Hello, and Happiness

IMG_9231I feel like several months ago I had the epiphany that it would be a good thing to write a post just to say hello. So, hello! I hope everyone is enjoying fall and getting excited about the holidays.

Beyond that, though, I have had some thoughts kicking around in my head for the last few weeks that I wanted to share. Mostly about how very, very happy I am. As I type this, my eyes are burning, and I expect Micah to wake up any minute now because he has been asleep for thirty minutes, and that is what constitutes a nap around here there. Gone the days of two-hour naps, or even one-hour naps! But hopefully not gone forever. Every single stage we go through as parents is temporary, and that is simultaneously so encouraging and so heartbreaking.

I can’t help but laugh at this mommy conundrum. All week long I think, Oh, I wish I had just a little bit of time to read or knit or paint.” And then the weekend rolls around, and I think, “Yay! It’s the weekend! I can read! I can knit! I can zzzzzzz…..” Yesterday I took a nap for two hours and seventeen minutes while Micah hung out with his daddy, and it was awesome. I didn’t get to four or five of the things I was hoping to do, but that’s okay. Last night was a special night because I did the dishes and washed the bottles while Eric put Micah to bed (Eric always does the dishes and the bottles, and I put Micah down most of the time), and then we watched a comedy special on Netflix and had a drink. It was so, so sweet. We haven’t done that since long before Micah was born, and so we totally count it as a date night.

Part of the reason we haven’t done this in a long time is that Micah goes to bed at 7:30, and I go to bed at…8:30. After going full steam since about 6am with only a few thirty-minute breaks in which to do things like eat lunch and cook dinner, my head hits the pillow so gratefully every night. I am so tired. But I am so happy.

I was talking to someone a few days ago about these crazy days, whether they’re part of some growth transition or something more long-lasting, and after I’d walked her through all the ins and outs of a typical day for me, I think I had pretty well exhausted her. But in spite of all this fatigue, I told her, I am so happy on the deepest level. There is nothing else I would rather be doing, no greater gift than to watch this beautiful child grow day by day, even if it sometimes includes screaming (his! not mine!) and sleeplessness. Being pregnant with Micah and giving birth to him and meeting him, I told her, have been the most magical experiences of my life, and I can’t wait to do it all again. (But I will wait!) And then she said the most wonderful thing–that it’s a gift to be able to see that the magic and the madness co-exist. How beautiful. A gift indeed.

So as we gear up for Micah’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas and plane trip (whee!) and hope that maybe this napping thing will resolve itself sometime, our hearts are so full of joy. A special sleepy kind of joy, one that we wouldn’t trade for anything.

Being Nervous and Being Brave, or a Trip to San Diego

We just got back from our first road trip with the baby. He was a champion! But we were so nervous. When we found out that our dearest friends had experienced an unexpected death in the family, we immediately knew that we wanted to be there for them and with them at the memorial, which was in San Diego. We made our travel plans, agonized over hotels (mostly because agonizing over hotels is kind of fun for me), asked for travel advice, and hoped for the best. And it was a great trip. We were so happy to be there for the beautiful memorial and reception. There were tears, but there was laughter too. And I am so glad for that. A lot of the laughter was caused by…our foibles. Which I shall detail here before I forget them. We planned to head out on Thursday morning, no later than 9, in order to get to the memorial at 1 in plenty of time, hopefully with time for a quick lunch. San Diego looks deceptively close on the map, but there is that little thing called traffic, so we wanted to be on the safe side. Google maps predicted it would take about 2.5 hours, but we knew it would be closer to 3. And so, I got up with the baby at 7 and called my mom, as I do every day. She asked what time we were leaving, and when I told her, she suggested that I wake Eric up. Ahahaha, moms always know best. It took us a full hour and a half to get all packed up and ready to go. Thanks, mom!

Our poor little darling was screaming even before we made it to the freeway, but I fed him, and he fell asleep. Victory! There were a few periods of crying, but in general, he napped and played with his toys (we bought him three new toys for the road, but he liked his hands better than any of them). Things were going swimmingly as we flew down I-15 past Temecula and the turn-off to go to Palomar. I know this road so well. Someone was getting fussy, so I started making him a bottle. I pre-filled the bottles with water and then just scooped the formula in. Only…I dropped the canister. And before I knew it, this had happened:

Ahahahaha! It wasn’t exactly funny in the moment (that stuff is pricey!), but Eric was so reassuring that it wasn’t a big deal, and at least it was only halfway full. And that, my friends, is how I rode through Southern California with my foot buried by a mountain of formula.

We stopped in Escondido for a bathroom break and to buy more formula, and we were laughing hysterically by the time we got out of the car. I used my flip flop to scoop the formula out as best I could, and proudly strode through Target with little pads of formula stuck to my feet. Eric was wearing his suit pants with a t-shirt to save time, and we thought we made quite the pair. There was quite the little explosion next to our car, and I was a little nervous, truth be told, to be so close to the border with this much white powder covering the floor of my car. But officer, can’t you smell the iron?! In any case, when we pulled out, we drove right over a huge pile of formula, and it crunched. And we died laughing.

We made it to San Diego and stopped for lunch at the nicest cafe, where they did not mind at all when I made five trips to the bathroom to change the baby and myself and then forgot the burp cloth (vital instrument!) We made it to the service right on time, and it was just beautiful. It meant so much to us to be there with our precious friends.

Our little one was a darling at both the service and the reception. He is not (knock on wood) a big screamer, so I don’t know what I was so afraid of. Generally, his favorite thing in the world is being held, and there were so many loving arms waiting to hold him.

We stayed as long as we thought we could, and then we headed back to the hotel to get him to bed. AND HE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! For the first time ever! Apparently, all we have to do is take him out of town and wear him out. Lesson learned! Eric and I actually woke up before he did, and we lay in bed staring at each other with our mouths agape. Did that really just happen?! We actually had to wake him up so he wouldn’t eschew all napping in the car on the way home. The hotel had a little breakfast, which was very handy, and there was a little walk-up coffee bar across the street. I showed up at 6:30 on the dot in a sundress and Eric’s fleece jacket, with nothing more than a hotel key and a $5 bill in my pocket. That coffee, it was so good. The baby and his daddy took a nap while mommy read a book (Read a book?! What a fantasy!), and then we checked out and met our sweet friends for breakfast.

We stopped by the San Diego Mission on the way home, and it was beautiful. Eric and I have loved visiting them together. It was hot, and the baby was pretty fussy, but it was okay. He sort of had a meltdown in the gift shop while we were buying a little cross for his room, but it was okay. He cried in the church while a small group of people was praying the rosary at the altar, but it was okay. Our stroller squeaked its way up to the little chapel, where, unbeknownst to us, people were praying during adoration, but it was okay. We didn’t see as much of the mission or take as much time as we might have if we had been by ourselves, but it was okay. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

We lit a candle in the church and prayed in thanksgiving for our sweet boy, the best thing that’s ever happened to us. It was so special to be able to do that because we lit candles in churches all over Greece and New Mexico and California while we were hoping to get pregnant and when we were expecting our little one. And I was able to sneak into the chapel for just a few minutes and pray a mother’s prayer: thanking God for my family and for the safety of our trip and for all the sleepless happiness that fills my days. The word that kept coming to my mind was joy. Joy indeed.

We had a safe trip home, stopping on the way at the most awesome bulk grocery store. We were exhausted, and it took us almost as long to unload as it did to pack up, but what a wonderful way to spend our time. And so, we were nervous, but we were brave. And we had such a good trip. It would have been okay even if it had been a disaster, as long as I still have this sweet one to cuddle up with and his daddy to laugh at all the mishaps with. I am so glad we went. Travel is such a great love of mine, and Eric and I always took a handful of little weekend trips together every year before our baby was born. It was so sweet to get over this hump, as it were, and realize that this is still a possibility. I think, really, it’s the unknown that’s the scariest thing. But now I know that we can do it. I started planning our next trip before we had even unpacked from this one. It’s a beautiful world, and I’m so happy I have one more precious person to explore it with.

November 2014 Goals

November GoalsI had to think for a bit about my goals for this month. “Um, do I have any goals?” I asked myself. Thankfully, the answer was yes. I spent some time thinking about it this weekend and felt so energized and excited when I came up with this little handful of things. I know I sound like a broken record, but I love the reminder that I can choose what I want to devote my free time to. Even if there isn’t very much of it!

I know that most of us are looking to decrease our screen time and unplug, and that can be such a good thing. But I think it ebbs and flows. For the last two weeks, I haven’t been on Instagram at all, and I really miss my friends there. I didn’t intend to take a hiatus, but I had the new Murakami novel out from the library, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to renew it, so I was reading pedal to the metal. (I finished it! I really liked it!) I can pretty easily scroll through pictures when I’m feeding Micah, but I can’t type responses, and IG doesn’t have a voice command (yet!), so I need to do this some other time. I love the support I’ve found on Instagram, and the true friends I have there. Looking forward to getting back!

On to goal two. I have so few pictures of myself with the baby. Eric takes one every now and again, but I need! many! more! I keep intending to use the timer to take pictures of us together throughout the day, and I keep forgetting. But last night as I was feeding him, I was scanning the room for good places to set the camera to capture some of our daily activities from different angles. I also want to take more pictures with my real camera because so many of our shots of the baby are blurry. Some of this is due to the fact that he’s always in motion, but some of it has to do with lighting, and my real camera is just better equipped to deal with it.

This second goal dovetails with the third. Every year Ali Edwards does a week in the life–seven days of daily photos and words. It’s a lot of work, but what a rich reward! I haven’t done a day in the life since April, and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do. I think a week would definitely cover all the little variations in our routine. Even though right now I feel like I will never forget any of these precious days, I know they will fade in my memory, and I will be so happy to have this record of what our lives were like, three months into parenthood. Ali did hers last week, but I am a big fan of doing things when I can, so that doesn’t give me pause at all. The week in the life will be shared on Micah’s baby blog, since it will surely contain millions of picture of him.

I used to bake all the time (just search my blog for sugar, and I bet you’ll get at least fifty hits!) But I was so sick for the first four months of my pregnancy, and then just really not interested in sweets for the rest of it. Last year I baked two pies for Thanksgiving, and the morning sickness started in earnest the very next day. Aside from those pies, one batch of lemon poppyseed muffins is the only sweet thing that’s come out of my oven. I’m still working on losing my baby weight, so I’m not quite ready to get back into baking full steam, but Thanksgiving is special. Thanksgiving requires pie. Maybe even two pies! Because surely I can’t be the only one who can never decide between pumpkin and apple.

I finally have my little studio space put together in our bedroom, and I am really looking forward to spending some time there. Right now Micah is really not napping for more than thirty minutes during the day (but hope springs eternal!), but I am usually off duty around 7:30 when we put him to bed. Most nights I have just been reading, but I am hoping to have the energy to knit and draw and work on my woefully neglected scrapbook. I feel such a strong urge to make something, and I’m so happy to have that. I think it’s one of the truest parts of myself, this need to create. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes of sewing or stitching, I’ll take it.

I’ve had a monthly goal to take lots of pictures ever since I started making monthly goals. But I think I’ve pretty much got that covered elsewhere here, so I’m just making it a goal to enjoy every little bit of things this month. I have been thinking so much about what an incredible gift this life is. I want to say yes to every part of it.

I will be back in December with an update. October goals have been updated here. And, wow, I’m getting old: November 2013 goals, November 2012 goals.

Update, December 2014: Oh, November, you were great, and I so enjoyed you. You were a mixed bag in terms of meeting my goals, but I’ll take what I can get in these busy mommy days. I totally did a Week in the Life! It was way easier than I thought it would be, and when I finished it, I kept right on taking lots of pictures, which was great. And I can’t believe how much Micah has changed even since then. That makes me all the more happy that I did it. I have Monday through Wednesday up on his baby blog, and one of my goals for December is to finish typing it up. I know I will be so glad to have it! I did better with the pictures too, taking them from more angles and including more with me in them, but…I think that should be a perpetual goal. I did okay on Instagram, but lots of days I just didn’t get to it. When Micah’s awake, I’m usually fully engaged with him, and he just doesn’t nap that much! A lot of nap time goes to eating lunch and cooking dinner (and occasionally typing up a blog post or reading a book), but hope springs eternal! Ahahaha, I did not bake a pie for Thanksgiving because we were sleep training Micah and I was exhausted, but I did *eat* some pie at Thanksgiving, and it was DELICIOUS. Thank you, Hillary! I also did NOT make evenings my craft time. Mostly I have just been reading. But I have two weeknight events this week, and that’s making me feel like those at-home nights hold lots of possibility, so…we’ll see! I honestly don’t think I will get back into the groove of things until Micah starts napping better, but I don’t mind waiting. He’s pretty cute:)

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.

4th Trimester Fashion

4th Trimester FashionI first heard of the 4th trimester in our childbirth class–that first three months of life when a baby is most comforted by the sensations of the womb. But there’s a 4th trimester for moms too, as we’re getting the hang of things, adjusting to a new schedule, and suddenly finding ourselves no longer pregnant, but not exactly the same shape or size we were before. I have lost a good bit of weight from my pregnancy, but I still have a ways to go to get back to my pre-pregnancy size. It’s not really a number that I’m hung up on, it’s just that…I’m cheap, and I don’t want to buy all new clothes! I do have great hope of being able to wear my old clothes, but I’m lucky in that it’s still hot here, and I can wear loose dresses for a little while before I have to think about cramming myself back into my jeans. I have mostly been wearing loose and comfy clothes around the house, but I am just starting to feel ready to wear something that might rightly be considered an outfit. My strategy is to buy a few things here and there to serve as transitional pieces, and, happily, most of these things are stretchy and forgiving and can be worn even when I am back at my pre-pregnancy weight. I sort of jokingly thought of this as “4th trimester fashion,” but I thought it would be fun to do a little style shoot, since I haven’t done one in ages.

4th Trimester FashionI think leggings are postpartum strategy 101 for most women, but I’ve never had a pair that fits well. Until half-off day at my favorite thrift store! I also got this top there, but it’s actually a dress. A really short dress! Before now, I would never have considered buying something so short, but now…leggings to the rescue. (Please note someone’s cute feet sticking out there.) These shoes are also new, and they are so comfy. I am always hunting for the world’s most perfect flat. I like the copper color, and, of course, the fact that they are shiny.

4th Trimester FashionMy favorite thing about this top, besides the color, is the open back. There’s a whole slew of things I can never wear, including strapless, spaghetti straps, and open-backed tops and dresses, so I was so excited to find a dress with an open back that actually works for me. Someone finally figured out to leave the bottom half of the back open, and I’d like to shake their hand.

4th Trimester FashionThis necklace is basically my favorite of all time. It’s a globe (that actually spins!) with a little pair of binoculars attached.

4th Trimester FashionIt felt really good to dress up a bit (and wear my new lipstick!), even though we were just taking the baby for a Saturday afternoon walk. When we decided to go, I went into our room to change out of my mom uniform, and when I came back out, Eric did a double take and said, “Wow!” It was the best compliment I could have received. I’ve got the two sweetest boys in the world.

One Little Word: Nine Months of Nurture

Mid-September seems like as good a time as any to write your first post on your word for the year, doesn’t it? Oh good, I thought so too! This is the third year I have chosen a word (2012: grateful, 2013: open), and I love how each time it’s a different experience. Last year I did a pretty extensive course on it, but this year my word has been woven into my life in a more constant way. It’s a daily reminder, and it’s one I really need. It’s been fun to look back at these past nine months and see the progression of what this word has meant to me.

In January, February, and about half of March, I was sick sick sick with my pregnancy. Nurturing myself meant spending every single day on the couch and trying not to move too much, since that made me even more nauseous. It meant trying every single nausea relief trick I could find, even though none of them worked. It meant living on crackers, bread, and seltzer water until I could keep anything else down. It meant not having any expectations of myself. It meant watching so much tv, some of it so embarrassingly bad. It meant surviving.

It also meant taking my vitamins and doing my best to send my love to my tiny baby.

In the spring I felt SO MUCH BETTER and was able to start nurturing in different ways. My husband and I took a few last “just us” trips. I walked several miles every day and got back to my regular beans/greens/grains style of eating. I could feel Micah kicking away, and I told him how much I loved him all the time. I also slept SO much. And I am glad I did!

By the summer, nurturing moved on to the nursery, where we were organizing, decorating, and putting furniture together (okay, that last one was Eric only, but one gets a halo for every piece of Ikea furniture one puts together, so I am sure he didn’t mind collecting a handful of them). I spent the rest of my time reading books to prepare for labor and getting emotionally ready for this big, wonderful, happy change in our lives.

And then one night in July I nurtured myself by taking labor one contraction and one push at a time until I was holding our sweet son. It was the best day of my life.

Suddenly there were whole new realms of nurturing to explore. I learned, and continue to learn, how to take the best care of Micah, to meet his needs, and to encourage his growth. And, of course, to shower him with love and kisses every single day. If you saw his cute little cheeks, you wouldn’t be able to stop kissing them either.

Parenting has been a wonderful adventure so far, and I’ve loved being able to nurture Eric as a father, but also as my husband. Taking time (or making time!) for our relationship has been a joy (if also a challenge!), and one I look forward to keeping up for the rest of our lives.

And nurturing has also taken on new meanings for me. It meant taking it easy during my (thankfully easy) recovery. It means taking naps when I can. It means not expecting to cook dinner every night or have the house spotless (hahaha!). It means doing my very best to be present in each moment with our son, and in each moment when he is asleep and I’m on my own.

I feel like I turned a corner when Micah was about five weeks old. “Hey,” I thought, “I could actually do something.” It wasn’t that I was unhappy–I wouldn’t trade those newborn days for anything. I just was starting to feel like I might be able to get back to doing some of the things I enjoyed doing before he was born. I talked to (the ever-supportive) Eric about it, and I made a list of fun things to do during naptime or before bed. Things like painting and journaling and reading and blogging. And then, in true Cameronian fashion, I…tried to do them all at once! This was really stressful for a few days, and then pretty hilarious. The ability to laugh at oneself can never be overrated.

Now nurturing myself means taking it one thing at a time, and enjoying the slow pace. It means embracing the time that I do have. It means being patient with myself as I lose the baby weight (not a huge preoccupation, but I would like my clothes and my rings to fit again one day!). It means taking one million pictures of my baby because I don’t want to forget anything about these precious days.

But even throughout the happy roller coaster ride of this year, there are some things about this word that haven’t changed at all, and I love that. It’s still essentially about love, of myself and of others. It’s still about being patient and present. It’s still about living every day to the fullest. It’s still a fantastic word.

On New Parenthood

At the risk of jinxing ourselves, I think we are getting the hang of this new parent thing. Eric and I were laughing the other day about how we’ve become parent ninjas. As soon as the baby’s down for a nap, we dash off to start the laundry/load the dishwasher/check our email/take a shower/make the bed. Okay, that last one was just a joke to see if you were paying attention. Ain’t nobody making the bed around here. Ain’t nobody complaining about it either.

In those first days at home, Eric asked me what I was most surprised by about being a mom so far. (He can always be counted on to ask sweet and thoughtful questions like this). I told him first that it was hard in a way that you can’t appreciate until you’re actually living it. Not impossible hard, and not even unhappy hard, but just challenging, mostly in the sleep deprivation arena. It reminded me of how I understood intellectually that morning sickness and labor were going to be hard, but I didn’t really understand what that meant until I got there. Happily, we are already sleeping an awful lot more than we did in those first weeks, but I’ll tack on an addendum: I have been surprised by how quickly you adjust to your new normal in terms of sleep. I always wondered how I would manage that, since an hour of tossing and turning in the night used to all but wreck my day. Now, six hours of sleep is my personal heaven, and I get a few naps in during the day while Micah is sleeping too. It’s awesomely manageable!

I also said that I couldn’t believe it was so much fun already. He said the same. Eric is a happy person, but I have never seen such delight in him as when he is with our son. It is amazing to watch. I’ll be down the hall putting clothes in the dryer and I’ll hear him giggling away at something Micah has done. And there are new sweet and funny things he does nearly every day.

I’d likewise add that all those parenting cliches are so, so true. It turns out that there is nothing better than holding a sleeping baby or being the recipient of a baby smile. Your whole heart is outside your body now, swaddled and lightly snoring in his crib. You can’t, in fact, imagine your life without this tiny perfect creature. I’ve never ever loved cliches this much.

And I love that we have retained the playfulness of our relationship, even while juggling so much new responsibility. The first couple of days, as we were adjusting to a new (lack of!) schedule and worrying about whether or not our baby was eating/sleeping/pooping enough, most of our conversations took place with furrowed brows and concerned expressions. As we got the hang of things, though, laughter crept right back into our lives. What you really need, I think, when you are entering a whole new world, is someone who can make you laugh, someone who can remind you that you are still you, even as you step into a demanding new role.

I have been really happy to find that my favorite things about our marriage have carried over into parenthood. We each truly want what is best for the other, and we find joy in being kind to each other. We communicate so well, and we are so good at asking each other for help when we need it. I feel like these last six weeks have shown us parts of each other that we never saw before. One night I was having trouble calming Micah, and Eric took him in his arms and said, “Here, Micah, come see your Daddy,” and I just stood there and cried, the happiest of tears.

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