Saturday, February 27, 2016

Presley is FOUR.

It honestly hasn't sunk in that Presley is four... it really hasn't even hit me that it was her birthday (and that it's already passed). I don't know what my problem is but it feels like the moment bounced off of me before I could absorb it. We've had a lot going on lately, and maybe that's why, but I wanted to write about it in hopes that maybe my exceptionally thick skull could interpret what I may/should be feeling.

Labor and delivery for Miss Presley was so scary - mostly because it was such an unknown realm. Could I do this? Could my body actually do what it's supposed to (for once) and help me bring a baby into the world? My labor started February 18th and didn't end until the early hours of February 20th. I don't think I've ever been that hungry, scared, and tired in my life.

Not to mention, my amazing doctor who I trusted and wanted there so much was out of town. Luckily, I was sent an angel to help deliver Presley in the form of my doctor's midwife, Rita. It was the midwife who found out that Presley was flipped sunny side up and who helped us to get her flipped. It was that amazing woman who had never met me before but decided to come in and help me give birth. I'm so grateful for women like her.

Having Presley placed on my chest was a moment that altered me deeply. I remember feeling wave after wave of emotion and just about every feeling in the book (good, bad, ugly, you name it) and I swear the warmth of this little baby lit me from within. Four years later Presley is still doing that for me. She is such a light in our lives.

This year we decided to have her party at a hotel - much like we did for her 2nd party - so that she could swim. She LOVES swimming! The biggest difference between that party and this one is that it was just me and Presley back then - no Molly yet. Which meant I had a lot more free time to devote to planning! I remember checking out several hotels and talking to the staff before choosing a hotel. This time? I think I picked the first one that met our criteria. And there was no visiting the hotel beforehand this time around.

We reserved a two room suite in case the breakfast/common area was being used at the time of the party since you can't reserve that space. That way we'd have plenty of room in the suite for party guests to spread out IF we had to have the party in the room. We get there to check in and we did not book a suite. I have no idea how that happened. So we had a regular room. Plus, and this is hilarious, the breakfast room was a restaurant! We can't use a restaurant or a one bedroom hotel room for a party! Enter freak out mode.

Tony noticed there were conference rooms available and we inquired about renting one. (Meanwhile, the first party guests have arrived!) The women on staff that evening were so helpful, understanding, and went above and beyond to accommodate us! The manager that night let us know usually you book these rooms in advance but that one very small board room was available for rental if we'd be interested. We. Will. Take. It.

And thus began Presley's board room birthday bash!

A perfect mix of new friends, old friends, family and unfailing friends who have become family.

Thankfully there was a common area for guests to hang out since we all didn't fit in the main room that was not far from the board room. It made visiting everyone at once a little more difficult but I was just happy to see everyone! Of course we spent way more time than we anticipated eating, visiting, and opening presents so mostly everyone left by the time we swam but man... that was so nice and so much fun!!!

After we said goodbye to the last party guests we finally headed up to our room - which was actually our second room already since our first room was overrun by lady bugs. By the time we got up to this room we realized this one was also full of ladybugs. When we got up to our third room we'd lost all our baby wipes somewhere along the way and this third room was also decorated by many, many ladybugs. It was late, Molly hadn't napped, and we were all tired. (But I was not about to sleep with ladybugs after the price we paid for a room!) Since we booked the hotel room through a third party we had to deal with AND the sweet staff at the hotel. Note to self and others: Don't book hotel rooms through third parties. Just don't.

Finally, we got the price of the room refunded to us and we were leaving. Presley was beside herself because she wanted so much to spend her birthday in a hotel! The sweet, sweet manager told us she would put us up at a nearby hotel room, free of charge. What! So incredibly kind. We packed everything up with two tired girls, lost Presley's favorite birthday balloon to the wind on the way to the car, and headed to the second hotel with two VERY upset little girls in the backseat. (Presley was crying about her lost balloon - I was crying a bit on the inside because the balloon that flew away cost $12 - and Molly was hysterical at the sight of Presley being so upset!)

After getting settled in our new room and playing for a bit, it was finally bedtime. Everyone eventually fell asleep and I could.not.sleep! Around 1am Molly woke up SCREAMING and was completely inconsolable. It was so bad that Tony and I decided the only way any of us would get any sleep was if I took Molly home and we went back to pick Tony and Presley up in the morning. Thankfully Presley slept through all the late night shenanigans and Molly slept just fine once we were home. What a funny story for a 4th birthday party! I'm beginning to feel like a lightning rod for oddities.

Despite the craziness, it was such a wonderful birthday party and I was so grateful to spend some time with the people we love so much. After occasions like that I always wonder WHY we don't get together with the people we love more often than we do. It's just the way life goes but I loved seeing each and every person who was there and we are so blessed to have you in our lives. Presley is four and had a happy day and that's the most I could have asked for!

Oh, not to mention she had THE COOLEST birthday cake out there thanks to her wonderful Grandmommy! Not only was the cake beautiful but it was one of the best tasting cakes I've had in a long time. Speaking of Selena, 99% of the photos from Presley's party were taken by my mother-in-law so THANK YOU for those!!!

Elsa, Anna, and Olaf featuring a picture of Presley and Elsa from our WDW trip!!!
Thank you to our Presley Rose for making the last four years of our life some of the strangest and most unforgettable years of our lives. I look forward to making all the wonderful memories with you and look forward to greeting your beautiful spirit every morning. I love you like I never knew I could love! You are the glue of our Duggan clan without knowing that's what you are. You've shown me I can do so many things I never knew I was capable of - just by existing - and I hope to do the same for you someday. You are special to me, I'm lucky to have you as part of my life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Have I shared this before?

I've been thinking about what's going on with Kesha a lot lately.

Amid everything going on with Kesha, I wanted people who don't already know how wonderful her voice is to check out her Deconstructed EP. It is one of my favorites. It's just her voice and her lyrics and I love it. When I first downloaded it a while back I wondered why she wasn't making more music recently and hoped she would make music similar to this EP. Now knowing about the legal battle she's going through, not to mention everything personally she's going through, I hope so much that she'll come out bigger and stronger and brighter on the other end. Here's hoping she'll make songs infused with heart and soul. I listened to one of her songs (Dancing with Tears in My Eyes) over and over and over when I was going through some personal stuff years ago. 

And then there is the topic of sexual assault. Which happens so, so much that it's staggering. Considering how wonderful and beautiful sex is with a consenting adult - especially in a loving relationship - it makes me so sad that assailants either don't understand what sex really is and should be or they just don't care. I don't understand putting someone else in a situation where they are asking you to stop or telling you no and you disregard their wishes and their words. How can the sex that comes from that situation be fulfilling? What are you asking people for? At that point you are taking so much more than sex. 

I was fresh out of highschool and was going to a community college. I was visiting a friend in her dorm and I was so excited to check out what life on campus was all about! I was single at the time and too young to be legally drinking, but we were drinking anyways with a few people. My friend was dating a guy she was going to college with so it was us hanging out plus her boyfriends friend. I wasn't even particularly interested in the guy I was hanging out with that night and really, I didn't even want to kiss him. Maybe that's just me feeling so repulsed by the thought of him now... maybe I felt differently at the time and don't remember. Me and this guy ended up in a dorm room, just the two of us, and we kissed. He kept trying to do more and eventually completely pulled my pants (and underwear) down. I let him know I didn't want to do that and pulled my pants back up. He scoffed it off and pulled them back down. I told him, again, that I didn't want that. At all. At one point he tried to pin me with his body so that I couldn't pull my pants back up. He told me it would be perfect for us to have sex since we were both virgins. I don't remember what I said or did to sever things or to indicate that NO, this was not happening. But it was a pretty awful experience. What bothers me so much now is that I was even kissing this guy I wasn't interested in... why was I kissing him? For the attention? Yuck. I didn't value myself enough then and I wish I would have. It bothers me that I didn't tell this guy to go screw himself from the get go. Or that I really never did. I told my friend what happened and that was the end of it. Well, a couple months later she told me that he did the same thing to another girl later in their college career. Was she the only other one? Was she as "lucky" as me to get out of the situation mostly unscathed?  

It kills me to think about the situation I put myself in. To think about all the things that could have gone even more wrong and the ways I could've been putting myself in an awful lot of danger. It hurts me to think about the sheer number of people in my tumultuous teen years that I kissed and thought nothing about it. Most of it was completely harmless. But it added to me devaluing myself. I was so lost as a person and I guess I felt that throwing myself at someone else would make me feel worth something more. And I know they were "just" kisses (thank God!) but it still matters to me now and I wish I had done MUCH less kissing of the frogs and acting so reckless. I hate that I felt like I couldn't ever talk about this situation after it happened. I felt like, well, I put myself in that situation so I deserved what happened. Or rather, I feared getting that response from other people. But that's not true at all. And as a 28-year-old I understand that now but it sucks that ten years ago I didn't get that. I got myself into too many crappy situations that I didn't ever want to be in in the first place because I was such a damn people pleaser, likely stemming from a fear of being rejected.

It's so important to me that I raise my girls to have an opinion and to have a voice and to use both of them regularly. Even if it's not going to make them any friends, even if it means going against the majority of people you're standing next to at the moment. Even if it means being labeled or called a bitch. Being a people pleaser is one of the worst things you could wind up being and I don't want that for my kids. Most of the people in your life will fade in and out, they'll come and go, and honestly, they don't matter in the long run. And the people who love you and work to understand who you are and where you're coming from will care for you amidst disagreement. If they don't then they probably aren't your people. 

So... young people or single people or just any people, please don't devalue yourself the way I did. Don't think that what someone may or may not think of you will ever matter more than what you do.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


So my sweet husband decided to surprise me for Valentines Day this year. (Me and surprises are not always the best mixture.) We went to Fuel Cafe in Midtown for dinner - which was fun, yummy, and different from our norm - and then to the Rec Room!

First, Fuel Cafe is a little restaurant in an old, converted gas station. There were all kinds of vegan and natural options on the menu... again, different than our normal choices! Tony went with the bison burger and side salad and I got the hunter's chicken. As usual, he proved to be the master orderer. When Tony originally told me where we were going he mentioned that the Fuel Cafe has a food truck and I was like -WHAT. I am not going to eat at a food truck this late! (It was after we put the kids to bed - late, late meal - and it was freezing out!) He quickly backtracked to tell me that we were not eating at a truck but in a restaurant.

They had a couple carnations at the table - which is significant because it's my favorite flower! Tony said he had them set that up on purpose... funny guy!

This was my meal. The chicken was really chewy and 100% off-putting but the potatoes and the sauce were incredible!

Tony got an all natural soda... it also contained something like 46 grams of cane sugar in it! Holy moly.

Up next was the Rec Room, another Memphis place we had never been before. It's got a fun, dive bar type of atmosphere. In addition to having a bar you can also order pizza! Which we totally should have done! They've got free arcade games (including Super Mario Bros!!!! Ya!), a ping pong table, table games, AND you can rent what they refer to as "living rooms" in hour increments and you get to choose a gaming system to play during your hour rental!!! They had NES, SNES, N64, and several more but those are the main ones I care about! Tony graciously agreed we had to rent the SNES and it was so much fun! We played Yoshi's Island, Super Mario World, Mortal Kombat (probably the most fun of the night), and a TMNT game. The hour went by so fast! Oh and the entire time we played there was an awesome DJ who played so many great late 90s/early 00s jams - tons of Nsync, Britney, Missy Elliot, Gwen Stefani, and the rest of the greats. After our hour was up we played ping pong - aka Tony ended up chasing the ball around the room the entire time - and I think that was the most fun of all! We also played some weird arcade shooter game that was oddly very entertaining, too.

It was absolutely such a fun night! I laughed a lot and I felt a bit out of my comfort zone but having Tony there with me made it exciting rather than nerve-wracking. And who doesn't love playing video games? It definitely took me back to some of the best parts of my childhood... playing games with my dad, sisters, friends, and of course Tony.

So this year we had a great Valentine's Day thanks to my wonderful husband. Next year maybe I'll have to do the surprise planning for the day!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mish mash.

Several times recently I've opened up a new blog entry to start writing and nothing comes out. I have a desire to write and share and think and reflect but then... nothing. I've said it before but sometimes blogging feels silly. Like, why am I writing this? What use it is now or ever? And what is so fascinating or important about my life that I feel the need to share it? And then I read a friends blog or something they've shared about their own life and I enjoy reading it so much. So I write incase someone else enjoys it and hope that I enjoy it in the process.

What's everyone reading or planning to read this year? I don't remember the last time I read a book or what it was. I know Tony and I committed to reading the Harry Potter series last year (again for me but for the first time for Tony) and around the time we started really planning our Disney trip was the time we stopped reading. Tony made it to book 2 and I made it to book 4. Usually I can't put those books down! I'm sure we'll pick up where we left off in a couple weeks.

The first book I plan to read this year is Howl's Moving Castle. I have it waiting for me at the library but keep forgetting to pick it up! I watched bits and pieces of the movie with Presley - which I really enjoyed - but I kept feeling like there were explanations on so many things that I was somehow missing. I read a review of the movie in which someone said the book was really a companion piece to the movie and without reading it you wouldn't get the entire picture. I'm excited to read it and then to also finish the movie.

I also really want to read Room after hearing great things about it. I started reading Paper Towns several weeks ago and never finished... I'd like to read that one soonish. I'd still like to read The Opposite of Loneliness that I meant to read last year and never did. I started Wild sometime last year and never got fully invested... so I'd like to give that one another try.

This month my oldest baby will turn four. The one who - at the time - felt like she would always be in a baby stage. And now there is nothing baby left about her. I don't even like the baby phase very much!!! It's a lot of diaper changes, little sleep, crying, and lots of messes. Then why is it so difficult for me that Presley is getting older? We signed her up for preschool last week. So many feelings. She is so ready to go to school and craves that social interaction. She can't wait to go to school with her backpack and get to meet new friends. But for me, it is so hard for me to let go. It'll more than likely just be a two day a week gig... but still. Most days I would LOVE for a little more "me" time - so why does sending her to preschool feel so sad for me?

I mean, this is the beginning of it all. After she starts preschool, she will start elementary school. And then she's gone all day five days a week and I will have to trust her to strangers. I will have to accept that she could get hurt. Or sick. Or bullied. That is hard for me. It's easy for me to think about the things she will gain from school - she will love it. But the fact that I won't be there to protect her or experience life right next to her feels very unnatural to me. When we were in the thick of the baby stage I could not wait until I could send her off to daycare and get a job or the days where she would be in school all day. And now it's terrifying! Maybe it'll all feel different once she gets started in school. Most of this could just be fear of the unknown at the moment.

I'd love to hear from parents who felt the same before sending their kids to school or who chose to homeschool. What has having school aged children been like for you?

I forgot to write about meeting our newest niece, Claire! It was nice to spend some time with the Carrico family and to see baby Claire. Both girls absolutely adore her and still talk about her. Anne Marie and Matthew are the best older siblings, too!!! And of course, I didn't get a single picture of Matthew from the trip. Poor middle kid! You'd think as a middle child myself I would be more conscious about that!!!!

Other than the upcoming birthday, not a whole lot is on our agenda. Muddling through this winter at the moment seems like my main goal. And coffee.