December 31, 2012

New York, New York

We've been to NYC several times, but one of the beautiful things about this city is that every time, there's a discovery to be had.  Whether its the views from the top of the Empire State Building, or walks through a different part of Central Park, or trying a new amazing Indian restaurant in Manhattan.  But then, there's also the tried and true favorites like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and stuffing your face at a hotdog stand, or the stunning architecture of the Upper East Side, and you understand why people so quickly fall in love with the spirit of the city.

Happy New Year's Eve!  
Hope you all get to spend this exciting evening with the people you love.

December 28, 2012

.Taking a holiday.

We are back from our Christmas travels and mostly in one piece. We had a wonderful holiday and were even lucky enough to enjoy a white Christmas!  My mom and her husband were great hosts and carried us all over New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts to maximize the few days we were there.

Mystic, Connecticut was this adorably quaint town where we had a warm lunch on the water at S&P Oyster Co. and walked downtown window shopping.  And let me just say, I don't know how you Northern mamas do it.  Dylan would not keep on any of her winter gear no matter how hard we tried; I'm both shocked and relieved that she didn't get frostbite in those conditions.   

New England you sure are pretty, but I think I'll keep my southern winters around for awhile.

December 22, 2012

.Off to New England.

Just a few moments as we've been prepping for the holiday.  This year we're spending Christmas with my mother and her family in New England, so we've already been doing a bit of celebrating with family down here.  Although I'm nervous to endure long-distance traveling with a very active toddler in the busiest season, I'm excited to explore some new areas and have my husband all to myself for a few days!

December 17, 2012

.On working in mental health...

Time heals all wounds.  And if it doesn't, you name them something other than wounds and agree to let them stay. 
.Emma Forrest in her memoir.

After the horrific tragedy in Newtown, there's been passionate discussion about what went wrong, what factors were most at fault, and what can be done to help prevent such a violent event in the future.  Everyone seems to be hurting together for these families.

Part of that debate is the long-standing challenges in mental health.  Working in community mental health, I see so many of these issues first-hand.  Daily, it's a struggle not to drown in the psychological and emotional needs of people in crisis, especially with such limited resources currently available in the mental health field.

As an intake counselor, it's a weary load to be responsible for initially assessing clients and determining an appropriate treatment plan within 50 minute appointments.  Take into account the amount of people served on a daily basis in community agency settings where insurance is few and far between and finances are an enormous obstacle (i.e. to afford therapeutic services or the astronomical costs of psychotropic medication), and it's just a small picture of some of the challenges faced by those on the front line.  Also throw in the amount of time spent shuffling through clients who may be malingering, whether to fraudulently obtain disability benefits, or for some other secondary gain.  Also add to this the follow-up necessary to actually maintain a level of stability in these client caseloads, with little pay, high stress, and high staff turnover... and it's no wonder burnout is so rampant in this field.  It's easy to become desensitized and demoralized when working in mental health, but at what cost?  The liability is high, and the rate of relapse higher.  There are so many obstacles on both ends of client and clinician to link people to the mental health services they need, and even more challenging when it's not what clients want or feel is necessary.  It is never easy to have to commit someone involuntarily, nor having to help guide families through such personal challenges.  And unfortunately, many times help comes as a reaction to an event, when prevention would be much more successful.

In my opinion personal support is vital, but prevention and early detection is key.  Availability of resources.  Knowledge of treatment options.  Reduction of stigma. Empowerment of clients and their families.  Advocating for self and the people you love.  And not just listening to people in need, but actually watching and noticing their behaviors too.  It's easier to ignore or push aside slight, worrisome comments with "it will get better" or "you just need to move forward," but until there is systematic change, we will continue to flounder to keep people well in a challenging world.

It. is. just. all. so. frustrating. and. sad.  I've always been dedicated to the cause, but this great suffering has reawakened my fire and the small part I may be able to play in the struggle.

P.S. To better understand severe mental illness from those who have lived it, I recommend reading Your Voice in My Head and An Unquiet Mind.  Also, this TED Talk is a haunting account of living with Schizophrenia, and this TED Talk helps to build understanding on hearing voices and living with the impact of trauma.

P.P.S. To hear another opinion about coping with the challenges of mental illness as a family member, please read this article.

December 10, 2012

.Dylan helps with the baby.

That's right, as of early June, Dylan will be helping with the baby!   

We are so so grateful for the influx of well wishes so far, and although this was quite the surprise versus last time, we are feeling so blessed.

To tell our families, we thought it'd be cute to have Dylan bring this book to her grandparents to read, where they would then become suspicious and we could reveal our good news.  Unfortunately, Dylan the toddler was not always so cooperative, and when she was, the message of the book wasn't very clear to family members.  Ha!  Eventually I just decided to make a slight edit to the book to avoid confusion.

Although we're so excited, we are so nervous to have two littles only two years apart!  How do people do it??  

P.S. Our first baby reveal.

December 6, 2012


These were taken on Thanksgiving, after watching the parade, and before stuffing our faces to the brim.  This was Dylan's first time getting a taste of the feast.  I'm pretty sure this day was only comparable to her birthday when she got her first taste of chocolate.

Oof, these two.  
I just can't get enough of those dimples.

December 5, 2012

.Our little yogurt shoppe.

Just a few pictures from the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Freeze Frame.  It's been a long (and tough) road, but we've already met some of the coolest and nicest people here in town.  Now, I do miss my husband terribly as he spends long hours getting things to run smoothly aside from his day job, but I am also so happy to see a dream of his come true.

December 4, 2012

Google-1, Jessica- 0

Okay Google, you win.
I have been on a bit of a blogging strike,
Google wanted me to start paying monthly for storage services.
Granted, it was a very minor fee.
But I felt that it sort of took the fun out of this venture for me
If I felt that I had to blog because it was costing me more than my time.
But alas, I miss this outlet I had,
And I've really never been known for my stubborn streak.
So I have returned,
And I have some fixin' up to do around here,
But hello again my little blog.