November 30, 2009

List of Personal Change (2010 Edition)

Lately things have been challenging. This year, November has pretty much sucker-punched me repeatedly. It's got me thinking about some changes I'd like to make in my life. There are three items on my List of Personal Change:


1) Work towards living an even greener lifestyle.

This has become hugely important to me. As members of our society seem to remain obsessed with buying new things and having so much more than they could possibly need, I am really drawn towards a simpler way of living. While I love my computers and cameras and other assorted fun things, I know that you can have too much "progress." My goal is to get back to nature and to stop depending so much on everyone else to provide me with what I need. I'd like to grow my own food, sew/mend my own clothes, get down to just having one car, and learn how to be more self-sufficient.

Becoming more healthy goes hand in hand with becoming more green, I think. From what I understand, the things that are bad for our bodies are also bad for the world at large, so I'd like to work towards breaking those really unhealthy habits I have (and there are quite a few). I'd love to stop drinking soda/caffeine entirely, for example.

I still have a lot of work to do. I'm definitely one of those people who loves to buy things I don't need. I have my fair share of unhealthy addictions. I'm going to have to learn how not to be such a consumer. That is going to be extremely hard.


2) Stop doubting myself, and start trusting my intuition.

I realized this month that had I trusted my intuition in some past situations, the outcomes of said situations would have been so much different for me. Take, for example, my birth experience. Even before being induced, I knew it was something I didn't want. I really didn't feel that it was the right thing to do, but I gave it to the fear-mongering and let it happen. The result was one of the worst experiences of my life.

My self-doubt is one of the most crippling aspects of my personality. While I will always maintain that a healthy dose of doubt is a good thing, I think mine goes beyond healthy at times. I need to learn when to say, "Hey, this isn't right. I can feel it in my gut." And in order to do that, I think I need to really recognize that ultimately I know what's right for me.

(And in regards to my birth experience, what makes some doctor think that he is the expert when it comes to my body? This angers me. I'm still working through those layers of emotions regarding that experience, and some part of me feels that I always will be.)


3) Develop more discipline.

When I was a kid, it seemed like everything came very easily for me. I got good grades, was an excellent ballet/tap dancer, and wrote these amazing stories. I did all these things (and more) with little effort. It was just easy.

These things don't come so easily for me anymore. Everything takes a lot more work than it used to. I can't write awesome stories at the drop of a hat. I had to really push myself to maintain a good grad school GPA. And while I used to be effortlessly thin, I'm really not anymore. I mean, I guess I would be considered thin, but if I want a different body than the one I currently have, I'm going to have to work for it.

I am convinced that I would be a much better writer, photographer, seamstress, etc. if I just tried harder. If I just stopped being distracted by the millions of things the world has to offer and focused on what I need to accomplish now. If I just stopped talking about it and did it. If I just got out of my own way.

I need to learn how to hold myself accountable. To focus. To be disciplined every day. So that I can get a little closer to reaching my full potential.

***

So those are my goals for 2010. A little early, I guess, but who says that I can't start working on them now? Because in all actuality, these are life goals for life changes that I will probably have to work at for the rest of my life.

What are your goals for yourself? Do you make resolutions for the new year?

***

Happy end of NaBloPoMo! Thanks for sticking with me through this clusterfuck of a month. As for me, it's break time. 30 straight days of writing about myself and my life = insanity.

November 29, 2009

It's quantity, not quality, that counts.

Oh, blah. I'm officially sick with a really! fun! cold! I've been in bed sleeping most of the day. Roy isn't feeling so great, either, so he hasn't been handling Charlie much.

And I haven't held my boy all day. Which saddens me beyond all measure, but if we can avoid getting our kiddo sick in any way, then we should. Right?

This makes me wonder what other parents do when they get sick. Do you avoid contact with your child when you're sick? If there's no avoiding having contact with them, what do you do to minimize the chances of your child getting sick as well?

Anyway, today is the second to last day of NaBloPoMo, and I've written some really crappy posts this month. But at least I've posted every day! After this whole thing is over, I just might take a break from blogging.

November 28, 2009

Progress Report

I'm sufficiently stretched out from the yoga class I went to this morning.

I'm full of tryptophan from eating leftover turkey for lunch.

I'm feeling the Christmas love because we decorated our tree today.

I'm thinking back fondly to my childhood since my friend and I played Super Mario Brothers 3 tonight.

I'm seriously bummed because my Macbook has less than 1 GB of space left on it.

I'm definitely on my way to getting sick, unless I can beat it.

And that's all I've got to say about that.

November 27, 2009

Go Directly to Christmas: Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

My Thanksgiving recap is going to take some time and energy, both of which I'm short on today. So I'm doing the meme below with the hopes that I can win this awesome giveaway.



(Isn't that the coolest bike you've ever seen? I could fit Roy, Charlie, and all three cats in that little bucket seat thing.)

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme
TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.


1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year? A wireless remote for my camera, a tripod, a new printer (ours just broke), an external hard drive, and an iMac. Yeah, there's a lot of wishful thinking going on here.

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received? Probably a quilt that my grandmother made.

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle? I'd love to learn how to make amigurumi.

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child? I loved my Legos, especially my Lego pirate ship.

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year? Mostly toys! I know he'd like some overalls as well.

6. What is your favorite holiday food? Fudge! 'Twill be the death of me.

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays? Our stockings. I'm laughing as I type this, and probably only a few people out there will get it. Because as good as my intentions are, chances are Mandy will end up making them all for us because she's a much more patient person than I am.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie? Love Actually

9. Favorite holiday song? I've always loved "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (not to mention allllll the parodies).

10. Favorite holiday pastime? Decorating the tree and the house. It's so magical, even as an adult.

***

Today I had the opportunity to sit in my car for a few delicious moments and read. I discovered my copy of The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, which has been in my car for years. I opened it up and found a poem I'd marked, and I'm sharing it with you, just because it's beautifully puzzling.


The Snow Man


One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


***

Hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings! I'm so grateful for all of you. See you tomorrow!

November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Morning/November Mourning

Years ago, maybe even as many as ten years ago, a dear friend wrote a poem for me called "Thanksgiving Morning." I still have it, somewhere. The poem had an undercurrent of darkness, as I recall, but its message was one of hope and friendship. I was touched that someone would write something like that for little ol' me. Still am.

So. Today is Thanksgiving.

The month of November carries with it a lot of heaviness. I could go into it, but I won't. For a few years there, November was not so heavy. But then this year, it came back. I don't know why. But there it is, that ol' familiar November heaviness.

It's like they say: November spawned a monster.

So things have been tough and I've been trying to put what it's been like into words but have always failed miserably. Which is okay because sometimes I just need to sit and be with my feelings for awhile.

I called my dad earlier in the week, and our conversation was unsurprisingly brief. I was scared to death to say those three little words to him, but then I remembered that being afraid of something is often a good reason to do it. So I said to my dad, "I love you." And he said it back. And the sharing of those words doesn't make it all better, but I am so thankful this holiday to have the chance to tell him I love him. And to accept those words from him.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for more chances and more time. Because there's never enough of either one.

I'm not going to list all the other things I'm thankful for - because my list this year is remarkably similar to last year's, minus the pregnancy announcement. But I do want to acknowledge that as painful and sorrowful as life can be, every tear and moment of heartbreak is worth it. Because I have these two:





And a wonderfully complicated (but amazing) family. And the best friends I could ever ask for. And three lovely kitties. And a house to live in, a car to drive, books to read, a computer to use, and all those other comforts of living.

But you know what else I am so grateful for?

Myself. As much as I doubt myself, as angry as I get with myself, as strong as my emo tendencies can be, I am still happy to be me and I am proud of all that I have accomplished.

I said I wasn't going to make a list, didn't I?

Oh well.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Enjoy your day with your families, friends, and food. I'll see you back here tomorrow, unless you've decided to brave the Black Friday crowds. And if that's the case, you must be crazy.

November 25, 2009

Cute Things My Kid Does

He pants like a dog when prompted.



He assumes a sprinting position.



He sports a duck tail that's darker than the rest of his hair. (So long, my little redhead!)



He sucks his fingers while wearing a plaid shirt.



He looks out on the world with his striking baby blues.



He lets us know when things aren't working out so well for him.



He crosses his ankles very politely.



He wears a onesie with a worm on it.



He laughs when his daddy does push-ups.



He laughs when his mommy tries really, really hard to make him laugh.



And with each cute thing he does, our hearts split wide open - again and again.

November 24, 2009

Two Post Tuesday

I have three words to describe this video:

Full of win.

Watch it!



You're welcome. (And thanks, Nanette.)

Top Tune #7

I haven't written one of these posts in a long while. I typically wait until I hear a song that jumps out at me and really gets my old brain churning. (Plus, Amber made a suggestion that reminded me of this. Thanks, Amber!) This particular Top Tune is brought to you by life and death, love and loss. I don't think I could ever really put into words what it means to me.

But I will try. So here's the short version.

When Roy and I first started dating, one of the things we did a lot of was watch TV on DVD. One of the shows we watched from beginning to end together was Six Feet Under. It's a heavy show, but it quickly proved itself one of my absolute favorites. For one, it's dark and sad, but I love dark and sad. Two, it's so incredibly funny, and I dig that, too. Three, the show offers some of the best acting and writing I've ever seen. And lastly, and most importantly, the show unapologetically explores what it means to be alive and what it means to face death. I love the gritty reality contained in each episode.

I remember when Roy and I were watching the finale for season three, and I was just bawling my head off, and I remember wondering if Roy was going to think I was a crazy freak for crying so much. (We were still in that stage of our relationship, you see.) But you know, instead of acting like any other guy and being all awkward or telling me how overly emotional I am, Roy just held me while I sobbed over these fictional characters. I think he understood that the show had become more than just entertainment to me, that it had crossed over into something that had deeply affected me, and that I could see myself in so many of the characters. It felt like the whole damn show had been written about me. Roy, in his unassuming way, has always understood me. He was happy to hold my hand as I stared at this family and saw my own within it. (The main character Nate even was afflicted with the same type of brain tumor as my dad!)

That was in 2005, and recently, sometime around the time Jewelyn died, I started rewatching the entire series again. This time around, I laughed more and cried less. But there were tears, let me assure you. Because how can you not cry when you are, once again, confronted head on with a family that so painfully resembles your own, with characters who so wonderfully speak all the words you can't say?

The song that ended the series was the song that became ours, and we danced to it at our wedding for our first dance. The song is inexplicably tied up with my memories of the beginnings of my relationship with Roy, our wedding, my family, my ever-complicated feelings about my parents, my own wishes for Charlie, my fears of death, and finally, my fears of life.

The only thing I can make of it all is that if you can find someone who does what this song says, you are one lucky person. And I have. And so I am.



Breathe Me by Sia

(Not sure what's up with all the Britney footage, but the song is right and I couldn't embed the original "Breathe Me" video. Click here to see the real video.)

Lyrics:

Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
I hurt myself again today
And, the worst part is there's no-one else to blame

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small
and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Ouch

I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
Lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small
and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

November 23, 2009

Reading, Watching, Listening

A current list of what I'm ingesting through my eyes, ears, and mind...

Reading:

Your Best Birth - Yep, at five and a half months post-partum I am already thinking about what I want out of my next birth experience. No, I'm not pregnant. But I'm being led down a path that I never thought I'd venture down before... And it's quite interesting. I love how life surprises me.

Montessori from the Start - I know next to nothing about Montessori, but one thing I do know is that this philosophy is worth investigating.


Watching:

Sunshine Cleaning - Loved it.

The L Word (final season) - You know, I like this show, as unrealistic as it is. It annoys me sometimes, but still I'm kinda hooked. I love me some drama.

Dexter (season three) - This show never disappoints.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (sixth season) - One of my very favorite shows.


Listening:

Putumayo Digital Sampler - Click here to download for free. Yes, free!

Anything here that strikes my fancy, because hello! It's free.

Daytrotter - a great site that offers free music downloads for emerging artists

(I've mentioned Daytrotter before, but seriously check it out! It's so awesome.)

Thanks for all the blogging ideas; I'll try to get to some of them soon. In the meantime, tell me what you're watching, reading, listening.

November 22, 2009

A Dozen Pink Balloons

Yesterday morning, right before I woke up, I dreamt of my high school guidance counselor. We met again for the first time in many, many years, and her face lit up when she saw me. She hugged me so tight that it felt like she was saying goodbye, not like she was saying hello. Charlie, our little alarm clock, woke me up while I was in the midst of that dream, so for most of the morning, I felt lethargic and heavy.

When it came time for Charlie's nap, I put him in his crib. It was our second day of sleep training for naps, and things had not gone well the first day. Things didn't go so well for this nap, either, and each time I went into his room to soothe him, his poor little red face just sent knives into my heart. I ended up in the kitchen slamming things around. I am not a person who normally deals with anger or frustration in this way, but when it came to Charlie's crying, I just wanted to break every dish in the house. We called off the sleep training for naps right then and there. It's one thing to let him cry and have it actually alleviate the situation. It's quite another when the crying doesn't lead to sleep.

By the time I got to my chiropractor appointment, I felt absolutely drained. My chiropractor and I had a discussion about several big, huge, emotional things going on in my life, and I ended up blubbering all over her while she hugged me, just like my guidance counselor had in my dream that morning.

After that, I was seriously ready to buy a container of chocolate ice cream and crawl under the covers and stay there for the rest of the day. But every day deserves a second chance.

I headed out to Claremont for my photo session. I picked up a dozen pink balloons on the way, and they almost instantly brightened my day.



I carried the balloons around with me as I walked around downtown, scouting some good places for photos. Many, many people smiled at and talked to me - all because of the balloons.

I had been really, really worried about this photo shoot. I was doubting my ability to pull it off, but the creative juices were flowin' and I ended up rockin' it. It helps that my friend and her husband had worked with me before; they were very accommodating to my requests.

(My friend is 32 weeks pregant with fraternal twin girls - hence the pink balloons. She looks gorgeous, and I am so, so happy for her.)

We had a great time exploring the downtown area. Then we went into a children's clothing store and it was all over. I ended up buying a lot of stuff, including some furniture for our house. The store is closing down, so they're selling everything.

I'm glad I gave the day a second chance. It ended up being a good one, and I'm pretty sure those pink balloons had a whole lot to do with it.

November 21, 2009

Stuff I'm Diggin'

Four Ways in Which My Life Is Just Like Pac-Man's.

By John Crownover

1. Ever-present wail of sirens
2. Relentlessly pursued by ghosts
3. Four special pills daily keep ghosts at bay
4. Occasionally eat some fruit

***



***

And I'm diggin' the support you guys have given me regarding Charlie's sleep issues. CIO is such a hot-button issue (understandably so). There's a lot of judgment that goes on, and sometimes CIO is considered by others to be similar to abuse or neglect. I guess there's no room for the possibility that people can only live a severely sleep-deprived existence for so long. But anyway, thanks.

***

And that's all I got. I've had no time to really peruse the internetz this week. Maybe you could tell me some good stuff you've found?

November 20, 2009

Consider those words eaten. Tasty, yummy words.

On Wednesday night, the same night I wrote this, which was also the same day that I said we would hold off on sleep training until after Christmas, we had the worst night ever in the history of Charlie. I don't even want to think about it, it was so bad. Charlie slept for a total of about one hour - no exaggerating. He was up constantly almost immediately after being put down for the night.

Roy and I took shifts so we could each try to get some sleep. My shift sucked, but I have no doubt that Roy's did as well. I burst into tears several times and ended up leaving Charlie alone in his crib for quite awhile to cry. (Of course, I checked on him at regular intervals.) I left him alone because even if I was there and holding him, he was crying. I was completely frustrated and sleep-deprived to the point where I was afraid I would get really, really angry.

I am not proud of doing that, not at all. I feel insanely guilty for leaving him there alone to cry, especially after my epiphany the next morning. In the grand scheme of things, though, what I did was necessary for my entire family. Because all of us mothers, fathers, and caretakers are sometimes an instant away from snapping. Especially in the wee hours when your kid is screaming bloody murder and you can do nothing to stop it. It's true.

The next morning, Roy took Charlie for a bit so I could take a nap before he left for the day, and Charlie, having slept so little all night, fell asleep in his bouncy chair in the bathroom while Roy got ready for work. He slept for two hours, and so did I. When I woke up, the house was blissfully silent, and I had no idea what had happened to our little screamer.

It was then while I was lying in bed that I had a great, big, huge epiphany. After talking with a number of people about sleep and reading various theories on sleep habits, I realized something that made me feel even more guilty.

Roy and I were the reason why Charlie was sleeping so badly. In our attempts to always be attentive and help him get to sleep, he had no idea how to fall asleep or stay asleep on his own. And we weren't being consistent at all, because we were always trying new things to make it work for Charlie.

And then I knew what we had to do. I knew we had come to our last resort.

Last night we did our normal nighttime routine, only this time Roy didn't let Charlie guzzle his bottle into oblivion. He put him in his crib drowsy but awake, and the crying began. Roy left the room and closed the door and checked in to verbally reassure Charlie (but not pick him up) after three minutes of crying. He left the room again, and we checked in at five minutes for more verbal reassurance. We made it up to ten minutes, and that was our limit for the evening. We checked in every ten minutes several times.

After an hour of crying (and that was a really, really hard hour), Charlie finally fell asleep. He woke up around 1 AM, and Roy fed him half of the amount of formula he normally gets, set him back down in his crib, and left the room. Charlie did cry again, but he stopped within a minute or so and was asleep again within five minutes. He did not wake up again until 6 AM, and I fed him again, and when I put him back in his crib, there was some minor protesting. But he fell asleep again on his own and woke up again at 8 AM.

He was very happy to see us and didn't seem to be traumatized at all by having to cry for awhile last night. And we were very happy to see him!

And all of us, well rested.

Here are the things that I learned last night:

1) Charlie does not need us to help him sleep. He needs us to get out of his damn way and let him do it on his own.
2) Charlie does not need to be fed twice nightly anymore. He probably doesn't even need to be fed once.
3) Charlie does not need a middle of the night diaper change.
4) Charlie can (and probably will) begin sleeping through the night soon.

Everything makes sense now. I feel more rested than I have in a very long time. I'm very glad that we decided to do this, even though hearing Charlie cry was harder than hard. In the end, I think we'll all be happier.

(I'll be doing this for Charlie's naps from now on. No more stroller or car rides! Today is the first day of teaching Charlie how to nap, and I'm nervous, as I'll be handling it alone.)

November 19, 2009

At the Car Wash

For once I'm not going to discuss Charlie and sleep. Enjoy the break while it lasts.

I got my car washed today and decided to take some photos from inside the car. I couldn't resist, especially since it was one of those old-school car washes that still uses the big brushes.





It was fun.

When I was little, those big brushes used to scare me and thrill me at the same time. I never was sure if the car was moving or if the brushes were. I used to wonder the same thing about the clouds. And I also thought that the moon followed me around when I was in a moving car.

Oh, to be young again. I had an imagination the size of this world.

What fun/weird things did you think when you were a kid? I love hearing these kinds of stories. Tell me, please.

November 18, 2009

Today I didn't take a shower. You jealous?

Charlie's crib adventure last night kind of blew up in our faces. Of course, what did we expect since our child sleeps like crap anyway? We're trying again tonight, and we've got some new tricks up our sleeve.

I had a phone conversation today with my mom about crying it out (CIO). (This topic of conversation comes up all the time no matter who I'm talking with. I'm a little obsessed with sleep right now.) I told her that I'm just not ready to let him cry it out. She said, "What aren't you ready for?" And I said, "Letting him cry."

I don't know how I feel about CIO. On one hand, I think that sleep deprivation for both parents and children is a very real issue. On the other hand, I feel that a lot of people think that babies are trying to be manipulative when they wake up in the middle of the night, and honestly I just don't feel that's the case, especially when they're this young. Charlie woke up at least once an hour last night. Yes, you read that right. Once an hour. But probably more. (It's all so fuzzy now.) I have no idea why he kept waking up, because this is not something new he's been doing, and I could come up with a million possibilities. But what I do know is that when I picked him up, he fell asleep again quickly and easily. Obviously, he needs me. Or he thinks he does. I have a hard time with the concept of not being there when he needs me.

We've decided that CIO will be our last resort. When we are so tired we can barely function and/or when Charlie is so cranky we can't stand him anymore, then perhaps we'll consider letting him CIO. For now, I guess we'll just keep on truckin' and trying new things to get him to stay asleep. I keep hoping that he will just grow out of this. I'm trying to just listen to my intuition here.

Anyway, about the shower thing. I didn't take one today. I meant to, but before I knew it, it was noon, and so I said, "Fuck it." I did, however, get to make a couple of important phone calls, get some mail ready to send out, did some laundry and dishes and some random acts of cleaning. Charlie took an awesome early afternoon nap that ended up being at least two and a half hours long, so I got to close my eyes for a bit. While we keep fighting this sleep demon, at least there are some small battles that we've won.

Meanwhile, our house is a complete disaster, and I'm behind on pretty much everything. My life feels completely chaotic at all times. I have no idea how I'm ever going to finish my Master's degree because my brain feels like it's completely gone. How do people go on to have more children?

November 17, 2009

Lullaby and good night, you're a mother's delight...

Tonight is Charlie's first night in his crib in his room. Alone. All this time he has slept in the same room as us, and last night, he even slept in our bed with us for awhile.

We are only moving him to his crib because we have no other choice. We just realized that he weighs too much to sleep in the bassinet of the pack 'n' play. We talked about moving his crib into our room, but there just isn't enough room. So his crib in his room it is. Sob, seriously. I was near tears during his bath tonight.

I never thought Charlie would stay in the pack 'n' play for long. I figured we'd have him in his crib by the time he was two months old, but moving him never felt right to us. It still doesn't. I'm going to miss him so much. I love having him right near us.

In honor of my little boy getting too damn big too damn fast, I thought I'd share one of my favorite lullabies. It's sung by Jewel (don't hate), and it totally makes me cry.



Damn, this motherhood gig is tough.

November 16, 2009

Wild Thing

This morning I looked at the explosion of chaos that erupted at me from every corner of the house, and I briefly thought about doing something about it. Instead I went "nah" and Charlie and I spent the day out. We went to a sorta local cloth diaper (+ other assorted crunchy items) shop, where I spent a good amount of time oohing and ahhing over their assortment of diapers, baby carriers, wooden toys, organic clothing, and all that other stuff that we crunchy granola mommies love. In the end, I purchased a leopard print fleece diaper cover (for nighttime), some diaper liners, and some chewable pads to put on the Ergo (since Charlie - and apparently every other baby in the world - likes to chew on the straps).

Of course, as anyone who cloth diapers knows, it was very difficult not to buy a ton more cute diapers. But I managed to hold off. I did, however, have a very good conversation with the two employees who were there, and they let me borrow a book on Montessori from their little library. I also discovered that the shop hosts a variety of classes and gatherings for moms and babies, so I know I'll be going back for those as well. It felt good to discover a place that so closely aligns with my own parenting philosophy.

When we got home, I let Charlie try on his new diaper cover. It's huge! But he looks like the most adorable little wild Tarzan baby in it. And he's got plenty of room to grow into it.



Once Roy came home, we all had dinner together. Charlie loves his new highchair.



After dinner, Charlie and I shared quite a few laughs. I got some belly laughs out of him tonight, which is happening more often - and I adore it. Charlie really is such a happy kiddo.

So today was a good day. And lately those have been in short supply for me. So I consider it a victory. A small one, but a victory nonetheless.

November 15, 2009

Our House

A year ago this month we moved into the house we are currently living in. When we moved in, we knew it was going to be Charlie's first home. That automatically made it a special place.

I was just looking over some photos I took when we first moved in, and it seems so long ago that we were living out of boxes. And I can hardly remember a time when Charlie was not a part of our lives. But yet there was a time when it was just the two of us (and the three cats).





All of the above photos were taken in what ended up being Charlie's room, before the great transformation, of course. I don't know, they're nothing special, but I always liked them. I especially like them now, thinking of what all has changed in such a short time.

Tonight I am sitting on the couch just being grateful for my husband and kiddo. I know how lucky I am; here's hoping that knowledge will help keep the emo demons at bay.

(It's only the middle of November, and I'm running out of things to write about. Give me some ideas. Or ask me some questions. Help me meet my NaBloPoMo quota! Thanks in advance.)

November 14, 2009

What's New in Charles Town

I'm in awe of my cleverness with the title of this post.

Carrying on...

I'm really bad at writing down what's new with Charlie. So maybe every once in awhile I'll do a "what's new" post so I can have all the cool stuff he does on record. I know it's not really all that interesting to a lot of people, but since this blog has kind of turned into his baby book, why not?

Lately, Charlie has become very grabby. He likes to get his hands on pretty much anything, which means he is constantly pulling my hair or reaching for my drink. He also loves to stretch out as far as possible when I'm feeding him, which means that sometimes he's almost upside down. It's hilarious.

And speaking of grabbing, this week he reached out and grabbed two of the cats (Mao and Woogas) for the first time. I don't need to tell you how thrilled they were about that.

This morning he discovered his hair. He has taken to rubbing his ear at times (no, he does not have an ear infection), and this morning his hand wandered up to the top of his head. I loved watching him explore his own head.

Another relatively new thing he does is look behind him sometimes when he's being held facing out. He does this a lot in the bathtub when I'm messing with the back of his head. He looks backward at me, leans back into me, and puts his hand on my face. Yes, that is the sound of my heart melting.

And now for some photos. These photos were taken a couple of months ago (right after Charlie turned three months old), but I didn't get the disc until today, so here are a few favorites. I will cherish these photos forever.







Hope you're enjoying your weekends, all. As for me, today Roy and I dropped a decent amount of cash on some much-needed new clothes. Maybe tomorrow I'll share some of my purchases.

November 13, 2009

The Obligatory Baby Products Post

Happy Friday the 13th! I have so much on my mind, but I don't really want to write about it, so today's post will be all about the baby products we haven't been able to live without and those that are a waste of time and money. Everyone and their mom writes a post like this, it seems (if they have children), and I want to add in my two cents. Remember: what works for one baby might not work for another; this is just what has worked for us up until this point.

Products we love:

1) The Miracle Blanket is the most excellent swaddling blanket. We started using this in the hospital when Charlie was born and finally stopped a month or so ago because Charlie kept busting out of it every night. I wish we would have bought a couple more of these. Instead, we only had one that we washed over and over and over. It's got a hole or two in it now.



Now that he's done being swaddled, we use a Halo sleep sack at night, which I also recommend.

2) Many people swear by having a bouncy/vibrating chair around the house, and we're hooked as well. We would have been screwed without this, as Charlie slept in it the first six weeks (for nighttime and naps) and has slept in it sporadically since then. We still use it. We even went out and bought a bigger version to use exclusively once Charlie's too heavy for the smaller one.



(Cat not included with purchase of chair. However, we will consider selling the baby to the highest bidder.)

3) The Happiest Baby on the Block is both a book and a video, and I recommend getting/viewing/reading both. We would have been lost without these soothing techniques, seriously. The video is great because it shows you how to do what's recommended in the book, so there's less guessing about whether you're doing it right. What I love so much about the book/video is that it explains why babies are so fussy the first six weeks or so. And then after I was done reading it, I realized that people who try to put their newborn baby on a schedule are living in a dreamland.

4) I love, love, love the Ergo baby carrier for wearing Charlie. We bought this when he was a couple of weeks old. He liked it for awhile, because he would curl up in it and go to sleep, but because he got big so fast, he didn't like it very much for a couple of months there. Right around the four month mark I started putting him in it again, and now he likes it. It beats the hell out of the Baby Bjorn and is pretty easy on your back. I use it pretty much every day for getting things done around the house and running errands.



5) Aden & Anais blankets are really great, big, muslin blankets that can be used in a lot of different ways. Charlie loves his, especially because he lives for chewing on blankets. We have about eight of them now.



6) I'm not convinced that parents need to go out and buy an activity gym/playmat, because you can just as easily put a blanket with some toys on the floor. The big selling point about this is that it has toys that dangle from above. Charlie really loves his, and we use it every day. The standing part with the dangling toys is pretty portable, so I can use it with Charlie's crib and pack 'n' play if need be.



7) Although I didn't realize it when we bought it, the Micralite Fastfold was our starter stroller. It's a great lightweight stroller that we used when Charlie was still in his infant car seat. I think it's a great stroller, but when it became clear that Charlie was going to be out of his infant car seat soon, I started looking around for other options. Namely, I wanted something that had the option to have Charlie facing us. Enter the Maxi-Cosi Foray. We've only been using this for a month or so, but we love it. It looks good, is easily maneuverable, has a nice little storage basket, and is relatively lightweight. The downsides? When it folds up, the seat folds up separately from the rest of the stroller. And it's a little difficult to get off our porch (which has stairs), but what stroller is easy to get up stairs?

I will say this, though, that it's probably a good idea to buy something like a stroller frame to use with your infant car seat at first while you figure out what your stroller needs and desires are. I kind of wish we had done this instead of throwing down the money for the Micralite (even though we got it on sale). Still, we plan to hang onto the Micralite and use it for future babies, so there's that.

8) I received the Itzbeen baby timer as a gift, and to be honest, I had my doubts about it at first. But still, I held onto it. And after Charlie was born and it was too difficult to continue logging his feedings and pooping and peeing, we busted it out and never looked back. I consider it pretty much essential for new parents, especially for those first six weeks, because it's so important to know how often you're feeding the baby, how long it's been since he pooped, etc. We haven't used it in several months, but it saved us when we were out of our minds due to sleep deprivation when Charlie was a newborn.

9) This musical mirror for car rides was another thing that I wasn't sure about, but it really has helped calm Charlie down sometimes when he's been having a meltdown in the car. I say get one.

10) Ahhhh, white noise. The sound of rain has been playing pretty constantly on our stereo since Charlie was born. Some people go out and buy a white noise machine, but we just downloaded a few tracks from iTunes, made a CD, and put the CD on repeat. Charlie sleeps to this every night, which means we do, too. It's a great way to mask all the stuff that's going on outside the bedroom, like the cats and their 3 AM parties. Plus, white noise is relaxing and soothing for babies.

11) I really didn't think we were going to need a glider, but I am so glad we broke down and bought one. I practically lived in this thing the first six weeks. I used it for pumping, feeding, and hanging out with Charlie. We still use it for all of Charlie's night feedings. It's also good for photos.




Products that have us on the fence:

1) For a lot of people, a swing is a must have. We received one at our shower (which I will discuss later). For some reason we didn't really start trying to use it until Charlie was about six weeks old. When it worked, and it rarely did, Charlie slept well in it. We did end up buying another one that had a plug-in option. It's a good swing for babies that are a little older and not so floppy, because it doesn't recline much. Charlie would fall asleep in it but it never kept him asleep for long.



2) The Boppy pillow is an essential for a lot of moms, but we really haven't used it all that much. Granted, Charlie isn't nursing, but even when he was, the Boppy didn't help much. So its primary use has been for back support in the glider (when I was pumping) and to help support Charlie when he's practicing sitting up. Charlie did end up sleeping on it his first night home from the hospital, but that really isn't recommended. I may break it out again and try to use it to feed him because he is so heavy these days.

3) By the time Charlie was able to kind of sit up in the Bumbo, it wasn't much longer after that that his thighs got a little too chunky for it. I think this would probably work out for a baby who isn't so hefty, but as it stands, we haven't been able to use ours much. We've used it mostly for photos, and I did take it to a restaurant once.



4) The Moby is a stretchy wrap so you can wear your baby and get things done around the house. It's excellent especially for newborns since they like to be all curled up and close. We never really got into using the Moby. I was really reluctant to use it because of my C-section recovery. Next time, C-section or no, I want to use the Moby. I think it would have made things a lot easier for me, plus it probably would have helped me not feel so alienated from Charlie during those first few weeks. When I started doing more babywearing when Charlie was around three months old, I did take the Moby out again and was able to get Charlie in it, but due to his hugeness and its stretchiness, I really doubt we're going to get much use out of it.

5) I bought the Belle baby carrier a couple of months ago when I started to become addicted to babywearing. It's a very simple carrier, and Charlie really liked it, but it honestly probably isn't much better for the wearer or wearee than the Baby Bjorn. It did start to hurt my back after only wearing it for a short time. I have this carrier in the trunk of my car in case I don't have the Ergo with me, but there are definitely better carriers out there. Like the Ergo. Buy it now!


Products we think are a waste of time:

1) You really can have too many washcloths. We have a ton of baby washcloths, and we don't use them all. I'll probably end up using some of them for cloth wipes or something.

2) God, I hate the Graco Lovin' Hug swing. Great design, but the motor never really worked that well so the swing went very, very slow even on the highest setting. Thankfully, we had the product warranty through Babies 'R' Us, so we were able to get our money refunded - but only if we cut off part of the swing to make it completely unusable and sent it to them. So now we have a swing in our garage that will never be able to be used by anybody. Lame. And wasteful.

Still, enjoy the picture of Charlie in it, because he's sooooo cute.



So that's all I can think of right now. Obviously there are other things that we use, but these are the special things. Whatever that means. Hope this helps someone out there.

November 12, 2009

I wanna soak up the sun...

Just kidding! I'm far too paranoid (and white) to soak up the sun for long.

Mandy and I enjoyed a day at the spa today. Her hubs (and my main babysitter) Paul came over to hang with Charlie while Mandy and I pampered ourselves. We ate well, sat in the saline pool, hung out in the sauna and steam room, floated around in the lounge pool, covered ourselves in mud, and laid out (in the shade) reading and relaxing. So awesome.

This was our view from our lounge chairs.





I felt very self-conscious at first. I have never been very comfortable in a bathing suit. It only took a little while and I was walking around in a bikini without feeling like everyone was looking at me and my cellulite and jiggly tummy (and thighs and butt).

However, I'm sure that everyone was looking at my godawful gangly toenails.



I wanted a pedicure, but at $50 a pop, that was a big hellz no.

It was a great time with one of my most favorite gals. This was the first time she and I have gotten to hang out sans husbands and baby since Charlie was born. I'm really happy that we stole some time for just us girls.



(Nothing like a blurry photo to complete the day.)

November 11, 2009

The 24-Hour Rule

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers on my last post. You guys are awesome - you totally made my day.

I woke up this morning determined to make it a good day. I actually got to shower first thing, which never really happens anymore due to the way mornings unfold around our house these days. The nurse from our new life insurance company came by to make sure we're healthy (we are!), and then Charlie and I met Mandy and Paul for lunch and Becki and Luke for shopping. Then I took Charlie for a nice long drive so he could nap, and I completely forgot that I had a chiropractor appointment. Motherhood really has stolen my brain.

Charlie's had a number of firsts this week: he's officially in his new car seat (as of yesterday), and today he sat in a shopping cart for the first time (with a harness to hold him up) and in his high chair for the first time. Today he also figured out how to tip over the standing part of his activity mat. He's also getting more mobile, turning himself in circles as he rolls over onto his side and kicks his legs. It truly is amazing watching him grow and learn.

This week I've learned something myself, and it only took me 30 years. I've learned the value of waiting 24 hours to respond to a sticky or emotional situation. There have been two instances this week that made me want to react automatically (and with fervor), but instead I rode out my initial emotions and was able to approach both situations with a clearer head the next day. I am very proud of this, because I am far too reactionary at times - and I end up saying things that I really don't mean.

So that's my dose of wisdom: if you find yourself needing to respond to someone who has made you angry or hurt you in some way, give it some time if you can. Even a day can offer you so much perspective.

And that's all I've got. I'm limited to one bit of wisdom a week or so.

November 10, 2009

I just end up walking in the cold November rain.

It's only Tuesday, and this week already feels too long.

My dad has been moved into a nursing home. Apparently his condition has worsened to the point where his doctors were adamant that he not live alone anymore. He's been disoriented, has fallen down several times, and has probably had several small seizures and strokes. My aunt and uncle, who have overseen his care and finances since he had a major stroke ten years ago, moved him out of his apartment and into a nursing home near them. I had no idea any of this was happening, as my dad really is not the best communicator in the world. So getting the news was like getting punched in the stomach multiple times.

The latest developments in my dad's 27-year illness have reopened some old wounds (that probably were never healed to begin with). At times like this I am reminded of how deeply devastating my dad's disability has been for me and the rest of my family (not to mention his side of the family). I guess there are some things that you just never get over. You just learn to live with them because you have no fucking choice. That's what sucks about life.

I feel like my whole life I've been waiting for my dad to die. And when I heard the news, it felt like finally it was all coming to an end. I was so stricken with a multitude of emotions. And then I realized that as prepared as I am for the phone call that my dad has passed away, whenever it may come, the truth is I'm not prepared at all. I am not ready to lose him completely yet; I am not ready to say goodbye.

I want my dad to meet Charlie. And he wants to meet Charlie. According to my aunt, he asks about Charlie all the time and wants to see pictures. I spent tonight making him a photo album, and tomorrow I will mail it out. I am happy to contribute something, to do something that will bring him some comfort. I wish that I could be there. I feel hugely guilty that I am not. I don't feel like I have the right to my own life when my dad is suffering. But I know he wants me to live and be happy.

But anyway, my dad is not dying in the sense that they can see the end of his life just around the corner. He is dying in the sense that he's got a ticking time bomb of an inoperable vascular tumor in his brain. All of his symptoms (that he's had for years) are intensifying. He needs round-the-clock care now, but it's my impression that he's still himself. Which makes me so, so happy.

The plan is to go see him while we're in Texas in December. I wish I could see him sooner. But I know it'll be a great day when he can finally meet his grandson.

I never really ask for this unless I really need it, but please keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. I'm not in a really good place right now, because of this and because I'm processing some other big, huge, life-changing things. When it rains, it really fucking pours. Oh yes, it does.

November 9, 2009

Winner Winner Turkey Dinner!

Okay, so my video recorder is out of batteries, so the drawing had to be done without documenting it for posterity's sake.

The winner is Becki!

Becki, you can thank Charlie for picking you. He actually dumped all the pieces of paper out and then picked up the one with your name on it. He was close to eating it. That's my kid!

Thanks for playing, everyone!

November 8, 2009

Five Months

Dear Charlie,



Today you are five months old.



It's bittersweet watching you grow. I'm so proud of the chunky little man you're becoming. This month alone you outgrew swaddling, your swing, your small diaper covers, your Bumbo chair, your infant car seat, and countless outfits. We have put most of those things into the garage and brought out your convertible car seat and high chair. There are big changes ahead. It's exhilarating and poignant.



This month you found your feet. You rolled over for the first time. You started sleeping better at night. (Thank you!) You started really noticing food. You pulled my hair a lot. You began sitting up remarkably well for your age. Your hair turned even more blonde; its redness is almost a thing of the past.



You absolutely love people. You are a sweet and charming young man. Everyone takes notice when you're around - you are insanely cute, chubby, drooly, and smiley. You enjoy babbling and sucking on your rhino friend's nose. You still won't take a pacifier - you spit it out almost immediately, causing your dad and me to laugh without fail. You do so many things to make us laugh. You make us so happy.



With each milestone you reach, you need me less and less. The world has become a very interesting place for you, and you don't need me to entertain you every second of the day. Soon you won't want me to hold you at all; you'll want to be down on the ground, eating dead bugs and exploring everything. And so these days I'm reluctant to put you down or pass you off to someone else; I want to drink you in, absorb the baby smell of your head, and feel you pull on my arm hairs to the point where I want to scream in pain. I live for the moments where you smile at me and stroke my hands with yours. I live for each and every moment, actually, because these moments are all we have.



So, kiddo, here's to another month together, another month of your fabulous life. You continue to touch the innermost depths of my soul without even trying. I know that my whole life I've been waiting for you - and that I am forever changed because of you. I love you so much, baby duck.



Love,

Mommy

November 7, 2009

I'm (not, in any way, shape, or form) too sexy.

So I admitted to you guys the other night that it's been quite awhile since I've shaved my legs or had my eyebrows waxed. (Let's try to forget the eating the pretzel off the floor incident.)

I've always been what you'd call cute. Right?



(And that pic was taken on a good day.)

Being a mother has done something odd to me. It's made me feel pretty much the opposite of sexy. I can't say I felt beautiful when I was pregnant, but I developed a very healthy respect for my body and its ability to grow a healthy human being. (My birth experience and my inability to breastfeed has made me sort of angry at my body, but that is beside the point.) A good day for me (when I feel somewhat attractive) is when I'm able to: 1) shower, 2) put on makeup, and 3) dry/"style" my hair. However, even when I'm able to do these things, I'm still not well put together. My eyebrows are constantly in a state of being caterpillar-like, my legs are starting to look as hairy as Roy's, and well, in general I just feel blah.

It's funny how I thought that I was invisible back when I was pregnant. Because I'm definitely invisible now. Everyone notices my cute baby, but no one notices me. Most of the time I'm okay with this - unless I'm having an ugly day. Then I'm like, "Hey, people, can you just tell me I'm cute? kthnxbai."

I guess the problem is that I have much less interaction with other adults, and so there's no one to tell me, "Wow, you look great today!" I miss that. People were always telling me how great I looked when I was pregnant. I mean, comments on my appearance were an everyday occurrence. To be fair, people have told me that I look great post-pregnancy, but it's been awhile. The last comment I got that was even remotely related to the way I look was more negative than anything. (Someone told me that the reason why I lost all my baby weight is because I hold Charlie all the time and thus don't eat. The implication was that I am starving myself and also holding my baby too much - wow, what a self-sacrificing mother I am. So it was a double whammy of a critical remark about both my appearance and my parenting style - or at least that's the way I took it.)

I know I look pretty good for having popped out a shorty less than six months ago. I lost the baby weight really quickly, which I am so so grateful for. My stretch marks have faded so much that you have to really look for them to see them (again, something I am really happy about). My stomach is not any more or less flabby than it was when I got pregnant, my boobs still look good, my ass hasn't flattened, all these are good things - but yet I don't feel attractive most of the time.

I think I'm in desperate need of another makeover. I need a new wardrobe, a new haircut, possibly a new hair color. I need to figure out a way to get my eyebrows waxed more often. (It sounds ridiculous, but the state of my eyebrows has a big effect on the way I feel.) I need to do yoga more often because lately my muscles have been so tense that I feel like crap - and when I feel like crap, it transfers to how I perceive the way I look. All in all, I think big changes need to be made.

The simplest thing I can do right now is drink a lot of water. I don't think I'm hydrated enough, and then I start to get headaches (had an awful one today), which makes me feel worse about how I look. Everything else will follow naturally, I think. It's time I got some things balanced out.

I'll never be a supermodel. But maybe with a few changes, I'll feel more like a MILF.

November 6, 2009

Facebook has stolen my brain.

It's true. I've been sitting here at my laptop for a good while now, trying to think of something to write about. I have 32 drafts of posts that could be finished, I have countless photos that I haven't shared. But it all feels like just too much. All I want to do is refresh my screen to see if one of my friends wins a Farmville ribbon so I can get in on the celebratory coins.

Let it be known, though, that I haven't checked Facebook in one whole hour.

However, today I did get quite a few things done: I signed Roy and myself up for new, better life insurance policies, I made an important phone call about my 401K account, I renewed our AAA membership, I wrote some emails and made some other phone calls. It was definitely a productive day, but I have a major case of the blahs now.

It's going to be a long month, I can already tell.

PS - Don't forget to enter my book giveaway!

November 5, 2009

I'm too tired to be emo.

So I had this wonderful emo post all planned out for today. You know, those long, reflective, probably annoying posts that I like to write? Yeah, one of those.

But all of a sudden I feel just. so. tired. I can definitely tell it's the end of the week. The house is a mess. My legs are disgustingly hairy. My two favorite pairs of jeans have holes in the crotch. My back is killing me. I think I am developing carpal tunnel from that huge baby I lug around all day. I need a pedicure. Hell, even cutting my toenails at this point would be a drastic improvement. My eyebrows are very quickly reaching caterpillar status. I boiled eggs to make cobb salad for dinner, but now I think we're just going to eat the eggs and be done with it. There's a big stack of papers to go through and probably some bills to pay. I ate a pretzel off the floor tonight while playing with Charlie on his activity mat because it was easier than walking it to the trash can.

So yeah, obviously I'm a hot mess.

A hot mess who's rescued like 15 black cats and given them refuge on her very special FarmVille farm. And who, in her desperate attempt to avoid eating candy the entire month, ate a whole package of Chips Ahoy cookies in 24 hours.

Now that's what I call productivity.

November 4, 2009

Oh, happy day!

Today's been a great day. Allow me to list the reasons.

1) Charlie slept better last night than he has the last two months. He only woke up twice to be fed and only once (very briefly) just because. I woke up this morning feeling like a real person. The timing could not have been better. Yesterday, after a terrible night full of constant waking, I reluctantly got my copy of the evil Dr. Ferber's book off the shelf and seriously began thinking about sleep training. (Which would involve Charlie crying it out and which I don't want to do unless absolutely necessary.)

2) I rediscovered an old pair of jeans that I really love, and I got to wear them again for the first time in a year.

3) Charlie and I took a walk downtown to the library. It was a beautiful day, and Charlie charmed everyone who laid eyes on him (which is nothing new).

4) I plowed my name into my farm on FarmVille last night.



And now, for the big news.

5) Charlie rolled over for the very first time today.



I am such a proud mommy.

November 3, 2009

The Art of Buying Jeans

Does this happen to you?

You go to find a new pair of jeans, try on several pairs, find one pair that fits, buy them, take them home, wear them, and then find yourself not completely in love with them?

This happens to me all. the. time. It is so hard for me to find jeans that fit just perfectly. I haven't yet found a brand that always does the job. Instead, I find myself with jeans that are just meh. I've had several pairs of jeans that I absolutely loved, but I've never been able to master the art of purposefully finding them. It always seems accidental when a pair of jeans fits me perfectly.

Maybe I'm rushing through the trying-on process? I'm doing something wrong, that's for sure. I have about ten pairs of jeans that I am currently not wearing as proof.

So help me out here. How do you try on jeans? Are you always successful with your jeans purchases? What brand of jeans do you normally wear?

Thanks for indulging me.

November 2, 2009

RIP, Pooh Bear Sleeper (+ Giveaway!)

It's always a sad day when Charlie outgrows one of his outfits that I love a lot. Since Charlie was six weeks old, we've had the pleasure of seeing him wear his Pooh Bear sleeper.

Then:




Now:




Last night was probably Charlie's last night wearing his oh-so-cute Pooh Bear sleeper. Although it looks like it fits fine in the picture, it doesn't even fit over his bulky nighttime diaper anymore. These are times when I want to scream hysterically and beg Charlie to stop growing so fast. But I don't. Because I am, well, classy.

But since Charlie is getting bigger, that means he must be getting older, and so I'm hosting another book giveway for Charlie's upcoming monthly birthday. Leave a comment telling me about the most horrible literary character you've come across, and you'll be entered in a drawing for a book of your choice from our Amazon book store. I will pick a winner on Sunday, November 8. Have fun!

(I think the most horrible literary character I've ever come across is Humbert Humbert from Lolita. Man, do I hate that guy.)