Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Fam

I love my little family so much. It's a lot of work and a considerable amount of chaos, but geez, it's amazing.

N is growing so fast. Laying across my lap, she looks like she is twice as long as she was when she was born, and she is getting so substantial and baby-fatty :) I love it. She has started blowing bubbles while she hums -- it's maybe the most adorable baby thing ever. In my memory, I don't think C ever did that. She coos, giggles, smiles, squeals, and has recently started grabbing my face. She absolutely loves interaction. When I have someone over to watch her, all they have to do it make faces at her and feed her every once in a while. I am thinking she might be kind of extroverted, and good for her! I have to admit it is a secret hope of mine that my kids don't inherit my painful shyness. I had such a hard time relating to other kids when I was little, and I love the idea that my kids might not have that same challenge. Of course, if they do, I suppose I will be in a good position to help them through. In any case, I love how chatty they are.

And C. What can I say about him?? I can't put it in words. He has started reenacting the X-Games movie, doing "dirt bike jumps" on his little tricycle, which is adorable enough as it is, but he also requires a costume of gloves and a helmet. He pretends to jump, then he throws the bike down on its side and says "It creeashed!" Then he mimes ripping open the velcro on the back of his gloves the way Ricky Carmichael does. OMG. Yesterday he told B that he wants to ride dirt bikes when he grows up.

He's still afraid of the vacuum, though, so we'll see ;D

The big news around the house is that he is starting preschool at the end of August, which I am very excited about, because I think he will really enjoy the structure and interaction and learning new things in a new environment. I am waiting to see if I feel those pangs of mommy-tears or anything, but so far I just feel really joyful about it. I feel like there are things he needs that I can't really supply here at home, mainly interaction with friends his age and learning to be in a classroom-type setting, and I look forward to seeing him learn new songs, new games, manners, etc. I know my little man will do a great job.

The newborn chaos is tapering off, which is a great, great blessing. I am getting to enjoy the kids again, rather than just feeling crazy and overwhelmed, and I am discovering that they are so, so delightful. Really skilled at making messes, but delightful nonetheless. :)

Friday, July 30, 2010


So maybe it's because I have been watching seasons of 80s dramedies on Netflix, and maybe partially because N is finally sleeping well and I have the mental space to think about things a little, but basically I have been thinking about what it will be like to Turn Thirty.

Thirty Thirty Thirty. In some ways it seems so young. I feel like I'm almost forty, not almost thirty. There have been so many events in my life already, I feel lucky to only be looking at thirty, with so much already under my belt.

And in other ways, I feel like I was just 22, 18, 15, 12, 6, 3. And simultaneously glad that I am no longer any of those ages.

Then, it's time to think of some other goals. I had an unofficial list of things I wanted to do during my twenties, and it went something like this, if I remember it from my fevered zealous nineteen-year-old brain:

-Married by 23
-Kid by 25
-Publish something
-Go to Europe

In real life I didn't make it to Europe but I honestly let that one go -- this decade has turned out to be a lot more about relationships than places. Other than that, I hit my marks pretty close -- married by 24, kid by 26, grad degree, and I have sort of published, if an online group blog counts. It's semi-official. I have submitted my first story for consideration for publication. I 100% (okay, 98%) expect a rejection, but I am proud of myself for putting it out there. And when I get the rejection notice from the first place, I'll find somewhere else to send it. And keep writing other things as I have time.

But none of these specifics really matter; instead I feel like the important thing is, I feel like I can stand behind my work of the past ten years. It was not graceful, in fact it was usually very un-graceful, but I pushed forward and have actually made some really nice, pleasing progress. Enough progress to consider sitting back and smiling on my life as it is now, for the afternoon of my birthday. Which is not for another 7 months, but I might as well start getting ready for it. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Playing Cars

This evening I got to play cars with C as N laid in her bassinet and played with the little velcro elephants that hang over her head. Down on the vinyl tile in the hallway, following along with his play narration, I lost track of time and got to spend 20 minutes in his own play world. It is amazing how much his imagination has grown just in the past month or so. He told me a story, complete with "Once upon a time." He learned the phrase "a little help!" -- called out when you fall over -- from a Veggie Tales video, and now all of his cars flip upside down and call out "a little help, orange car! A little help, silver car!" Then the car that was called on has to drive over and help the other car flip right side up. Then the car that fell over thanks the car that helped him flip right side up, and they decide what to do next.

The subject matter of his play was so sweet and lovely -- the cars were helping each other, racing each other, and giving each other good things to eat. They like what he likes -- blueberries, cereal, and cupcakes are their most common meals, and they give each other strawberry milk to drink. They went to the playground at one point, going down slides and riding the see-saw. They also check each other's tires all the time to make sure they are okay, and comment on how much they like the things that the other trucks can do. (For example, the monster trucks get a lot of compliments from the other cars about how high they can jump.)

It was really, really fun. I haven't played like that in a while. It was fun visiting his world, and seeing how lush the scenery is. It reminded me of one of my favorite childhood memories, playing Barbies with my sister. For hours.

Oh, man... Barbies... I have a girl now, I might get to play Barbies again someday soon! :D

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress

On my trek to a healthier life I have had some progress! I lost an inch off my waist and finally a few pounds. My largest pair of pants is now slightly loose. (Interestingly, my hips and thighs have only given up a quarter of an inch between them. Blame my genetics ;D )

It's just the motivation I need to keep on. Seven full days of good eating! Not as much exercise as I wanted, because it's hard to schedule, but I'm not giving up on that. Figuring out today whether I can afford to join the gym.

Anyway, just thought I would report this success, since I spend so much time on here whining about how much I wish I had results ;D

Onward and upward! :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Who, Me?

I am coming to that point in new-mom-ness where I can tell it is time to pay more attention to myself, or else I run the risk of not being a good mom because I am out of touch with what I need for myself, if that makes sense.

One of the hardest things about motherhood, for me, is that if I follow my natural instinct, I will wear myself out to the point of insanity. My motherly instinct is to completely forget about myself and do everything I can for my kids, which leaves me exhausted, underfed or overfed, resentful, and feeling like a failure. I am not saying this to brag that I am oh so selfless, but just to say that my personal instincts, if left unchecked, lead me to dangerous levels of self sacrifice that end up really being selfish in the end, because they are unsustainable, and they lack perspective, and they are really unnecessary.

What all this rambling means is that sometimes to be a better mom in the long run, you have to be a "bad mom" for a moment in the present. Case in point: the BF/bottle tension and debate. From my posts a few months ago you can see that B and I started N on one formula feed per day, in the evening, which did away with the terrible scream-for-four-hours-every-night scene that we had been dealing with. This worked really well for several weeks (5? 6?) and then, two weeks ago, N started what I assumed at the time was a growth spurt -- more hungry than usual, cluster-feeds, etc. When the growth spurts happen, I typically just hunker down for 48 to 72 hours of getting nothing done, and then it passes, and everything is all right. Except this one didn't end. It continued until I stopped keeping track, and was getting less and less sleep every night, and then this week, I realized I was losing my mind. My brain was spinning in those exhaustion-induced circles, the ones that happen when I am trying to figure out something -- any combination of actions, words, etc. -- that will end in me getting some rest. In these situations sometimes my mouth will say the things it needs to even though my brain is shorted out -- in this case, I got some good advice from my friend (thanks HF!) and got a little perspective from a desperate late-night "what in the world should I do" kind of conversation.

This conversation reminded me of the best aspects of having girlfriends, and also helped me to feel better about the reality of my situation, and highlighted the ridiculousness of being idealistic about feeding methods when you are juggling so much. Too much, really, and I am going to have to figure out how to pare it down.

After my friend left I sat and thought and cried and prayed and figured out that part of the problem with letting go of the breastfeeding ideal (I will still breastfeed, but whenever you introduce more formula, there is the risk that your supply will just decrease to the point that baby loses interest, so you have to be ready for that possibility) is that I am not completely sure who I am when I am not a mom. This was a really hard realization because of course that is exactly what I feared when I had C, and exactly what I precisely wanted to avoid. Nobody wants to be "that mom," who has no identity apart from her kids.

I think I came by it honestly, though -- right before C was born (just a few weeks before) I had a final disagreement with an old friend of mine, and without going into the middle-school-style details, within a few days I had lost most of my long-term girlfriends, several of whom never even explained what the problem was -- they just quit answering my calls. So I was confused, angry, sad, etc., and then three weeks later -- surprise! -- I was the mom of a 4 pound preemie. I kept having to fight the instinct to call them -- I hadn't even had time to erase them from my phone book. They would have been my first line of defense against such an upsetting thing -- the early birth, the fear, the weird hours, not having time to eat, etc. But they were out of the picture. With my social life kind of slashed-and-burned, I just jumped into motherhood as the obvious choice, because in terms of standard go-out-for-martinis kind of girl activities, I suddenly had no one to do that stuff with, and besides that it took 24 hours a day to take care of C. So it's kind of like if you were thinking about moving, but then your house got firebombed, so you had no choice but to move, and didn't even get to pack your stuff to take with you.

So here I am three years later, living here in Momville, and I like it, very much in fact. But I don't have anything to remind me of who I was, because it all got wiped out in a freak friendship/napalming accident.

In the meantime, I have made a lot of great new friends, and old acquaintances have deepened into real actual friendships. I am slowly getting over my fear of girlfriends and am enjoying being surrounded by people who genuinely enjoy my company, and vice versa, much better friends than the Napalm Girls, when it comes right down to it. And I sense that there is something missing, parts of me that I am perhaps avoiding or neglecting or allowing to atrophy because it is scary to look at the question Who Am I as it stares at me. And I want to be interesting, I want to have things to talk about, I want to keep learning new ideas and doing new things. I want to be an agent of action -- I want to be the subject of the sentence instead of the object. Or better yet, just the slim, spare verb: Runs. Walks. Laughs.

So, in a way, it's time to rebuild. What makes me happy? I thought of singing, because I used to do that a lot, and I was actually good at it, but I joined a choir last year and I couldn't stand sitting still for so long while someone criticized my (and about 600 other people)'s ability to, like, pronounce a Latin word perfectly while singing F-sharps on the top of the staff. And they were charging a hefty fee to be a member. So I quit, and I am not really sorry, but I was surprised to find that I hated singing in a choir, when that was such a large part of who I was and what I did, back in my old life.

So what does that leave? I remember that I used to like going out to movies, but now when I go to the movies I get bored, or I feel like falling asleep. Occasionally I like a movie, but not the way I used to. And besides that, going to movies is not an engaging pursuit in the way that a hobby is supposed to be.

I like to write, but that is not the kind of activity I am looking for, and in many ways writing (for me at least) is a very solitary kind of pursuit. I don't like to show my writing around until I am happy with it. This blog is a good interactive-writing kind of experience, but it doesn't push me outside of my comfort zone. Sitting in my house typing on my laptop is pretty much the definition of "my comfort zone," so I am looking for something more than that.

It's terrifying. It's like a second adolescence. ("Who am I? What am I about? When's lunch?") Which doesn't seem quite fair because breaking free from adolescence was a really hard-won victory for me.

So, all of this is to say, it's time for me to do some vaguely uncomfortable things in order to expand my world a little, bit by bit, so I don't end up fast-forwarding to my last kid heading off to college and me having absolutely no idea what I am about when I am not making lunches and doing laundry.

Cheers! Maybe it will be fun. It scares me to death and annoys me to think about it right now, but I have that standing-in-the-wind feeling about it, the feeling I get when the Spirit is moving in my life. The small still voice says that it will be nothing like what I expect, larger and more full-tilt than I expect, and difficult, and wonderful. Which, as a mom, is one set of feelings that I actually am pretty familiar with.

Wish me luck! ;D

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stress Test

The stress level around the Nash house is running high today, with B in bed suffering from a toothache so terrible he is seeing stars and can barely talk and certainly can't eat. He is on the books for an emergency root canal but for now nothing helps, not even the pain meds the dentist prescribed yesterday. It is so terrible to see him in pain, and there is literally absolutely nothing I can do to make it better. It really reminds me of how powerless I actually am over my life, as if I needed more reminders of that!

On the diet/exercise front, I have not craved sweets as much today as I have craved protein, which I suppose is a positive change. I hope that means I am building muscle and need to protein in order to maintain the lean muscle mass, although that could be wishful thinking after only two days back on the Shred.

Yesterday N decided she needed her formula bottle at 7:00 instead of 8:30, and would not rest nor stop screaming until she had it. She wouldn't even nurse, which I don't like, but after a point you have to stop trying to force your ideology on your baby. If she craves formula in the evenings, what can I do? It concerns me that she might be trying to phase me out of breastfeeding, which would be disappointing and definitely more expensive, but I have never felt confident about my milk supply so maybe the BF is just not cutting it anymore. I'm not giving up, though, As of now she is still on just one bottle of formula, and I want to keep it that way until she gets on some solids at around 6 months. Then, if she wants to drop a few of the nursings, that's all right, although of course I would like to continue as long as possible.

It is so difficult, the constantly-shifting needs. It is the scourge of taking care of a baby -- they change so quickly that as soon as you have actually figured out what they need and gotten the hang of delivering it, they change again and you are back where you started.

Sleep deprivation is also starting to get to me a bit -- the kids have been so needy this week that I have not been able to work during the day (today is an exception), so I have been starting my teaching at about ten at night, which leaves me finishing between midnight and 1am, dishes and laundry undone, toys scattered all over, etc. Then I wake up about every two hours after that to feed N, then up at 8 to a messy house, hungry kids, dirty diapers, and a new slate of work. It's kind of discouraging, but I know that the sleep deprivation makes it seem worse than it is. I might get to catch up soon, or get a few extra hours of sleep, and then the situation will not seem quite so dramatic or dire. Still, it has to be said, parenting is not for the weak! ;D

I have found that good nutrition makes handling (juggling) it all a little easier, so on that front I suppose I have made some progress, even if I haven't actually lost any weight or inches. I eat a lot of veggies, whole grain, and lean protein, and a little fruit, and it works well for a steady supply of energy. Now if only I could kick the coffee habit. But that's another challenge for another time, I think.

Time for a snack -- if you pray, say a quick prayer for me, and I will do the same for you.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gold Star

Today I get to put two foil star stickers on my calendar -- a blue one for eating well, and a green one for exercising. Call me old fashioned, but I love a good star chart. It ignites something competitive in me that is helpful when trying to get up off my butt and change something.

On day three of working hard with no measurable results, but I'm not giving up yet. I can say that as I was doing the Shred video this evening, the sit-ups were a little easier, which is fantastic because I hate sit-ups. Not for the ab workout, but for the fact that they make my neck hurt a lot.

Speaking of hating certain exercises, I hate jumping jacks. They also make my neck hurt, and my head, and after three days of Shred workouts last week I was sidelines with a migraine on the fourth day and have only gotten back on track in the past two days. So I think I have to go a little more low-impact than Ms. Michaels would have me do, just because I get tired of popping ibuprofen and feeling like my spine is compressing every time I jump up and down. So I do a little modified jog or a less jumpy jumping jack during the cardio parts of the video. I have a lot less pain, and I know I am not getting as good of a workout but I think that's how it is going to have to be until I drop ten or fifteen pounds. I just have too much on my frame to be jumping it around right now, at least comfortably. And dreading migraines makes me want to skip workouts, which is the road to Nogoodville.

So I am still hanging on, dejectedly/hopefully pasting stars to my calendar, and really really really hoping for some results soon. And hating people who lose ten pounds by making a tiny change. Not really hating them, just feeling an envy that borders on psychosis. I don't know if I can explain how hard this change is for me, I am still pretty much counting it in hours rather than days. I want results so bad I would pay for them. So here's hoping something wakes up this body of mine and inspires it to *burn* some of its fat store.

I am popping sugar-free candy and drinking water and just hanging on.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Losing It

Just some thoughts about the weight loss journey, as it is really difficult right now and I think that writing about it is more positive than eating a bunch of cookies.

First of all, man, am I addicted to sweets! When I don't give into my cravings, they get stronger and stronger, like a little voice whispering "caaaaake cooooookies piiiiiiiie caaaaaaandy" in my ear. It's just ridiculous.

Also, I am curious to hear if anyone else has this experience, when I am cutting back on my sugary vices all of my feelings are so much more raw -- I am more emotional in general (which I hate!) and the answer to everything seems to be "eat some junk." I am in the process of reprogramming myself with different things to do when I need to take 5 minutes to myself. Instead of cookies... tea! I have found some dessert teas that take the edge off, but nothing is like the real thing. Yeah, I am totally an addict.

I am also in my least favorite phase of weight loss, and I am just trying to hang on -- the phase when I am exercising and eating right, but because it has only been 48 hours instead of weeks or months, I don't see any results yet. It is so hard to keep on when I feel like I am putting effort in and getting nothing back. I know it is just a matter of waiting for a day and then a week and then a month, but changing habits is so hard, I feel all whiny and I want some results... now! Stomping my feet like a toddler. I am wondering when it gets easier, because in my previous attempts I have stopped before it got easier. So I am just trying to hang on. Hang on. Hang on.


My Girl

When I was pregnant with N and we found out she was a girl, I was afraid. I have never been very girly in general (I still can only put on the most basic eye makeup without looking like a little girl who got into mommy's things). And maybe because I have had so many close friendships with girls in my life, the absolute worst moments of all were those sniping, in-fighting middle-school girl moments of orchestrated social destruction, reputation assassination, and any other amount of dramatic-sounding scenarios that might seem silly to an outsider, but which have been completely devastating to me.

So I was afraid, because I didn't know if I would know what to do with a girl, if she would be born wanting to know how to do a manicure or how to French braid her own hair (I have never even been able to French braid somebody else'e hair, much less my own). Or maybe she would learn her housekeeping skills from me, and we would perpetuate clutter and lack of focus and laundry baskets full of clothes that may or may not be clean (or possibly dirty, I really can't remember) to the next generation as well. Or that maybe I would forget to teach her everything I know about respecting herself, everything I learned the hard way, and she would end up with the wrong friends, or the wrong boy, or the wrong profession...

It's possible that I was getting ahead of myself.

But now -- now that I know her -- how do I explain it? She has a gentle sweetness about her that is like a balm to my fears; I know that I will teach her the same way I teach C -- one thing at a time, one day at a time, and lots of prayers in between. She's like a piece of sweet, fragrant spice cake, so delightful -- smiles and coos and even a few little laughs, already! I love her so much that the words "I love her" are inadequate, ringing flatly like dull dented metal hitting the ground. I kiss her pink toes and sing a song I made up about her. I love her but it is so much more than that.

My girl.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dream House

A long time ago I read a post by one of my favorite authors, Annie Proulx, in which she described her perfect house. I have been thinking of it today, and here are my ideas. If anyone has some spare millions they want to donate to this cause, just let me know ;D

The space would be divided into two halves: utility space and living space. On the utility side there would be a giant laundry room with two washers and two dryers, large folding tables, and everyone's closet and bureaus. No clothes would ever go into bedrooms. Three spacious dressing rooms with good lighting and full length mirrors would be part of this room as well. Adjacent to this laundry room would be two full bathrooms with sink, toilet, shower, and garden tub, with a separate on-demand water heater for each bathroom.

Attached to this space would be the home gym -- a treadmill, elliptical, weight machines, excercise bike, and hot tub/sauna.

Additionally, in the utility side of the house would be a big room like a shower stall, with a drain in the floor and various hoses, showerheads, etc. It would be comfortable enough for art projects and other messy activities with little kids, and when the activities are done, you just wash all the mess down the drain and march the kids to the shower and laundry room for new clothes. Also good for washing the hypothetical dog which we may one day have.

On the living side would be a family room with large TV, game systems, comfortable chairs, etc., a library with an adjacent office for reading and working, and large, comfortable bedrooms for everyone. Also, connecting the utility space and living space would be a meditation room with almost nothing in it, and a large window with a great view.

Add a recording studio for B and an art and play room for the kids. In the center of the house with a dining area and bar would be a huge professional-style kitchen with a drain in the floor also, and a big flattop grill. And of course one of those professional dishwashers that cleans everything in ten minutes.

Ta da! My most hated chore, dishes, would be made easier, and my second most hated chore, putting away clean clothes, would be taken care of as well. Living space would be just for living, and any mess/clutter would accumulate in the utility areas, right next to the right place for taking care of the mess.

And of course, you are all invited for dinner! ;D

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kick Me!

So in an effort to reduce my amount of self-indulgent weight-related whining, I am starting another program tomorrow -- the Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred. I am normally very anti-bandwagon, even to the point of being ridiculous, but I have heard such great things about it from so many people, I have to give it a try. I hear that it does a lot to tone you and build your strength, and sometimes not so much in terms of weight loss, so here is what I think I will do:

-Work out either 5 or 6 days a week (I'll play it by ear). You are supposed to do it every single day but I know that is too extreme for me.

-Not weigh myself for a full 30 days. This is going to be hard because I am kind of addicted to the scale. I will go by how my clothes fit, and how I feel, and if the workout gets any easier over time. I think I'll take my measurements, too, because that can be something tangible. Weight is too deceptive, though, especially if you are building muscle.

-30 days from now (August 5) I want to be a big size 12 -- as in, for my goal, I want to be able to fit into my size 12s, even if they are a bit uncomfortable still. Then in two more months (October 5) I want the 12s to comfortably fit. After that, maybe I can work down into a 10 or 8, but honestly, a nice, fit size 12 would make me happy. We'll see how it goes. For reference, I am a large-ish 14 or smallish 16 right now, depending on the brand of clothes I am wearing.

-Watch what I eat in a general way, just not overindulging in sweets, etc. I am not going to freak out about the food.

-Drink plenty of water.

We'll see how it goes! I hear the Shred is tough, but so is not fitting into any of your clothes. ;D I have a good motivator in the fact that I am in a wedding this fall, and my size 12 dress is already purchased and sitting in a box on my shelf. I am looking forward to wearing it!

I have bought little foil star stickers to put on the calendar every time I work out. I am totally a star-chart kind of girl.

Here's to persistence! :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lucid Dreaming

Just a little note about something awesome... I don't know if you have ever heard of lucid dreaming, but it is basically a state in which you are dreaming, you know you are dreaming, and yet you completely control what you do. It's kind of like being in a video game, where you can do anything you want. One of the features of lucid dreaming is that it tends to occur during short periods of sleep rather than long solid nights -- which is why I get to enjoy it while taking care of a young baby (up every 4 hours at the least, often more frequently). I had these kinds of dreams when C was little, and now I am having them with N. It is so much fun! :) Last night I was running around in San Francisco and I actually flew over the Golden Gate Bridge. I remember the moment when I decided to fly -- "I'm dreaming, why not?" I could feel the air and the wet droplets of fog, smell the salt, look down at the giant expansive bridge; it was amazing! I highly recommend it. :)


Today I am thankful that there are so many people who disagree with my political opinions, so that there can be a better balance of forces in US politics. I think that any power, unchecked, is dangerous, and I am thankful that we can have a (relatively) peaceful interchange of ideas in which both the individual and the society are considered. Sometimes it can seem frustrating, and like no progress is really being made, but if someone else's opposing opinion can keep my views from becoming monolithic and megalomaniacal (which would cause them to balloon, take over, and then destruct in a spectacular manner, like the extreme-left ideology of the early USSR) then that is a great miracle of democracy, and a great reason to keep on believing in the American experiment.

Just quit having those ridiculous tea parties. Seriously.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A short post to report the things of the week:

One great thing is that the course I am teaching has been redesigned so that it requires a LOT less grading. In particular, the heinous assignments that had to be graded within 48 hours of whenever the student felt like turning them in have been abolished, meaning that I have entire days now when I don't have to grade anything. Which has done wonders for my general morale and my housekeeping skills. I have actually done some laundry (emptied out the playpen, which was full to the top with clean clothes needing to be folded and put away).

I felt like a change in the house, so I rearranged the living room furniture a bit. It was fun to do myself, since I'm not pregnant anymore and I don't have to worry about picking up something heavy. I like the new arrangement. :)

I also got another post published on the Modestly Yours blog. It's always fun to see my stuff up there.

For next week, I have a goal of revising my short story and deciding where to send it first, with an absolute deadline for submission of a week from Monday. I have to quit stalling! (Quit stalling! Quit stalling!)

Happy Independence Day! Do something independent to celebrate ;D