Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lovable Labels Spooktacular Sale!

I love, love, love Lovable Labels! Read my review to learn just how fantastic I think these labels are, or just visit their site to purchase your own during this fabulous weekend sale!!

ILovable Labels

*** Disclosure: I received an offer of free spooky labels of my own as compensation for sharing this awesome sale with you! I'm off to choose them now!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Oh My Heaven, Sweet Rose is Seven - A Birth Story

My Sweet Rose is 7 years old today. She's incredibly clever, focused, determined, talented and always ahead of the game. She's given me 7+ years of surprises, beginning with the pregnancy! Her big sister was a mere 7 months old when I found out I was pregnant again. Leaving it up to nature worked a lot faster the second time around.

39 weeks into a relatively easy pregnancy (if being pregnant when you already have a baby can be considered easy), my husband was making me dinner. He's an amazing cook and even though it was just roasted chicken, it was going to be delicious.

They say the second labor is usually shorter than the first. My first started with contractions 5-minutes apart and only lasted 9 hours. It would have been faster if not for an overzealous setting of pain control from otherwise wonderful Singaporean nurses.

Since someone would need to watch over Nature Girl when her sister came along, I had a good friend on-call as a back-up in case we had to head to the hospital before my parents could make it from Detroit to Grand Rapids. My mom had come up earlier that week as I'd been having contractions on and off, but went home when the baby was a no-show after a couple of days. She left on September 7th. My due date was still over a week away.

From about 7pm on the evening of September 9, 2006, I started having contractions every 20 minutes. I put my 15-month old first-born to bed and helped my man put the finishing touches on dinner. Around 8pm, just before dinner was ready (it smelled really good), I mentioned the contractions to my husband. They were getting stronger; having had fruitless contractions all week, I didn't want to tell him until they were actually regular.

As we sat down for dinner (it looked delicious!), the contractions suddenly started coming much harder and closer together. Your brain gets a little foggy in that kind of pain, so the events of the next two hours are a little fuzzy, but clear enough. Yes, I wrote two-hours.

I couldn't eat, so between contractions I called my mom instead and told her they'd better jump in the car. By 8:30, I called my friend and told her it was a high alert! My parents were on their way, but things were moving along quickly.

Minutes after I hung up the phone, something happened. Some fluid I thought must be my water leaking. No big burst, but something was going on and the contractions were now just a few minutes apart and I could barely walk. I still tried to clean the kitchen and load the dishwasher. I didn't want it to be messy when my parents arrived even though I couldn't stand up straight anymore.

I called my friend back sometime around 9pm and asked her to come over right away - I think I had 3 contractions during the 5-minute (or less) phone call. She arrived in 15 minutes flat. My husband grabbed my bag (I was prepared this time around) and helped me into the car around 9:20pm.

At some point, I can't remember if it was before we left or on the way, I called my doctor's service to tell her we were on the way. I would have the on-call doctor, they told me. No problem.

I can remember being on Michigan street around 9:30pm, just 5 minutes from the hospital. We stopped at a light and I noticed the pain of the contractions easing. Not the timing; the pain. I remember thinking very clearly to myself, "Uh oh, I'm in transition."

Transition, if you're unaware, is that short period of time between your body getting ready to push out a baby and actually doing it.

My husband dropped me at the ER door, they put me into a wheelchair. I think he went and parked the car, and then we were on our way up to the maternity ward. They checked me, confirmed that I hadn't actually broken my water yet, but I was dilated to a 6 or an 8, I can't remember.

It was around 9:45pm when we got into a delivery room. The doctor was on her way. The nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural. I said, "Yes!" Labor really hurts. They said they would check if the anesthesiologist was available. About 10 minutes later, still having brain-freezing-abdomen-stabbing contractions every minute or so, someone came in and started talking at me (yes, at me) about forms and epidural, blah blah.

I remember saying something like, "Never mind, the baby's coming!" Then hearing the nurses say, "Don't push! Don't push!" and me saying, "I can't help it! She's coming!"

I swear I hardly pushed at all. Sweet Rose tore straight out of me (literally - ouch!). It was like one long stream of contraction without any pause for relief and at 10:05pm she was born. The doctor arrived 10 or 15 minutes later.

After the usual Apgar and clean-up, they placed Sweet Rose in my arms and I nursed her with an ease that only comes with experience. They left us alone (my husband went for well-deserved cigarette). I remember mumbling to my new, little baby and sometimes realizing none of it made any sense. I think I was in shock and I was glad it was just the two of us.

From the pregnancy to the birth to her crawling at 6 1/2 months and climbing at 7 months, Sweet Rose has rocked my world. She's the child that pushes my limits like no one else can. I have to frequently tell myself that the things about her that can drive me nuts are the same things that will be exceptional qualities to have when she's an adult. So bite your tongue, mom, and find a way to parent without stomping them out.

Because she's amazing. Happy Birthday, Sweet Rose.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dear High-School Class of 1993

My 20th Class Reunion is coming up in just over a week. I thought I'd write my classmates a post! Enjoy.

Dear High-School Class of 1993,

Before I get started, if you don't know who the hell Tamara Vellozzo is, well, you knew me as "Tammy Zoner." I've been going by "Tamara" for a solid 19 years now. Don't bother telling that to my parents, cousins or aunties, though. ;) Do you remember me?

Back in high school when I thought of my future self, I was sure I'd remember every single one of you, but Facebook has proved me wrong (speaking of FB - If you friend me and I never reply, you're probably a guy. I only friend blood-related males in respect of my marriage - have you seen the divorce statistics siting FB? Anyway, you can always follow my public posts or author page).

Unless I knew you from elementary school onward, you were in choir with me, did the school plays or we frequently had classes together, I'm sorry, my mommy-mushy-brain has most likely lost too many active brain cells to recall you. That's why I don't feel bad if you can't remember me either.

The School Years
I can hardly believe it's been 20-years since we graduated; yet, there is proof. So, we are that old. One of our fellow classmates recently told me a funny story of how she'd heard that I'd married a crazy Arab and moved to Thailand. It's actually not that far off base, so let me catch you up on the past two decades of my life and dispel any rumors. 

After we graduated I spent the summer (and the next 5 years) shedding my good-girl skin and letting my free-spirit reign. I won't go into detail, my mom reads this after all, but I did have an awful lot of fun. I kept in touch with just a few of you as I spent a year at Wayne State and then transferred to CMU. There I switched from Theater to Family Studies, got a few tattoos and worked full-time for a Marriott hotel, studied, danced, partied and discovered who I really am.  

Instead of utilizing my education, I stayed in the hotel business when I moved to Grand Rapids in 1999. I've covered the front desk and HR. I met a (slightly crazy - usually in a good way) French man who swept me off my feet, took me on a tour of London, Paris and a gorgeous little village in Switzerland, where he proposed. We married 6 months after meeting and moved to Singapore for his job in January 2001. I've never actually been to Thailand (yet). 

There, I taught ESL, managed a chiropractic office and the American Women's Association office (not all at the same time) and sang my butt off in one of the most fun choirs in the world. With my hubs, I traveled to Tokyo, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Shanghaii and my fave, Australia. We climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, tasted fabulous wine in Hunter Valley and in the beautiful Margaret River where we hope to retire one day. 

On trips back home (my parents have never moved), we usually hit London or his hometown in France again and once had a wonderful trip to Edinburgh. 5 years later we had our first daughter and moved back to GR. Our worldly travels halted and very shortly after the first, we had a second daughter.

The Stay-at-home thing never fulfills me, so I completed a certificate course with the Institute of Children's Literature and wrote a picture book, which I later self-published (click the link and buy it! It's a great bedtime story for the 6 and under set). Then, feeling the need to do more (and get out of the house while still maintaining a flexible schedule) I got my license to teach Kindermusik and opened my own studio.

Gosh, I loved singing with those kids! It was fun, joy-filled, but totally not profitable, so I scrapped that business after my son was born in 2009. Never one to sit still (it's in my Zoner blood), I started this blog, wrote for parenting websites and did a bit of freelance editing, which I'm still doing today.

The Boy
Wanting to get back out of the house and pursue a different passion, I became a wine consultant and had an absolute blast conducting private wine tastings. It's so much fun when drinking wine is actually your job! My man and I both loved it so much, we decided to open our own store. That didn't work out as we'd hoped, however, and last year a new job for the hubs meant another move for us. Now, my sweet family of 5 is living an hour SE of London and next week, guess what? I'm going to Stonehenge!!! 

Being overseas means I'll miss the reunion. I didn't fret over the 10th, but I would have loved to attend this one (you know, before we all get too old to be recognizable)! So, I'm expecting to see plenty of pics on Facebook or perhaps even your own blog. Leave the link in the comments!

Life has had its ups and downs, but overall I've been healthy and happy and living life to the fullest.When we were kids, we thought at this age we would be so old! But you know what? I feel like my life is just beginning. The best, most fulfilling, breathtaking parts of my life are just falling into place. 

I hope to see you at our 30th reunion when that autograph on the back of the senior picture I gave you just might finally be worth something! Watch this space ;)

Your turn. Tell me what you've been up to for the past 20 years. I'm listening.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Best Drop-Off EVER!

The house is quiet. I'm writing uninterrupted... what is going on? Oh, yes! It is the first day of school!!! And do you know what? It was the best drop-off ever!!!

If you count the first day of preschool, this is the 6th year I've been doing this drop-off thing and this was the first time no one cried, no one hugged desperately begging to stay with me and no one had to be physically removed from my arms crying and sobbing while I tried to keep my own tears in check and b-line for the door.

It was amazing.

I went to the mall and shopped by myself. By myself. I know, it's only been 6-weeks since they got out and most of you lovely readers likely spent double that home with your kids, but that's still a long time without a break. Plus, you can't shop for kid's birthdays with the kids! Finally, I can birthday shop.

Just listen. The only sound is the hum from the refrigerator. And tomorrow, though my little guy will be at home, there will be only one child to care for all. day. long. One is so much easier than three.

School is bliss for the stay/work-at-home-mom. I think there should be world-wide celebration champagne brunches for all moms (or whichever parent stays at home).

Now, I'm just going to sit here and listen to the quiet.

School is Heaven for moms

*** Linking up with Mama Kat after realizing I had already written one of her prompts without prompting. :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I Guess I'm Not A Writer After All

At least not a professional one. Yes, if you give me a topic I can pop out some decent text. Have a birthday or an anniversary? I can get pretty darn poetic. I have caused sappy tears and happy smiles. I've even written a lovely children's picture book that I'm quite proud of; good prose isn't easy, you know? I have more story ideas, even a couple of drafts... but I don't have the necessary persistence to get published.

I'll never be a money-making freelancer or copy writer. Nor will I be the next great novelist. It just isn't in me. I write when I feel like it and I write what I feel. It's a calling of my soul to put pen to paper or fingers to keys.

And I feel like blogging! I have missed this regular release. So, since I've always been at my best when I'm busiest, I'm going to start blogging (somewhat) regularly again. Reviews, advertisements and the works. And when I get brave enough, I'll start writing on my other site. When my confidence allows...

The lovely thing about living in Britain is that the blogging opportunities are actually much greater than in the US. So, even though the cursed Google stripped me of my page rank, I'll happily work to build my UK readership, do a little networking and possibly start to earn a little money to put toward life in general and my certification.

Plus, how can I say no to makeup and mouthwash? Things I hardly buy for myself. I can't (say no). It's a weakness.

See you soon, loves!