Monday, December 2
Our little chicken recently turned six months. Six! I feel like this declaration ought to be followed with the usual musings on how fast time flies, where does time go, doesn't it seem like just yesterday he was a wee newborn, etc etc... But no. It feels pretty much exactly like it's been six months. Six hard, beautiful, transformative months of really, really shitty sleep.
But it's been slowly getting better and, some days, dare I say it's a bit easier. We made a big switch a few weeks past, moving Cash from our bed, where he'd nurse Lionel Ritchie-style (ALL NIGHT LONG), to his own crib, and he's taken to the change admirably. Miraculously, even. My quality of sleep is slowly improving, and there is more freedom and space in our days now as his sleep schedule is regulating. But even such a positive change can leave us reeling. One night early in this transition, with both boys in bed, asleep, by 8pm, my husband and I were circling around the house in a confused daze: what? no playing tag with the cranky baby? now you're it, now you're it? We hardly knew what to do with ourselves. I'm sure it won't take us too long to figure out.
One of my mama friends, who already had two kids, told me when I was pregnant with Cash that the first six months are the hardest. We're over that hump now, and I feel I'm breathing a little bit easier. While having two small boys has been exponentially harder than I thought it would be, and in some ways I did not anticipate, still, as I'd hoped, there were some ways in which it was easier than adjusting to life with our firstborn.
Lesson 1: You're already broken in
This was my greatest hope heading into the life of a mama of two: that all of the hard, hard work of learning to identify as a mother I did with Silas would pay off. And it did. While learning to mother two children is one hell of a learning curve, there's a lot you've already figured out. You've already given away all of your time. You're used to being interrupted. You know you're not the mama you thought you would be, and you've settled into being the mama your family needs you to be, and you know that's a much better thing. You and your partner have more or less figured out your roles as parents and partners. Your house is already trashed. In some ways, life with two doesn't look so much different than life with one, because you're already broken in. Which is good, because...
Lesson 2: You've lowered your expectations
...because life with two kids is a whole new ballgame. In fact, often it doesn't even look like the same sport. While this is wildly disorienting, and will shake you to the core of your being, one thing it won't do is be too much of a surprise, because you've learned the first go round to let go of expectations. Or, at least, to not take your expectations too seriously. You already know it won't look or feel anything like what you thought or imagined. You've already learned the hard way that most of your unhappiness stems from wishing hard for what you don't have and failing to embrace what you do have, which is this moment, your body, your breath, your baby, unvarnished, just as it is. You've learned the freedom that comes with accepting life as it comes. You know it's just that simple. (You also know that simple doesn't mean easy.)
Lesson 3: You know to wait it out
This may be the biggest one. I remember so keenly, holding a small, sleepless Silas in the dark hour of night and thinking, and really believing, that I would never sleep again. It felt like dying. While I could reason that there was little chance that this would be true, that Silas would grow up and no longer need me to soothe and feed him back to sleep, because I hadn't experienced it, I couldn't conceive of how this would possibly happen, so completely was I caught up in the discomfort of the moment. But once you've witnessed one child go from nursing all night to sleeping all night in his own bed THANK GOD, you know this: this new baby will, too. You know this baby will learn to sleep, eat, walk, will wean and speak, and often with very limited input from you besides your willingness to wait it out and let things unfold in their own good time. You know what's needed is less of your thinking and more of your patience. And so you wait, and in doing so, you get to relax a little.
Lesson 4: Things change
You know to not get too comfortable with anything, good or bad, because your children are both evolving at lightning speed, and what holds true today may be history by tomorrow. Adaptability is key to survival, which is true as much of parenting as it is of the evolution of species. Change is the one true constant. Now you're more willing to plug your nose, jump in, and go with the flow.
Some days I look back at the first few months of my son's life and wonder, how did we manage to survive? But the fact that we're here is incontrovertible. And one more thing is true: I can hardly remember what it was like to have only one kid, just like I cannot fathom what my life was like before I had children. We are now a family of four. I am a mama of two. Life is sometimes hard, sometimes messy, sometimes scary. But it's always beautiful. Always.
Tuesday, November 26
We're just a couple of days away from Thanksgiving here in the US, and so I thought I would re-post what I shared last year: my best practices for having a Thanksgiving day that leaves you feeling grateful and pleasantly full, instead of cranky and depleted. My husband and I usually host at our house, and we're ahead of the game this year as we've already got the fridge deep-cleaned. This weekend I made some pastry dough and homemade veggie stock and I'm looking forward to a long day of cooking and eating and enjoying family come Thursday. When I follow the following steps, cooking can be a deeply grounding and nourishing experience, even before I've put a morsel of food in my mouth. I hope it will be the same for you. Happy Thanksgiving! I am deeply grateful for you, for taking the time to stop by and read my words. It means so much.
1. Start with a good breakfast. This falls into the "do as I say, not as I do" category of advice. Inevitably, I get excited about what needs to get done, jump in, and all too soon find myself famished and spent, a state that can be hard to recover from. Next time I hold a big gathering at home, when I am planning my menu, I will also plan what yummy, sustaining thing I'll be having for breakfast that morning, to ensure that I start the day fueled up and ready for the long haul.
2. Begin with a clean kitchen. I can't stress this enough. The morning of the big day, my husband usually does all the dishes, as well as clears all the old, dead leftovers from the back of the fridge. (Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.) This ensures that a) we have a fresh and clean space to begin with; b) all our dishes are ready for prepping and serving food; c) we have adequate receptacles and space to hold those all-too-important leftovers. I'm always amazed what a big difference that makes, both to the smooth running of the day, and to help with a relatively painless clean-up after all is said and done.
3. Take a yoga break. Usually, once either the stuffing or the roasted root vegetables are in the oven, I sneak away for 20-30 minutes to take a "yoga nap." This means either this pose or this pose, an eye pillow, and earplugs.
Yesterday, since I am pregnant and a day in the kitchen inevitably takes its toll on my low back, I also did parts of this sequence (#17). (Yay for not being pregnant this year!) This is the very best advice I can offer you: take some time out to rest and refill your well sometime in your big prepping day. Sure, you could fold napkins or iron linens or sweep the floor instead, but I promise you that your guests will notice your shining, rested countenance much, much more than they will your shining kitchen faucet. You will be able to be more present with your guests and actually enjoy their company, and isn't it what the big day is all about?
BONUS! If you are still in need of some menu inspiration, here are a few roundups of recipes from my favorite food bloggers. Bon appetit!
I'm curious: do you have any big-day tricks you can share? What are your plans for this Turkey Day? Are you inspired to incorporate a new self-care routine into your to-do list? I'd love for you to share how it went!
Monday, November 11
Nine years ago today, I dared to sent an email.
It was 2004. Blogs were barely blogs back then--remember when we had to do all of our own HTML? the days before drag-and-drop web design? Online dating was in its infancy, too, and I, whom my friend Matthew liked to call a Luddite, was weary of both. But it was this friend Matthew who urged me to start a blog and, almost in the same breath, told me he's found the perfect guy for me.
He was a poet and a philosophy major and liked the same bands as us and had the same sense of humor. He lived in Texas and Matthew had met him on a message board.
I'm sorry I said, but Internet guy from Texas? That is so not happening.
Still I started a blog, and checked out this guy's blog , and true he was funny and deeply intelligent and dude could write. It was clear to me that if we'd lived in the same city, this would be someone I would try to date. But he was still the Internet guy and he was still from Texas. So no.
Many months passed.
One day, after a conversation with a work friend who was having great luck dating boys she'd met on Lavalife (!), I decided to check out the site.
None of the boys could spell or punctuate properly. No dice.
But then I reasoned with myself: if I was now desperate enough to scroll through Lavalife to try to find a love interest, couldn't I maybe give this Texas Internet guy a try? I knew at least he could write.
So I sent Daniel an email. The subject line was Belated Hey. This wasn't the first email exchange we'd had--we'd struck up a small correspondance via our blogs--but this is the email that started it all. The email I sent thinking, What if? Thinking, What the hell. Today is Rememberance/Veteran's Day, but in our household, it is referred to as Belated Hey Day.
I remember the email as being just barely flirtatious, and containing a Czeslaw Milosz poem. His email back was mildly flirtatious, and included another Milosz poem. And we were off.
This was before Skype, before Instagram. I wasn't even on Facebook, didn't have a cell phone. I don't think we ever did instant messaging. I think I had dial-up Internet. It was, basically, the dark ages.
I lived in an adorable, uninsulated little cottage overlooking a horse paddock and a pond under pines on Vancouver Island. The water stank with sulphur. It was one of the happiest and loneliest times of my life.
Over one short month, we wrote breathlessly and fell in love.
On my birthday (December 16th) we decided we were "a couple," whatever that means when you've never met in person and live 1,900 miles from each other.
Just after Christmas, we said I love you.
On March 12th, he walked off a ferry and we embraced for the first time. Later that day, we kissed.
Less than a week later we were engaged. We got married on August 8th, 2005.
We have not lived a single day since in which we didn't delight in each other. We have a home and two beautiful boys. We have a love and friendship stronger, deeper, and more beautiful than anything I could've wished for.
I"m still stunned and grateful we ever managed to find our way to each other. I can't imagine my life without him in it. I don't want to.
And all because I dared to take a chance on the Internet guy from Texas.
Isn't technology great???
Tuesday, November 5
This post has been lingering in my draft folder for over a month and it speaks of a weather change that occurred weeks ago. But this is NaBloPoMo, and it's late, and I'm tired, and it fits in with today's prompt, and hey! Here's a cute picture of Silas eating a pumpkin. Enjoy!
We got the most wonderful gift here in Central Texas this past weekend: a cold front.
Summers here are so terribly, terribly hot, and drought conditions have prevailed over the last several years. After months of temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s, and hardly a drop of rain, by late August it starts to feel like cool, crisp days will never return. Then, all of a sudden, a day like last Friday comes. It pours hard and steady over an entire day, and instead of the usual post-rain humidity,
So this weekend found us doing things we hadn't, couldn't have done in a long, long while: sitting outside, mowing the lawn, jumping in puddles. Opening doors and windows and shutting off the AC. It's suddenly, eerily quiet in our home, but it also feels larger, more open. Nearly every Central Texan in my Facebook feed glories in the freshness of these days. On Sunday morning, I even pulled on some socks. SOCKS! I hadn't worn socks in probably six months.
All of a sudden, possibilities open up: we could go for walks. We can play outside. We can enjoy a dinner out under the trees with the kids and be perfectly comfortable and happy. Today I had lunch outside, sitting on the shaded grass in a park. You get this feeling that life from here on out will be different and--dare we hope?--better.
It all makes me think that parenting, like weather, cycles through its seasons. When our babies are small or when our toddlers are learning about boundaries by testing them, it may feel as hot and oppressive as July in Texas--and as endless. The hope of September and October and pumpkin spice lattes feels so distant as to be impossible. It's hard to remember that things can, in fact, change overnight. Parenting our first child, we are slow to learn this. But that is one of the great gifts of a second baby: this time, we know how quickly things can change. Our little one's tooth pierces through the painful gum, or that elusive roll-over maneuver is finally achieved, and suddenly he sleeps through the night. (For a while, anyway.) There comes the day when you discover you no longer need the Ergo infant insert and suddenly wearing baby feels a whole lot lighter and easier. You notice the 3-month clothes hardly fit anymore and realize you're well on your way to your baby's first half-birthday.
In these extreme seasons, in weather as in parenting, it may feel as though the changes are very slow in coming. But when they do come--because they do, always and inexorably, come--it's so surprising and refreshing to find ourselves on the other side of what feels like it happened overnight.
Just a reminder--for me, for you--that whatever season you might be finding yourself in, you can trust that changes will come, that nothing is static, that relief is on its way just as sure as the next cool blowing breeze.
Monday, November 4
Inspired by Amanda, on a soft morning after a hard night, when my parents took the boys to daycare and I got to stay home in PJs.
:: the perfect balance of bitter and sweet, hot & foamy, of my morning cup of coffee ::
:: a quiet house on a gray morning ::
:: the freedom and utter luxury of crawling back into bed ::
:: finding my perfect breakfast: fluffy eggs with butter and a splash of cream, spinach, avo, spicy chimichurri sauce, with grapefruit juice ::
:: more coffee, and poetry ::
:: a well-stocked and tidy fridge, clean kitchen counter & sink ::
:: reading a book I really like, with another one waiting in the wings ::
:: knitting again ::
:: soup & stew season ::
:: sitting for meditation in the morning ::