April 2012 archive

Precisely the Problem

I’ve been considering putting him into school 5 days a week. Right now I get 2 full days of uninterrupted Abe time. And that is precisely the problem.
I’m supposed to totally love my kid not matter what is happening but right now I just want to pawn him off to someone else for the next 6 months or so. With his amazing, truly unmatched tantrums lately, just take video or Facetime me if he does something cute. Otherwise I’ve got a headache to figure out how to get rid of.
Knowing that my reaction to Abe has been just that, a reaction, I called the director of Abe’s school and asked her for a sit-down. She gladly obliged and lovingly told me that while Abe flourishes in school and is learning so much, I need to enjoy being a mom as much as possible right now because I will miss it. Now, I’ll be honest: all the people who told me I would miss having an infant were wrong. I do not miss that. But I can’t know if I’m going to miss this or not, so I’d better not risk it, right?? The director walked me through about 50 little things I could do around the house to make our time together more enjoyable, bearing in mind that I have to clean, cook, and work at some point as well. Here were some of her suggestions:
1. Build a fort out of pillows.
2. Set up a kiddie pool with toys and kitchen supplies in it.
3. Tear up a bunch of masking tape and hang it all over the room. Let him experiment with it.
4. Shaving cream.
5. Bubbles.
So if it’s any indication of how great  a mother I am, my response was, “Oh these are great ideas. Love these. I never thought about doing any of this stuff…” but what I was thinking was Oh dear God, this is going to make the house so messy and require me to clean up so much more than I already do…
I guess we’re getting into that part of life where I just have to let go of the mess and embrace the happiness and joy that it caused. But I’m not going to be happy about it.

The Mickey Position

Both separation anxiety and a complete understanding of the perfect tantrum kicked in this past week. I have absolutely no idea how to soothe my child anymore. He won’t play with me, he won’t snuggle with me. Articles and literature cannot help me. There is no help for me.
Except Mickey Mouse.
The Mickey position.
This child will watch Mickey Mouse non-stop for 12 hours. And there are days when I consider letting him. Like today. I figure I will make up for it in soccer games and paying his psychology bills later. I’ll have plenty of money by then.

Where is your HOME?

Between two dogs, two jobs, one child, and one house, it’s rare for everything to be clean at once. It’s also rare for things to be in their home.
For example, this is where we keep the extra roll of tape.
I can’t explain why this is where we keep it. But it’s been there long enough that I assume if I put it away, I would have no idea where it was anymore.
Also, we keep all miniature Ben Roethlisberger figurines on the bedroom window sill.
Even if we need to raise or lower the shade, we will put the Roethlisberger figurine back on the sill. Sure, it would make much more sense to put it back with the other Steelers, but alas it remains here until he is traded or retires, I fear.
Are there things in your house that remain in completely ridiculous locations and you step over them/around them for weeks before you even notice?!

Gluten-Sugar-Dairy-Additives-Preservatives-Cruelty-Free

So I had this before dinner last night.
This means I can only assume I enjoyed the rest of the meal.
I woke up this morning somewhat regretting the martini choice while my husband was hurriedly preparing Abe’s morning milk and banana…when it hit me.
“Wait!” I sat up in bed, eyeliner down to my chin, hair in a Rorschach ink blot configuration, mouth barely working. “No bananas! He had an extra banana last night with the sitter. He’ll get constipated!”
My brain is CONSTANTLY working overtime to ensure Abe is eating nutritious meals and snacks. I pack the most elaborate lunches you could ever imagine, all consisting of whole foods and clean, humanely raised meats each neatly chopped and placed in individual tupperware. He doesn’t eat chips or cookies, nor candy and sweets. This way, when a family member or friend gives Abe something COMPLETELY outside the range of what I consider food, I don’t care as much. I know the vast majority of his diet is clean and healthy and simple.
And then today happened.
I walked in to pick Abe up from school and he was in the no-no chair. It’s not a chair for kids who do bad things. It’s a chair at the snack table with straps on it because someone can’t stay in his or her seat during mealtimes. Abe has never been in the no-no chair before. I casually asked, “Oh, was he having trouble staying in his chair?”
“Yes. He was shopping.”
“Shopping?”
“He was eating all the other kids’ lunches.”
Oooooh boy.
I took a breath before I could come up with reasons as to why all the other kids should just eat somewhere else if their food is tempting Abraham so much.
“Does he not like his lunches?” I asked like a wounded lion.
“Yeah, he eats his lunches, too. He just likes everyone else’s snacks, mostly,” the teacher responded.
“Oh. Well, which snacks does he like?”
“Pretzels, Mica’s cookies, Karly’s crackers…”
Enough said.
So what is a nutritionally overprotective mother to do? I work endlessly to ensure he is being given grapes for snack and turkey roll-ups with hummus for lunch and the other parents, probably hard-working, less neurotic people, send cookies and crackers and now my perfect child is stuck IN THE NO-NO CHAIR.
I decided I would go to the store on the way home and get a few snacks that might better fit Abe’s idea of “worth shopping for” while still fitting my idea of gluten-sugar-dairy-additives-preservatives-cruelty-free.
It turns out nothing like that exists.
So tomorrow, Abe will be eating pretzels, peanutbutter cookies, and fig bars for snack. I am making note of this and will get back to you in 16 years if he does not make it into Harvard.

 

Make Good Joices

I went to the dermatologist this morning because of a little bump on my back. Very sexy, I know. It wasn’t a mole and it wasn’t a blemish (why do we call them “blemishes” when we get older? Like, mature pimples?). So the dermatologist looked at it and after 2 seconds said, “It’s a cyst. Probably a genetic thing. You’ll likely get more of them. It’s not a big deal but you will have to have it removed in case it gets infected someday. That could cause you problems.”
My one-hour visit turned into a relocation to the surgery center next door. Same-day service…they were faster than my dry-cleaner. I sat in the waiting room a little nervous and a little perturbed, completely surrounded by two and three hundred-year-old people. They were all discussing their growths and medicare and the state of customer service “these days”…when an older gentleman turned to me and said, “Well, we’ve been waiting for you.”
I was reading a book at the time so I did one of those turn-and-look-at-the-wall-behind-me things and asked, “Who, me?”
“Yes!”
I then took a second look to ensure I hadn’t walked past the surgery waiting room and, in fact, into Heaven’s Waiting Room. I hadn’t.
“Oh! Well, here I am!” I chirped.
“Yes! Welcome!”
“Thanks!” I picked up my book. The room was quiet for a few moments and I could feel it coming…
“Did you hear about the patrol officer out on 95 the other day?”
I put my book back down. “No. No I didn’t.” I am clearly going to have to listen to this story.
“Well, the patrol officer was driving up and down 95 and he saw a woman with her car full of monkeys.”
“What? Monkeys?? REALLY??”
“Yes. And I mean full. Top, bottom, front seat, back seat, all the way up to the windshield.” It was about this time that I figured out he was going to try and tell me a joke. “So the patrol officer pulled her over and told her, ‘Ma’am, these monkeys are dangerous. You could be distracted while you’re driving. You’d better take them to the zoo.'”
“Uh huh.”
“So a few days later he saw her again with all those same darn monkeys in the car. He pulled her over and asked, ‘Don’t you remember what I said about your monkeys? You need to take them to the zoo.’ Well, she replied, ‘Yes, officer. I took them to the zoo. We had such a good time that now I’m taking them to Disneyland!’ You see, she didn’t take them to the zoo and leave them there. She took them there and a had a good time and then decided to go to Disneyland with them!”
“Oh, yes. I see. Very funny.”
“You want to hear another story about that same patrol officer?”
This was the moment I had to make a joy choice. I call it a joice. I could sacrifice some of my own joy, the joy I would have gotten from reading my book without a 20-month-old clinging to my ankles,  or I could be selfish and tell him I’m busy reading my book or mayhaps pretend like I couldn’t hear him. I really didn’t want to hear his second joke. The first one was not funny. It did not bring me joy. But what did I do? I obliged. I told him I did want to hear his second joke. I made a joice. His eyes, delighted and wide, smiled independent of the rest of his face.
“Well, that same patrol officer tried to pull a gentleman over. He turned on his lights but the guy started driving faster away from him. So he announced, ‘Pull over!’ into his loud speaker but the man drove faster! Finally, that patrol officer nearly ran the guy off the road trying to get him to stop!”
“Oh my.”
“And when he did, he pulled him out of the car and he just reamed him out up one side and down the other (which reminds me, I need to use the phrase “up one side and down the other” more often…). He shouted, ‘WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP?’ And the guy looks at him and says, ‘Someone took my wife last week and I was afraid you were trying to bring her back.’ You see, he didn’t want the so-and-so who took his wife to bring her back. He didn’t want her either!”
Yes. I sat through two of these jokes with a huge smile on my face. I don’t know if it made his whole day or maybe just that moment, but I do know I didn’t get to read my book like I wanted. I also know that they took an almost ping-pong-ball-sized chunk out of my back today. But I did make good joices and I’m hoping and praying that karma is real and someday those joices come back to me in the form of
A. Chocolate
B. Free shoes
C. Longer legs
I’m not sure if this is how karma works, but I’ll let you know.

I’m Having a Terrible Moment

I read this quote today – “The past is gone, the future is not here, now I am free of both. Right now, I choose joy.” Deepak Chopra
Later in the day I was running behind, frustrated that I might not get the time to work out I’d hoped for. I threw my hands up (to myself, mind you) and muttered, “I’m having a terrible day.” Having read the quote above only hours before, it flashed in my mind.
I suppose I could have a terrible day if I wanted to. But having this one moment, or hour, or period of frustration doesn’t a terrible day make, now does it?
I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic and I’m finding that the more joy, more authenticity I live in my life, the sillier my unconscious drama seems. Now, the conscious drama, the stuff I do specifically to make someone laugh or to make a loud, obnoxious point, is all still there. But it’s conscious. I know I’m doing it and it’s how I know I’m still me. I really can’t ever give up the big laugh or the a-hole remarks. But as long as I’m being conscious about it, the rest of the drama doesn’t get to take over and “run things” (as if it ever did).
I decided during that throw-my-hands-up moment that Deepak was right (yes, we’re on a first name basis): the future is not here and right now, I choose joy. Unless I force that moment to define the rest of my day in its entirety, it only gets to be a moment. I’m having a terrible moment, not a terrible day. So I practiced that the rest of my afternoon. Anytime I got frustrated and wanted to massively generalize the entire emotion so that it ate up my whole day, I just said, “I’m having a terrible moment.” And sometimes, when I remembered, I added, “Now I choose joy.” It did not work every time, especially the times I said it in a low, dumb-sounding voice because I didn’t believe what I was saying. But it gave me permission to have a good day despite the terribleness.
It was a great day…with some terrible moments.

The Walls

I’m a huge fan of personal pictures on my walls. I love the memories, I love the faces. I hate the frames. If a picture goes into a frame, it is staying there indefinitely. I don’t care if the person in the picture turns out to be a total a-hole, or if I NEVER see them again. I’m not changing the picture.
I got an idea from a post on Pinterest. A woman used some extra scraps of wood and glued them together to make a square. She added string and clothespins and had an instant frame that was easy to update.
I happened to have a bunch of leftover stretcher bars (used for stretching canvas) from a fabric hanging project I did when we first moved into our house. Fabric, btw, is a super easy and cheap way to create BIG art. This fabric is all from Ikea. The whole project was about $45.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spray painted the wood stretcher bars and put them together. I got some twine and glued+nailed it into the bars. I also spray painted some clothes pins and added a piece of twine at the top for hanging. I did this about 6 months ago. I get so many compliments on this hallway!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because I mostly take pictures of Abe with my phone, I unload it about once a month onto my desktop and print everything that’s on there. I print from Costco because it’s super cheap and I can order color, B&Ws, and also choose a white or black border. It takes about 3 days to get them delivered, or 2 hours to have them printed and pick them up. Then I just swap out the old with the new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always have fresh pictures hanging which makes me look like I am very on top of my game. That’s really the point of all this.

 

 

Fix It

I don’t know if your husband/wife/partner/roommate/significant other does this, but I am constantly trying to figure out what to do with stacks and stacks of mail, statements, coupons, cards, letters, general odds and ends that are lying around everywhere, hoping to magically find a home.Do my countertops and tabletops automatically send invitations to everyone in my house for Clutter Parties when I finally get them cleared off? I guess they don’t feel like they’re fulfilling their life’s work if they aren’t littered with crap?
I’ve asked kindly. I’ve reminded. I’ve tried the your basket/my basket method. You know: I put all the stuff that accumulates into a box or basket and everyone is responsible for cleaning out their own baskets. This just resulted in buying more baskets…
So I tried this method last week:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess what?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t understand why this method worked, and I’m certainly not relying on it working again, but what a miracle this day proved to be.
Just passing it along in case it works at your house, too.

The Thief of Joy

I recently saw a friend’s blog post about moms comparing numbers. What age did your baby sleep through the night, how many words does he have, etc. And then I remembered this quote:
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”—Dwight Edwards
If you think about it, when you compare, you are doing so with the idea that we’re all on the same playing field. You would never compare how quickly and beautifully a flower planted in a dumpster would grow versus one planted in fertilized, well-watered sunny soil. So why would I worry about the fact that Abe still takes a bottle at night to go to sleep if your 19-month-old baby doesn’t? Why would I compare my house to yours, my car to yours, my free time to yours? Our past, our path, our outlooks are all completely individual. A comparison would be entirely unscientific, not to mention unnecessarily painful for all of the people involved.
You’re the only one experiencing your life. You’re the only one to compare to. If you were once a size 8 and now you’re a size 16, look inside of yourself. What’s changed? Are you incredibly busy working and being a mom? Then give yourself a break, but put down the nachos. If you were once full of joy and laughter and now it’s difficult to get out of bed, what’s changed? Maybe you can’t pinpoint the moment, but look inside and start investigating where it all went wrong and what the solutions are to your discomfort. Comparison should only be internal at best, and always compassionate and kind.
I speak to senior girls and sorority houses a few times a year about comparing and I always include the fact that I catch myself comparing everyday. Trust me, there are plenty of times during the day that I look at other moms and think, “You are so lucky your kids are older and you have time to go after your dreams.” And I definitely think, “Her clothes are all from those little boutique shops where a top costs $125. I would look cute in those tops.” So when I think those comparing thoughts, I turn them into positive energy. I compliment other women, I admire their parenting skills, I find ways to give that comparison away in exchange for happiness. Turn your next comparison into a compliment and then deliver it. And if you still feel badly, then do the work to figure out why you’re comparing in the first place.
In other news, click here to find out why my kid is cuter than yours.
See? I told you.

Say No

We recently rearranged our living room so that our coffee table (a fairly large square) is accessible by way of the couches. This also created an open invitation to Abraham to use this configuration to his advantage so that he may watch TV, play with cars, or generally entertain himself. This has created a lot of new uses for, “No,” which in general is a word that means, “I’m looking at you,” to Abe when he uses the couches as access to stand on the table.

Abe climbs onto coffee table.
“No, Abe.”
Mom said she’s looking at me!

I’m slowly learning other ways to redirect and getting better at catching the, “No,” before it flies out of my mouth. But it makes me realize how often I am able to and say it to him. Why don’t I feel that same confidence when using, “No,” with other people?? Just like I don’t want Abe taking advantage of our new living room setup, I don’t want others taking advantage of me. No, don’t take advantage of my time, my kindness, my willingness to help. And I’m sure, like you, it usually comes out like this, “Oh, um, I think that, um, it might not, well, maybe…let me call you back.”

Even people who aren’t taking advantage but rather just asking…why is, “No,” so tough?

We’re having a big playdate on Sunday, can you come?

The answer is yes, I can. But Sundays are my day to cook for the week and recover from the rest of the weekend. I don’t want to. And I’m allowed to say, “No,” just because I’m a grown up and don’t want to. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you or I don’t want to hang out with your kids or don’t appreciate your invitation. It just means, well, no.

I challenge you to say, “No,” a few extra times this week. Think before you answer, “Can I? Do I want to? Is this taking care of me and my family?” And learn to say, “No,” kindly and with thought. It’s really just about practice. Practice saying it with compassion and you may find more compassion is bestowed upon you for your honesty!  I also challenge you to accept, “No,” without ego, without expectation, without pain. Hear that answer and internal how little it has to do with you. Learn to appreciate your friends, family, and acquaintances who care enough about you to tell you what they really want!

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