Monday, June 28

Mommy Moritification

I've been reading hilariously crafted stories of things other mommies did "not" do, but really did, for several months now through a link on one of my favorite mommy blogs It Feels Like Chaos. Allison regularly posts her own "Not Me Monday's" through a blog carnival sponsored by MckMama, another great mommy blog!

Until now I've been happy to just read other moms embarrassing and funny "not me" moments.

Until yesterday that is.

A day when I totally missed the boat in the mommy department and did something that I'm not sure I really want to admit I'm only sort of admitting to it by saying it wasn't really me who would do something like this!

Let's start out with this picture. If you were going to take this little girl to church on a given Sunday morning what item of clothing would you say she might still need before she should get into the car to be driven to church and dropped off in a Sunday school class?

Hmmm...something like...SHOES! 

Let's do this the "not me" way...

I was not in such a hurry to get out the door for church yesterday that I would allow my 3 year old to walk out to the car barefoot to expedite the process. I certainly did not tell my husband that I would grab her shoes...and most certainly did not start painstakingly searching the car for them when, about two minutes away from church he said, "Lis, did grab Ava's shoes?" 

I did not say "They have to be here. I KNOW I grabbed them...and feel an increasingly sinking feeling in my stomach." 

I most certainly DID NOT leave my daughter's shoes on the kitchen counter. 

We did not have to borrow size 10 shoes for my size 7 daughter from friends of ours who pulled up next to us in the church parking lot. 

I did not make my daughter clomp around in too big shoes at Sunday school all morning. 

AND! after we picked her up from Sunday school and she was sitting in one of these funny little spaceship looking bubble chairs with a cover that goes up and down, and I knocked on the top to say, "Ava, where are you?" 

I DID NOT look down to find her all crunched up with her dressed squished up above her waist and stare at my husband in disbelief and horror to say, "Scott! Where are her underwear!?" 

Of course it was Scott's question to answer because I would NEVER do something that required an answer to such a question.

He did NOT look at me and say, "Lis, you dressed her." 

I ABSOLUTELY, MOST POSITIVELY am NOT the one that would have, in a rush, thrown a dress to my daughter to put on but forget to tell her she needed to put underwear on as well. 

I would NEVER send my daughter to church without shoes and underwear. NEVER. 

And I certainly would never be left to think, all the way home from church, "Oh my goodness gracious what in the WORLD must the childcare workers been thinking?!" 

Because I would never do anything that would require me to ask that of myself. 

Ahhh. I feel better. What a good mommy I am for NOT being so silly to do all the above things. 

Tuesday, June 22

The Struggling Pajama-Based "Professional"

I'm suffering from a slight case of the 'who am I?' blues today?

I hope you can relate, at least on some level, lest you think I'm just crazy and moody (which I sometimes am left to think just might be the case...but let's just pretend for a minute that that's not really true, that there really is something deeper to talk about here).

The 'who am I?' blues often comes on when, like today, I wake up from a short mid-afternoon nap, stop to look in the mirror and find, looking back at me, a 32-year old lady who has not brushed her hair or teeth, washed her face, or even put her contacts in since she woke up this morning. It hasn't been a terrible day-- the girls have actually been pretty good--it's just that somehow, when you're at home with children that stuff doesn't happen every day.

To complete the picture you must know that my eyebrows need to be plucked so badly that Sarah, one of my closest high-school friends here in Buffalo actually laughed aloud when I pointed it out to her last week. And, beneath the boring black t-shirt and white shorts that I managed to summon out of the mounds of clean and unclean laundry in baskets in my bedroom, I am wearing a nursing bra, yes, again, because it's one of the few bras I have that fits comfortably.

Yes. I stopped nursing eight months ago if you were confused by that last statement.

To top it all off a local publication that I do some casual writing for published an interview with an author that I had interviewed for another publication and was hoping to also write up a short story on for this particular publication. This published article about this author was not by yours truly, but by another writer I do not know.  I mentioned wanting to write the article to the editor last week...I'm not sure where the communication went wrong,  I'm a little peeved about it though. (I hope the editor is not reading this blog! Fortunately he doesn't strike me as the type to spend time reading blogs about stay at home mommy life-- especially as he is not yet married and has no children).

While this incident may seem not very monumental it simply exemplifies the 'who am I?' day I was already having about balancing mommyhood and writing or a career of some sort and how the two fit together...or don't lately, in my case.

My challenge/frustration is this, while I cannot dream of putting my children in daycare, and I do cherish many of the moments I have at home with them, there is a sadness that part of who I am and who I enjoy being feels underdeveloped. I feel like I've spent much of the last few years trying to reconcile this issue-- trying to find a way to write from home while still being able to keep my girls at home. While I have had some successes in this area, it has been incredibly hard...

It is hard because when you are trying to ramp up a writing career you need time to do interviews, research stories, write queries, find publications and then send out the queries. You need to use the momentum from one day to feed into the next and so on.

Sometimes, I work on a project or an idea for the 3 hours my babysitter is over and then I don't have a chance to even look at it again until she comes again a week later. Sometimes, I think I should be more diligent to write in the evenings, but Ava hasn't been going to bed until 10 p.m. and then I'm simply tired. Sometimes, I write down great ideas on slips of paper and then someone shrieks because they have fallen off a chair, or bumped a toe and I leave the slip of paper on the counter only to be swallowed up by eons of other slips of paper and eventually filed in a dark corner or thrown out...

In the case of this particular publication I was unable to move fast enough to put the article together or stay in touch with the editor closely enough to ensure I'd get to publish the article if they were interested. But sometimes, with this publication and others,  I just feel so out of the loop, so under a rock, so down the rabbit hole (to quote an old post!) that I feel unable to write anything well informed anyway...

It's kinda a nutty thing...this wanting to be a professional from your pajamas at home with your children.

Some days I feel like I should just throw in the towel on this whole writing thing for now...stop trying so hard and just focus more on life at home; trying to find better ways to manage meals, and organize our home, and be a better wife and mother. Not because I'm bitter, just because I think life would be more peaceful if I didn't put the "professional" expectations on myself.

But the old me doesn't rest silently long enough for that idea to take root.

Here is the question for I silence the old me and relish in the new me or continue to struggle to find a balance between the two?

How have you other moms navigated this part of your life? Emotionally and literally?

I'd love to hear from some of you!  Just drop a line or two about your own identity crises and shifts! Let me know what you've let go of and what you've hung on to!

P.S. If you want to comment but don't have a gmail account I'm pretty sure you can just click on "comment anonymously", but then write your name after your comment so that I know who you are!!

Thursday, June 17

The Beginning of the End

As I sit here writing this blog entry my newly turned 3-year old is sitting across from me on the couch, eating a bowl of pretzels and watching Curious George.

Here is the problem with this picture...As I sit here writing this blog my newly turned 3-year old is supposed to be NAPPING.

Not so much. Not today. Not at all.

I was hoping to not see this day until, well, maybe about two weeks before kindergarten started...then maybe I'd help her wean off her naps.

But the inevitable is starting to happen. I think this is the third or fourth time in the last 3 weeks when she just didn't sleep. Today we got home from the park, I put Ella to bed and was so tired (I've been staying up WAY to late lately) that my dear husband agreed to put Ava down for her nap since he was working from home.

I heard them read books and chatter a bit and then I was in and out of a nap for the next 45-minutes. When I woke up I still heard her chattering away in her room. Happily. Daddy. Mommy. La, la, la, la, la.

I sat up on the edge of my bed, not wanting to move to quickly for fear of her hearing me and then it got quiet. I listened. All was very quiet. Then, all of a sudden I watched from my room as her door slowly opened and there she stood.

"Hi Mommy!" Huge grin.

"Hi Ava."

"Why are you awake?" she asked.

"I just woke up from a nap. Why are you awake?"

She shrugged her shoulders and smiled. A huge, gap toothed, hard to resist smile.

I just laughed. She laughed, ran towards me, and gave me a hug.

I brought her downstairs and told her I had a bit of work to do, so here we sit.

I'd insist on a nap if I could. The thing is she is 3-- I'm pretty sure this is the age where they start to give up naps naturally (although I personally cannot imagine a day without a nap these days!!), and she did in fact spend a good 45 min. to an hour of relative quiet time in her room and is sitting sweetly right now watching an episode of Curious George. I think that's as good as it gets! She is not the least bit tired or crabby!

So...we'll put her to bed earlier tonight, which will be nice since she hasn't  been falling to sleep until about 10 p.m lately and we'll enjoy a bit more peace in our evening.

I have a feeling she'll still take naps most days for a while. Maybe it was part natural, part the orange Hi-C I let her have against my better judgement when we went out for lunch this afternoon!

But really, is this the face of a tired child?

Sadly, I think not.

She just yelled, "Look at me!" and posed for this delightful picture.

I think that's her way of saying, "Put the computer down mom. It's time to pay some attention to ME!"

Tuesday, June 15

Finally Three and Binky Free

If you ever had the pleasure of meeting little miss Ava at either nap or bedtime you would have discovered that A) she is often hilarious right around the times she is supposed to be going to sleep and B) she has been very, VERY addicted to her binky.

Despite warnings from well intentioned friends and other mothers to get rid of it sooner 3 was always the magic number in my head. If she didn't give it up by her third birthday serious action would have to be taken.

Despite discussions on our behalf about how mommy and daddy and autie Caitlyn don't sleep with binky's and even somewhat jokingly telling her her teeth would fall out or get VERY crooked if she kept using it, she was still hooked. She was going to hold onto that thing as long as she could.

We've actually been weaning her for quite some time now. Since well before her second birthday the binky became ONLY for bedtime and was to be kept under her pillow for safe keeping at all other times.

Then, a while back, I read an article about actually clipping the binky nub down so that the sucking sensation would not really work any longer. I thought that was a GREAT idea.

Didn't really phase Ava.

As a matter of fact months ago we first switched from letting her use her big binky's (see binky on left) to only allowing her to use the 0-6 month binky's that look like this (see binky on right):

Then, I snipped the tops of the smaller binkies.

She had two of these that she was allowed to use.  At first she looked at me kind of funny but then there was this underlying sense of "I know I'm supposed to give this up so if mom is still going to let me have this silly cut binky then I'll take what I can get."

The good thing about this is that I think she was actually subconsciously learning to sleep without the binky, even though she was using it to initially fall asleep. Once she fell into a deep enough sleep these small snipped binky's fell right out of her mouth and she spent the majority of the night sleeping without one.

If you are wondering, yes, the binky fairy did visit. Three times.

The first time was about six months ago. She seemed to be having a fairly happy day and when nap time came I started talking up the binky fairy and how she would leave a present if we mailed her a binky. We put one in an envelope, put an address on it, wrote a note and stuck it in the mail box. Ava was all excited about a visit from the binky fairy until nap time arrived...then she freaked out.

I'll admit to being a softy. And also wanting a nap. She's not three yet anyway, I reassured myself. I have time.

I gave her another binky. (Now that I think about it, I think this is when we switched to the smaller ones).

I was trying to be encouraging so when she woke up I actually told her that the binky fairy had stopped by to take her big binky and left her a note and a present for being such a big girl to send her the binky. She was pretty excited about it all.

Not enough to get rid of her binky that night....back to the drawing board.

Fast forward five months to the middle of May (about three weeks ago). We really talked the whole big girl thing up, said the binky fairy would leave a present if she slept without her binky and she was excited. She actually did nap without her binky. The binky fairy left her the pretty yellow dress in the picture below.

...And we thought we were well on our way to success.

Then she got sick two nights later. She had a fever, she was miserable, she was inconsolable. There was no way she was sleeping without that thing and it seemed cruel to make her.

The binky was back.

We put the dress in the closet and said it was a present from the binky fairy for big girls who don't use binky's and that she could have it back when she stopped using hers.

Well, Ava officially turned 3 last Friday. We were in Massachusetts visiting friends at the time and decided to address the issue when we returned.

Monday night, the night we returned, I snipped the small tip of the binky down so far that it would not stay in her mouth unless she held it there. We first tried no binky cold turkey and she was miserable so I thought I'd offer this new alternative.

"This is the only binky you're allowed to have," I told her, offering her the very small, no nub binky.

She put it in her mouth. It fell out.

"It doesn't stay in my mouth mommy."

"I know honey. What did we talk about will happen if you keep using binky's?"

"My teeth will get crooked."

"That's right. So we can only use this one now."

I felt a little silly and a little sad for her, but knew this is what we needed to do. She took the peace offering of the snipped binky, held it in/near her mouth until she fell asleep (at which point it fell out), but then last night and this afternoon told me she didn't even want it.

"Do you want your binky?" I asked her last night.

I swear she almost laughed aloud at me.

"No," she shook her head with a smile, "It falls out."

"Oh. Ok." I said. End of story.

So, we are officially binky free with Ava.

Sadly, a bad episode of teething has prompted Ella, who hasn't used one since 8 mo. old to take up the habit. She has been so miserable that I half jokingly tried it one day because I didn't know what else to do.

She's hooked.

Oh well. Choose your battles, right? We'll address that one when the time is right! If I've learned one thing about being a parent it is that many things come and go in phases and some of them just are not worth fighting. We need to save our energy for the important things.

Besides, I reason, they're probably going to end up needing braces at some point anyway, why not buy myself some extra peace now.


(This is Ava with her gifts from two binky fairy visits-- first, the yellow dress, second the magnetic ballerina!)

Thursday, June 10

How Much Time Would It Take You to Catch Up On Life?

     I like to entertain this question sometimes...usually, it enters my mind in the form of a random when I was laying on my bed this afternoon wanting to fall asleep because the girls were finally sleeping and none of us slept very well last night...I was so tired, but with a book, three magazines and several unopened pieces of mail sitting next to me I sat wondering when I would have time to read through all of it and then this thought popped into my head,

"If only I had a week to myself. I would be able to get EVERYTHING done." 

My everything would include doing a deep cleaning of the house from top to bottom; windows, baseboards, around the bottom of the toilet-- you know, all the gooky places in the house that often sit unclean. I would straighten and rearrange kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets and all closets, throwing out everything we didn't need any longer. 

I would visit a cool place like the Container Store (maybe I should re-phrase the above to say "a week to myself and hundreds of dollars of extra cash!") and buy containers and organizers for EVERYTHING: barrettes, craft supplies, crayons, cleaning supplies, junk drawer stuff....everything that currently doesn't have a place. 

I would clean out our garage, and then our basement...If I was feeling really motivated I'd put all the junk in one place and organize it for a big ole garage sale at the end of my  miracle week. 

After all the cleaning was done I would organize the three years of photos of the girls that are laying in bags around our house; framing some, albumming others. 

I would re-organize my "office" to really function as a writing space and not just a catch all for all of the miscellaneous papers and coupons and magazines that I have no other place to put. Then I would sit down and start writing. I'd start file folders for book ideas and magazine ideas...maybe I'd even send a query or two to a magazine. 

I would read. read. read. All of the newspaper articles and magazines sitting around that I've wanted to read and then start one or two of the books I have piled up as well. 

All the laundry in the whole house would be washed, dried and put away and since I'd be the only one here I'd wear the SAME clothes ALL week so that there was no more laundry to do! 

I would clean out my fridge...grime and all. 

I would clean out my car...grime and crackers and all.

I would go for long runs and sip wine in the evening. Then I would catch up on the 5+ hours of DVR'd stuff that has been recording over the past month. 


Doesn't that sound incredible?

What would you do? I'd love to hear!!

Wednesday, June 9

Mummy Tummy and the Official "Don't Ask Me if I'm Pregnant" Club

Ella will be 16 months old tomorrow, I just finished a half marathon and am down almost 2 pant sizes in the last couple of months and a very oblivious old man STILL asked me if I was pregnant at a wedding this past weekend!

"ARE YOU SERIOUS OLD MAN?" I wanted to ask. Followed by, "Is that your REAL hair and are those your REAL teeth?" (The only thing I could think of as ignorant as asking a woman who is 16 months post a second pregnancy if she is pregnant!).

I'm really usually quite nice to old men, but don't go THERE...

To my chagrin this is not the first time post baby #2 someone has asked me or implied that I was pregnant, but I thought those conversations had finally come to an end.

Apparently not.

About six weeks after I had Ella I was in the grocery store and the well intentioned cashier asked me if I'd like help carrying out my groceries...

"You should be careful," she said patting her belly and smiling at me.

I just smiled back. "No thanks. I'm used to carrying around my toddler all day."

I left it at that.

The second time I was in a step aerobics class 8 weeks post-partum, wearing t-shirts that shouldn't have been snug around my belly but were and feeling that naive sense of slimness that follows post-partum when you're not really skinny, but you feel SO much skinnier than you were and so you start pulling out pre-pregnancy clothes and squeezing into them.

I stopped after class to ask the instructor a question.

"When are you due?," she asked.

"Oh! Me? Oh, I just had the weeks ago..." It was a slight lie to help appease embarrassment on both of our behalves.

There were one or two more occasions afterwards in which moments were slightly awkward and I could tell someone thought I might be pregnant, but in which we just breezed over the details to avoid further awkwardness.

And then those awkward moments seemed to stop for moths. I laugh as I write that because I'm now realizing they stopped throughout the winter, when sweaters and coats and big t-shirts camouflaged my belly.

Now that we are returning to the days of skirts and shorts, dresses and t-shirts and have put away our jackets that were so nice to hide behind the reminder has evidently come plunging back to me that my tummy does not at ALL look like it used to. It has taken on a form as wild and chaotic as my children some days.

I remember, prior to having Ava, being at a baby shower and sitting with a group of women in their early 40's who were all recanting similar stories of woe in which strangers had mistaken their bulge for babies.

I remember thinking, "Oh man. That stinks. I hope that never happens to me."

I can now join that table.

Well, enough of the woe and onto my plan.

I've decided it's time to take action over my belly and see what I can do. I've heard good things about this book Mummy Tummy, and told Scott I would like it for my birthday later this month. Besides extra weight around my belly area my abs have officially split, a condition that is formally titled rectus diastasis and can sometimes happen after pregnancy (especially when you are 5'1 and appear to be carrying triplets during your pregnancies!) and apparently crunches actually make things worse-- so I need some more condition specific suggestions.

 I'm also trying to be aware of my eating habits- likely  my biggest issue. Obviously if I was running 20+ miles a week while training for the 1/2 marathon and didn't drop a pound it is not the exercise but the eating that needs to be addressed!!

 Everyone I know would tell you I'm a relatively healthy eater, which is true. I eat lots and LOTS of vegetables and grains and fruits-- I don't eat a ton of junk food etc. BUT I do have a portion problem, especially where things like cheese and carbohydrates are concerned...give me some carbs (a good potato or pasta) covered in cheese and we're in REALLY big trouble.

So, my plan is better portion control (i.e. deliberately planning healthy meals and snacks and not grazing in between), cutting back on evening calories-- like the snacks and glasses of wine I've been indulging in after 9 p.m., and cutting down on carbs (one piece of bread instead of two on a sandwich).

My goal is to lose 15 lbs. by the end of the summer...and to NOT look pregnant any  longer, even to silly old men!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 2

"You Tire Me Out, But I Love You Anyway"

The title of this blog post is a line from one of Ava's favorite picture books, Olivia.

Sara (one of my favorite people!) and her almost 4 year old daughter Emelyn gave it to Ava as a gift. Emelyn is actually one of Ava's favorite people in the whole world-- they were little buddies when we lived back in Massachusetts.

Emelyn and Ava are both very energetic little girls who tire their mommies out, so it was quite fitting when they passed along the book as one of their favorites. For a while it was the ONLY book Ava wanted to read everyday.

If you don't know the story, it's about a little girl pig named Olivia who has LOTS of kid energy and does things like taunt her brother, try all of her clothes on, refuse to take naps and even paint on the wall after being inspired by a museum visit-- she ends up in time-out for this of course (which Ava loves!). At the end of the day she negotiates her mother into reading more than one book at bedtime and then her mother says, "You tire me out, but I love you anyway," to which Olivia retorts, "I love you anyway too."

That pretty much describes my life these days.

Ava and I actual say that to each other regularly. Some days I say,

"Ava, you drive me crazy, but I love you anyway."

She says,

"Mommy, you drive me crazy but I love you anyway too!"

It's all in good fun.

I was thinking of this line when I came home from a brunch earlier today. Quite tired I might add.

One of the girls from my bible study just had a baby (Congrats Katie!!! You're a wonderful momma already!) so one of the other girls hosted a lunch so that we could go over to see the baby and chit chat.

Well...nothing new here, but I'm not sure if I had one solid conversation that included more than two or three lines of dialogue on my part.

I drove home thinking, "My girls make me tired!!!"

I was actually feeling bad for the other ladies because I felt like I had brought these two whirling dervishes to lunch-- they were like little crazy cyclones bouncing me back and forth like a ping pong ball between them.

First Ava wanted to eat inside (the other kids ate outside), then she wanted to come outside, then Ella needed to be strapped into her chair, then the drinks and the food and Ella throwing hotdogs on the ground and flinging her sippy cup onto another little girls tray. I managed to eat a few bites before Ava begged me to come to the swing set with her and I needed to assure her she was o.k. to go alone, then Ella wanted to get down, then Ella was up and down the concrete stairs,at the edge of the deck and then climbing up the ladder to the big kid slide...

...Ava fell off a swing and screamed, then she wanted a freezie pop with the other kids-- until she saw my ice cream cake-- I told her one or the other and she chose cake, but then she finished her cake and started crying because she wanted her freezie pop back (which I refused to give her and promptly threw out)...

...then I left them both on the kitchen floor playing quietly with the cat for two minutes while I talked with the other moms outside and lo and behold I came back in and Ella was eating cat food and it was spilled ALLL over the kitchen floor!

Ahhhhh....I think I feel better having gotten that all out!

I came home and called my husband and told him it was a bad idea to have two girls 20 months apart- that they seem to run circles around other children in the chaos department.

He agreed.

I'm still trying to assess the situation. My conclusions are as follows- let me know what you think!

a. Having a child 1 year and 3 years old is nutty no matter how you cut it.
b. Ava is extra emotional, even for girls her age, which makes her more needy and therefore a bit more challenging
c. Ella is extra energetic and daring and climbs things that some 2 year olds would not even think to climb and therefore a bit more challenging
d. I need to WAY lower my expectations and start to enjoy the ride a little bit a state of acceptance that these years really are good, even though they feel VERY nutty.
e. all of the above

So, despite all the craziness it's been a good day overall.

Scott woke up this morning and said, "Hmmm, I think it's going to be a good day."

And I thought, "Hmmm, I need to say that to myself once in a while."

Truly, how often do you say, "today is going to be a good day."

So, throughout the day, I've been saying it to myself. Because, truly, despite the nuttiness of the girls, there is nothing not making this a good day. I ran some errands this morning, I didn't have to make lunch (thanks Jackie!), I picked up some birthday presents for Ava, am planning to go running later and will start packing for our trip to Massachusetts this weekend.

All in all, it's been a good day!

Hope yours is going well. too.

P.S. It might feel a little silly, but I was actually saying this aloud to myself in the car earlier, "I'm having a good day. I'm having a great day!". Give it a try.  At the very least it makes you smile because it feels a little silly to talk aloud to yourself!