Monday, May 28, 2012

Joined at the Heart

The other day I was surprised to see how long my toenails were, as I just cut them.  Not five minutes later I was chagrined to find my hands dry and in need of lotion.  Odd, I thought,  I just put lotion on my hands.
Then I realized that in fact it was Callah's toenails that had been clipped, and you guessed it, Callah's hands were given lotion.  God knows the last time I groomed myself.  After giving birth and breast feeding for any length of time the line between my body and my baby's starts to blur.  A newborn child has demands on you that are unlike any deadline or expectation ever before.  And people, my toenails are paying the price.
For my, ugh, 32nd birthday that is around the corner I have requested a guilt-free afternoon (mostly spent with my wonderful family, but an hour to myself and a man with a pumis stone and some red nailpolish).  I think we'll all be happier for it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Puppy Love

When Callah was first born, Zadora, our lab mix was very interested.  She licked and licked her little bald head and tried to think of ways to occupy the same space as the baby.  Now that Callah has turned into a little human being with fingers that grasp and legs that kick, there's nothing that clears the dog out of the room faster than a Callah cry.

Z lives on a comfy bed in front of the fireplace and when Callah and I return home from the babysitters in the afternoon, I swear I hear the dog sigh as she scoots upstairs and under our bed.

This afternoon I watch, bemused, as Callah attempts in her awkward motion stage to catch the dog.  Callah can pretty much only roll, and she sets her sights on the black fur, and rolls.  She is so intent in her purpose that she doesn't notice that Zadora has taken her toys and moved.  Not deterred Callah  will recalibrate her GPS and set off, occasionally taking a break from this exhausting work by laying face down on her blanket.

I see Callah dangerously close to becoming more efficient in her mobility, and I just hope Z can find some new hiding places.

*Why the puppy and newborn pictures you ask?  Well, who can stay mad at a rambunctious puppy or a willful baby when you have these memories?  I mean look at Z her ears are as big as her body.  She (was) so cute!  And Callah, well, need I really say anything.  The girl is adorable.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Living Large in a Small House

I've lived in some bizarre places; a tiny bedroom carved out of a kitchen in Fort Greene in Brooklyn, a condo in constant renovation in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a bright blue dining room cum bedroom in central England.  So believe me when I tell you I have a sense of adventure when it comes to living arrangements.

Here are a few thoughts on successful living in a cozy house.

1.) Use adjectives like cozy when describing your home.
2.) If at all possible love the people you live with.
3.) If #2 is not possible invest in a good pair of noise cancelling headphones, even if you do love the people you live with these might come in handy if you have a colicky baby.
4.) Marry an architect (or hire a good contractor).  Make the most out of every space.  Build out your closets, hang shelves everywhere, invest in furniture that double as storage.
5.) Chose furniture wisely.  Keep the size of your room in mind.  My husband is a little crazy, I think this a lot, but I do not regret laying newspaper on the floor to map out the sofa, we ended up with the perfect size.
6.) Bins and baskets.  My husband doesn't love the look, so most of them are tucked away in closets.  But I keep sane by bins and those fabulous hanging closet organizers from Ikea.
7.) Enjoy it.  I love hearing my husband work in the dining room when I'm nursing Callah to sleep each night.
All that said,
8.) Dream about the day you will move into a bigger home.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Parenting Tip #1: Buy an Air Mattress

In the summer intervening 7th and 8th grade we moved from Erie, PA to Boise, ID. We spent a summer living in an apartment waiting for our new home to be move-in ready, and in this apartment we had both a swimming pool and cable television. I swam in the days and spent my rebellious tween evenings building an elaborate house model out of paper and watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

It is this memory that I think of every morning as I strip the comforter off the air mattress and push it against the wall. You see, MTM had a murphy bed in her apartment and put the bed away each day. This intrigued me in my youth as did everything about Mary Tyler Moore (her hair flip, her snazzy outfits, her sassy fearless attitude). Why didn't she have a bedroom? Where did she keep her extra sheets? Her pillows? Her off-season wraps and scarves?

On an oddly related issues, Nick and I took a stand about three weeks ago and began working on getting Callah to sleep through the night in her crib. There were many many tears (and Callah cried some too), but now she sleeps in her crib all night. Which is great, only her crib is in our room, because we only have the one bedroom, so that leaves us the air mattress and the living room.

Callah needs to rely on herself to fall asleep and we need the space and time to have a conversation without Callah in between us. So we have a large master suite with a gorgeous hand-made (by Nick) bed that lies empty, a crib with a sleeping baby, and an air mattress, which leaves me twirling and tossing my hat in the air.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dope-lessly Optimistic

So besides my actual job (teaching), and those other jobs (child rearing, laundry, mopping, cooking, etc), my big calling is cheerleader. Sadly not the kind of cheerleader that gets to use pom poms, though. I wish.

When someone says it looks like rain, I say, "but yesterday the sun was shining."

When my husband says "I'm tired." I say, "but you have your health."

When my students say "I can't." I say, "yes you can."

When my husband laments that we can't have a fancy new car. I say, "but look at everything we do have. Count your blessings. Now, count them. Seriously. Let me hear them."

I am an eternal optimist. For seven months I thought every night would be the night that Callah slept all night in her crib. I always think I'll run into someone I know and love at the coffee shop (and a lot of times I do, I'm talking to you Heidi). Every walk I take my dog on, I firmly believe she wouldn't dream of eating poop (not after the talk we had last time).

But I'm working on it. I realize sometimes when you make a complaint you just want someone to say, "I'm sorry." Sometimes it IS going to rain, and oh well. And every time we walk my dog eats poop.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Calm at the End of the Day

The moments as she kicks and squirms her way to sleep are my favorite of each day. She nurses and I watch her fingers falter around the pages of my book or grasp my pen, her eyelids flutter open and close, her chubby legs cross and uncross kicking furiously. Slowly her body relaxes into even breaths, her arms and legs fall still. Some nights I read, write, or more often fall asleep-content and calm holding Callah in my arms.

I know there won't always be such days. Soon she will no longer need me to pacify her to sleep and I will probably feel relief and pride as I do at each accomplishment (phew- she made it here, just like she should). But, I will also miss it desperately just as I oddly miss her infancy days-- we sat on the couch for 20 hours a day, how did I not appreciate that more?

Until the inevitable happens and she turns another corner in her development, I sit and watch in awe, as always, of her life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog

Over the years I’ve started and promptly quit about half a dozen blogs. Just as I breezed through hair colors, boyfriends, and jobs in my teens and early 20s, the allure of a blog has more than once pulled me in so far as I’ve picked out colors, layouts and fonts, but for some reason (time? energy? passion?) I’ve left the blog at the alter, our relationship unconsummated.

It wasn’t until I spent a half hour perusing my Facebook page, smiling over pictures of my daughter as a newborn and posts between family and friends, that it occurred to me I needed to blog- not for myself, not for the edification of the world, but simply to secure my family memories. To put pictures, words, and video in one secure place for grandma to check in and my daughter to look at when she’s older is, to me, brilliant. So here goes.

I blog.

Really, how could I not document the lives of this little family?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Breastfeeding: A Love Story

I recently read Drew Barrymore quoting Bill Gates that every minute is an opportunity to do something. No one feels better about checking things off their to-do list than me, but sometimes doing nothing is not so bad. That’s one of the reasons why I love breastfeeding. Whether you’re gazing into your child’s eyes, reading a magazine or watching TV; it’s an opportunity to do nothing.

And of course, I realize that the act is not “nothing.” It’s life giving, it’s bonding, it’s health, but it’s also a chance to sit. And for that and all the other reasons, I love it.

How did I chance upon the Gates quote? I was reading InStyle while breastfeeding, a guilty pleasure that parlays into nothing helpful, but makes me believe that I have the time, energy, money, and genetics to look like the pages of the magazine.

As a working mom, every minute is eaten up by, well working. Home is work, job is work, relationships are work and being a mommy is a lot of work. I am relatively new to the world of working motherhood. I’ve been back to my job for about two months, and thanks to a supportive husband, understanding boss, and great colleagues the transition was not too bad.

That’s not to say that I don’t tear up when I’m sitting in a supply closet pumping over my lunch break, thinking how much I’d rather be actually breastfeeding my daughter. But even that is an opportunity. In lieu of purchasing a specially equipped multitasking pumping bra, I embrace my 20 minutes of zen. I focus on my breathing, I tell myself all is good, and I think about my baby (and quite frequently dinner and lesson planning). And sometimes I check my facebook page on my phone. No one is perfect!

Breastfeeding, besides sucking my body back into shape, gives me the OK to take a break from that to-do list and relax with my little one, knowing this time together is limited. Soon she will be eating cereal, mushed up prunes and before I know it a sandwich. I cherish this time we have as mommy and baby.
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