Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blog Her Book Club: The Magic Room

The more I have begun to feel like a person again, the more I have been able to get back into my favorite hobby, reading. So I was giddy when I was given the opportunity to read The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow as part of the Blog Her Book Club.

What an absolutely lovely book. The Magic Room tells the story of a small bridal shop, Beckers, in Fowler, Michigan that has been passed from mother to daughter across three generations. The book intertwines the story of the Becker family and their relationship to the store with vignettes about brides who are shopping for their gowns.

When I first started reading it, I described it as "like Say Yes to the Dress, if Say Yes to the Dress were really sweet and less commercial." The more I got into it, though, I realized that it was about so much more than that. The moment of shopping for the dress, of stepping into the "Magic Room" of endless mirrors, was simply a window for seeing into the lives and loves of these women and their mothers (and sometimes daughters). The book's subtitle "A Story about the love we wish for our daughters" makes more and more sense as the book goes on.

The stories the book tells are touching and sometimes heartbreaking but never seem to reach the point of being cloying or manipulative. Whether describing a forty year old widow, a young single mom, or a girl who saved her first kiss for her husband, Zaslow seems to withhold judgment. The relationships are immediate, and the description is done with an extremely gentle touch. Woven in with these narratives, however, is an extremely smart sociological analysis of the direction that relationships are taking in our era, both in marriage and with our daughters.

The Magic Room is clearly a book with heart and with a brain both. It was the perfect book for me to read this holiday season.

I was provided with a copy of this book to review and am being compensated for participating in this campaign. All opinions expressed herein are, however, my own.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Life's lessons: What she can do



  1. A one year old can't play Wii games (we've tried).
  2. She can't fold a fitted bed sheet even though she seems to want to.
  3. She can't say the final consonants of things, but mommy understands when she wants her "du" or her "do," to be held by "da" or to take off her "saaaaa."
  4. She doesn't say "mommy" because really she doesn't need to.
  5. But she can pull anything off any surface in the house, no matter how much you think it's protected.
  6. She can sign "more," "all done," and "baby." She can sign other things too, but mostly she just wants to sign "baby."
  7. She can dance if she wants to. She can leave her friends behind. Wait, I got a little off track there.
  8. She can hand something to me or daddy if we ask for it. And if she feels like it.
  9. She can hand me the dishes out of the dishwasher. (Sa-weeeeeeet. I win at parenting.)
  10. And she can run across the room at me full speed with her arms wide open, laughing hysterically as she throws herself into my arms.
  11. This mom thing? Is a pretty good gig.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hey, baby, let's talk

I'm not here today. I'm over at Charity's blog, Giggles and Grimaces, writing about how I taught my Baby Girl sign language. I've been wanting to tell that story for a while, and I think it's so appropriate to tell it over at Charity's since she was the one who always gave me encouragement when I thought we were baby sign failures - but I suppose that's the way she's been with most things. :)

So, grab a cup of tea and come join me over there, could you?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A song for you, Lauren

Lauren, the champion of moms everywhere, is doing the most amazing/hilarious series of re-written Christmas songs.

This is for her. Okay, it's just one verse and the chorus, but it's the best I can do. I bow down to her beauty and grace. If you have a verse to add (and I'm pretty sure I know some awesome mamas who all have a verse to add) (I do love a good metaphor), please leave it in the comments.

So, here goes:

I don't want a lot for mothers
There is just one thing they need
They don't need a lot of gadgets
Made to help them sleep or feed
I just want to help them find
Ways to ease their troubled minds

Make their problems cease!

All I want for mothers
is Peace.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life's lessons: Things that make me itchy


I try to be positive, but this week I decided I'm just going to take a minute to growl at all the things that make me mildly (or less mildly) crazy. Please feel free to growl with me.

  1. Lists and plans
  2. Schedules and routines
  3. Being late (and I always am now)
  4. Deadlines (see above)
  5. Commitments I can't follow through on
  6. Drudgery (oh, hello laundry)
  7. People who use "ironically" incorrectly (wait, how did that one slip in there?)
  8. People who take my baby at family functions
  9. Crowds of people I don't know
  10. Waiting in lines
  11. Okay, waiting for anything
  12. Plan cancelers (See 1 and 5 above)
  13. Not being good at things (and sometimes it feels like that's everything)

But despite all that? I'm still okay. I'm winning at this life thing lately. And you will be too. I promise.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Actually? I'm okay



I've been struggling for a while. Being a mom is hard, any which way you slice it. I was lonely, I was tired, I was bored and yet overwhelmingly busy.

But lately? I've been okay. It's funny how that's almost as hard to admit as that I'm not okay. I'm almost afraid that if I say it, then somehow the bottom will drop out and I'll be lost again.

Am I still tired? Yes. My precious baby - errm - toddler woke up 4 times last night, inconsolable. Is it still hard? Yes. Heck yes. Let's just say some little misses around here have decided to wholeheartedly embrace the label of toddler.

But? Something has turned. Something is better. There is a peace running through my days now that I haven't seen in a while, that I may have seen never. Does that mean I always feel peaceful? No. Some days the anxiety monster still knocks me on my butt. But when it does, I can see it as that. It doesn't take over my life.

Some days I get a lot done: I make comfort food, I vacuum my carpets, I write blog posts. Some days all I want to do is get out and see other human beings. Some days I need to just sit on my couch in my yoga pants and watch my Baby Girl play (or beg her not to flip over my trashcan).

And you know what? That's okay. Because there're no wrong answers. I just need to do whatever I need to do on any given day. I know that now. And that's why I'm going to be alright.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do good

So, I know I owe you all a post here. A really good, heartfelt and funny one. One that makes you laugh and cry and hug. But, um, this isn't that.

For now, I wanted to tell you that I'm hosting a Do Good challenge and link up over at my old blog on frugality. I'd love it if you'd join me there.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tradeoffs

Over Thanksgiving, my brother was telling me about one of his friends. She has a six month old at home. "She works full time, she has a baby, and she's disappointed with herself that she is down to only two book clubs. I don't know how she does it."

Almost without thinking, I responded, "Really good childcare."

My brother looked at me like I'd slapped Santa. My husband started laughing. My mom said "Yup." All at the same time.

It wasn't a judgment. I didn't mean to be critical. In fact, I think it's a perfectly valid choice, and it sounds to me like she's doing great. But the truth is, in this life there are tradeoffs. We can't be in more than one place at the same time. We can't do everything in a single day. We all only have the same 24 hours.

Sometimes, if we have extra money, we can buy a little more time. But unless you are a Rockefeller, that money costs time too.

I forget all this sometimes. I think that because I am a SAHM, I should have time to do everything. If a working mom can do a full time job and still have a clean
house, a healthy child, and even a hobby, doesn't that mean I'm failing somehow?

No. Because she isn't doing it all herself any more than I am. She just does different parts of what I do.

There are so many things that I would like to do, but in this life, there are always tradeoffs. If we're lucky, and I am, we mostly get to choose them. That doesn't, however, stop what we're missing from stinging a little.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just like mama

Yesterday, I did something drastic. I tried to read. An actual book. While my baby - err, toddler - was awake.

I had been reading during naptime, and she was playing on the floor, and I really just wanted to finish the book, so I figured I'd give it a shot. And do you know what she did?

She looked at me, crawled over to her shelf, picked up a book, and started flipping through it.

Wow. So,apparently, she's watching.

(Okay, before you are all jealous, she did that for about 2 minutes before crawling back over to me and climbing on my head. But that's not the point right now.)

I guess I've always known that she was watching everything I did. I guess I've always realized that the things I did were setting an example. But suddenly in that moment, her tapping away on her Fisher Price laptop with both hands didn't seem as cute.

I try to play with her. I try to make her healthy food. I read to her. I sing to her. But what am I really teaching her?

If I want her to be a reader, she needs to see me reading. If I want her to eat well, she needs to see me eating and cooking well. If I want her to take care of herself, to feel good about herself, to lead a healthy and successful life? I may need to reconsider the way I'm living mine.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Be enough me: I am striving for purpose

All I am looking for in life is a purpose. I want to matter.

I know that I matter to my baby girl. I know that I am her entire world. I know, and I'm glad.

I know that I matter to my husband, and that he'd be completely lost without me, thankyouverymuch.

I know that I have some loving, darling friends and family to whom I matter very much.

But what I mean to say is this.

What I want more than anything is to be someone or to create something that really matters, to the world. Something that changes everything and everyone I touch for the better.

I believe in the power of love, in the power of beauty, in the power of kindness. I believe that when we do the ordinary things in extraordinary ways they can change the world. I believe that the personal is political, that the little things aren't little.

So, you see, what I'm striving for isn't a lot. Except for the fact that it's everything.

What I want, more than anything, is to do something that truly matters. It doesn't need to change the world - at least not more than anything else does - but it needs to change something, to change someone.

If I can do that? I will be a success.

The topic for this week's Be Enough Me was, "What are you striving for?"

My Baby Girl's Valentine from Shutterfly.

Love Hugs Kisses Valentine's Card
Invitations, announcements and Christmas cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.


Right now, Shutterfly is giving a $10 credit to bloggers who share a card they have made. Just click on the card, then click share and embed the card on your blog.

This is a card Baby Girl sent to her grandparents last year. I can't wait to make her Christmas cards!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In my head

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?

When I was a teenager, my mom used to tell me that the reason I was being cranky, or teary, or bitchy, or whatever was because my blood sugar was low. Or because I hadn't slept enough. Or because I was hormonal.

And I hated it, I hated it so much. What I was feeling was real and I wanted it to be seen as valid. If I was upset, it was because something was upsetting. If I was frustrated it was because something was frustrating.

And I hated it even more because she was usually right.

But so was I.

I know that depression is a disease. I know that it tells us things that aren't true. I know.

But I miss my friends and family. And I am still having trouble making friends. And I'm still figuring out a whole new identity. And DH and I don't have a lot of help here. (BG has never been left with anyone other than us. Not even for an hour.) And teething sucks. And temper tantrums suck worse. And I'm sad. And I'm lonely. And I'm frustrated. And all that is real.

But maybe I should go eat something. Just in case.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Science

A couple weeks ago, I got a call from the Infant Cognition lab at a major university near me. A cold call. They even asked me if I had a baby.

But then they asked if we wanted to participate in a study. I thought about it for a second and then thought "well, what else am I doing?" and agreed. So I made an appointment.

This morning, Baby Girl and I drove downtown. A grad student met us at the gate to swipe us in with her access card. She walked us inside, got some demographic information and went over some consent forms with me.

Then Baby Girl and I watched an animation of some balls bouncing off each other. For about 10 minutes. And that was the whole study. The research assistant gave Baby Girl a board book as her compensation for participating, explained to me the purpose and the preliminary findings of the study (oh, be still my teacher's heart), and we were on our way.

Did we cure autism this morning? Did we make a major breakthrough in human development? Did we pioneer new methods for early childhood education.

Neh. But I like to think we did our own little part. For science.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Life's lessons: On cleaning

Oh, I am so long overdue to link up with Rach for Life's lessons. Please, forgive me, sweet friend.



  1. I'm not good at lists.
  2. I don't know if you've noticed? But even these lists? End up being stories.
  3. And the other kind of list? The kind that tell me what to buy at the grocery store or do around the house? Oh gosh, they're even worse.
  4. But somehow I always get what I need at the grocery store.
  5. You know, because I really like food.
  6. I think perhaps there is just a petulant little child in me who looks at to do lists and says, "But I don't wanna."
  7. Because, you know, I really don't.
  8. But. But. But. I do feel better when the house is clean.
  9. So, I think what I need is for someone to every day say to me, hey go clean your house. Go fold your laundry. Go make some mac and cheese.
  10. Speaking of which, it might be time for a snack.
  11. Because I really do like food.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Surviving

If you aren't a teacher, there's a good chance you haven't heard of Harry Wong. He's written books and made videos about classroom management. They are brilliant and helpful and hilarious, and they helped me through my first few years of teaching, but what I remember most is this.

Harry Wong says there are four stages of effective teaching:

  1. Fantasy
  2. Survival
  3. Mastery
  4. Impact

His description of surviving is so funny and so familiar. Teachers who give kids busy work. In elementary school, the ditto. In high school, reading the chapter. And my favorite line? "Friday? Here's a movie. It kind of relates."

Oh boy.

"For the very new teachers," he says, "I give you permission to survive."

Whew. What a relief.

But, he goes on to say, if you've been teaching for years and are still just surviving? Something has gone wrong.

I feel like, as a mom, I'm still just surviving. When is it time to stop giving myself permission to survive?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It may not sing, but it is delicious

So I made a comment on twitter today that I wanted to make mac and cheese, and suddenly I had an angry mob adoring fan club egging me on to make it and to blog the whole thing. So here is my contribution to the ensuing #macandcheesewar. FYI, I do NOT have a future in food blogging.

I started with this:

Please pay no attention to my messy kitchen.


Hey, I said not to look!

Put on water to boil. You should use a lid. It just doesn't photograph as well that way.


Add macaroni to water. I forgot to photograph this because I was, uh, tweeting. Drain the macaroni. (Umm, no. There can't be dirty utensils in my sink, can there?)




At this point, you may have to take a break to rescue your child from her crib prison. It's okay. I'll wait.

Okay, back? In the same pot (because you don't want to wash another pot, do you? What are you, crazy?) melt some butter. That's my incredibly scientific explanation. This happens to be how much butter I had thawed.



Mix a few spoons of flour into the melted butter until it looks kinda like this (except without the macaroni in the pot. You should probably have made sure you got all that out.)


Then add milk. You know, some milk. Umm, just kinda pour it. Stir it until it thickens. (I meant to take a picture of this, but Baby Girl had my camera. And I wanted to take a picture of *that*, but, y'know.)

Turn off the stove (and remove from heat if you have an electric stove, but I'm cooking with gas). Add a bag of shredded cheese (yes, you can shred it by hand, and yes that is a little cheaper and tastes a little better, but what am I, a machine?) and stir it until it melts.


Pour the drained macaroni into a Pyrex pan. Mix in the cheese sauce. Top with breadcrumbs (oh, they weren't in my picture!) and reserved cheese (crap! Did I forget to tell you to save some cheese?).


If you are making ahead, set it down and go play peekaboo. Otherwise, throw it in the oven and turn it on to 350 degrees. Bake it for . . . I don't know, a while. Until it looks melty and delicious.

(Sorry, no, there is no final picture. I'm too busy eating).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Before I was a Mom: the college years

Did you read my first Before I was a Mom post? Well I never promised it would be a frequent series.

V.
My college roommate (ahem, are you reading this?) and I used to like to sit outside to study. We said sunlight gave us energy. I don't remember which of us realized that that made us plants.

VI.
At the one and only party I ever threw in college, one of my loveable nerdy friends was walking around my apartment insisting to everyone that he couldn't be drunk because he knew that Paul Wolfowitz was the deputy secretary of defense and because he could still do calculus. I asked my drunk apartment mate if she could still do calculus.

"No way!" she said. "But I never could!"

VII.
I stopped by the post office on my way to class my Sophomore year and picked up a package my best friend had sent me. When I went to open it in class, someone asked me what it was.

I looked at it and realized for the first time, "Oh. Today's my birthday."

VIII.
My roommate talked to my future husband online several times. When she finally met him in person, she said that she was glad to realize he was normal. We all agreed that that was the opposite of the reaction people usually have.

IX.
At the end of my junior year, I was literally running down the street in a dress and heels because I was going to be late to my Phi Beta Kappa induction (okay, seriously, everyone gets that I'm a nerd, right?), and a guy with a guitar slung over his back stopped in the street looked at me and said, "you're lovely." I paused for a second, said thank you, and went back to running.

X.
One year, my friends and I decided to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. Only we didn't defrost the turkey long enough. And then an hour in, the power in our apartment went out. So we put the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and biscuits in the car and drove across campus to finish cooking them in our friends' shared dorm kitchen. We spent the next several hours going up and down the stairs to their third floor suite. We had to borrow tableware from friends and steal a table from their floor lounge, but we had ourselves a lovely dinner. At midnight.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I wish I were braver

I wish I were braver.

(Subjunctive tense. I am a grammar genius. Count it. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah. About how I am avoiding this topic. Wait no, that wasn't it, was it?)

(Sigh, let's start again, shall we?)

Last week, I walked to a metro station in Maryland, got on a subway with my baby in her stroller and took her to the zoo. And I did it all by myself. Cue applause.

Only ... not. Because that's ridiculous. Because it's ridiculous for that to be a big deal. Because it's really not hard to get on a train. Because it's even less hard to go to the grocery store, to pick up a phone and call someone, to drive a few blocks out of your way to get a cupcake you really want.

Except these things terrify me.

Yael wrote a post a while ago about our comfort zones. About how stepping out of them is overrated. About how we need to take care of ourselves and that makes it okay to stay in.

But I've stayed in my comfort zone my whole life. And I'm not very comfortable here.

Lately it seems like all the bloggers I admire most are saying, "If blogging feels hard, if you feel the pressure from it, if you can't write every day, then let it go. Write less. Let go of the guilt." And I read it and think "Oh good, I'm off the hook."

Except I don't want to be off the hook.

I want the pressure. Because otherwise I won't do it.

Because I need it to be scary. I need to be scared. I need to do it anyway.

Because the zoo? Was lovely. And the train? Was just a train.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And I'm me again

So, my MOMS Club activity for today was coffee at Dunkin Donuts. I didn't RSVP because with all the craziness I just didn't know how much I'd have time to do. Everyone who had RSVP'd had said "maybe," so as far as I knew no one was even coming.

But the worst that could happen was I'd have coffee and a doughnut with Baby Girl, right? And at best I'd get to hang out with mamas and talk and get out of my funk.

Well, actually, maybe that wasn't the best.

No one was there when I got there, so I got my coffee, a bagel, and a doughnut (umm, yeah, I'd eaten breakfast already. What? Don't judge! Did I mention BG is nursing *every hour* again??), and pulled the stroller over to a corner table. We were there for a while just eating and making eyes at each other before anyone came in.

I saw her walk in with the carseat in her hand, and knew right away she must be the new member who had just joined. I'd seen her name on the list. If I hadn't been there, she would have shown up to her first event and been all by herself.

For the next half hour, we talked (and ate). Her entire face lit up, and I could tell she had been in a place I had been not so long ago. She felt isolated. She felt trapped in her house.

She felt like suddenly someone had turned a light on and she had realized there were other people like her.

We talked about naps (even though, yeah, her 3 month old is a better sleeper than my 13 month old. Sigh), tummy time, sign language. We talked about story time at the library. I told her how glad I was that she had joined, how important it was to get out and see other people. She nodded.

She looked like she could suddenly breathe again. I knew that feeling. I knew it particularly because at that moment I realized I could breathe again. I remembered who I am, what I love, what I believe in.

Peace and purpose? May already be within my grasp.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

For Charity

So, do you know Charity? She guest posted here this week? She's having a rough time this week,and having a hard time seeing how far she's come this year. But she doesn't realize, I don't even know that girl she was a year ago. So here are 10 reasons I'm glad to know Charity, the girl she is now:

  1. She thinks my jokes are funny.
  2. She keeps me company when I'm tweeting myself crazy.
  3. She gives the best advice about babies, particularly about breastfeeding.
  4. She knows just the right words to comfort people.
  5. She is always looking out for someone who needs her.
  6. She can finish a 5k run.
  7. She makes giving up caffeine look easy.
  8. She gives me hope that I can conquer toddler and preschool years.
  9. She has such photogenic little girls.
  10. She is kicking ppd squarely in the rear.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rules

Today's guest post is very special to me. It's from my real life bff and college roomie Elizabeth. Elizabeth isn't a mom (yet!), but she definitely understands self-imposed pressure and the challenges of finding balance in the blogging world. You can find her lovely craft-ish blog over at shelikesstripes.com.

When story asked me to write, I was nervous, because I'm not a mom (although I am not-so-patiently awaiting that day...), so I wasn't sure what I would have to say that would be fun or interesting, especially since I have been letting real life get in the way of my own blogging lately.

And the reason for that? My own self-imposed rules get in the way. I have a bad habit of getting myself into really involved blogging, photography, and craft projects, and then jumping through hoops to live up to the rules of these projects. I suppose part of me find the rules of a project to be very, very motivating... until they start to become sort of overwhelming. Here's a short run-down of the projects I've undertaken in the last few years:

--Project 365 (a photo a day for a year straight, undertaken FOUR SEPARATE times now. I'm currently almost at 100 days in year four)
--Scavenger Hunt 101 (a photo scavenger hunt)
--27 Things to do While I'm 27
--28 Things to do While I'm 28
--30 Before 30

and my current project: Handmade52, where I'm attempting to make a craft or cook something (I lived by myself up until mid-July of this year, when I moved in with my boyfriend, and I do NOT cook) each week for a whole year.

The problem, of course, is that I don't seem to be able to stop myself once I get into a project like this. I took a personality test once at a work training session that basically told me that I was an order-loving, rule-following person who loved things to be organized and as they should be and predictable. At first, I was sort of horrified, as I've always imagined myself as an easygoing creative type, a writer who then got into photography, who always secretly pictured herself as a novelist in a sunny attic room, writing the days away. And then the reality dawned on me, that I spent years as a librarian and I'm now an accountant, and when I was a kid? I collected business cards. BUSINESS CARDS, people. So I guess... I do like the rules.

And once I get myself into a project with numbers and/or deadlines, I really can't conceptualize just stopping. I got to day 92/365! I can't just... stop. I have completed 38 weeks of creativity, how can I just... abandon it now? It does not compute.

I suppose the conclusion should be that there has to be some middle ground, that if I finish 52 weeks of handmade things but they aren't consecutive weeks, that would be okay, too. And that if it's no longer fun but more like work or an obligation, that the spirit of the original project doesn't really work anymore. And when I'm feeling reasonable, sometimes that makes perfect sense. Maybe I should give myself a break, since photography and crafts and cooking are supposed to be things I enjoy and look forward to. Maybe I'm too hard on myself. Every. single. time. I have been 2/3 of the way through a Project365 year, I start whining and complaining about the rules and how HAVING to take a photo that day takes the fun out of it. I even wrote on my 30 Before 30 list that I was not allowed to start another daily photo project.

So what did I do?

Started a daily photo project on my 30th birthday. I think I have a ways to go yet.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Visitors

Like the Monty Python boys say, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." No, wait, I mean, "And now for something completely different."

Today's guest post is from MamaGrizzly, a lovely girl who has the ability to make me smile or laugh every time I see her on twitter, and she didn't disappoint with this post. Check out her blog, to see how she navigates her life with two littles.


We have some visitors. I suppose the ever more chilling weather has something to do with it. And let me just say, they are unwelcome visitors. More than once have I reverted to childhood as a mouse scurried across the floor. By this I mean screaming like a little girl and jumping on top of the nearest object.

I'm not sure why I scream. Does it really make the mouse scurry away faster? Or perhaps he might say, "Good heavens! There is a crazy, screaming madwoman on the loose! Let us pack our bags and vacate the premises!" (Don't ask me why, but Sir Mouse has a British accent in my head.)

Well. We decided we were going to have to force our visitors to leave, much like we would certain family members upon their lingering for an overly extended period of time. (Which reminds me - are there big mouse traps for people? Well, that's another blog post entirely.) Of course, the traditional mouse traps just seemed too... well, messy and mean. And though I certainly cannot stand our furry little tenants, I hate to imagine the sight of their squirmy little bodies caught in on of those evil mouse traps. (It's not supposed to make sense so don't ask why.)

We found a nice alternative: glue traps.

Lo and behold, we came home after work the other night, checked behind the fridge, and we'd caught a furry friend! Excitement ensued. One down, ?? more to go! Soon we shall have our home back to ourselves!!

And then my husband pulled a Wal-Mart bag out of the cupboard.

"Wait, what are you doing?" I demanded anxiously. "You're not putting him in that bag, are you?! He's still alive, isn't he?!"

He gave me a withering look. "I'm going to put him in the bag and throw him in the trash can. That's what he gets for coming in MY house."

"What!" I was absolutely horrified at the prospect. "But he'll suffer and suffocate and DIE! You can't do that! That's God's creature!" (Yes. I'll admit it. I'm horribly dramatic, and I shamelessly pulled out the God-guilt card. Harsh, perhaps, but usually quite effective. As it was in this particular instance.)

"Baby," (this is what he says to me when he's channelling his patience and about to explain why I'm being utterly ridiculous) "there's no way to get him off the glue trap."

"That's not true! There's got to be a way to get him off!" And then, as any smartphone user immediately does, "I'm going to Google it!" (May I point out how very much I appreciate that Google has become a verb.)

Google triumphs yet again! Hurray Internet! Did you know vegetable oil will get a mouse loose from a glue trap? Well, now you do! And the website even gave me detailed step-by-step instructions as to how to do so. Perfect!

I excitedly showed my husband the results. His shoulders fell. Defeat! "Fine. Where am I taking him?"

We found a massive cardboard box, big enough to ship a dozen toddlers, and set the mouse and trap inside. He then proceeded to carry mouse AND box AND vegetable oil out to the car. We agreed that he should drive down the road some distance to a vacant field. Of course, my almost three year old toddler (who shares my sick fascination with these things) demanded to see the mouse before he moved out. I have to say, if you ignore the food-nibbling, poop-dropping aspect of having mice inhabitants, they are quite cute. At least much cuter than the red-eyed white lab rats seen on TV.

Life went on as normal. I immediately began preparing dinner (random side note: chicken parmesan, mmm!). By the time he returned, I was washing the table off. "Did you get the picture?" he asked. Of course I hadn't. But wouldn't you know that little critter got himself loose and scurried away! (Scurry is my new favorite word.) Granted, he took to hiding under the car, and my husband had to SCARE him away, BUT the point is, we saved a life! I'm quite proud of that accomplishment. Hubby even drove out closer to the beach, further away from houses, so that other homeowners might be safe from an invasion.

But there is still a problem. As we were freeing Mickey (we'll assume he's a boy) from behind the fridge, Minnie (we'll assume she's a girl - it's more romantic that way) came skittering out, across the kitchen, and under the dryer.

Le sigh. It is not over yet.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting Better

Today's post is from a lovely twitter newbie, Jenny. She is a PPD warrior mom, and she doesn't have her own blog yet, but she totally should. Give her some love today for me, okay?

I’m Jen. I met a wonderful guy eleven years ago. We got married eight years ago. Four years ago, we had our first little girl who we nicknamed Munch, short for Munchkin. We adored this little girl. It was a bit of a rough adjustment. We were nervous first-time parents. We read lots of books and asked our families for advice. We had so much fun with Munch, and she was the apple of our eye. Once Munch turned two, we decided that it was time to add to our family.

Then along came our second little girl, Skeeter. I really wanted a sibling for Munch, but I was so nervous about how Munch would adjust to the new arrival. I am a typical first born, Type A, perfectionist personality. I am also a planner, so I tried extremely hard to have everything prepared before Skeeter arrived.

Skeeter was born on October 10, 2010. Munch was a very easy baby, and Skeeter had a very different personality. It took a while for to adjust to being a family of four, but everything seemed to be going okay. I thought I was just overwhelmed with the jump from one child to two.

On Mother’s Day, I treated myself to a free yoga class taught by a dear friend of mine. As I laid in Savanasa, I was finally able to relax for the first time in months. I realized that I had been anxious and sad since Skeeter had been born. I realized that something was not right. I wasn’t myself. I realized that I had been using the mom’s room at work as a place to break down in. I couldn’t make it through a morning getting myself and the girls out the door to daycare and to work without crying or screaming. I was filled with racing thoughts, rage, sadness and anxiety.

The next day I placed two phone calls to therapists. When I didn’t hear back from anyone, I felt despondent. On my way home from work, I called my cousin, a social worker. I confessed to her that I thought I was suffering from postpartum anxiety. I started crying immediately after that statement. I was terrified that someone would take my girls away. I knew that I needed help as soon as possible. I wasn’t suicidal, but I felt like I was on the edge of a breakdown. My cousin walked me through what to say to the therapist. Two days later, Skeeter and I were in my therapist’s office. She had had a last minute cancellation and was able to fit me in.

Two weeks later, she gave me a diagnosis: postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. I was put on medication right around the time that I received my diagnosis. I felt relieved and sad at the same time. I knew what I was battling, but I had a long ways to go towards recovery. I began to battle back, devouring books and blogs about PPD. I found a new primary care physician who is certified in both internal medicine and psychiatry who now manages my medication. I am finally at my therapeutic dose. I am in recovery, but I have not completely recovered. I am taking it one day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. I have more good days than bad, but I still feel the haze of depression slip its veil around my psyche from time to time. I still feel the buzz of anxiety course through my body.

To other moms who are struggling, I want you to know this. You are not alone. There is a whole community of PPD warrior moms that you can find through blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook. These women get what you are going through because they have been there. So use the Internet to your advantage. Reach out and make some online connections. You are NOT alone. You will get better. It gets better.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome back

Today's post is from another of my twitter besties, Becky. Becky recently started blogging at Just Breathe. She is funny (so funny she'll make you do kegels. Ahem.), sweet, understanding, and weird in all the best ways. I'm so glad to have her here today.


Something happens when you have a child. All those articles, and books - there's a lot 'they' don't tell you. As a woman, you give part of yourself to that baby the moment you see those 2 pink lines. Everything changes. Most good. Some not so good.

You spend 9 months changing. You're adjusting to your growing belly, watching what you eat, worrying when they aren't as active as normal, wondering what IS normal, hoping they are developing okay, worrying about labor, & wondering if it's physically possible your feet might blow up because you're retaining so much water. Wait there's a chance I could poop on the delivery table? File this under 'awesome'.

Pregnancy & becoming a mom is beautiful though, right?

How many women forget about themselves during this time. How many women give & give & give & have nothing left to give themselves? Most do. I recently read one of my old blogs from college & I used to be really freaking funny! What happened? I forgot how to laugh & be lighthearted. I forgot how to crack jokes. I forgot how to just relax & enjoy life.

It's been no real secret around my blog that I battle with my own anxiety & mild depression. I believe now it's something I've always had a touch of since I was younger, but a traumatic end to my pregnancy & first few months with a newborn threw me deep into the trenches. It's tough to remember to take care of myself when my life revolves around my innocent beautiful little kid. One that looks up to you for anything & everything. He has come first since I saw that positive pregnancy test, and it's taken its toll on my well being. It hurts to say that, but I know I've suffered making sure my child has anything he could possibly need.

Recently I've been trying to take more 'me' time. Making sure I get time to do the crafts I want, or paint my fingernails. It's never really been anything major that I've wanted to do, just something here & there that makes me feel better about myself. I've been seeing parts of the 'old me' peeking her head out. It's been refreshing to say the least, & makes me incredibly happy. I've missed her. I don't know if it's because of the anxiety medicine I've been on for a few months, or because I'm finally healing. I hope both. I hope one day I can wean myself off my medicine & be comfortable in my own skin again. Someday I will.

It's so important to help new mothers (or fathers for that matter) redefine themselves after a child is born. Your worlds changed & you struggle with trying to keep that piece of you while balancing being a parent. It's not easy & takes a lot of support from others. I struggle with taking time for myself to do things I want to do & worrying it will affect my child negatively in some way. "What if he needs me? What if I'm not available for him?" It's completely irrational because I know he would be taken care of, but it's how this mom thinks.

With the help of my husband,& some dear friends I've started opening myself back up. I started blogging again. I started crafting again. I started a little pseudo cookie business that's actually doing rather well. I'm grabbing this by the balls & not letting go this time. I can do this.

And hey, I can still make my husband laugh once in a while. That's pretty sweet ;)

Girl, I've missed you.



P.S. See her button? She designed that in about half an hour today, after I asked her if she had one. Because she is an artist. An actual professional graphic artist. And some day I will be able to afford to have her make my blog prettyful and make me buttons too. But for now you're stuck with me and my words.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Three Girls

Hey guys, I'm out of town again this week. (Keep me in your thoughts please. I will have fun. I will, I will.) But don't worry, I'm not leaving you hanging. I have a treat for all of you. If anyone knows that sometimes parenting it's hard, it's Charity. If you ever need advice about babies or just a shoulder to cry on, hit her up on twitter, where she's @signingcharity. And check out her lovely blog, Giggles and Grimaces. Now, without further ado:

Three girls, I have three girls. I must say that thought still boggles my mind. It is amazing to me that I am a mama, even if I have had 5+ years to get used to the idea!

What a five years it has been. With the arrival of Caitlyn I got to use a name I had picked for a daughter, 15 years before. Bringing her home was indescribable. I was shocked at the love I could feel and the immediate desire to have more children.

I am an only child. Pregnancy was not as easy as I had hoped, neither was delivery. I said, while in labor, “women do this again?!” As soon as they put her on my chest, I knew why, I wanted another one.

Not all of it was easy. I hated seeing her grow up so fast. I hyperventilated in the store once because she was going to grow up and leave me. I was still on maternity leave at the time. I knew I could handle the age she was, an infant, but what if I could not mother the next age?

But regardless of my fear, she grew, she changed. And I could handle each age. I found joy in her advancements. I learned to trust my instincts, such as they were. I found my mothering style. Much to my surprise, it was more relaxed than I thought it would be. It included, and still does, a lot more fly by the seat of my pants moments than I ever dreamed I could tolerate.
  • I started out with the plan to cloth diaper my oldest. I didn’t really know what I was doing, it just added more stress. I stopped after two months. Disposables became my friends.
  • Co-sleeping was not for me…until our first week home and I realized baby would sleep if next to me.
  • I was never going to give my baby a pacifier. She got hers at one week old and loved it until she was 10 months old; my second got hers at 3 days old and loved it until she was 3 years old. My youngest has never taken a binky. She hates them.

The biggest thing I have learned in motherhood is to go with the flow. Babies and children change by the day, hour, minute.

One night they might sleep all night in their bed without seeming to move, another night you might end up with all three children in your bed! One night I became the bed, my three year old slept on top of my side! That was truly the worst night sleep I’ve ever had, but the love she shows by wanting to be near me. That is a love I will miss someday. I will miss it when my girls are too old to cuddle with mama. So I will do my best to savor the extra moments of love, even if I would rather be sleeping and to glory in the nights I actually get to sleep.

There are days I get to go to the bathroom alone. Other days I have all three kids in there with me. I used to wonder when I would get to be alone, then started to notice the conversations that went on while I had company. We have talked about God, friends, growing up, work, good and bad memories. All because I shared my bathroom time.

I am learning to balance the two, the joy of now, the joy of the future, the sadness of them growing up, the wonderful moments of my own time, the great pleasure in having my girls close. And this I hope for all mamas, a bit of all worlds. Love and joy from all angles. Happy to balance the challenges, perspective to contain the frustration of today and excitement to face the tomorrows.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: Purple Leaves, Red Cherries


Remember when I wrote my PR letter? Well I was mostly kidding, but that day I got an email from Tania Elfersy asking if I could review her book Purple Leaves, Red Cherries. And I'm so grateful.

To be honest? At first I was a little intimidated by the book. It's big, about 170 pages, and have I mentioned that it now takes me 9 weeks to read a novel? So, like most things I'm afraid of, I put it off. Then life got a little crazy, and I couldn't get to it.

Finally, I sat down, opened up the book, and read the intro, and I came across this:
We spent any spare reading time educating ourselves about child development and the impact of mothering on our children – on their self-esteem, their learning, their relationships, their ability to become well-adjusted adults. Yet we read very little about the impact of mothering on our self-esteem, our careers, our relationships and our ability to remain well-adjusted adults. (11)

And I was immediately in love.

Purple Leaves, Red Cherries is full of stories from real moms trying to tackle this motherhood thing. It is calming and comforting; it reminds you that you are not alone; it does everything that I want my blog and life to do.

The individual vignettes are short and sweet, which makes it the perfect book for moms who only have a few short moments of reading time to snatch at during the day. I read it quickly, hopping from one story to the next easily. It can also be read slowly, though, with careful reflection, and I hope to do that many times over.

The vignettes are divided into sections on such topics as "Beginnings" and "Relationships," and each section ends with space to journal your own experiences. My favorite section, titled "(In)sanity" contains such gems as these:

There was always hope that the next day he might cry a little less;
that I might cry a little less.(58)

When the most sophisticated thing I've done all week is eat dark chocolate; when piles of dirty laundry and unfolded clean laundry have become sites of volcanic activity; when once again I can't find anything to wear because even though it's winter outside, it's all four seasons in my closet; when the puzzle pieces are really missing; when I realize the only book I've finished in the last six months is one with 32 pages: When all this happens, I might just get lucky and capture a sight of all three of my children laughing and playing together. (59)

This book is one that is sorely needed by the mothering community. It would make a lovely gift to a friend, or to yourself. I'm so grateful to have been given the chance to read it.

I have also just found out that the the Kindle edition (which contains all the stories and connectivity to our online forum - ideal for moms of all ages and book clubs) is currently on special offer from Amazon.com now $0.99. Special prices for limited period only.

Disclaimer: I was given a PDF copy of this book to facilitate my review. No further compensation was given, and I will not be compensated if you buy it. But I think you should.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm not a bad mom

Do you know Cristi from Motherhood Unadorned? She is one of the most eloquent, graceful, and compassionate people in the blogging and twitter universe, she does amazing advocacy work, and she has the most beautiful blue hair. I'd been rather taken with her "I'm not a bad mom" series, so I decided to take the plunge and make myself sit down and write one.

So please come visit with me over at her blog and see why I am not a bad mom.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I don't give parenting advice. I give hugs.

I saw a post the other day for freelance articles about parenting. Part of me (the part that wants to do this writing thing in a professional capacity) wanted to jump at it. Then I thought about it for a second and realized I didn't have anything to say about parenting.

Wait, what?

Part of my goal for this blog is to help new moms who feel like they are all alone. If that's you and you're reading this, I want to give you a big hug. You're not alone. None of us are. The truth is, some moms have more skills than others. Some babies eat better or sleep better than others. None of this is your fault, and you aren't doing a thing wrong. And I'm so glad you found your way here, and I so want you to be part of the conversation.

But if you are looking for answers to your questions? I'm very sorry. I can't tell you how to get your child to behave, or eat, or sleep. Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. Better probably.

I've spent enough time searching the Internet for answers to know that there really aren't any out there. Or maybe there are some answers, for some people, but lemme tell you, I don't have any of them.

And the more I think about it, the more I start to understand who I am, and who I want to be. Yesterday I wrote about how I felt like I wasn't doing anything. Like my house was a mess and I didn't have a thing to show for it. Like I wasn't good at a single thing in the world.

But I am. I'm good at this. I'm good at comforting people. (...Right...?) My place in the world, my gift, my calling all have to do with hearing people and with helping them to see what is good in them. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has the ability to bring me back from the brink the way helping someone does.

The thing that I know, the thing that I am good at, the thing that absolutely fuels me, is my love and compassion. So, if I've ever helped you? Thank *you.* You're what keeps me going.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm doing my best. And so are you.

I'm not lazy.

My dearest Yael is so fond of saying, "You're not lazy. You're tired." It's such a comfort to hear, but so hard to believe.

My house isn't clean. I don't put on makeup every day. I don't do charity work. I only have one child. I don't work, at least not more than 3 hours a week. It took me 9 weeks to read a novel. I don't exercise regularly. I've eaten takeout 3 times this week. My laundry baskets are overflowing (albeit with clean laundry). I've blogged about 3 times this month. I'm afraid to even open my reader.

But I'm not lazy.

I want to do better. I'm learning to do better. But right now, it's hard. I need to learn how to do things. I need to learn balance. I'm not good at it.

I'm not good at not being good at things.

But I'm trying. I'm doing the best I can. And I know that if one of you told me this, I'd put my arm around you and say "Oh, honey. You're doing everything you need to do. You're doing your best. You're doing just fine."

I'm not lazy. I'm tired. I'm learning. I'm trying. I'm doing just fine.

And so are you. I promise.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Life's Lessons: Lunch date

Life With Baby Donut


  1. So remember that lunch date DH took me and Baby Girl on when she was 8 months old?
  2. Well, he took me back to that restaurant for lunch again.
  3. And today? It was much less eventful. Thankfully.
  4. Well, except when the old lady BG was staring at said hi, and BG decided to scream.
  5. Or when I tried to give her a taste of my pasta, and she grabbed it off the spoon, lemon butter sauce and all.
  6. Or when she let me know she was done with her bread by throwing it across the restaurant.
  7. But somehow? None of that really bothered me so much. I was eating great food and laughing with my two favorite cuties.
  8. Today was a reminder of how much things have changed in the past 5 months.
  9. And how much things haven't.
  10. I guess my point is, if there's a lesson to be learned from today? I haven't learned it yet.
  11. So I guess DH is just going to have to keep taking me out to nice restaurants for lunch until I do.
Today, I'm linking up again with Donut's Mama. Stop by and give her a little extra love today, okay? She can use it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life's Lessons: International Traveling Edition

Life With Baby Donut


It's time for my favorite linkup of the week, with one of my dearest online friends, Donutsmama of Life with Baby Donut. As you all know, I was away last week, and I couldn't help but learn a few things, so without further ado.

  1. I am not the greatest traveler in the world.
  2. I tend to have a little bit of anxiety about being in the car. Okay, maybe a lot.
  3. I also need more confidence. It took me until the end of the week there before I got up the nerve to walk out the door of my hotel by myself and actually do anything.
  4. And I need to sometimes think a little more about what I want instead of waiting around for other people to tell me.
  5. The last day there, I got mad at myself for not enjoying my trip more and seeing the city.
  6. And then I realized I was still there. And I went out. And I enjoyed it.
  7. I dwell a little too much on the past, on what I've done wrong, on my mistakes.
  8. But I'm still here.
  9. And there's so much to enjoy, to appreciate.
  10. I just need to put one foot in front of the other and step out my front door.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

There's a post in my head and it won't come out

I spent some quiet time today thinking about me, and who I am and what I need and what I realized was this.

I need to write.

There's never been a time in my life when writing didn't make things better.

But lately I haven't been writing anything. It's these demons in my head, they tell me I can't do it. They tell me I don't have time. They tell me it's not worth the trouble.

But it is.

Yael threw me for a loop today. She told me that the little voices in my head aren't trying to destroy me. They're trying to protect me. They're doing a bass-ackward job of it, but really they mean well (geez, don't I say that about everyone else? Why didn't I think to say it about myself?).

So why am I not letting me write?

I'm terribly afraid. Afraid of reaching a dark place that I can't handle. Afraid of putting things out there that I can't take back. Afraid of being rejected. Afraid of failing.

So afraid of failing that I'm not doing the one thing in my whole life that I know is guaranteed to make me better.

So here I am. Writing.

And forgive me if I write the worst crap in all the world. Love me anyway okay? Because the only way out is through.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not ungrateful, just sad

Lately, I've been having a hard time.

I am inclined to complain, to complain about the sleep, the travel, the laundry. To complain about the screaming baby. To complain about being alone.

I have one child, one beautiful healthy child. I don't work outside the home, and that was my choice and one I'm really pretty content with. I have a loving and (mostly) supportive husband. I don't really have to worry about money (although I do anyway). I have sweet, supportive friends, a great online support system, and a real life mom's group I like very much. It's sunny outside my window.

And I sit around feeling sorry for myself.

I feel like that's unacceptable. Almost unforgivable.

I see you with your losses, with your illnesses, with your challenges and your real life struggles and I feel like I have no right to even join the conversation. I see people with much harder rows to hoe than I have, being out there in the world and doing good work and making a difference. Taking an already full schedule and adding more to it in order to help other people. Or adding more to it to take care of yourselves, which is even more herculean.

What the hell am I doing all day? What on earth is so hard?

I want to feel grateful for the life that I have. I want to appreciate the things I've been given, to realize how fortunate I am. To know that everyone I meet is fighting a harder battle and that my problems don't amount to a hill of beans, and all that stuff. I want to think those things and believe them.

But I'm struggling.

And I don't know if it makes me ungrateful to say that. I don't know if admitting that I need help, that I'm not "content," means that I am taking for granted all the things that I have. I know how much worse it could be. I see it.

And most of the time, I'd rather talk about you than me. It gives me a sense of purpose to be able to help other people. It's probably the thing that makes me happiest in all the world.

But today? I just want to feel sorry for me a little. I'm really not ungrateful. I'm just sad.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Be it ever so humble

Last week, my family went on a trip. It was a big trip. It involved being away for a week, a 6 hour drive, and the crossing of a national border (that one to the north).

It was a nightmare. And it wasn't. And I need to write about it, I know I do. And I will, as soon as I have some more time to process it.

But now I'm home.

It's such a relief to be home. My laundry is done. I can cook my meals again. Baby Girl is napping, at least a little bit. Life is back to normal.

Which is a good thing. I think.

Because what is normal?

I'll be cheerful again. I'll be deep and thought provoking again. I'll be funny again.

But today? I'm just relieved to be on my own couch. And ON TWITTER AGAIN. Ahem.

There's no place like home.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life's Lessons: The Excuses Edition

Life With Baby Donut


1. So Baby Girl turned one last week.

2. Apparently that's a big deal.

3. Which is why I haven't written since then.

4. Or really read and commented on any blogs.

5. At least that's the excuse I'm going with.

6. In related news, we spent last weekend traveling again.

7. People? Traveling with a baby is exhausting. Exhausting.

8. You know what else is exhausting? Not sleeping. Which we've also been doing this week.

9. And then there's laundry. Mountains of laundry. I'm thinking of giving up laundry.

10. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that when you make excuses, you should stick with one or no one would believe me.

11. So, the simple answer to why I haven't been writing? My head hasn't been in it. But it's coming back. It's coming back.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How We Met



I'm guest posting for my dear, dear friend Rach at Life with Baby Donut today, telling the almost completely true story of how DH and I met. All I can say is, Harry and Sally ain't got nothing on us.

Hop over and say hi!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One

One year ago, I was in a hospital, holding this tiny, precious little person in my arms.

One year ago, she could only see far enough to see my face.

One year ago, I could only see far enough to get through the day. Through the hour.

And now here we are.

She cruises around the room holding onto the furniture. Prattles "Dadadaddatata,gah!" with such fervor. Eats frozen waffles like they're going out of style (but they're not). Hands me toys to play with. Climbs into my lap and wraps her arms around my neck.

I'm not sure how we got here.

I am sad. I miss the tiny bundle of cuddles that could sleep in my arms for days. I miss the tiny fingers closing around mine, then the little toothless smile. I miss her babyness.

But I love this little miss I have now. I love the way she plays with me, the way she emphatically makes her desires known. I love the hugs and kisses and the way I know she is doing it on purpose. I love the look on her face when she discovers something new, when she sees something in the world for the first time.

I've never been very good at change. I want to say I'm not ready.

But it's not really about me.

And on this day, nothing is changing. She isn't growing up, I'm not letting go. Today, we are celebrating the first year of Baby Girl's life, the first year of my life as a mom. Today we are looking back with love at every one of those precious moments and looking forward to all the wonderful things we'll be able to do together for years to come.

One year ago, Baby Girl, you and I had no idea what we had in store. Today, I think maybe we do.

Happy birthday, sweet child. But I'm still going to call you my baby. Always.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Because she's mine

My last three years teaching full time were spent in a small private school where I taught 9th and 10th graders. As in, all the 9th and 10th graders. Because it was such a small school, we didn't track.

Except we so did.

My second year, one of my co-workers (yes, that means she was a teacher too) had a son in the 9th grade. During our inservice, she came into my room and asked to see my class lists. I innocently (naively) said yes.

"Wait, why is he in this class? This looks like the bad class."

I didn't know what to say. "Oh, you know it's not like that." Except we both knew it was.

Now, I love her kid (and not just in that "Oh, Mrs. Story, you love everyone" kind of way. okay, not entirely). He's funny, sweet, and a great skateboarder. But if there was going to be a slower English class? He probably needed to be in it.

She pouted. Stormed down to the office. Pitched a fit to get him switched.

Then for the next two years I had to hear all about how he was misunderstood, how he was lazy. He wasn't and he wasn't. He was struggling.

I have an SAT student now who is struggling. He probably shouldn't go to a four year college, at least not right away, but I can't say that. When his parents tell me what their goals are, I have to do a double-take. Are they talking about their child? He fights to bring his scores up, but he just doesn't understand. It breaks me heart. He isn't the first.

I come home and look at my baby girl, my little love. She was a late crawler, a late sitter. She doesn't say "mama" yet, not even when she's babbling. I'm not really sure she's signing.

And I worry. My husband and I are smart people. Academically smart. And everyone tells us how smart Baby Girl is sure to be.

And I hate it. Because what if she's not?

I want to help her. I want her to have every opportunity in the world. But if she isn't gifted, if she isn't college bound, if she struggles, I want her to know that's okay.

I want her to know that I see her, and that I love the child I have, not the child I wish she was. Because she's my baby. And she always will be.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Talk to me about food. Please.

When Baby Girl was 4 months old, our pediatrician told us that the reason she wasn’t sleeping through the night was that she was hungry and ready to start cereal. She was in the 96th percentile for weight. She nursed every 2 hours.
Hungry? I wasn’t buying it. And really, if she was, 40 calories worth of cereal wasn’t going to fix it.

But DH wanted to try it, so we did. It was a disaster. We put away the spoons and the cereal boxes and waited.

When she was 5 months old, suddenly everyone I knew started freaking out. My mother in law told my husband that if we didn’t start feeding her soon, it would be too late. (What does this mean? I don’t know.) I suddenly felt an inordinate amount of pressure to give her food. I still didn’t want to. I wanted to wait the whole 6 months, but I was overcome with self-doubt and gave in. I started giving her one meal of cereal most days. And you know? It was okay. Maybe not necessary, but okay.

Little did I know, that was the beginning of the longest and biggest battle of my life. With food.

People? I love food. I mean, LOVE food. Baby Girl? Not so much.

At her 6 month visit, we saw a different doctor. He asked if we were still just doing cereal and told me to try new foods. I asked what, when, and how much. He told me I was overthinking it and just to try foods. Thanks.

The very next day was the first day I got carrot in my hair. But not the last.

Baby Girl is 11 months old now, and I still haven’t figured this stuff out. She eats yogurt, cheese, bread. Bananas. Applesauce. Sometimes sweet potatoes. Occasionally some baby food chicken gets by her. Once I saw her eat peas (I’m sure I did). Way too many Gerber graduates snacks. And that’s about it.

At our last Dr’s visit, the nurse practitioner said I should have her on 100% table food by a year. What? How? She only has 4 teeth. Do DH and I just eat mushy food for the next few months? Do I cook her her own meals?

I know, I know that “until 1, food is for fun.” I know that as long as I’m breastfeeding, she’s getting perfect nutrition. But, she’ll be 1 in a week. Then what? Does the switch just flip, like “Aaaaand. . . now her nutrition is coming from her food.” And what the heck do I do then? Babies cannot live on puffs alone.

So please, dear readers, someone tell me. What can this child eat?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I am a champion at sitting

Lately, I've had an inexplicable amount of nervous energy, so today during naptime, I decided to play Wii Fit.

Win #1: I turned it on.

I had to put batteries in the fit board. It had been over a year since I'd played. My mii looked all slouchy and tired and sad. Hey, nobody likes a judgy mii. But then, just when I thought I was about to get scolded...

Win #2: It asked me where my husband had been lately. Score.

I did my "fitness test." My center of gravity was very far to the left. That's the baby carrying hip, people. Duh. But my weight was lower than the last time I played. (Yes, pre-baby. Yes. That could be a win. But we all know it's just Baby Girl's insistent habit of eating, so I'm not taking credit.)

I ran. I tried to hit imaginary soccer balls with my head (not very successfully). I made it about two yards on the imaginary tight rope. I almost sprained something pretending to hula hoop. And then, my ultimate win.

Win #3. Grand Champion. I got the high score on the Zen Meditation game. (Yes, competitive Zen Meditiation. Quiet, you.)

If you aren't familiar with the game, it is a balance game, the entire goal of which is to sit completely still on the balance board and focus on a picture of a flame. The game tries to distract you with some noises, movement, and a moth flickering by (and very disturbingly catching fire). If you move at all, the balance board detects it and the flame goes out, immediately ending the game.

People? I have never been able to sit for more than 30 seconds.

Today I stared at that flame for 150 seconds. Without moving. I sat still and focused on one thing for two and a half minutes. Without flinching or moving or jumping up to check twitter.

That? Makes me proud.



I'm linking up with the Be Enough Me Monday link up. Late again. But that's okay because I'm awesome at sitting. You should link up too. It's awesome.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sleep and I have gone visiting

Hope you all are having a lovely long weekend and getting to sleep in a little bit. I am guest posting today over at James and Jax about every mother's favorite topic. Please come join me over there and leave us all some love.

You do know about James and Jax, right? Jamie is a great toddler mom and an incredible source of wisdom and comfort about breastfeeding, parenting, and anxiety as well as an all around fun person and great blogging friend. You should absolutely be reading her blog and following her on twitter as James and Jax. I'll even forgive her for not inviting me to the beach.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My open PR letter

Dear PR companies and potential sponsors,

This blog isn’t about the money. I like to think it is a safe place for me to unwind the tangle that is my thoughts, and I also like to think it is a safe place for other people to come and feel validated or reassured. My approximately 4.5 readers a day, 0% of whom arrive from search engines, seem to feel the same way. That’s why they love me. (And they do. They do love me.) This blog serves a purpose that is much bigger than money.

I do, however, also like money.

You know what else I like? Stuff. And I bet my 4.5 readers like stuff too.
So, here’s my proposal. If any of you would be interested in giving me money, or sending me stuff to share with my readers, I’m listening. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to change anything I’m doing here. I’m going to continue to tell the truth, spread as much love and kindness as possible, and do as much good work as I can. You may then compensate me for doing so.

In summary: I keep doing what I want and helping people. You send money and stuff. 4.5 readers cheer.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Story

P.S. As you can see from this letter, I am a marketing genius. Just saying.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My love is enough

In case I haven't mentioned it? This mom gig is hard. This tiny person who I held in my arms the moment she was born is a complete and total mystery to me. I don't know what she wants to eat, when she wants to sleep, how she wants to play. She cries and I don't know what's wrong.

Calculus I can do. Nap schedules blow my mind.

Some days I get so frustrated and disappointed that I scream. Or I sit down with my head on the couch and cry.

And on those days, do you know what Baby Girl does? Crawls into my lap. Hugs me. Noms on my face. And giggles.

And do you know why?

Because I am a good mom. I am a really good mom.

I don't need to buy the best toys or serve the most perfect homemade organic baby food to be a good mom. I don't need to spend every second of my day playing with the baby and coming up with brilliant and creative ways to stimulate her. I don't need to have a plan or even know what I'm doing really. I just need to love my little girl.

I don't like the word just there.

I love my little girl. And my love is the most powerful force in the universe. And that's why even when I falter or flail, even when I feel defeated, Baby Girl is still happy and healthy and beautiful and so crazy about me that neither of us can stand it.

My love is enough. My love is more than enough.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life's Lessons: Scary things

Life With Baby Donut


  1. Hurricanes? Are scary.

  2. But I've been through several, so I have great advice.

  3. Make sure you have lots of water in the house. And your flashlight batteries charged. And cookies. So many cookies.

  4. And if you have to evacuate, do it. Think of it as a slumber party.

  5. And then, wherever you are, breathe. It will be okay. Even though it's scary. I know.

  6. Speaking of breathing, I need to do that more.

  7. And face my fears. Which, umm, you may have heard about.

  8. Because really? In the end, that's how you beat them.

  9. When you list everything you're afraid of, suddenly it becomes clear which things don't matter.

  10. And which things really do.

  11. I want to do work that matters.

  12. And surround myself with people who feel the same way.

  13. And stop worrying about the people who don't.

  14. So thank you all, again, for your kind comments the other day. You all make my list.

  15. And that? Makes life less scary.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm afraid

Just in case you were starting to think that everything was bright and beautiful in mommyland around here, I want to tell you. I’m having a bad day. I know it’s just a bad day, I know it’s just a bad mood, but in this moment it feels like everything is crashing down. It feels like my progress isn’t real. It feels like I’m all alone. And I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that people don’t like me as much as I like them.
I’m afraid that I’ll make a fool of myself.
I’m afraid that I’m a bad mother.
I’m afraid that I’m a bad wife.
I’m afraid that I’m a bad friend.
I’m afraid that I’m a bad writer.
I’m afraid that I’ll look like I’m trying too hard.
I’m afraid that the things that I do won’t matter.
I’m afraid that I’m wrong to think they *could* matter.
I’m afraid that if I’m honest, people will not like me.
I’m afraid that if I’m not honest, they’ll see right through me.
I’m afraid that this will never get better.
I’m afraid that all that’s left to be wrong is me.
I’m afraid that I complain too much.
I’m afraid that I lie to myself.
I’m afraid that I care too much about being liked.
I’m afraid that means I’m not a “person of substance.”
I’m afraid I will never fit in.
I’m afraid that I shouldn’t want to fit in.
I’m afraid this will sound like I’m fishing for compliments or desperately seeking approval.
I’m afraid that I am.
I’m afraid that I won’t get it.
I’m afraid that the wrong things matter to me.
I’m afraid that it’s my fault.

And right now? It doesn't matter if any of this is true, if any of it is real. It feels real. It feels true. And I'm struggling.

And? It might be okay that I'm struggling.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I am enough because I see the good



I honestly thought this would be harder than it was, but I've had a really good week.

1. Yesterday morning I played an epic game of peek-a-boo with the baby. Even though I was tired. Even though I wanted to do other things. She laughed and laughed and laughed. So I did too.

2. I got two facebook messages from former students yesterday. The first a message to tell me that "Even though I hated Brave New World when we studied it, it's now my favorite book. I thought you'd be proud." He's 21 now. I am proud.

The second, one of my last students tagged me in a picture of the ridiculous collage they made of my white board when they found out I was leaving 2 years ago. I thanked her for posting it, and 5 students liked my comment within ten minutes.

3. I got the most amazing comment from Susan on my Rainy Day Letter. She told me that by writing, I am helping other people find Peace and Purpose. There is nothing in the world I'd rather do.

With that kind of week, how could I not feel good about myself? And yet that's not true. I could. I choose to see the beauty and the wonder in all of these small things, just like I choose to see the good in everyone else around me. Does that mean I don't realize that people are mean and ugly sometimes? Of course not. It's just what I choose to see, and I can choose to recognize that good in myself too.

A month ago? I don't think I could have. I thought I was invisible, I thought I was gone. But I'm not. I'm still the woman I always was. I'm her and so much more.

I've always said that I wanted nothing more than to change the world, to make people's lives better, to make things a little more beautiful for me having been there. And now I know I can.

Because I already am. Because I have been all along.

Monday, August 22, 2011

For a Rainy Day

A few months ago, I read a post called The Opportunities in Setbacks by the lovely Yael from PPD to Joy. At the time, I was floundering. I was struggling. I didn't see when or how I would be able to write a rainy day letter because all the days seemed rainy.

But last week I wrote one. And Yael was so kind as to publish my letter. So, if you'd be so kind as to click over and join me there, I'd appreciate it.

Also? If you aren't reading Yael's blog and following her on Twitter? You are missing out. Whether you have ever had PPD or not, you will find so much joy and wisdom in her words. She regularly banishes shame and guilt with such a beautiful and elegant mix of the silly and the profound. My absolute favorite post is her This I believe.

She also hosts monthly PPD support phone chat called the PPD SpeakEasy. It is free, confidential, and loving. This chat happens on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 8:30pm Eastern. For more info and dates click here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Life's Lessons: Things I can't control

Life With Baby Donut


It's time for more life lessons. I know my life lessons are usually witty, but this week I'm feeling quieter, and hopefully a little wise.

  1. When I am at work, and Baby is with daddy, I am not in control.
  2. And that's okay.
  3. The two of them can work things out. Really. And I need to let them.
  4. I also can't control the traffic, or the fact that last night it took me an hour and a half to go 10 miles.
  5. Sometimes I get angry when I can't control things. And that's okay. Because, duh.
  6. Even when I'm angry, I need to be kind.
  7. Because kindness? Is everything.
  8. I think I am starting to see what it is that I want to do, what it is that matters to me. And I don't know if I can do it. But since I've started to see it, I've been happier and calmer.
  9. This blog does me a world of good. Not because of pageviews, not because of money (which really, I never meant to be the point), not because of awards, but because of me. And mostly because of you.
  10. You guys? Are awesome. Thank you for listening to me whine, for your DMs and emails, for cheering me on all the time.
  11. All I can control, really, is what I do here. What happens to it after, is out of my hands.
  12. And you know? That's okay too.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Momnesia

In my mind, the story goes like this: I came home from the hospital and happily cuddled my burrito baby for the first six weeks. I was in my own little cocoon with her, and nothing from the outside could bother us. It was a precious, wonderful time. I wasn't sleeping, but I was happy. It wasn't until later that I had problems.

But, apparently, that's not how it happened.

My husband said to me the other day, "Don't you remember waking me up in the middle of the night in tears? That you said if you stayed up by yourself with the baby anymore you were afraid you'd hurt her?"

Umm, now I do.

(And in retrospect? That's probably not normal.)

I think (I think!) the days were okay. She slept most of the time. I cuddled her. I held her all day long, and only put her down for an occasional nap. I slept from 7 AM (when my husband left for work) until 10 AM every day. I pulled meals out of my freezer for dinner, I ate cheese and crackers over the babies head. It was quiet and peaceful and the snuggles, oh the snuggles.

In fact, at 6 weeks, I even had a PPD screening. The grad student on the phone told me it sounded like I was doing pretty okay, and asked if that sounded right. I said it did. (Because, well, maybe it wasn't great, but it was the first 6 weeks, right? It was supposed to be hard. It was supposed to get easier.)

But the nights, oh the nights. The nights were brutal. Baby Girl was awake from 10 PM until 5 AM most nights. I'd pace my bedroom floor with her, not daring to take her downstairs and watch some TV or turn on a light because if I did, it might never get better right? I was supposed to keep night time dark and quiet and boring. I follow rules.

And the crying. Oh did she cry. The only thing that made her stop crying was when I nursed her. So I nursed her ever half hour. For 7 hours. Yes, that's true. No, I'm not exaggerating.

Her growth? And my milk supply? Were awesome.

My frame of mind? Not so much.

Okay, and maybe the days weren't always so great either. I suddenly remember now a skype conversation where baby and I could only be onscreen for 10 seconds at a time because I was pacing the entire house the rest of the time. I remember evenings when I walked around in circles in my living room while "watching" TV (there are episodes of House that I watch now and realize I didn't hear *any* of the dialogue). I searched the Internet for ways to get her to stop crying, to sleep at night and be awake during the day. I did everything everyone told me. I felt like a failure when it didn't work.

Umm, okay, so why don't I remember it this way?

Momnesia is powerful, people. Very powerful.

I think it's a defense mechanism. Our minds need to protect themselves, to protect us. It's what allows us to continue to function. It's what allows us to eventually have more children. Which I'm relatively sure is a good thing. Right?

But my concern is that Momnesia can become an offensive weapon instead of a defensive one. When we are reminiscing, when we are trying to be helpful. How many people told me, how many places did I read, "Oh, enjoy this stage. It doesn't last"?

And if you're a new mom, I want to say that to you. I want you to enjoy it. It doesn't last. It is precious, as is every single stage.

But I also remember thinking, "Who could enjoy this?"

I remember thinking I was broken, that I was a terrible mother because I was simply not enjoying it. Because it was so freaking hard for me.

And maybe, maybe I was a little broken. Maybe there is a better. Maybe I was too depressed to enjoy something I should have enjoyed.

But maybe not. I didn't miss it. Every bit of her newborn-ness is still a part of me, a part of our relationship. And the bits I keep in my conscious mind are the good bits: the snuggles, the first giggle, the nights I broke the rules and snuck downstairs to play instead of pace.

And so, if you are a new mom, this is what I want to say to you. Love on your baby, love on yourself. Believe that this stage is something that is temporary. You're not doing anything wrong, I promise.

And if you're thinking you wish you could enjoy it? Don't worry. You will.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Before I was a mom

It has been brought to my attention that a good 29.5 years of my life occurred prior to the birth of my daughter. (I know. It came as a surprise to me too. Hasn’t she always been here?) So, I thought it might be fun to share with you some vignettes from that other, foggy part of my distant past so that you can get to know that part of me too. I don’t know how regular a series it will be, but whenever I think of them I’ll share. I’m beginning in roughly reverse chronological order, mostly because that’s all I can remember.

I.
I started a long term sub job when I was already 10 weeks pregnant. By the end of my 3rd week of teaching, one of the senior girls asked her teacher-mom if I was pregnant.

“Why would you say that?” asked the mom, genuinely confused because I certainly wasn’t showing.

“Because she’s wearing those elastic pants, and her boobs are huge.”

Oh. Well then.

II.
My last year teaching full time, I told my freshmen that my two biggest pet peeves are when people use “literally” and “ironically” incorrectly. For the rest of the year, every single thing I said to them was “literally ironic.” Well done, freshmen. Well done.

III.
I advised the Honor Society. My seniors were sitting around one day talking about torturing their calculus teacher.

“Guys,” I said, “that’s just not okay. You need to learn how to behave like adults. I mean, there are people I don’t like, but I act professional about it.”

“Wait,” they said, “there are people you don’t like??”


IV.
When my husband was writing his dissertation, I proofread it practically constantly. I read the dense engineering text probably 100 times. As such, in his acknowledgements, he thanked me for my careful proofreading.

Except, technically it said “I would like to thank to thank my wife for her endless hours of proofreading.” Oops.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blogging despair

I blog because I have things in my head that I need to get out.

I blog because I like to write. It is probably the hobby that I enjoy the most.

I blog because I love making connections with other bloggers and being part of a community.

I blog because I hope that sometimes the things I say might help other people.

There is a voice in my head, though, that asks me, Is it enough?

I mean, it’s certainly enough of a reason to spend 15 minutes writing a few days a week. And whether I blog or not, I am likely to continue reading and commenting and interacting on twitter because those are things that bring me a lot of joy.

When all the cool kids were at BlogHer? I may have joked a bit on twitter about how jealous I was, but it really didn’t bother me. That wasn’t something that was for me. I don’t care about the parties, and the swag, and while I would like to meet people? Most of the people who were there seemed to me to be in a class above me. (And I know, I know, you’re going to tell me that’s not true. That I can run with the cool kids. You’re sweet. But no.)

But then I started reading people’s BlogHer recap posts. Or mostly not reading them. Because the more I read, the more resentful I started to feel.

And then I read Robin’s, and I was so happy for her. Truly. But I realized that I want to find a purpose like she did. I want to know how to do this thing that my heart is telling me to do. I want to make this something that matters.

And then I read Diana’s, and my heart broke for her. Because I understood, so deeply in my heart what she was struggling with. And if someone as amazing as Diana could feel like she wasn’t doing anything when her blog reaches so many people every day, then what the heck was I doing?

And then I found out that Robin was going to speak at Bloggy Boot Camp next year. I don’t think there’s anything I have wanted more in a long time than to hear Robin speak at Bloggy Boot Camp. And I wanted to tell her to come to the city closest to me. But then I realized that even if she did, there would be no way I could go. There’s no way I could justify it. We don’t have the money, I don’t have the time. The people in my life, including my husband would think it was silly and frivolous.

I would think it was silly and frivolous.

And I start to feel like, what’s the point? I know it’s not about the money, and I don’t want it to be about money. But at the same time, if this blog could make a little money, it would be so much easier for me to take it seriously. To take myself seriously.

Even without money, if I could feel like I had a purpose here, like I was genuinely making a difference, I’d feel better about pouring my energy into it.

But right now? What am I doing here? Am I just playing? Am I begging for attention? I am stuck in this awful loop where it doesn’t matter because I don’t make it worthwhile, and I don’t make it worthwhile because it doesn’t matter.