17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What Makes a Great Mother?

So what makes a mother great? Let's hope for the sake of my soon-to-be-born son that it's not CONFIDENCE. I am surrounded by great mothers, women who both inspire and intimidate me. My first baby is due at the end of March and I am still in a state of panic/shock. You'd think the past 8 months of reading, discussing and praying would have helped my cause...nope. Still scared. I hate not being good at things (yeah, I know, who doesn't?). But I REALLY don't like it. I have in the past, gotten over my fear of failure through practice. I love to practice. I practiced on the piano. I practiced all of my debate speeches. I spent many years of my life working 25-30 hours a week in a gym ...yep, practicing. The good news - I never blew a song in a recital. I rarely made mistakes in a debate. I was a fierce competitor in all my gymnastic meets. Oh the glory days. Now back to motherhood. I think the root of my fear lies in my inability to practice being a mother, before Jr. pops out and...I'm his MOTHER. Sure, I have babysat, but we all know that doesn't really count. So I beg of you - all you fabulous mommies out there who I look to - tell me what makes a great mom great in your eyes. And try to make it a skill/quality that I can practice!
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Congrats to Beth!

You may not have noticed, but our description up top has changed. There is one less baby "in utero" and one more "crazy kid"! Beth had a healthy, bouncing baby boy last weekend. Now the times have REALLY changed for our new mom Beth . We can't wait to see your first post-baby post detailing the good, the bad, and the ugly of your labor experience! Don't worry, we'll give you a few weeks to catch your breath.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Fatter Than Barbie, Stronger Than Ken

Where did all of the body issues that plagued my teens and early 20s go? Here I am ... down from my post-pregnancy weight, but no longer my 18-year-old toned and trim self ... yet I feel 100000% better about my body.

I have some theories on my body-image metamorphosis:

(1) My DH has brainwashed me into believing I am thin enough and sexy enough. Where did I go wrong when I picked him?

(2) Maturity and age. I'm too old and tired to diet and too smart to know that, unless I plan to drink Slim Fast or eliminate carbs for the rest of my life, the weight will just come back anyways.

(3) My feminist self has deconstructed our society's prolific objectification of women to the point where I no longer feel the desire to conform to unrealistic and highly subjective expectations about how the female body should look (Thanks FMH!).

Probably a little from all of the above. However, more than anything I think I conquered most of my body issues through birthing my two sons.

A quick disclaimer: I'm not a die-hard natural birth advocate. I would say I advocate having babies any way that works for all those involved - whether it be via vagina, via c-section or via cross-country plane trip.

I found giving birth as liberating as it was painful. I know this is not every woman's experience, but it was mine. My first son arrived seven weeks premature. By the time his little head was crowning, there were no less than 12 doctors and nurses in my labor room, within full-range view of my vagina. You think after enduring all of the indecencies of labor I am going to worry about a few stretch marks or miss an otherwise memorable day at the beach over some back-thigh cellulite? No way!

Not only was birthing my children liberating...it was EMPOWERING! My BODY found the strength to push out these little live beings. I am naturally a very physical person. I love to work out...to push my body beyond its comfortable limits. I spent most of my teen years in a gym playing basketball and I was an avid skier and distance runner in college. None of those experiences compared to the physical intensity of giving birth. I once heard labor described as "running a marathon and having an orgasm at the same time." My babies came fast, so my experience is better summed up as an 800 meter sprint....but otherwise I love the comparison.

So now that I've exposed my stretch marks, my cellulite and my birthing experiences in way too much detail....I'd love to hear what experiences have helped YOU appreciate your own bodies....
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Friday, February 24, 2006

I HEART being a mom in NYC

My tribute to NYC goes a little something like this...1. I stand on Lexington Ave. and 28th st. in Manhattan dumbfounded because I have lost baby's only binky. I stand blocking ped. traffic and look down the block to see if I can see anything white that I dropped. I decide I will go back for it if it is within my sight. I can't see it, I am dismayed and all of a sudden this food delivery guy pops out of nowhere holding it up for me. Thank you! I say...as if he had just given me a diamond ring.

2. I walk up my stairs with baby in the bjorn and my bell rings. A woman says: Did you just walk in your house with a baby? Yes. And instinctively my right hand goes to her right foot to find it is bare...I knew the woman had the bootie. I went downstairs and she was so friendly, she had seen me drop the boot, run after me and then when she turned the corner I had dissappeared. She was going from house to house ringing bells and she found us.

3. I am just about to break my back (again) to walk my stroller up the subway steps, and a guy just grabs it and books it up, leaves it at the top and doesn't even wait for his thank you. I love the guys that ask first and accept the thank you as well...and I especially love the guys who aren't even going that way, and help me up the stairs, only to go back down again.

4. I love the amount of times I hear "God Bless" while walking down the street.

5. My favorite is when the most ghetto/gangsta/whatever you wanna call it guy is on the subway and LIGHTS UP when my baby smiles at him. Classic.

6. I love the joy that my children bring total strangers...every day, every hour, every minute. Seeing a happy child changes peoples energy.

7. I love walking with them.

8. I love that when I pick up baby #1 and start running she immediately says: "Are we catching the bus?" Usually we are.

9. I love that being a mom is my workout.

10. I love that in the workplace I am unique. I always get: Are you the nanny? You have two kids? You look so young... How old are you? Yesterday someone said: How is that you have two kids and you are 26? I replied: Did you not take health in high school? I am worried though that I won't have friends with common interests when I am in my forties... because all the girls will be starting their families just as mine are leaving the house. Maybe I will just have to have another batch in about 15 years. Just kidding DH.

11. I am sitting on the subway and a woman observes me and my two kids for several stops. As she exits she says: "It's nice to see kids with their MOM" (instead of a nanny).

12. I am on the subway with baby #2 on my lap. A man sits nice and close to us and pulls out his playstation and watches "are we there yet?" starring ice cube. Baby leans over and rests her cheek on his arm, settles in to watch a film while we ride. Nothing like your beautiful innocent baby cuddling with a perfect stranger.
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

Okay, well maybe not always better, but I can do it one handed with a baby on my hip.

The other morning, I was getting really frustrated because I couldn't put my contacts in while holding Pumpkin. I realized this frustration stemmed from the fact that I have learned to do so many things one-handed since having children. It really is a talent most mother's have to develop to survive. To celebrate this talent that will never be seen in the Olympics or on American Mother Idol, I started a list of my biggest "one-handed" accomplishments (I am still perfecting the putting in of the contacts).

Here it is so far:
-make breakfast, lunch, or dinner (I can even chop thanks to my Pampered Chef Chopper--no little fingers can get in the way).
-decorate for the ward Christmas party (I wasn't in charge, but I did have to set up a number of little nativity sets).
-teach a YW lesson (the challenge was actually keeping the girls attention on me instead of the smiley, goofy, drooly baby).
-type on the computer (still working on all the typos).
-pick up dog poop (without getting any on my hands or on the baby).
-clean the ward chapel (and my house).
-make a bottle of formula... in a Dr. Brown's bottle (far more complicated).
-pee in a public toliet (harder in jeans but no prob in my velour sweat pants).

Seriously, I got skills and I know you do too. Let's hear it.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Nesting Instinct Is Real

When I first got pregnant 8 months ago and started diligently reading every book on pregnancy I could find, I was a little skeptical whenever I came to the “What you’re experiencing emotionally this month”-type sections. How could they possibly generalize what every pregnant woman feels from month to month? I was especially skeptical of this thing they labeled “the nesting instinct”: this urge to “nest” like a bird, set up a home, clean, organize, put things in their places, and just generally prepare a place for “baby” (I can’t stand how these books insist on leaving out the definite or possessive article when referring to our unborn children).

But I’m here to confess that, at least with this one generalization, the pregnancy books seem to be right.I first felt it in the middle of my fourth month when my constant nausea was finally gone. I found myself not only cleaning and organizing everything but actually accomplishing major projects that I’ve been wanting to do for years but never found/made the time for: cataloging every book we own (by author, title, pub date, publisher, ISBN, and price—yes, I admit it’s a little overboard!); making a list of all our CDs and DVDs (not quite finished); creating an address table with names, children’s names, phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses of everyone we’ve ever known and wanted to keep in touch with; finishing my wedding album; labeling and uploading all our digital pictures to the web. I couldn’t believe how quickly and efficiently I got these things done. I’ve been just a planner and a thinker when it comes to these kinds of things. Suddenly at 17 weeks pregnant, I was a doer! It felt great.

But this need to nest really set in when it came time to disrupt my future baby’s home. And I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that went along with it. At the beginning of my fifth month, it was time for my husband and I to pack up our entire household and move back to the States: our first overseas post with the Foreign Service was coming to an end. Now, to adequately articulate the emotions I felt in this process, I have to explain that I was really looking forward to this move: we’d been in Sarajevo for 18 months, and although we enjoyed the city, found the culture and history of the country fascinating, and made a few really good friends, we felt—mostly because the church hasn’t been established in Bosnia yet—lonely, isolated, and empty most of our time there. Our life was never as full and rich there as it had been previously in New York. Then once we found out we were pregnant, the desire to leave the country and be back in the States in time for our first delivery was stronger than ever. I was eager to pack up and come home.

But the weekend came when we needed to prepare for the packers, and I freaked out. “Preparing for the packers” meant deciding what—out of everything we own—would go into our 450 lb. air-shipment to the States and what (everything else) would go into storage in Antwerp, Belgium for the next ten months to meet us in Tokyo (our second post) after our “temporary assignment” in the States. Do you know how little 450 lbs. is? Do you know how hard it is to decide what you will need to live for almost an entire year? I had to stand in front of my wall of books—my beloved books—and decide which ones I could live without for a year; my husband had to choose which of his precious cookbooks would stay behind; we had to anticipate what clothes, shoes, cookingware, linens, and important documents would be absolutely necessary over the next ten months and then send the rest to storage to be completely inaccessible until a year later.

I don’t think I made a single decision that weekend without crying. My husband and I argued. I deliberated for hours over the smallest choices. Here I was, anxious to make this change, ready to move on to an exciting new transition, and I resisted every step of it. Something inside of me reacted so negatively I barely knew how to behave.

I think it was when I was sitting on my bedroom floor trying to decided whether or not I would really need/want to have my first journal with me (the journal my mother started for me with an account of the day I was born and that I took over when I was able to write) that I first recognized my baby’s movement inside of me. And it all became clear. Internally, I was feeling the need to “nest,” and here I was ripping apart my “nest.” Everything that I was looking forward to and doing that weekend conflicted with this very subconscious maternal instinct to prepare for my baby’s arrival. Inside, I was feeling the need to have things settled and stable, and yet my actions were producing the exact opposite results; I was tearing things apart, disrupting the order I had created in my home, and creating instability and chaos. (Incidentally, I decided that my first journal was something I did want to have with me.)

Needless to say, the weekend became easier when I understood what I was feeling. But the feelings have persisted to this very day. Now, at the beginning of my eighth month, I am finally settled into the home that will welcome my first child. I have felt (subtly and internally) anxious and crazed every day until now—anxious to “set up” my life, compelled to “settle” and have things ready. Traveling for a month of home leave in December and then taking the last five, six weeks to find an apartment, furnish it, and create a livable space have been accompanied by this constant sense of urgency. It’s as if nothing else matters but getting ready for this baby, and getting ready means having a physical place prepared for its little existence.

I know that so many women give birth in unsettled circumstances. I have countless friends in the Foreign Service who leave their home six weeks prior to their due date and give birth back in the States, often without their husbands, in temporary homes or living with family. I know tons of women (some of whom participate in this blog) who have moved into a new home just weeks before having a baby.

Has anyone else felt this? It has been such a powerful feeling these last few months, and I’m grateful that things have worked out such that I’ve been able to finally comply with my crazy maternal needs!
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Friday, February 17, 2006

And they lived happily ever after....NOT!

Isn't it romantic? Sleeping beauty, Snow white, and Ariel all had their spells and lives changed after ONE kiss from their handsome prince. All their problems were solved, their deepest desires were satisfied, the orchestra crescendo, everyone cheers, and the ending scene is the second kiss... Then the credits start rolling.

But wait!! Where is my prince!!! I've never had a boyfriend come save me from my problems. Has your husband? From what I have experienced, read and seen about romance life, things are much more complicated and challenging. There are fun times, amazing times, but there is no crescendo, no 7 dwarfs following after us mounted on wild deer, no fairies changing the color of my dress and my father isn't floating on a giant wave to wish me well.

One day I was trying to take a 3 year old girl through the subway. Keeping her attention at the task of walking was difficult. So to keep her close to me I would tell her her favorite stories. I began to remember how misleading these myths can be. So I would try to end the stories something like this: "... After the Prince kissed Snow White she woke up and the dwarfs cheered. Then Snow white got her own castle and the Prince would come over to have long discussions with Snow White about philosophy, politics, music, books, favorite colors, their likes and dislikes, the weather, their childhoods, what their life goals were and many more wonderful topics. Sometimes he would made dinner for her and she would write poetry about him. Then after 1 year of dating and developing a great friendship they got engaged and then married."

Some how it doesn't seem as fun and simple as "and they lived happily ever after THE END!"

Fairytales are not all bad.
They have a great appeal for entertainment, they are quick and sweet. I think that stories of female royalty does instills a sense of worth and respect of women. In play it is fun to pretend that you are of a royal heritage (which is true, as daughters of our God). Usually these stories have a moral or riddle that is fun and or valuable.

The part that I have a problem with is when the prince part happens. In every story a prince "saves" the princess and they live happily ever after. I think this does ill to both sexes.
For men it can teach that their role in romance is to save the woman. When in reality this is impossible. Men are mortal and thus are subject to the weakness' of the flesh. They have moments of weakness. They can't know everything that you are thinking, feeling and wanting. They sometimes are forgetful, get sick or lose their job. They can't be everywhere we are protecting us.

Really we do need a savior, but we should have had him in our lives since the beginning. Christ is our savior, from all risk and fear.

For women fairytales says a man will save you. How many of us were subconsciously or consciously wanting to marry a man who would save us-- be it financially, socially, emotionally, sexually, etc. Also it teaches that you need to wait for your prince to come. And what are these fairytale women doing while they are waiting?... SLEEPING! BAH! Disgusting!
Or that if you kiss a frog he will/might turn into a their prince charming (that you can change someone to be what you want them to be). Uh... I never got any of my bad boy boyfriends to change.

Beyond the roles that these stories teach, these is also the ideologies they teach about love. This also spills over into all Hollywood films. What is love? What kind of love should I accept? What obligations do I have to those who "love" me? etc.

And what if our children do not find their prince or princess? Ever. Or not until much later in life? Where in a fairytale is there a strong, beautiful, intelligent man or woman who is single? Most single women (who are mortal) in these stories are spinsters (sounds pretty negative), or old hags. Some of the single characters are mystical like fairy god mothers, witches or wizards.

I guess the real way to remedy these myths is to make it clear to our children that they are just that - a story. And that it makes it ever more important to tell our children our true love stories and the love stories of the real people in their lives.
I think that all that Christ taught about love is just as valid in romantic love as it is the love we should have for everyone.
Love is kind, love is not puffed up, love is pacient, love is not selfish, love is not manipulative, love is long suffering, etc.

I personally will be teaching my children (if I have children) about strong men and women in history. Real people who made a difference in their lives. Like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Katie Stanton, Joan of Arc, Frederick Douglas, Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, and Johannes Gutenberg.

I realize it will take a great deal of energy to teach these stories, but I think it will be worth the time. I think that concepts and interest about our world begin at a young age, that all we learn later on in life is built and referenced on what we knew as children.
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Difference Between Moms and Grandmas.

I recently left Princess with Grandma for a few days while I searched around Southern CA for a place for to live. One day while driving home from the grocery store they passed a house that had a small pasture full of ponies. They were those really cute, really little ones. I think the tallest was no more than 4ft high to the top of his head. Princess, upon seeing these uber-cute, shrunken horses (who aside from not being pink with lavender hair look very similar to her beloved “My Little Pony” collection) immediately proposed that they stop to feed the ponies.

Now, if it had been mom driving the car, this is how this story would have ended:

Princess: Mom, can we stop to feed the ponies?
Mom: That sounds like a fun idea Princess, but we can’t.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Because we can’t feed ponies that are not ours.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Because they are not ours.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Just because.
Princess: We need to get our own pony.
Mom: That’s nice honey.

Then we would arrive at home. I would put away the groceries, lay the baby down for a nap, do a load of laundry and resume a normal day.

Here is what actually happened--because Grandma was driving the car:

Princess: Grandma, can we stop to feed the ponies?
Grandma: Okay.

They proceeded to drive up to the house where the ponies’ owner lived and knocked on the door to ask permission (please keep in mind my mom had no idea who lived in the house or who owned the ponies). A sweet old grandma answered and happily escorted them to the pony field behind the house where they spent the next 45 minutes feeding the ponies, petting the ponies, and learning all the ponies’ names. Princess even got to ride on one of the little guys. It was a magical afternoon and a memory made with her Grandma that she will cherish.

I need to take a page from Grandma’s book once in a while. I need to look for more opportunities to have spontaneous fun with my kids, to make more memories (that don’t cost nearly as much as Disneyland) because groceries, laundry and cranky babies can almost always wait.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

We hate school!

The hardest thing I have had to do so far as a mother is to take my daughter ( who is almost 2 ) to pre-school/daycare. It has been 3 weeks and she goes two days a week. She still cries, well screams when I drop her off and when I pick her up I can tell she has been crying most of the day. It is KILLING me. I don't know if I can keep this up. I need advice quick. So far I have gotten, "It will get better" and "it is good for her". When does it get better? And how can it be good for her to be traumatized twice a week? When we talk about school, she says "bye bye kids, bye bye M habby (Miss Kathy)". To me that is her way of saying please don't take me there again! So sad.
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To My Valentine

Ok, I just watched BAREFOOT IN THE PARK with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. I had a recollection of watching it some years ago, but basically the whole thing was new to me. Upon finishing, I was so excited that someone wrote a play/made a film about my husband and me. During our engagement and wedding period, his mom had always joked about that movie and I thought she was merely referring to our lifestyle: LOTS of stairs and a teeny tiny apartment (just like our Chicago apt.) But it turns out that aside from Paul's becoming drunk to prove a point, DH and I are THEM.

To catch you up, if you haven't seen this gem of a film, the basic idea that stands true for us is this: We have nothing in common, only that we are married, are the parents of the same two kids, and are the same religion. We do not have the same talents, family make-up, hobbies, interests, music loves, passions, careers or age. For the last time honey, Flock of Seagulls was NOT my generation. When we began our merge as one, we only had a few duplicate CD's in our respective (rather large) collections...one that comes to mind is Billy Joel's Greatest Hits 1 and 2...come on who DOESN'T own a little Billy Joel? I had no idea who ESPN was and I think I might have introduced him to wearing millinery that was NOT a baseball cap.

Now...a slight aside. My last boyf before DH. He and I had a lot in common: family makeup, hobbies, talents, interests, same hometown, same University (no I did NOT go to BYU), friends, age etc. We had everything BUT religion in common. The story goes that we got serious enough that I gave him an ultimatum. He showed interest in the church and I made it clear I did not want him joining for me...as long as he was investigating we could stay together, but if he ever knew Mormonism wasn't for him, we had to be over. That day came. We still cared a lot about each other so we had on-again, off-again moments for a while. Thankfully during an off-again, DH entered the scene.

It's been almost 10 years since that Halloween weekend when I started my journey with DH (in an unflattering jack-o-lantern turtleneck to boot), and left boyf behind. And here's the rub, boyf STILL shows up in my dreams. Not THOSE kind of dreams. It used to really bother me whenever he would come around, but now I understand what he symbolizes:

A. I am desiring romance (boyf was romantic, DH is not)
B. I need to spend quality time with DH. Boyf reminds me that it came easy for us, and sometimes it takes a little extra effort for DH and me.
C. My subconscious must be missing those youthful years of first dates, first loves and first kisses. Let's face it...when you get married as a teenager, there is bound to be a little of that.

So, now if boyf ever comes around, I am thankful for his reminder of youth and to keep my relationship with DH alive.

Now the point. For DH and I, though we have moments when we WISH we had more in common, we have learned to complete our own picture with the other. (Here's where I get vaclempt). We find joy and happiness in our union. I had a lot of fun dating those boys before DH, and some things about those "relationships" came very easy, but no matter how long the "in common" list was with old boyfs, to me only one thing needs to be in common and that is our faith. And that is what is always left when everything falls to pieces around us. I am so glad that my 18-year-old self had the wisdom to know that and marry that wonderful man who is still my DH today.

Though they had their many differences, Corie and Paul (B in the P), stayed together, because they loved each other, plain and simple, and that's a good reason to stay together too.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

You Say You Want A Revolution?

Just because we're women does not mean we must have it all. I think a big mistake women in western culture make is to think that we should have a career and motherhood both, without sacrificing some part of one or the other. Men don't get to do that, so why do we think we deserve more "rights"? Why should I expect others to pay for me to have it both ways?

In the entry "Birth and the Workplace" some of you mentioned how the United States is behind the rest of the world in providing motherhood-friendly jobs. I wonder, have you lived in Europe and compared the difference in standard of living? I have. Sure, they get more paid vacation, maternity benefits, etc, but they also have 10-15% unemployment (compared to less than 5% in the US currently) and a much lower GDP than in the US. All those benefits are nice, but who pays for them? Greater indolence or leisure time leads to lower productivity overall.

It's amazing that even after the failure of almost every Communist country in existence some people in the US yearn for that very structure to be implemented here. Government control or even interference in the economy is shown over and over again to be harmful to economic growth. Besides, forced charity is not true charity -- 'forced' means lack of free agency, which is rather satanic, I believe.

As some others mentioned, the smart companies in the US actually ARE implementing family-friendly benefits in order to attract and retain better employees. You are still free to quit and find work with a better company that will give good maternity benefits. But for "working mothers of the world" to unite and demand that daddy government force all organizations to provide for us so we do not have to make the least sacrifice sounds a little short-sighted to me.

Again, someone has to pay for these benefits and it is usually other middle class families and consumers. Many mothers would love to afford to stay home to raise their children but cannot because of a more competitive job market in which a woman might be hired (sometimes to avoid a potential gender-biased lawsuit) instead of her own husband. I am not saying women should not be in the workplace. I spent years there and will enter again. I’m saying that there are repercussions or trade-offs with every choice we make.

Many of you on this blog are doing an admirable job balancing career and family, which I think is great. I wish to emulate your talents and your ability to succeed in multiple areas and raise great kids. But a mother does not need to do both to be a worthy individual. Personally, if I were to feel motherhood becoming an inconvenient distraction from my career or hobbies, I would do some serious reflecting on what is really important.
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Mom-Guilt: Breast Milk Is Recommended

I attended a baby shower a while back where I met up with a girl I hadn’t seen in a long time. I was sitting there with my 4 month old when she sat down next to me with her baby (2 months old I think). I asked her how things were going. She answered with a shaky “okay”. I then proceeded to pull out a bottle to feed my little bundle of joy when she quickly asked me, “Is that formula in the bottle?” I responded a cautious “Yes” (you never know when you’re going to run into a militant La Leche League member). She replied “Oh, good.” I can’t even explain the amount of relief that was in her voice. Apparently, she was having a real rough time with breastfeeding but the thought of supplementing with formula left her riddled with guilt.

I let her know that I knew exactly what she was feeling. Below is something I wrote to a close group of friends just a few months prior:

“So Pumpkin is just over 2 months old now, I have completely stopped breastfeeding and I feel so guilty. With Princess I went for 8 months. I don’t love breastfeeding but I know that it is best for the baby. There were so many more complications with Pumpkin: her major spitting up and stomach issues, my low milk supply, but still I feel so bad, even though now she is a much happier child who actually sleeps without waking up writhing in pain. Still, every time I spoon out her formula, that little message "Breast milk is recommended" still taunts me from the package. “I KNOW!” I scream in my head. But the can will never understand. I have read all those studies done about breastfed babies. So I wonder--is Pumpkin going to be stupid? Sickly? Allergic to everything? And will it have been all my fault? I am sure there was more I could have done physically to make the breastfeeding thing work out. But emotionally, I just couldn't do it. Not then, not in the middle of all of it. But still the guilt is there.

Tonight I apologized to her.”
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Saturday, February 11, 2006

C-Sections 101

Face it, no one really WANTS to have a c-section. Heck, the whole birthing process is a little frightening. Add the prospect of having your belly cut open WHILE you're awake and things get a little scarier. But sometimes c-sections are a necessity. I know that there are some diehards out there who claim no woman should have to have a c-section, but I beg to differ. As my OB told me right before child #1 was born, I would have been one of those women ages ago who would have died in childbirth. So thank goodness for c-sections. Sometimes, circumstances drift from your birthplan and your idea of the perfect birth. It's OK. At the end of the day, the only goal is to deliver a healthy baby and leave mom as safe and healthy as possible too.

I had two c-sections nineteen months apart and have a few tidbits to share. The bulk of what I'm going to write I gleaned from my own experiences; unfortunately no one told me this stuff before I hit the operating table.

On the table:

Draping: Once you have been spinaled/IV'd and strapped to the table (yes, you're strapped and yes, it is a little alarming but you've got bigger fish to fry) you will be draped with a dividing curtain from the chest down. Trust me, you will NOT be able to see your belly being cut open. This is a common fear - its not going to happen. You are numb from the breastbone down so even if you wanted to sit up and take a peak, its not going to happen. Moving on...

Tugging: Another common misconception (mine included) is that you will feel absolutely nothing when the baby is removed from your belly. You are numb and you will not feel cutting or any sharp pains, but you will feel that baby coming out of your body. I was shocked at the tugging and pulling I felt before ds made his entrance into the world. With #2 child, my husband told me later that he was surprised by how "rough" the doctors and nurses were with getting the baby out. It won't necessarily hurt, but you will feel tugging and pulling. No one said birth was painless, right?

The shakes: Almost everyone experiences shaking immediately post-birth. They are much stronger when you have a c-section. This is due to the spinal/epidural that numbed you for surgery and the trauma of having your belly cut open. With child #1 I shook violently for 1 1/2 hours. One nurse laid her body over my chest in an attempt to keep my body still. With child #2, I knew better. I told the anestegiologist that immediately after the baby was out he needed to give me SOMETHING to curb the shakes. I don't know what he gave me but I didn't have one shake. It was wonderful. So speak up and tell them to give you something for the shakes. It's your body and the only shake you should want is one with ice cream.

The incision: Mine is 3 1/2 inches long. That's it. I have heels that are that high. It's very low and very small. So don't be freaked out about having a huge scar on your stomach. Most sections today are lateral and between 3-5 inches, depending on the position of the baby. You'll probably be able to wear your favorite yellow polka dot bikini should you so desire (but that's another post altogether).

You will most likely have staples to close your incision. The staples are usually removed four to seven days after delivery, sometimes while you are still initially in the hospital. With child #1 I was nauseous with fear the morning my staples were removed. Such a huge build up for no reason - it was NO big deal. Barely felt it.

Off the table and into your room:

Drugs: You will be groggy, but not really in pain yet. The drug of choice following a c-section is morphine. This is fine for the first few hours but get yourself off of that as SOON as possible. With child #1 I was in a terrible fog, throwing up and itching like crazy. When I mentioned this to the nurse she said "Oh, its the morphine. Would you like something else?" Ummmmm....yes. So with child #2, I told them in the OR no morphine, find something else for 12 hours and then get me on a different painkiller. It made all the difference in the world. I wasn't foggy, was able to nurse without throwing up and still managed the pain. Get off the morphine if and when you can.

Pain: You're gonna hurt. A lot. But you just had a baby for crying out loud! Your incision will hurt, your entire stomach will be sore. Don't be a martyr - take your pain medicine. This pain medicine is prescribed for a reason. You won't be able to move or nurse or heal unless you can manage the pain and rest properly. So take it and take it ON TIME. If its administered every 4 hours call your nurse at 3 1/2 hours and make sure it is brought to you within 30 minutes. If you are slightly off with your timing in those first few days you will pay dearly with pain.

Moving: The secret to healing quickly from a c-section is moving. I was out of my bed and walking 12 hours after child #2. Oh, it hurt and I needed 2 people to help me from the bed to the bathroom but I did it. And once you get over that initial hurdle of getting out of your bed the rest is easy (barring any complications of course). You need to move. Walking will reduce the risk of blood clots, get your bowels moving and help water weight dissipate. Go slowly but GO. On day 2 or 3 start walking around the floor with your baby in a wheeled bassinet and dh or other family for support. It clears your head and reintroduces you to your body post baby.

Shower: I was pretty freaked out about taking a shower after my c-section. I was so afraid to get the incision wet (all psychological, I know) and even more afraid to SEE my incision. I thought that it might come apart when the water touched it. Make sure you have taken your pain medication recently before taking your first shower - it will take more effort than you realize. But once that warm water hits your skin....oh....so much better. And you won't come apart.

Hospital Stay: Depending on the hospital and your insurance you will stay for 3-5 days (longer if there are complications with you or the baby). If you have the opportunity to stay 5 days (as I did) and have other small children at home, STAY. Yes, you may be going out of your mind and wishing you were at home in your own bed, but at least in the hospital the only obligation you have is 1) to nurse your baby, 2) to heal and 3) to poop (that first poop is a bit frightful, but I think that's common with vaginal deliveries as well). Once you go home there is no nurse to remind you about your pills and eating and drinking enough. At home, those little children will desparately want you to pick them up. Once you're back, you're back. So if you can, take those few days in the hospital for yourself and your baby.

Home with baby:

Lifting: The doctors will tell you that you shouldn't life anything heavier than your baby. As soon as you get home you will realize that most things in your house/life weigh more than your 7 or 8 pound (or more) baby. But do the best you can. I came home to a 19 month old ball of energy who wanted SO much for me to pick him up and hold him. I did it a few times and instantly regretted it. My stomach wasn't ready yet. Give it some time. Find alternatives to medium/heavy lifting. For me, I stopped using the changing table with ds and changed him on the floor - I didn't need to lift him as much. And ask dh/family/friends for help. Heavy lifting will only add to your pain and recovery time.

Nursing: It's not comfortable to hold your baby across your stomach for nursing immediately after a c-section. I used the football hold when sitting up and nursed on my side while laying down. After a few weeks I was fine holding them across my stomach because I'd had time to heal. If you can, have dh/family member bring the baby to you to nurse.

S.E.X: Believe it or not, there will come to a time when you'll want to do the deed again and you'll wonder how's its going to go. Your doctor will tell you to refrain from intercourse for the first 6 weeks and then giddy-up when you're ready. With child #1 I figured that since I had not PUSHED him out of my body that all systems "down there" were fine and ready to go. So when I pounced on my husband 4 weeks after giving birth I was SO shocked to find that everything was not good to go. Just because you had a c-section does not necessarily mean that things in "that area" will feel OK. It's different for everybody, but consider waiting the 6 weeks and take it slow. Man, I learned my lesson on that one. Wince...

And finally, those silly comments:

I was so grateful when child #1 finally came out that I gave no thought to HOW he arrived. He was healthy and I was safe - that was all that mattered to me. But more than one person had the nerve to say to me "Are you disappointed that you had a c-section?" Ummmm....NO. I delivered a healthy baby. One of us could have died if he had come out the other way. Like I said before, the GOAL is to get the baby out. Your birthing experience will be different than those who deliver vaginally, yes. But again, the goal is to get the baby out. Don't allow anyone to discredit how you delivered. It's not their body and it wasn't their birth. Be proud that you got through it and survived and that now you can focus on being a mom. Congratulations, you did it!
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Friday, February 10, 2006

Pushing the limits

Going to the bathroom as a mom is a chore, don't let anyone tell you differently. Especially when you are carrying one child and the other children follow you in there because they don't want you to do something without them. Or they just want to talk to you and the only way to talk to Mom is to follow her around wherever she goes.

When DD is at preschool and DS and the twins are home with me. DS doesn't want to miss anything. He is within about 4 inches of my body at all times, even when I'm nursing both twins. He knows that I will be doing the most interesting things, and so he follows. He often brings a book and anytime I am stationary we look at a page together. I tried to distract him today because I had to build some shelves for the playroom. But no, he knows what my tool bag looks like and nothing is more interesting than hammers and screwdrivers and nails. I'm grateful for DD to come home from preschool because then he will play with her. It really helps to have the second child home.

My 9 and 7 year old are in a school play and most moms go and help. It was all I could do to go and cut out the fabric for their costumes. Actually, I wasn't able to do it until the end when the school principle walked in the room and saw me cutting with a baby rolling around on the table with the fabric and the other one on the floor being nudged by my toe. I failed to have any of my little helpers (even a 3 year old is better than nothing) with me on this occasion and that was a mistake. I am still learning my limits. I find that if I don't push them I get stuck and start telling myself that I can't do certain things because I have 7 month twins, 6 children 9 and younger, etc.

Living in New York with 4 young children was a daily dose of pushing the limits of what was common for most people. I never got so many "God Bless You's" in my life. I think it really did help because I never did lose one of my children on the subway (we were able to push the doors back open to grab the one who deliberately stayed on the platform). My 31/2 year old was returned home unharmed by two policement at 2 AM, after she unlocked the front door of our home and went looking for mom and dad outside in the park (we were in the basement). I was never reported to Child Protective Services for as many times that I had to take a child to the emergency room for stitches, or arms out of socket etc. (I was taking them to different hospitals each time because I had been told by a doctor that if I was seen there again, the doctor would make a report).

I survived all of that and continued to get out and do what I needed and wanted to do. Until the twins...that was the end of New York. Now I push the limits in Utah and still feel like a pioneer Mom. Going to the bathroom is a small triumph...having a bath is a luxury (my last bath was 3 days ago at midnight). I am victorious!!
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Commenting Policy

In case you didn't notice, we have a brand spankin' new comment policy, linked to under the "Recent Comments" section. Live it, love it. Thanks to other bloggernacle sites for supplying some of our language. :-)
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What's a mom to do? PARTY!

I watched Oprah during the holidays and she had a show on giving a party. She claims that America is not having enough parties and that we need to invite our neighbors over. I am proud to say that I am the hostess of many parties. From baby showers to bridal showers, to goodbye parties, to New Years…I have a lot of parties. I live in an 800 square foot apartment and I have had as many as 20 to 30 people in my home. Of course it’s crowded and hot….but it’s really fun. I am not afraid of cramped spaces.

The parties that I give have a formula. I usually plan with one or two other people, provide a clean house and paper goods, and invite everyone who is coming to bring food. Sometimes there is a theme and sometimes there isn’t. We all join together to help with the party. Then I am not as overwhelmed with providing lots of eats (because food is not my thing), and I have lots of help cleaning up after.

I, like Oprah, want the world to have more parties. And if I can have a bunch of parties on my limited budget and in my limited space, then you can too. Welcome, to my PARTY SERIES.

Party Idea #1

Baby Showers for the 2nd, 3rd or God Bless You, 4th Baby
In my hood in Queens, we were the Queens of reproducing. Most of our group had up to two babies in a very short amount of time. We want to celebrate every birth, and since subsequent babies don't need as much STUFF, we like to celebrate in nontraditional ways.

Let me explain. For my Baby #2 my friends threw me a Karaoke Baby Shower. Right in the Heart of Koreatown in Manhattan, friends were instructed that their gift would be their song. So we all got together and sang our hearts out for a few hours. Everyone brought a little treat and the hostesses decorated with some festive Baby Shower decorations (that we might have recycled for the next baby shower coming up!) It was such a fun night for me to get out of the house and be with my friends and celebrate my fertility. The next day I had my one and only pregnancy massage and the masseuse stopped for quite a while on my left buttock. She asked “What happened here?”
I replied: “Oh, Celine Dion.” I was coerced into singing My Heart Will Go On and on one of those terrible beltish highish notes “You’re here..there’s NOthing I fear.” I think it was on the “nothing” note that I got a charlie horse in my left butt cheek. My poor butt.

My most recent shower was a double shower for Zinone and Katie. Carrie and I decided on sort of a Mommywood Film Festival. We had a red carpet (made out of butcher paper taped to my wood floors) and life size pregnant Oscars taped to the wall. I even somehow managed to make actual pregnant oscar statues. We split into Team Katie and Team Zinone and had a list of things we had to capture on videotape. There was a point system-capturing relevant words on signs was 2 points, acting out a scene about pregnancy was 25 points. Some of the highlights:

~Acting out a scene where your water breaks (our ladies were within weeks of their due dates at the time of the shower)…25 points, bonus points if you use real water.
~Get a delivery man to say Special Delivery, additional points if they can say it in another language
~Have a man demonstrate Lamaze breathing…bonus points for every tattoo that he has.

It was a blast running around the neighborhood and forcing our very pregnant friends to do it too. Then we came home and watched our creations and handed out the Oscars. It was so fun.

Other parties:
Beauty Day: Manicures/Pedicures
Beach party
Girls movie night
Open house for men AND women

You can check out photos from these parties here. Stay tuned for more shower and other party ideas!
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Birth and the Workplace

I work for a university in NYC, and they provide no maternity leave. NO MATERNITY LEAVE!!! When a living being is delivered from your body, if you want time off, you can take your “sick” days to do it. Giving birth is, therefore, likened to a disease or other illness. What an enlightened way to think about the miracle that is birth!Things have certainly gotten better for women who work outside the home and have children. But it still ain’t great. The U.S. falls far behind Europe and other industrialized nations in supporting women who give birth.

My friend in California has it a little better; I think she said she’d get a few weeks paid leave plus extended time off without pay. My friend in Australia just wrote that she gets 14 weeks paid leave plus two years before she has to return to the job, a standard that most nations have adopted. Why are things so crappy for us here? There are as many women as men in the workforce; why don’t we demand that the federal government support us if our individual employers choose not to?

When I went to tell my Chair (my supervisor) that we’d received word we’d be adopting soon, she threw her hands up in the air and said, “Well, who’s going to cover your classes?” She later apologized and wished me luck, but the stress of (very) suddenly becoming a new mother and putting together the money it takes to adopt was compounded by the fact that I would have to find someone to cover for me if I had to leave suddenly, which—as is almost always the case with adoption—I certainly had to.

When Human Resources informed me further that if I took any time off, I wouldn’t get paid, I was blown away. I’m the primary source of income in my family; we cannot live without my income for any extended amount of time. As it was, my husband had to quit his job to take care of our baby. I’m glad he was able to do it, but that cut in our income hurt, too.

Few other women at my college have children, and I’m starting to understand why. It’s more than just juggling your time and your energy: you have to worry about the lack of economical support you’ll get. In my department, the people most likely have children are the married men. They have someone else to be the primary care provider. Women in my department have learned you can’t do it and have a successful career. Women my age are putting having children off for that very reason. I’m definitely starting a new trend: either as a career mom or as an unemployed mom.
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It's only S.E.X.

Its not news to any of us that this world is screwed up. And as the mother of a little boy I find myself having increased anxiety about his puberty years. The kids not even 2 yet and in my mind all he wants to do is have sex. Now I will be the first to admit that I am completely neurotic, I mean the kid is only 16 months old for heaven's sake. But, I am also constantly reminded of how little we value sex and sexuality in this world. These things can be traded for popularity, money and success. I am becoming a basketcase about the positive development of my sons sexuality (yes, I’m losing sleep over it) and I have now vowed to be the militant keeper of his innocence.

It isn’t surprising to me that there are people in my life that have had some sort of negative experience with sex and/or their sexuality, most of them at an early age. More and more predators live in our neighborhoods and the abused are coming out in droves so its bound to affect most of us. If you have no idea what I could possibly be talking about, count yourself lucky. Its true that you really don’t know whom you are until you see these problems face to face.

Stories that stand out: #1 My best friend's husband seeing his first nudie pic when he was only 6 yrs old while playing over at a friend's house. This little kids father had an enormous stash of Playboy mags. While my friend’s husband has gone on to be a great father, he is also addicted to pornography.
#2: My (male) cousin who was sexually molested by the 12 yr old neighbor girl while playing in his tent in the back yard. He is now serving time for one count of child molestation. And most recently, #3: Having a (very nice) woman in my home on a weekly basis (Yeah, New Member FHE!!) who has openly shared that she is still being sexually propositioned by her own father. As with each of these stories, once the cycle begins it’s hard to break, and because of that (even though its completely judgmental of me), I cringe every time she tries to pick up my son. (And yes I realize how horrible this makes me sound)

I know the probability of my son making it through his life completely unscathed is impossible. I continually pray that I will be able to keep him safe and have the guidance to know when he shouldn’t be somewhere, or with someone. But what can I do? Follow him around until he’s married? (hhmmm, tempting) How is it that I can protect his innocence while supporting the natural stages of curiosity, hoping he turns out to be a respectful, sexually healthy husband and father?

And as a side note, I do realize that I might be raising the easier of the two sexes (if that’s possible). I have a strong husband that can help teach my ds to respect and love women, which honestly, seems less challenging to me than teaching a girl to love and respect her own self. Some days I am truly astonished that I even chose to bring children into this filthy world and I’m surprised my brain hasn’t exploded yet… although it’s started now, so I guess I can’t really get off the ride.
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Making your life nettastic

Carrie can teach you to shop. Brandolyn will help you save the earth. And Jen, she'll even tell you how to start your own business. Me? I'm a bit of web geek. It's how I made my living in the pre-mommy days, and it's how I find most of my information and entertainment in my current phase of life. And some have asked for my secrets, how it is that I can so quickly find something online, no matter how random, how small, how obscure. Well, the time has come for me to share my wisdom with you all.

So this is what I know.

  • Google – many of you will see this one and say duh, but believe it or not there are people out there who don’t use Google. I know, I know, you say But marian, it’s so darn prevalent that new words have been added to the English language because of this site. and I will say yes my friend, I know, you’re preaching to the converted. But seriously, best searching out there by far, and if you haven’t played with the Google Maps yet, well then you haven’t properly wasted time online. (hint – hit the "Satellite" button in the upper right corner, it will blow your mind) Or go play with some of this stuff.

  • Search tips – This goes with the Google entry above, but it’s true for many many other sites as well. One of the keys to actually being able to find something in this vast and ever-expanding empire called the internet is to know how to search for it. And here are two little items that can make your life soooo much easier - " " and -. Huh? What the heck am I talking about? Here’s the lowdown.
    • Quotation marks – If words you are entering in the search box are an exact phrase (the name of a store, a lyric from a song, the title of a movie, book, someone’s name, etc.), putting quotes around your search terms will reduce the number of results you get to pages that only have those words in that exact order. Compare this search (39 million results) with this search (347,000 results).

    • Minus sign – This allows you to specify what you’re NOT looking for – helping you to narrow down your search if you are getting too many results that don’t apply to the specific thing you’re trying to find. Let’s say you’re looking for your good friend from high school whose name is John Adams. Type that into Google, and you’ll get about 50 million results, mostly about the president and the composer. But instead type in "John Adams" -president –composer and you’ll get about 2 million results. Still a lot of results, but a much better shot at finding what you’re actually looking for rather than wading through everything you’re definitely not looking for.

  • IMDB - ohhhhhhh how I love this site. Ohhhhhh oh oh oh oh. You know when you’re watching a movie or a TV show and you recognize an actor, but you can’t figure out what from? Bingo, this is your solution. My ultimate invention will be to one day integrate IMDB with my Tivo, so that I can pause what I’m watching and automatically lookup whatever I want straight from my TV. It’s a dream, but every girl’s got to have one - some dream of world peace, I dream of movie databases. Again, if you haven’t spent time playing on this site, then you haven’t properly wasted time online.

  • Snopes.com - You know all those emails that Aunt Lisa keeps sending you? The ones that tell you that Bill Gates will give you $1,000 if you send the email on, or that some kid in Florida will get a new liver if you just keep the chain alive? Or better yet, an email warning women about the latest techniques criminals are using to lure them to danger. Here’s where you can go to find out if it is true, and avoid sending things on that are not true. Lots of interesting reading as well.

  • Wikipedia - I threw this one in mostly for fun. You can pretty much look up anything on this site and find a listing for it. And if there isn’t one (and you feel there should be) you can actually add it. Or add to and edit existing listings. For that reason, I wouldn’t exactly use this to fact check your dissertation, but it’s a handy place to start looking for info on some pretty random things.

  • Kids-in-mind.com - Movie ratings site that actually helps you decide if you or someone else in your family should see a movie. Movies are rated on a 1-10 scale in 3 categories (Sex & Nudity, Violence & Gore, Profanity) and then each category also has a listing of all of the occurrences of these possible red-flag areas. So you can know if a movie is getting a 3 for violence because one mouse hits another over the head with a piece of cheese, or because a cat takes a bite out of a mouse’s behind. (hey, it might matter to your 2 year old) It can get kind of silly - they are very thorough – but at the same time, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting when that Netflix envelope arrives in the mail.

  • HTML tips - To finish up, for anyone interested, I have an old post here at Tales that gives some basic HTML tips for bloggers - how to spiff up your comments, add links, etc. Check it out and have some fun playing.

Anyone else have tricks they want to share?
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Monday, February 06, 2006

The Best Things In Life Are Free

I’ve been eyeing a new bedroom set for our new digs in D.C. DH and I still sleep in the double bed I’ve had since college that our monkeys have since broken....yes, by jumping on the bed. I’m really tired of our IKEA furniture constantly falling apart on us, but the cost of real furniture sends me into a cold sweat. I think I spent too much of my childhood with my depression-era grandparents and therefore have constant anxiety about money. I’d really like to get over it…so lately I’ve been thinking about all the things that make me happy in life….and I’ve discovered that most of them don’t cost a penny. Here is a glimpse of that list:

1. Finding the dictionary.com “word of the day” in my mailbox every morning. Today’s word was sang-froid \sang-FRWAH\, noun: Freedom from agitation or excitement of mind; coolness in trying circumstances; calmness.
Cool word, eh?

2. Watching my 3-year-old concentrate soooo hard to get all the motions right for the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” song. Someday he’ll get it.

3. Warm towels. The radiator sits right below the towel rack in our bathroom so I have a warm towel waiting for me after my morning shower (and we don’t pay for our heat so technically it really is free). I guess this item only makes the list in the winter time.

4. Going to church every Sunday. The music, the talks, the lessons and personal testimonies, most always justify the early morning hours I spend destroying our apartment in a massive panic in order to get us all ready to go.

5. Makin’ mad love with dh. Yes, he looks like a nerdy newspaper editor from the outside…. Wait… what am I saying? This isn’t free… it has cost us two very expensive little monkeys.

6. My free ESPN. Our front window looks out to a fenced-in concrete playground. Any day of the week I can watch international soccer, street hockey, baseball, cricket….I tried to convince dh to cancel our cable….if only PTI broadcasted live from our front stoop.

7. Phone calls from friends who are just "checking in." That always makes my day. Especially when dh is away, and especially since I'm so bad about doing it myself.

8. Being hand-fed grapes (and if I'm really lucky.....Cheerios) from chubby, sticky 1-year old fingers.

9. Listening to dh play his guitar. He really is good. My favorites are his Mexican love ballads....lots of instrument....not a lot of singing. He is so busy these days, it's a rare treat to hear him play.

10. Afternoon dates with my mountain bike and a really muddy trail....or a good book and a cup of hot chocolate, sans monkeys. Ohhh baby, those were the days!

What's on YOUR list?

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

When is enough enough?

I can't stop thinking about if I am "done" or not. I have three cute kids...will I have more? The question weighs heavily on my mind even though there is no urgency to decide. Here are some of my thoughts:

When I say to myself, "No more, your family is complete" this stuff pops into my head--

--Relief, financially. Someday, sooner than later, we might actually be able to afford a house (and other stuff) big enough for the family.
--Relief, physically. Phew! No more ups and downs, fatters and skinniers, pains and problems. And life with a consistent night's sleep is within view!!
--Relief, emotionally. I will actually get to spend time developing myself in non-mommy ways. I think I have some pretty cool talents and potential skills that I could actually develop and do something with! What a concept! I'm also working through some other important personal issues and I simply won't conquer them until I have more time to myself.
--Relief, romantically. Come on, do I have to explain this one?
--SAD. What if I'm missing out on that one last baby? Don't I want my kids to have more siblings? I really do love my kids and more just might be merrier!

But also

In my mormon upbringing I developed some stupid assumption that a family wasn't really mormon unless they had at least 4 kids. And if they didn't, the woman was either physically unable to have that many or she was selfish enough to put money or career first. I think I was honestly taught that last concept of selfishness in church (which is really unfair), the first just developed in my warping mind.

So I then feel

--I won't be as good as those other moms who had 4+ kids. Shaleen sure is better than me and so far I've got an edge on Kage. (wink, wink, shaleen and kage)
--Other good mormons will look down on me and wonder what's wrong. Why did she stop at 3? Isn't she young and healthy?
--I really just have to have 4. I'm so stupidly stuck on that number.
--I failed reaching my goals which began at 6 kids, then reduced to 4.
--like crying.

So ladies. I want to have kids because I WANT them. Not because I was taught I'm selfish if I'm looking out for my own well-being or because of guilt or self-induced or religious-induced pressure. It may be that more is indeed right for me. But it may not. Obviously it's stressing me out.

How do you all deal with the question of how many kids? And yes, I know: One at a time and pray about it. If it were so easy I wouldn't have written this.
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Friday, February 03, 2006

Make Your Child Pick-A-Career Day

For those of you with small children, if you had to guess what career your kids will choose, based on what you know of them right now....what would you say?

I actually stole this idea from a friend's blog. It was so fun and well written...I had to share.

As for my own monkeys, I would have to pick "librarian" for 3-year old Noe. He loves to look at books and thrives in quiet, tranquil settings. He is pretty obsessive about keeping our home library well-organized and lately has been categorizing the books by color and size. Plus, I could really see him getting into stamping all of the books with the correct due date. He also has a great "librarian glare." He just needs a pair of mini-bifocals and he's pretty much ready to go.

Asher, 14 months old, is a little trickier...but if I had to decide today, I think he would be a ballet dancer. He breaks into dance whenever he thinks he hears music (in fact, I think he's trying to dance to the beat of my typing right now). He is also amazingly flexible and loves to run around in socks. Asher also performs the most graceful "Itsy Bitsy Spider" you'll ever see. I'm talking full hand extension and lots of swish.

Then again, he's really obsessed with our trash right now and loves to watch the garbage trucks go by. So I'd say ballet dancer, or garbage man.
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sweet Spirit

I have noticed a lot of general authorities and other Priesthood leaders who practice a “general-authority-speak” and are in positions of speaking to large congregations, often comment on their wife’s “sweet spirt”. Whenever this happens I cringe because if my husband ever said that about me, it would be a lie. I can’t believe that every single one of these women is sweet through and through.

Whenever I hear this phrase I wonder what would be a fitting one-word description of my spirit. My first choice of course is sexy, but I don’t think a spirit can be sexy without a body, although my mind is probably 80 percent of my sex appeal—we all know it’s not my boobs (thank you two children). [And if you don’t know that, go check out the ‘chives.]

So what is a fitting description for me and also appropriate across the pulpit? I want to know yours…when the DH says: “My wife has a such a _________ spirit,” how would you fill in the blank? (And if you just read this, you have no excuse but to respond, because it takes one, count 'em one, word).

PS Thanks Snarky for the pic. It is perfect for this post, except for the big boobs.
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Times Are Changing

I am going to be a mom in 26 days and counting (unless my little guy hopefully shows up early, or probably shows up late). My last day of work is next Friday. Only another week and a half until my "working" days are done. I've always worked. Sometimes I've really enjoyed my jobs... othertimes not so much. But that's really not the point.

Since the day I found out I was pregnant I was happy about it... and a grounded sort of happy. I feel like I've been pretty realistic throughout my pregnancy. Haven't lost my head too much. Until now. My dh, who just about flew the coup a couple times during our engagement, has been a complete rock during this entire pregnancy. I was anticipating having to talk him down off the ledge several times, but he has been amazing - very excited to become a dad. And I appreciate this and love him for how good he has been to me. But how strange that the tables have turned and now I, four weeks away from stay-at-home-mommyland, find myself anxious and quite frankly a little scared. Now here's the funny thing... I am not afraid of going into labor - of hospitals or giving birth (at least not yet). It's the after stuff that's a little nerve-wracking at this point. What will it be like to spend my entire days at home? Will I get stuck on the couch losing my brain cells to too many talk shows? Will I love being a mom and being there for this little person who I know needs me so much? Will I resent that now I feel like I will always have to clean the house and do the grocery shopping because I don't have a "job" anymore and he's working his butt off so I can stay home? Is breastfeeding really as big a mystery as it seems? Will I ever feel like a sexual being again, or even recognize my body?! Will I ever get to sleep in until 9am after he gets here? Heck, I'll take 8am... maybe even 7:30?

This being said, I know that I want to stay home with my little guy, and I believe it's important and the right choice for our family. I know I am ready for this. I can't wait to meet him and be his mom! I know my dh will be a part of this team with me. I'm just wondering... how do you survive the anticipation of these weeks ahead? How do you survive those first weeks with your new little person? How do you mourn your pre-baby freedom without feeling too guilty? I'm feeling afraid that I will not recognize the life that lays before me. I do already have a good group of stay-at-home-mom friends, so I'm grateful for that. They will probably becoming my saving grace on some days. Any words of wisdom from moms that I admire on making this transition over the next few months any smoother? (If that's even possible?)
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Such a Simple Lesson

For the last 31 weeks (approx) I have been reading books, articles, blogs, etc. Trying to acquire any knowledge that will ensure my first child will be taught well. There are all sorts of ideas, techniques, theories, hypothetical, and absolutes out there to read about. Some contradict each other and some are confusing, but I feel the more knowledge I have, the better prepared I will be...We will see about that. This Sunday, I was privy to an incredible lesson taught by a couple who were parents 8 times over, grandparents 27 times over, and great-grandparents to many. They taught about the importance of teaching your children to make decisions. Of course I know that this is a critical skill for any person - child or adult - but I am not sure I have devoted the proper time to figuring out exactly how I am going to do this (ask me how I am going to make my child sleep through the night, be a perfect eater, and share...I have superfluous knowledge on these subjects and am sure that once Junior is here it will all be out the window...). So I listened hard. I am sure everyone is already doing this well so I won't go into too much more detail, but one of the techniques they gave was so simple (in theory at least) it made me smile. They suggested that as bedtime is nearing, you give your child a choice between continuing what they are doing (ie playing) or going to bed and having a story read to them. After they choose, make them stick to their decision. If they decide when they get into bed that they really want a story, but they chose to continue playing, explain that they made that decision and that was the consequence. I thought this sounded like a simple way to teach your child such an important concept. Having the ability make choices, and the understanding that every choice had a consequence is simple but necessary. Empowering them to be in charge of their own decisions is invaluable.
It's not a new idea or fancy technique, but it was profound for me. I feel it is very important for kids to understand the importance of making decisions and to give them practice when they are young enough that as a parent you can still control what the choices are - to be sure that one of them isn't a threatening one (physically or spiritually).
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