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Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
Revelation: Christmas is best with no company!
Revelation: I’m a homebody.
Revelation: I generally don’t like people staying with us…especially over Christmas.
If you didn’t notice, I totally checked out. Why? Because I was having the most enjoyable time with Phil, Emmett and Fia. I just decided to disappear. Poof.
This year I wasn’t pregnant, we didn’t have a newborn, we weren’t traveling, and we didn’t invite anyone to visit. And guess what? It was, hands-down, the most enjoyable Christmas to date. It may even trump our Christmas adventure pre-kids to Mali, West Africa in 2007.
Yes, the extreme adventure-travel girl, people-person and people-pleaser in me just took a massive break. It was our first “staycation” and I gotta say, it was amazing.
Phil and I both realized what it means to have our own family, our own tradition, and to frankly be selfish about it.
It’s not that we don’t love our families, but just having an entire week where each day we’d wake up with the kids and say, “What should we do today?” was simply blissful. To not be mopping and sweeping up after company or planning meals or dealing with drama–that inevitably comes with family–was relaxing beyond belief.
We went on glorious hikes, we took family naps, we went to the beach and the desert. We saw friends. We watched movies. I now understand why the word ”family tradition” was invented. We now have ours.
Em on his new trike. His feet don’t quite reach, but he loves it anyway! A good gift to grow into.
Fia’s grandpa made her a beautiful doll bed. Santa brought her favorite friend, Olivia. Between the two gifts, she has been entertaining herself for days. I love to watch.
Olivia needs lots and lots and lots of naps. Even though Fia doesn’t want to take them herself. (BTW–this is the only picture where I think she actually looks like me. Fia, not the pig.)
A-Wayne in a Manger. (get it? The cat? He’s in the manger?)
Christmas dinner, and drinking wine from my friend Kerstin Walz, who launched her own wine label this year, Stark Wine. It is delicious. I sent it out as Xmas presents to those in my life who appreciate good wine.
Having dinner with good friend Jenn Lee. Phil is there too, but he is taking the picture. Obviously. Goal: try not to over-explain in the New Year. Like I just did.
Nothing better on a Christmas day hike than your baby falling asleep on your back. Delicious.
This may be one of my favorite pictures of Fia to date. Notice the rodent hat and the sparkly shoes. Phil graduated from Madison, so naturally he was hoping for a Badgers win in the Rose Bowl. Didn’t happen, but at least he had his best cheerleader with him.
Okay, so below is when things got really adventurous. Mid-week we decided on a whim to go to Death Valley. That blog is coming tomorrow, so check back. Here’s a sneak peek:
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Amargosa hotel, Badgers, christmas, company, Death Valley, doll bed, drama, family tradition, Olivia the Pig, Rose Bowl, santa, Stark Wine, staycation, vacation, visitors, Wisconsin Badgers | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Friday, June 1st, 2012
I’m not talking about her bottle. I’m talking about my Aunt Nancy–known to Fia as Baba Yaga. She came to visit from Louisiana, just outside New Orleans. Fia and I went to her place on the bayou about a year ago and had a blast. It’s when Fia almost killed her bird, Peepers.
Anywho, having her visit us was amazing. She cooked and cleaned, and watched both babies while we slept in for 5 days. Heaven!
In 2007, Aunt Nanc and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro together. This is before I had babies. I don’t know if we all wore her out more than the mountain did, but she never showed it. She was a trooper. I miss her already. So does Fia. Actually, we all do.
At The Compost Pile
Hiking in Griffith Park
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Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
I am seeing a hypnotherapist. I found him on Yelp. Really.
I know how “LA” I sound, but I must say; this guy–Peter Bedard– is extraordinary. I decided to go this route versus traditional therapy to help me deal with my obsessions. I figured getting hypnotized would be a quick fix. However, as Peter puts it: it’s not about cleaning up a corner in your room. It’s about cleaning the whole house. Apropos considering I have a major cleaning obsession.
Ever since Emmett was born I have become increasingly uptight about our house. I literally cannot walk past a crumb on the floor without stopping to pick it up. My mind never stops racing about all I have to do. Having our gaggle of guests week, after week, after week, only made matters worse. My anxiety level reached an all time high while my milk supply went low. In short, living in my brain became exhausting.
I went to Peter hoping for a miracle. In him, I found a healer.
While I like to keep a clean house, I knew my obsession was largely about control. He took it a step further by pointing out that our bad behaviors “benefit” us in some way. In my case, the “benefit” was my license to be angry, to be a martyr. I would storm around pissed off that Phil forgot to scoop the cat liter or take out the garbage (I have to do everything myself); I found myself angry at our friends who wanted to come visit (why are they here when I have a newborn? They should at least be getting up in the night); and ultimately angry with myself for not coping better (you suck at this).
I was reeling.
When I explained it all he said, “How’s it working out for you?” I nearly burst into tears. “Not so good,” I replied in misery. We talked at length. He threw out the old adage, “Would you rather be right or happy?” And more importantly: “Would you rather be right…or be a mom? Because your kids are going to f-ck up a lot, and if you are wound this tight, you’re going to have some f-cked up kids.”
Cue the sirens in my head: Time to avert disaster.
Through a series of visualizations, he had me fire my “critical self”–that voice inside that keeps you spinning. Then he had me “rehire” it, but as my personal assistant. After all, it is a part of me. But I was back in charge.
Rather than controlling my environment and the people in it, he told me to visualize governing–graciously. I pictured myself in a white flowing outfit, looking out onto our beautiful garden. My arms are outstretched and my children are playing. It is a picture of happiness. Of serenity. And ultimately, of surrender.
I have had 4 sessions thus far and each time I feel like I’m making great strides. We are now working on “pattern interrupts.” Like at this moment I am wearing a purple rubber band around my wrist. When I start to spin, I snap it–hard–to jolt my brain back. The goal is to keep that personal assistant in his place (I decided it was a man). The breath of fire is another technique. The other day I was playing with Fia when I found my mind racing. I immediately went into the breathing and boom–pattern interrupt. Fia’s giggling at her strange mama didn’t hurt either.
At the end of each session we do about 15 minutes of the hypnosis. It’s really just a deep meditation. If I had to think of it as hypnosis, then the whole time I’d be obsessing and my brain would go like this: “Am I hypnotized yet? I don’t know. How about now? Now? Not sure…” and so on. But a deep meditation I can relax into and absorb his words.
It all comes down to training your brain to stay positive. As an example, I asked him how I could go into something with positive intention if I dread it, like paying bills. Without skipping a beat he said, “Be grateful you have the money.” The next day I sat down with that intention and those old thoughts of– why am I always the one to do this?– stayed away.
It’s a simplistic example, but sometimes that’s what resonates most.
In my September 11th piece I said that parenthood is a privilege. So is life. I only get one. But I gave life to two. I don’t want to waste this time controlling them. Or the crumbs.
Meditation Picture via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
A Rare Moment of Quiet
I got up a few nights ago to pump (Phil does the late night feed). Nothing came out. I was alarmed. I can typically get 5 oz in a matter of minutes. But I knew deep down what was happening. My body was giving me an ultimatum. Slow down or else…
For weeks I’ve been running myself ragged. Actually, ever since before Emmett was born. I’ve been catering to company and overbooking everything from play dates to mom dates.
I woke up today and realized Emmett is almost three months old. He’s my last baby. I want to enjoy him, to soak in and savor his existence.
I’ve been so concerned with Fia not feeling my attention shift and so overwhelmed by the constant stream of guests, that I haven’t been taking proper care of myself–mentally, emotionally, or physically. Or him. I have missed feeds (he is given a bottle if I’m not around) and it doesn’t help that I hate pumping–partially due to my boob wound. It tends to open back up if I’m on the pump too long.
What it comes down to is this: I have basically blown off the most basic needs of my newborn and put everyone else–including myself–ahead of him. I’m not proud.
It’s tricky because on the one hand, you love your friends and family. I want them to meet the babes and I want to spend quality time with them. But let’s face it, even if people are here to “help,” there is a level of “entertaining” involved: cooking meals, cleaning up, showing the sights, etc. I want to be a gracious host. But at what expense? With a new baby, I can barely pull off a routine as it is.
I know a lot of life is running errands, grocery shopping, and yes, having loved ones visit. But when our last round of visitors left, I exhaled for the first time in ages. Company=work. No matter who it is. Inevitably any semblance of a schedule goes out the window.
Tell me I’m not alone in this quandary.
Looking back at the past 6 months, I also realize how exhausted I am from moving our family across the country when hugely pregnant and setting up a life for us in LA– also when hugely pregnant. Then…I had a baby. Yes, a baby! That small, earth-shattering event that rocks your world.
Oh, and it was a C-section, with some recovery involved–but I blew that off too. I was dust-busting my floors two days out of the hospital because I couldn’t take the mess. As a result, I kept bleeding. A friend finally gave me a similar ultimatum that my boobs did: if you don’t stay off your feet, you will not heal. It’s that simple. I finally listened.
Now I’m listening again. And luckily, the body forgives.
For the past two days I have relaxed, meditated and breathed. I have been drinking Mother’s Milk tea constantly. I’ve gotten our feedings back on track and have spent some serene, quiet moments with my sweet son. I have kissed, smelled and nuzzled him like a mama cat.
As I type, he is sleeping next to me. He peeps and coos and smiles as he dreams. He is joy.
Forgive me baby boy. I’m back now. And our “Inn” on Ames Street is CLOSED until further notice.
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anxiety, breastmilk, company, infant, letdown, newborn, nursing, pregnancy, pregnant, stress, supply, toddler, vacancy, visitors | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read, Newborn Care
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Suzy and Jill
Illustration courtesy of Suzy Ultman
My best friend from 9th grade came into town this weekend. She left last night. Whenever I have visitors, everything else, including the small routine I’ve started to establish, goes out the window. It drives me a little crazy, but on the other hand, it’s important for me to connect with my friends. Because Suzy and I are so close, she knows all this and I’m not hurting her feelings. So my blog and bills sat still. We, on the other hand, ran all over town shopping, having playdates, etc.
She’s a graphic designer/illustrator and has a good eye for a lot of things, including clothes. My sad wardrobe consists of sweat pants, old tank tops, and overly worn maternity clothes. Needless to say, I haven’t felt attractive in a long time. The thing is, I hate shopping. Despise it actually. Until I get there and start trying things on. Then, when clothes start to work, and do their magic, I get into it. Sort of.
Suzy dragged me to The Grove here in LA. I didn’t want to spend a whole day away from Emmett, but I did. He survived. As did I. My boobs on the other hand were quite difficult.
As we shopped they got bigger and bigger. So the clothes got smaller and smaller. I had a hand pump with me, but I only wanted to use it once. (More on why in this post here). I over-explained to every clerk why something was too tight. As if they care. At one store I walked out to show Suzy and the dude my jeans. She pointed out that my shirt was hiked up over my bra and my boob was inching out. Somehow things go array in my frantic and frenzied state these days.
“Oh, sorry,” I said, still not pulling my shirt down, as Suzy pointed out later. “I have a baby, so modesty has been thrown out. I don’t care what the world sees. What do you guys think of the jeans?” Luckily he had a 3-year old and understood.
Over lunch we laughed at how, despite 30 years of knowing each other, not much has changed. Except instead of using our mom’s credit cards, we now have to use our own. And instead of putting on makeup in the bathroom, I’m pumping.
At the end of the day I had a new spring/summer wardrobe, mostly things found on sale, as I think the sizes are still a bit transitional, depending on how my body bounces back. I’m sure my boobs will shrink to nearly nothing when breastfeeding is over. Sigh.
We hurried home at 4; I fed Em and fell asleep with him in my arms. Happy, and now, if not attractive, at least getting there.
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boob, boobs, breastfeeding, clothes, company, friends, LA, maternity, newborn, post partum maternity, pumping, shopping, The Grove, visitors | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations