Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Staycation 2012 Update

It's Day Five of My Great Big Summer Staycation -a week off, with the hubby-hubs having four days off.  It's been awesome.  Before Baby, I usually took staycations (we don't travel very often - we'd like to, we just don't have the money and it's hard for my husband to get time off) and filled them up with errands.  My post-baby staycation has thus-far been a satisfying mix of errands and play.  Just rambling around the house and yard with Hubs and Baby is supremely satisfying.  And cheap!  I love this stage Baby's in - everything is interesting.  A leaf, a flower, a baby monitor, a spoon, a newspaper.  Everything is something to inspect, wave in the air, tear apart, bang against something else.  I do have to wrangle him away from the computer and the dvd player about eight times a day, but so far no major damage has been done.

So what have I done in my four days off?  I have:
- Read Billy Bob Thornton's memoir - freaking hilarious and very insightful.  He's a strange dude, to be sure, but I think we're all strange and he's just not afraid to show his brand of weirdness.  It's a great read, but if you can't handle cursing, then DON'T READ IT.

- Cleaned my dish drainer by the kitchen sink.  It's something I forget about, and the other night I happened to notice that it was growing its own eco-system.  But now it's clean!

- Amended and mailed our tax return.  We forgot to pay something.  Oops!

- Made pesto with the basil we grow.  Didn't have pine nuts or walnuts, so I used pistachios.  Turned out yummy!

- Not looked at Facebook for two days straight.  Kind of nice.

-Ordered Little Man some shoes.  Boy doesn't have shoes!  Now that he's cruising the furniture, he needs them.

- Watched "True Grit" with Hubs - the newer version.  Pretty good.  Hubs had been wanting to see it.

 - Took naps along with Baby.  I am one of those people who would take a nap about 3pm every day if I could.

- Had some pals come over for dinner.  We've not entertained much post-baby, but now he's getting to an age where he can handle lots of people and also stay awake a bit later.  So we're going to have people over more often.

That's just some of the fun here at our house this week!  I needed this time off so very much. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Should Rename This Blog

(in which I am the last person to opine on the breastfeeding magazine cover bandwagon)

I should call it "Not Judging, Not Judging."  Except that I am.  I can't help it.  Why write a blog if you don't give your opinions, right?

I don't care that the mother on the infamous recent cover of TIME magazine breastfeeds her 3.5 year old.  I am definitely pro-breastfeeding, if the mother is able and willing to do so.  If it works for them, go ahead.  But what I DO care about is the fact that this child will forever be "that kid" with his mother's breast in his mouth on the cover of TIME.  Why would you do that to your child?  I can't fathom doing something like that myself.  And if you were determined to go ahead and pose for the cover, why that awful, unnatural pose?  Why not hold your baby (your 3.5 year old baby) the way a nursing mother does? 

Oh well.  In the grand scheme of things I guess the whole thing isn't that bad.  She is caring for her child, and there are way too many children in this world who don't get the benefit of a caring parent.

POST SCRIPT:  I want to amend what I wrote yesterday.  I still think that the mother could have insisted on a picture in a more natural pose, but I have to say that I am really pissed at TIME magazine for inciting this whole ridiculous kerfluffle.  Shame on them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Don't Get It

This lady comes into the library pretty regularly, but the only books she ever checks out are by Mary Higgins Clark.  That's it.  Okay, maybe once in a blue moon she picks one by Danielle Steel.  I just don't get it.  But I'm not judging, not judging.  Much.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Finding Joy

Today was a day of celebration.  My first Mother's Day, my mom's and mother in law's first Mother's Day as grandmas.  It's a gift to see how much Baby J brightens up family gatherings.  Pretty much everything he does is met with delight, laughter, indulgence.  Look, he's playing with the camera cord!  Watch him hold that sippy cup!  Soak it up now, kid.  We should too - the challenging toddler years are not far away.  

My mission is to find happiness every day - to get back to feeling like myself.  Today I found joy in:

1) The ice cream cake my mother brought me for my birthday - I feel rich when I have something so decadent in my freezer!

2) J's TWO HOUR NAP this morning - I was able to lie down and read for quite a while and it was heavenly.  I'm reading Julia Glass's Three Junes - which is fantastic, by the way.  (I also had to really fight with J to get him to nap this afternoon - 30 minutes -  so don't be jealous.)

3) The cuteness of J saying "yocks" for "blocks."  (That $10.00 sorting block set was a great buy!)

4) Spending time with family - I am lucky enough to genuinely like my family - the one I was born into and the one into which I married.

5) My mom gave me a lily of the valley plant that was culled from one she has had for years.  It was originally my great-grandmother's plant.  And it's my birth month flower too.  What a special gift! 

Mother's Day can sometimes seem kind of cheesy and trumped up, but today was simply a very good day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Little Big Life

Hi everybody.  I haven't been here for a while.  I haven't felt much like writing.  I've been kind of on autopilot for the past month or so.  It's such an easy state to fall into.  Wake up, shower, nurse the baby, feed him, feed myself, get dressed, go to work, come home, feed the baby, put him to bed, watch TV, go to sleep.  Repeat.  Weeks go by so quickly and another page on the calendar turns over.  There is great happiness in each day with a little one - the speed with which he changes and learns astounds me.  His vocabulary and physical strength seem to grow every day.  I feel so blessed to be his mom.  Yet even with this sweet, active boy in my life, days can seem remarkably the same.

This past week, though,  I've felt jolted out of my comfort zone.  I happened to read an article on Yahoo about 10 days ago about a baby and her "bucket list."  I couldn't help myself, I read the whole article.  And I cried.  And cried.  And went to her blog, which is written by her father in her voice.  And cried some more, but also became profoundly inspired.  Her parents are the embodiment of love, and they wanted to give Avery the fullest, most joyful life they could. 

Four days after that, after I'd cried a bit every day and prayed for her and her family, after I'd donated money to research for her genetic condition, I read that she'd died suddenly the previous day.  It hit me so hard, as if I knew her.  I didn't, of course, but the warmth and bravery of her family and this baby's spirit made me feel like I did.  I didn't know what to do with my sadness.  Sometimes life just ravages your heart, makes you question what the hell is the point of all of this if sweet little babies are taken from their loved ones like that.  Reading too much news will do that to you too, if you let it.

But I began to realize that baby Avery and her parents wouldn't want me to dwell in sadness.  Besides raising awareness about her condition, SMA, which is genetic and which is not routinely tested for, they wanted to celebrate the life that Avery had left, whatever that was, and they wanted others to actually live theirs. 

What would it take for me to be a more joyful, present mom to my son?  A few changes are in order:  more meditation, exercise, prayer.  Some more time with his dad would be nice!  I want to be a happy mom.  I want to feel a zest for life that I can't help but impart to my son.  I want him to grow up knowing that even though life is most definitely not fair, it is still beautiful and good.  I need to put away the "to-do list" and just BE THERE WITH HIM, introduce him to all that is lovely and wondrous about our planet.

There is so much sadness in the world.  Everybody really does hurt, as the REM song goes - no one escapes crap happening to them.  How can we be anything but kind to one another, in the face of all that hardship?  Love your kids.  Be present.  Find something to be happy about every day.  Donate money to causes you believe in, or your time.  Mentor kids, foster kids, read to kids...  we're failing our nation's children, and they deserve so much better.  If you can stand it, I encourage you to read Avery's blog.  You will come away with a fresh appreciation for life, and probably a desire to more fully experience yours.  If you're considering having a child, you might even decide to get tested and see if you're a carrier for SMA.  I know I am forever changed by that little girl and her parents's brave decision to share her story with all of us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I Tell Myself

Almost every day I think, "Maybe you're not patient enough/too selfish/not strong enough to be a parent."  And then I get over it.  You have to.  It helps that I have this staring me in the face.
He is beautiful.  He is funny and loving and busy and willful and smart and curious and I have no idea what the hell I did with myself before we were blessed with him.  Parenthood is not for wimps.  Maybe I am impatient and selfish and weak, but I'm the only mom he's going to get, so I am going to make damn sure I do my best for him. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Only This Moment

When I take my breaks to pump milk for my son at work, I'm reading Momfulness: Mothering with Mindfulness, Compassion and Grace by Denise Roy.  (Any opportunity to read!)  I've just started it and so far I'm not rushing it, unlike my normal breakneck gobbling reading pace.  It's lovely - centering, quiet, wise.  I need a centering voice in my head these days.  I'm all over the place all the time, a million pieces of me scattered here and there.  Parts of me at work, parts of me with my husband, whom I feel like I rarely see, parts of me playing on the floor with my son.  An endless calendar and to-do list in my head, nagging me about my yard full of weeds, my unmopped floor, the cobwebs multiplying on the ceiling, the grocery list, the laundry, the friends I haven't called or seen in weeks.  One of our cars needs major repairs, more than the car is worth, so we're in the hunt for a new one - an exciting prospect but tiring as well.

It never ends.  Life doesn't stop.  Things just keep piling up, and this is how it has always been, but with an eight month old, it feels like a very heavy load.  Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed.

Enter Momfulness.  Today I read a passage on Presence, reminding me to be in the moment.  It contains a short meditation you can do anywhere at any time, short enough to memorize or post on a small card somewhere in sight.  It's a meditation from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh:

Breathing in, I calm my body.

Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment

I know that this is a wonderful moment.

I sat there in the storage room, breast pump whirring away, and closed my eyes.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  This is the only moment.  I am making milk to feed my son.  I am lucky to have a place and time to do this at work.  So many women do not have a supportive pro-breastfeeding workplaces. I am lucky to have a job.  I am lucky to have this good quality pump.  I am lucky to have a son.

Roy says that not every moment is a wonderful moment, but it's the only moment.  You can switch out the words if you need to.  But in this moment of quiet and relative solitude, there is much wonder.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Last Thin Mint

I've eaten my last Thin Mint.  I managed to consume an entire box in TWO DAYS.  I have to admit I have a problem.  I don't seem to have this problem with other cookies, or chocolate, or any other sweet treat - with the possible exception of donuts, which is why I've learned to RARELY buy donuts.  Yeah, a person really shouldn't eat an entire box of Girl Scout Cookies by themselves in two days.  So I am gonna have to pull the string and get off the Girl Scout Cookie bus.  I apparently can't have just one.  Or two, or seven. 

I admire the organization and will probably continue to purchase cookies for my husband.  (Especially after hearing about the latest flap involving some far-right state senator from Indiana denouncing the Girls Scouts - seriously!?)  Hubby likes the Trefoils, which could sit on my kitchen counter tops for weeks and I'd eat like three.  Shortbread, meh.  Samoas are pretty good, and Tagalongs are alright, although they leave a slightly slimy film on the tongue.  But Thin Mints are apparently laced with magic fairy keep-you-fat dust.  And I'm sick of my pants fitting too tightly.  So I'm out.  (I'll miss you!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Rut!

Sweet potato fries!  I've been reading some bad books lately.  First there was the new P.D. James Death Comes to Pemberley, a mystery set six years after the events of Pride and Prejudice.  Lifeless.  Snore.  Then there was Twain's Feast, our February book group pick.  It has a great premise (examining foods on Mark Twain's favorite American foods list - what do people still eat today and what's extinct?)  In the hands of a more skilled writer it could have been a lot better.  Then came Bruno, Chief of Police.  I'm a bit of a Francophile and thought a mystery set in a small town in the Southwest of France would be magnifique.  Quel dommage, I was wrong.  Setting, good.  Mystery and characters, flat. 

What's wrong with me?  Why do I keep picking losers?  Obviously my selection process needs some tweaking.  I've been going on pure whim, but perhaps a bit more intentionality would offer better choices.  Or maybe I just need to learn to cut bait and run.  Among my many quirky reading habits is the notion that I can't quit a mystery novel before I learn who did it.  And I don't like to abandon a book group pick, although I have done so a couple of times.  (We Need to Talk About Kevin comes to mind, which I shelved on Goodreads under "Yuck!")  But with limited reading time (J's nap time, lunch break at work) I need to get better about cutting my losses.  Maybe I've simply been experiencing a run of bad luck.

My luck may be turning around.  I'm reading, no, devouring, Margot Livesey's The Flight of Gemma Hardy.  This is a book to get lost in, a rich page-turner.  You need not have read one word of Jane Eyre (of which it is a re-imagining) to enjoy it.  Actually, I haven't read Jane Eyre since I was a freshman in high school, and have forgotten all but the basic plot outline, so I couldn't tell you how closely it follows the original anyway.  It's set in Scotland and Iceland in the 1950s and 60s, and Gemma is a heroine I instantly wanted to root for.  The setting is just as deliciously broody and damp as any Anglophile would dream of.  About two-thirds of the way through I don't want to put it down; simultaneously, I don't want it to end. I've really enjoyed all the novels of Livesey's that I've read, and intend to read the rest before too long. 

So how do you go about choosing the books that you read?  Whim, cover-judging, magazine reviews, friend recommendations?  I'm always interested in the whys and hows of people's reading choices.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Connection, Schmonnection

I came across this quote this week on BookRiot from Pulitzer prize-winning author Jennifer Egan (author of A Visit From the Goon Squad and The Keep:) 

But, she said, the “fetishization of connection itself” fascinated her.

“Who cares that we can connect?” she said. “What’s the big deal? I think Facebook is colossally dull. I think it’s like everyone coming to live in a huge Soviet apartment block, [in] which everyone’s cell looks exactly the same.”

I'm getting sick of Facebook myself.  But I can't cut the cord yet.  I keep thinking I'll miss out, be even more out of the loop than I already am as a new mother.  Plus, honestly, I like showing off pictures of my cute baby boy!  But half the time it's just updates about what so-and-so's listening to on Spotify (turn off notifications, dude!) and updates from people I don't actually TALK to, you know, with my VOICE, like EVER.  So I'm mulling it over.  I think I need to impose a limit on myself about checking Facebook, and then it wouldn't get on my nerves so badly.  If someone really needs to contact me, what the heck's wrong with email?  Or a phone call? 

Half the time I don't want to be "connected" anyway.  Not in the modern sense.  I want connection that involves hearing a friend's voice or sitting across a room from someone, sharing our lives over cups of tea and baked goods.  With a squirmy, squeaky baby rolling around on the floor between us, of course.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's Me Again!

I'm sorry I haven't been posting anything lately - I apologize to my three devoted readers.  :)  Seriously, I don't know who reads this besides my best friend and some people from Russia whom I suspect are some sort of spammers anyway.  But that's okay, I don't really do it for others - I don't think - I mainly do it for myself.  It's a space in which I can be myself, vent, opine, and maybe, just maybe, connect with another soul out there who's going through something similar.  Instead of posting I've been fiddling with the design and text colors.  I was bored with the "French Windows" or whatever my old design template was called.  Now it's appropriately named "Book Club!"

I almost posted a political rant last week after my blood got to boiling over something one of the candidates said.  And then I thought, why put that negativity out there into the universe?  Isn't there already enough negative energy in our society, especially in the political arena?  I held back.  And vented to my husband instead, who capably fulfilled the role of listener for me.

Speaking of my husband, have I told you lately how wonderful he is?  He is the best dad.  Affectionate, playful, caring, funny - all the qualities that made me fall in love with him have just blossomed beyond limits towards our son.  J.'s first word, not surprisingly, is "Dada."  He only says something like "mama" when he's crying!  They are big buddies, which I hope lasts forever. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Where Have You Been All My Life?

So my newest culinary discovery is peanut butter and Greek yogurt.  I feel like a doofus for not thinking of this combination before, but better late than never!  I was inspired by a dessert I saw on Pinterest, my new internet addiction.  It was a peanut butter Greek yogurt pie.  I just decided to eliminate the pie crust.

I whipped these two ingredients together a few days ago, slathering it on toast and just eating it off the spoon.  My husband skeptically tried it and pronounced, with a sour look on his face, "It's just fluffy peanut butter."  And WHAT exactly is bad about that??  "Well, I just like peanut butter IN stuff, like peanut butter crackers."  Okaaayyy, more for me.

I feel virtuous, thinking of all the calcium, protein, and good bacteria I'm ingesting.  Makes up for all those gluten free Udy's chocolate chip cookies I've been eating lately.  Almost.  They're gluten free, so they're practically just air, right?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I need a personal shopper.

I took the day off today - a good decision.  I need a random day off every now and then to spend time with my boy(s.)  I was all set to go shopping this morning - E. was watching the baby and I wanted to get a few things for him and for me. 

I went to Babies R Us first.  I bought some plastic bibs, a finger brush to clean baby's emerging teeth, and a portable place mat for when we go out and about.  I intended to look at umbrella strollers.  I had no idea that was to be my undoing!  I got all "floopy" - my word for overwhelmed and stressed - doubting whether we really needed one right now, wondering if this was too much to pay for one, etc. etc.  Then I pondered buying a giant box of diapers, trying to calculate prices versus the smaller sized box we usually buy at Target, and I became floopier. 

There were, of course, babies in the store, and I just missed my little guy.  I waited in line for ten minutes to check out, because as usual, there was only one register open.  That store is overpriced, understaffed, and overwhelming!  I finally got the hell out of there... and decided that I didn't have it in me to go on to Kohl's and shop for clothes for me.  Since I've had the baby I don't know how to shop for myself anymore!  Opportunities to go out by myself are rare, what with our work schedules, and I suppose when I do get the chance there's all this pressure to make the most of the time out.  I really need some new clothes, but I have no idea what to get.  It's easier to wear old jeans and t-shirts all the time. 

Anyway, first-world problems, right?  Despite my mishaps, it was a great day.  Such happiness in being at home with E. and J.  My baby boy will be seven months old tomorrow!  How is that possible?  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Greener Grass

A stay-at-home mom of two boys under the age of 5 told me today, "This (working in a library) is my dream job - so quiet and orderly."  Well, for the most part it is that.  But it got me thinking about how I sometimes envy the stay-at-home moms who come in frequently with their small children, and how the grass is always greener on the other side.  I know from my all-too-brief fifteen weeks of maternity leave with Baby J that  staying at home can be lonely, boring, and maddening.  I don't know if I really could be a stay-at-home mom, even if our money situation allowed for it.  In my perfect dream world, I would work part-time (say 20 hours a week) and still retain our family's health benefits.  But that's unlikely to happen.

Some days it kills me to leave home in the morning.  Baby J is all smiles and funny shrieks, rested and fed and happy to play in his jumper or on the floor.  My husband, wonderful father and spouse that he is, stays home with him for most of the day and then goes in to work around 4 or 5.  He has a loooong day.  I do too, in that I assume baby duties when I get home and all night long, should J wake up in the middle of the night.  We are making it work with the help of our mothers and fathers and my aunt.  It really DOES take a village, if you want to keep your baby out of daycare.  When J is a bit older, say about 18 months, we'll reevaluate the situation. 

Sometimes I'm irrationally angry that I can't stay home, and sometimes I feel so grateful to have a job that provides for our family and that I enjoy - just like the mom who came in today must sometimes love to be at home and sometimes wish for adult conversation.  There is no perfect solution, there is no perfect life.  There is only my imperfect, beautiful, crazy, untidy, blissful life, and all the blessings therein.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I haven't felt like writing lately.  I was in quite a royal funk for a week or so.  Sometimes its really, really hard to be a parent.  Yes, I know how fortunate I am - a healthy child, a job, a husband whom I adore and who adores me and is a fantastic dad.  Knowing this makes me feel even worse about myself.  So I sulk, I eat, I cry, I watch television.  I feel fat and frumpy and out of the loop.  And then I get over it.  This week, I'm better.

Two lunches out with friends make a first-time mom feel good.  I reconnected to my friends and to myself.  My husband and my mom gave me the gift of time to myself, which really is the most precious gift anyone can give a new mom.

And I realized something - I want to be the best Mom I can be for Baby J, which means I need to do whatever it takes to make myself happy.  When I feel good about myself I can focus my energy on my son with gusto and joy, which is exactly what that amazing little boy deserves.  Being happy with myself means I deserve time with friends now and then.  It means I should wear clothes that fit and make me feel good.  It means I need time to move.  It means I stop freaking out about dirty floors and dirty dishes all the time.  This motherhood is mine - what's with all the comparing?  Snap out of it! 

J. deserves better.  I can be better. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Remember This Always

I will never tire of the way Baby J. will periodically stop nursing and look up at me intently, as if memorizing my face.  There is a searching quality to his gaze, like he's trying to figure me out.  (Good luck, kid!)  It is priceless and sweet and makes me tear up with happiness.  There is absolutely nothing like this kid.  I am so in love with him.

I will also never tire of this face (my good friend and rabid Philadelphia sports fan Jon sent him this bib:)

Or this one:

He is my heart.

Apparently he is also always in his jumper.  I do let him out occasionally. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012


So I totally caved.  On Christmas Day I was down at my in-laws' house, awaiting lunch.  I looked down at a bowl of chocolate candy, picked up a mini Mr. Goodbar, and ate it, with little pause.  A split second after it hit my tongue, I thought, "Oh well, guess that's it for my month-long ban on candy!"  Just like that.  I've started going off the deep end again with the sugar, so I'm gonna have to be careful.  I'm not going to buy junk and keep it in the house anymore.  If it's not there, I won't eat it.

On a more positive note, I've been doing well with my one New Year's Resolution so far: to eat at a minimum one fruit and two vegetables or two fruits and one vegetable per day.  Before the baby I was pretty good about eating healthy foods, but since I've been time and sleep-deprived, I've eaten more carbs and less fresh food.  So far, so good.  I figure a relatively easy resolution like that is one I can manage to keep.

I'm really trying hard these days to give myself some slack.  No one expects perfection of me, so why do I expect it of myself?  I fall prey to comparing myself and my mothering/wifely skills to others.  It's silly when I stop to think about it.  If my floor is dirty, if the laundry's unwashed, if the Christmas lights are still up outside, BIG DEAL.  I'd rather spend time playing on the floor with my son, and sleeping, and reading books, and having a real conversation with my husband.  Those are the things that matter to my heart.  I've got to lighten up on the whole "to-do list" rattling around in my brain all the time.  I work a full-time job, I have a six-month old, I have a LIFE.  And it's going to be messy.  I've just got to accept it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dear Baby

You're six months old and one day today.

You're doing this cute thing with your tongue now - sticking it out and blowing air, making a funny little sound.  I love it.

Your feet touch the ground now when you're in your jumper.  We used a thick dictionary under your feet at first, but now you don't need it.

You were diagnosed with an ear infection today, your first.  The doctor said it's early, thank goodness.  Maybe that's why you haven't wanted Dada to rock you to sleep the past few days like you normally would.

You've started playing with your diaper during diaper changes now.  You undid one side this afternoon.  So helpful!

You got quite a few new toys for Christmas, but you're still growing into them.  I can tell it frustrates you somewhat that you can't move the car like you'd like to.  Once you can sit up better on your own you will enjoy them so much more! 

You weighed 16.9 pounds at the doctor today.

You love bath time.  You love the bath time song I made up ("We're gonna take a bath, take a bath bath bath.  We're gonna take a bath bath bath."  It's cute.  Trust me.)  Bath time is still in your blue tub that I sit in the kitchen sink.  It will be bittersweet when we move to the actual bathtub!  (And OMG I'm going to have to clean it before then!)

You are the love of my life.  Along with your Dada, of course.  I never knew my heart could hold so much.

love, Mama