mother goose club 

Having kids is an exercise in repetition, and until you are raising one or two or three of them, you may think you know, but you have no idea.

Netflix suggested this show, The Mother Goose Club, for my kids this past summer. It’s geared towards ages 0-2. I put it on, and my then 16 month old froze. Her mouth agape, her eyes looking deader by the second, the mental heroin that MGC offers hooked her instantly.

At the same time, my six year old seemed addicted too. Like, really into it all at once. There is only 5 episodes of the damn show. I’ve never heard of it before it came up on my screen. It’s like some controlling higher force placed it there, and the conspiracy theory lover in me can’t help but feel there are evil motives behind it.

Because, suddenly, every kid I know five and under loves this show. If I’m hosting a playdate and things start to fall apart, the kids are screaming and me and my mom friends just want to continue our conversation in peace, I turn this show on and everyone freezes. They all watch in awe. I’ve never once seen a kid not pay attention.

And why? I can’t wrap my head around it. Yes, short musical numbers are catchy I suppose, and everything is colorful, but…. man, I just don’t get the show.

I sometimes wonder if the subliminal messages that show is obviously implanting in my children is going to lead to them murdering me in my bed, all while singing, “I’M A SOCCER ROCKER. I’M A SOCCER ROCKER. I’M A SOCCER ROCKER. AND I ROCK AT SOCCER!!!”

I feel an insane amount of guilt when I turn it on to distract my toddler. But, with a newborn at home, a blog to write, books to read, instagram to scroll, an election to cry about, recipes to look at, husbands to talk to….sometimes I need a sure fire way to keep her occupied. Usually I utilize it when I need to shower, or if I want to write. No one wants a stanky smelling mommy, and writing this blog has given me some form of creative output I haven’t felt in a long time.

So I turn the blasted thing on, lower the volume as low as I possibly can, and little L starts getting pumped full of whatever poison it is that show offers her.

Hey, the experts now said screen time under 2 isn’t as bad as previously thought, right?

group-on-yellow-800px
these people will destroy our culture as we know it

super nerd move

I was thrilled to join in at our local Hike It Baby #optoutside hike. Getting outside, meeting new people, and exercising, what more could I want the Friday after a gluttonous Thanksgiving?

I made my husband reschedule his commuting flight to work (he has to fly an hour and a half to his base from our house just to begin work) so we could attend the 10am meet up. We all piled into the car, I had a backpack full of extra diapers, scarves and hats, and snacks and drinks. We said goodbye at the airport and I felt excited heading out to the hike site. Meeting new people can be awkward but I am outgoing and interacting with strangers is one of my greatest talents. 16 years of customer service work makes me an expert at dealing with people I’ve never met before.

Anyway, we got lost, ended up in a very ritzy mansion filled neighborhood with signs everywhere saying “Not Open To Public, No Preserve Access” even though Mr. Google GPS told us this was the way to the nature preserve… A very kind gentleman walking his old dog on the side of the road gave the slightly nerve-stricken mom with the overloaded Outback better directions and we found our way to the gravel parking lot that was the meeting point.

I hate being late, but luckily for me I timed it out perfectly. It was 9:35 and the meet-up started at 10 so by the time I’d fed baby H and took out all the gear, the hike should just be starting.

I’m sitting in the car, feeding H, and the other kids are next to me playing “lets-see-how-many-times-we-can-honk-the-horn”. By 9:45 I thought, wow, no one is here yet? That’s odd… 9:50 comes around and I finally take out my phone and check the meetup time again. I was wrong. It was supposed to start at 10:30.

I felt so nerdy, sitting there, the excited overeager kid in class so desperate for new friends. I felt like I showed up an hour early to a school dance. The first person who showed to a dinner party at a new friends house. The parking lot was completely empty and somehow I needed to kill another 40 minutes with three kids by myself.

And this, friends, is desperation.

Ok, I know I’m being overly dramatic. This is how my brain works. My husband actually asked me when we were one exit away from the airport; “Aren’t you nervous going to a place where you know no one?”. I scoffed his question away. Of course I’m not. But in that moment in the car, surrounded by my clan of kids, that self doubt did creep in.

The time passed, the crowds of hikers with babies came, and no one knew I was an hour early. No one knew how nerdy and desperate I felt. Everyone there was great. I got many compliments on my bravery for heading out, with three kids, one of them two months old. Very nice fellow hikers helped hold my daughters hand on the way down of a particularly steep incline. I made all the small talk and connections I needed at the time and left feeling like this group something I’m going to come back to, again and again.

Meeting new people in your thirties is hard. Being a mom can be incredibly lonely. Even though I was the only super eager beaver at this particular hike, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one struck with some faction of self-doubt that day. Plus, sometimes I just need to embrace my nerd status and wear it proud.

 

image2

most authentic

Staring into my newborn’s eyes after a morning feeding, he gave me one of his big grins. Joy lights out from his entire face and like it’s designed to, it gives me peace, my heart grows bigger, and it as they say, “makes it all worth it”.

The smile of a newborn, the smile of a newborn staring you directly in the eye, this smile is one of the purest forms of smiling. There is no game behind it. Just like everything else in a newborn’s life, there is no filter. Newborns are true to themselves in everything they do at all times. They are the most authentic humans at all times; as they absorb this alien world they react with no thought at all.

It’s tiring, it’s hard, and I’m especially spoiled with baby H as he’s easily the easiest baby I’ve had, but you have to admire this brief little period of their lives.

dark days ahead

Out of nowhere, November has hit my area of suburbia. Two days ago it was 65 degrees and we were walking outside, enjoying the bright fall colors. I actually said to my older son, “Better enjoy the foliage now because once it’s gone we just have bare branches till spring”.

And now it’s a bitter “feels like temp” of 31 and the wind is gusting up to 50 mph.

***

We live an approximate walk of three minutes from the elementary school. Already the easy stroll is complicated when Husband is working: I need to wrap baby H up against my chest, convince L to actually sit down in the stroller, and strap her in, before we can head to school.

Now with winter showing it’s ugly face I had glimpse of the next four months of school mornings. Gathering four sets of hats, three sets of gloves, zipping up jackets, getting scarves on- I’ve just added ten minutes to our three minute walk to school. 

Wrangling three kids anywhere is a challenge, especially by myself. Already, loading up our Outback for an errand seems like it takes way to long. Add in the need for multiple layers and I’m now facing an obstacle course of “getting ready to go”. 

Motherhood has forced me, a person who used to dash from place to place in a hurry and without much forethought, into someone who has to be more organized, more patient, more careful.  I have no choice but to take my time. 

I love living somewhere with multiple seasons, but it was sure a lot easier when we could just throw on sandals and walk outside in our bare arms. 

Winter is coming, kids, and I fear by the time I get this layering up business to a science it’ll be spring already. 

rustic homemade chili by betty

No. This is not a recipe. I’m not that blogger. But – I did make chili for the first time last night. My husbands been lying to me all this time: chili is easy to prepare.

Ok- so- he didn’t lie exactly. I don’t think he’s ever qualified the difficulty of making chili. But for some reason in my mind it’s an art form. I blame that episode of The Simpsons where Homer goes to a chili festival and criticizes everyone’s contribution. I sort of assumed there was more to cooking chili than canned tomatoes and canned beans in a pot.

I swear the only reason my husband knows how to cook is because his mom hates it and he and his siblings had no choice but to learn how to cook as teenagers. My mom, however, cooked a meal every night from scratch and never gave any of us any reason to learn to cook. She is one of those moms who did everything for us, which probably contributes to the fact I’m 33 and still feel like “keeping house” is something I haven’t mastered yet.

My mom is not a braggart chef. Growing up we had tuna noodle casserole topped with crumbled saltines and Kraft American cheese. She’d make tater tot casserole with green beans and occasionally we’d go crazy with “Mexican Night” and refried beans with quesadillas. Beyond this middle American dining fare, she makes the best oven baked chicken I’ve ever eaten and every time I go back home it’s basically the only meal I request.

I have been blossoming in the kitchen as of late. Well, I’ve been trying to cook lately. And half of the time it doesn’t turn out half bad. I’ve even taken over cooking dinner when my husband is home, something I’ve rarely done in our almost seven years of marriage.

I’m trying to take on my moms no nonsense approach. Things made from scratch but nothing insanely challenging. I grow tired of seeing everyone’s perfected meals. Yeah, I too could describe my crockpot meals with pretty adjectives and embellish the effort- “thrown into pot at 7am” turned into “slow cooked for hours to perfection”. See what I did there?

For my birthday this year I asked for the plainest, most sturdy cookbook I knew of: The Betty Crocker Cookbook. Nostalgia played a part in the request: my mom had the same book, although her book was published sometime in the 80’s. Something about having ONE source of recipes makes me feel like cooking is within my realm. There’s one chili recipe in there. I don’t need to find reviews and search through the search engine. There’s no impossibly polished photo of said fare to envy. It’s just there. Chili. Pancakes? Waffles? 20-minute dinners? Betty has you covered with the staples. There’s also tons of tutorials on how to cook.

I love having something solid in my hands when I venture into the kitchen.

My husband laughs at my dependency to this silly cookbook but as far as I’m concerned, its scripture in the kitchen.

fullsizerender
Oh Betty, I love thee

pilates and my total lack of grace

Strolling up to my 8:30am pilates class yesterday morning, I felt pretty accomplished. Here I was, surrounded by all the other fit-minded women in our little area of the island, and I was doing something positive for my health and body.

Continue reading “pilates and my total lack of grace”

thoughts on the bubble 

I’m from a rural area. I grew up in the nineties with a vague idea that Hilary Clinton was not a good person. She overstepped her bounds. This wasn’t an idea planted by my parents, surely, but it was the general chatter I’d hear. Sort of like Chevy vs Ford, Washington State vs University of Washington, Tonya Harding vs Nancy Kerrigan, except the universal dislike of Hilary seemed, well, universal.

In ’08 I was 100% behind Obama. Clinton’s candincy  seemed like another dose of nepotism and I didn’t want that.

During the primaries this year I voted for Sanders. Once again, something about Clinton seemed unsavory. I’m not sure if it’s because of my early general impression of her, or if it was because of Sanders’ brash calls for a political revolution.

So, during the summer, like many many other millennials, I held my nose, held my mouth shut, and quietly supported Clinton. Or, so I thought. I live in the Northeast. It’s blue. The suburbs I live in are red as far as state representation and Congressmen go, but in a general way, I assume most of the not-in-your-face people regarding the election were for Clinton. (Trump supporters always let you know they are Trump supporters, I falsely thought).

I’m a person who reads the Sunday NY Times. It’s actually delivered to me. I watch the Nightly News on NBC, well, nightly. I enjoy Bill Maher and John Oliver. To me, it seemed like every well informed, educated person would certainly vote for Clinton. I had a bit of nerves hit me, occasionally, on the idea of Trump winning, but to myself I felt all in all she’d squeak by.

It’s fitting I was home in the rural part of my home state during the election. As the results rolled in, my parents and I could only look at each other, speechless. My husbands text messages came in, in increasing levels of urgency, he even resorted to typing in all capitals at times (which the logical pilot husband of mine NEVER does) WHAT IS HAPPENING. I couldn’t even stand to watch the full results, besides I had an early morning drive across the state the next day (which BTW I have a whole other blog post planned out about traveling with kids on standby but this seemed more urgent).

Driving the next morning, across the vast fields, empty skies, and desolate country that makes up Eastern Washington, I streamed WNYC through my phone to listen to the reactions on the call-in morning after show. Brian Lehrer was a voice of comfort and clarity as my mind spun, wondering how it happened. The cell reception is shoddy in Eastern Washington so I kept losing the stream and having to wait a few minutes to find it again. I tried to find a similar NPR station, but that’s the thing, NPR really isn’t a thing in this area. In fact, my parents, sister, brother, they’ve even asked me what NPR is before…

So it sort of hit me. What Michael Moore prophesied on Bill Maher earlier this year was true: I live in a total liberal bubble. It’s terrible to write out, but I just assumed anyone with any sort of brain would be just like me, voting for Clinton. Voting against all the hate, racism, fear mongering, the sexist rants, and the anti-intellectualism Trump represents. Clear thinking people couldn’t possibly believe the sort of lies the far-right media put out – people surely would do their own research – well, like all the media outlets I follow, we were all stunned and flat out wrong.

And I should have known. The absence of #ImWithHer from all the people back home didn’t resonate. My flight attendant friends were all #withher on election day, proudly sporting their “I Voted” stickers and proclaiming their nastiness as women, so I assumed most people were just like them. A few of my friends from out west posted their election day pictures, without the same enthusiasm, so I assumed based just on my Instagram newsfeed it was in the bag.

But the highly diverse, open minded people who made up my former employments work force don’t represent Middle America. I see now why Clinton lost. She relied to heavily on the glitz and glam of high profile stars and endorsements, the money coming in, and did not connect or inspire enough voters. Someone like me, a politically minded person up to date on current events, who is going to vote no matter what, does not represent the typical voter. But to reach out to a voter not motivated by her, to get that person in Middle America to cast a vote for her, she needed to do more. Trump did that.

I cried most of Wednesday. I cried Thursday as well. I think the tears are all gone. I plan on buying a safety pin and wearing it daily as a show of solidarity to everyone who fears this president. I’m in the bubble that will most likely not be affected by this vile man’s agenda, but I know so many great, good people than are in his crosshairs.

I refuse to be on the wrong side of history and will speak up. Like some, I’m holding my breath. Maybe Trump will change his tone, his view. Maybe it will all be ok. But unfortunately this mindset is what led to my utter disbelief Tuesday night and I won’t just “hope for the best” anymore. I will demand it.

I’m not the praying type, but I do find it appropriate to end this with the sentiment “praying for our nation”.

the postpartum body

This photo is slightly hideous, but I am sharing it with a purpose. It was taken about 12 hours after I pushed out that little bundle cradled in my right arm. Now, look at the belly. Big, right?

Rewind to just minutes before the picture. I had said goodbye to Husband, bigger kids, and mother in law. H & I had the whole evening together in the hospital alone.

I got up out of my bed to pee, and marveled at my quickness. Even though I delivered H at the same weight I was at when I had L, this pregnancy felt heavier. H was my biggest baby, but only by three ounces. I had polyhydramnios and I carried him high until the end.

I also went to 41+2 weeks with him. Getting up out of bed the final three weeks of pregnancy was a workout. My agility disappeared and I felt like I was being tortured in some cruel joke of a hidden reality TV show I didn’t know I starred in.

So, anyway, as I got up to pee, I felt light. I looked down and my belly looked flat. I practically skipped to the bathroom, caught a glimsp of myself and instantly wanted to take a picture of my new svelte self. I scooped H up, and smiled with my new little baby.

Photos don’t lie. I looked at the image on the camera and honestly couldn’t believe that belly was attached to me. It was a total body dysmorphic moment. Even though, in my head, and even when I looked in the mirror with my eyes, I felt thinner and lighter, the camera showed I still passed for 41 weeks pregnant.

I’m glad I didn’t delete the picture. I wanted to. But today, six weeks postpartum and feeling especially flubby, I can see that I’ve progressed from that moment, that high moment of feeling great, to something smaller.

I feel absolutely fantastic this postpartum period. I’ve returned to working out, I’m walking daily, and my mood is high. I almost don’t want to look in the mirror at myself, because what I see in the reflection doesn’t correlate with how I feel inside. But, the past few days, this high is fading. I’ve forgotten how huge and weighted I felt during pregnancy, and now I’m starting to look at myself and judge myself more harshly. Just being not pregnant isn’t enough, I want to look “amazing”.

Why is it we can gain weight gradually, over forty weeks, while growing life, but we expect ourselves to drop it in a mere matter of a month? I look at my wardrobe and besides yoga pants, leggings and maternity clothes, nothing fits. My jeans give me an uncomfortable reminder of the fat squeezing over the waistband. I falsely tell myself I can’t hide behind my pregnancy fat anymore, I must look prime and fit and perfect.

If anything, my appetite right now is higher than while pregnant. H has gained four pounds since birth and I’m also pumping an additional 20 ounces a day for donation. Breastfeeding makes me a beast-feeder and between that and my physical activity, I haven’t limited myself at all. Besides, I’d rather plateau at my current weight (about 20 pounds lighter than I was at delivery) and be able to feed my baby that mess with my supply somehow.

I’m also facing the upcoming holiday season. Food and drinks and candy and … temptation everywhere.

I’m trying to stay mindful. I’m trying to only eat when hungry, and only eat whole foods. I’ll try to prioritize staying kind to myself and body, not expect a “perfect” body to soon (not that I never had a perfect body) and most of all, keep in mind this all takes time.