Worst Show Ever

It was a rough weekend on our household. L came home with a stomach bug Thursday that JD contracted on Sunday. So far I’m feeling fine and praying that by some miracle I’m able to avoid the nastiness. I spent the majority of the weekend disinfecting, obsessively washing my hands and running constant cycles of bedding, towels and blankets through the wash.

Because of this, the weekend was what I’d call a “lazy parenting weekend.” Translation: L watched a lot of TV. I know it’s not good and I really do try to limit it, but sometimes you do what you gotta do. #momlife

When L does watch TV, we generally put on Sprout, an all-preschool channel that has good, surprisingly tolerable programming. Well, tolerable except for one. Caillou.

F*#%$@ Caillou.

JD and I both loathe this show with passion. Naturally, L loves it (seriously, it’s like toddlers have a 6th sense for doing exactly what you don’t want them to do).  I can summarize every single episode like this- Caillou does something mean to his younger sister/friend/classmate. He then proceeds to whine for the majority of the episode. Finally, his parents/teacher teach him a valuable lesson and he apologizes, while still managing to sound whiny.  The end.  Not only is this kid miserably rude, but his voice is like nails on a chalkboard.

Seriously, who put this show on TV?

Stay Strong, Blue Families

One night recently, JD arrived home from a shift, walked in the door, and the first words out of his mouth were to announce that the blue line stickers were coming off our cars.  He immediately grabbed a razor blade and headed back out to the driveway to remove the stickers before he’d even changed out of his uniform or eaten.  The threat to LEO’s and their families is very real and growing, unfortunately.  There’s intelligence that some plan to use these stickers to follow LEO families back to their homes.  I had a feeling this day was coming given the current view of Law Enforcement, but it doesn’t make it any less scary or sad.  Removing the stickers feels like giving in, like we’re letting the hatred win.  I always have been and always will be a proud police wife, but I hate feeling like I have to hide it, like I’m supposed to be ashamed of it.  If I meet someone who asks what my husband does, I’m not even sure I should tell them anymore.  Maybe it’s safer to go with the generic “he works for the city,” not because I’m truly ashamed, but because I have a family, and my number one priority is my daughter’s safety.  You just never know.

I have never had a lot of anxiety about the type of work JD does all day.  Sure, I worry, but I don’t let that worry consume me.  When people ask how I deal the stress of sending my husband off to such a dangerous job, I tell them that it’s equal parts faith and denial.  I am confident in his abilities as a Law Enforcement Officer and trust that those abilities will bring him home, but quite honestly, I know I can’t let myself think about the realities of his job because it would start to take me to that place of extreme anxiety.  Now that the atmosphere is changing, worry is becoming a greater part of my daily life.  There’s a heaviness on my heart, a fear that comes with sending him off to every shift that I’m not used to.  Officers are being targeted.  I trust in JD’s abilities when the fight is fair, but now that our officers are being executed and shot at while performing everyday duties, putting on that uniform has become more dangerous than ever.

The voices of hatred and violence have been louder than the voices of support.  Sometimes, it feels like LEO’s and their families are on their own, that no one is standing behind us anymore, but every once in a while, someone takes time to tell JD thank you or posts something kind on social media.  I think all of us in this community need to be reminded that there are people out there who recognize how hard this is.  That we’re not forgotten about.  That we’re still appreciated.  That all of this is still worth it.

My 2 Year Old, The Insomniac

So, Loralai stopped sleeping.

Okay, not really stopped, but these past few weeks have been a little rough (at times, a lot rough).  Previously, night after night, we’d been able to  put her to bed in her crib at 8pm and she’d fall asleep quietly without complaint.  Then one night, everything changed.  She threw a fit, crawled out of her crib, and it was game over.  Since that night, she’s practically refused to nap during the day (previously, we were still getting a good 3 hours out of her), and every night we wait for her to get sleepy, but she’s literally bouncing off the walls till 11.  JD and I have barely had a moment to ourselves in weeks, and I’m clinging to my last shred of sanity.

My biggest frustration with this is that it’s a problem seemingly without a resolution.  I’m not really sure what the cause of all of this is… 2 year molars/teething?  2 year sleep regression?  Separation anxiety?  Some hellish combination of those 3?  And without an explanation, I don’t know how to resolve it.  It’s killin’ me.

The weird thing is, she wasn’t cutting back on sleep before this happened.  She wasn’t showing signs that she needed shorter naps or less nighttime sleep, but since cutting back so drastically, she hasn’t been acting tired either.  She is full of energy and literally bouncing off the walls till 11pm, even if she skips her daytime nap altogether.  Plus, even after she goes to bed so late, she’s not really sleeping in a whole lot.

We did end up taking down her crib and moving the toddler bed into her room, because she continued to crawl out of her crib after that first time, but she doesn’t seem to be upset about the bed or having trouble with that transition.  She actually loves the bed;  she’ll sit in it and look at books during the day, and once she does fall asleep, she’ll sleep soundly in it throughout the night.

Most nights, the only way to get her to fall asleep is to let her lay in our bed with us.  She doesn’t want to be left in her own room by herself (we’re talking screaming her head off without any sign of relenting… “crying it out” isn’t an option with this kid).  It hasn’t really mattered what time we brought her to bed with us, she still won’t fall asleep till 11, but when she is finally sleepy, she’ll curl up next to me and ask me to hold her hand (in a lot of ways, this has been very sweet, but after a few weeks of this, also somewhat irritating).  After she was sound asleep, we could move her to her own room and she’d sleep fine in there, but her clingy-ness is what’s making me wonder if this is a separation anxiety thing.

Last night, at 11:30, I’d lost all patience and stuck her in her own bed.  She cried for a few minutes, then fell asleep.  Not sure if this is a small victory, or if she was just too exhausted to fight it anymore.

My office has been closed for the last week for a “winter break,” so we’re back to our normal routine starting Monday.  I’m hoping that getting back into our usual work/daycare routine will kind of force her back into her usual schedule.  She can’t be staying up till 11 if I have to wake her up at 6:30…. Or at least I hope she can’t continue staying up till 11.

Lord, help me.

Dear Officer’s Wife – I See You Too.

Humanizing The Badge

Dear Officer’s Wife,

I recently wrote a blog that was intended to touch the lives of our police force.  It was intended to make them realize that they weren’t alone and forgotten by the very people that they protect.  I wanted them to know that we see them.  I have spent many of nights thinking about my fellow Law Enforcement families and I have to be honest.  It has been a wide range of emotions.  Some of those nights consisted of me falling asleep with an immeasurable amount of pride in our men and women in uniform.  The other nights consisted of sleepless moments of anxiety and uncertainty.  Last night, as I waded through the responses to “Dear Officer, I See You”, I found myself thinking about you.  I found myself thinking about what it really means to be a police officer’s wife or husband.  And, I think it’s fair…

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Sorry for Word Vomiting

“I could hear people getting bored with me, but I couldn’t stop. It just kept coming up like word vomit.” -Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls

So, I’m a bit of a talker.  Actually, to say I’m “a bit of a talker” is an understatement.  Those that know and love me can attest to the fact that I’m a hard-core extrovert.  I will talk till dinner plates get cold, till I’m running late for appointments, till people are getting irritated with me.  In fact, I do this to my husband on a regular basis.

Night shift can be rough.  Our conversations on those days are brief and generic, usually limited to “How did you sleep?”  “Did the baby take a good nap today?”  “How was work?” etc.  Dogs don’t talk back and L’s vocabulary is limited to toddler necessities such as “Elmo,” “Cake,” “Poopy,” and “No.”  Sure, I have co-workers and friends to keep me company, but it’s not the same as JD.  He is my ultimate best friend- he’s the one who I tell everything to.

On the nights he’s working, I’m like a balloon, slowly inflating with words that I’m unable to share with him.  By the time his off day rolls around, I’m ready to pop.  Although he’s slept all day and it’s mid-afternoon when he gets up, I know – I KNOW – I should give him at least a few minutes to wake up.  He doesn’t like to be assaulted with my blur of thoughts any more than I like him to crawl into bed early in the morning after a night shift and start rambling about hookers, drugs, and gang members.  But my need to talk is a compulsion, and after the build-up of being away from him for a few days, I can’t help but vomit out the words as he stares off into space, silently begging me to stop talking.  Being the good sport he is, though, he sits there patiently while I ramble on about the shoes I ordered for L, the latest Facebook drama, or how delicious the taco truck that comes to my office is.  Does he retain any of the information?  Probably not, but it makes me feel better.  And this is how I know my husband loves me.

Thursday Tip: Spinach Salsa Queso Dip

I don’t know about you, but with it being the holiday season, I have a series of potlucks on my calendar. I’m always looking for something quick and easy but also tasty to bring in.  In case you hadn’t figured out from previous posts, I LOVE my slow cooker (see here, here, and here), so when my office was having a dip contest, I once again turned to my trusty slow cooker.  This recipe only has a few ingredients, is super easy to make, and I don’t mean to brag (okay, maybe I do), but I won the dip contest, so I can assure you it’s quite tasty.

Spinach Salsa Queso Dip

INGREDIENTS

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 lb reduced fat Velveeta cheese
8 oz light cream cheese
12 oz salsa
cilantro, optional

DIRECTIONS

Cut Velveeta and cream cheese into smallish cubes.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on low for approximately one hour, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Note: You can also heat using the oven or microwave.  For other cooking options, see original post here.

To Speak or To Keep Your Mouth Shut: The Police Wife’s Dilemma

The first rule of being a police wife: Never read the comments section.

Seriously just don’t.  It’s nearly impossible not to take some of the accusations and hatred personally.  After all, they’re attacking the integrity, the very heart of our LEOs- the men and women who sit at the center of our lives, of our children’s lives.  Who we watch strap on that vest every day and do the impossible.  The things they do, the things they see, it takes someone special to dedicate their life to that type of work.  You can’t just sit back and let them be berated.

So you’re compelled to respond, though your response likely won’t change anyone’s opinion anyway.  You’ll go around and around in circles till you’re shaking with anger.  It will take you to a very dark, very negative place.

I resent any implication that my husband is racist, blood thirsty, lazy, or any other hateful term that comes with the territory.  I know him better than anyone in the media, better than the Internet trolls, better than some bullshit cop hate blog. I can assure you he is none of these things. In fact, he is the opposite. He is called to a life of service; his soul craves it.  Do you know how rare and beautiful these people are?  Nothing else has fulfilled him the way his military and law enforcement experience has.  I rarely see him happier than when he comes home after feeling like he truly made a difference in someone’s life and helped them in some way.  Nothing hurts him more than to feel like he couldn’t do enough to save or help someone.

And you…. You who are hiding behind your computer screens talking about things you’ve never experienced.  I don’t see you stepping up to a life of service.  I see your ego and self-righteousness making things worse.  I see you causing the hatred, the hurt, and the problem.  So maybe you should strap on that vest and work alongside my husband for a few days.  I’d love to see what you have to say then.

Halloween Recap

Although this wasn’t L’s first Halloween, in some ways it felt like it.  Last year, she was only 9 months old, so Halloween equated “this bulky thing you put on me is weird and annoying, mom.”  She looked darn cute though!

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This was also the first year since JD started with the police department that I can actually remember him having the night off.  We debated taking advantage and actually taking L trick-or-treating (who knows what his schedule will look like next year), but decided she’s probably still a little too young.  Instead, we hung out on the porch and handed out candy.  As it turns out, L was probably just as happy doing that anyway.

I was a bit worried that all the kids in costumes would freak her out, or that she would catch on to the fact that she was giving away all of our precious candy (leaving none for her), but she actually took on the role of Official Candy Giver-Outer enthusiastically.  She spent most of the evening parading around with the candy bowl, and when she saw kids coming up, she would take a piece of candy out of the bowl and put it in their bag, then wave as they walked away and say “bye!”

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It’s funny how parenthood makes you see things from a fresh perspective, how something like Halloween, which I stopped appreciating several years ago, is new and exciting again.  Now I get to see things through L’s eyes, and there is so much joy in that.

Close Call

Just the previous night as JD and I crawled into bed, I had told him “I’m so thankful for every night you come home safely.”

“Me too,” he said, and we both drifted off to sleep, side by side.

The next day was Saturday. He got up early to get ready for another full shift, while I stayed snuggled in bed, happy to sleep in (or as much “sleeping in” as I can get with a 1 1/2 year old). He gave me a kiss on the cheek to say goodbye, and I groggily told him to have a good day.

I didn’t hear from him all morning, which isn’t unusual. They had been busy Friday so I figured Saturday was much of the same. L and I left for a baby shower for a fellow officer’s wife, and we happily cruised along country roads, enjoying a beautiful October day, the warm sun, and the contrast of the leaves that had started to change against the perfect blue sky.

My phone rang- it was JD. I was happy to get a chance to talk to him before I arrived at the shower and hear how his day was going.

“Heyyyy” I answered cheerfully.

His voice carried the same adrenaline it had the last time we had a close call. “I just want to give you a heads up, in case there’s anything in the news about an officer getting attacked with a knife. That officer was me, and I’m okay.”

A thousand questions entered my mind, but I could sense he was rushed.

“Do you have time to talk about it?”

“No, but I’ll call you later.”

“Okay, I love you, bye.”

“Love you too, bye.”

And that was all I got. What do you do with information like that? With all of your lingering questions and fears? Do you pull over? Call your mom crying hysterically? Throw up? All of these thoughts crossed my mind, but I’m a LEO wife, which means you just put fear aside and go about your day. You put on a happy face, you take care of your family, and you carry on.

I looked in the rear view and watched L as she looked at a book. Innocent. Unknowing. She adores her father and he adores her. Nothing makes me angrier than to worry that her father will be taken from her and she would have to grow up with out him. There would be no greater injustice than that.

Fortunately, JD was unscathed, but they did send him home early, so L and I got to see him when we got home from the shower. He filled me in on the details. He had been patrolling his beat when he saw an assault taking place. He quickly intervened and the man came after him, taking a swing at his head. Luckily, JD ducked and made him miss, because what JD didn’t realize immediately was that the man had a knife in his hand. He was able to hold him off, and eventually backup arrived.  JD’s instincts and quick thinking kept everyone in this situation safe, including the victim who later told him he’d probably saved her life.

It’s moments like these that remind me how real the danger of his job is, that it’s not just hype or drama or anxiety. That there are a million moments our LEO’s face that DON’T make the news (this one didn’t either) but leave them literally inches from harm. It’s terrifying to think how quickly our lives could change, but JD has sworn to me several times that he refuses to die on the job, and he’s nothing if not stubborn, so I believe him when he tells me that.

But it’s not just death or injury that worries me. In light of recent events, I have to wonder what would have happened if JD was forced to take more extreme measures to keep himself safe? What if he’d had to fire his gun? What if that shot had been fatal? What kind of repercussions would there have been then? What version of the story would have made it to the news? How would our family be impacted?

What if?  That is the haunting question lingering behind every police shift.

Thoughts on Body Image and “Skinny Fat”

Let’s talk about body image for a second. I saw something posted on Facebook recently that used the term “skinny fat.” I think it was trying to sell “health” (i.e. crash diet) shakes or something. Honestly, I was so irritated that I scrolled right past it. I don’t know if I can adequately explain how much I loathe that term and all it implies. It’s supposed to reference people who appear to be skinny, but actually have a lot of flab on their frame. On the surface, I believe it’s meant to point out that the number on the scale doesn’t paint the whole picture and there are many aspects to health. I actually whole-heartedly agree with that thinking, but I find the term itself offensive. The term is a term of vanity, not health. It’s saying “hey skinny people, even you should feel bad about your body!”

What I wish is that we would all stop aspiring to have the “perfect” body and really take a step back and honor our own unique beauty. Instead of fad diets and unhealthy pills, I wish we could listen to what our bodies are telling us, and focus on how we feel from the inside out, not the number on the scale or the measurement of our waist.

Our unhealthy obsession with weight was never more apparent than in the months after I had L. I resented society’s pressure for women to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight, as if any woman who doesn’t make it back to that exact number is a failure, as if all the changes her body saw needed to be undone. And instead of kindly telling me “you look great” after I returned from maternity leave, one co-worker boldly asked the loaded question “are you back to your pre-pregnancy weight yet?” (What I wanted to tell her was not HR approved)

I hate the women who feel pressured to be a certain way and try to drag you down with their insecurities. I recently had one woman asked me where I bought jeans, but once I engaged in what I thought was going to be a simple fashion discussion, I was quickly dragged into a conversation about sizes and how she’s frustrated that she can’t fit into her 4’s anymore and she has to wear 6’s and “isn’t it awful?” She referenced me somewhere in the conversation and I think I was meant to hop on the bandwagon and complain about my size too.

I wanted to laugh in her face and tell her that I don’t think I’ve ever been a 4. Maybe for like a day in high school. But my body wasn’t built to be a 4, I would probably look sickly at a size 4, and last I checked, being a size 6 (or larger) doesn’t make you fat. I am proud of my body (I like to refer to my figure as “athletic with curves”), and it always surprises me when someone seems to imply that I shouldn’t be.

I am a firm believer that being healthy requires nourishing your body, stimulating your mind, and honoring your soul. I believe that happiness requires you to love yourself, and I think that overall well-being requires a bit of indulgence. Translation: I need bread in my life. And cupcakes. This is my version of “perfection.”