Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thirsty Thursday

Honestly I think I've nursed this baby 9 times today, and we're not even to 10 pm yet. Anybody picking up what I'm putting down? I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding fo sho, and while I'm very thankful to be able to do it, I'm not always in love with the amount of 'hands on' time involved, so to speak. Touched.out. Amiright?

Anyway, I also managed to squeeze in 30 lunges and I plucked my eyebrows before calling it a night. Yesterday's self-care items included 3 miles on the elliptical and some hastily painted nails in an Essie shade I adore, given to me by my sweet little sister-in-law. I've found that higher quality (read: more than $5 per bottle) polish applies smoother, lasts longer, and takes fewer coats to look good, so technically it's cheaper in the long run. Right? Right?

Don't tell me if I'm wrong. All future trips to Target depend upon it.

Hunkering down for the night with my ravenous baby, a few episodes of House Hunters cued up on Amazon prime, and the snow dumping steadily outside our windows. Hope your dreams are pleasantest.

p.s. This is motivating me to continue producing baby fuel:

"You’ve probably heard the delicious fact that breastfeeding uses up the fat stores you laid down in pregnancy. The greatest weight loss is seen in the three to six month period. You’ve just hit the start of this uber fat-burning period."

Hell to the yes. 6 more weeks till game time.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A heaping dose of truth

But try not to throw up in your mouth while reading it.

Despite being virtually bombarded with text messages from multiple friends last night beseeching me to liveblog the State of the Union address on Facebook while drinking, I declined as 'too well to attend' and went to David's Bridal to try on brides matron dresses in varying shades of hideous, which was downright enjoyable compared to what I could have been watching/listening to, I presume. Plus, all we had in the house was bourbon, and I broke up with Facebook months ago.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: I friggin love Rachel Lucas. Thanks for doing what I no longer have the stomach to handle.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Finding my momself

This morning found me bright and early in a snowy parking lot filled with other minivans and SUVs, extracting a wriggling and highly enthusiastic toddler from his carseat to enter the dragon: preschool.

I don't know if you're supposed to cry or something at such a moment (I'm pretty sure you are) but I didn't. Honestly I kind of peeled out of the parking lot after handing off Mr. not-so-much-as-a-backward-glance to his sweet teacher, but that perhaps had more to do with the ice-slicked road than with my untempered enthusiasm. But only just.

I want to say it was a leisurely morning of coffee-sipping and paper reading, but I basically looked down at my phone and realized it wast already time to go pick him up. But it was still a nice break to be back to a 1:2 ratio, if only temporarily. And I think John Paul's vocabulary increased by 300% in the 3 hours while Joey wasn't speaking over him/shout-translating his needs. Snuggly one-on-one time with the middle child: priceless.

When I ventured back at pickup time the tears didn't start flowing exactly, but a thin layer of mist may have sprung to my eyes when Joey spotted me standing in the parent reception area and busted down the door and flung himself around my knees, grinning a mile wide, his teacher in hot pursuit. It turns out you have to wait to be dismissed, buddy, but Mommy is forever grateful for that rare and oh so genuine display of public affection.

We went out to our favorite brunch spot to mark the occasion afterwards, since his first day of school was essentially a random Tuesday in January, and party we did: gluten free french toast with caramel sauce for the little man and a butterless biscuit and black chicory coffee for me. (Lucille's, for any of you lucky local readers. The absolute pinnacle of Denver breakfast dining. We frequent the Littleton location perhaps a tad too frequently.)

Between sips of coffee and relaxing conversation with my sweet visiting sister-in-law, I made two or twenty trips to the bathroom to wipe/wash/change a variety of small people's personal effects, and on one of those trips I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the full length and the very first thing that popped into my head was that I look good for having three little kids.  

The realization stopped me in my tracks. And I don't mean the realization that I do, in fact, look pretty good. But the realization that I recognized it and acknowledged it, not in some forced self-affirming exercise, but organically and automatically, even. Like, it was my first response.

That tells me something. This whole Wellness Project business? It's changing me. Retraining my damaged brain that for years has been sending erroneous messages of not good enough and never going to be and replacing them with accurate insights like pretty good, all things considered and objectively beautiful and, perhaps my favorite, honestly trying.

I have spent so many years speaking words of death and destruction and discouragement to myself without consciously realizing it, but it had become the silent soundtrack to my inner space. But now that I'm doing concrete, tangible things to refute those faulty claims of failure and shortcoming, my brain is startled awake, unable to continue playing the same tired tracks. I have to find a new soundtrack. And yes, for the record, it's awkward as hell to say nice things about yourself, even if it's only in your head. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be said.

So today, my one thing? It was recognizing that the broken soundtrack isn't playing anything worth listening to, any more, and pushing through the awkwardness of the new sounds of truth ringing in my brain.

A little over the top today, admittedly, but I'm blaming it on preschool.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Today was a harder day. Lots of time outs. More than a few spanks. A bright spot was enjoyed by all sometime mid afternoon when dance time was proclaimed and the latest usual suspects were summoned. And then Joey did some break dancing moves and a legit Chinese men's gymnastic floor routine, complete with that weird step-out move they do at the edge of the mat, and I was simultaneously left wondering what exactly I was doing so wrong in my parenting of him…or so very right.

Maybe listening to a regular mix of Katy Perry + T Swift and calling it music?

I did get 3 full Nalgene bottles of water down. I did get 3 miles on the elliptical after dinner. And I did complete the last piece of obligatory paperwork for said dancing king to start preschool bright and early tomorrow morning, thus affording mama 2 mornings each week where I'll be serving only very light parenting duty.


Big win.

How's your week going?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Get up get up and get Downton

My one good thing today? Downton Abbey.

On the couch, cup of tea in hand, candles lit, and (surprisingly appropriately) sitting up nice and straight, which I've been consciously working on. It turns out that being pregnant frequently and nursing constantly makes one into hunchy sort of creature. And hunching does not portray the sleekest of profiles, shall we say.

So, back straight, chest out, chin up, and enjoy a hot cuppa while everybody's favorite Brits angst it out on the small screen.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's the freakin weekend

I fell down on the job a bit yesterday in the self care and posting arena, but suffice it to say that applying a full face of primer + bb cream and a swipe of bronzer was the best I could do. And it was something. We're having some minor issues around the old homestead that aaaaalmost led me down the path of '7 Quick Takes: Reasons renting trumps owning,' but, somewhere between the first and second plumber's visits and my stark realization that making a summit attempt on nighttime potty training when the washer is out, is a terrible plan, I got sidetracked. By urine.

A brief summary: we are renting, and yes we're throwing away all kinds of money every month and yes that's super annoying but it's the same amount of money every month, regardless of whether, hypothetically, your garbage disposal, master shower, washing machine, built-in vacuum system and dishwasher all stop working at the same time. Hypothetically speaking. So, so sorry, landlords.

This morning was rough circa 4 am on, but once I heaved my angry body out of bed at 7 something to the tune of Joey thundering back and forth across the hardwoods screaming "I just need to be free!!!" (why why why) I made an executive decision, ran it by my commander in chief, and sprinted for the nearest exit for some alone time. At Great Clips.

I have ridiculously flat, straight hair that is super easy to cut (and more importantly, hard to screw up) so color me white trash, but my stylist is generally whomever is available for the reasonable tune of $16. I then proceeded to buy some Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner before trotting off to everyone's favorite couture boutique, Elderly Army, where I bought some oversized post-preggo bump-hiding tops. And a great pencil skirt.

Ah, the glamorous minivan selfie.
All in all, a moderately pricy morning, but well worth the investment in that I can finally retire my last maternity top until…2016. Or so.

I have to say, the most obvious effect of the Wellness Project thus far has been the quieting of inner critic. And actually, my outer critic. She isn't silent, but she has certainly piped down, and that's been really freeing.

The other day I caught a glimpse of myself in one of the full length mirrored panels of our bedroom closet (how's that for sadistic?) and the thought immediately sprang to mind: I look like I had a baby recently. And what followed wasn't a wave of disgust or even frustration but rather, a very reasonable Yep, I had a baby recently.

I was texting with a friend who is newly pregnant with number 2 (yay!) and lamenting the sad fact that in our culture, pregnancy is only acceptable for 9 months. Why, when such a profound bodily experience has transpired, is it not okay to look like something huge and important and massively disruptive to the norm (see what I did there?) has occurred? It's fine to be big and cute and round and even huge by the end, but it's suddenly shocking to be stretched out and recovering even one month after the event. To other people, maybe, but more to the point, it's shocking to ourselves.

Every one of my girlfriends, almost without fail, have at one time or another been self-critical in my presence of their beautiful, hardworking and yes, altered postpartum bodies. And I'm sorry for not having been more firm with them in my reassurances that they looked beautiful, and that recovery takes more than a handful of weeks and a stretchy pair of yoga pants. I've always cringed at the expression "9 months on, 9 months off," but I'm beginning to see the truth in it. And maybe it's 12 months. Or maybe 15. Maybe after every baby your body changes a little more, is altered uniquely by the new and unrepeatable person who has been nurtured and grown within it.

God, make me more merciful toward myself, and toward other women whose appearances I've judged or been tempted to judge.

Also, isn't there just something about a new haircut? Even if it was obtained in a strip mall.

Hope you mamas are kicking back and don't forget to head over to Bonnie's to vote. If you want.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Snow Day

We got 4 big inches overnight, which are mostly melted by now, but which nevertheless sufficed to turn my kids batshit crazy for the morning, so, rest of the country? I (somewhat) feel your pain. But not really, because it will be 52 tomorrow and we're going sunbathing.

I call this image: "What up, that's my dead Christmas tree on our front porch."
Today at Chipotle, my male cashier confided to me that he is going to have kids someday just so he can  "wear them like that," pointing at my Ergo-strapped load. In potentially related news, the entire strip mall in which said Chipotle resides reeked of (legal) marijuana. Hail, Colorado.

Last night was date night, and we had a real sitter lined up and everything…okay, it was my little sister, who lives in our basement for 29 more days until her wedding (WOOT WOOT), but still, she was willing to sit on babies for free. And yet somehow, by 7:19 pm with both boys in bed, I couldn't summon the energy to put on real pants. So we improvised with a stowed away bottle of Malbec and an amazon prime gem about Beatrix Potter's love life. Gentlemen, you wish your wives treated you this good…

(Wine was a bad choice.)
After reading one too many posts about children light-years younger than Joey this week, I made a snap decision and announced to him that he had outgrown pull-ups and was now a man who could use the facilities at night. He excitedly asked if this meant I could take the lock off of his bedroom door knob and then proceeded to use his newfound freedom to visit the bathroom 9 times last night (that we know of).

Whatever. He woke up with dry sheets this morning. Now onto my next project, teaching him to pull a decent shot of espresso.

Tonight is not date night, but it is "Mommy flees the house with a sister and/or girl friend for one drink, one trip to the thrift store and maaaaaybe a pit stop at Target, if she's lucky." The real question being: to pump or not to pump. I think if I do go the pumping route, I might get myself 4 whole hours of freedom. Not that I could stay out that late. But still, the thought of being able to is tantalizing.

So I guess either lunch at Chipotle or pumping breast milk is my one thing today…bit of a reach, but it's that kind of day.

And since these kinds of posts are clearly the reason I was nominated for a Sheenazing award in the categories of best mom blog (okay) funniest blogger (well…) coolest blogger (not even close) and smartest blog (I'm sorry, I'm competing with Simcha, is that even real? No.) why not hop over to Bonnie's and cast your vote. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Water, water everywhere...

But Mommy doesn't want to share.

Not anymore, suckers. 

That's right, you can't dip your fingers into my brand new Nalgene, and you can't coax snotty little sips from me because, sigh, it's easier than getting up and getting another cup for you to drink 2 sips out of before running away…

This one's all Mommy's. Day 3 - bought myself a water bottle. 

I also made a conscious decision to spend nap time (all three down at once, first time!!) eating a leisurely lunch in silence, catching up on internets, and sipping Pellegrino with lit candles burning on the coffee table in front of me. Normally this precious daily interlude finds me frantically cleaning and reassembling the house, so that when the boys awake they can - wait for it - trash it all over again so I can repeat the process after bedtime. 

Why am I cleaning my house twice every day? Am I crazy? Quite possibly. 

So yeah, the floors look pretty sick right now, but I'm probably going to have time to pray a rosary and possibly even eat a lara bar before anyone makes a needy squeak. I'd consider that a fair trade. 

p.s. Katrina and Kris and Lucy and all kinds of fun mamas are playing along…are you taking good care of yourself today?

p.p.s. Mama Needs Coffee is Sheenazing…who knew? Voting begins tomorrow at Bonnie the magnificent multitasker's.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Well that was fun (Day 2)

This morning I woke up before most of my children, because the youngest of the bunch slept for 6 hours straight in her shiny new-to-us, plugs-into-the-wall-like-a-boss baby swing, so I had full use of my extremities at 6:30 am. I used said extremities to lather, rinse, repeat and then applied makeup and then dressed myself in real clothing (read: does not belong on a treadmill) which I kept on UNTIL THE SUN WENT DOWN.

That's right, I wore a real, honest to goodness pair of pants from morning till night. And I eventually curled my freshly washed hair, too.

Standards: they've never been this low. So there's only one way to go, I guess.

All in all, day 2 of the Wellness Project goeth well…and so goeth the life of my family. All that crap about putting on your own oxygen mask first? It's legit. I was so much more available to my children today, and in such a better mood when Dave got home tonight. I even cooked dinner. With the real pants still on. Just stop me, I'm on fire. (In all fairness, 6 unbroken hours of sleep may have had something to do with all the productivity oozing out of my concealed pores.)

It seems like this is a good idea, and one that's resonating with lots more of you mamas out there, from the looks of the comments and emails yesterday's post generated. So I will be posting a little snippet each of these next 29 days with the 'one good thing' from that day. Maybe you guys can do the same? I'd love to hear what kind of things you're doing, and whether taking these little opportunities to care for yourself is impacting your work and your relationships, especially with your families, for the better.

In summary: day 2 - showered and dressed, including hair and makeup, all before attending to the children. 28 more days to go…

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Wellness Project

(alternately titled, learning to wash mah hair.)

I'm not overly familiar with the style of writing by which you win friends and influence people with your gentle voice, sweet spirit, and earnest vision for a brighter future, so bear with me if this comes off as…odd. But I shall press on because I think this is something important and worthy of putting pen to (virtual) paper over. And I think I can channel Kelle Hampton for a hot second while I try to cast some vision up in here. Here goes nothing.

This morning, as with so many other mornings, found me pawing through my paltry, spandex-y wardrobe searching vainly for something 'fresh' or 'exciting' or even 'properly fitted to my actual body on this date on the calendar,' but to no avail. My husband caught me on my second sartorial effort of the morning and smiled a little smile as I ripped yet another ill-fitted maternity/nursing/stretched out bag lady top over my head and flung it down in frustration.

"My body is a disaster."

His head snapped up.

"No! Honey, don't say that…your body is a work of love."

(Can you believe this guy is real? Me neither. Lucky, lucky me.)

He says stuff like this not infrequently, but for some reason it hit me hard and fresh today, straight between the eyes.

My body is a work of love.

I know he was primarily referring to the beating I've taken via baby making, and reassuring me that to give life is to become increasingly more beautiful. But it also occurred to me that as much as my body, in its current form, is a work of my having loved and loved greatly…I am also created in capital-L Love, by God.

I don't know how many of you mamas can relate to this, but I don't actually live in this truth. I tell it to my children, and I desperately hope they internalize it and believe it, but I've come to realize that I don't act as if I believe it about myself: I am a work of His love.

I constantly evaluate my physical appearance, critically assessing and sizing up and ultimately disapproving of every flaw, every shortcoming, every imperfection. Meanwhile, I speak words of affirmation and encouragement to my girlfriends:

"Don't even think about losing the weight right not, just focus on healing and growing that baby." 

"You are so beautiful."

"You look amazing."

"You're such a strong mother."

All things I routinely (and honestly) say to my friends. But never to myself. Not only because I'd feel weird doing it, but because I don't believe any of it, not about me, not right now. And maybe not ever.

The truth is, motherhood has made me more comfortable with my body than I'd previously thought possible, after a childhood of chubbiness and an adolescence and young adulthood marked by disordered eating. But I've still got some work to do.

That's where this idea of the Wellness Project comes in. You see, I do pretty well at self care in the emotional realm. When I need a hot bath, an episode of House Hunters over a margarita, or a couple hours out of the house with one of my sisters, I go for it. I'm doing passably well spiritually speaking, too. A rosary here and a few minutes of Scripture reading there, most days. But I seem to have really fallen down in the arena of physically caring for myself. Not just working out (though as the 5th week of Evie's exterior life comes upon us, I can jump back on that train aaaaany day now), but putting myself together in the morning. Putting on mascara. Pouring a huge glass of water and going out to the front porch to quietly sip in peace for 5 minutes before the boys get up from their naps in the afternoon.

Little things. Small steps. Bit by bit, I'm going to do better. Starting today, and for the next 30 days (how edgy to start a self-help project in mid-January, amiright?) I'm going to do something good for myself on a physical level. Some days it might be exercise related, other days it might be beauty-based. And don't worry, I'll probably post a weekly re-cap, I won't subject you to daily updates on whether I got my left handed nails all painted or not. Baited breath, I'm sure.

Do you want to come with me?

Today was day one. And I bought myself new jeans. In the size I am right now. Not the size I hope to be a month from now, but the size I can actually fit into today. Because wearing maternity jeans when you're not pregnant sucks. And because … Walmart. I'm not proud, but at least there's no elastic around my waist. Plus, did you know Jordache was still a thing?


We'll see what tomorrow holds. In the meantime, here are some posts from around the web that got this pot of coffee percolating before this morning's 'aha' moment. Maybe they'll get you thinking about ways you can take better care of you, too.

Mary's tips for feeling instantly better. Love her, and love her cute new baby boy.

Modern Mrs. Darcy's insights on process-oriented goals.

Ashley's commitment to be brave this year.

Jessi's observations on why moms don't take care of themselves.

And basically Jen's, Hallie's and Grace's entire blogs. For obvious reasons.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes

1. It's over 50 degrees here today, which means my boys are cavorting in the backyard wearing only light vests and let's be honest, no socks. Shoes, but no socks. We're now that family.

2. I am still deeply mourning for the glory that was Downton, Seasons 1 and 2. If I wanted that kind of horror, frankly, I'd be watching CSI.

3. I am feeling a tad bit Romesick today after fielding emails from two of our dearest friends over there. I should probably click back through the 'ol archives to remind myself how emphatically un-rose-colored daily life there actually was, but instead I'll let the happy amnesia of time take away all the bad and leave only the good, sweet, and beautiful intact. Ah, bella Roma…

(American medical care, a mini van, friends and family, Super Target, Mass in English, traffic laws, air conditioning, … there, now I'm back to reality.)

4. I have this 3 year old and, oh, my goodness, what is it about this age? One moment they're a bundle of precious psuedo-babyness with chubby cheeks and they next minute they're bombing down the driveway (strictly against protocol) on their bikes and trying to get him by passing cars, I swear. Or yelling 'Stupid Mommy!' as one fruitlessly searches for one's keys in the Walmart parking lot. You haven't really hit rock bottom as a parent until you've been verbally abused by your offspring in the Walmart parking lot.

5. I am writing this fifth take from a perch on our milk box on the front porch, watching the Bobbsey twins fight over stepping each other's shadows with a baby strapped to my chest and sitting partially obscured by our dead Christmas tree which has yet to make the long migration aaaaaaall the way to the curb. I think this tells you all you need to know about this week.

6. The baby won't tolerate dairy or being put down for a hot second while the sun still shines, so the Ergo and tequila are still the winningest combination.

7. I've had so many inquiries and questions regarding travel to Italy with babies and specifically accommodations, transportation and sightseeing in Rome that I think I'm going to add a "life and travel in Rome" tab to the 'ol blog. All these people gearing up to head over for the canonization of JPII probably has a teensy bit to do with my aforementioned Romesickness, but it will be fun to put together a list of 'must sees' and advice for other happy travelers who are planning a great escape.

Boring, random, and right on time. Go see Jen for more.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Babies and Bonding

I've always prided myself on extreme self-reliance. An almost pathological self-reliance, truth be told. Chalk it up to a mixture of firstborn-child-meets-choleric temperament with a heaping dose of introversion and you have a lone wolf-ette who doesn't like to ask for help or work as part of a team. Ever. Even in high school the sports I chose were laughably individualistic: swimming, diving, cross country running, discus and shot put (not even joking) and…wait for it…pole vaulting. So yeah, I put the "I" in team.

Then I got married. 

More specifically, then I got married, got pregnant, and gave birth to our sleep-averse firstborn child. Fast forward 4 years and three babies and while this one sleeps a whooooole lot better (knock knock KNOCKING on heaven's big wooden door here) than her older brothers did/do, she is still up for portions of the night/morning I'd just as soon leave to the imagination. And then the sun comes up and the party really gets going because there are three of them. And they all want all of me, pretty much all day long. 

I try to divide and conquer the house/my work/their needs/my wants, but 4:56 pm on any given evening will find me frantically texting one hard-working hubby for minute-by-minute updates on his commute conditions. God help him if he texts back while still sitting at his desk. 

It's not just that I miss him during the work day, (and I do! Though perhaps not to the same level of creepy g-chatting intensity seen during our courtship. Ahem.) I desperately need him to tag team this burgeoning child army we're creating, for better or worse. Today, like so many other Mondays of recent memory, it was mostly worse. I think I let both boys out the front door, barefoot, to tear down the driveway to his still running (but parked) car in hot pursuit of the fun parent. I just sort of stood in the doorway, cradling a fussy newborn in one arm and vacantly patting my unwashed top knot while I wondered what the neighbors thought about barefoot children in 40-degree weather. Probably they love it. But I digress.

If this husband in question were to offer me, in fact, the choice between a shopping spree at Tiffany's or  a solid month of evenings during which he would be home one hour earlier than usual every day, I'd pick him over diamonds. Truly I would.

I need him in a physical, emotional, and spiritual way that I could never have envisioned 4 years ago, standing up on the altar all skinny and mascara-clad, full of good intentions and heartfelt vows. I'm still getting back into the mascara habit, thanks to the fraternal (sororital?) correction of my little sister, but I'm definitely not skinny any more. And I probably won't be for quite some time if things keep going the way they've been going (courtesy disclaimer: not currently pregnant). And that's fine. It's not what awesome, but it's fine, because this is what babies do to women's bodies: they change them. For better and for worse. Mostly worse, but honestly, I don't mind all that much any more.

So babies change our bodies. And they also change our bonds. I remember naively listening to Dr. Janet Smith's famous treatise "Contraception, Why Not?" as a college student and nodding along sagely as she spun her anecdotal wisdom about marriages involving children being fundamentally more difficult to walk away from, because you're not just a pair anymore, but a family. There's more at stake if the thing blows up. I get that, now. I'd never dream of leaving Dave for any reason, but the thought of walking out the door on our children makes me physically ill to contemplate. There is a bond we've literally co-created that physically, psychically, spiritually links us for all eternity. Actually, we've got three of them. We're in real deep. 
Real, real deep.
And I love that. I love how deeply I depend upon him to come walking through the door at night to rescue  me from the scrabbling, sticky paws of tiny monsters who can't stop touching me for two seconds and who absolutely won't sit still for a perfectly lovely episode of "House Hunters" at 4:30 pm because mama's trick bag is not only empty, but there's a gaping hole in the bottom, but who will beg mercilessly for Curious George the whole time I'm trying patiently to explain the superiority of coffered ceilings and crown moldings. I mean really.

Then comes prince charming, zooming up the street in his noble Toyota Camery and suddenly I am rescued, I am not alone, I am not doing this by myself…and even though I look like a lukewarm mess and 100% of my outfit involves some percentage of spandex, I know he'll come through the door, kiss me, take a baby off my hands and tell me to go pour myself a glass of wine. Or water, as Genevieve would have it. 

Am I enslaved to this man whose life is pledged to me and mine to his? I guess that's one possible interpretation. But it is a sweet, sweet bondage, forged in the crucible of the delivery room, the late-night runs to Super Target for diapers, the monthly roller coaster of charting and calculating and discerning, and in the endlessly-needy love and adoration of three tiny people who have his blue eyes and my strong will.  I've yet to come across a form of contraception that can offer those kind of benefits.

(Cross posting at Catholic Exchange today)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


1. My Ergo

2. Alcohol

3. Amazon prime streaming

4. Blackest black espresso

5. Driving aimlessly through the burbs in my minivan because I've forgotten where it is we're trying to get to. Truly.

Enough with the listing though. This week has started out on a rough note. Suspected RSV in the wee one (mercifully not, but still sleepless in Seattle.), a potentially broken finger in the medium one (x-rays on a one-year old are surprisingly do-able.), and endless amounts of willful tantrum throwing and truly horrifying behavior from the resident pre-schooler. Except he's not in preschool yet. But God knows he should be, because he asks me all day long one million and one questions about life and its intricacies, bosses his poor brother around like an indentured servant, and begs me to teach him how to read.

Honey, mommy hasn't taken a shower since Friday, phonics are not happening this winter. Or possibly ever, as the price of tuition leads me to believe.

Even now as I try to string a meager 200 words together he is at my elbow, shoving a chapter book in my face and  dumping shelled pistachios in my lap in some bizarre attempt to capture my attention. I know it's all he wants, my attention, but sleeplessness and nursing and work and dishes and too many demands on a mama's time = go watch more Curious George. Except please don't, because I truly hate the sound of that monkey's voice.

(Oh good, the doctor's office just called with reports of swelling but no fracture in JP's finger. I heart American medicine.)

So just to review: little sleep, few 'wins' in the engaged parent department, and pistachio shells littering the entire main floor of our house. Also, does anyone have an opinion on relieving nighttime congestion in newborns, aside from the usual and obvious? We even bought a nose frida…we're those parents, now. I read one mommy message board advocating straight up mouth-to-nose suctioning, so I'm not feeling completely disgusting…yet.

And finally, Downton: you're dead to me. Honestly, I am in no state to entertain that kind of trauma. I'm still getting over Matthew. How can you be so cruel?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Not a Link Up

But not a real post, either. I am severely blocked. Or perhaps just really busy and really tired and confused when I look at the blank space before me in Blogger and think about perhaps putting something in there to fill it up. I kind of forget how to write, and definitely how to write things that are not lists. I can do lists still, but not paragraphs full of sound and cogent arguments. I can probably muster up a complaint/gratitude litany of some sorts, too, but I doubt anyone wants to read that.

So, a list.

1. I am so bad at responding to comments. Seriously, it's embarrassing, because on the one hand I LOVE getting them and I eagerly lap them up like a lonesome puppy when my iPhone dings with the arrival of another bit of cheer from the outside world in my inbox…but I can't seem to keep on top of responding to them. It's a hideous intersection of introversion + a reluctance to reply directly on the comment chain itself + inefficient little chunks of time in which to craft some semblance of a coherent reply worthy of somebody's eyeballs.

So. I end up sitting down for 43 minutes one random night in the week, banging out 17 or 30 replies straight, pat myself on the back and feel a huuuuuge sense of accomplishment, and then realize that well over 50% of those replies I just sent went to "" or something like that, and then part of my soul withers because I just spent 20 minutes emailing the black hole of the internet and wasted valuable emotional energy on non-persons. Moral of the story: link your email to your comments, pretty please. And look the other way when I reply to you 5 days late and out of left field,  causing you to wonder what you may have even said in the first place. Prettier please.

2. So. (That's an inappropriate way to begin a sentence. My honors english teacher is rolling her eyes in disgust right now, somewhere out there, because I no longer excel and grammar, nor do I even properly execute most basic grammatical rules.) So.

3. I yell at my kids. A lot. I'm trying really hard to curtail the shrewing that goes down around these parts, but it's a painstaking gain of inches each day. I must say that when Joey tells me "Mommy, you scared me with your scary voice" I find new motivation and new levels of parental guilt I could not formerly access. Thank you, tiny son, for showing me the ugliness of maternal vs. offspring throw downs. I'm trying to moderate my decibel level. Maybe you could moderate your destruction level?

4. This baby sleeps awesome still, provided that I consume no dairy and no beer. She lets me know from both ends, immediately, how very deep her disapproval is of both substances, and so I'm on a weird tequila, lara bar and asian food kick these days. Hoping she'll mature out of it, but also hoping that the baby weight finds its way out the door a little quicker as I gulp shots of black espresso and look longingly at the box of fudgecicles in my freezer.

5. And now to wake both toddlers up from their naps prematurely to trot down to the dentist's office for a friendly afternoon appointment. My first foray into semi-public (does the grocery store count? Or restaurants?) solo con tres bambini. We shall see. And we shall probably wail, but perhaps not gnash our teeth, because I'm not sure dentists approve of such behavior.

Probably she'll kill me when she's older. Just killing (nap)time.

Friday, January 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes from Under a Rock

...aka life with a newborn. Or at least the way life ought to be with a newborn.

1. This is my first go-round where hideous, creeping PPD hasn't been on the menu for the post partum period, and oh my GOD is it a game changer. (I say that prayerfully. I am so profoundly grateful for not having to shoulder that cross this time around.) I am actually experiencing those moments of joy and wonder where I've got nothing more pressing on my agenda than staring at my sweet baby's fluffy duckling hair and pink cheeks. Okay, that's a lie, I've had a fair share of weepy/enraged outbursts and, okay, certain members of this household have really let their personal hygiene standards sliiiiide (I'm looking at you, 21 month old who pissed on the oriental rug yesterday morning) … but for the most part, it's like a honeymoon. If a honeymoon involved very little sleep, relaxation, or clothing that was attractive in any way, shape, or form. But still, it's good. So good.
She looks the grumpiest, but she's really the best.
2. I've been trolling everyone else's blog and reading some of those end of the year recap posts and thinking about what I want to accomplish/shoot for this year, and to be honest, it's not really something I generally go in for. New Year's resolutions are somewhere between wearing green on St. Patrick's day and eating hot dogs on the 4th of July in my hierarchy of holiday observations, but I think reading some excellent and insightful content from other peoples' mental to-do lists has inspired a touch of aspiration in me. Just a touch. I thought about the possibility of having a word to inspire/aspire to for the new year, and I came up with 'Focus.' Which is really fairly ridiculous, because I now have 3 kids 3 and under, the best sleeper in the lot is 18 days old, and I'm stupid tired all the time. But I think I might be stupid tired for the next several decades, actually. So I want to sharpen my moments, if you will, into something resembling meaningful experiences, be they tedious read-alouds with the non-verbal set or cathartic late-night vacuuming sessions to soothe my tired soul. (Please tell me I'm not alone?) So, Focus. As in, wherever you are, be there. Be all in. So 2014, I'm going all in. And I'm going to start by purchasing 3 different sizes of diapers in bulk.

3. Reading actual books. I spend so much time on the internet and so much time reading 800 word snippets of news! information! breaking! relevant! now! that I'm kind of rusty in the practice of actually consuming entire volumes of thematic information. And I don't think it speaks well for my intellect that the past 10 works of fiction I've dipped into would all be on the same shelf at the library, and that shelf would also include the Twilight series. Dystopian YA fiction, we're on a break. I'll call you when I've had my space. I'm loving reading her list and also hers, and then I happened upon this one last night and basically i have my work cut out for me. And speaking of libraries, I should probably start using one again because Kindle will bankrupt us on my watch if I'm not more careful.

4. Okay also this one.

Because a friend of mine wrote it. And I love this picture of Papa. I'm really hoping to work through EG as a couple this year, but daily reflections are probably more along our stupid tired speed right now.

5. My baby, that adorable squishy fluffy haired baby, hates dairy and alcohol. I'm like, seriously kid, you were friggin conceived in Italy, put your game face on… but she's like, "No thanks mom, I'd prefer if you'd stick to seltzer water and lara bars. Okay, and scrambled eggs are fine with your black espresso."

Little tyrant.

(Hence the above-pictured lime soda water I'm currently enjoying for my midday happy hour on the front stoop. Did I mention it's 60 degrees in Denver today?)

6. In the spirit of being more 'focused' I'm going to try really hard to write at the same time each day, be that for the blog, for Catholic Exchange, for CNA, or for some other publication. What that translates to on a practical level will be a steadier stream of content, I hope, though perhaps slightly less frequent posting overall. But the fact that my nap-boycotting three year old is shrieking at me from his room right now is probably a fair indication of how this will pan out.

7. Speaking of being up to my ears in babies…does anybody out there in blogland use a mother's helper? Where did you find such a magical creature, what do you pay them, how many hours per week do you employ them, and how do you define their roles? Ideally I'm looking for 10 hours of housework/meal prep/kid entertaining so that I can either a. nurse the baby b. hit a deadline or c. leave the house for a mental health break/a work meeting. Can a mother's helper meet these pressing and exciting needs? Should I offer a 401k package? Do I need to clean my house frantically every day before she shows up so I won't engage in self-shaming behavior the entire time she is here? Do tell.

Head over to Jen's, the list-whisperer, for more.