The one where I apologize.

January has been a tough month for everyone who had to put up with me.  I wanted the month to be about spiritual growth and awareness.  Instead I have complained about everything to everyone who would listen.  I have so much stress, I whine.  Work is so hard.  Jack Junior is getting so whiny.  I don’t know how we are going to manage this move.  I don’t have time for anything.  Election year politics drive me nuts.

My biggest complaint has been that I’m nine months pregnant.  Get him out already, I’d say to anyone who asked.  I even went as far as to post this status to my facebook page.  “No, I haven’t had the baby yet.  Keep your comments to yourself.”  How rude.  And how dishonest I’ve been.

Here’s the truth – I love being pregnant.  I love feeling my little boy’s gymnastics and hiccups.  I love being aware of the growth within me as he slowly runs out of space and summersaults turn into wiggles and rolls.  This pregnancy has been textbook easy after our loss in August.  I may never get to experience this again, so I vow to stop complaining.  Here’s a little more truth.  If I wanted, I could have scheduled a c-section much earlier (this week in fact), but I chose to give this little man as much time as he wanted to take before intervening.

So baby, I apologize to you.  You take your time.  I am your Mommy, I love you, and I want what’s best for you.  To everyone else – I’m sorry that I complained to you about what is truthfully a huge blessing.  My family will get to welcome a little boy we already love so much.  Not everyone is this lucky.  We almost weren’t.

This makes me think about all those other complaints – maybe none of them are true either.  My job can be frustrating, but I have a job.  I am challenged to use my talents and to develop new skills.  I love that.

My son is almost two.  He is learning new things every day and one of the things he learned this month is that Mommy is stressed and uses complaining and whining to cope.  Hmm.  The truth is that I adore that boy.  The truth is that I laugh out loud at his antics at least once a day.  My husband and I nudge each other to point out something funny he says or does frequently.  He is smart, and funny, and active.  As soon as I’m able, we’ll go to the park, put baby brother down on a blanket, and chase each other all over the place.  I can’t wait.

The move?  That is what it is.  We are lucky – many things will be arranged for us, and we have already made so many new friends who are eager to share their help and experience.

Election year politics though? That does drive me nuts.  Please let it be over soon, or let people return to civilized interaction.

This is Vital

My blog quietly turned one year old this month. Happy birthday poor neglected little blog.

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be about finding balance. – I work in a challenging environment and like my career. I’m also a mom and love to spend meaningful time with my little guy. I love being creative – cooking, baking, sewing, generally making things for my family and our home. I dream of writing, taking great pictures, traveling. I know I can’t do it all but I want to be sure that the way I chose to spend my time but those things that are most vital first.

If I have learned anything this year, it is that I don’t have it figured out. I am welcoming another little boy to our home, and my time will become even more precious, my choices more important, the stakes higher.

So I’m doing what I know best – start where you are. Ask for help. Trust your instincts.

Where I am:
My husband and my son are the most vital ingredients to this life I’m trying to live.
A new baby needs love, a mom who is present, and not much else.
My work is important to me, but I am surrounded by capable, wonderful colleagues who will happily help despite their own workload.
Doing something creative as frequently as I can, renews my spirit and is the most refreshing me-time.

Ask for help:
When I felt anxious about my impending responsibilities the past few weeks, the world has certainly reached out to bless me – from blog posts that seemed written just for me, to calls from friends who have been there. Here’s some of the blogs and women who helped- even though they don’t even know me:

This Big Sister’s Advice

Parenting – I’m Totally Winging It

Letter to a New Mom

New Baby Anxiety

It’s Not Rocket Science

Raising Up

Now, all that’s left to do, is to trust my instincts that what I do will be the right thing, and to keep doing it.

Thanks for reading this year. I look forward to sharing my journey with you as I learn more about what is vital.

Magic

There was laundry to be done, and a checkbook to be balanced.  There was also a little boy sitting at the dining room table, patiently lining a muffin pan with silicone cupcake liners.

So I decided to introduce him to baking.  He is at the stage now where his vocabulary and curiosity explodes exponentially every day.

“What that,” he says.  “Mixer” I answer.  “Miher?” (pointing.)  “Yes, mixer.  Look, we put some butter and sugar in here.  Would you like to turn it on?”  I lift him high enough to touch the knobs.  “Miher,” he squeals as it comes to life.  He insists on watching me crack eggs into a custard cup one by one, and then I guide his chubby little hands to drop the egg into the batter.

I sift flour and cocoa powder.  “What that?”  Flour and chocolate for making our cakes.  “Fower?”  he points at the daisies in a vase on the table.  “Close enough, “ I laugh.  Let’s add this to the mixer.  “Miher,” he squeals.  The process of mixing becomes long and boring to a 19 month old, and I’m about to lose his interest.  The batter is dark – almost black.  “Would you like to taste?” I conspire in a whisper – trying to pull him back in.

I show him how to drag a finger across the spatula.  He is unsure as he touches his finger to his mouth.  Soon, his whole face is covered in dark batter, and he tries to lick his hand, but can’t figure out how to get his tongue far enough out of his mouth.

I let him hand me the empty cupcake liners, fill them with batter, and place them in the pan.  “Cake?” he says every time I fill another cup, trying to be sneaky about the finger dipping repeatedly into the blue cupcake liner in the front corner.  “Cake,” I answer, grinning with the pleasure of introducing him to something new.

Soon, I put the pans in the oven.  “Hot” I warn.  “Hot,” he mimics.  He sits in front of the oven, watching the cupcakes rise the entire 14 minutes – a long, long time for such a little boy.

It is magic.

This is Vital – 2012

It’s my favorite day of the year – the one where I typically start a shiny new planner, shiny new resolutions, and feel hopeful about the progress I will be making this year.

It’s a bit complicated to plan too much for this year.  We have two life-changing events to prepare for: the arrival of our second child, and an international move.  While there is much to plan for both, much cannot be planned.  I have no delusions that I’ll be in control of my schedule with a newborn around.  There is also much that is still uncertain about the move; we will simply have to roll with the punches.

However, I do have a few areas of my life I want to focus on improving this year.  I’ll define them by my most important roles:

Wife:  I have some personal goals in this area – being more mindful and present for example.  I need to read a few books before I make a specific list.

Mother:  This will be a huge motherhood year for me.  If all goes well, I’m giving birth to our second boy in February.  My firstborn will turn two in March.  I have to guide them both through an international move, not to mention the many milestones they will experience this year.  I want to plan more specific activities with my older son, and plan for some one-on-one time with him after the baby arrives.  I want to breastfeed the baby for a year – something that seems simple and intuitive but requires much planning with our working lifestyle.

Family and Friends:  with the move coming up I want to be better about keeping in touch with people, updating through social media where appropriate, and sending birthday cards.

Photographer and writer:  I have spectacular camera equipment, but sadly my equipment outguns my skill.  I will spend more time with my photography this year – I have a 366 project in mind, and have a stack of books I should actually read instead of just dust once a week.  I am pretty happy that I have maintained the blog for almost a year, but want to be more consistent about posting schedules.

I also have goals related to my spiritual life, profession, and various other things.  Of course I have the usual resolutions: eat healthier, exercise more, be more mindful of our budget.  You will see these general areas again, as I will be combining my version of The Happiness Project with my resolutions.

I’m off to write a few birthdays in my new self-designed and printed planner – I’ll be back to talk about January’s Happiness project tomorrow.

PS: You may see a few backdated posts show up over the next week.  I have a bunch of posts sitting in my draft folder waiting for the correct pictures.  Due to technical difficulties involving a much too small hard drive and a much too slow computer, I have been unable to get pictures off my camera for a while.  Rather than waste the effort I’m going to do a bit of retroactive posting.

Wardrobe Declutter for Moms

I have gone from overweight, to pregnant, to nursing and losing weight, to pregnant again in the past four or five years. As a result, there are many sizes of clothing in my closet.

Now, I know the conventional wisdom – have only what fits now in your closet.    But by that rule, I have only maternity clothes, and would have to buy a whole new wardrobe every few months after the baby is born.  I think women in their actively childbearing years should get a little grace.

  • Your real size (without being pregnant or nursing)
  • A size up (that can be worn first trimester and  post partum)
  • Clothes that work for nursing (larger tops for example)
  • Plus of course, the dreaded maternity clothes (stored or on loan to your friends when not in use)

So, on to my closet clean-up. The conventional steps are: purge, purge, try on the remainder, and purge some more.  Then arrange everything in some predetermined order on matching hangers.

Step 1: Purge

I will be donating a few things to goodwill.  Mostly things I know in my heart of hearts I never liked, and will never wear again.  (I’m looking at you low-cut shirts.)  I also gave up the thought that I will ever wear a size “small” shirt of any variety.  So that was easy – if I cringed, or saw an “S” it went bye bye.

Step 2: Purge

I also went through my shoes and got rid of the very high heels (really, who are we kidding? Carrying a toddler or pushing a stroller in 4 inch heels?  Not me.)  Okay, I kept one pair of killer black heels.  If the rare occasion ever strikes that we get a babysitter and go someplace without readily accessible high chairs…

Step 3: Try on and Purge again

Okay, at this point I decided to stop the purging.  Obviously trying things on right now is not really practical and once your pregnant self looks at your nice clothes and sniffles “I’ll never fit into anything-ever-again” it is probably time to step away from the give-away box.  I punted this last purge until the end of next summer, when I’ll have a better idea of what sizes are reasonable to keep.

Step 4: Organize what’s left.

I had enough empty hangers that I could get rid of all the wire hangers that came from dry cleaners.   I hung all my maternity clothes on one side of the closet.  For the next five months, I won’t even open the other side.  On the other side I hung all my summer clothes (the first “normal” clothes I’ll likely need, sorted by type (pants, skirts, shirts) and size.  I hung the hangers backwards.  The idea is that by the end of next summer, when I’ll have to repeat this exercise again, I’ll know what I’ve worn.

More on what I kept in my maternity wardrobe soon.