Thursday, October 8, 2009

I have a new home!

If you've come here expecting witty commentary, head on over to my new digs:

All About Avacakes

I look forward to welcoming you there!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

There's Something About the Internet

Computers are without question a wonderful invention. They've made life much easier, and certainly more fun. We can talk to people far away, make new friends, meet members of the opposite sex, spend hours upon hours lost in mindless entertainment.

But there is a dark side. An evil side. The side the trolls live on.

I've been fortunate so far. I haven't attracted the attention of the trolls yet. Mainly because there's only about a dozen people who read anything I write. However, so many of my online friends have been viciously attacked by people who hide behind a mask of anonymity and spew forth vile, disgusting, hateful things.

But WHY?

Why is it fun for anyone to purposefully, intentionally hurt or demean others? I know many people go through stages of this behavior as children, taunting other kids. Then of course, there are the teen years, where insults are taken to a new art form.

But as adults, who are supposed to know better, why does anyone do this? What is missing in your life that you get thrills from making someone else feel bad? What has warped your brain to the point that you would tell someone already in the midst of the worst pain they could ever imagine, to just "get over it". Why would you tell a mother that has lost her child that she's somehow to blame, when you have no firsthand knowledge of this person's actual life.

I realize that you are comfortable doing this online is because you have no fear of repercussion. You know that the target of your venom does not have the ability to punch you in your stupid face. Your friends or family won't stop speaking to you. You won't lose your job. In short, nothing happens to you. You live with your dirty little secrets. Do you sit around giggling to yourself about how you made someone cry? Do you feel important because you were able to provoke a reaction? Tell me why. What do you get out of it that you keep doing it, over and over. Do you have no friends? Did your mother not love you enough? Did your Dad walk out on you? Did your siblings beat you up? What happened to the part of your brain that censors what you say? Were you perhaps dropped on your head? Because honestly, nothing, NOTHING justifies this kind of behavior. I don't care if you just had the worst day ever. I don't care if you yourself are dealing with loss - YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER!!

Bringing someone else pain will not lessen yours. Oh you might giggle, laugh, snicker, whatever. But I will bet you that eventually your nasty side will leak out to your real life. You'll hurt people you really care about. You might even end up alone. When you are lying on your death bed, and you look back at your life, I'll bet this will be a part you will wish you could change.

And if you don't, look out. There is a comment mafia. They will find you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Grandma is Coming To Town

I'm pretty excited this week. You see, my mother is coming to Oregon for a visit.

She lives in Mississippi, where I grew up, and lived for 23 of my 36 years. We've tried to keep her updated as much as we can on the growth and development of my offspring, but pictures can only say so much. My mother is not computer savvy, and cannot even turn one on, much less surf the internet, email, or any of that sort of thing. We did send her a VHS tape of two hours worth of video clips that we had taken of Ava. She watched it over and over again.

The one and only time my mother has seen Ava, she was 3 weeks old. Ava, that is, not my mother. :) As referenced by the Wordless Wednesday picture below. A beautiful, sleeping, cuddly, snuggly newborn. My mom came out for a visit last June, 3 weeks after Ava's birth by C-Section. I wasn't even driving yet, and developed a nasty infection that netted me daily trips back to the hospital's outpatient facility for I.V. antibiotics. So she didn't get to spend much quality time with either of us, especially with Ava.

Ava is now a very active 1 year old. She is walking, almost running. She can feed herself with a spoon. She can mimic actions. She says a few words. She knows her name, and will respond to it. She laughs, she dances to music. She has developed a personality all her own. My mom has not been witness to any of that. I cannot imagine how mind-blowing it will be for her to see how much Ava has changed in one year.

My mom's plane gets in Friday night. I plan to break my strict bedtime rule just this once, so that my mom can have the memory of her granddaughter running up to meet her at the airport. I hope it's a good visit. I hope it's filled with fun, and love that will create memories for years to come.

Worldess Wednesday - My Mom & Ava, 1 Year Ago

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ava's Birth Story

Now, here's a novel idea for a post, right?

It occurred to me this morning that I haven't written about Ava an awful lot. And this blog being named "All About Avacakes" I figured I should probably rectify that little situation. What better place to start than her entry to the world? Although I guess this really isn't as much about her as my experience with her getting here.

Little Ava was scheduled (loosely) to arrive on June 3, 2008. I say loosely, because my due date shifted no less than 3 times during the pregnancy. So around the end of May/beginning of June I would leave my office every night and tell my boss "I may see you tomorrow, I may not".

June 3 came and went with no baby. June 4 I left work as usual and headed home. I decided to lie down on the bed for a short rest while Darin started dinner. After a few minutes I got up, thinking I would head into the shower. When I got up, I felt liquid running down my leg. Umm....did I just pee myself? Turned out I couldn't control it, so I knew at that moment my water had broken. I went into the kitchen to tell Darin what happened. I said "Honey, my water just broke. This is it." He looked at me with a huge grin and said "Really?" I assured him, yes, this was the real deal. He of course wanted to rush to the hospital. I told him to go ahead and eat his dinner, since it would likely be a while before he got a meal again. So while he did that I hopped into the shower and got dressed. Yep, you heard me, I showered. God knows why, considering it was all for naught about 2 hours later. But I digress.

So off we go to the hospital at around 7pm. We tell the admitting nurse what has happened. They test the fluid to make sure it is indeed amniotic, and check us in. Off to the birthing suite!

We get settled in, hooked up to IV, monitors, the whole nine yards. But before that happened I had to go in and change. And throw up. That strawberry sundae I had at lunch came back to haunt me.

About an hour later, the contractions started. They weren't too bad at first, mainly just felt pressure. Fast forward a few hours, and I asked for IV pain meds. It was ratcheting up. Push IV drugs, which made me feel dizzy and loopy, but did NOTHING for the pain. So now the room is spinning AND I'm in pain. Great. Awesome. But I suffered through it for a few more hours because to be quite honest, I was freaking TERRIFIED of the epidural. The mere thought of a needle in my spine was more frightening to me than the pain.

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, the nurse doctor, somebody decided that the contractions weren't strong enough, so they decided to administer Pitocin. What? I'm writhing here, and you're telling me it's going to get worse? So the Pitocin gets pushed and the contractions ramp up. A LOT. As in HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. At that point, I didn't care WHAT they stuck in to me or where, as long as I got some relief. So I broke down and told my husband I wanted the epidural. Turns out it wasn't anywhere near what I had feared. I finally got a little relief. But it only lasted a few hours, before one side of my body began feeling pain again, and the other, not wanting to be left out of all the fun, soon followed.

Anywho, this went on for several hours, until about 9 or 10 am. Finally got the word that we could start pushing. YAY! Doing something! WOOHOO!. So with each contraction, I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. And pushed. THREE SOLID FRICKIN HOURS. Still, no baby.

Turns out the only thing tiny on my anatomy turned out to be my pelvis. Ava simply could not fit through. Doctor ordered a C-Section. Now, what's funny here is I spend 9 months terrified at the thought of being cut open while awake. And here it was happening, and I was actually relieved. I didn't care at that point, I just wanted it over and to see my baby.

They got me prepped, doped me up again, this time REALLY good. I could barely even move my arms. My anesthesiologist was awesome, telling me everything that was going on as it happened. Soon they let Darin come back in and he took his place up by my head. Before I knew what happened, I heard Darin say to me "Did you hear that? Do you know what that is?" I shook my head no. He said "That's our daughter crying!" OMG!! She's out, she's here! I barely got to see here before they whisked her off for cleaning and assessment. I told Darin to go with her, that I was fine. And I was. My baby girl was finally here.

Welcome to the world little one.

Ava Elizabeth Riggs
Born 06/05/2008
7 pounds, 6oz
20 inches

****Edited to add weight, height, etc, because Momma is a moron who forgot to put in original post.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Yesterday I read and commented on a blog post regarding the WOHM (Work Outside Home Mom).

I read the blog author's post, and immediately wanted to go hug her. She's having a tough time transitioning back to the work place. She has a full time job, kids, a business on the side. She's had to deal with sick kids, and an obviously not understanding boss. She's got a tough row to hoe.

Yet instead offering her sympathy, most commenters went on the attack. Sure, she could have phrased what she was trying to say a little more clearly. But that does not excuse the vitriol I saw. Stay at Home Moms, Work At Home Moms, even some WOHMs jumped all over her for what she posted. Outraged that their way of parenting/contributing was being diminished and insulted. Telling her to quit being a crybaby and if she doesn't like it, change it.

What I don't think any of them saw was the irony. Here we have moms insulting and demeaning other moms...for judging and demeaning other moms.

I saw several comments stating that for them, it was more important to be with their child, implying that by working, a mother who does so doesn't value time wtih her child. Many of us today don't work because we want to, although some of us do. I went back to work after Ava was born because I had to. I have this crazy habit of wanting to keep a roof over our heads. That requires both of us working to pay the mortgage. And before you jump on me and tell me I could sell my house and rent...I could do that. But in this market, I'd sell for less than we owe, and then be faced with renting for approximately the same amount as my mortgage payment. So what does that leave? Squatting under a bridge? Moving in with parents?

I keep coming back to this question. Why do mothers feel the need to judge other mothers? Why are we so quick to say "I am better than you". Why do we feel the need to tear each other down? And most importantly, why do we give complete strangers so much of our power? Why do we let words on a blog upset us so much? Are we all really that insecure in our mothering that we attack and go on the defensive every time we perceive an insult?

I can't speak for every mom out there. I can't speak to the situation of a stay at home mom. I was one for only four weeks. For three of those, my husband was home with me. I've never really worked from home. I have no idea what that's like. So I can't begin to judge what either of those sorts of mothers lives are like. As a working outside the home mom, I can speak. It's difficult. I watch other moms who get to stay home with their kids, working or not, and I am jealous. I wish I had that kind of time with my daughter. You may be juggling phone calls, and proposals and deadlines, but you can at least look over and SEE your child. I have pictures. I can't hold her, kiss her, touch her soft hair. I have days where it is almost too much to bear, and I want to walk away from my job. I leave her at her gramma's house and I walk away in tears. Days when she is sick, and I feel I need to be with her and I'm afraid to call my boss because I think "what if this time is one too many" and I lose my job.

I guess my point is if we all felt more secure about our choices and situations, we wouldn't be so quick to judge another mother's life. Maybe we'd be quicker to offer love and encouragement when we see someone asking for a life line.

**Note, I will not post links to blog post in question here. I don't want to drive more traffic that might upset her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Once upon a time, we had two cats. Two cats that we adopted shortly after buying our house. We had lived in apartments for three years or so and were unable to have pets. So about two weeks after we moved in we trotted down to our local Humane Society and found Rufus. We fell in love with him. It was almost like he picked us, instead of the other way around. We took him into the little room they use to let prospective pet owners interact with the animals and found him to be a really loving cat.

Unfortunately, he had a hold placed on him. Which meant somebody else thought he was special too. If that person chose to adopt him, we would be out of luck. So we waited. For twenty-four hours, we fretted and worried and wondered, “Would he be ours?”

Luck was on our side; for whatever reason, the people who placed that hold decided to pass. Rufus was ours. I went down the very next evening after work to start the adoption process. When I got there, they had moved him to a very large cage in their lobby. Rufus was a big cat. Easily 15 pounds. So he was very visible. While I waited my turn at the adoption desk I went over and kneeled by his cage and spoke to him very softly. I asked him if he was ready to go to his new home. Now, in the time that we had spent with him prior, he had never once uttered a single “meow”. But on that day, at that moment he looked at me and howled “MAWR”. Which I took to mean, “Yes, get me the hell out of this cage!” So I did. I completed the paperwork, and went out and got my Rufus. He had to go through some last minute exams, temperature taking, and what not. Being a large cat, and being rather uncooperative at that time, it took 4 people just to get him into his carrier. But they did it and we were soon on our way to our home.

He settled in quickly, made the rounds of his new home, and eventually flopped on the bed with me to hang out and watch TV.

Because my husband and I both work during the day we felt a bit guilty about leaving him home alone. We thought having another cat there would make him feel less lonely. Enter LGK (Little Girl Kitty) or as she would sometimes be called, LBK (Little Bitch Kitty). Rufus was very accepting of her, in the mellow way that he had. I always said if he were a person, he’d be the surfer dude, who smoked weed and said “duuuude” a lot. He welcomed her to our home, his home. LGK/LBK unfortunately did not reciprocate his feelings. We did not anticipate how territorial she was or would become. She spent her first few months trying to mark her territory in the way that cats do. We tried lots of remedies, eventually finding a spray that did the trick. Problem solved, right? Well, sort of.

Things went along pretty well for the next six years. The two cats got along fairly well about 90% of the time. There would be a flare up and a fight once in a while, but over time it became fairly uneventful. Rufus was definitely MY cat. He loved to lay on me, near me, head bump me. If ever I was not feeling well, or had a bad day, he was right there to try to make it better. He always seemed to sense when I needed him most. I remember once when I injured my back, I was sent home from the ER after being given a shot of Demerol (woohoo). I passed out on the bed, to wake up hours later with him on my pillow, above my head, with both front paws framing my noggin. Watching me. Protecting me.

LGK/LBK on the other hand, was Daddy’s girl. She lived to lie on her Daddy’s lap. Anywhere he was, she wanted to be. And heaven help anyone, or any cat that got in her way.

So this was life for six years. Our cats were our babies, our “children”. We doted on them and we were one big happy family.

Then I got pregnant. Almost from the first, both cats seemed to sense something was different. As rooms got changed around, new furniture brought in, new, tiny little clothes purchased, they seemed to know there was a shift coming. And they did not know how to react to it. We tried to make them feel like they were still important to us, because they were. But they still seemed confused and agitated.

Then last June, we brought our beautiful baby Ava home. Their reaction at first was complete terror of her, followed by a marked indifference. We still tried to give them attention, but any parent of a newborn can tell you, after dealing with diapers, feeding and whatnot, there isn’t much time or energy left.

So once again, they acted out in the only way they knew how. They started marking. And marking. And marking. Our lovely home was being turned into a giant litter box. Eventually, urinating outside the box wasn’t enough. The litter box was shunned completely. We’d come out of our bedroom in the morning to find little poopy presents in the hallway.

We consulted with veterinarians. We called the Humane Society. We contacted shelters, literally scoured the internet. Tried every device and chemical known to mankind. But it. would.not.stop.

So we made the most difficult decision any pet owner can face. We had to surrender them. We tried No Kill shelters first. Unfortunately, it was kitten season, and every shelter within 100 miles of us was over capacity. Our only alternative, besides just tossing them outside was to take them back to the Humane Society we adopted them from. So that is what we did.

I have never cried so much or felt more guilt in my entire life. As I sit here now, recalling that God awful day I still feel an ache in my heart. I feel as though I failed. I spent six years telling them that this was their home, and it always would be. But I lied to them. I kissed them goodbye and handed them to strangers. I ripped them away from the home they loved. I spent weeks agonizing over it. I would break down and scream “what have I done” as I imagined them cold, lonely and terrified sitting once more in a cage. I would constantly visit the website, looking for their adoption listing, so that I could have some hope they weren’t immediately euthanized.

I know in my head, I did the right thing for my family, for my baby girl. A house full of urine and feces is not a safe place for a baby. Nor is it the way I would want to live. But my heart, oh my heart. There is and always will be a piece missing. The piece Rufus took with him.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

To Ava, on Your First Birthday

Dear Ava,

Today we celebrated your first year here with us. And what a year it’s been.

Somehow, we got from here:

To here:

Really, really fast.

Before you were born, I was afraid of being a mommy. I wasn’t sure I had enough love or patience to be the kind of mother a baby deserved. I didn’t have a cuddly, nurturing mom. My mother didn’t kiss boo-boos, she wasn’t a hugger or any of that stuff. Didn’t mean she was a bad mother, it’s just who she was. I wasn’t sure I knew how to do that stuff.

And then you were born. Your Daddy placed you in my arms, and my heart exploded with love. From that very instant, I knew that I would love and protect you with every fiber of my being.

You’ve made it easy for me to be your Mommy. I look at you and I see such a wonderful, beautiful, happy little girl. You’ve always been that way.

In the last year, I’ve watched you grow from newborn, to crawling infant, and just today to walking toddler. Every step, every milestone has made me so proud. You have such a zest for life. Absolutely no fear. Every morning, you wake up with a smile, ready to face the day.

I love watching you develop and grow. I delight in watching you discover the world around you. I revel in watching you dance and sway to your favorite music. You have brought me joy that truly cannot be measured in words. Your laugh is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. Seeing your face is the very best part of every single day.

Nothing in this world will ever make me prouder than you. We have just begun our journey, my love. For the rest of my life, I will be here with you. I will always be your mommy. And you will always be my baby girl.

Happy Birthday, Angel.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Three Kisses

I don't think I'll ever forget last night.

I had a fairly rough day at work yesterday. When 5 pm hit, I was out the door in a flash. Traffic coming home sucked and I'm pretty sure if there was a red light on my route anywhere I found it.

To top it off when I got home and unlocked the back door, our alarm system went off. Husband had set it and forgotten to turn it off. The siren on this freaking thing is L-O-U-D. Anytime it goes off, so does Ava. Wet, snotty, sob-filled crying. So instead of a happy little punkin, I got scared-out-of-her-mind baby. After spending five minutes trying to soothe her I finally had to resort to singing to calm her down.

After that the evening seemed to turn around. I fed her dinner, which for once she ate with out incident. By that I mean, no trying to slap the spoon from my hand, no blowing raspberries with a mouthful of food, no acting like a food volcano, letting food spew forth like molten lava. No, it went swimmingly. Ava even grabbed her water cup and was able to give her self a drink when she needed it. Awesome indeed.

But that's not why last night was so special. My baby girl is a sweet girl, almost always a happy girl. However, she's not a cuddly baby. Never has been. She only will allow cuddles when she's really, really sleepy. My mother in law says it's because we didn't rock her to sleep when she was a newborn. I find it hard to believe that has anything to do with it. But who knows. At any rate, she's not what you'd call super affectionate.

What makes last night so special is after her dinner, I was sitting on the living room floor with her while she was playing. All of a sudden she stopped what she was doing, crawled over to me and pulled her self up so that she was standing in front of me. Then she very carefully, very slowly and VERY deliberately gave me a kiss. And then another. And then another. Three kisses.

Bad day? Gone. Just like that. All because of three sweet kisses.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mommy Guilt

I have mommy guilt.

Guilt because I want time to myself, time off from being a mommy, but I look at that precious face and I can't walk away.

I leave her too much as it is. I work full time, and Monday to Thursday she stays with Grandma. Fridays my husband works from home and keeps her there.

Every morning I kiss that sweet face and walk away. Actually, I do it twice a day, once in the morning and again at lunchtime, which I spend with her. She's a happy girl, she loves being with Grandma. I know she's safe, well looked after and loved. But she's not with me. I feel like I leave a piece of me behind each time I walk out that door and go back to work. I crunch numbers and dream of a day that I can leave my job to take care of her. But I know the reality is that it takes both of us working to make it. So, I work.

That brings me back to my weekends. Two days off from my job. Two days I get to spend with my family. I should look forward to it, right? I should be excited about spending time with Ava. I am excited, but I also long for an afternoon, or morning to myself. No bottles or dishes to wash, no laundry to fold, toys to pick up, no meals to be made. An afternoon to go shopping, or have lunch, or go for a walk. Time alone without worrying that I've left Daddy alone too long with the baby, or that Grandpa & Nana have been with her for oh, 3 hours now and they're tearing their hair out.

I know I COULD have this time. My husband will be the first to point this out to me. But I can't make myself do it. I feel guilty. She sees me so little as it is, and I certainly don't see her enough.

In a couple of weeks she will spend the night with Grandma. My husband and I can go to a nice dinner, see a movie and have a night off from baby duty. We might even get to go out for breakfast the next morning. And I will enjoy it. BUT. It will be tinged with guilt.

I mean look at this face:

How could I not?

Do you suffer the same guilt? Tell me how you handle it? Daddies too!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I watched the premiere of Jon & Kate + 8 last night. I don't know what I expected to see, but whatever it was, it wasn't what I saw.

I've been a sporadic viewer of the show, never a faithful watcher, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that I've never cared for Kate very much. I thought she was self centered, controlling, mean spirited, and yes, a bitch. I used to think, poor Jon, how does he put up with her?

What I saw last night was a Kate that is human and vulnerable. A wife, a mom, who is watching her family crumble around her and has no clue how to put it back together. What I saw was Jon, who was there only in the physical sense. Emotionally he's "checked out".

What I saw, and realized for the first time, was myself. Why I dislike Kate so much, is because she reminds me all too much of myself. I don't have eight kids. I only have one, and at times, just caring for Ava is overwhelming and exhausting. I find myself snapping at my husband because I need his help and I don't know how to ask because I'm in over my head. Being a control freak makes it hard to let go and let someone else take the reins, even though a part of you is screaming to do that very thing.

For twenty years, I've had to be the responsible one, the one in charge. That happened the day my dad died and I was 16. My mom just couldn't handle things anymore and at that moment, I became the adult. My husband tells me all the time "lighten up". But it's hard when you feel like if you do, if for one second, you are not standing there with your guard up, watching for the next thing you will have to fix, the world will crumble around you.

Maybe that's how Kate feels. Maybe that's why she comes off the way she does. I don't know. The rest of us don't either. All we see are carefully selected bits of footage designed to create drama so we'll keep coming back to watch. The only two people who know how they got to where they are now are Jon and Kate. I hope for their sake, and the sake of those beautiful, sweet children they find a way to put it back together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In The Beginning

I've toyed with the idea of blogging for a long time. I even created a food blog a couple years ago, but after about 3 posts, life intervened and it was pretty much abandoned.

But twenty-one months ago I found out I was going to be a mom. It was a Monday. It was September. I was alone, in my mother-in-law's house, taking a pregnancy test. The digital one, you know, the one that reads, in clear, easy to understand even for an idiot "PREGNANT". I stood there, waiting, not sure what I really wanted the answer to be. But sure enough, it flashed that life changing word at me. In that moment, as cliched as it sounds, my life changed. Turned completely upside down.

I'm a life long, self admitted control freak. Being pregnant meant I was going to have to let go of a lot of things. Pretty much everything, actually. I see you moms nodding your heads. Even our bodies are out of our control. It can be scary. I had no idea how much so, or how absolutely wonderful being a mom would be to my little girl, my little Ava, my precious Avacakes.

I also have a frightfully bad memory. So after kicking the idea around for so long, here I am. Blogging. Hoping to put some permanence on my journey into parenting. Something I can look back on in the future, and laugh, or cry, or roll my eyes.

So here we go, my journey in to being mommy to Avacakes. Hope you come along, and if you do, I hope you enjoy the ride.