Still here. Promise.

Dear Reader,

Hi there. How’re you doing? Sorry that I abandoned you all for so long. I’d say that it won’t happen again, but we all know that’s a dirty rotten lie.

So… where have I been? Well, at last post I had just started teaching 2 dance classes a week  at Pure Energy Dance Productions in Bryan. Hippie and I were just beginning to plan our wedding, and were coming to grips with the fact that Hippie Jr was walking, which meant that once again, life would never be the same. Now I don’t just teach more, I somehow became the Assistant Artistic Director for the studio. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m legally Mrs. Hippie, and Hippie Jr is not only walking, but running, jumping, identifying colors/letters/numbers, and is in pre-school. So much. So very much.

Every so often you have something happen that makes you realize just how quickly time cruises by while you’re busy trying to make daily life happen. This time for me, it was nothing major, just feeling an irresistible urge to write again. Feeling like something of myself had been missing in the last year and a half since I had written. Feeling so desperate to play with words that I DIDN’T CARE WHAT CAME OUT OF IT, I just had to write SOMETHING. Sitting down to write for the sake of writing doesn’t just happen, as it turns out. Not when there is a Hippie Jr who needs you to come and be the Percy to his Thomas (trains = life in little man’s world right now). Not when there is a full time job and steady acting work that you love, but that requires a lot of prep work and hustle (lesson plans don’t write themselves either, it turns out). Not when there is a Hippie who utterly adores you, who deserves to feel utterly adored too (he is. Don’t you worry, dear Reader).

Like all creative endeavors, writing has to be made a priority. Has to be given a little bit of that most precious commodity that we all like to horde for ourselves, or it won’t happen. Time is a bitch, but I’m going to start making an effort to give my writing a little bit of it once again. Art ain’t easy, and my life is full of so much beautiful artistry that it’s kinda unfair to the rest of the world to NOT share it. No guarantees that I won’t disappear again. But I can guarantee that I will try.

Sincerely,

A “No, but really. A LOT has happened the past year” me

 

 

 

Little things.

Dear Reader,

There are big things in life. Engagements, weddings, births, birthday parties, new jobs, etc. Then, there are little things. The last cup of coffee, clean socks, a new pack of crayons, actually sneezing when your nose tickles…the list goes on much longer.

My life has had plenty of big things. Getting a vocal performance degree, moving to Bryan, getting cast in my first professional show, finding out that The Hippie loved me, finding out I was pregnant, and becoming a mom are a selection of the biggies. They have been pretty awesome. But the biggies wouldn’t have happened without the little ones.

Without the hours spent in a practice room puzzling over the same 3 measures until I knew that nobody could sing them better than me, I wouldn’t have a voice degree. Without slowly packing up my things and re-discovering treasures from my childhood, I wouldn’t have made it to Bryan. Without the hours of jamming to Regina Specter while driving back and forth from Bryan to Dallas, I wouldn’t have been cast in my first show (which is what gave me the kick in the pants to continue doing this crazy acting thing). Without the months of sharing coffee and helping each other through the transition into “real” adulthood, Stephen and I never would have fallen for each other. Without THAT, we wouldn’t have our son. And have you guys SEEN that kid? Go look at the featured image for this post again. I’ll wait.

RIGHT?!?!? He’s amazing.

So what is the point of this ramble-y, “stop and smell the roses” sentimental schlock of a blog post? There was a small moment early in my week, and it has stuck with me.

The Hippie has to be at work in the mornings before Eli or myself are ready to be awake, and it’s been COLD for the past few days. One morning before he left, I was in that place between sleep and awake where Tinkerbelle waits for Peter. Aware of what was going on, but not fully conscious. And before I could continue trying to wake up further so that I could snag some food before my son woke up and needed to eat, I felt something gently being laid on top of me, and then being tucked around me. The Hippie knew that without being in bed next to me I would shiver myself awake, and even though he had to hurry out the door, he was taking the time to try and keep me warm. It was one of the sweetest things ever.

Here’s the thing, my life is made up of a string of those little moments. I know that there are big moments coming, both good and bad. Life has taught me that much, at least. But these little moments? Blankets being tucked in, and coffee being shared? Those are the ones that stand out to me. The ones that I remember throughout the week. Without them, the big moments aren’t possible, and the good things aren’t nearly so sweet.

That’s all, dear readers. Thank you for indulging me.

One of my favorite daily "little moments".
One of my favorite daily “little moments”.

OVERSHARE ALERT!!!!!!

Dear Reader,

You saw the heading of this post. You have been warned.

It has been a rough week, guys. Not completely horrible, but… Payday is tomorrow, so money is tight. However, because we knew money was going to be extra tight this week we planned like the champs that we are! That’s right. We meal planned for the week on Sunday. We bought our groceries, and stayed within budget. We made sure the car had enough gas in it, and were careful to not make any superfluous trips. We double checked and made SURE that we had a little cushion (I’m talking pin cushion sized wiggle room here) just in case something small came up, such as our little man hitting another freak growth spurt wherein he eats 5 days worth of food in an hour (it’s happened, and it’s terrifying). We were set! Booyah.

Then shit happened.

Why does shit never happen during the weeks when you have time and resources to handle anything that the world can throw at you? Shit always waits until the worst possible time, and then it finds a fan, and flings itself at it repeatedly.

SO, here’s the skinny. After all our very careful preparation for the week, we were none too pleased to discover that our pin cushion of safety? Gone. Our bank is notorious for charging “service fees” at different times each month, and we’re broke artsy people. Having $10 in our account to cover such things shouldn’t be a big deal, but to us $10 goes a long way. That is, unless the bank decides to swipe it from our account without telling us until the next day. Lovely. But, as long as we stick to our plan we would still be fine, right?

Wrongo.

On Tuesday evening I was cooking our planned meal for the next two days (Mushroom walnut casserole. I’ll share it with ya sometime!) when I looked out the back window to see if the cat wanted in, and I noticed that we seemed to have one or two unexpected guests. Luckily they were ants, so they shouldn’t eat too much, and there were only a few of them so shooing them outside would be no biggie, right?

Wrong again. When I looked up again some minutes later, a swarm of CARPENTER ANTS had descended upon the back wall of my utility room. Readers, if you ever want to see me go from zero to batshit crazy in less than 3 seconds, show me a swarm of ants. If you want to see me hit levels of nuts previously only known to the less desirable characters from Harry Potter (think Bellatrix), place that swarm inside my house. It wasn’t pretty. And there was no ant spray in sight.

Had it not been for the Hippie having the presence of mind to spray them with a strong household cleaner that we only keep around for the flu season purge, the beasts would still be wreaking havoc on the infrastructure of our home. As it is, an exterminator will be coming to the house sometime soon so our landlord can get an idea of how much damage was done before we found them, and there is an ant graveyard (less creepy than an elephant graveyard, but still pretty grisly) in the back of my house. I’ve cleaned what I can reach, but the upstarts had the indecency to die where I couldn’t make a bonfire out of their six legged bodies as a warning to others. Rude.

The final piece of the “well, that sucks” puzzle of my week? Remember that overshare warning? Let me reiterate it.

*OVERSHARE WARNING* TURN BACK NOW UNLESS YOU WISH TO BE TRULY DISTURBED.

Really. You’ve been warned.

Last chance, yo.

Hokay, here goes.

Know what sucks? Yeast infections when the bank has taken away your means of purchasing the magical stuffs to make that nastiness go back to the depths of burning hell from which it spawned. Fortunately for me, my midwife recommended using garlic as a means of clearing one up when I was pregnant without exposing a babe to the gnarliness that is the traditional medication used to get rid of that little problem. Still. If my next child isn’t born craving Italian food, I will be surprised. And before anyone asks, NO. I am not pregnant.

Bank. Ants. Garlicky nethers. This week calls for wine. In copious quantities.

Why did I share this all with you, my poor, innocent audience? Two reasons.

One: Because it can ALWAYS get worse. Wasting energy moping about something isn’t going to help, steals your joy, and steals your emotional energy, which totally kills your ability to handle the next curveball. There will always be a next curve ball.

Two: Because, let’s be honest. It’s kindof funny. I hope it made you chuckle at least a little! Trust me, I have. And if I can laugh at the gross factor of this week, then I think I’m going to be ok.

Sincerely,
a “never in my life have I taken so many showers in one day” me

Yup. He eats like a big boy now! Be still, my heart!
Yup. He eats like a big boy now! Be still, my heart!

Well, it’s happening.

Dear readers,

In spite of a deal I made with God at his birth, my child is not going to be the first human to remain a cuddly little baby for the rest of his life. He turns one on Sunday. God, that happened fast!

As I sit here, and do that thing all mothers do (reflecting upon how quickly this past year has crept by), I decided that I am going to put my thoughts on paper (er…on screen), and let you all read them. It will probably be pretty incoherent. Lucky you.

So much has happened. So much has changed. It was exactly a year ago tonight that I first started feeling the “real deal” contractions, instead of the “honey, I have heartburn AGAIN” contractions I was used to. He was already a week and a half late, and I was MISERABLE. At the same time, I was terrified, and grateful for the extra time with those who loved me most.

I wasn’t ready to be a mom. I still had selfish tendencies. I didn’t possess the wisdom necessary to raise a child. I still tripped over nothing. I ate ice cream for dinner on a regular basis. I had crazy dreams of being an actor that I just couldn’t seem to let go of. My greatest joy in life was to stay up late watching “The West Wing” on Netflix, while drinking wine with my sister. I was extremely attached to the idea of the hippie and I actually getting to spend our spare time alone with each other, and occasionally spoiling ourselves with a nice dinner, or concert tickets. I wasn’t ready! I hadn’t read enough. I didn’t know any other moms my age in town (aside from a dear friend from college who would be joining the ranks of the motherhood about a month after myself). Who was going to be there with me, and understand what I was going through? Not to mention the big black cloud that we call “labor” was hovering entirely too close, and that storm was terrifying enough on it’s own.

But nonetheless, the storm came. It hit HARD, and it hit FAST. It hurt like fucking hell, and I lost entirely too much blood (quick shout out to my awesome midwife who caught, and treated my anemia!), but there he was. My son. My light. The person I didn’t know I had desperately been missing all this time I’ve been tooling about on the planet.

We knew that we would love him more than anything, but neither his dad nor myself were prepared for a feeling that was something akin to having our gravitational orientation to the sun altered. Because that’s essentially what happened. From the moment he rocketed into the world, we stopped behaving like normal humans on a tiny rock hurtling through space, and became completely besotted with the tiny pink piece of paradise that was angrily squalling on my chest. Life wasn’t about us anymore. It was about him. About doing whatever we had to do in order to make sure that he got the best shake possible in this world. Every job I took (or turned down), it was to try to build a life for him. Every day that my hippie worked from before 7:00 AM until after 11:00 in the evening, it was for Eli. Time stopped working the way it is supposed to that day. It became too fast, and painfully slow at the same time, and somehow there was just enough of it.

I am still not ready to be a mother. I still have selfish tendencies. I can freely admit that I know less now than I did before he was born. I still trip over nothing. Frequently. Ice cream and beer for dinner are regular occurrences in our house (for the adults, anyway). I am an actor, and have learned that I can’t change that, nor should I try. I still like staying up late to watch Netflix in the company of my sister and a good glass of wine, but it’s a rare treat, and I cherish those moments. The hippie and I occasionally have a night out together, but do you know what we do almost the whole time our little man is with whomever is watching him for us? We talk about him, and stare at whatever pictures I’ve taken of him that week. Don’t worry, we’re still passionate about each other, and other things in this life, but… well… He’s just so great, we can’t help it! I am still one of the only moms my age in my little community, but you know what? I have had a number of women tell me that they are a little less scared of motherhood because of the trail my little family has been blazing. THAT was humbling, lemme tell you.

All this to say, I’m not perfect. Eli didn’t somehow transform me into a flawless mama over the past year. If you are looking for a young mom to write the next best selling guide on raising tiny humans, I’m not your girl. But what he HAS done, is remarkable. He has learned to clap. To wave. To make people laugh when they feel like crying. To play peek-a-boo. To perfectly time a lunge for your food so that he gets a bite when you aren’t looking. To GENTLY pet the cat. To make his parents forget how tired, and stressed they are. To do puzzles. To take off his pants while I’m distracted. To crawl. To walk (almost). To love with his whole self. And do you know what, dear reader? His mom and dad learned (or re-learned) how to do all these things right along with him.

It has been one heck of a year. And it has been amazing. Happy Birthday, little man! We love you more than anything in this earth.

Sincerely,
A “no! I’m not crying. Why do you ask?” me
D+A-577

Out with the old, in with the pressure.

Dear reader,

Well, we more or less survived the holidays. Eli went through six (yup. 6) rounds of Christmas with various family members, and made out like a bandit at every single one. The past few days he has had this expectant look on his face that clearly says “presents? Where are today’s, mom?”. And I can’t blame him. That was whole lotta Christmas for one little dude. Fortunately, the nightly panic attacks about bedtime are starting to diminish a little bit now that we’ve been at home more consistently than on the road, so I think he’ll make a full recovery.

Every year we find ourselves staring at the promise of a clean slate, and new beginnings, and it happens. The resolutions. This year, I shall lose eleventy five pounds!” “This is the year I quit drinking!” “Marriage! This is MY year!”, and usually I’m on the bandwagon. Resolutions are good things, unless you have the tendency to do what I do.

I make a few resolutions, and honestly intend to keep them (as do we all), but then instead of being a thing that is supposed to be good for me, and help me to be a better version of myself, the pressure of failing to meet my goals on this new trip around the sun starts to eat at me. The minute I miss a day of running, or meditation, or I eat meat on a designated meatless day, or I have two glasses of wine, or, or, or (etc.)… I panic. I have failed. I messed up, and once again am not perfect (there’s that perfectionism problem rearing it’s ugly head again). I will beat myself up over whatever insignificant thing it is I have done, or not done, and then resign myself to the fact that I am a failure.

How ridiculous is that? Pretty darn, I’d say. So this year, instead of making a list of things that I know I will fail to keep (start making all of Eli’s meals from scratch was one of them, just so you can see the bar to which I was aiming), I decided not to. Instead of trying to squeeze more hours into the day, and convince everyone around me that I am in fact, Wonder Woman, I am going to focus this year on cutting myself a little slack. On doing the things that have to be done without feeling guilty for not enjoying them (who in their right mind ENJOYS washing diapers?). On doing the things that I enjoy without pressuring myself to put out a perfect product (art is NEVER finished, even once it’s in the frame). On being present wherever I am, instead of always frantically thinking “oh, crap! What’s next?”. The beauty of this plan? I am GOING to fail at least once. And it’s ok. Learning to fall with style is a part of life. I can hack it.

Until next time, dear readers.

Sincerely,
A “nobody warned me how hard it was to help a baby detox from the holidays!” me

My attempt at a holiday letter.

Dear reader,

This year I wrote a Christmas letter to update everyone on our current state of affairs. I was crazy excited. I was going to have pictures of Eli printed to send out with them, so you could stare at his face on your fridge all year long. I was going to put them in the mail before Christmas day. I was going to print them on pretty paper, dammit! Then I printed them…

Apparently I should not be allowed to choose printer paper when I’m sleep deprived, and frazzled. It’s bad, y’all. I’d have to send out two ibuprofen for you all to take after reading the blasted thing. I included a picture of my failed attempt at holiday cuteness, but seriously. You have been warned.

Since I know you are all dying to read my musings, I will post my letter here. Enjoy, and wish me better luck (and decision making skills) for next year!

Merry Chrismachanukwaanzivus, and a Happy New Year!

Well, it’s been one heck of a year. Around this time last year, we went from being an obnoxiously cute, matching haired couple, to being an sickeningly adorable family of three. The hair no longer all matches, as Eli is only just starting to grow out his curly locks in earnest, but it’s ok. He’ll get there. Until then, we’ll buy him hats, and muddle through somehow.

Eli is a bundle of stubborn, freakishly strong, insomniac energy. Luckily for us (and him, I suppose) he is also freakishly happy. EVERYTHING makes this kiddo smile. And we live for that smile. It’s pretty much the best smile either of his parents have ever seen. Currently his favorite things consist of: eating anything he can get his hands on (preferably whatever is on my own plate), my phone (he loves to help me text), the cat (she is less than amused, but tolerant), and clapping. If he hears someone say “Yay!” he will usually begin applauding whatever benign, or major thing it is that said person is celebrating. It’s quite the ego boost if you are lucky enough to be the one he randomly starts applauding. He is the light in our life, and the reason we don’t sleep, and babble to ourselves like crazy people. We can’t imagine a life without him, and quite frankly, don’t want to. He turns one in less than a month. Don’t worry. I don’t hold one of his tiny newborn onesies in my hands while crying in my closet into a glass of wine. Nope. That doesn’t happen.

After doing the impossible, and working two demanding jobs in addition to being an awesome first time daddy, Stephen is only working at our other home, The Village. He runs the Leaky Torch (that’s our cool name for the Village prep kitchen. Because we fly, yo), and makes sure that everything is in ship shape, and delicious. While we do occasionally miss the family meals that his second job would send home, we love having him home at night so much more. We REALLY love that he is getting more sleep. Hopefully soon he will lose the twitching, and the crazed look in his eye. I have high hopes that he will make a full recovery from the over-worked, over-exhausted state that he was in for over a year, and resume speaking in full sentences. I will never be able to adequately thank him for making the sacrifices he did to make sure that our kiddo got off on the right foot, but hopefully he knows somewhere in his over exerted brain that I will never stop admiring the incredible, strong man that he chose to become to get us through Eli’s first year.

As for me, after being a stay at cafe mom for the first eight months of Eli’s life, I have picked up several artsy freelance gigs. I love everything that I do, and I have the bonus of being able to take Eli with me to work, with the exception of teaching, or rehearsal. Booyah. Here’s the rundown: I teach private voice lessons (hear that, Ma?! I’m using my college degree after all!), I begin teaching dance classes again in January, I run the social media for a sweet woman who owns a shop a few doors down from our cafe, AND I do the catering communications for The Village. And what am I missing…? OH! Yes, I am once again involved with Bryan/College Station’s only professional theatre company, This Is Water Theatre. I love it. It gives me a place to pursue my passion along with other actors/passionate people. It has stretched me, made me laugh, made me ugly cry, and ultimately helped me grow.

Our cat Hal has taken to demanding that someone pet her while she eats, and trying to sneak into Eli’s room to knock things around after he’s asleep for the night. We only tolerate one of these quirks. Guess which one?

Well! That’s what’s up with us! We hope you have a very merry whatever you celebrate, and a happy New Year!

Sincerely,
The Hodgemons (Hodgson-Lemmons) house.

Haul out the holly!

Dear Reader,

Aaaaaand it’s December.

How did that happen?

Well, a lot has changed since I last filled you all in on our life.

Eli has 2 teeth. He is truly a man now. Or so he thinks, anyway.

He sleeps through the night more often than he doesn’t.

I don’t sleep through the night more often than I do, but that’s par for the course in my life. I’d just rather read than sleep. It’s more fun.

I’ve picked up a few more artsy part time gigs, including a dance class that starts in January.

Thanksgiving was a thing. A gluttonous, beautiful thing. And that reminds me…

Eli eats adult sized meal portions at every meal. Every. Meal. Seriously, this kiddo eats more than I do. It’s cray cray.

He climbs things now. It’s scary, but he’s super proud of himself.

He plays little games with us. Who knew that peekaboo could go on for hours at a time? I am a peekaboo champ. I hide behind doors. Under towels. Beneath windows. Behind my hands. And you know what? I have yet to get lost once. Like I said. Champ.

And what else? What am I forgetting…

Oh yes. The biggie. Christmas came early this year.

THE HIPPIE ONLY HAS ONE JOB NOW!!!!!!!!!!

There has been MUCH rejoicing. He is home in the evenings. Eli has more time with his daddy. I have more time with my partner. Even with my nutso rehearsal/lesson schedule, everyone is more well rested, more mentally present, and just… happier.

Our first "real" date, two years ago.
Our first “real” date, two years ago.

Our little family is preparing for our first Christmas as a unit of 3. There will be cookies. So. Many. Cookies. I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love decorating, the music, the shopping (as if I needed an excuse to buy things), and the knowledge that for a solid month nobody is allowed to make fun of me for singing randomly, because EVERYONE is singing. Booyah.

Hey, remember to give back this season. Toys for Tots is an EXCELLENT organization to donate to.
Hey, remember to give back this season. Toys for Tots is an EXCELLENT organization to donate to.

Enjoy the season, dear readers. If you are alone, come find me, and we’ll bake cookies. It’ll be great fun!

Sincerely,
A “Really, though. Life is beautiful” me