Friday, July 3, 2015

As a kid I used to love those little "birthday books." I was obsessed with journals and time capsules. And to this day I love the idea of putting down your "piece de resistance" every year. It's such a wonderful way to track your growth, to see how you change from year to year or to see what things remain the same.
It goes without saying that I have changed drastically since having children - physically, mentally and emotionally. Yet oddly enough I feel, as I stand on the precipice of 30, that the biggest changes are yet to come. The days surrounding my birthday I have begun to feel the earth shifting beneath my feet, I've felt the wind of change gently blowing across the hairs on my back. It feels as if things I have been building for years in little pockets of my mind are going to burst forth. Dreams that I have had since a little girl. I just need a few more pebbles to get going...
I have spent the pasts four years rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on building our family. Head down I have grown, birthed and am nursing my littles. My life has been pregnancy tests, prenatal appointments, hospitals, breast pumps, tiny and big diapers, nighttime feedings, sound machines and bottles. It's been hard, beautiful, rewarding, holy work. Standing in front of a mirror, last night, on the eve of my 29 birthday, I saw not just my own face and body but the faces of my children dancing like shadows across my face. I breathe for them and even when my arms and legs feel weary I press on, for them. And when I do, when I'm tired and empty I feel my own mother's strength when she pushed through tears for so many tears, I feel the exhaustion and strength that pumps through the veins of mothers everywhere in tandem. Like a seesaw - we fall down so low and then the love we have for these babies of ours lifts us back up...
I feel a slow lightening coming with this year. It is becoming easier and easier to brush things off. To forgive, to move on. For much of my life I was like a bottomless pit of need - needing love, attention, affirmation and admiration. I sought it out everywhere I went and yet no matter how much I got it was never enough. In turn I felt as if I was never enough. I think I can finally say, with some newfound confidence, that I feel like what I have now at 29 is enough. And if it isn't enough for some, well... As they say "it's all I've got, take it or leave it." I've come to understand that some people will never like me or love me and it's not a reflection on me, or even necessarily on them - it's just... incompatibility? And that's ok. It's ok. It's ok to be too much for some, not enough for others and not somebody's cup of tea. I am enough, I have enough. When I walk through the house late at night, turning off the lights and checking doors and I come across the sound of my fur baby's snores my heart bursts with love. When I peek into my little girl's room and see her splayed out on her bed, clutching her beloved doggie her lids heavy with the restorative sleep of a child - my heart bursts. When I feed Teddy his midnight bottle and feel him wrap his warm little fingers around my pinky as he nurses through his sleep - my heart bursts. When I lay down next to my partner, my other half, my best friend and love and intertwine my fingers with his and drift off... my heart bursts.
It's not that I feel like I have changed so much this year, or that my life has been altered so drastically, but I feel as if my eyes have been opened wider, my vision is more clear. I see what is right in front of me more clearly and my focus on the future has narrowed, sharpened. In the past decade I have fallen lower than I ever thought possible and I have soared to heights I could have never dreamed of and it is in this yin and yang that I have found myself, found strength I never knew I had in me. And now as I head into 30 I want to harness my experience towards bringing forth something meaningful, beautiful and necessary. I want to go forth with a spirit of generosity and gratitude. I want to be generous with my time and my love. I never want to question giving more of myself. I want to send more letters, push more hearts and leave more comments, send more texts and make more phone calls, I want to say yes to more play dates and lunches, to entertain more, to send more flowers and bake an extra batch of cookies. I want to always be grateful - on the hard days, the bad days and the days that make it easy to say "today was so good."
This is the year I want to tell myself over and over that I can, I should, I will... I don't know if I deserve to have my dreams come true but I owe it to myself and my children to at least try. I have nothing to lose and if all I gain is the experience that comes from failure... well that is a gift in and of itself.

the thank you plate

Monday, June 15, 2015

It's late at night and I'm extracting tiny socks and tee shirts and little girls underpants from the dryer. The only light is the small bulb inside the drum and the only sound is the whoosh of the dishwasher. I scoop it all out - my husbands tube socks, my seventeen pairs of yoga pants, bibs stained with sweet potatoes, my daughter's favorite pajamas adorned with tiny blue flowers, onesies (so many onesies) and a few kitchen towels. And I think to myself "wasn't 2006 just yesterday???"
I think... Didn't we just make out in the car while Akon sang "I Wanna Love You?" Wasn't I just retrieving my Juicy Couture sweatpants from the dryer instead of baby socks? Wasn't I just crying over finals week and filling out those awful FAFSAs?? Wasn't it just yesterday that we graduated, got engaged, married, moved...
Because in reality it does feel that way sometimes. You go from being twelve and feeling like summer is never going to end and Christmas can't possibly come soon enough to all of a sudden it's all happening so fast like bam, bam, bam, babies!! I felt that after college I was always performing some circus act and never allowed to take a break - balancing this and that and spinning all those millions of plates, shutting my eyes for a few hours and waking up to do it all over again. Like a dog chasing a treat except the treat was always replaced as soon as I gobbled it up. Graduate!! Graduate! Oh good you graduated? Get married! Get married!! Oh good you got married?! Get a job! Oh good you got a job?! Have a baby!! Babies! Babies! Oh good you had a baby?? Have another baby! More babies!! And you're running like mad, doing it all, getting it all but you are tired, so very, very tired.
As I leafed through that pile of laundry, sorting it all into four little piles, I realized that this right here was once a dream I had. To live with this man, to bear our children, to dance to Same Cooke in our kitchen while making pancakes on Sunday morning. To sort our laundry. To cook meals for my people and watch them eat it with gusto. To read bedtime stories and tuck them in for the night. To say "I love you" and have the tiniest, sweetest voice whisper back "I wuv you too."
I sat with it. With the ordinary and quotidian beauty of it all. Because the treat has been replaced yet again and once more I am running, running, running. I must stop. I must give myself time to digest what I have just eaten, to savor it (at least a little) and to give myself a moment to wipe my mouth. I've been fed so much goodness in these past couple of years but I don't feel like I'm taking enough time to acknowledge that, to be grateful for it. I think perhaps that is due to the fact that when these miracles happen they don't usually fall into your lap smelling of lavender and sparkling. They are still real, still human and still messy and complicated and full of contradiction.
Take weddings for example - though wonderful and beautiful and full of love they are also full of surly relatives, broken AC units, the wrong song, the wrong flowers... Or a move somewhere wonderful, though exciting and exhilarating, it is also full of boxes and the perpetual sound of tape ripping and my favorite of activities - painting (kidding, just give me a gun). Or, at least for me, childbirth. You're holding this tiny miracle and storing that newborn smell and those little groans in your time capsule and at the same time you're in more pain than you've probably ever been, are struggling with the most basic bodily functions and look like a helium balloon that has been ran over by a car. Twice. You are not in fact clothed in some creamy and billowy confection with a halo around your head and there are no trumpets to announce your child being placed in your arms for the first time. The confection is a bland and probably itchy hospital gown and instead of trumpets you are surrounded by the incessant beeping of a dozen machines. And rolling. What's with all the rolling ( I've learned that everything in a hospital has wheels)?? By the end of my stay I half expected to look down and discover that I myself had sprouted tiny little wheels under my heels.
And yet they're miracles. The moments rain down goodness into our hearts, minds and souls and I am learning more and more that whether we are able to do this in the moment or after the fact we must take the time to soak it up, to bask in gratitude, to taste the fruits of our labors. I don't have the luxury of waiting until the weekend or vacation or an afternoon off to take stock of how blessed I am. I have to make a conscious decision to enjoy it and be grateful for it whenever I can. While doing laundry, while picking up blocks in the playroom for the fiftieth time this week, while sorting the mail, while driving, while falling asleep. I need to make sure that at least one of the millions of plates that are always swirling around in my head are dedicated to enjoying today, right now or maybe yesterday. Because one day soon I'll be sorting laundry full of teenage boys' gym shorts, mini skirts, crop tops and jerseys and I'll think to myself "Wasn't 2015 just yesterday???"


Sunday, June 14, 2015

birdie: every morning she tells me "I need lil bit of mama's kawfee." Emphasis on "need." 
teddy: between crawling, teething and general "growing up" this boy is keeping his mama real busy.

beach essentials for the littles

Thursday, June 11, 2015

We've done the beach with Birdie a few times now so I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't. However, having two babies on the beach is a whole new ball game and I'm hoping that we can make it a pleasant and fun experience for everyone. On that note here are just a few tips that I think help keep everyone happy:

- keep your babies well hydrated. Birdie was seven months old when we went to Florida for the first time and her pediatrician suggested that we give her two or three ounces of cool water every few hours while having her out in the sun. Just make sure that they still breastfeed or take as much formula as usual, the water should not be replacing food. 

- this is a little trick my mum taught me: soak their hats in cold water every few hours as a way to keep their little heads cool. 

- we like having a swaddle blanket to offer them a little comfort for those beach naps. They are extremely breathable so they won't get hot but it helps keep them cozy and feeling "tucked in."

- grapes and watermelon are hands down Birdie's favorite snack on the beach. If you want to be totally mess free stick to just grapes - so easy.

- saltwater sandals do amazing on the beach. They're incredibly comfortable for little feet and they can take quite a beating and still look brand new. 

- I've found that Honest swim diapers are hands down the softest and most comfortable ones. I usually stock up and have two or three so that I can hand wash and dry them between uses. 

- although Birdie has quite sensitive skin in the winter we haven't had trouble with her during the summer months. We love Babyganics sunscreen - it's perfectly gentle. However, Teddy is much more sensitive and broke out with just one use. If you have a similar problem our pediatrician recommended Blue Lizard sunscreen as being the most gentle one on the market. 

- I haven't actually tried this but now that there are four of us I'm intrigued by getting this bundle of four cheap towels to take with us this time around. The reviews aren't great but the value is pretty ridiculous. 

Now I'm just going to cross my fingers that we can get these kids to nap together at least once in a blue moon so that I can read at least one page from the books that I'll be packing for myself!