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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Best Laid Plans

Here we are at the start of another weekend and I just have to say…we got a big weekend planned.  PLANNED I say and we all know what life likes to do with plans.

Nonetheless we make them.  I planned on taking the kids to an Arbor Day fun day at the park in the Woodlands.  A trip to the library, and I need to clean and prepare my garden for the tomatoes, peppers, and peas I want to plant.  I can direct-sow watermelon right now too apparently.  But first I need to weed it, till it, lay some fertilizer and prepare the rows.  Not a quick 30 mins of work ahead of me.  The red ants have probably totally taken over.  

Bill gets to mow the lawn but maybe now that I’m not pregnant I can take the ride-on for a whirl. 

Anyway, there is something invigorating about working outside in the garden, a hold over from when I was a kid and loved to make mud pies.  I know it’s a common kind of magic but I do feel like a wizard when I plant these tiny seeds and weeks later green things grow, then actual fruit and vegetables that we can eat.  It.  Is.  Amazing.

A quick yoga class for me on Sunday and banishing Bill to the study to work on our taxes.  

Those WERE the plans.  Ellie woke up from her nap with a worse cough than when she went down so I have a feeling all our plans this weekend will need to be tweaked.

Yesterday Ben was in super-fussy baby mode and fed every two hours on the dot all day.  If he wasn’t eating or being held he was fussing.  At one point Ellie turned to me while he was crying and said…’Are you going to feed Ben now?’  because even at 2 years old she realized that was the ONLY TIME HE WASN’T CRYING!  Poor kid.  Both kids.  I bought Ellie some headphones so she can put them on and listen to her shows on her Kindle when Ben cries.  

Except she won’t wear them…well she will but she won’t plug them in!  I love that kid but she’s downright weird.    

Speaking of, Ellie starts her new ‘school’ next week.  We’re going from two hours Mondays and Wednesdays to 5 hours.  I’m going to be honest, I’m terrified.  I’m scared I’m going to scar her for life, that she’ll hate me for leaving her, and/or that she’ll get hurt while I’m not there.  (She’ll probably fall down from time to time).  Maybe someone will be mean to her!  (Some kid IS going to be mean to her…).

Deep down I know none of these things, even if they happen, will scar her for life.  I’m not even sure they’d be bad things.  I mean, they are, but, it’s in sorrow that my own character has solidified.  The back of my bone hardened through sadness.  It doesn’t make me a miserable person, it’s made me more compassionate.  Empathetic.  More human.

I know my job isn’t to protect her from all bad things ever.  But, I can’t help wanting to try!  At least for a little longer?  

The problem is, part of protecting her from bad things is to give her some space away from me.  She needs to learn the world is full of wonderful people who will care for her, too.  And I’m going to be in a better mood if I can get some rest now and then.  

I mean, when was the last time I was able to do more than just take care of her needs and be playful with her?  Just sit down and build something with her out of blocks, or have a picnic?  

Between taking care of Ben, cleaning and cooking there hasn’t been much time for fun with her.

I’m hoping this new school will help us both.  She gets to play and have fun and meet new friends and I get to do the housework and errands while she’s gone so when she’s here, I can focus on the whole reason for having kids…playtime!!

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  Eleanor Roosevelt.  (Ellie's namesake!)
















Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump’s In, Screaming Vortexes of Germs

Trump.  He makes me want to take a long hot shower…for my SOUL.  His speech was indicative of his mindset - dark and rife with pointless, token phrases.  It was angry and also totally empty of any real meaning.

For example, he says he has a government for the people, but they’re stacked with nominee’s like Rex Tillerson, probably the richest guy this side of the earth.  A billionaire administration.  FOR the people?  What kind of people?  I’ve got more in common with their house keepers.  (Sorry Rex, and thanks for the full time employment and everything..)  Gulp.  Ahem.

Having said that, I’m glad it was, as they say, a ‘peaceful transfer of power’.  It’s important to respect the process, even if we don’t respect the result.  Or the winner of that process…anyway, hurray Democracy.

I digress.  On the upside it has inspired me, oddly enough, to finally get moving on my citizenship papers.  I want to make sure I can vote AGAINST him in four years.  I better get moving on the paperwork before he dismantles the immigration department.  Or builds a wall around it, whatever.

So what’s going on in my little world today?  Ben got his shots yesterday, and I finally feel free enough to take him out in public.  Self imposed isolation is over!  I can go back to the mall!  (I never go to the mall).  I can go to concerts!  (Well maybe not with Ben).  I can finally lower my ‘worry over contagious diseases that could kill him’ down to 3 from a 9.  Hooray!  I’ve turned a corner!

Ben has his first birthday party to attend this Sunday in Houston.  The first time I’ve felt comfortable exposing him to those screaming vortexes of germs, toddlers.  Wish us luck!

We’re also going to a friend’s house tonight, the first time I’ve ventured out to anyplace I didn’t HAVE to go in 8 weeks.  

It’s a big weekend for everyone.

I can feel the garden pulling at my frontal lobe.  (Plan me!  Order my seeds!  Weed me!  Plant me!)  Come PLAY, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?!?  My pre-Ben life is finally starting to coalesce around me again, including and accommodating our newest family member.  Who is, luckily enough, a pretty chill little guy.

Also, can birds get blood poisoning?  I’m back to feeding the birds (mostly squirrels) but the feeder is pretty rusty.  Am I just doing more harm than good here?  

Really lastly, I hope everyone has a good week, and wish us luck for the next four years…

In the immortal words of our outgoing President...

The future rewards those who press on. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. I don't have time to complain. I'm going to press on.  Barack Obama.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Rejected Co-Sleeping Article

Recently I put together a blog for A Fine Parent magazine, who rejected it about 12 hours after I submitted it leading me to believe they probably read the title and flunked it out.  Or maybe just my name.  (Who's that?  She sucks!)

There’s a lot of controversy around co-sleeping, I get it.  What I don’t get is why people won’t even talk about it!  

Too afraid of the backlash I suppose?  Well, I am not afraid!  Mostly because no one reads this but my mom and dad, but also because I know for me at least, it’s the right thing to do, no matter what anyone else tries to lay on me.

So I’m a little bitter about losing out on that hot $50 paycheck I could have gotten if they’d published it..I’ll survive.  And for your perusal and enjoyment, here is the abbreviated version of the rejected article.  Don’t feel bad for him, he’ll find something better I’m sure…

Top Three Reasons Why I’m a Co-Sleep Advocate:

1) It reduces the risk of SIDS.  

Co-sleeping reduces SIDS by as much as 50%. (*AAP).  Let’s define co-sleeping shall we?  It can mean on the same sleeping surface (bed-sharing) or beside you in a bassinet or crib, basically it means sharing a room.

2) It’s Biological.  

It’s the way we evolved.  Do you think Caveman Mom had tiny tike in ‘her own cave-hole?’  Um, no.  They all slept together in the big lice-infested hay bed because there were tigers outside.  And wolves.  And they only had the one bear-skin blanket.  It’s how we evolved.  Together.  

Ah, happier, simpler times.  Times when moms didn’t shame other moms for co-sleeping.  I’m sure they shamed them for other things.  “You don’t put baby on back ALL day while gathering?  Bad cave-man Mom…”

3) He was A PART OF MY BODY just days ago.  

And now not only am I supposed to cleave him away from my warm, loving skin and touch but I’m supposed to banish him to a darkened room and shut the door?  

Um…no.  

We evolved to be in constant contact with our babies.  Primates are geared to give birth to completely dependent offspring with extended childhoods and the pay off is….ba ba baaaaaaa….our BIG BRAINS.  Score one for mother-nature.

OUR MILK SAYS SO:

Even our milk is geared to keep them close – low fat, low protein, high carbohydrate.  Feed and leave species are the opposite – high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate so they can feed…and leave for extended periods.  Ah to feed and leave for extended periods…wait, where was I?

Oh, yeah.  Safety.

HOW TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE WHILE CO-SLEEPING OR BED-SHARING:

1) Lay baby on his back (wherever he is)

2) Don’t drink and sleep with an infant.  (Duh)

3) Don’t take pain killers or medication that makes you drowsy and unresponsive and sleep with an infant.  (Double Duh)

4) Be a non-smoker.  (Especially important to have been a non-smoker during pregnancy and gestation.)

5) Be a breast-feeding mom (Really.  Formula feeding makes them sleep longer and deeper because formula takes longer for their tummies to digest).  Otherwise a crib or bassinet or side-bassinet is best.

6) Tie your hair back.  (Yes this has unfortunately happened).

7) Sleep on a firm surface (Of course)

8) Get rid of the comfy but puffy duvet (A small price to pay)

9) Dress baby lightly – body heat will keep him warm (Got it)

10)  Get rid of extra pillows (Do we need seven!?)

11)  Don’t ever co-sleep in a reclining chair on a couch where infant could fall between the crevice.  (Ok!)

12) Keep the bed a VIP space - Mom and dad and baby only until around nine months.

I co-slept with my now three year old until she was 3 months.  Co-sleeping meaning she was in her crib in our room.  She was a premie (4 pounds at birth!) so I felt safer with her beside me and not on the same sleeping surface.  At three months, bowing to pressure from my husband (And EVERYONE ELSE around me) we moved her to her own room.  

Against my better judgment and against my instincts and to this day if I had the chance I would have stuck to my guns and kept her crib in our room.  (Well not my LITERAL guns.  You know what I mean).

Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, these two just seem to go together.  It feels beautiful and natural and exactly the way it should be.  I’m not going to let some judgy Mcjudges a lot make me ignore my MILLIONS OF YEARS OF MOM-INSTINCTS.  Well, not again, anyway.

Am I worried he’s going to be spoiled?  In a word….no.  Under no circumstances do I believe a child can be ‘spoiled’ by closeness.  Spoiled by affection and attention and care?  By touch and responsiveness?  No.  If we had more moms listening to their inner cave-mom we’d have a safer, happier, and a more emotionally resilient population.

Lastly, am I worried my husband and I will lose the sparkle in our sex life?  No.  Do we need to get more creative about when and where?  Sure.  What’s more fun than that?  

Besides, anyone with a new born can agree that at least for a little while, SLEEP is the new sex, the new chocolate, the new EVERYTHING.  

In short, following the guidelines above, I am (safely) and happily meeting the needs both of baby AND my own biological imperatives.  Ie, SLEEP.  

I can’t say what’s right for everyone.  I suppose that’s why we don’t legislate these kinds of things. 

I want to raise healthy, empathetic, confident, loving children who will enrich the world around them no matter what they grow up to be.  To be honest, co-sleeping or not, nursing or formula, as long as that’s the end goal I think we can all get there no matter what path we take.  

Maybe we’d all feel better about our choices, our hard and very personal choices, if we all just stepped away from the judging spirit and embraced each other – supported each other as if this was the hardest job on earth.  Because it is.



*Kellymom.com (Co-sleeping and Bed-sharing)  http://kellymom.com/parenting/nighttime/cosleeping/

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Six Things I've Learned About Babies

What I’ve learned or remembered this month:

1) Babies sleep for the first month.  Then cry for the next two.

2) There are people who aren’t bothered by babies crying.  I.  Am.  Not.  One.  Of.  Them.  For the first time in my life I've asked myself....do I need Valium to survive this!?

3) They don’t sleep at night for the first month.  Then they tease you with 2-3 hours of sleep at a time and for some reason this MAKES YOU MORE TIRED.  For some reason having 5 hours of sleep a night is way harder than having like…2.  This is a scientific fact.

4) Almost every question that's asked me is met with 'Aggggnhhhh!?'.  I do believe large tracts of my brain have disappeared.  Hopefully not forever, like the rain forests.  

5) People who say ‘cherish’ these times obviously DO NOT REMEMBER THESE TIMES.  You come cherish the baby while I sleep, ok?

6) Having two kids IS indeed harder than having one.  Not DOUBLE hard, but harder.  At least right now we can each take a kid.  What about those parents who are outnumbered?  Who takes care of the third kid!?  The math mystifies me.  So do parents of more than two kids.

Actuuallllly….that’s not entirely true.  I can completely see when these two are at a manageable stage, in four or five years, that I’d want a third kid.  Really.  But I’m not carrying this one.  Maybe we can adopt?  Search church doorsteps for bassinets?  

I digress.  In four or five years we’ll be like a hundred.  No kid wants to have a grammie for a mom.

ANYWAY…to sum up…the little bugger is pretty cute.  And Ellie is SO SWEET.  She doesn’t have a jealous bone in her body.  She is nothing but completely, unfailingly adorable even though right now he’s taking most of the time that used to be ALL ABOUT HER.

How did I get so lucky?

If you believe in Karma, I must have like, saved a bus full of nuns or something in a previous life.  Those goofy nuns, always getting into trouble.  

Anywho…from one tired mom to the world…thanks again to everyone for all their help, dropping off food and visiting, all the emails and texts and phone calls to check in on me and my wavering sanity.  It is all much appreciated, even if all I can say or text in return is ‘aggggnhhhh….’

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year New You - a few quick ways to make 2017 the best year ever

Happy New Year!

Like many people I often get philosophical this time of year.  What have I accomplished?  What do I want to leave behind in 2016 and what do I want to bring with me and encourage more of in  2017?  What do I WANT in 2017?  Where do I want to be?  Do?  Become?

As a stay at home mom I’ve brought Ellie through potty training this year.  Success!  I’ve had baby number 2 - success!  I’ve gained 35 pounds this pregnancy and so far I’ve lost 17 pounds of it.  Wheeeee.  Seven of which was baby and at least 3 pounds were…other things  like placenta, extra liquid and pride.  You know, all those things you lose right away when you’re strapped to a gurney with your knees open to the wide world and someone is sewing your uterus back together.  Ah the miracle and magic of child birth.

So what do I want to leave behind in 2016?  I’d like to be more grateful, less complain-y.  I’d like to leave behind the ‘victim’ mentality that says I can’t change my own life in order to make me more happy and fulfilled.  I’d like to bring forward into 2017 more good humor, more light-heartedness.  

More yoga.  More meditation.  More focus and attention to what I really need to thrive as a full and complete human being.  I’d like to have a more spiritual focus to this year.  I’d like more connectedness and mindfulness.  There are things I enjoy doing that make me feel wonderful, more myself, and like maybe real magic actually exists.  

Those things are: 

!) Challenging my body and mind on the yoga mat.  
2) Being creative - whether that’s planning what my garden will look like or writing a poem.

I love doing these things and how often do I do them?  I’ve gone to about 4 yoga classes in the last 6 months.  Ditto being creative.  The blog is about the only writing I’ve done lately and the garden looks like a ghost town.  Some of this was pregnancy and recovering from the birth but not all of it.  I don’t think I’m the only one who does this.  We have these few things that really make us feel ALIVE and instead of doing them we watch TV, or do the dishes, or waste time trying to make other people feel happy and leaving ourselves drained and empty.

This year I really want to connect in a true way to the humans around me I love.  Like sitting down to play with Ellie and really focusing on what she’s saying.  Ben is only 7 weeks old so just locking eyes at this point is amazing.  (He SEES ME!  Look!  He’s looking at me!  I’m your mama!!  Ahhh this is so cool!)  Like stopping to really SEE Bill and thank him for all his help cooking meals and washing dishes while I nursed round the clock the last two months.

In 2017 I pledge to let myself go to a yoga class once a week, or at least 3 times a month.  When the urge to write hits, I pledge to put down the dirty dish, or the third smutty romance I’ve read that week, and WRITE.  Even if I know it’s not going anywhere and won’t make me money.  I pledge to allow myself to write, to practice yoga, to meditate, to connect, for the sheer JOY of it.

I want to be a real, real person this year.  I want to make real connections to the people in my life.  
Lastly, for the last few years I’ve been wondering what to do with myself ‘when I grow up’ - when the kids are both three or four and they’re better off in an environment with other kids their age than home with me and I can return to work.  (This is based on a couple studies I read but mostly instinct at least with my own kids).  

I was in a full time day care at age 2 and from what I remember I loved it.  So, no judgement to those who can’t stay at home either because of finances or because on-my-gosh you would have pulled your own eyebrow hair out ONE by ONE if you had to change ONE more diaper or listen to ONE more tantrum about watching the Frozen movie FOR THE 14TH DAY IN A ROW!!!  (Ah..not that I can relate…ha ha.  Ahem.)

Anyhoo - this year I pledge to finally discern what I really want to do, even if that means I won’t make much money and even if people think I’m crazy for doing it.  And I pledge to take concrete steps to attaining that goal whether it’s saving money to go back to school or volunteering to do jobs in careers I may be interested in, to gain experience.

So that’s my take on the new year.  Hopefully I’ve set some worthwhile and realistic goals, and I’ve inspired you to do the same.

New Year's Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change. Sarah Ban Breathnach