virtues in me that I think make me a pretty decent gal most of the time.