Friday, December 31, 2010
2010 was a great year in many respects. My daughters and I had our fantastic Summer of Fun. (And boy was it ever! Remember Popcorn Wednesday?) We spent our 2nd season at our CSA farm. Julia finally stopped crying at swimming lessons. I got a job--and my own checking account! (Woman Power!)
I ran 7-1/2 miles at one time. I sent my firstborn off to all-day school for the first time, and she flourished. Friends had new babies. (And I did not.) Many people--in-person friends, via-Internet friends, complete strangers--wrote sweet, kind, funny comments to me on this blog, ones I loved, laughed at, was supremely grateful for. Julia made me a cookbook. Genevieve learned to read.
I got published on the homepage of BlogHer!
I successfully managed the professional painting of (most of) the interior of our house. I made a new friend. I got another essay accepted for publication in a book. With the indescribably generous guidance of an experienced friend, I wrote a book proposal, consulted with a literary agent about my book idea (and she liked it!), and am set to send the agent my pitch this very next Monday, in the hopes of getting representation, and, eventually, a book deal.
Those are the big things--the things that come immediately to mind when I consider the year in its entirety. But I also know--as is true for all of us--that the majority of good things about 2010 were the little moments I can't specifically remember: hugs and kisses from my babes, tons of fun and laughs and companionship with my amazing friends, the funny things Genevieve said, the art Julia made.
There were bad things about 2010 too, for sure. I mean, I tried to give up sugar for Lent, people! OMG, that alone!
I'm not saying it was a perfect year--but is any? Believe me, I haven't forgotten the dog days. But seriously: job? checking account? book proposal? BlogHer? Summer of Fun? That's a pretty good year.
Being a parent somehow magnifies everything; parenthood makes your highs higher and your lows unspeakably low. Sometimes it can seem like there's just way too much drama in your life, in your household, when you have children. But the thing is, it's the dramatic ups and downs that make each year its own topographical map of experience--the Summers of Fun, the popcorn cart, the 7-mile runs, the bus stop, the playdates, the new babies, the book deals, the inability to self-soothe, the prescription medication, the times you slept on the floor in the hall outside the nursery. Your years wouldn't be memorable without all that, the big and small, the drama, the ups, the downs.
So 2010 as a mama in wonderland was partly hard and bad; and largely really awesome. If you had any part in making the good parts good, I send my love out to you. On into 2011, with whatever wonders (and challenges) it may hold.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Again, Julia came up with this idea on her own, put a lot of time and effort into it, and wrapped it in homemade "wrapping paper" (two sheets of plain white paper taped together, with crayon wreaths drawn all over both sides).
(That last page is a drawing of Genevieve holding the very workbook, saying, "This is fun!")
Monday, December 27, 2010
At least their hair was freshly cut.
A few weeks before Christmas, Julia started working on a homemade gift for me. She thought of the idea herself, and worked on it for days. She left the project out on her kid table in the playroom as she added to it, so I couldn't help but catch a few glimpses, but she displayed a really innocent trust that she could just leave a present out like that, for days on end, in progress, so I tried really hard not to see anything.
She made me a cookbook.
Hope you enjoy this present. Merry Christmas! Love Julia"
of blueberries in a bowl. 2. Add 2 blocks of cream cheese.
3. Add 1 cup of flour. 4. Add two cups of chocolate chips..."
2. Add the yogurt. 3. Add the strawberrys. Blend until smooth.
If still Runny add..."
"Snowflake Cookies...What You Do: 1. Roll out 1 bowl of (store Bought
or Homemade) cookie Dough on a cutting board. 2. Press the cookie
cutter into the dough..."
Thursday, December 23, 2010
This morning at the hair salon I take my girls to for trims, Genevieve burst into tears and wouldn't scale the haircutting chair because the nice stylist who does their hair turned the Grinch on the little DVD player they keep there. You know, to entertain the children.
The ones who don't burst into tears at the sight.
Well, this is what I have to say about the Grinch: If you have to sit writing freelance articles on health and nutrition for Livestrong.com on the laptop on the evening before Christmas Eve Day, doing so in front of the Grinch on television is a pretty entertaining way to do it.
But you can only do that when Genevieve's already in bed. (Which she is.)
Here's hoping that Santa, and not the Grinch, slides down your chimney tomorrow night. Because we certainly don't need any more tears in the world.
Merry Christmas, you all.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I thought some of my local readers might be interested in these awesome-sounding classes. One is called Swami Mommy--don't you love that name?--, a yoga class especially for moms seeking community and support. The other is Yoga Bonding Postnatal--a new-mom-and-baby yoga class (fun!). There's also a general (non-mom-centric) Intro to Yoga & Meditation class, which sounds like a great way to explore these practices.
And hey--I've known Tricia since 10th grade, so I can totally vouch for her. We'll not comment on just how many years that means we've known each other.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Here is the thing I am learning this week: Even if you are committed to keeping the holidays small and manageable, and compared to the rest of the world you actually do (no travel, limited gifts, lots of simple pleasures like playing in the snow and sledding rather than extravagant expensive activities or too many social obligations), the week before Christmas is still really busy.
Even as you're lazing around in your pj's with your on-school-vacation kiddos, baking cookies and planning sledding-and-hot-chocolate playdates and doing cozy things like sitting in front of the fireplace reading Christmas stories, you're still thinking about the fact that you haven't wrapped any gifts yet, and your freelance-writing job isn't on vacation so you've got deadlines to meet if you want to get paid (which you do), and you still haven't planned the menu or bought groceries for Christmas dinner, and you've still got a major section of your book proposal to revise before the new year.
But you know that two weeks of Christmas vacation will be over in the blink of an eye and you should be cherishing each one of these no-schedule days.
But as a stay-at-home and work-from-home mom you're always on a schedule.
So then you go and eat more Christmas cookies in an attempt to distract yourself from your stressful to-do list. Thus adding one more thing to your to-do list. ("Lose holiday pounds.")
Can anyone else relate???
Monday, December 20, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I would love to show you a photograph of my daughter standing in the front row if only to show you the adorableness of how she's, like, a foot shorter than half her classmates, and half a foot shorter than the others, only I don't have permission to show all her little classmates' faces on the Internet. She's like a super-cute escapee from kindergarten (in fact, she was wearing the same outfit she wore for her kindergarten Winter Sing a year ago), only fully literate and in Challenge Math.
After the concert four times more people than are meant to be in the first-grade classroom went to the first-grade classroom, to narrowly avoid spilling hot chocolate on one another, misplace the baby sisters and brothers, and tour the Book Nook and the Star Box and the corner with everyone's mailbox. First grade is a wonderland.
Then we came home and I spent an hour and 15 minutes shoveling a chest-high drift of snow off our patio and away from the back door, and my shovel broke in two. The end.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
OK, so we're all up to date on how glad I am that it's not still four years ago. I've made my point clear, have I not? Well, as if to slam the point home, last night I ventured out into the ten-below-zero night in order to drive to the indoor track at the college where my husband works, where I can get into the Rec Center with my staff/family privileges card, to run a few miles inside. I've been sick for about a million years, and it's like the Arctic outside here, so I haven't been for a run in many days. But I just decided to suck it up, sinus congestion and all, go to where I could run without risking my life, and try a few miles just to see if my leg muscles still work. Because Good Lord in heaven, when you're a runner and you're used to a fair amount of fitness and whatnot, not exercising for weeks can really start getting to you. You start moping around all wobbly and defeated. You imagine you might never run six miles again, after all your hard work. You start gaining weight from not getting any exercise. It's depressing.
Well, so, anyway--there I was, suited up and getting on the track. And out of the corner of my eye, I see a woman approaching the walking lanes. And she's got a newborn baby strapped onto her chest in a carrier. She's got her iPod, she's got her walking shoes on, she's there in the pitch-dark of 6:00 p.m. in December--when I swear it feels so late that we should all be in bed already--and she's walking around the track with a newborn baby strapped to her chest. And at first I was like, Wow, brilliant! Why didn't I ever think of doing that, when I had newborn babies? What a great way to escape the claustrophobic misery of the evening hours with a fussy newborn, and also get your exercise in, even in the dead cold of winter!
And the very next second I was all, OMG lady, better you than me. And then I ran right by her, over and over and over again, feeling very fit and fleet--unencumbered. So glad to not be carrying colic on my chest. So glad to not be in charge of the next feeding--and every one thereafter.
I don't mean to sound cruel, ungrateful, or harsh. For a long time I missed newborns--sort of. I do still miss plenty of things about having children younger than mine are now, and it's just as painful as ever--as it is, I think, for every mom--to know that every single day that passes is a time and stage that can never return.
But there is a time and place for everything, and the time when it would have been brilliant of me to go to a track with the baby strapped to my chest is over. Now the brilliant thing is going to the track on my own, in the middle of busy December, with the kids at home being fed their dinner by someone other than me.
Amazing how that works, isn't it?
Monday, December 13, 2010
It's not too late, if you missed it on Friday. Please go read, give another click to the link, and consider some tips to shrink down your holidays in order to maximize your sanity. Thanks, loves! I appreciate every single one of you.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
At times like this it's hard to believe that in July and August it's often--very, very often, if it's summer 2010--over 90 degrees outside.
In other news, I checked my running log last night out of a need to torture myself oops I mean curiosity, and discovered that I have been sick for roughly five of the past six weeks. See, the thing about being sick as a parent rather than in your previous, child-free life is that there is literally never a time you can retire to your bed for a solid day or two, call in to work, and get over your illness. Noooooo. Talk about a miserable experience that you don't even know is a blessing until you have children and realize that being sick can be A WHOLE LOT MORE MISERABLE. Seriously: what childless person lies in bed sniffling and moaning, thinking, Wow, I am so lucky I can actually lie down in the middle of the day like this when I'm sick.? No one. No one at all. But then you become a parent, and you get sick, and you're all like, omg I would give my left arm to be able to lie in bed for two straight days and do nothing but get better.
I would have to be, I don't know, on an IV to be able to lie in bed all day long.
Hence, the five-out-of-six-weeks sinus infection/cold/upper respiratory infection/interminable cough/sore throat/etc.
And hence the no running.
Which may be good considering the photo above.
(P.S. It is currently 1 degree above zero outside, with a windchill of 22 below.)
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Real Mothers. Real Careers. Real Conflict.
"Trying to strike the right balance between career and motherhood is one of the most stressful, heart-wrenching issues facing women today. In Torn, 46 women examine the conflict between the need to nurture and the need to work, and reveal creative solutions for having the best of both worlds. Their stories offer hope and inspiration, but also reveal the messy realities of modern motherhood and life’s inevitable crises, both small and large: from breast pump mishaps to battles with cancer; diaper blowouts to debilitating depression; competitive cupcake baking to coming home from war. In the end, the reader can take comfort in the knowledge that there is no perfect mother; nor is there a perfect balance when it comes to kids and career. The real challenge facing women today is not juggling their many roles, but realigning their expectations of what is possible and accepting that success does not equal “doing it all.”"
Remember back in 2009 when I got my first publication in a book--the anthology that was ultimately titled P.S. What I Didn't Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends--and I couldn't believe that my lifelong dream of being a published author in an actual book that people could walk into a bookstore and buy had come true? Well, imagine how I feel now. My lifelong dream has come true a second time.
Torn is slated to launch next May. Spread the word, keep your eyes out for press about the book, and remember the title so you can buy it when it comes out. Pretty please.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Or maybe something even worse than zipping and tying. Something universally-agreed-upon as fun, integral to a joyful childhood, the very essence of loving parenting. Something like board games and visits to Santa.
I hate board games, especially board games with children. This makes me feel bad, especially when I read about others--really good mothers--who adore board games, get really passionate about board games, surely have whole baskets or storage ottomans full of stacked board games, but, you know--sigh--it is what it is.
Board games should be called "bored games", as far as I'm concerned. (Ha! Did you like my little joke?! I crack myself up.) Therefore, it literally never, ever occurs to me to buy my children board games, of any kind, for Christmas or their birthdays. No, not even the classics like Hi-Ho Cherry-O or Candyland--both of which my daughters own only through the gift-giving efforts of friends and relatives. Not even the ones you would think actually might be a little fun, like Jenga or Boggle. (Wait--those aren't actually board games--or bored games! ha!--but you know what I mean.) Seriously, I never even think of games as gifts. Never. I rarely play the ones we have. I dread the idea of Family Game Night, even though children love that kind of thing--at least until they're, I don't know, 12 maybe? I know. I feel awful about it. I know.
And then there's visiting Santa. We don't do this in our family. I KNOW! Can you even believe it? Again: does not occur to me. Listen, my girls a.) are terrified of Sponge Bob Square Pants (I don't even know how to write that, we're so unfamiliar with him; is it SpongeBob SquarePants? Sponge Bob SquarePants? I don't know); how do you think they're going to react to a giant old man in an odd matching outfit with a huge white beard? Also: since dressed-up Santas are so baffling (there are multiples! how can it be? why do some of them look different from the pictures we've seen of Santa? why do their boots vary in color at times?), we've relied on the old explanation that dressed-up Santas at stores or events are just pretend, Santa's helpers, dressed up for fun but not the real deal. So it's not all that exciting to my daughters anyway.
But really, can you even believe it? Lacking in board games, and have never visited Santa.
Your opinion of me as a parent is probably a lot lower now, isn't it? I probably made you feel really good about your own parenting today. After all, you play board games with your children! You take them to visit Santa! My Christmas gift to you. Enjoy.
Thanks to my friend Margaret, the girls and I made the best, easiest, prettiest Christmas treat tonight before their bedtime when Christopher was at a work dinner. Here's what you do:
1 bag small round-shaped pretzels (these are seasonal)
1 bag Hershey's white-and-peppermint striped kisses
red & green holiday M&Ms
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or regular foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Lay the pretzels in a single layer to fill the sheet. Place one unwrapped Hershey's kiss in each pretzel ring.
Put the baking sheet in the oven and watch closely; leave in oven until the kisses are just starting to melt and are soft (a few minutes). While kisses are still melty, press one red or green M&M in the center of each ring. Then place the sheet outside in the cold (or in the freezer) to harden. YUM!
We loved them. Try it!
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
I'm probably the only person in the world to get all giddy and make an announcement about a publication before it's actually published. But come on! It's BlogHer. How can I not?
Stay tuned and I'll hook you up with the link when the article is up. (Now I just have to go write it.)
Monday, December 06, 2010
Eight new inches of snow, one weekend afternoon, two hours, four sleds, one backyard hill, three families, six parents, seven little girls under seven (two not pictured here), numerous mugs of cocoa, countless Christmas cookies. But, of course, you can't quantify joy.
Friday, December 03, 2010
The past few days I've been spending every second I can working on book stuff, and that means she's been pretty neglected. I feel badly about it; but then again, there is nothing I can do about it right now. I have an important deadline, I've been fortunate enough to be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show my book proposal to a literary agency that I got connected with strictly because I happen to know someone who knows someone, and when a big chance lands in your lap, you just don't turn it down. And I don't have either of my kids' grandmas in town who I can bring her to for a few hours here and there because I suddenly have a major opportunity regarding my book and I HAVE TO get some work done on it, RIGHT NOW. And honestly, Genevieve wouldn't want me to hire a babysitter so I could get work done, either; she hates sitters and has serious separation anxiety and trying that would just be worse, I'm convinced.
But in the meantime, I've been reminded just how hard it is to do any sort of work while you're also caring for a small child. I mean, it's next to impossible. It reminds me of last May when I was painting the guest bedroom and, even though it's a very small room, it took me FOUR WEEKENDS (it may have been five, actually) to get it painted. Four weekends, people! Keep in mind that when I hired professionals to paint the entire interior common area of our two-story house, it took them TWO DAYS. To do the whole house. Not even full days, either; more like 10 to 3 or something. I realize they are pros and there were three of them, but still.
Working on this book proposal while also taking care of kids all day (who don't nap anymore) is just like that. I do five minutes here, five minutes there; one e-mail to someone here, one question to someone else there, and every few minutes I'm interrupted (validly so, too) by a little person asking for help, attention, something to do, food, water, me to read her a story or do a puzzle with her. I've had to say "just a minute" or even "I can't right now" an awful lot in the past few days, and I feel awful about that. It's even worse, and rather ironic, that the project keeping me from caring for my child is a book about, well, caring for children.
(In case you're wondering why I can't just work in the evenings, when my husband is home and the kids are in bed--I'm doing that, too. But I'm also doing my freelance writing job to earn money to pay the bills, and I'm doing school stuff and holiday stuff and cooking stuff and I'm running at night, too, and I consider exercise a mandatory health behavior much like brushing one's teeth, so I'm not going to stop running so I can get more work done. Maybe in a total pinch at the last minute, but not for days and weeks at a time.)
I hope one day my book gets published and my daughters can see that I had a real reason for working this hard and neglecting them now and then for a few days or weeks. (Let's be honest: if the book gets published I'll probably be neglecting them a heck of a lot more in order to surf that tide; but if that happens I will get more serious about lining up alternate childcare or grandparent visits.)
And I hope they understand that sometimes if you want to write a book about being an imperfect mom, you have to be an imperfect mom.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
So, the book. I'm writing one, did you know that? It's based on this blog, sort of, only in addition to the stuff about surviving and thriving as a stay-at-home mom from the perspective of one who knows, it also includes a self-help/self-care psychology aspect--seeing as, in addition to being an experienced mom and writer, I'm also a doctoral-level clinical health psychologist. I knew that degree would come in handy again some day.
A lot of movement has happened around my book idea in the past few weeks. It's kept me super busy, and super excited. It occurs to me that the holiday season might not have been the best time to take on the huge project of crafting a proposal and pitching a book to a literary agency. What, I didn't think I had enough to do each day right now?
But it's all good, because things are looking up for me. Oh, and did you watch "Glee" last night?
Did you hear my late-2010 theme song?