Tag Archives: motherhood

What I’m into: Say Cheese

Plotting: So. Excited. I just signed up to volunteer at the American Cheese Society Festival of Cheese, which is being held in Des Moines next month. All volunteers receive an official volunteer t-shirt and complimentary entry to the Festival of Cheese, which kind of sounds like my ticket to heaven.

1468577_10152067780460801_1654808932_n

Reading: Our latest book club pick, Tuesday Nights in 1980, which is super good, but just got intense! (I started this post as a break from it for a minute.) It’s bouncing between connected characters and set in New York at the turn of 1980 (at least so far) and big into the art scene at the time.

-1

Sipping: Iced Mocha from Chocolaterie Stam. I’ve been trying to walk to my meetings that are in the Ingersoll area (both to walk the walkability talk and get some exercise), but today was so darn hot, I felt the need to reward myself post-lunch. When I stopped in, I was reminded of their sweet Friday night concert series on their dreamy side patio. I think the concerts all start at 7 p.m. – they had a flyer in the store with bands listed.

Scrolling: Through pictures from Emmett’s third birthday, which we celebrated with a trip to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago on Monday. Gotta get some mileage out of that astronaut Halloween costume!

img_20160613_102812.jpg

We were at my mom’s for a weekend bridal shower for a high school friend and family birthday party, and Joe realized the Adler and Museum of Science and Industry both offer reciprocal memberships with our Science Center of Iowa family pass.

img_20160613_100427752.jpg

We figured a train ride into the city would be fun — and it was! We walked the easy three miles to the museum along the lake and past Buckingham Fountain and then took the 130 city bus straight back to Union Station after lunch.

20160613_113301.jpg

Pretty much the best day ever for a freshly minted three year old, and not too shabby for the adults and Eileen, either.

22104.jpeg

Because Emmett’s third birthday also equals 1,095 days of parenting, a few bonus parenting links I’ve enjoyed lately:

Laughed out loud at this: An Open Letter to the Female Hat-Wearing Dog From “Go Dog, Go” via The Ugly Volvo, which is a hilarious blog I always forget to check.

Tips for Building a home your kids want to come home to. “Happy starts now.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Travel, What I'm into

Six months, sister

When I was pregnant with Eileen and thought about what it would be like to be the parent of two tiny, needy people, I was a bit panicked. Everyone (my own mother included) seemed to be saying that having two is so much harder than one plus one. And one was hard. But six months into this family-of-four thing, I’m amazed at how great the transition has been. The gang’s all here! And this girl.

IMG_20160409_071456

Maybe it’s the mantra of a second time mom I adopted early on. Maybe it’s because I’m the kind of person who likes to attempt to carry all 17 bags of groceries into the house in one trip. Small victories, people. Maybe it’s because Eileen has been a delightfully easygoing girl who thinks her brother hung the moon and Emmett’s taken to his big kid role with goofy gusto. But it’s not just been joyful, it’s even been fun. (Dare I say that? I just want to send a word of encouragement to my mama friends who are chasing a baby and looking with skepticism at a growing belly. It might be fun. Crazy, often. But fun, too.)

20160403_115745

Sure, we have our moments of not enough hands or time or patience to keep everyone happy at once. But these past six months have flown in a way I never would have imagined. I want to freeze time with the four of us snuggled into the big bed in the early morning, Emmett casually holding Eileen’s hand while we resist the clock calling us to get on with the daily routine.

At six months, Eileen is army crawling and rolling across rooms with the moves of some tomb-raiding warrior princess. She’s the captain of wriggling out of her snuggamonkey and clinging to the side like she’s going down with the Titanic. She’s starting to sit up, eat solids and get sleepy earlier in the evening. She definitely has a voice, and giggles most at her brother. They’re interacting and playing together. Her hair swirl is starting to grow out a bit, but no teeth yet – thank goodness. Still waking up a few times in the night to nurse, but goes back down pretty easily. By typing all of this, I jinxed it, I’m sure.

P.S. My reflections on motherhood at six months in with Emmett, when I was just starting to hit my stride and his eczema and allergies had begun to make themselves known. Being able to look back at this is, in essence, why I keep my blog. 

P.P.S. Have you seen this genius invention? Game changer for parents who have attempted grocery shopping with a giant carrier in the cart. I don’t own one, but a friend posted an action photo from Trader Joe’s and I was amazed.  

4 Comments

Filed under Baby, Family Fun

Sleep diary

World’s cutest cause of sleep deprivation:

sleepy leen

A diary, of sorts:

3:45 a.m. —  Huh, that was a funny dream! (Something about searching for a donut that was also a churro…) Why am I awake? Eileen slept through her 1 a.m. feeding! Guess I’ll go to the bathroom.

3:48 a.m. — Pulls covers over self and settles back to…

3:50 a.m. — Awakened by sweet suckling sounds coming from the crib nook. Damnit.

3:50 – 4 a.m. — Nurse baby, thankful that this time around it’s relatively quick and easy. (With Emmett, breastfeeding was a struggle.)

4 – 4:30 a.m. — Get on the mental hamster wheel of tomorrow’s to-do list. Resist picking up my phone to start responding to messages.

4:30 a.m. — Fall asleep. Dream about having awkwardly long armpit hair.

5:20 a.m. — Is that my toddler whimpering? How does Joe not hear that? Wake my husband up so he can be the snuggle parent. Go back to sleep. Sort of.

6 a.m. — Damn you, alarm. Damn, you. I’m just going to silence this.

6:05 a.m. — Oh, you want to nurse again, baby? Showering in the morning is overrated, I guess…

This is also pretty much any mother of a baby and toddler, and it could be so, so much worse. Like Sunday night, when I started ralphing, then a few hours later Joe was, and then in the middle of the night Emmett threw up all over his bed. All. The. Laundry. Eileen remained her happy, squealy self and had no interest in cuddling quietly with the rest of us.

Sleep has been on my mind this week, like a sweet, sweet mirage. We finished up our final Mini Medical School session on Tuesday night at DMU with a lecture from Dr. Aoki, one of our faculty clinicians, about the science of sleep. It was super interesting, and of course I listened to it while drinking coffee at 8 p.m., then went home at nine and started finally watching the finale of Downton Abbey that we’d missed during puke-fest 2016 and stayed up until midnight. I was still paying for that last night.

DMU is actually going to be hosting a mini sleep symposium next month, coinciding with the launch of Arianna Huffington’s new book, “The Sleep Revolution.”  Ms. Huffington herself won’t be here, but we’ll have a panel of experts, including Dr. Aoki, some fun sleep-related vendors and I believe even some book giveaways!

Sleep Promo Flier

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Baby

Another kind of mom guilt

I’ve struggled to put into words how I’ve been feeling lately.

20160207_212843

I’m not overwhelmed or down on myself. It’s not the blues, although when I brought up the subject with my sister-in-law tonight, I burst into tears. Luckily, she knew exactly what I was trying to express without me fully articulating it.

I feel guilty. Not for being a working mom, or not having a spotless house, or not packing the most healthful lunches. It’s different — a visceral, almost survivor’s guilt. I have a warm home and a beautiful baby and whip-smart toddler and supportive spouse and food in the fridge (although the fridge itself might be on its last leg).

I’m suspicious of my happiness, almost ashamed of my good fortune. I’m ever so grateful, but also kind of waiting for something to shatter, because it doesn’t feel right that I should be allowed to be so content when there is so much suffering in this world. I keep up with the news (maybe too much), and almost daily there’s a story that brings tears to my eyes.

Apparently postpartum hormones are changing at around the four-month mark, and I acknowledge that’s probably a strong contributor to why I am feeling everything so deeply. But  I need to acknowledge my emotions and how motherhood has changed me. I don’t think I was ever indifferent to suffering, but when your heart starts to live outside of your body in the form of your children there is this intense vulnerability and resulting empathy.

I will admit here that I’m not someone who likes to think of things in terms of being “blessed,” and that my spiritual framework is pretty different from a lot of my Christian blogger friends. It’s hard to detach these complex feelings from the tendency for many to have a religious solution, but I’m really not interested in that. A conversation for a different time, perhaps.

And so…I record these days here and in my line a day journal, and find comfort in the beauty of a good book. Currently reading “Cutting for Stone,” by Abraham Verghese. {This NPR book club review is from 2011, not next month}

1 Comment

Filed under Baby, Books, Life lessons

Mantra of a second time mom

So much is different this time around – partly because the second baby has her own identity, preferences and quirks, but also because I am a different woman than I was in the first month of my first child’s life.

image

Part of the difficulty of transitioning into life as a mom wasn’t the late night feedings, or the early morning wake-ups. It was shedding that skin of selfishness and negotiating what it meant to be a mother in addition to all of the other things I am and hope to be. Over 28 months with Emmett I have developed much more patience, I have worried and seen that worrying doesn’t lead to much more than a headache, I have reveled in the unfolding of his personality and our expanded family life. I’ve learned that — just when you think you’ve got things figured out, the winds shift and what worked like a charm yesterday isn’t going to cut it anymore. Re-calibrate.

I’ve proven to myself that I can be a mother and all of the other things I want to be — just not necessarily all of them at the same time. It’s not to say I’ve never dropped a ball during this juggle, but I’ve discovered the joy in trying. I’ve appreciated the gentleness of Joe’s spirit always coming to my rescue when I’m hanging by the last frayed nerves.

image

Eileen is such a sweet baby. She’s found her voice and has an appetite that tethers me to the couch for stretches that can seem to go on and on. But, this time, I’ve been able to believe myself when I think some iteration of: This, too, shall pass. This is a phase. Babies don’t keep. 

I’ve been reading passages of Big Magic out loud to her, a manifesto on what it means to live creatively. Elizabeth Gilbert encourages us:

You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.

I’ve recognized that motherhood, parenthood, the daunting and divine task of raising human beings — is a creative endeavor. And in the feedings and diaper changes and mundane acts of love, there is a challenge to give this child the best version of ourselves we possibly can. (Sometimes this requires a deep breath and a hot shower.)

1 Comment

Filed under Baby, Life lessons

Eileen’s entry into the world

Welcome to the world, Eileen Marie Jayjack! Born on October 13, 2015, weighing 8 lbs. 10 oz. and 20.5 inches long. (For those of you into the stats.)

wpid-img_20151013_133817.jpg

I’m feeling pretty great, because this birth experience was the exact opposite – minus the induction at 41+ weeks – of the traumatic ordeal of Emmett’s entry. (30+ hour labor, 3+ hrs pushing, forceps, NICU stay.) I’ll sum it up by saying it felt like I’d mentally prepared for a marathon, but ended up just having to run a 5K. More birth story after the jump, for those of you who want to read about dilation and whatnot.

Otherwise, we’re on our way to adjusting to this new normal. This mystery porch greeting was the most lovely thing about our homecoming. (We took her home in the outfit I wore 30 years ago!)

wpid-2015-10-15-11.12.36.jpg.jpeg

As soon as we crossed the threshold, a toddler tantrum/baby blowout and crazy dog combo had pretty much the entire family boarding the Hot Mess Express. It will get better, I know.

wpid-edited_1444782124516.jpg

Eileen’s birth story

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Baby

How we: Babysitting co-op

I sometimes get questions about the babysitting co-op we’re part of, and I thought I’d share some details here!  Back when I was on maternity leave with Emmett, I used to pop in at a local postpartum group where we’d talk about breastfeeding, baby sleep patterns, relationships, or do fun activities like baby massage. It was a helpful weekly outing to gear up for, especially in those early days when simply leaving the house with a newborn felt like a major accomplishment. This session was almost exactly two years ago!

babymassage In the spot where the group met was a flier on the wall for “FREE BABYSITTING,” and, while it caught my eye, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. My friend Amy (of Yummy Toddler Food fame) clued me in — it was a babysitting cooperative that she was a part of. As it happens, Amy was moving to a small town outside of Des Moines, and so she introduced me to the group and gifted me with her remaining ‘points’. Essentially, a babysitting co-op is a more formalized structure for parents trading babysitting with other parents who have kids around the same age. You can start a co-op among friends, and it’s a great way to widen the circle and get to know people who are around the same life stage. A babysitting co-op probably not an end-all solution to your childcare issues, but it’s a really nice option for people who don’t have a lot of family in town.

sitting So how does it work? You babysit each other’s kids and attend/host meetings and play dates for points instead of cash. In our co-op, an hour of babysitting “costs/pays” 2 points per kid (or 3 points during a premium weekend night), and additional kids are a point. We offer extra points for sitting at the requesting family’s house, too, which can make bedtime sits a lot easier. Families can also earn points for attending or hosting a meeting or play date (we had a brunch pancake-making play date at our house in February, and in June someone hosted a nature walk at Brown’s Woods). We alternate between a meeting or play date every other month.

pancakes At first, I thought the meetings were kind of a pain, because who really needs more meetings in her life? But aside from being a time to plan upcoming play dates and talk about, say, potty training techniques, it’s a nice environment to get to know the other parents and see the homes where you’re sending kids. There are typically drinks and snacks, which elevate any meeting to nearly a party.

Play dates are a bonus activity, and again, a great chance to get to know the parents and kids. I only knew one of the other moms in the co-op when we joined, and in the year-and-a-half since, I’ve come to really appreciate the people in the group as friends. It turns out one of the other moms and I worked at the same Colorado Girl Scout camp, different summers, and live just down the street from each other now. It might have taken years to cross paths with them, or we may never have met at all!

We use a free site, SittingAround.com, for administration of points/sit requests and as a home base for co-op info, and then have a private Facebook group where we post more casual updates, events, photos, etc. We take turns with admin/secretary duties at meetings, and people can participate in the co-op as much or little as they want. But, the more active your group, the better it is for everyone.

Our co-op was started by a woman who attended the Before & After the Birth postpartum group, and involved some of her friends with kids around the same age, and others who had a connection to that group. Martha has since moved to New York, but was super organized and awesome about starting it up, and even attended a meeting when she was back in town this week!

2 Comments

Filed under Baby