Gratitude Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

I baked this and will consume it shortly.

Here is my top ten list of things for which I am thankful:

  1. My family: my husband, and all he does to support me without question. The kids, and how freaking adorable and amazing they are. I’m very lucky.
  2. Health. Mine and my family’s.
  3. That we have everything we need. Food, clothes, shelter, clean water.
  4. My friends. They support me emotionally, they don’t judge me, and they make me laugh.
  5. My extended family. I know I am loved, and for that I am grateful.
  6. I have freedom and choice and privilege. I try not to take these for granted.
  7. Creative outlets, like writing and painting and singing. They make me feel alive.
  8. Entertainment (books, TV, movies) that awakens me emotionally and spiritually, and those that release stress by making me laugh.
  9. Opportunities where I can be alone. I like to recharge and explore my relationship with myself.
  10. Yoga. It is my happy place; it is my place of worship, where my body is the temple and I get to say thank you for taking me through this life.

nanopoblano2019

The One With All The Thanksgivings

This is the first year that my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving.

I mean, there was one year where we had it just the two of us, in Boston, after we had just moved in together for the first time. That was…way back in 2006. It was kinda cute, because we didn’t have a dining table of any kind, so we ate sitting on the floor on opposite sides of our Ikea coffee table.

I don’t entirely remember what we did for all the food…we only cooked a portion of turkey, not a whole bird. I do remember feeling a little sad that we weren’t with our families, but also cozy, quiet, and comfortable being with my most loved one. No drama. No fuss. Just us.

Fast forward to now, when I was the one who decided to host and invite family over, and I am also the one who doesn’t cook. Ha! Hilarity will ensue! Let’s get a reality TV show camera crew in here.

My husband is a good cook, but I am a better planner. And I’m told that cooking for Thanksgiving, in the crazy all-out way that Americans choose to celebrate a holiday supposed to be centered around gratitude, is largely about planning. I’m optimistic that our dynamic Thanksgiving duo will be able to put on a fairly chill, simple-but-yummy holiday meal.

We’ll cut corners where we want. Like, we’ll cook some turkey parts again and forgo a whole bird. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m gonna bake the pie cuz I likes to bake. My mom is gonna make her famous potato casserole. Yum!

Our Thanksgiving will also have to include some kid-friendly backups, like turkey-shaped pb&js or something, because the last time I checked, my kids only eat the rolls anyway. Kids are so weird. STUFFING IS AMAZING, YOU GUYS! FOR THE LOVE, JUST TRY IT!

A side note about Thanksgiving, which I alluded to above. Only Americans could take a holiday supposed to be about appreciating things you have and surviving the winter by creating excess, by exercising gluttony. I picture the fat disgusting dudes from The Oatmeal cartoons saying something like, “Shit, James! We didn’t starve or die from the measles this winter! I’m so happy to be alive! Let’s celebrate the way our forefathers would want us to – by eating everything in sight and bringing on early onset diabetes. ‘Merica.” And then they high-five each other.

It just makes more sense to me that, in order to truly know and show gratitude for something, you’d need to know what it’s like to be without it. Maybe one of these days I’ll put my money where my mouth is and actually fast for Thanksgiving evening. Perhaps having control over the meal this year – and simplifying it – is one baby step closer to that goal.

And, having said that, perhaps my kids have the right idea by just eating the rolls.


nanopoblano2019

Did you know that boys can wear pink if they want to?

We were having dinner the other day as a family. My kids were talking about what they were gonna do when they grew up.

My son said, “When I’m a daddy, I’m going to go to work!”

My daughter chimed in, “YEAH! When I’m a daddy TOO, I’m gonna work!”

My son corrected, “NO! You can only be a mommy, cuz you’re a GIRL! And mommies stay home, they don’t go to work!”

My stomach gave a lurch.

I interrupted them – both my husband and I did – and we together explained that some daddies stay home and some mommies go to work. And that me, this Mommy, used to work, and that someday soon, I will again. And that we know mommies who work!

I totally understand that kids his age are very concrete, very black/white, right/wrong, what have you. They need to categorize in order to understand the world, and all those shades of gray can be confusing. Girls do this, boys do that! Easy-peasy. Plus, my kids have never seen me work. Why would they think any differently? To them, whatever our family does is familiar, natural, expected, normal.

I’m just very quick to point out that gender stereotypes don’t have to be followed if we don’t want to. I don’t want my kids feeling like they have to be put in a box, act a certain way, be a certain way, in order to be liked, accepted…whole.

One time, I took my son to get some rain boots. I was going to pick them out myself, but I figured I’d let him choose because then he’d be more likely to actually wear them. I was going to pick out some dark-colored ones from the “boy” section, but when I led him to the kid rain boot aisle, I made sure to motion to ALL the rain boots, the “boy” ones and “girl” ones. He looked at some pink ones, put them down and then mumbled that oh, those are girl ones.

How do you know that? I asked

Because they’re pink. He replied

Did you know that boys can wear pink if they want to?

(Pause.)

And you can choose whatever color you’d like.

Okay.

He still chose some “boy” ones, and that’s fine (they were freaking awesome, actually. they were green alligators with fucking sunglasses on, that’s how cool they were). I just want him to know that 1) there actually are boys who choose pink and mommies who choose to work, that there are many shades of gray and they are all okay, 2) he has the choice, for real, it’s not just lip service, and lastly, 3) he has my support whatever his choice.

I just hope that, if I say it enough, my kids will hear and understand. But it’s so hard when they’re mostly seeing family and friends and a world that strongly encourages and rewards adherence to gender norms. Because if they can’t see it, they can’t be it.

Hopefully I can help them see it.


nanopoblano2019

My favorite part of the day

Today’s my birthday, y’all. And you know what that means – I insist on some me time so I can wax poetic on my blog about another year gone.

Another year older, wiser, more tired. It’s also been a year a bit more hopeful than recent history. My kids are getting older and more independent (read: less dependent on mommy for every goddamn little thing), which is very much appreciated. We’re all creeping out of the baby stage, and while that makes a part of me kinda sad, it makes a larger part of me sigh with relief. We’ve got potty training on the horizon for the little one, and while that process will probably be a brisk walk through hell, I am giddy with excitement when I think about life on the other side. I simply won’t know what to do with myself.

Along those lines, in the fall my oldest will start kindergarten and my youngest will start preschool. That means I get some time to nap, clean the house, poop alone, and start the process of maybe eventually going back to work.

I think my brain just exploded.

And now I’m going to leave you with a little window into my day. It’s a story that’s been bouncing around in my head for a few weeks and I’ve been meaning to get it down in writing.

__________________________________________

One of my favorite parts of the day is when we read to the kids right before they go to bed.

My son has always settled down to be read to, but my daughter has only started sitting still for books in the past 6 months or so, and it’s glorious. Even so, she’s still demanding to help turn the pages, interjecting every 5 seconds with “waat hap-pen?!” but I’m not complaining.

Getting ready for bed is usually chaos. Screaming, streaking, wiggling. Diapers, pajamas, teeth brushing.

Each child gets to pick a book.

We sit perpendicular on my son’s twin bed, resting our backs against the wall. We use a body pillow for support that my husband first bought me when we were living in Boston, as a surrogate for his own body once he left to take a job in California. How time flies.

My son sits to the far left, then daddy, then my daughter, then me. Always the same.

We have a desk light on low. Daddy and I do all the voices. I specialize in Princess Sparkle, supersonic jets, and the Minosaur. Daddy’s really good at Old Bear and witches and farmers.

About halfway through the first book, without fail, the cat skulks into the room and jumps up on the bed, demanding my lap. Her furry body warms mine. My daughter reaches over to pet her back or poke her in the ear.

Snapshot: for about 10 minutes each day, or entire family is calm and snuggling and…together. All focused on the same thing for a brief moment before we say our goodnights and iloveyous, lay them in their beds, turn out the lights, and shut their doors.

Sometimes my son wordlessly reaches for my hand.

Sometimes my daughter rests her head against my torso.

Sometimes the cat purrs.

Sometimes my partner and I exchange a glance above our kids’ heads.

Always it’s my favorite time of day.

Always.

Get me through this flight

You know how when you’re traveling with kids on a plane your only goal, besides getting to your destination, is that your kid not be the worst-behaved child on the plane?

Not the loudest? Not the most screamy?

Well, today we failed.

We tried and we failed.

We had a great vacation, and now it’s over. On one hand, I’m really happy to be home and have my own space and privacy. But on the other, all our support is gone and now we have to go back to doing everything ourselves.

And oh my GLOB, Oregon is freaking cold.


In closing, a haiku:

Get me through this flight

Crying, screaming, thrashing, sigh

I am so tired


NaBloPoMo Day 28

Winter is Coming, but first- Halloween!

It’s time for my obligatory Halloween post, you guys.

For those of you who breathe air, you probably already know how much I dig Halloween.  If not, please search “Halloween” on my blog and read up about all my old DIY costumes.

This year was special because it was our first All Hallow’s Eve as a family of four!  I was brainstorming Halloween costumes even before I was pregnant, because priorities.

You probably know my rules: the costumes have to be specific (like actual characters from a show and not just ‘a pirate’), they have to be relevant (not outdated. And for the record, Star Wars is NEVER outdated), and they have to be mostly DIY, not bought all prepackaged.  My partner and I were debating between two costume ideas: Ghostbusters (we’d be the busters, the kids would be ghosts) or Game of Thrones.  GB would be much easier to make, but less relevant.  GoT was much more relevant, but harder to scrape together.  Welllllll, once we saw the season finale of GoT, our minds were made up.  Just in case, this is your official SPOILER ALERT if you’re not caught up on Game of Thrones.

Once one of the dragons bit it, I turned to Brian.

“This is it!!  There’s only two now!  It’s PERFECT!”

Two dragons = two children.  Therefore, I am the Mother of Dragons.  The Breaker of Chains.  Khaleesi.  Daenerys Targaryn.

“And you can be Jon Snow now because they’re a thing!  But we’ll just overlook the aunt/nephew situation.”

I enlisted the help of my mom to make this dream come true, and Halloween history was made.

cropped fam copy

Faces blurred to protect the innocent

 

I found my dress at Goodwill and my friend helped me chop off the sleeves and change the hemline.  I bought fabric at the fabric store (!) to match the dress and made a very makeshift cape.  The boots and leggings were already mine.  The wig was bought online and I actually braided it and styled it myself.

Brian’s wig was bought online.  He’s wearing a cheap black shirt with a kid’s plastic shield pinned to the chest bought at the dollar store with two black belts criss-crossed across the whole thing and fastened in the back.  He’s wearing a black furry pimp coat from Goodwill for bulk and a black cape over it.  Pinned to the black cape is a furry black scarf because Jon Snow loves him some fur (BUT NO ONE UP NORTH EVER WEARS A HAT! WTF?!).  He grew a beard for the occasion and finishes off the look with the only black boots he owns, his rain boots.  Because #pacificnorthwest.

My mom really came through for the kids’ costumes.  First we bought matching green shirts and pants, and then my mom made the felt hats, capes, and socks/claws.  I love how the hats and capes are exactly the same, just different color schemes.  Dragon sib-lings! And my son’s claws are on oversized green socks that fit right over his shoes. Cutest fire-breathing dragons this side of Westeros!

Now let’s go conquer up some mystical kingdom, shall we?


NaBloPoMo Day 4

 

Swirling Hot Mess of Emotions

My heart is just so bursting full…of everything.  Love, gratitude, depression, exhaustion, sadness, grief, body image issues, joy.

My mood swings are controlling me.  I feel like my whole life is out of control, and rightly so…because was it ever within my control to begin with?  Like when my son was born, this out of control feeling lit a fire under my usually only moderately crazy OCD tendencies.  I go nuke if something goes missing.  I clean even when I’m supposed to be doing something else.  I try and control the things in my house because I can’t control any. thing. else.

Being alone with my two kids often terrifies me.

The things my body is capable of continue to astound me.

Breastfeeding is a beast.  I’m having PTSD flashbacks around what it was like to breastfeed my son two years ago.  I hate how my entire outlook on life depends on how well our last breastfeeding session went. And they are hit or miss.  At least she’s latching better than my son did and I am very thankful to report that, for whatever reason, I am actually making more milk than I did after my first pregnancy.  Huzzzzzzah.

I hate talking to lactation consultants. They mean well, but man they hit me squarely on my breastfeeding shame trigger. On one hand, it’s my fault that I can’t feed my kid. The simplest thing ever, just feeding her so she doesn’t die. I’m not doing the right position, or I’m not making enough milk, or I’m not pumping enough, not getting enough sleep.  Take your pick.  On the other, it’s her behavior that’s getting in the way because she pushes and claws and bites and thrashes around and screams.  And I resent her for it. Damnit. Either way, horrible mother. And in suggesting I try something different, like massage the breast, use a hot compress, nipple shield, football hold, pump, pump, PUMP – the lactation consultants just seem to highlight the fact that IT’S NOT WORKING and somehow it’s all my fault. You see the spiral.

In order to get through days without falling apart, I’ve had to work hard to disconnect myself from my feelings. It feels so yucky to just numb out like that, but the alternative is to burst into tears while listening to a voice in my head that is wailing, “It’s noon and we just finished breakfast! We can’t do this! How are we supposed to be able to get outside today? Or brush your teeth? Or put on pants?!”

Instead, I have to force myself to listen to the other voice, the emotionally sterile voice saying, “Hey. Now we need to feed the baby. Your toddler can wait to eat, but she’s screaming. Go on now, first things first.”  It’s a constant struggle, but it works.  And some days are easier than others.

When I look back, I realize that 2015 was the year when nothing happened.  I know I blogged about how it was the year a grew into being a mom, and I am so glad that I had that time with my son.  That year, we didn’t change marital status.  We didn’t move.  We didn’t change jobs.  We didn’t get pregnant or have any babies.  Things were stable and boring.  Yay for boring!

My hope is that 2017 is like that, too.  I’d like the time and space to develop a routine with my kids, a relationship with my daughter, and a new relationship with myself as a mom of two.  As for 2016…that was the year when things got progressively harder.  I got pregnant, I got tired, then I got huge and tired.  I slowed down while my toddler sped the fuck up.  I had daily pain for a while and I could barely bend over to pick up things my toddler had dropped…or thrown.  We still managed to have a lot of fun in 2016, though.  We went camping and (barely) survived.  I applied for a job I didn’t end up taking, but it was nice to put on professional clothes again.  We took our son trick-or-treating and he loved it.  We took him to the snow and had mixed results.  We took a trip to California and had fun seeing family.  We took our first family road trip and D danced at his first wedding.  We successfully became DAYTIME POTTY TRAINED, people!  We went to the zoo and hunted for Easter eggs and went on a train and picked strawberries and saw a parade and ate ice cream and played in the water features and went to the planetarium and went to the pumpkin patch and toured a cheese factory.  Whew.

I’m glad I just typed all of that out because, according to that list, 2016 wasn’t all that bad.  We were a family!  We really got to enjoy my son being a fun age.  My hope for 2017 is that things just get better from here on out.

Even though my current days are often dark, I can totally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Part of it is because I’ve been through this once before.  I know a little better what to expect, and we’ve already adjusted how we’re dealing with raising a newborn since the first time.  Another part is that I’m done making babies.  This is it; this is my family, and it’s beautiful!  I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted, and I feel so amazingly (hashtag) blessed, as cliche as that sounds.  But it’s true.

And with that, this blog post has come full circle.  It’s a swirling hot mess of emotions: welcome to my life.  My beautiful, imperfect, perfect life.

 

 

50 Happy Things 2016: Bloggers Flood the Internet With Gratitude

My fellow blogger friend, Dawn, did this gratitude post last year and it was awesome, so I am joining in again this year.  Read my list and then see below for how to join in!

50 Things I am Grateful For, and/or Made Me Happy in 2016

  1. My son
  2. My husband
  3. My house – making it feel more like a home
  4. Potty training my son – no small feat
  5. Getting pregnant and all the anticipation that comes with that
  6. My health
  7. My family’s health
  8. My ability to practice self care
  9. Reading to my son, both with and without my husband
  10. Watching my son grow and learn with amazement and pride
  11. Hillary Clinton
  12. The hope that Hillary’s campaign brought to my life
  13. Last Week Tonight – you know, John Oliver’s show
  14. Discovered The Newsroom – makes me wish that show was real
  15. The local moms I have met and gotten to know.  They are so kind and willing to help me out.  Giving me baby things and watching my son for free – it’s amazing and I am so thankful.
  16. My OB.  I found a new one and she’s funny and smart and no-nonsense.
  17. My Portland friend who listens and helps without blinking an eye.  Thank you.
  18. Blogging and writing.  I hope to do more of it…someday.
  19. Sleep.  I’m on the verge of not getting much anymore, and so I cherish it now.
  20. The new bed we bought this year.  Seriously.
  21. Trips into Portland for good food.
  22. Trips to California to see our families.
  23. My family of origin, who visit and help out and love me and my son.
  24. Thankful that I am ready for baby to come, and also ready for Christmas.  The feeling brings peace when her arrival is so unpredictable.
  25. The look on my kid’s face when he’s discovering something new, exciting, enchanting, or delicious.
  26. Singing, and music.
  27. Really good books.  Like Amy Schumer’s book, which I just finished.
  28. Alan Rickman.
  29. Harry Potter.  I can’t wait to share these stories with my kids!
  30. Robin Williams.  I still end up quoting him almost once a day.
  31. Laughter.  Especially the shared kind.
  32. Baking. (and eating what I bake)  I don’t do it nearly enough.
  33. A really neatly wrapped present.

…aaaaaaand the timer just went off, so here I stop.

UPDATE:  So I totally thought of a few more things after I originally posted this, so I am adding them here:

34. Yoga.  It centers me, it calms me, it makes me feel strong.

35. Barack Obama.  I am REALLY going to miss that guy.

36. Michelle Obama.  She is a class act and an amazing role model and source of hope.  When they go low, she goes high.

37. The snow, when it insulates the world and makes everything magically QUIET.

38.  The pouring rain, when I am inside and warm and cozy in bed.

39.  Summer.  My god, summer.

———————-

Want to do this too?!  GREAT!  Here’s how:

  1. Set a timer for 15 minutes
  2. Just write as many things as you can, even if you go over or stay under the 50
  3. Then add links, photos, whatever, after the timed part is over
  4. Publish it, and link back to Dawn’s post or mine (or both) and if you wanna be included in the InLinkz, see instructions on Dawn’s post.

I’m definitely not done with 2016 yet, but so far, it’s been real.

The Day After

My parents just left after a week-long visit and I’m sad.

The day after kind, helpful company leaves is always tough, for many reasons.  One, I’ve just lost a huge help in terms of cleaning and food prep and all the energy it takes to give attention to Dylan.  Two, Dylan gets very used to all the constant, undivided attention during the visit and he’s usually more needy and whiny than usual after they leave, and I’m left to deal with that.  Three, I’ve just lost rational, adult humans to talk to and eat with every day.  It highlights just how isolated and alone I often feel on a daily basis, despite my growing efforts to reach out and meet new people with whom I can meaningfully connect (which is a struggle and a whole other post of its own).

Plus, fourth, the leaving highlights just how far away from family we are and how much that sucks.  We’re coming up on second baby’s birthing time, and I’ve had to arrange a phone tree of sorts of local friends who can keep my son alive while we wait for family to hop on a plane and get here once I go into labor.  I suppose it’s time to find some babysitters in the area we can call and *gulp* actually pay to watch my spawn from time to time, but that’s just not the same as having grandma and grandpa just across town.

Not long after Bamma and Pa-pa left, I looked at the forecast on my phone.  Readers, fellow Psychos, you all know how much the weather affects my mood.  The last two days have been mercifully sunny and delightfully warmish for this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, and I did my best to enjoy them.  We got outside and went to parks, synthesized some vitamin D and some sanity.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, in a few short hours the skies are going to open up again with a series of storms with no end in sight, says my irrational sad brain.  Ah, symbolism.  You stormy bitch.

So, visits are hard.  They are fun and exciting and something to break up the often horribly mind-numbing sameness of my days…but once they are over, the sameness I return to seems to become even more mind-numbing.