Enjoying the Simple Things

PersimmonsI’ve always found great pleasure in the smallest things–a pretty leaf, a perfectly prepared cup of coffee, fifteen extra minutes of sleep, a really good song (Led Zeppelin, please) on the radio, an unplanned dinner date, the scent of my favorite candle, an hour on the couch with a really good book. But now that free time is a harder thing to come by, a wonderful thing has happened. I love those things even more. Experiencing one of those them now feels like the most delicious reward for hard work, even though this is the most enjoyable work I’ve ever done. I am so fortunate to be able to stay at home with our little one, and I don’t think I have ever been happier. And, true to cliche, I can’t imagine being happy at all without being able to kiss his little cheeks 400 times a day.

I have been wanting to write for a week or so and have been thinking of all kinds of topics and titles, but for now I just want to write down a small smattering of the things that are making me happy. Part of the reason for this is that I’ve mostly been cooking from my own blog for the past few weeks (I know these recipes! And I know where they are!), and it’s made me so happy to find so many posts in my archives, most of which I’d entirely forgotten about. Posts from easy times as well as hard ones, ordinary ones and hey-I’m-halfway-across-the-world ones. This is such a special time, and I don’t want it to go unrecorded here. So here goes.

Natal Plum-Morning is my favorite time of day. Tiny wakes up, and I feed him or rock him or play with him, depending on what he’s in the mood for, and then we FaceTime my mom. Every morning. It is the best. After we get off the phone, he likes to talk to his mobile for a little while, during which time I make coffee and read for a few minutes until he’s ready for a change of pace. Most mornings we watch the sun come up, and he smiles and smiles and smiles. It’s the best.

-On lots of evenings we stroll over to the turtle pond on campus and then swing by to pick up Daddy from work. This is a serious contender for my second favorite part of the day. (Also in the running: the magical days when there’s a LONG nap, and I can not only cook dinner, but also light a candle and read a book. Those days are magic.)

-In general funniness, this afternoon I cleaned out my purse, and I found not one, not two, but four (4) little Ziplock bags of almonds in there. And I laughed. I shall never be without protein!

-This morning at church I got to use my Old Church Slavic to decode the text on an Orthodox icon, and it was awesome. First time I have needed that skill in the wild! (Eric reminds me that I have used it at museums before, but it felt extra special in this case).

-I read my way around the house all day. I have several books my bedside, a few in Tiny’s room, one on the kitchen table, and two or three on the coffee table. I just pick up a book wherever I am, and I love it.

Beauty-Some days we play at home, but I like the days when Tiny and I have an errand to run. I use the bottom of his stroller as a grocery cart, and he likes having new things to look at. (Other things he likes: the light coming in through his shutters, the stained glass windows at church, and his rapidly growing collection of rattles).

-Sometimes naps are timed such that Eric and I can eat dinner together, but if not, we still try to sit at the table and talk through our days. Occasionally I’ll realize that there’s something I’ve forgotten to tell him, but this is probably because I am the person who says, “Oh, by the way, there are clean diapers in the freezer. I mean the fridge. I mean the dryer.” Third time’s the charm!

-On weekends I do meal plans and go to the grocery store(s). I’ve got the one close to our house so fully memorized that I can be in and out in 15 minutes with a whole week’s worth of groceries. This feels like a genuine achievement.

-I am enjoying persimmons so much this year. I don’t remember them being a big part of our fall diet i years past, but this year Eric brought some home from the farmer’s market, and I fell in love. I kind of like the effort required to eat one (um, maybe not so much work, you just have to peel it with a knife), and I like the long curly peels that cover my plate when I finish one.

-Somebody just figured out peekaboo. Like today. There has been a lot of adorable baby laughter around here. And a lot of grown-up laughter too.

-In true new mom fashion, I just remembered that I have an entire series of posts like this one, called A Handful of Happy Things. They’re in the freezer. I mean the fridge. I mean the dryer.

October: Currently

First: thank you all so much for your sweet and thoughtful comments on my last post. Answering comments regularly is still one of the things I’m trying to cram into my days, so I really appreciate your patience! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts with me! It’s so wonderful to have your support and encouragement. It means so much to me.

And now, on to October:

Reading about five different books: the new Murakami, my book club book, a book on how kitchens run (ganked from Eric’s library pile), this because it’s awesome and inspiring, and this mystery on my mom’s recommendation. Long live the library!

Watching Top Chef (the last season!) and occasionally a bit of Gilmore Girls, but planning to watch Happy Valley too.

Enjoying taking walks every evening to pick Eric from work.

Appreciating cooler days and breaking out the leggings.

Eating lots of almonds and cottage cheese. Two of my faves.

Scheming and dreaming about all kinds of trips because of the awesomeness of Airfare Watchdog. (No one paid me to say this–it’s just that they find crazy low ticket prices that make my wanderlust-afflicted heart go pitter-patter.)

Lighting a candle when I have some time to read during nap time.

Savoring every cup of coffee like the beautiful gift from heaven it is.

Cooking quinoa and lentils and carrot soup with chickpeas.

Celebrating being able to have a few meals out with Micah’s godparents.

Marveling with Eric over every little new thing Micah does.

Laughing and dancing and making funny faces and generally doing anything that might elicit a gummy baby smile. The best.

Loving my days with Micah, who is not only the cutest baby who ever lived, but also the sweetest.

Feeling so happy and at peace.

The Good Old Days of Blogging

I have seen a few seasoned bloggers talk about the good old days recently–bloggers who have been at it wayyyy longer than I have. (I’ve been here for three years, unless you count a very soft opening in late 2009. By very soft opening I mean starting a blog and then not telling anyone but your mom and your boyfriend about it. Yee-ha!) They were talking about the days before photos and giveaways and sponsorships and social media, the days when blogs were like open journals (and I suppose LiveJournal is probably one of the things they grew out of).

It made me think about my blog and why I write. Truthfully, I haven’t been here very much since Micah was born, not because I don’t have things to say, but because I don’t have projects finished or a chance to take photos of things during daylight hours, and thus I feel like I can’t post. Case in point: I have been wanting to share the nursery (and I will!), but it’s mostly in use during the daytime. Seeing those posts about the good old days reminded me that I can just write without having a project or a trip or even goals to share. I can just write about what my days are like now, or just write to say hi. It reminded me that posts like those are often my favorites on the blogs I read. That was such a good realization. Because I really miss you guys. I’m such a visual person that I still don’t want to put up a post without ANY pictures, but I can easily enough pick something pretty from the archives and set it in place.

It’s interesting too to think about the (often self-imposed) pressures we place on ourselves as bloggers. I am sure this is much harder for people who need to make an income from their blogs. My blog is not monetized (except for that 41 cents I earned once from Amazon’s affiliate program), and I intend to keep it that way. When I feel frustrated about not having time to do the posts that I want to, it’s good for me to remember why I started this blog in the first place: for a creative outlet, to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends, and to make real connections with like-minded people. Those are still very much my reasons for being here, and I have been so fulfilled in all three of them.

Things are slightly more complex for me because I am still sifting through what belongs here and what belongs on Micah’s blog. It honestly makes blogging a lot more complicated, but I think it’s the right thing for me (while fully respecting others’ decisions with regard to this issue). Maybe the truth is that I’m still sorting out the distinctions between me as a person and me as a mom. Micah needs me so much right now, and I would not trade that for the world. I know that I only get so many days of smelling his sweet little head while I rock him. I am sure it will be a little while before I get back to the level of personal projects (and writing) that I had before he was born, but that doesn’t make this time any less special. It probably makes it more special.

What I think I am trying to say is that I’m still figuring it out–how to make time for writing, what to share and not share, and how the prism of who I am has a new facet since I’ve become a mom. I would ask you all to bear with me, but it seems presumptuous to think that anyone’s life is actually disrupted by my not being here every day. Maybe what I should offer instead is a promise to bear with myself as I figure it all out. A promise not to be afraid to write a post without pictures (okay, maybe just one picture). A promise to respect a post that just says hi. Thank you all so much for being here. It’s no exaggeration to say that this wouldn’t be any fun without you!

October 2014 Goals

12610 Clear(ing) Skies_4308440288_lYay, it feels good to be getting back to goal posting! July was the last time I did one, and then August and September were kind of a blur (a happy blur). I keep coming back to these short-term goals (this is the third year I’ve done them) because I still feel giddy about the idea of choosing what fun things I want to fill my free time with. Obviously, my free time is a very different thing now than it was before I had a baby, but that just proves how wonderfully adaptable this whole concept is, which is one of the things I love about it so much. I always want to say, though, that these fun goals are generally separate from work goals–these are not created to put pressure on myself, but to remind me of the good stuff I want to do (because I seem to forget…oh, everything these days). So! I am excited to be compiling another list of the good stuff I hope to fill my month with. (I ended two sentences in this paragraph with a preposition. Color me grammatically lazy. Or maybe just grammatically sleep-deprived.)

Micah is getting bigger and stronger every day (cue mommy tears of pride and nostalgia), and I hope that this month we can get out and do something together as a family. I am not even sure yet what that would be, but a trip to the park or maybe even an early dinner at a non-crowded restaurant would be great. We’ll see if I am brave enough!

When I’m away from my blog, I miss you guys. I miss writing too, but mostly I miss being a part of the great community of friends I have met. So I am hoping to write two blog posts a week this month, either here or on Micah’s blog. So far, so good!

I have been really longing to break out my knitting or my cross-stitch or my scrapbooking these days. I’ve almost finished cleaning off my craft table (no small feat), so I am hoping to take advantage of it soon. Of course, I don’t need a craft table for knitting or cross-stitch. Just a cup of tea and a British mystery series to watch.

I have been scrambling to finish my book for book club (huzzah, made it just under the wire), but it’s really the first reading I’ve done since Micah was born. I am excited to read a book that Hillary lent me–a memoir of hiking the Appalachian Trail. I so love books about big adventures like these.

I miss walking (which is, ironically, the theme we’re exploring in our book club), and not just because I got a Fitbit and now regularly spend 15 minutes walking in circles around the living room before bed in order to hit my target for the day. Getting outside is so restorative to me, but it has just been too hot to take the baby out during the day. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees again this weekend, but I hope that after that, summer will die a graceful death, so I can get back outside. I will gladly accept 80-degree weather! Do you hear me, fall?!

Eric and I were lucky enough to be able to go out to dinner when my parents were here and when his parents were here, but it’s been a little while now, with some busy work weeks for Eric, so I am really looking forward to going on a date again. I only have ten or twelve different restaurants I want to try. I blame Top Chef!

Taking tons of pictures is a permanent goal, but it has taken on a new dimension now. I take hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pictures a month, but they’re pretty much all of Micah. That is not at all a bad thing, but I am looking forward to being able to take more pictures of flowers and trees and sunsets like I used to. This goal, like the walking one, is weather-dependent. Come on, fall!

I’ll be back in November with an update. July goals have been updated here. And here are my goals from October 2012 and October 2013.

Update, November 2014: Woot, we went so many places this month! The library, church, out to eat several times, and to visit a few friends. Car trips are definitely becoming more of the norm, and they go pretty smoothly as long as we pack well and do our best to avoid overtiring the baby. I think the next step is for me to get comfortable taking him places by myself in the car. Drawbacks: that carseat is heavy, and…I fear incessant screaming! But maybe next month. Until then, thank heaven for the stroller. I can only laugh at the blog post goal. However! I have four drafts in my dashboard, so that has to count for something. I did get a little bit of crafting in! Even a few minutes with my cross-stitch is so nice. I read so many books this month! Maybe five? Maybe this is why I failed to get into a walking routine? I can still blame the weather on that one, though, since this is the summer that will not go quietly into that good night. I did take lots of pictures (and need to steal the ones from Eric’s camera too), but alas, we did not go on a date, unless you count laughing together at 4 in the morning at Micah cooing and kicking his legs in his crib. That kind of date has a special kind of charm:) But at least I know we’ll be able to get away for a quick dinner in December, when we’ll have family in town. Hurray! For the family and the date.

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