From Carlie: You know that parenting class they have in the schools where you have to carry around that baby, and it's supposed to do all of the things that a real baby would do? How would you compare that experience with the experience of actually taking care of a real baby?
This question made me laugh. Maybe I am being a bit dramatic… but I don’t think anything can prepare you for the first 6-8 weeks of a babies life. It is a bizarre, time-warping, demoralizing (baby verses man and baby always wins), dear-God-save-me, I am still recovering experience. Take that little stuffed baby from high school and stick a hungry, erratic baby cougar inside of it. It felt a little more like that to me.
From Kelly: How did you come up with the name Anniston? And why is she called a squirrel???
My middle name is Ann. So is my mom’s. I wanted to incorporate this into her name but I wasn’t sure how. My full birth name is Jennifer Ann Chisolm. Most people know me by Jenny though; and this creates quite the problem. Jenny Ann sounds like you picked me up out of the Clampet's bumpkin truck. This was traumatic. People, seriously, think about the middle name. I didn’t want my daughter to struggle with hillbilly syndrome, but I wanted her to keep the Ann… so Ann-iston just sort of made its way onto my list. And I loved it from the very beginning.
Before I even knew I was having a girl, she felt like an Anniston.
And squirrel? Well, my sister Melissa always called herself a duck growing up. I’m not sure how, where, or when this started, but we called her ducky. She’s cute like that. Making you smile, coming up with nicknames, making things funny… and right off the bat she called Annie a squirrel. She is scared of babies. They are too wiggly for her among other things. And Annie almost jumped right out of her virgin-baby arms. When she returned from a trip to Italy with a handmade piggy bank for Anniston she wrote on the bottom of it, “Save money. Go to college squirrel. Love your auntie Melissa.” My sister, who I miss deeply and terribly with all my heart has only seen Annie once, but that was all she needed, she totally knew Annie boo was a squirrel.
From Grandpa: Grandpa has two questions. When are you bringing my grand daughter to Albuquerque? I don't like that crying picture...do I need to come and get my baby?
Dear Grandpa, Your granddaughter and yes, your daughter (hello, earth to dad, don’t you remember me? Your oldest, most beloved daughter who lived with you for 18 years… what, it’s all about the little baby now? That's how it's gonna be?) would love to visit you and mom sometime soon. I hope to bring Annie during the hot air balloon festival and hopefully sooner as well. And yes, you can come get your grandbaby tomorrow…Ryan and I need a date night! Ok, anyone can come get her. I just want to go to the pool for 30 minutes. Lord, is that too much to ask??? I'm gettin pastie over here.
From Anonymous: My question is, what will you do with little Annie when she's old enough to start school? Will you settle down for a life of the 9 to 5, or will you hit the road home-schooling?
Yikes! I have not thought that far ahead! To my advantage and my ultimate demise I am a “fly by the seat of my pants” girl. Not much in my life is planned out or thought through… thus, Annie’s schooling has not even crossed my mind. Here’s what I do know: Moms who home school are heroes. I do not think I could ever do that. Oh, I can introduce Annie to the world, but when it comes to geometry, those little fraction thingies, anything that made it on the SAT (I’ll confess, I made, um, about an 800 or so and never would take that vile thing again), any form of math or science or geography and that poor child will never learn to function properly in the real world. She doesn’t stand a chance if I’m her teacher; we’d just be coloring pictures for old people, having imagination parties, and making up names for all the insects in the back yard.
Private school will probably never be an option as it is very expensive. And, I have to say that I am a huge supporter of the public school system. I was raised in a very inter-racial, multi-ethnic school system and this shaped my view of the world for the better. I want my daughter to be able to experience that as well. I hope she is in public school with tons of kids who have different upbringings, beliefs, cultures, and financial realities … I pray she never sees skin color and never knows class.
For now though, I am just trying to keep the buggers sucked out of this little babies nose. Trying to keep her happy on car rides and airplanes. I am trying to keep her well fed and moderately stimulated. I am trying to keep up with her diapers and I am trying to bribe her to roll over. School is a long, long way off.
Oh, and 9-5 job? I am severely unqualified. I have the attention span of a second grade boy hopped up on cool-aide and cookies. Like the lost boys in Neverland… I don’t want to grow up. I mean I do, I want to grow up and mature and experience more of life… I’d just like to do this without having a 9-5 office job. Ever.
From Rebecca: Are you and Ryan gonna have more babies?
It depends on who you ask and which day you ask it on! I spent a summer in college working at a baby orphanage in Romania. I fell in love with these little, voiceless babies and became passionate about adoption. It has always been a strong conviction of mine to adopt a child who is motherless and fatherless. I’d love to have more kids that look like Ryan and I and bless the world with more children who might genetically inherit their mothers fabulous SAT scores… but there are already kids out there that need a mom who will love them fiercely. That is something God has called me to do. So, yes… it might be a good long while, I have no plan set out for how far a part I want our children to be, no agenda… but we are open. And I am longing to adopt.
Is life on the road with baby in tow better or harder than you imagined?
Am I beating a dead horse? Having a baby in general has been harder than I thought it would be! Beyond that, it has actually been so much fun to have Annie out with us. We have slumber parties together where she lays in between Ryan and I and holds both of our hands. She then jerks her head back and forth, wide-eyed, trying to figure out who she wants to look at. She loves it, she knows she is on vacation! She has been held and loved on by so many people and I think that has been an unexpected joy for me. To realize she will experience life a bit differently, but with so much richness as she is exposed to so many of you across the country has been a beautiful realization.
It’s hard. It’s hard changing poopy diapers in shaky airplane bathrooms. It’s hard trying to figure out how we will bathe her in each new hotel room. It's hard trying to nurse her at outside festivals, tucked away in the back seat of a car or behind a tree somewhere! It takes longer to get from here to there, all the moving parts, all the things we have to keep track of to make sure we can keep her alive… sure, it’s hard. Harder than we imagined. But I’m learning that’s what parenting is all about. Harder than you imagined, but more amazing than you hoped for.
You and Ryan look great! How did you lose the weight? You are sweet. But, I’m pretty much still in maternity pants…I figure I’ll ride them out through Thanksgiving… and if you are just joining me on the blog, please know that last year’s thanksgiving with maternity pants was perhaps the BEST holiday of my life. You can stick a whole turkey in those pants and no one will know! But back to the question, I lost 40 pounds right off the bat by sheer sweat (and yes, that does mean that I gained WAY more than 40 pounds). I would wake up two or three times a night with soaking wet sheets. I still have a ways to go… but it helps that I get to sweat it out on stage! And, it doesn’t hurt to live in Texas. Summers are brutal, but at least we’re burning free calories every time we have to walk to our cars!
Happy Monday everyone... I will finish answering questions by the end of the week. I promise!