Friday, April 22, 2011

Creating the Life I Want

I love my life, but it needs simplification. There's so much "stuff" going on. I wish there were an Independent Director of Simplification I could hire to help me get hold of everything.

Wild/random thoughts aside, how am I going to start living the life I want to live? I know, I know. It's going to mean rolling up my sleeves and just doing it. It's that right sleeve that always seems to give me trouble...

So let me see. To get what I want I should think about what it is I'm looking for. What do I really want?

More celebrations.
Celebrations at my house. I've never been one to coordinate get-togethers or holiday meals. I forget they're coming up (eh-hem... Easter? Oh, it's this weekend? Oh.) and then it's too late for me to gather my supplies and thoughts to do what I want (there were some lovely ideas at Lusa's Clean blog this month. I so aspire to create baskets like those!) And I don't want to do just the typical American major holiday celebrations, either. I want to have a family tradition for days like today (Earth Day), spring equinox, and summer solstice and the like. Things with "earthy" roots and which had traditionally been celebrated in the past by peoples long ago. Celebrations would include food, family, crafts (with heart. with purpose), and probably music. I miss music.

Create more art.
I was paging through a local magazine yesterday and read an article about a fiber artist here in Madison. A new mother. And her work was beautiful. Inspiring. I need to something myself. It's been far too long since I've been able to let my creativity really flow. It's the old story:  I'm so busy... :p (Also, as far as music goes, I don't have a piano. And I really wish I did. Not a keyboard, a piano. I turned down a free one a few years ago because I couldn't move it to my apartment. Now I wish I'd just hired professional movers! Hindsight.)

Read more books.
Books of quality. This was a new year's resolution of mine in 2010 and overall I'm pleased with my direction (my book club has helped!). But I still need more. Work that will challenge me, and inspire my own writing. More classics. More modern poets. Less Facebook.

More home cooking.
My handsome husband has been on cooking duty for this past year and has done a fabulous job, day in and day out. But I feel like I'm missing something, not cooking much myself. And my cookbook blogging self-challenge is suffering too! I want to feel that satisfaction of finding the perfect local ingredient at the farmer's market. I want to rediscover long-lost recipes hidden in fifty year old tomes. I want to relish a meal I made with my own hands and heart.

I want to get to know my neighbors.
We're feet away from each other, for goodness' sake. I know many of their names, but we don't really say anything to each other. And that family down the street, the one with the three little girls?  They play the fiddle on their porch, burn wood in their furnace, and grow a big vegetable garden--how fun do they seem?! I want us to be friends!

I want to try something new every day.
A new type of stitch. A new food. A new route home. A new vocab word. Something.

Is this my second trimester energy kicking in? Am I nesting? Am I freaking? I don't know. But I do know I don't want to fall into complacency. I don't want to drown in sameness. I don't want to lose myself in the rat race. And these are my thoughts.

Any personal experience with The Simple Life? Advice for me and my family? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pregnancy Pics, Weeks 23 and 25

I haven't been very diligent about taking a weekly photo. (I'd dreams of making a cute week-by-week video, ending with baby in arms. Clearly, I'm too lazy and it's not gonna happen.) But I have a few pics here so I might as well share 'em, speckled mirror and all.

Week 23

Week 23 is when the books say the baby's middle ear is beginning to harden, lanugo covers the baby's body, and everything is starting to look proportionate. 

And yesterday, Week 25

This week in fetal development blood vessels are forming in the baby's lungs, and his/her nose is beginning to be unplugged. The books are beginning to warn the mama about hemorrhoids and an itchy belly (ah, the good stuff is on its way!). 

I do think my belly has started to grow a lot these past few weeks. Apparently between weeks 23 and 26 the baby doubles in size (from one lbs to two)---that's a big change! I'm feeling good, though getting a little more tired. And back-achy. More aches than I remember from last time, in fact. But I'm older this pregnancy (an aged 34) so perhaps that's to be expected. ;-)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to be a Good Post-partum Hostess

There's been a buzz about There Are No Ordinary Moment's recent post about how to be a thoughtful visitor to a new mother. And I really enjoyed Dou-la-la's take on the advice given. But I know that not every post partum visitor who should read those posts will (or, even if they do, they won't necessarily take the advice), so keeping that in mind and thinking of my sister who just had a baby girl last week, I thought I might write a bit about what a new parent might want to know about being a hostess in those first weeks after birthing a little one. Essentially, how to be a self-advocate post partum. Here are my thoughts:

Make your bathrobe your new visitors-are-coming uniform. I'd also say don't bother with your hair or makeup, and embrace those first few weeks of post partum life in pajamas or sweats, but even if you're someone who just doesn't feel right w/out her hair done and her 'real' clothes on, at the very least toss that bathrobe over whatever it is you're wearing. Why? Because it reminds people that you've just had a baby. That you're tired, sleep deprived, trying to nurse, trying to rest, trying to heal, possibly overwhelmed, and that you are busy resting and caring for your baby, not throwing together an improptu luncheon. 

I think it's very common, with a new baby in the room, for all the focus to go on the little one. But hey, the new mama needs some consideration too! Especially since it can be rather jarring, going from being the center of attention while pregnant to suddenly feeling left out in the cold while visitors circle around and coo at the baby. Keeping your robe on might help jog visitor's memories and remind them that that, Oh, hey, this women just pushed out this baby and deserves some attention herself.

This one is for those mother's working on establishing a new nursing relationship: Be topless. Yes, wear your robe, but skip the shirt underneath if you want. Hold that baby skin to skin, let them suckle throughout the visit, and, again, try and relax. Will this make your Uncle Ralph uncomfortable? Perhaps. But the relations 'll get used to it soon enough (breastfeeding should never be embarassing---it's totally normal! Our societal view on feeding infants is so skewed. Time to take it back!) and it'll make for shorter visits of unhelpul visitors in the meantime.

In tandem with the tip above: Don't feel obliged to let anyone else hold the baby. Now, that might sound extreme. But sometimes, especially when you're still trying to establish a nursing relationship, having someone else hold and comfort your fussing infant when you know you could be comfort-nursing your baby is very frustrating to a new mama. Let visitors look, let them talk about the baby's eyes and fingers and adorable little feet, but don't feel like they must be allowed a turn at holding your baby if you're working on nursing/bonding. Might they feel let down? Sure. But be firm and honest. Tell your visitor that as soon as you've got your nursing relationship well established they'll be ever so welcome to hold the little peanut all they want. And then relax. This is your baby. There will be plenty of time in the next few months for others to hold him/her. Enjoy this new relationship.
Alternatively, you might need a quick break from all the baby-wrangling. If so, when you hand the baby to your visitor, Use that time to do something you'd wanted to do but couldn't with a babe in hand. Don't feel like you have to entertain your visitors--they're holding your sweetie pie, they're in heaven. Instead, tell them you're grateful for the extra pair of arms, and then take a quick shower, go upstairs and paint your toes, or make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a moment of alone time. 
If your guest asks whether they can help , say yes. Then figure out something they can do. Each guest who offers can do one small thing, and all added together it can make a big difference. Ask them to wash/slice some apples and carrots for your afternoon snack. Maybe they will attempt to brush your toddler's hair for you. Let them know there's a load of whites in the basket upstairs that are ready to be carried down to the washing machine. If there's a load of towels to be folded, point it out and ask them to pitch in. Don't feel guilty---this is not a normal visit to your house where you're expected cater to them, this is a post partum visit. They should cater to you. Your guests, if they offer to help, really mean it. Let them help you. 

And those are my initial ideas. After my c-section, I hardly crept from my bed those first few weeks, and was eternally grateful for all the help my parents, inlaws, sister, and friends provided. They were very understanding about my need to hold my daughter (we had such trouble, breastfeeding) and I may feel differently (more negatively) about my recovery from surgery if I hadn't had their support. This next time I hope to avoid the OR all together, but I'm still planning on have a low-key, quiet post partum period. And I know they'll support me again as I need. It's my wish that every woman could be so lucky!
Tell me what you think of my ideas. Are they something that would work for you? Do you have other thoughts? I'd love to hear 'em.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Morning Meditations

I'm sitting down to my newest rediscovered-from-childhood favorite beverage: a steaming hot cup of milk and molasses. Not quite the same as a cup of coffee, but definitely better for me whilst pregnant, and somehow much more satisfying than any cup of coffee could ever be (I'm a poser coffee drinker anyway, who drinks the bean juice more for the sugary creamer than the coffee itself. Mmmmm, creamer).

Skeptical? Try it yourself and just taste the delicious, iron- and calcium-rich goodness:

  • Microwave a cold mug of milk for about a minute (in my oven it takes a minute, 23 seconds). 
  • Add one to two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses (might want to start with the lesser amount if molasses is new to you. My daughter and I love it, but I hear it's shockingly strong to some new initiates). 
  • Stir. 
  • Enjoy. 

As you're sipping from this morning's drink of choice, click on over to The Marketing Mama and read Saturday's guest post, written by my friend Carmen. Absolutely inspiring, and a great way to start your day--to be reminded of the small things we so often take for granted that are really part of this big, amazingly blessed thing we call our lives. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

April is National Poetry Month

What shall we do about poor little Tigger?
If he never eats nothing he'll never get bigger.
He doesn't like honey and haycorns and thistles
Because of the taste and because of the bristles.
And all the good things which an animal likes
Have the wrong sort of swallow or too many spikes.

"He's quite big enough anyhow," said Piglet.
"He isn't really very big."
"Well, he seems so." 

Pooh was thoughtful when he heard this, and then he murmured to himself: 

But whatever his weight in pounds, shillings, and ounces,
He always seems bigger because of his bounces.

"And that's the whole poem," he said. "Do you like it, Piglet?"
"All except the shillings," said Piglet. "I don't think they ought to be there."
"They wanted to come in after the pounds," explained Pooh, "so I let them. It is the best way to write poetry, letting things come."
"Oh, I didn't know," said Piglet.

~from The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

Happy Poetry Month!

How am I celebrating? I've decided to join-in on the fun over at  Poetic Asides and write a poem a day this month (thank you, Lauren, for reminding me of the challenge!). I've decided it's just the ticket for the creative funk I've been in---a daily prompt to spur ideas and I need only share my top 5 once the month is finished (with no actual requirement that I share anything. But the idea is to share your top five and be considered for recognition.)

Writing a poem-a-day just not your thing? You can still celebrate national poetry month! Check out and their list of 30 Ways to Celebrate.

May the poetry be with you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What a Sorry Little Post

So I'm sitting here during my lunch break, eating a bean burrito (protein!), drinking water (replentish those fluids!), reading blogs (maybe yours!), catching-up on Facebook (thank you, social media, for sucking so much of my time in an interesting and potentially totally useless way!), and thinking about what to blog about.

It should be easy to come up with something. I'm nearly 23 weeks pregnant. I have a 2 year old. I have 2 dogs and 5 cats. I have a house with a yard. I have a kitchen. I've read some books lately. I've been knitting. I've been making lists of what I want to do before the baby is born, and what I want to do after the baby is born. I've started excersizing (kind of). ::sigh:: I cannot spell exercize w/out spell-check. (Exersice? No, don't even tell me.) It's April but it's snowing.

Yup, a full life. But I don't have any pictures to share (since I'm on my work computer) and cannot think of a single thing to blog about picture-less. One of those days. So instead you get this. Sorry, folks.

(Maybe my brain blood is all in my uterus?)

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