Things I Love Thursdays

And here we are again.

It is February.  And that means it is cold, and dark (but getting lighter!) and I’m in the thick of the most challenging part of my year.  But all is well!  And the kids are (at least for today, and this minute) healthy!  Though there is a constant, unyielding stream of snot at my house.  SO MUCH SNOT.  Ugh.

So here is a mid-winter installment of TILT for you – fun, light and lovely things to offset the seasonal blahs…

 

Tulips! They start arriving at my local grocery store in mid-January.  Ten stems for $4.99!  I buy them every week because they make me happy every time I see them.  I fill a vase with ice and water, trim the stems and pop them in, and they last for 7-8 days without drooping.

tulip-for-hapiness-1559712-1280x960

Milestone Baby Cards from Anthropologie.  I’m sure you’ve seen the stickers or blocks that are used as props in baby photos?  You know, the ones that say “One Month Old,” “Two Months Old,” and so on and so forth?  These are similar.  They are the modern, iPhone era version of a baby book entry.  And they are adorable.  They would have been perfect for Pistachio, my third, who is in a lot of photos, but whose baby book is pretty sad and empty.

Click on the photo to be brought to the Anthropologie page.

Click on the photo to be brought to the Anthropologie page.

The kate spade champagne bottle clutch is ridiculous and impractical, but maybe that’s why I like it? 

Bubble

Heather Ross fabrics designed for Windham Fabrics.  These make me want to sew things.  Or quilt things.  Or make cute smocks, and dresses for my children and friends’ children. Only I don’t actually know how to do any of those things.  Maybe someday!  I just adore the Tiger Lily and Briar Rose collections.   

Briar Rose Collection by Heather Ross

Briar Rose Collection by Heather Ross

 

My favorite from the Tiger Lily Collection.  Ms. Ross was inspired by her childhood summers in Vermont.

My favorite from the Tiger Lily Collection. Ms. Ross was inspired by her childhood summers in Vermont.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all – I hope you get lots of love and chocolate.  And maybe some tulips, too.

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Of Long Labors and Crinkly Whales

Recently, I was asked to offer some words of encouragement and advice to a friend expecting her first child. My first piece of advice? Pay no attention to even the most well-intentioned pieces of advice. With that said, here are a few things I’ve learned on my 3 trips to baby town.

 

  1. Doctors don’t want to scare you, so they don’t tell you exactly how long labor will last. But I will. Labor will last a long time. A few days. Yes, days. I know only two women whose first labors lasted less than 24-hours. Two. (I’m not counting scheduled C-sections.) And when you’re 40 weeks pregnant, anxious to meet your little one, in pain, and don’t know what to expect the whole process will seem excruciatingly long, miserable, and sometimes a bit out-of-control, no matter how well you plan. But you will be okay. You will.

 

  1. Get one of these.
rockn

Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper

 

  1. People with children who are teenagers or older will tell you to enjoy every minute, that it all goes by so fast. Those people are wrong. You won’t enjoy/savor/cherish every minute. In fact, I think it is far more likely that you’ll find a lot about caring for an infant to be tedious, repetitive, messy, exhausting and not-so-fun. BUT, it gets better, and there are lovely, quiet, rewarding, amazing moments.

 

  1. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re doing everything wrong. You aren’t.

 

  1. Forget what the books and registry guides say. Children don’t need much: love, warmth, a food source, and when they get a little older, a toy that makes a crinkly crunchy sound. You have enough and you are enough. Get this whale for the crinkly toy part.
Franky the Hanky Whale by Lamaze

Franky the Hanky Whale by Lamaze

  1. Don’t feel bad about asking for what you need. If someone asks what they can do to help, tell them to bring food and hold the baby for an hour while you shower and nap. Never underestimate the restorative power of a shower and a nap. (In the reverse, if someone is over-staying their welcome, don’t feel bad about asking them to leave.)

 

  1. Bring your own pillow to the hospital. The bed is uncomfortable enough. Don’t add to your misery by sleeping on a pillow encased in rubber.

 

You got this, Mama.

How quickly we forget…

A woman I know – a brand new mom – reached out on Facebook the other day to mention how much her world had been rocked by the arrival of her son.  She mentioned this without a positive or negative spin.  There was no whining or wonder, just a mom noting how much her life had changed and how much hard work parenting a newborn is.

Then came the responses. There were so many women telling her to enjoy her baby! Cherish these moments! Change is good! He is adorable! Welcome to your new normal!  Your life has been changed for the better! It is a love you’ve never known! Welcome to MY world – now you get it! You’ll miss these days when they’re gone!

Blarghggghhlll, these posts gave me reflux.

How do we forget so quickly?

Why does “We’ve done it, so can you.” sound so dismissive rather than supportive?

The subtext of so many of these types of comments seems unkind and unsupportive:

Enjoy your baby! (Stop whining. We’ve all been there.)

Cherish these moments! (Stop whining. Why dwell on the bad stuff?)

Change is good! (Stop whining. What did you expect?)

How do we forget that the newborn “new normal” is occasionally terrifying, always exhausting, and can throw a person completely off kilter, no matter how much they love the little milky, loose-skinned, froggy-legged baby asleep on their chest?

Smiling. And exhausted. June, 2010.

Smiling. And exhausted. June, 2010.

I think my poet friend’s response was best “You are doing it! And you can do it! ❤ ❤ ❤ No subtext.  Just support and love from another new mom who isn’t so far past that newborn world-rocking that she forgets what it is like.

Because it is so hard – it is bigger, more all-encompassing than that even.  And you just do it.  You get through the days, you get through the nights. You have good moments, bad ones, lots of tired ones.  You call in your village if you have one.  Or you call your village if they are far away.  Or you call your doctor.  You accept help, pay for it, ask for it, or struggle through without it.  You do it.  You just do.

June 2010. Pickle, Baby Bear and Me.

June 2010. Pickle, Baby Bear and Me.

I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll try my darnedest not to forget the feelings, the exhaustion, the crazy way the universe shifted completely when Pickle was born.  And I promise my friends that I’ll never demand that they cherish their baby and enjoy every damn moment.  I’ll just love them, remind them of their own strength, hold them up when they need me to and bring dinner when possible.

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!

Do your best with the rest.

There is so much to say, but I am unable to start. Like inhaling to begin my sentence, but pausing, breath held, until I simply exhale, rather than say anything. We are in that space in between, right now. Life in the ellipse, the pause in between, the search for the words. The pause to let the frenetic ticker-tape thoughts slow and drift and settle quietly.

*****

This morning, I thought I’d settle in this evening, carols and PJs on, and write a bit about a lovely suggestion written by a relative, George. George is navigating his new world where a family member’s scary, unexpected health emergency has prompted reflection of the most heartfelt kind. He wrote:

“Please let this experience remind you to hold the people you love (and who love you) close and tight as soon and as often as you can, taking nothing for granted. Appreciate that so much of life is completely beyond our control, and do your best with the rest.”

Appreciate that so much of life is completely beyond our control, and do your best with the rest.

*****

I rocked my Plum to sleep tonight. She was warm, heavy-lidded, and felt so big in my arms, transitioning from infant to little person in inches, pounds, sounds and teeth. My dear little person.

And, yes, I held her a little longer, a little tighter.

And I kissed her sticky cheek, acknowledging my luck, reminded, yet again, again, again, that we are all balancing on the lip of loss.

*****

The crazy man I saw on the corner the other day, the one who was watching his own parade, or bike race, or procession as I considered locking my car doors, someone had rocked him, too. He was somebody’s baby. And someone soothed him, fed him, sung to him. Someone had kissed his sticky cheek, and filled their heart with hopes and wishes just for him.

We are all somebody’s baby. Perhaps we don’t all get everything we need, but I am certain, that to get here, we were all quietly rocked, fed, warmed, our hair smoothed gently at least once. At least once.

All of those little blossoming people who were probably so excited for Santa.

All of those adults, with pasts, presents, futures, people who loved them, people they loved.

And the shooter, too. He was somebody’s baby, too.

We forget that. We forget that we all begin, and are at base, fragile and temporary. But this reminds us like an electric shock, a punch to the ribs. And as we pull those we love closer, tighter, we look for walls to build, or armor to wear. I wish that even in our fear and sadness we would also remember that we are more alike than we are different. That our duty is to each other. Even if life is scary and unfair. Because it is both.

We are all somebody’s baby.

*****

George was right. And it bears repeating: so much of life is completely beyond our control.

But the rest. We get to do our best with the rest. Even when our hearts are breaking, even when our worlds are crumbling, even when we are knocked off our balance on that lip.

Hug your babies a little bit tighter tonight. And by “your babies,” I mean all of us, each of us. Because that is how we do our best with the rest.

Enjoyment for All!

Things my 2.25 year old currently enjoys:

  • Standing in the breezeway and knocking on the door to come inside.  I yell “Who is it?” repeatedly.  He keeps knocking.  This can last 10 minutes.
  • “Hiding.”  To him, this means putting a blanket on his head and yelling, “Mama!” I am required to respond, “Oh no! Where did Pickle go?” for 6 minutes before he takes the blanket off of his head and I act surprised.  Repeat this fourteen times.
  • Offering to share food by tilting his little head to the side, raising his voice an octave and saying something like, “Mama want big bite?”  It is really cute, but I think I’m on to him.  He usually offers things like broccoli, and never offers things like cheese or cookies.
  • Taking off his pants.
  • Pretending I am murdering him when I tell him that unfortunately, he must wear pants outside of the house.
  • Being “right back.”  I’m not sure why he goes, or where, but he indeed comes right back.
  • The “Maybe Song”.  He has inherited his father’s pop music gene, and actually requests Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Kill me now.
  • Yelling at the cat.
  • Pushing his sister around… literally.

Things my 0.5 year old currently enjoys:

  • Food.  Any.  But only if it is eaten with a spoon, or sucked out of one of those mesh things.  She grumbles her enjoyment.  Bottles?  Meh.
  • Bouncing in her Jumperoo (which is strange, because while she is completely capable of bearing weight on her legs, she believes it is not important to do so at any other time).
  • Exploring all her mysterious diaper-covered parts when said diaper is removed.  Kiddos took their first double tubby the other night, and lo and behold, the supposed-to-be-sweet video I have of them splishing and splashing also involves a heavy dose of self-exploration (and my laughter).
  • Drooling.
  • Attempting to understand the strange and occasionally dangerous creature that is her brother.
  • Yelling – not crying, but yelling – like an angry, toothless, little old lady the few minutes before bedtime.
  • Her duck.  A flat little two-sided crunchy toy.  It is all fabric, no stuffing, no bells and whistles and is about 4 inches in diameter.  It is her very best friend in the world.  And it always smells like spit.

Things my 34.5 year old husband currently enjoys:

  • Waging an all-out war with crabgrass.  This includes borrowing, and breaking the neighbor’s rototiller. Oops.
  • Cake.  I suspect that even if I do another one of these lists next year, cake will still be on the list.
  • Pop music.
  • Leaving glassware on every flat surface in our house. (Just put the damn thing in the sink!)
  • Playing with the kids.
  • Asking me when we should have a third.  (AHHH!)
  • Dinner, the rare and elusive dinner!!!  He enjoys this because I never make this.  But I did make him a cake, so I should get a pass for at least a few weeks, right?
  • Buying cars, sight unseen, via the interweb.  Word to the wise: if you are going to do this, don’t forget to ask about weird smells.
  • Wearing things that used to be called shoes, but now have to be called something else, something like “footwear that used to resemble a shoe but now causes you to walk around with half of your foot actually touching the ground”.

Good, Bad and Frackenzap!

Things I am feeling bad about:

  • My thank you note tardiness. They are officially too late.  Booooo.
  • The lack of time spent simply sitting and holding Plum Bee.  I always promise myself that tomorrow I’ll sit, and sing, and rock more, and try to DO less.  Didn’t I post a poem a while back?  About babies not keeping?  I’m going to invent a word that ends with an exclamation point that means “a directive to oneself to take one’s own advice”.  Something like “FRACKENZAP!”
  • My shortness towards my overworked, overtired husband.
  • Breast-feeding, or the lack of breast-feeding. Plum Bee hates my boobs.  Or just prefers the ease of the bottle.  I’m trying to avoid the mommy guilt that follows me around every bend… more on this later.
  • The lack of healthy, hot meals I’ve been eating. (Why don’t I feel like actually eating those freezer meals I worked so hard to make??)
  • My post-baby stomach. Argh.
  • How much I’ve needed to rely on my mother-in-law.  She’s amazing.  And I’ve only made it through these 4 weeks with her help.
Things I am feeling good about:
  • The new arrangement of my living room.  I know they say to sleep when the baby does, but the other day I decided rearranging furniture by myself was more important than sleep.  I don’t regret it.
  • The 2am feeding when we get to cuddle quietly and she goes back to sleep immediately (which certainly helps me to feel good about it).
  • Mr. Pickle Pumpkin.  He is thriving in his new room at daycare.  He is gentle and amazing with his sister.  He is sweaty, silly, growing in all ways; he is my heart.
  • The keeping-track-of-baby app on my new phone.  So helpful.  And addictive. When did I last change a poopy diaper?  1:16 ago!  Because it is extremely important to note these things, and track them obsessively.  (That last sentence should be in the sarcasm font.)
  • The fact that tax season is almost over. So close. So… close…
  • Plum Bee.  She is a growing, bright-eyed, squeaky little girl.  I worry sometimes that I don’t love her enough yet.  Of course, I love her, but I’m still getting to know her.  It is a marvelous discovery, getting to know this new, intense little person. Amazing.
  • My stunner of a niece, born on Sunday.  And being able to support my sister as she embarks on the whole mommyhood adventure.

Note: Please forgive my recent reliance on lists.  I’m tired.  Really tired.  I’ll be back to my typical long-winded style shortly. Lucky you.