Friday, January 28, 2011

I didn't get to say goodbye

I'm gonna blame it on our Korean teenage babysitter, Mike.  He made a banana talk.  The banana pleaded clearly in a high pitched voice, "Please eat me,", making it abundantly clear that it would never emotionally recover from the rejection of being left to sit on the counter and turn to mush.  It was all over after that.  From then on, I was the seven year-old having conversations with my stuffed animals, gently explaining to them why I chose to sleep with the dog and cat at night and not the rest of them.  I simply couldn't bear to have them sitting on the floor, pining for my presence, resenting the stuffed feline and her canine pal, without a proper explanation of my decision-making process.  It was a burden, this moral obligation to assuage the feelings of inanimate objects.  Movies like The Brave Little Toaster sure didn't help.  The toaster got left behind!  And he was sad cause he missed his family.  Oh, the agony.  My little heart could hardly bear it.

Fast forward twenty some years.  Last week our appliances staged a mutiny and crapped out all at once.  No really, the fridge, the washing machine, and the dryer (temporarily), all kicked the bucket.  Needless to say, it's been a little ghetto-fabulous around our house, food stashed in a cooler (still) and laundry heaping up because the laundromat feels too far away, and I don't think I've actually ever used one before.  And I'll be darned if I'm going to don a corset and petticoat and wash those things by hand.  And so the laundry heap grows. But I digress.

Today our washing machine was (finally!) replaced.  Josh sent me a picture of the big white box that took up residence in our bathroom/utility closet. 

                                                                    She's a beaute! 

But then it hit me.  I didn't get to say goodbye to our old washing machine.  It was slow but trusty in its time.  It was rusted and took about two hours to wash a single laundry load, but it was ours.  I can
just see it now, shivering out in the cold and rain, it's brownish exterior turning to rust, longing for the days when it was nestled snugly in our upstairs closet.  Darn you, Mike, and your talking banana.  How am I going to sleep tonight?  I can only hope the purring of our new washing machine will lull me to sleep.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Keeping him happy is a full-time job...sometimes

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a baby. I wasn't born an adult, if that's what you're wondering. But my memory of my own babyhood is a little fuzzy on a good day. I'd imagine they'd have to get used to the sound of fireworks going off in their tiny noggins every time they learn something new. The ceiling fan alone held John's attention for days. And usually it wasn't even moving.

All in all, eating, pooping, sleeping and accidentally hitting toys with his flailing arms seem to keep him quite occupied. Except when he's crying. He's a good baby most of the time, I swear. He usually limits crying to when he's hungry, uncomfortable or gassy. And isn't that true for any of us? However, there are times when he starts crying from hiccups or gas, and by the time the problem's solved, he's been crying long enough that he's forgotten what the stink was about. I suppose he may be thinking he'll remember again if he cries long enough. Or maybe he is just bored and doesn't know what else to do.

I have a new appreciation for my mother as I realize all the sleepwalking I do trying to get him in a drowsy enough state to tuck into bed. And we all know babies aren't happy unless you are exerting the most possible energy trying to calm them. I mean really, how can it be relaxing to be in a tight wad, slung over a shoulder, bouncing up and down violently, or being swung through the air at the speed of sound? Babies don't give out E's for effort; you know your attempts succeeded when you can hear yourself think again.

Around our house, we have some tried and true methods of solving baby problems. They work 60% of the time, every time. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Some of these ideas came from a book that could've offered it's suggestions in a brochure instead of a 250-page volume. But maybe I'm just lazy. Anyway, this particular piece of literature recommends Five S's for calming baby. Swaddling, swinging, and I can't remember the other three. As you can see, it left quite an impression. In my defense, those first two S's usually do the trick. Swaddling is easy; it's the swinging that leaves me catching my breath. (I wonder if I can count that for my physical activity in my workout program. Hmmm...)

This is us, a typical pre-day or pre-bed routine: baby burrito snugly wrapped so only his head shows from his cloth tortilla. Legs on my chest, head on my knees, bink properly inserted. Aaahhh. Peace.

The best way to gain weight

This week our refrigerator broke. Well, it was 9 days ago to be exact. It was a strange thing to wake up and find the ice cube trays full of water. Hmmm. Something was not right.

The contractor declared it totaled. The warranty company wanted to fix it. I think we'll have that fridge back in a week or two. In the meantime, we're discovering the culinary possibilities of nonperishable food items and living out of a Coleman cooler stashed in our garage.

Exhibit A: camping at home.

Our other "nourishment" option is shameful: fast food. Fast not only to order, but surprisingly speedy in clinging to fat storage on various body parts. All this to the chagrin of the jeans I've just squeezed into since baby. Grrrr... Any progress I was making dialing scale numbers down ceased the day that old Kenmore breathed its last. Okay, it might have been before, but it's nice to have a scapegoat. Needless to say, my food pyramid turned upside down the past few days. The result: a growing heap of clothing that doesn't fit so well.

As it turns out my 15 year old metabolism must have stayed back at my parents' house when I moved out - cause I think that's the last time I've seen it. Well, I am going to do something about this, besides whine via blog. I could be complacent, I suppose, but it's not really in the budget to replace half of my wardrobe. Action must be taken. So last Saturday I started a six-week program through work called "Get Fit". We get points in the form of "miles" for every 15 minutes of exercise we do, plus adding fruits and veggies to our diets. For a girl who's proud she made it half the day without digging into the Thin Mints, I'm going to need more points options. I'm also going to need two more hours inserted into the day, preferably after work. Not sure who I need to talk to about that. And since the only exercise I can tolerate is running, I'm going to need the weather to give me a break, for lack of a gym membership. Or I guess I could run in place in front of a mirror in my bedroom. Oh boy! This is going to be a long six weeks.

All this to say I welcome the accountability of cyberspace. I'm not trying to lose 50 pounds or anything, and I'm not going to post my weekly weight loss so don't get any ideas. But feel free to ask about my progress. And now, since it's way past my bed time, I'm going to sleep, which I hear is a great weight loss tool, if only my baby would recognize that.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Growing up Hippie

When you grow up somewhere, you never really can appreciate its quirks and flavor. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, Hippie/Hipster Capital of the Universe. I've always been quite proud of this because when I said I grew up in Portland, it always got a reaction. And if you know me, you know I love reactions. "Oh, you must be a (fill in the blank with illicit activity) type." OR "So you're like a vegan/eco-freak/bicycle-riding/PETA-pledging hippie, right?" Yea. All of the above.

Truth be told, my father is from Kansas. If tofu was the last food on the planet, he would die. Our 15-year old Buick station wagon was a token of my father's less-than-eco-friendly sentiments. My mom, on the other hand, made us believe carob was the real chocolate, poured rice milk in our cereal, and when dairy was finally introduced to our diet, we got it directly from the cow, cream and all. We were strange, to be sure, but not in the conventional Portland sense.

Well, I recently got wind of a new TV show, Portlandia, playing on obscure cable channel, IFC. Fred Armisen (of SNL fame) and Carrie Brownstein spend each episode extracting the uttermost wackiness from the city that raised me, until I was 13ish, anyway. I wanted to introduce you to their variation of Portland, and maybe you'll fall in love with it too. Or at least have a good laugh.

Portlandia, a satirical fun-poke at the city that refuses to participate in normal society.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One Eleven Eleven

I like numbers. I think they have significance, like times on the clock - I often happen to glance over at 11:11 or 1:11. And dates. Like today. So here's a post in honor of 1.11.11.

And speaking of cool-numbered dates, how about helping me welcome little Grace Bouzianis to the world. She was born on 1.1.11 to my dear friends, Steven and Jessica. She's got a little hat on in the picture, but she sports more hair than John. It's true. Mom had a wonderful home birth with no complications. She's my hero. Congratulations, Steven and Jessica. Grace, welcome!

And speaking of babies, my friends, Kristen and Tommy, welcomed little Laiken on Sunday. He was two weeks early - and she was a first time mom. Not fair! Mom, Dad and baby are all healthy and doing great. Can't wait to hold that little guy.

So, one week and one day of work down (yup, cool numbers). Here's how it went.
--Got as much sleep as a college kid because my roommate - who only drinks from the bottle and happens to wear diapers - no, not Josh - was up all night.
--In order to stay awake at work, I flashbacked to college again by drinking as much coffee as in my college days, and feeling that nasty, caffeinated hangover by the afternoon.
--Found out sick babies are so sad. For everyone. There's not much you can do for a 7 week old sickie but apply Vick's Baby Rub, suction out the goop and pray it goes quickly. It's been a rough 10 days since he got sick.
--Discovered that I can be a mom and a working woman, all at the same time. I can leave home without a meltdown and come home and resume mommy duties the second I walk in.
--Got significantly closer to arranging supervision hours for my clinical work. I need two years of supervised therapy in order to be able to be an independent clinician. It's been a long road trying to get the Army to okay a supervision plan for us, but it looks like God is about to "open a door no man can close". He likes to do that. Getting this set up will enhance my energy and enthusiasm for what I do every day. I'd like to say finding purpose was easier, but sometimes my job felt so monotonous. Good to be working toward a goal. "Without a vision, the people perish." How true.
--So far, kept my "resolution" to read the Bible daily, just haven't quite read as much as I signed on for. I'm reading through the New Testament with Josh - the plan requires several chapters a day, which has been a stretch for me, but a good one. It's been so good to be reading consistently, allowing my heart to hear God and be more tuned in, more likely to pray, more likely to see things from God's perspective rather than my own, which tends to be soaked full of fear and doubt. Even if I can't keep up with the reading plan, I know I'm reading more than I would've before so hey, still a success.

Still love being this little boy's momma

Monday, January 3, 2011

Here goes nothin'

Well, tomorrow I am a working woman again. I will be balancing motherhood and career, like so many woman before me. It's intimidating, I'm learning. I know we will get into a rhythm that works for us, but right now, John's sleep schedule, well, he doesn't have a real schedule. He sleeps 5-8 hours at night, which is great, but it's not anything to set your watch by. Maybe that's just part of being a parent, losing the right to know what to expect. If that's true, then it's worth it.

Maybe most surprising, I'm not losing my mind. My emotions are even. No meltdowns. I'm just not letting myself brood on the inevitable. I have to work - no options. For the moms who have the option to stay home, do not take that for granted. What a gift! On the days when it feels like you just want to get out and have an adult conversation or pursue a career in the field you got your degree in, remember that the women who are out there working wish they were home with their children. We wish we could hold them a little longer at night instead of thinking how much sleep they're losing and wondering how they will function at work tomorrow. We wish we didn't have to get all our cuddle time in on nights and weekends. We wish we were where you are. Please don't take it for granted.

So here's to the greatest juggling act I've ever pulled off. I'm truly leaving my heart at home, it feels. Lord, help me be present and peaceful at work, even in the midst of the frustrations of the workplace. I can do this. Here I go...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stream of consciousness: going back to work

I'm not ready to go back to work. I would much rather stay home with my baby.

I had no idea I would be this kind of mom. I thought that having a career was a good thing, made me more balanced. I secretly thought stay-at-home moms were sort of unfortunate because they only had one thing to do all day long, while working mothers had the best of both worlds. Now I'm finding myself jealous of them.

So here I am, (less than) three days before returning to work and I would rather stay home. All the days of cuddling John, watching him learn how to play (a little), start smiling, sleeping through the night (finally) - I don't want it to end. Often I think I'm going to go back kicking and screaming. On good days I tell myself that work is the way I can help provide for John, make his life better. I tell myself that my dad worked all day, and I don't feel that I missed out on time with him. So John won't feel deprived from my absence. But I don't believe it.

Honestly, it's hard to imagine anyone, even Josh, parenting John all day long. After hours and days and weeks of being with him, seemingly non-stop, I know that I know him best. I know that laying on his back with his knees tucked into his chest makes his tummy feel better. I'm learning the difference between his cries - gas, dirty diapers, hunger. If I hear him in distress, I'm the one leaping out of my seat to find out what's wrong. I am willing to sit and hold him until he falls asleep if he's fussy, or even let him sleep on my chest if that will help. I would pretty much walk around with him most of the day if I could.

Everyone always said that you love your kids more than anything. I believe someone said, "Your love even surprises you." And it does. I finally understand a little of how God loves us. I get how Jesus can say, "I will be dirty so you can be clean. I will go hungry so you can eat. I will be naked so you can be clothed." It's true. I would do all those things. But Jesus can go one more, even to say, "I will be sin so that you will be holy; I will be separated from God (for a time) so that you can be reconciled." Wow. He was the embodiment of the heart of the ultimate parent, God. I started to get a glimpse of that love last night as I thought of how much I love John, how I would do anything for him. And certainly, I cannot love more than God, God who is love. Yea. Wow.

I know that God isn't going to send me back to work, sad and forlorn, and just leave me and let me work it out. I know there is enough grace for this next season, as there has been for pregnancy and adjusting to parenthood. These past seasons have been enjoyable and even easy most of the time. I know that is the result of God's grace, greasing up the gears so I can do what He has called me to do with ease and joy. I expect to have this same grace to enjoy the next season too. Thank you in advance, God.