Poke Me

My mother has been bugging me to try acupuncture. She has a lovely acupuncturist down the street from her house, and she has found the practice and the treatment both beneficial and relaxing. She offered to gift me acupuncture at Christmas. It was a kind offer, but the office she frequents is a 20-minute drive from my house, and frankly, if I have two or three free hours, I’d rather take a nap.

But a few weeks ago I went to a sandwich shop down the street from my office and noticed that an acupuncture practice was right next door. A quick peek at the website confirmed it was convenient (open every day!) and inexpensive (sliding scale pay-what-you-want!) so I decided to give it a try.

Recline!

I did have some trouble with the new patient paperwork. On the “Reason for Your Visit” line I wanted to write, “I have a full-time job, three small children and I really need a nap. Twelve needles and $15 is a small amount to pay!” but that wouldn’t fit (and I didn’t want to sound crazy), so I just wrote “Health Maintenance.”

The office receptionist, Norm, was a soft-spoken man sitting with a crocheted orange, yellow and green afghan on his lap. The practice owner looked exactly like Louis C.K., which was excellent and weird all at the same time. A rush of white noise met me when I walked into the big, dimly lit treatment room of 20 blanket-covered recliners. About five of the recliners held peacefully napping patrons. A brief consult, chair choice, pulse check, tap tap tap of 11 needles and away I went to slumberland. Only I didn’t.

My brain:

Am I tired? I don’t feel tired. But this chair is comfortable.

That needle in my hand still stings a little. I think. Does it sting a little? I don’t know. He said to make purposeful eye contact if it hurt. Does it hurt?

I’ll give it a minute.

I wonder how many white noise machines he has.

Probably eight. Sounds like eight.

Shouldn’t I be drowsy by now?

My head itches. 

I can’t even remember where he put the needles.

I’m hungry.

I should get a tuna sandwich next door after I’m done here.

I think I’ll be here about 20 minutes, but I don’t know exactly how long 20 minutes is and I’m sitting here with needles in me and I can’t check so I might as well relax.

Relax already.

You only have 18 minutes left to nap. So nap already.

I suppose if I can’t nap I can at least meditate. This room is dark and warm and cozy and apparently I forgot all about that needle in my hand.

Or did I?

Right. Back to the meditation.

Each thought is a maple leaf floating down a bubbling woodland brook. Look a leaf! And another leaf and…

I think I’ll put pickles on my sandwich.

Dammit.

A leaf, I’m thinking about floating leaves.

I should have eaten lunch before my appointment.

Hear the bubbling brook, let the thoughts flow away from me. Like leaves in a brook. Goodbye thoughts.

It must be 78 degrees in here. That’s a nice warm, nappy temperature.

My head still itches.

How long have I been here?

Am I actually paying to nap in a room full of strangers? I guess I am. Except I’m not napping.

I’m going to write about this.

But I should probably be sleeping, not writing blog posts in my head and pretending to nap.

Leaves. I’m thinking about leaves.

fall-folliage-tree-leaves

Mr. Louis C.K. Acupuncture must have to fold 150 blankets a day. 

At least they’re squares.

Alright, the leaf thing clearly isn’t happening.

Has it been enough time? Is it time to make purposeful eye contact?

Did someone just shuffle by me? I think they did. Oh God, was I mouth-breathing? I might have been mouth-breathing.

Oh well. They don’t know me.

Maybe I’ll get a salad for lunch. Is my head ever going to stop itching?

I wonder how much money this place makes.

Do you think he bought the recliners off of craigslist? Maybe he did. I should count the recliners. There are probably 20.

I’ll half-open my eyes and count the ones on the other side of the room.

11.

I should be sleeping. I’ve probably been here about 10 minutes, but I really have no idea.

It is pretty cozy though.

And it is peaceful.

And it is better than eating a sad desk lunch.

I’m definitely going to get tuna. I haven’t had tuna in eons.

Is it time? It must be time. My head still itches. Why does my head itch? If I get lice from these fleecy blankets I’m going to be annoyed. Okay. Time for purposeful eye contact I think.

I’ll open my eyes slowly, pretend to look rested, get the needles removed and go get a tuna fish sandwich.

Does anyone say “tuna fish” anymore? Is that redundant? Does that make me sound 80? I used the word “hamburg” – as in ground beef, not the city – the other week and my sister asked me when I turned 75 years old. Is “tuna fish” like that?

Oh, I was going to open my eyes.

And like that it was over. Purposeful eye contact was made, Louis C.K. Acupuncturist pulled out the needles, told me to take my time and stretch, and laid a comforting hand on my ankle.

And I felt?

Fine. Hungry. Pretty relaxed, actually. The crick in my neck felt better; at least I think it felt better.

So I decided I’m going to go back. Once a week. For a nap, or not. The cozy stillness is good for me, and I bet the acupuncture is, too.

But I’ll remember to eat lunch first.

Health maintenance, indeed!

Questions and Answers

Pickle is 4.5 years old.  I’ve already fielded some tough questions.  Why is the sun hot? Why are grandmas called grandmas?  Did they have to cut you to get the baby in your tummy? Why do we have seasons?  But today’s question was the hardest.

Pickle was sitting in the rear row of the minivan, gazing out the window.  The heat was cranked up, since the thermometer read “12” and Frozen was playing loudly (per Plum’s request, of course).

“Why do people die?”  he asked.

“WHAT?!” I yelled.  It was hard to hear his soft voice over the heater vents and Idina Menzel.

“WHY DO PEOPLE DIE?”  he yelled back.

I paused.  I turned down the radio, and the heat.

“Are you worrying about that?” He nodded.  “Pickle, all living things die.  I know that sounds scary, but it is just the way the world works.”

“Even cars?”

“Well, cars aren’t alive, but cars break and stop, and their parts wear out.  Just like our parts can wear out or stop. Remember how I told you about Grandpa Harvey?  How his heart broke, and they couldn’t fix it? How they couldn’t make it better?”  He nodded again.

I looked in my rearview mirror.  He was thinking.

I wanted to be honest.  I wanted him to know about the bad things, the bad people, the sadness, but I want him to love this life, to live fully and freely and to be happy despite those things.  I wanted him to know that maybe there is a heaven, that maybe there isn’t.  I wanted him to know that there are things I don’t know.  Though at 4 years old, I’m sure he is comforted by the fact that I probably know everything. Because moms and dads do.

His brow furrowed.  “Will it hurt?” he asked, lip trembling.

“Will it hurt when you die?”  He nodded.  “Pickle, I don’t know.  I don’t know what it is like to die.  I know that sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it doesn’t.  But I do know that you have a very long time to live before that.  Maybe even a hundred years.”  I hoped with all of my heart that I was telling him the truth.

I wasn’t sure, after the very normal morning we’d had, why these thoughts were running through his head.

I wanted to comfort him.  I am the fixer, after all.  I am the mom.  According to Pickle, I am even “a little bit magic.”  I can tell him when he’s going to throw up.  I know when he has thwacked his sister, even if he has denied it.  I know where his misplaced toys are, the t-shirt he wants to wear.  I know things.  I’m the mom. It’s what we do.

“Pickle, I wish I had better answers for you.  I wish I knew why we died, or if it will hurt.  But I don’t know.  All I know is that you have a lot of things left to do.  You’ll play basketball, you’ll learn to drive. You can grow up big and tall like Dad, you can get married and have your own babies if you want.  Do you think you might want to do that?”

He paused, took a breath, and caught my eye in the rearview mirror.  “Yeah,” he said nodding, mind made up, “I think I want to do that.”

 

Pickle

Admissions of a Tired Mom – Part Four

1. I rearranged the living room while the rest of my family was napping. Bad: I am way too old to do this alone. Good: my son thinks I might be directly related to Superman.

2. The other night, after a particularly hectic evening, I settled down for a decadent dinner of crackers, triple cream brie and a perfectly ripe pear. And my beverage pairing? Cherry Juicy Juice. For real. Who the hell have I become?!

cherry-juicy-juice

3. I’m pretty much over bacon, and I just can’t get on board with the weird trend of putting mustaches on everything. Baby onesies with mustaches on them? Why? Am I missing something? I must(ache) be missing something.

Carter's Mustache Print Bodysuit

Carter’s Mustache Print Bodysuit

4. When Pistachio was born, we removed a big-kid car seat and replaced it with his baby carrier seat. The big-kid car seat went into the garage with plans to put it back into service when Pistachio got big enough. Well, he got big enough. So I cleaned the seat cover and went to clean the rest of it when I noticed that an animal – who had probably discovered a yummy little food stash of goldfish and other crumbs – had chewed up the foam seat and the straps. Yuck.

On a related note: I received lovely and thoughtful Christmas gifts, but my favorite was probably the gift certificate to get the minivan interior detailed.

5. Sometimes, I have to look hard and think for a second before I can identify whose baby picture it is. And I have already forgotten what time each child was born. In my defense, I do know the general times of their births (Pickle was early morning, Plum was evening and Pistachio was midday). Just more evidence that I pushed out a bit of my brain each time I pushed out a baby.

Question Mark Clock from CafePress

Question Mark Clock from CafePress

Onward and upward! Stay warm and be happy!

2014 – A Recap

2014 – A Recap

Babies birthed – 1
Uninterrupted nights of sleep – 3 (dear God, can that be right?!)
Trips to the ER – 3
Boxes of mac & cheese prepared – 50 +/-
Diapers changed – ??? (math too complicated)
Children potty-trained – 1

Of course, there is a lot of good stuff that happened in 2014 that can’t be quantified: giggles, moments watching sleeping babies, personal and professional successes, hard work, quiet times, growth.

And there’s some not-as-good stuff to remember, too: tears, weariness, worry, frustration, sadness.

“No resolutions beyond the ones I make every morning: to be kinder and calmer and less demanding of happiness. To listen better. To be curious. To show my love for the person lying next to me. To be grateful for every messy second of this glorious life.” – Armistead Maupin

That about sums it up for me. I’m not much of a resolver (see my 2012 resolutions where I resolved not to eat monkfish liver or get a face tattoo, or my 2011 resolutions where I resolve to use up bath products). It’s pretty clear that I like to set the bar low. But I am a reflector, and the New Year, in its cold, dark stillness, seems to be a good time for that, winter ice like a mirror.

I can do better.
I can be less grumpy.
I can strive to feel less harried.
I can work towards letting go of things that create a sort of self-inflicted overwhelmedness.
I can accept help.
I can strive for more patience.
I can work on tenderness.
I can try to save my kindest words for those I love most and for myself.
I can embrace stillness when I find it.
I can try to emulate my small children’s wonder.
I can learn to give without compromising myself.
I can strive to have a generous heart and spirit.
I can read more books.

I can also avoid monkfish liver and face tattoos for at least another year.

Wishing you all peace, grace and love, now and always.

-ST

Happy New Year

Things I Love Thursdays

I’m not sure how, but somehow along the way this regular feature changed from things I LIKE to things I LOVE.  I probably should have stuck with “like,” since I’m a Yankee and we don’t like to over-emote in public.

I’ve been Christmas shopping (duh) and of course have found some lovely fun things that I want to buy for myself.  Maybe I’ll get a few things, wrap them up and put them under the tree.  That’ll confuse ‘em!

An Outing for Foxes by Natalie Groves (available at www.minted.com) I’m always drawn to whimsical depictions of anthropomorphised animals. I know that is weird. It may be the result of a childhood full of Beatrix Potter, Frog and Toad and Tasha Tudor, but I’m not sure.  

Look! Foxes riding a bicycle built for two!

Look! Foxes wearing clothes and riding a bicycle built for two!

 

Lorann Oils Lip Balm Making Kit.  My inner 12-year-old is totally pumped about this kit. And even though my 36-year-old self doesn’t wear much lip balm, I still think this is totally cool.  I found this kit (and the photo) at Williams-Sonoma.  You can buy it for more (but why would you?) at Staples and for less at LorAnn Oils and Flavors

Crafty, useful AND scented? Yes, please!

Crafty, useful AND scented? Yes, please!

Emily McDowell‘s, clever, cheeky stuff.  I’m not sure why I don’t own a bunch of her stuff already! (All photos are from emilymcdowell.com.)

Typically, I'm pretty chipper in the morning.  But 2 of my 3 children are VERY early risers so this mug hits home. Photo is from emilymcdowell.com, click on it to be linked there.

Typically, I’m pretty chipper in the morning. But 2 of my 3 children are VERY early risers so this mug hits home. 

As long as my husband and I don't text each other from opposite sides of the bed, we're normal, right??

As long as my husband and I don’t text each other from opposite sides of the bed, we’re normal, right??

I'm probably not cheeky enough to carry this tote, but it cracks me up.

I’m probably not cheeky enough to carry this tote, but it cracks me up.

 

As always, no affiliate links here.  I just think this stuff is great. 

The REAL Holiday Card 2014

I think some year we should all skip the professional photos, color-coordinated holiday outfits and kids with combed hair and we should put photos of our real lives on our holiday cards.  Last year, my card looked like this:

REAL Holiday Card 2013

REAL Holiday Card 2013

 

This year, we actually gave in and had professional photos taken.  Since I’m usually the photographer (and a mediocre one at best) I was thrilled to have some photos I’m actually IN.  We ended up with some good shots.  But my very favorite photo? No one is looking at the camera, my belly is hanging over my jeans, and my husband is being attacked by our cute 2-year-old.  But it kind of sums things up.  That’s my life.  Things don’t go quite according to plan and stuff is a little chaotic, but we’re in it together, we help each other out, and can laugh about all of it.

So without further ado, I reveal The Real Tartlet Christmas Card 2014:

Card design is "Winsome Holly" by Tiny Prints

Card design is “Winsome Holly” by Tiny Prints

“Christmas Day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp.
Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we.”

- How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Pistachio, this is your life.

Pistachio, my dearest third, has been a lovely child since birth. He is easy-going, interested, happy to be held, happy to be put down, and he slept through the night earlier than my first two (FTW!).

He has also been kind of… well, funny since early on (can babies be funny? Because he is.) He likes to play the straight man in our family farce. He is the character in the play that mugs to the audience. I recognized it when he was only a few months old. I’d be snapping photos of the chaos, and there he would be, looking at the camera with a face that says, “Is this really my life?”

He inherited my expressive eyebrows.

He inherited my expressive eyebrows.

I went looking through my Shutterfly folders for examples of the glances he throws at the camera, at his siblings and at me. I found far too many to post here, but here are a few of my favorites. I especially like that he is still and questioning in the photos with his blurry siblings, as if to say, “What in the world have you gotten me into?”

“Mom, the kid just turned 4, do you really think this is safe?”

 

“This is neither entertaining, nor fun.”

 

“This one just kicked me under the covers!”

 

“Why are we doing this again?”

 

“Half of my DNA is this guy’s?!”

Pistachio, yes, sorry, this is your life.  Love you little buddy. Thanks for making me laugh. And the sleeping thing – thanks for that, too.