January 31, 2010

Heartfelt Thanks + All Things Noteworthy (January Edition)

Hello! This is a long post. But it's got pictures! And videos! And good old-fashioned words!

Settle in, won't you? Grab a cup of coffee or something.


Before I dive into this huge list I've made, I wanted to say thanks for all your thoughtful comments on my last post. That whole explosion of words came from a very insecure place deep within me. I have been writing for my entire life, and it is at times a tough gig, but if there is one thing I do know, it's that I am a writer. And I have to do it. And I have to do it honestly, from a place that is real and raw.

Like I said, I do get jealous sometimes. It's hard not to, when people out there (some of whom don't really deserve it) get paid to do this thing I love so much. Although I mentioned two bloggers by name in my last entry, I don't necessarily think that their popularity is undeserved. And apologies to those of you WHO USE ALL CAPS TO EMPHASIZE THE FACT THAT YOU'RE BEING CLEVER. I DIDN'T MEAN TO OFFEND YOU. I WAS JUST SAYING THAT I DON'T USE THAT PARTICULAR RHETORICAL DEVICE. NOPE. NEVER.

I do feel that blogging often is one big popularity contest, and some bloggers who have huge readerships aren't necessarily wonderful writers. I felt like that when I wrote poetry regularly. I would crack open the most recent issue of Poetry magazine and feel downtrodden when I saw the utter crap that graced its pages (not all of it, but the majority of it, it seemed) - all because the poet probably went to the right school or had an MFA. It was very discouraging and sometimes I felt (feel) like giving up.

I've been feeling that way about my blog lately, but it doesn't mean that I'm going to. I was just finding myself in a place where I was wondering, "Why do I do this?" I want to do it for the right reasons. I found myself wanting to do it for the wrong ones. But I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I suppose I may someday stop blogging, but no way in hell would I stop writing.

But there is something that I've been feeling the urges for months now but have been (honestly) too scared to sit down and see where they take me. I want to go back to my journal and begin writing once again as I used to. I want to invite the words to pour out of me, because they threaten to on a daily basis.

The last time I sat down and wrote in my journal, I started a poem about my birth experience. The words came from a place so hurt and sad and angry that it felt like it was happening all over again. The next day I found out that Jewelyn had died. And I haven't gone back to that poem since. Fear is a big reason.

But fear is actually not a reason to avoid doing something. So in February, I'm going to do it. Maybe I'll share. Although I don't usually share until I feel that something is pretty well polished.

(And thank you, really. I'm so glad to have you guys to talk to. I didn't mean to make anyone think that I was going to be saying goodbye or anything. This blog is a labor of love and such a great part of my life, and I'll keep at it until it runs its course.)


So many things happen on a daily basis, and I never really have the time or energy to blog most of them. Still, I hate to think of all these events being lost in a fog of mommy brain. I'd like to do a monthly post where I list all the noteworthy/fun/interesting occurrences of the month, some of them documented by photo/video and some not, some of them previously documented on here/Facebook/Twitter and some not.

January's list is rather long, and it surprised me when I was making it. Here it is, in no particular order:

1) I found out that my dad has a brain aneurysm. I don't have a lot of information about it right now, and I'm trying not to worry. However, anything out of the ordinary in his brain worries me since things are already so precarious for him. He doesn't need another brain issue. He has plenty. I'd really like for the universe to take it easy on him now. Please?

2) It rained a lot! And it snowed in certain areas of Southern California that don't normally get snow.

3) Roy and I did a week-long cleanse diet that only ended up being about five days. Yeah, we're wimps. But we did it and hopefully we're a little more healthy than we were. Some of those habits that we started during the cleanse seem to have carried over, like...

4) I seem to have kicked my Dr. Pepper habit. And I may even have kicked my caffeine habit. I'm not going to jinx myself but I'm doing okay without both. It's been two weeks since I had a Dr. Pepper.

5) Charlie started saying "dada." So. Effing. Cute.

6) I began making baby food in earnest. And I have to say that I love doing it. Yeah, it's a little bit more of a time commitment than popping open a jar of Gerber baby food. However, to me it's worth it. Jarred baby food is disgusting, in my opinion, and I sure as hell wouldn't eat it. So I don't expect Charlie to. So far, Charlie's had avocado, banana, carrots, green beans, pears, sweet potato, oatmeal, beans, and applesauce. All made by me. I love it. He loves it. The planet loves it.

(Disclaimer: No offense to those of you who feed your kiddo jarred food, really. Whatever works.)

7) I ordered a crap ton of photo gear. This was scary because it's effing expensive. I've needed some better lenses, a flash, etc. for quite awhile, but I have just been making do with what I've got. Since I have a party to photograph in February and a birth to shoot in March (plus other things coming up), I need good gear. I was also gifted a tripod and a wireless remote when we did our family gift exchange. So exciting!

8) I went to see my friend Cynthia's twin girls, who were born in mid-December. They were a little premature and both had to be in the NICU for a little while. However, they're both home now and doing great. I'm extra happy for Cynthia because she went through years of infertility and at times was unsure if she would ever have children. I know she's a great mama to Samantha and Ashley.

On a side note: when Cynthia had her C-section, the surgeon sliced through her bladder while performing the surgery. Cynthia had to leave her catheter in for a month after her surgery. Yet another reason to avoid a C-section if possible. She has healed up just fine, though - thankfully.

9) Pagan, who'd been a member of Roy's family for many years, passed away. She is missed greatly.

10) I began work on a new blog. (As if I needed another thing on my plate.) But it's been a long time coming. This is big and huge and exciting, and I wish I could share the link with you. But I'm not ready. In February, I hope.

11) I went to a sex toy party with Mandy. The consultant told me I should be doing sex toy parties. I think it had something to do with me clanging two big ol' dildos together while singing, "Don't Fear the Reaper." Because I gotta have more cowbell.

Yes, that's me holding a very giant and impressive dildo. For the record, I didn't order it. But I may have wanted to. I'll never tell.

12) In a moment of desperation one night, and after watching an online tutorial, I cut my own bangs, completely forgetting that I am challenged in the beautification department. What a horror show of giant proportions. I luckily got them fixed the next day.

13) Even though he's been able to roll over for some time now, Charlie threw caution to the wind and really began rolling, rolling, rolling to get where he wants to go. And sometimes blew raspberries for emphasis while doing so.

14) I caught up on editing photos. This was a huge undertaking. I still have some from December and this month to work on, but it's a hell of a lot better than where I was.

15) I started exercising again. I'm hoping in February that I will be a little more disciplined about it, as we continue to work towards a schedule around the house. Getting some exercise actually makes me feel pretty damn good, especially when my exercise of choice is walking up the mountain right by my house and having this as my view on the way up:

16) Charlie discovered his outside voice. It is, at times, hilarious. At other times, not so much.

17) I made a kick ass mix CD. I think a good mix can make or break a season. This one's called "Wintering" and it's been playing constantly around these parts. Some of the songs are by some new artists I've discovered: Basia Bulat (my current favorite), White Rabbits, Soap&Skin, and The Tiny. I discovered the latter two thanks to Kari, who has the best taste in music - next to me, of course.

18) Charlie's friend Luke turned had his first birthday party. I photographed the pirate-themed event, all the while thinking that in just a few short months, Charlie will be having a first birthday party of his own.

19) We re-entered the evil and frustrating world of sleep training for naps. Last week was tough, but this week I began the week with a new attitude. I took an honest look at what I'd been doing for Charlie's naps and realized that I probably hadn't been consistent enough. So I began a naptime routine with him and made it very similar to his nighttime routine. The very first time I tried it, he went to sleep in his crib. And he's done it ever since. Sometimes the naps aren't long, but at least I can say that I finally have a crib napper. I am so proud of both him and myself.

20) I was given several beautiful handmade gifts. A camera strap and bookmark from Amber and a key chain from Mandy. I love love love handmade gifts, and I can't wait to get my craft on in the future. Thanks for thinking of me, ladies!

21) Charlie weighed in at 24 pounds 3 ounces at his doctor's appointment at the beginning of the month. He can wear anywhere from 6-18 months in clothing, depending on the item of clothing and brand. He's a big ol' chubster but we wouldn't have it any other way.

22) I won a giveaway on bluebirdbaby: a print from this Etsy shop! This is the print I picked:

23) Charlie demonstrated his love for sucking on his parents' noses. Many, many times.

24) Roy and I had a wonderful night out with friends. I love that I had the opportunity to get a little wasted.

25) Charlie did a lot of swimming. Or maybe flying. Something.

26) I picked my word for the year, the word that I want to define my year. More on that later.

27) I read five books. My goal for this year is to read five books a month - or to end the year with a total of 60 books read. Reading really took a backseat to pregnancy and motherhood in 2009, but in 2010, I'd like to get back to it more. I've missed it.

Here are the books I read this month:

-Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty - This was a cute YA book. I enjoyed it. But I had to stop and think about whether I wanted to continue the series. Then I realized that if I had to think about it, I probably really didn't want to. So I probably won't. I have so many other books on my shelf that I'm much more excited about.

-Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers - This book was highly recommended by Jessica, and having read Summers' first book and loving it, I was excited to read this one. And I wasn't disappointed. This book was intense. I literally had physiological reactions to some of the events contained within. I don't want to reveal too much, but I will say that it's a book about bullying and it's incredibly powerful. I loved it. I loved it so much I'm keeping it.

-Bag of Bones by Stephen King - This was a reread. I read this back in 1998 when it was first released; that was when I was still reading Stephen King on a regular basis. I have since outgrown Stephen King, and this book made me understand why. While I enjoyed this book, I felt that so much of the 700+ pages was mere fluff and could have been cut. The story is good, and the writing is fine. Not great, but fine. I cried when I read this way back when, but this time there were no tears. Probably because I was too distracted by all the extra words that didn't need to be there.

-Echo by Francesca Lia Block - I've read quite a few of Block's books, and I always zip right through them. This book in particular was probably my favorite of hers. It's a nicely woven tale about a girl named Echo and the people in her life. The chapters of the book seem to be independent stories, but as you make your way through the book, you realize all the stories are connected - as are all the characters. And then there's the matter of Block's writing style, which always makes me want to eat tons of fruit and chocolate and paint lots of surreal landscapes. (That's a good thing.) Overall, I'd recommend this book.

-Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf - My mother-in-law let me borrow this, and I have to say that it really resonated with me. Wolf (the author) had an unnecessary C-section, like me, and from that experience, this book was born. In her words, I found more of an understanding of myself and my own birth experience. She was able to express things that I haven't been able to yet. I really loved this book, especially the first part of it. The second half or so kind of dragged on it in places, but it contains some really important and helpful information about the medical industry's treatment of mothers-to-be and laboring women. Wolf is a really wonderful writer, very expressive, and I think this is an important book for expectant mothers, as well as people like myself, who have had disappointing and traumatic birth experiences.

28) And while we're on the subject of books, RIP JD Salinger. I didn't have a crush on Holden Caulfield, but I sure as hell wanted to be him.

29) And lastly, the event that has been on everyone's mind: the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Words really and truly fail me.

Wow, I sure as hell can cram a whole lot of stuff into one post.

And that, my friends, was January. An interesting start to the new year. How was yours?

January 27, 2010

On (Not) Being an Internet Celebrity

I woke up this morning with a serious case of writer's remorse. I always feel that way after posting something that is particularly emotionally charged, and in case you couldn't tell, my last entry certainly was.

Lately I've considered ending my blogging "career." (I have no better word for "career." I make no money off this blog. Just so we're clear.) I have a real desire to document my life, and that's why I started doing this. (You can read more about how I feel about blogging here.)

Back in 2007, I had no idea that there were such things as professional bloggers. My first real introduction to the world of professional blogging was the much revered, love-her-or-hate-her Heather Armstrong. Since then I have come to admire those bloggers out there who have a huge following. I've had fantasies of becoming one of them, actually.

But I know that I will never really be a professional blogger. Blogging is something I enjoy doing, but it's fun and therapeutic for me. I have such a small readership that there aren't many real expectations, like that I need to write at least five times a week or SWITCH TO ALL CAPS WHEN I'M SAYING SOMETHING FUNNY. And you know what? I like having a small following as opposed to a large one. There's no hate mail or comments to moderate. Everyone is supportive. I consider most of my commenters to be my friends. It's a win-win.

I also have this real desire to tell the truth. I don't want to put a spin on something. I'm not really that kind of writer. I report things as I experience them, and if I happen to get the facts wrong, it's because I genuinely got the facts wrong, not because I was stretching the truth or trying to write a certain way. Not saying there's anything wrong with either one of those things, but they're just not me.

All that said, recently I read this post on Heather Armstrong's blog about how she is now a part of the HGTV family. And then I watched this Momversation, where Maggie of Mighty Girl revealed that she had been sponsored by Intel to complete some things on her Mighty Life List.

And even though I really have no desire to be an internet celebrity, or a celebrity at all, I found myself flushed with jealousy. Me, the person who doesn't even watch HGTV and has yet to complete her own life list. I began to wonder why I am so ordinary and how to make myself more interesting.

But this is as interesting as it gets.

And I never feel like that is enough, that I am enough. And so I start to second guess myself when I get all emo on here, and I tell myself, "No one wants to hear it, Leslie. Be happy! Be funny! Be clever! Don't write a really long post; people don't want to read that shit. And make sure you include pictures!"

And that is why I have considered not blogging anymore. I may not be an internet celebrity, but the pressure is still there. And I worry about whether I use you guys, my readers, as an emotional crutch, if I depend on you too much for your input and support. I start to wonder if I am being too negative or if my general feelings of being lost are starting to seep through too much. I worry about being judged.

I am not planning on deleting my blog or anything, but I do think that I need to take a step back and revisit my intentions for this space. This happens to coincide well with my needing to cut back on how much time I spend online. Like it or not, I need to write my thesis, and it's not going to happen if I am constantly checking Twitter or Facebook. I have wasted so much valuable time on those two websites, thinking that *gasp* I might miss something! In reality, all I'm missing are opportunities to work on things that are important to me and/or things that need to be done.

I'll still be here, but less. Maybe I'll post twice a week or so. There's a rich life out there for me that has nothing to do with the computer.

Thanks for continuing to check in and for being my friends, all of you. You (and your words) mean more to me than I could ever express.

January 26, 2010

The air sure is stale here in this paper bag.

My latest Twitter update, written while dramatically hyperventilating:

Why I thought it made sense to have a baby before finishing my MA is beyond me. FML.

Tonight I started working (again) on more revisions to my thesis proposal. I've been working on this damn thing for fucking ever, it seems. In May of Two Thousand Frickin' Eight, I turned in my first thesis proposal, only to have it stomped on and rejected by the committee. I, the great overachiever, was crushed about it and spent the entire summer licking my wounds.

Well, right as the school year was set to start again, I found out I was pregnant. Yippee! I just knew I could graduate before popping out the kiddo. I only had two classes left to take! Surely I could take those, write a bitchin' proposal, write an acceptable thesis, and even attend the graduation ceremony!

Ahhh, naivete. Pregnancy kicked my ass. And then motherhood did. Does. Repeatedly.

So here I sit. I've managed to complete all my classes (did that a year ago this coming April), so now I'm just collecting financial aid while I remain continuously enrolled and "work" on my proposal. Only I never seem to work on it as much as I know I need to, because I'm so distracted by pretty much everything. Kiddo, husband, house, cats, photos, books, writing, this blog, the internet, the to-do list, plans for the future, laundry, dishes...

Truthfully I just don't care anymore about this damn thesis. Or the degree, really. I just don't have the same priorities that I had when I entered the program back in fall of Two Thousand Frickin' Five. But I just. can't. not. do it. I can't just throw away all my hard work, five years of frustration and immersion.

But I want to. I want to be done with this so badly. I want to cry like a snotty little emo kid right now.

Tonight I sat at the table and looked over the most recent batch of comments on my proposal, and I realized that I just can't remember much of anything that I've learned in my program. I'm really going to have to reteach myself a lot of things in order to write something that's somewhat intelligible. I can't think of anything I'd rather not do more. But I'm going to do it. I have to. I want - no, need - to graduate in June. As much as I have loved my college education, I am ready to end this chapter and move on to the next.

If any of you thought I am a little crazy for obsessing so much over Charlie's naps, this is why. I need him to take good long naps at home so I can actually have time to work on this and still have something of me left over at night for Roy. (That's not the only reason. But it's a Biggie McBiggerson.)

I don't know what I'm looking for here. I guess some words of encouragement would be nice. Especially since, at this point, I am really doubting my ability to do this. (Do you ever just think, "I can't do it."? Yeah, that's me right now.) Maybe some advice as to how to handle the nap situation, if you have any. Or how to get motivated about my thesis instead of letting fear freeze me. Just something. Anything! I'm breathing into a paper bag here.

January 25, 2010

Happy Monday!

My last post was kind of whiny. Sorry about that. I have this tendency to get overly emo when I'm having a bad day or week, and I seem to always forget that things can and will change. My weekend did improve, even though the sleep issues did (and will continue to, I'm sure) persist. Oh well. I keep telling myself that if this is all I have to deal with, then I am a lucky woman.

We had our date night on Friday. It'd been a long time coming.

We went out to dinner, where I tried asparagus for the first time and didn't make any modifications to my dinner order. Both things are huge for me. I think I've mentioned before that I have a lot of food phobias. I know most people think they are absolutely ridiculous, but for me they are very real and associated with some painful things. However, I now have a child and I don't want him to grow up as picky as me. So I'm trying new things. And it's not so bad, really.

After dinner, we went out for drinks to celebrate Becki's birthday. I got unapologetically tipsy, shamelessly talked about dildos, and spilled ranch dressing all down one leg of my pants. Awesome. Sometime during the evening, the conversation turned to FarmVille, and Becki and I were discussing how you can harvest your animals. She then said loudly, "You can't sell cat hair!" Which was hilarious, because every time you brush your farm cats, you get coins for their hair. So freaking weird. Leave it to us drunkards to realize how weird that game really is.

Saturday morning we got an early start and headed on down to the farmers market. Later on we met a couple of friends for lunch, and then in the afternoon, we drove out east a bit to see the snow.

Beautiful, yes? It was pretty damn magical, despite the long line of cars and the fact that Chuckles slept through most of it.

Sunday was lazy. We went out to our favorite Thai place, and Charlie entertained us with his food-covered face.

I got some time to lounge around in bed while Roy took Charlie for a long walk. We went to family dinner, and once we were back home with Chuckles in bed, we cleaned the house. I like to clean on Sundays, because it puts me in the right frame of mind for the week ahead.

Today has been low-key but still good. I feel a little silly for my Friday outburst, but by the end of the week, I am usually very tired anyway. Add sleep training to that, and you've got the makings for one stressed mama. I've got a lot of fun things planned for this week, so I'm hoping at the end of the week I'll be feeling less tense.

Anyway, blah blah blah. They should call me the Rambler, for realz. What'd you do this weekend?

January 22, 2010

It's crappy nappy time!

Wow. You know, I wanted to come here and write a nice little rosy post about how awesome my week has been (and it did have its awesome moments). I had the title picked out and everything. I even had written the first sentence in my head.


For some reason I thought it'd be a good idea to spend this week working on Charlie's naps with him. Why I thought it'd be a good idea to do that when I was also doing a cleanse diet, I have no effing idea. Why I decided to do both when it rained the entire week, I have no effing idea about that, either.

I'm not sure if there's ever a good time to sleep train. After four months old, of course. But I mean, is it ever going to be painless and convenient? I doubt it.

So this week was pretty painful. Charlie miraculously took his morning nap in his crib on Monday and Tuesday, but try as I might, I could not get him to do it for any of his other naps. Instead, he used his recently found outside voice and screamed. And my tolerance for said screaming grew more threadbare as the week wore on.

It is really tough to hear him scream like that. He sounds like he's in pain, although I know he's not. I know he just wants to be held, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I keep wondering if I am doing the right thing here. Are naps in the crib that important? Isn't the important thing that he's just napping - in his bouncy chair, the stroller, his car seat, whatever? Am I pushing my adult ideology about how a baby should nap onto him? Am I being fair to him? Am I not being consistent enough? Is this something I should just learn to laugh about?

These are questions that have been running through my mind constantly this week.

And yet I can't help but want him to nap in his crib. Because when he does it, he sleeps for a good stretch and it gives me the opportunity to clean up around the house, get ready for the day, and just have some time to myself to do whatever. On Monday and Tuesday, I actually felt centered for the first time in ages. The house was clean, I actually looked decent, and Charlie was asleep! In his crib! For an hour and a half! I could see the promise of a schedule glimmering on the horizon.

I don't know what happened, but we have been unable to replicate those naps since. Which means that the house is a wreck, and life is a wreck. And I am kind of a wreck, too. I feel so selfish for wanting this so much, for letting him cry and scream. I feel guilty. Is it wrong for me to want this - for his own good as well as mine? Should I just accept this as a part of motherhood and be okay with it?

But I have. I'll gather our stuff up on a moment's notice and take him for a long drive to get him to sleep for at least an hour. I'll sacrifice my shower and teeth brushing and breakfast and lunch to make it happen. I've been doing this for months. And I do enjoy the driving, because it gives me an opportunity to listen to music and just let my mind wander. But there really is so much to be taken care of at home. My life has fallen into chaos, and I just can't seem to get a grasp on it. I hate to blame the lack of structured naps for Charlie, but I think that if we could get those under control, I'd be a lot happier because I could actually get some things done.

I feel a little silly to think that I had control in this situation. Accompanying that is the real sense of failure. Because chances are I am the reason why he is having problems in the first place.

(Written on mid-Friday morning of an impossibly long week, as Charlie sleeps in his bouncy chair in the bathroom, and as I sit in the hallway, still in my T-shirt and sweatpants I wore the night before, thinking of calling Roy at work and begging him to come home.)

(Sorry for the lousy picture quality. I'm really looking forward to getting a lens that works well in low light, not to mention a flash.)

Top Tune #10

It's been raining like crazy all week, and naturally I've had to pull out all my rainy day music. Here's one of my all-time favorites, which reminds me so much of my hometown ("the coastal town that they forgot to close down"), my brother (who introduced me to Morrissey's music), and just being really, really young. I've loved this song since I was 14 years old. There are some things you just don't outgrow.

Everyday is Like Sunday by Morrissey

January 20, 2010


My mother-in-law's dog passed away today.

Pagan was an old, sweet gal. I petted her for the last time on Sunday night at family dinner.

Big hugs and lots of healing thoughts are going out to my mother-in-law and her family tonight. Join me, won't you?

January 18, 2010

Happy Monday!

Happy MLK Jr. Day!

My Facebook status update for today (posted this morning):

Right now: C's asleep in his crib (miracle), bed is made (another miracle), dishes are done, laundry's put away, I've managed to go without Dr. Pepper, cleanse diet is going well, I'm showered and groomed and made up, and we're going to head out in about an hour for lunch with some of my gals. It's shaping up to be a day full of win.

Today was a good day. I've made it my mission to make Mondays awesome because I often have a hard time adjusting to Roy going back to work after having him home all weekend.

What can I say? I get lonely.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you noticed that my tweets today consisted only of updates about Charlie's naps and what I ate. Painfully boring, yes - and I apologize, truly. But very useful for me. This week my two primary concerns are getting Charlie to nap in his crib and making my way through this cleanse diet successfully.

Today Charlie took his morning nap in his crib after about 40 minutes of rolling around and playing. He stayed asleep for a record hour and a half. I was thrilled. But I ended up being unsuccessful for his afternoon nap. I tried for almost three hours to get him to nap at home and then I gave up and took him for a car ride, which always does the trick.


So I'm happy about the first nap but seriously bummed about the second. Oh well, tomorrow I'll try again. And if my efforts fail again, I'll gaze upon this picture wistfully:

Yes, that is what a baby who sleeps in his crib looks like. Blurry photo and pumpkin pajamas and all.

Now, about the cleanse Roy and I are doing. We did something similar about a year and a half ago. We're doing this again because our chiropractor (who is very much into body/mind/spirit wellness) recommended it to both of us after we both had BioMeridian scans done. Our results: we are full of toxins! Time to purge.

Today was the first day, and I am surprised at how much easier it was than the last time. I think doing this while being at home instead of working is what's helping me, because I have a crap ton of healthy food at my disposal. So if I get hungry (and I spent the entire day being hungry), I can run to the kitchen and grab a piece of fruit. It was a little more difficult at work because I often felt too tempted by the vending machines, plus I never brought enough food with me.

We're playing a little fast and loose with the rules, but nothing major. Today, for example, I allowed myself some tortilla chips and a couple of arnold palmers. I did not have one Dr. Pepper, though, and this is major.

I'm not sure how long we're going to keep this up, anywhere from a week to three weeks. I'm hoping that I'll lose some weight as a result, but not too much. I really just need to tone up. Exercise is another story entirely.

So the self-improvement continues, as usual.

What made your Monday happy?

January 15, 2010

Chasing/Facing/Embracing Your Fears

What are you afraid of?

Anytime that question pops up, I always answer it the same way.

1) Losing someone I love
2) Not living up to my potential

Those are my deepest fears. Sure, I'm afraid of things like snakes and spiders. I have a raging case of vertigo. I'm not necessarily looking forward to my own death. But nothing strikes the immobilizing chill of fear in my heart like those two biggies listed above.

Bettina, one of the characters in Six Feet Under (played by Kathy Bates), once told Ruth (as played by Frances Conroy) that being afraid of something is a good reason to do it. I tend to agree with her. I don't think that I need to go out and provoke a snake in an effort to face my fear of those slimy reptiles. I think there are some damn good reasons to be afraid of snakes, or at least the poisonous ones. Not to mention the ones who can squeeze the shit out of you.

It's not about being a daredevil. It's about living. Giving each day your best shot.


I hate calling my dad on the phone. I've never enjoyed it, but ever since he's been in the nursing home, I've developed an even stronger aversion to it. I appreciate hearing his voice, because it clues me in to how he's doing. I like touching base with him, because on some level it may make a difference to him (and it certainly does to me). But I don't look forward to making the weekly call. It makes me feel heavy. And sad. Because each minute-long conversation reminds me of how I've always longed to spill my guts to him and have him understand. We will never have that kind of relationship. It hurts me each time I re-realize that.

But still, I call. And I tell him I love him. I used to be so scared to say those words to him, because I never knew if he would say them back. I guess I had a good reason to be afraid, because he rarely returns the sentiment. However, he always has when I've needed him to.

But now that fear seems kind of silly to me. I can love my dad, and I can tell him so. Sure, I love hearing it from him. But it's more important that he hears it from me. I don't want him to feel alone.

So when I call, and when I say those three magical words, I'm giving our relationship its best shot. I don't want to have regrets.


My husband is my hero. He always looks embarrassed when I tell him that. He works with developmentally disabled adults as a (sort of) social worker. When he decided to get his Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, I was very excited for him, because if anyone should be working with those less fortunate, it's Roy. He is as steadfast and patient as a rock. A very caring, loving, gentle rock.

Back in September, we went to a sports expo for people with disabilities on campus. I saw some amazing, wonderful things.

Wall climbing




I spent the majority of that day blinking back tears, thinking of how incredible it is for people with disabilities to be able to do the things that we take for granted. (I am especially rooting for the young man below.)

And then I did cry when I realized that these are the people Roy works with everyday. It's so hard to be faced with those who are disabled in some way. They remind us of our own fragility. And yet my husband helps them every single day. I love him for that.


My main goal in life is to live. I've taken a lot of risks in my 30 years on this planet, and I don't intend on stopping now. I'm not going to max out our credit cards (that's just stupid) or parachute out of a plane (well, maybe someday). But I'm going to call my dad and tell him I love him. I'm going to admit when I'm wrong and try to make amends. I'm going to write and take photos. I'm going to continue to take huge chances, like quitting my day job. I'm going to pursue what makes me happy. I'm going to do what's best for my family.

I may not ever win a Pulitzer. I may not be Mom of the Year. But I want to leave behind a legacy of courage. When I see those people with disabilities doing the best with what they've got, it makes absolutely no sense for me to be afraid of failing. Because I will fail sometimes.

I just never want to stop trying. I never want fear to get in the way of living.


So, tell me. What are you afraid of? And what are you going to do about it?

January 13, 2010

Old Skool Daze

Today found me on campus trying to straighten out some administrative nonsense so I could get my very-much-anticipated financial aid disbursement. I think I was the only person there who was pushing a stroller. It was a little weird being back on campus with my child, who wasn't much of a thought in my mind when I started there in 2002.

Today, (almost) eight years and (almost) two degrees later, I felt really out of place. Motherhood has pushed me into an entirely new world, and the old places just don't feel the same. I passed the place where I used to always sit when I had a free moment, my nose buried in a thick book of poetry. I would always carry Post-it notes with me to mark the lines and stanzas that moved me.

I haven't read poetry in ages, although I crave it sometimes. I don't really have the space or desire to carry Post-its with me anymore. I would love to lose myself in a book at any given moment, but there is a baby boy who commands so much of my attention. More and more lately I hang out in the car to read when he falls asleep in his car seat. I love those delicious stolen moments; they remind me so much of a simpler time when I didn't have to worry about finding a good, sanitary place to change a diaper.

Yes, my life has changed quite a bit, but it's not like I resent Charlie for those changes. I knew what was going to happen when I signed up for this. I miss going to school, though. I miss tearing through books at an alarming rate. I miss having time. And energy.

I love my kid, truly, but I'm sometimes unbearably lonely. As much as I love hanging out with Charlie and singing the Ducklesman song over and over, I miss interacting with adults. I sometimes call Roy five times or more a day just because I need to hear an adult voice. I realize that makes me sound very needy, but I don't care. In this case, I am needy. I need people.

I am also very lucky. Because I get the honor of raising a wonderful little boy. I may not completely understand my place in this new world, and college kids may look at me funny as I push a stroller through the student union building, but there is one thing that I'm sure of: no line or stanza of poetry has ever moved me as much as Charlie has. And they sure as hell don't hand out degrees in unconditional love.

January 12, 2010

Self-Portrait Outtakes

I've been busybusybusy editing a whole lot of photos. In my travels through my photo archives, I've found some interesting attempts at self portraits.

September 2008

September 2009

The first one was taken right at the beginning of my pregnancy, hence all the blemishes. Oddly I don't cringe when I see this photo, even though I am definitely not a beauty queen in it. (And who am I kidding? I'm not a beauty queen anyway.) I suppose I could have edited out the red spots, but I'm actually okay with them being there.

The second one was taken the day after I got a haircut, and I was trying to capture that "I'm so pretty, oh so pretty" feel that I always have after getting my hair did. (Which seems to magically wash away with the first shampoo, I might add.)

I got a tripod and wireless remote from my brother-in-law for Christmas, so it looks like now's the time to start on that self-portrait project that I've spent the last two years dreaming about. My reasoning? Well, I usually hate photos of myself, mainly because in them I never look the way I imagine myself to look. So I think I'd like to take some to show the world the ways I see myself, if that makes sense. Not sure when I'm going to kick off this project of mine, so in the meantime, here is a flickr set of some stunning selfies, especially the ones towards the end.

Anyone else out there considered doing a self-portrait project?

January 11, 2010

Happy Monday!

Today was fan-fucking-tastic! I was going to write a post detailing all the good things about it, but that would be boring.

So, have a video instead!

The quality of this stinks, but all I had on me was my cell phone. That was the hardest I've ever heard Charlie laugh. Happy Monday, indeed.

January 10, 2010

Just a Bunch of Words

I went here on a whim tonight, and lookie what happened:

You can play with the colors and layout. The big-sized words in the first layout said "sweet love made Charlie". Which made me blush. I like this layout better because all the words are going their own ways, which is what they tend to do anyway.

So that's my word cloud. You should try it out, too! (And link to the results!)

January 9, 2010

Perfect Day

Considering what a foul mood I was in for most of the week, I'm surprised today turned out so well.

-Chuckles let us sleep in until 8 AM. This whole week he was up at 6:00 - every morning, without fail.

-I made Charlie oatmeal for the first time. As Charlie tries new things, and in an effort to face up to my food phobias, I try each new thing with him. So today I tried oatmeal too. Meh.

-I had time after my shower to put my strawberry body butter on my legs.

-We walked to the farmer's market and got some yummy produce. At one point, we were talking to a lady who sold us some satsumas, and I thought, "Hey, we're talking a person who had some involvement in growing this food." In a world that continues to become more depersonalized, this made me feel pretty awesome.

-On our way home, we stopped at a hall-in-the-wall Mexican food place and had lunch. I wanted to make sweet sweet love to the green salsa. I tried guacamole for the first time. Again, meh.

-I made Charlie bananacado (avocado + bananas), and it was pretty obvious that if he were old enough to have a sex drive, he would have been wanting to make sweet sweet love to it.

-Mandy came over and gave me a keychain she made for me. (Love her!) We went out for a bit, finally ending up at the new cupcake store in town. I had a red velvet cupcake that I wanted to make sweet sweet love to, but I decided not to because the green salsa's feelings were at stake.

-Roy and I took a walk up the mountain near our house. We would have made it to the top if my bladder hadn't felt like it was going to explode.

-We went to my mother-in-law's house to use her bathroom and hang out.

-Back at home, I steamed and pureed the pound of green beans that I had purchased at the farmer's market. I ate strawberries and listened to Fleet Foxes while doing so. Chuckles will have plenty of green beans to chow down on next week.

-Charlie, Roy, and I played together until it was time for Charlie's bath and bedtime.

-Charlie went to sleep easily, and Roy and I began tackling our organization project. We'd gotten really behind but were able to do two weeks worth of organizing in one night.

And now, I'm off to crawl into bed with a book...

(Thanks for your comments on my last post. I made the header a bit smaller so that visitors to the site can see right away whether there's new content. Now I feel that the header is kind of naked, so I'm going to be working on making a new header that will fill up the space a bit better. So time consuming! Especially because I'm such a rookie at this stuff. But if you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know. The date on my posts has gone MIA, even though they should be there. I've tried a million things. It's annoying. But I'm stubborn. I will figure it out, dammit.)

January 8, 2010

Tell me...

What do you think of the improvements around here?

Assuming that things have improved.

I am not very good with graphic design. I've actually never done it before. So the fact that I can take a photo of myself, add text, and upload it to my blog is pretty damn awesome. I'm proud of me.

The photo that I'm currently using as my header features a very imperfect version of me. But it's probably the best representation of myself that I have right now.

I want to do more fun things to this blog, but for now I'm just stoked that it's got a little more personality.

Seven Months

Dear Charlie,

Today you are seven months old. I've been dreading this age, because you are now past the half year mark and are hurtling towards your first birthday. I don't want you to grow up too fast. And yet you continue to change at the speed of light, it seems.

I can't lie, though: you are so fun! I love watching you experience the world and being your constant companion as you do so. You've learned so many new things...

Like sitting up well (but still falling over regularly)...

And starting solids on Christmas Eve (you've tried avocado, carrots, and banana and love banana the most), which has helped you sleep longer at night...

And holding your bottle for pretty much the entirety of each feeding (and continuing to suck on it for long periods of time after it's completely empty)...

And rolling over from tummy to back...

And sleeping on your side or tummy at night instead of on your back (it almost gave us a heart attack the first time we found your sweet face smooshed into the mattress)...

And being steady enough to sit in a restaurant high chair...

And outgrowing some of your cutest outfits (which makes me sad)...

And I can tell by the way you launch yourself forward that you really want to crawl. You love to grab anything you possibly can, which means that I've lost hair by the handful. Today we had lunch with some of my friends and you made your first of many restaurant messes when you knocked over a water glass. I'm quite certain you were very pleased with yourself...

You are a very happy, easy-going baby (except when someone is too loud, and then that makes you scream), and you continue to charm the hell out of anyone and everyone (most of all, your adoring parents).

Charlie, you are, quite simply, the joy of my life. In you, I see myself as I once was and as I long to be again. You are perfect and quirky and hilarious and inquisitive. I hope you are always as open to the world as you are now. I am so proud of you, buddy, and I'm so happy to be your mama.