Thursday, February 20, 2014

Will at 23 months

  • He's discovered how to pick his nose. Sometimes he picks it with two fingers at once. Sometimes he tries to pick my nose. When I catch him picking his nose, his facial expression indicates that he is very impressed with himself. 
  • He giggles when he puts his finger in his belly button (or mine). He thinks it's hilarious.
  • He answers "no" to every question, even when I am not sure he really MEANS no. It's just what he says. Until he learns to say "yes". Hopefully soon.
  • He's still light on words. His latest words are eye, uh-oh, blue, bath and bye-bye.
  • He likes to shake his head and nod his head over and over, with emphasis. I am not convinced he's trying to communicate anything, he just enjoys doing it, especially when we do it back to him.
  • He still loves the vacuum. He likes to play with the actual vacuum or pretend he's vacuuming with an object.

  • He loves to give high fives. This is something I taught him in an attempt at social skills, since I decided it was weird when he was going up to strange kids trying to hug them.
  • He likes to hug his stuffed animals. And give them milk from his cup. It is soooo cute.
  • He still hasn't had his first hair cut yet, but he needs one now!
  • He likes to spend a lot of time outside. So it's been rough on winter days or sick days when that was impossible.
  • He likes to go exploring down the streets in our neighborhood (while I follow) often pushing a little wheelbarrow or red wagon, or even a plastic chair! Cute. Except when we need to go back home and he doesn't want to go and I have to carry him the rest of the way, sometimes kicking and screaming. (He does do tantrums these days, oh yes.)
  • He likes to swing in the back yard. And swing. And swing. And swing some more. And then do a tantrum when mommy decides we can't possibly swing anymore.

  • He now has much more of a "taste" for kid's tv. I try not to let him watch it too long or too often. I don't want him to be too hooked on it at an early age, but there are days when an episode of Thomas the Train comes in mighty handy for mama, I hate to say.
  • He's pretty independent sometimes, but those random moments when he gives me a sweet hug or comes running to me with a huge smile just make my day.

I can't believe he's almost two! I understand the nostalgia of mamas now as I see little babies in carriers or just learning to walk. All of that now seems so far distant as he tears through the playground like a big boy.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A little less conversation, a little more action

I have a balance problem. You might be expecting me to say something like "work-life balance" yadayada. But since becoming a stay at home mom I've figured out there is no work-life balance. I'm just ON all the time. 

No. My problem is balancing input and output. I have this thing. I always want more. 

More information. More books. More blogs. More podcasts. More pretty pins. 

I have an until now unspoken fallacy of a belief that somewhere out there is some "thing" - that magical thing I need that will change my life. The parenting book that will make tantrums manageable. The organization method that will keep my house clean for only ten minutes a day. The blog post that will inspire me. The style that is just so me. The perfect - easy - diet that will change my body forever. The book that will keep me up reading it all night and dying to read the sequel.

I'm always looking. I am hooked. I am addicted. 

It's an internet thing, yeah, primarily. Blogs have been my crack for a long time. Don't take away my feed reader, people! 

But it also applies in other areas like books. For me a satisfying trip to the library is leaving with a stuffed tote bag. Okay, so maybe I will only read 20% of the books, but it's the promise, the potential, that appeals to me, the hope that maybe one of them will be a gem, the thing I can't explain, the thing I've been looking for, the book with a treasure inside.

I not only hoard books, but ideas of books. I have a wish list on Amazon, free samples on my Kindle, a want-to-read list on Goodreads, and a for-later list on my library web site. I'm always looking for more books I might be interested in reading. It will take me a hundred years just to read through my current wish list, not to mention the fact that I keep adding to it..

And then there's my recipe problem. If I get a magazine I just have to tear out any recipe that is vaguely appealing. I have folders full of maybe someday recipes. And then there are the bookmarks, the pins, the cookbooks. I'll never cook them all. And lately, I mostly cook old standbys anyway!

This might sound like just a quirk. But there are problems with it. 

I'm so busy looking for new ideas and taking them in, that I don't deeply absorb and apply things to my life. Let's face it, I know 90% of what I need to know to eat healthy and exercise by now. I could quit reading about it and do it, but instead I spend thirty minutes on the internet reading about it, instead of doing it. Not helpful, really.

Another problem is it perpetuates this magical thinking, that there is a "magic" answer out there to every problem that can easily solve it, if only I knew it. Not only do I spend so much time looking, looking, looking but I also carry around this idea that all problems are meant to be solved. When in truth some problems are just walked through blind until I reach the other side. 

It's been worse since I've become a mother because I go looking for escape or for solutions to all the challenges - cradle cap, climbing out of cribs, bored toddlers, tantrums, teething, etc. 

But I also became addicted to mindlessly searching the internet everyday. When I was breastfeeding for HOURS a day, it's what I did, and I carried it with me, the habit, into my daily life, that need to just wander and search for something. It seemed like it made me less lonely, seeing what other moms were going through. But at the end it only made me more lonely, a halfway connection and not a full one.

And then all of this has me consuming things others have created and not creating my own. Not crafting, cooking, blogging, writing - all things I find fulfilling. 

So I'd like to break this hold it has on me. Maybe not completely. I'm not sure I'm ready for cold turkey from the internets. But I'd like to spend more time applying the knowledge I have, more time creating, more time living, and less time reading about how to live and peering into someone else's windows. 

I haven't decided on a course of action yet, but something MUST be done.

Friday, January 31, 2014

January and everything

Almost February? Already? Wow. Here's all the stuff about January. And everything.

I have January-itis right now. That condition where you made grand plans for the new year and then at the end of January realize that you and your oversized ambitions were insane and feel a bit depressed, you know?

 I suppose I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I have the tendency to DREAM BIG and I keep forgetting that mothers of toddlers need to dream small and be ready to drop those dreams at a moment's notice and get down in the floor and have a tickle session. I'm still struggling with how to let things go and be okay with this season of life, this season of making messes and cleaning messes over and over in a circle. 

This week Will got a cold and started climbing out of his crib for the first time. I thought my head was going to explode. Change is hard for me. I resemble a toddler more than I want to admit. We've got two toddlers living in this house and one of them is me. Uh-oh. 

Speaking of Uh-Oh, that's my little guy's word lately. He's saying it and saying it. Which is good, because he doesn't say much we understand.

Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel - I really loved this book. I didn't expect to love it. It's YA. It's about British royal stuff a long dusty time ago. And the cover is really pink. But I ended up loving it beyond rational explanation.

Currently reading The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. It had high marks on my library web site and got my attention. It's intriguing and different and kooky and weird - big on alternative world-building. It hasn't captured my heart yet, the characters - I just haven't fallen in love with them.

Reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Whoah. This is an eye-opening book. It's a little slow for my book-crack-craving-brain these days. I find myself wanting the Cliff Notes. But there are valuable nuggets in here. The summary (so far, because I'm not done reading it yet): 

  • Most of your life is an accumulation of your habits - stuff you do every day without thinking about it.
  • You don't think about your habits, you just do 'em. That is both scary and freeing. 
  • Because if you can change your habits to positive ones, then you start going in positive directions, on auto-pilot, no struggling to "do your new year's resolutions". Sounds goooood, right?
  • And you CAN change your habits. Whoopee!
  • Now I just have to keep reading to hear how to do that…
  • Oh, and other interesting things you'll discover in the book - smart advertising people know how your habits work, and they're using it against you to get you to buy their stuff, over and over and over. Now when my new lipstick has a minty smell, I know why. If you want to know why, read The Power of Habit.
Reading The Heavy by Dara Lynn-Weiss. Oh ho ho, my friends, this book deserves a post all it's own. Let's just say: 

  • I didn't go looking for this book. I stumbled across it at the library and it interested me.
  • It's about a mom who has an obese 7 year old and ends up putting her on a restricted calorie diet to get her to lose weight and move into the healthy range. 
  • You get into interesting territory here, not only on body image, diet, etc, but also parenting.
  • I have a child who is in the high 90s percentage wise on the weight charts. This is something I've tried not to worry about, but honestly, I am kind of worried about as he hasn't grown out of it. 
  • I have had body, weight, food issues since my teens. I have no idea what I weigh. I refused to know my own weight the ENTIRE time I was pregnant. I have no clue how much weight I gained or lost since then. I hate thinking about and talking about diets, calories, weight, etc. A number on the scale can send me into a tailspin. 
  • And yet if I don't pay it some mind, my muffin tops threaten to take over the civilized world - or at least my jeans.
  • So this an interesting book. Full of controversy. And for me, because of the above facts, full of things to think about personally. Maybe I'll share more in a later post?
Girly stuff

Bling. I bought myself a Hippie Bling bracelet by Kim and Kozi and I love it. Silly things, but I love silly things. 

Speaking of silly things, I really want some of this Mermaid perfume. How can one not, after this review on Making Magique

Pedicures (the kind where someone else does them, and massages your legs and feet) are from heaven, don't you think? I got one this week with toes painted a shade of nude. I like nude polish lately. It feels beachy and bohemian, while also sophisticated and lady like and minimalist. Quite a change from my stoplight yellow and indigo blue polish days.

Ballet. I've been doing these Ballet Beautiful workouts featuring Mary Helen Bowers via Amazon Prime. They are so minimalist and white and sophisticated. I feel so ladylike.  I get to fantasize about being a ballerina, when I'm the farthest thing from it. But oh, these workouts BURN. 

(Also, am I the only one confused by the conflicting fitness advice? To "transform" the body, one group of people advise working the accessory muscles aka tiny underworked muscles in the body for long lean muscles without bulk. The other group advises doing heavy intense weight bearing exercise with the largest muscles of the body - gluteus maximus, yeah. Which one is best? Which one really works? I kind of think they may both be on to something, which is why I do kettlebells too.)

Try and stop me. 

Sunday nights you can't peel me away from Downton Abbey and Monday nights you can't peel me away from The Bachelor. Well, I say that, but it's just been kind of "meh" so far. I'm waiting for the really crazy ladies to show their stuff. That IS why I watch The Bachelor, btw, for the crazy ladies. It's always useful to compare yourself to someone crazier than you, to be able to say "well… I'm not THAT crazy…" 

Speaking of The Bachelor, if you're into it (ugh, like me) then you might like these Bachelor recap blog posts on Oh Jones

I'm also addicted to Hart of Dixie and Reign on the CW.  The CW could make a show about a talking monkey who goes to High School and I'd watch it. It's embarrassing. What is their demographic, like 12-25 year olds? Guess I'm young at heart. Anyway. Reign. Historically accurate? No. Plot? Ridiculous. Costumes? So much fun. And I like the cast. I mean really, Anne Shirley as the Evil Queen of France? And she's soooooo good too.

Bloggish stuff

p.s. Do I ever have to write on this blog again? I think I just wrote enough for a year.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lost in Boho

I've been re-exploring my love of all things bohemian. On Pinterest, but also vision boards and daydreaming lists for 2014. I'm no fashion blogger, and heavens knows I don't do pics of my daily outfits, but I thought I'd share a few of my deep thoughts on fashion lately.

I still love bohemian style. But my life has taken a turn for the minimalist since having a child, and boho is a very maximalist sport - lots of bangles and jangles and flounces, accessories and patterns for days.

So I've been developing my philosophy on how to go boho without getting lost.

You can easily look overdone with bohemian style, like a costume character just out of the summer of '69. And if you don't do it right and you're not a skinny minnie, you look.... BIG.

All those maxi skirts and oversize tops and wide leg jeans can be disaster if you're not a size two, seriously. I gawk over the flowy styles in the Free People catalog, but I just can't wear them, not the way they style them. I'd look like a bag lady - a frumpy, lumpy, dumpy, bag lady. Those loose styles can also be very forgiving if you do them right, but how?

Here's my secret formula for figure friendly, mama friendly boho dressing:

1) It's all about balancing the fitted and the loose
If you wear a long, loose maxi skirt or pants, pair it with a very fitted top, maybe add a belt at the waist. Or wear a maxi dress with a tiny fitted jacket. If you wear a loose top, pair it with skinny jeans or leggings.My favorite is to wear skinny jeans and a fitted top with a loose blouse or baggy sweater over it.

2) It's all about layering
Throw a gorgeous patterned kimono or scarf on top of a plain white tee and jeans or a simple black dress and ta da! Instant bohemian.

3) It's all about accessories
This goes with the layering, but you can make almost anything look boho with funky jewelry. Feathers, dangles, spangles, raw stones, beads, ethnic. Pile it on. Two necklaces? Great. Three is even better. An armful of mix and match bracelets works too. And don't keep things totally bohemian either. Mix boho and girly and rock and roll and preppy and modern to get a look that's totally your own.

4) It's all about basics
Keep basics simple and well fitted, then layer style on top. I like the idea of a style uniform, a few templates (aka, skinny jeans + t-shirt + loose top) to make many possible outfits. Keep it simple and you won't need a closet like Mariah Carey's to hold all your clothes.

4) It's all about standout pieces
In the middle of plain jane basics, mix in a few uber boho things that make your heart skip a beat - a mexican embroidered top, leopard print converse, fringe boots, a billowy sundress, a guatemalan bag.

5) It's all about comfort
And... since I'm a mom who's chasing a toddler around and wearing his lunch on her clothes, it's about comfort. I need clothes that stretch and cover my butt and cushion my feet and pop in the washer.  So I tend to pick stretchy fabrics, eschew dry clean only, and go for something inexpensive, because it may not last long.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Writing. Again.

Confession: I've gotten away from writing. I don't mean blogging. I don't mean journaling. I mean writing with a capital W. Writing fiction, stories, characters.

Since getting pregnant (umm, that's what? two and a half years ago?), my unpaid writing career has flushed directly down the toilet.

I've gotten away from it and I miss it. And I know it would be good for me to get back to it.

But it's hard to get back to it. It's not like riding a bike. It's like being away from work on a two week vacation and coming back and staring mutely at your computer screen, mouth hanging open, wondering what to do next. It's like working out again for the first time in ages, feeling clumsy and uncoordinated, muscles burning from dormancy.

And let's face it: I'm scared too. Yeah, knees-knocking scared. Scared I can't do it again. Scared it won't be the same. Scared that novel I loved and worked so hard on will be un-loved by agents and publishers. Scared I don't have another novel in me. Scared I can't get my mojo flowing again. Scared I can't find time in my life for it.

But what I know is that there is nothing else in my life like it. What I know is that I've had the heart of a writer since I was a child. What I know is that nothing fills me with joy like building worlds, telling stories, painting characters.

So somehow I have to break out of this stasis and find the flow again.

One thing that makes it hard is that I'm not sure how to channel my energies and spend my little time. I have a novel that is completed and it's a novel I believe in (although, per usual, the perfectionist in me wants to edit it MORE). I want to find an agent. I want to see it in print (or e-print, whatever). And the process so unknown and frightening, like a gaping black hole that would gobble up all my psychic energy and time.

And selling a novel isn't the same as writing. I want to write again. I need to. Something fresh and new.

So what do I do with my time? Do I write something new or work on selling what I've already written? Or (duh, answer here) do both?

Here I go...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Just breathe

I love the New Year. The shiny glittery blank slate of it all.

I've learned to avoid resolutions, but I love planning and dreaming. It's a time to checkpoint, to peer in and say how is my life going and how do I want it to go. I am addicted to these workbooks by Leonie Dawson. I start doing it in mid-December and carry on until mid-January. It helps me get fresh perspective.

So here I was on January 2. Full of New Year dreams and ideals. I was ready to journal and make vision boards and do a Ballet Body Beautiful workout. Instead I spent the day flat on my back with stomach flu. I'm still only getting over it.

It was frustrating. But also humbling.

A reminder for me to check my expectations at the door. A reminder for me that sometimes it is okay if vision boards don't get made, if workouts don't get done. If dinner doesn't get cooked and dishes don't get washed. Sometimes it's okay if the house is a wreck and I'm flat on my back.

Sometimes it's okay just to breathe.

All that stuff will be waiting for me when it's time.

Just breathe.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pork chops and puddles

New Year's Day. A lovely day with my husband and son. Lunch out. Time at a busy park, watching my blond boy run around and nearly conk his head more times than I care to count. A walk in the stroller. Fun in the swing. A half-eaten dinner.

Nightime, I'm soaking in a bath of lavender and epsom salts, indulging in a cosy Regency mystery, but I can't see the pages because I'm bawling my eyes out. Because today's the day we finally weaned. 

I didn't plan it. I knew it was coming soon, but hadn't decided when. I was waiting for it to feel ready.

This morning when we would normally nurse I went in to get him from his crib, brought him a cup of milk and carried him around the house, postponing nursing a few minutes. I've been doing this for awhile, to loosen the habit of nursing right after waking up. 

I opened the refrigerator door and he wiggled out of my arms, wanting to get inside the refrigerator and explore. I hate this, but often let him do it anyway. He found a packet of leftover pork chops wrapped in foil and pulled them out. I figured once he opened the packet he'd lose interest, but instead he started eating the cold pork chop. (Yep, that's my boy.) He wandered around happy as a clam, eating his pork chop and showed zero interest in nursing. 

And I figured.... why not? Why not today? He's okay without nursing. He's happy. He's not asking for it. So why not today?

So, that's it. We didn't nurse. That simple.

But I didn't plan for this. I didn't know that yesterday morning would be the last time ever. I didn't burn it in my mind, the memory. And as I'm laying in the bath, that's why I'm crying. Because of all the memories, because of the things I'm afraid I'll forget, the things I've already forgotten, the everyday little things, the kind of things you don't take pictures or video of, the kind of things that fade.

The way I kissed his forehead while he nursed, the way he pulled away. The way I'd touch his baby soft hair. The way he sometimes smiled at me when he let out a little toot. The way his hands gently patted my chest. Or sometimes not so gently. The way he yanked at my bra strap or touched my face or pulled my hair. The way he wiggled and kicked his legs as if he had somewhere important to go. The way he would tug and demand nursing, or the way he'd make this charming little squinty eyed face, as if he could charm it out of me. 

In the early days I felt like a milk machine, as if I had no life of my own other than to feed him. Those weren't easy times. He seemed never to be satisfied. It seemed to take so much effort - I was concerned about schedules and latching and infections and drinking enough water and was he getting enough milk. It was all so stressful. But then after awhile it was so natural. And I hardly thought about it at all. No different than breathing. As if he was a part of me, and I a part of him.  
So many hours spent of my life.  So many ordinary memories. So much tenderness that will pass and morph and change with time. It was all going to happen anyway. Whether today or tomorrow or next week or next year. I decided. I knew we could both handle it. I knew it was time.

But it's hitting me harder - the emotion of it all - than I expected. I feel like that fall-apart-girl that I so often felt like while I was pregnant - crying at the drop of a hat, everything larger than life. I'll make it through of course, but pardon me while I turn into a puddle.
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