Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gardening Failure #1

I am so glad that I am not living on a farming commune right now-- because my family would be starving. Our garden started off just fine. Irene came over and helped me till the soil while I was very very pregnant. There was already a raised bed in the garden. And so we planted peas, salad greens, spinach, strawberry plants, radishes and carrots. Everything was in the ground before Lily was born, and after that point, we didn't really have the time or energy to do any gardening because we were busy doing stuff like, oh, I don't know, birthing babies and the like.

The last couple of weeks we have been checking in on the garden, and, I am sad to report, the results are not good. I'll start with the bad news. The spinach and salad greens are dead. They came up, scraggly, but were flooded by weeks of torrential downpour, and sort of got muddy and smashed down to the ground. The radishes have been growing well, but due to the same rain, have exposed roots, which means that the radishes aren't really going to grow. We finally got around to staking up the peas, and they look like they are going to make it, but they're not "thriving." Good news is that the strawberries (which are perennials) seem to be doing great, especially after we mulched them last week. They have several flowers and you can see where the berries are starting to grow. Tomato plants that we put in two weeks ago also look good, although perhaps not as big and bushy as we hope they will eventually become. We also put in some cucumber seedlings, which look like they'll be just fine.

I admitted defeat with the salad greens and radishes this morning and pulled up what was there. I'm going to try to enrich the soil and try again (this time, planting salad greens only in the sunniest areas of the garden, and something hardier like beans in the back section). All I can say is that while gardening is a wonderfully fun hobby, it really hasn't been that cost efficient thus far, including the cost and effort of all of the startup. And I'm realizing that perhaps it's good that naive city folks like Ben and myself are not single-handedly responsible for caring for a farm.

I'm reminded of the (somewhat secret) story of the Catholic Worker farming communes. They started out of a utopian vision of community, and ended in disease, failure, and even death. I guess there's a reason that we have delegated farming to the people who actually know how to farm. But I'm not giving up entirely yet. I'm just thankful that this afternoon I can head to the grocery store and buy the vegetables that we're actually going to eat.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sling Revisited

Just when I dissed on the sling earlier this week, I have actually found myself using one more. The main reason is that Lily is such a snuggler that she is totally happy while awake as long as she is being held-- which is difficult to do when I'm trying to play with Zosia are get stuff done around the house. So I've found that if I put Lily in the sling facing outwards, she's pretty happy just to chill out. No major back problems yet-- maybe I'm becoming slightly more proficient in wearing one.

Being Goode

I read about this show in the Post, and while I missed the debut, I would love to see an episode. The premise of the show is perfect: a vegan family living in a liberal college town, complete with cloth grocery bags, hybrid cars, adopted child, maneuvers the challenges of living in the modern world. Twists include the fact that their adopted African child turns out to be a white South African, their daughter decides to join an abstinence only group (despite the encouragement of her open-about-sex-mother), and their vegan dog clears the neighborhood of all squirrels. I must say, this is so my neighborhood (which I love)-- you know who you are.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Communal Experiment?

I am-- at least in theory-- a huge fan of communal stuff. I like the idea of sharing things because it's practical and cost-efficient, and just seems nice. Now, I say theoretically, because I have never truly lived in an intentional community, or commune, or anything like that. So while I have lots of experience sharing with those in my family and friends, I have never done it in a more strictly enforced environment.

There are some people that it is very easy to share with, like my sister. We pass clothes back and forth, and I always know that should I truly need something, she would give it back, and I know she would ask for something back if she really needed it. I guess we hammered out the respect through years and years of fighting over things as kids.

So, now, it appears, Ben and I have the opportunity for our first true exercise in communal living. Our neighbor, John, has suggested that he and Ben go in together on a lawn mower. We have a very nice hand-me-down mower that, unfortunately, breaks constantly, and John doesn't have one at all. We only use the mower once a week at most, and it costs a good bit to get one. So the idea is that the two of them would buy one together, we would store it at their place where there's actually room, and we would split cost of maintenance.

I must admit, for all of my gung-ho communal inclinations, I'm learning that sharing stuff takes trust, honesty, and a relinquishing of control. Trust because we have to believe that each party is giving their all, and honestly because not only do we expect that our neighbor will be totally forthcoming about whatever happens with the mower, but the same is expected of us. And obviously when something is not totally in your care, you are giving up the idea that somehow you single-handedly control its destiny.

Let's see how this goes! If it works, maybe Ben and I are off to our communal farm. ;-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moving Towards Justice... Slowly

We've been following the marriage equality battle in our household, and have watched with excitement as expected and unexpected states have made the move towards more just laws. And I'm hopeful that one day soon any two consenting individuals will be able to embark upon the journey of marriage together.

I am a Feather...

Last night I found out that one of my childhood pets, a beloved (and very high maintenance) cat named Junior, is very sick-- and probably nearing the end of his life. The poor guy has had failing health for a few years now, but apparently has taken a turn for the worse in the last two or three days. I remember driving down to the petstore to pick him out when I was 7 or 8. The two criteria my mom gave us was that we had to pick a female (we already had a male cat) and it couldn't have dirty ears. Junior failed both criteria, but he was one of the most extroverted cats out there and very very cute. So apparently, Junior is dying.

I decided to drive over this morning-- sans kids-- to say goodbye, should this actually be the end for him. Lately, between minding the kids and the fact that my parents are working on their house, I don't usually go down to the basement where the cats live to see them. So I left the house as soon as I got up (we all accidentally slept in until 8... which is a near miracle with two small kids in the house!), ventured out into the rain and started my rush-hour trek to my parent's house. I had a quick visit with Junior-- who is still purring and walking around, but definitely a shadow of his former self-- and then helped my mom drive him over to the vet. It was a sad morning. Our two cats, who moved with us from one house to another throughout our childhood, are one of the more stable remnants of my childhood. As long as they were in a house, it sort of felt like home.

As I was driving home, every road seemed to be stopped up-- even on the back roads I was taking. It was crazy slow, and I was rushing home to take over on baby duty so Ben could go to work. I had one of those moments when I realized that I was totally out of control, and my increasing stress levels were not going to make the cars move faster. And I remembered a little mantra that I read in a book the other day. It goes like this:

(inhaling) I am a feather
(exhaling) on the divine breath.


And amid the rain, traffic, feeling of loss, it actually sort of worked. If I stopped it, it took only a minute or two for me to return to my stressed state, but as long as I was present and breathing, it worked.

Now, I just need to bring that centering to more complicated situations-- like when you are in the store with a crying newborn and tantruming two year old (which, incidentally, happened to me only a few hours later). But I'll take the baby steps.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dressing for Two

Generally, in the summer time I'm wearing a dress most of the time-- it's more comfortable, cool, and makes it easy to dress in the morning. These days, though, when I go to the closet, there seem to be an endless list of criteria that must be met for any dress. It has to be long enough that I can comfortably sit down and keep after Zosia. It has to be conducive to nursing, which means that it has to either have buttons or have a flexible neckline. And, hopefully, I like the pattern/cut (I love this type of vintagey dress, but almost all of them have necks that are too high for nursing). Finding a dress that meets all of these criteria has been very very difficult. I have one dress that meets the criteria, and my one trip to Target to find another was unsuccessful. If I can find one or two more, I'll be able to make it through the summer.

I think that dressing for having a newborn is as substantial a paradigm shift as dressing for pregnancy. Most people take a while to develop their own personal style, which is a struggle in and of itself. And then when you throw in all of these other criteria it becomes all together difficult.

Which means that after a good look for some dresses that work, I'll probably just give up. And realize that in a year or so, my body will be slightly more my own than it is now.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Five Years Later

This morning I crawled out of bed (with a baby in my arms and spit up all over my pjs) to one of my favorite sights in the world: my husband playing with our toddler, both smiling. I rounded the corner to the dining room to get a cup of coffee, and was greeted with a dozen roses and a bottle of champagne on our dining room table. Our Anniversary! Not any anniversary, but our 5 year anniversary!

Being married to Ben has been the single most unmerited gift of my life. The other day, Ben noticed that our extremely high maintenance plant, which he just watered the other day, was looking droopy again. So he just headed to the kitchen and filled a glass of water-- and walked back and forth between the kitchen and deck, SIX times in order for that plant to look healthy again. I would have just let it die-- but Ben had it in his heart to take care of it. Which is why I am the luckiest woman in the world, and our daughters the luckiest girls. And he's a cutie.

Every year our Anniversary/ my birthday seem to fall on memorial day weekend. Which means that these days, everyone we know is out of town, and so we can't really "get away" or even "go out" that easily. But to be totally honest, I am so looking forward to this weekend. Tomorrow Ben and I get to sneak out for a breakfast date, and then we'll have some time to appreciate the family that the past five years of marriage has brought us. For our ten year anniversary, it will probably be no problem to go backpacking or traveling for the weekend-- with or without kids. But on our five year anniversary we are knee deep in the joys and surprises of having small children-- and each other.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baby Wearing

I, for one, am a fan of baby wearing. Mainly because it makes life easy. Both of my kids are champion nappers when they're in a baby carrier. And since they're strapped to me, I can go about doing my regular daily stuff without having to worry that they're waking up, or whatever, because I can immediately tell if they start to stir. There's even research out there about how babies that are worn for a certain amount of time every day are less cranky, sleep better at night, and a multitude of other good stuff.

But, I do have some preferences when it comes to baby wearing. I have done the sling, and like the versatility, etc, but just can't do it on a day to day basis, because it kills my shoulder/back. I have watched videos about how to do it, gotten advice, switched slings, before giving up. I just don't think it's going to work for me. But I do love using our Ergo-- a baby carrier that can either be worn on your front (when they're little), on your back, or on your side (when they're older). It's been great, and while if I do two full naps while wearing a baby, my shoulders are a little sore at the end of the day, it's nothing that isn't remedied by a quick backrub in the evening. Since we haven't gotten a double stroller yet for Zosia and Lily, I literally wear Lily everywhere we go. One of our neighbors wasn't sure if I had given birth yet or was still pregnant because she always sees me with this huge bulge on my front! I think the Ergo would work with older kids, but to be honest, Zosia is pretty over it. She's way too independent to allow herself to be strapped to anyone. But who knows, maybe our little snuggle-bun #2 will enjoy it through toddlercy. I have certainly been enjoying the increased mobility that having her in one affords me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Emergence of a New Normal

Every time we have a major change in our family, it takes a while to figure out how to find a new "normal." With Selma (our dog), we were terrified to leave her at home alone for the first year of her life, so we figured out which restaurants we could take her to (with outdoor seating), which parks we could let her off-leash at, and which friends houses she was welcome at. With Zosia, it was that times ten. It felt like we had to re-plan our entire lives around her. But with both of those family additions, we eventually did return to normal, or at least found a new normal that was wonderful.

So, here are some milestones that I am happy to report that we have reached with Lily:
  • We went for our first long full-family walk after dinner last night. It didn't hurt that it was in the sixties and totally gorgeous out.
  • I took all three girls (Zosia, Lily, and Selma) out for a walk by myself this morning, and all three of them were well behaved. ;-)
  • I took Lily to the store this weekend.
  • Zosia, Lily and I have been out and about-- we have gone over to friends houses, the playground, and the coffeehouse together.
  • Zosia, Lily, and I picked Ben up from work the other day and ran some errands together.
  • We all gardened together (and by that, I mean that Ben was gardening, Zosia was pretending to garden, and I was doing the little gardening I could manage with a baby strapped to my body).
These may all seem insignificant, but it just takes a while to figure out all of the basics. Do I leave Lily in her carseat or put her in her sling? If she wakes up, do I let her stay up, or try to put her back to sleep?

Luckily, everything has been smooth and easy so far, and I'm excited about reaching some more milestones-- going to restaurants together, going away from home together, doing a daytrip together. It is feeling like we're getting back to normal-- plus one.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let the Indoctrination Begin!

Yesterday, Zosia said grace for the first time. She said, "Thank you, Jesus." And then, "Amen." It was cute and funny, but has gotten me thinking about how we hope to teach Zosia about God. Up until now, she has seen us saying grace, and gone to church with us, and but I don't think she's really absorbed much of it. But now that she's at the age when she's starting to really understand things, I'm wondering how we go about all of this.

We have the Jesus books. And I do hope that she starts to understand the stories about Jesus and grow to love Jesus. But what about God? How do we do it? How do we start to share with her our own understanding of an all-loving God that is neither male nor female but somehow encompasses all things? (and yes, I realize that Jesus is God, but you know what I mean). And how do we do it in a way that can be within the context of "Church" but is not limited by the limitations that our Church seems to have? How do I explain to her that only men are priests, when that is something that I so passionately disagree with? What will that teach her about God?

Ben and I had a crisis of faith when we learned we were expecting a girl. We just couldn't imagine brining a woman up in a church that is so patriarchal and misogynistic. And now that we have been entrusted with not one but two girls, the problem feels even more serious. Ben is now Catholic. I am still Catholic. We love this Church, but how can we be honest with God and ourselves while belonging to it?

Maybe tonight I'll encourage Zosia to say grace again and have her say, "Thank you, Mother God." That would be a start. And we'll deal with the rest as we go.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Spring Blessing

I found this in The Circle of Life by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr-- a book that I've been using a lot lately both by myself and in my women's spirituality group. The book has spiritual readings, rituals, and prayers for each of the seasons and is a beautiful exploration of integrating awareness of the earth into one's spiritual practice. If I have a quiet moment during the day, I love to look at the reflections for spring, and I loved this poem.

A Spring Blessing

Blessed are you, spring,
bright season of life awakening.
You gladden our hearts
with opening buds and returning leaves
as you put on your robes of splendor.

Blessed are you, spring.
In you is a life no death can destroy.
As you exchange places with winter
you harbor no unforgiving spirit
for broken tree limbs and frozen buds.

Blessed are you, spring.
You open the closed buds of our despair
as you journey with us
to the flowering places.

Blessed are you, spring.
You invite us to sing songs
to the frozen regions within
and to bless the lessons of winter
as we become your partner in a new dance.

Blessed are you, spring.
Like Jesus, standing before the tomb of Lazarus,
you call to us: "Remove winter's stone, come out,
there is life here you have not yet tasted."

Blessed are you, spring,
free gift of the earth.
Without cost we gaze upon your glory.
You are a gospel of good news
for the poor and rich alike.

Blessed are you, spring.
Your renewing rain showers and cathartic storms
nurture the potential that sleeps in Earth's heart
and in our own earthen hearts.

Blessed are you, spring,
season of resurrection, sacrament of promise.
Like Jesus you rise up out of the darkness,
leaving around you a wake of new life.

Blessed are you, spring,
miracle child of the four seasons.
With your wand of many colors
you work magic in the corners of our darkness.

Blessed are you, spring,
season of hope and renewal.
Wordless poem about all within us
that can never die.
Each year you amaze us
with the mirace of returning life.

New Background...

for a new season. I feel like this is a little more light and spring-like. Although at this rate, it will be summer in no time!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Challenge of Togetherness

Having two babies has been a great experience, and the transition has been amazingly smooth. Zosia loves her sister and is eager to help out (and upset when the baby is in another room sleeping), Lily fits right into the family, and we've been getting lots of help to make sure that we're doing okay. But, I must admit, there has been one challenge to having two babies (specifically, one toddler and one newborn) that I totally did not see coming. It has, all of a sudden, become really difficult for me and Ben to spend time together without a little baby clinging to one of our necks. Between one active toddler, one newborn baby, and a slew of guests and visitors, I feel like I haven't seen Ben in the last three weeks, even though we spend many entire days together under the same roof. But the truth is that one of us is changing a diaper, feeding someone, trying to keep our house from being a total disaster zone, or sleeping at any given point in time. Some couples do extremely well when independently engaged in different activities, but Ben and I are not such a couple. We need time together-- laid back time together-- to feel centered.

When we just had one baby, we felt like we were able to get time together. She slept so much, and really one newborn baby is not that incredibly intense. But now, the only down time we get is when Zosia is napping or asleep, which was fine when it was just her, but now even those times are often filled with caring for Lily-- those are beautiful times, but still times that we are extending ourselves to care for children.

I know (and Ben reminds me) that this is a stage. Soon, Lily will be on a more predictable schedule, sleeping when her sister sleeps, and we will have our evenings together. I won't feel like I need to sleep in with Lily in the morning because I won't be up at night as much, so I'll get to spend time together with Ben in the morning. But for now, it is frustrating not to be able to have real time together-- and honestly, I can understand why that period right after having a baby is often one of the most stressful in a marriage. But I can also understand why getting through this together can be an amazingly unifying experience (and why we'll be so much more thankful for our time together when we once again have it bountifully).

This weekend, we're hoping to drop Z off with the grandparents for a little while so that Ben and I can actually hang out. I'm realizing that where having date nights (or date mornings) when Z was a newborn was cute and nice, with two it's more of a necessity. And I'm hoping that as we become more mature and capable as parents, all of this will come more naturally.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When Simplicity gets Complicated

Obviously, I'm into the whole "living the simple life" thing. I enjoy a slow pace, the simpler things in life, enjoying nature and down time with family and friends. I love a quiet house, going for walks, etc. But these last couple of weeks, with two babies in the house, there are more moments when things get a little crazy. No matter how intentional I am about keeping things low key, there are those times when both Zosia and Lily need my immediate attention, and I just can't keep everyone happy. And during those times, no matter how hard I try, things are not simple-- they're complicated. These times cause me to realize that simple living, while beautiful and relaxing, is such a luxury.

So many of the things that I love-- things like making our food from scratch, spending time together as a family, giving time and creative energy go my kids-- are things that are such a huge blessing. I have time for many of these things because I am married to an amazing man who goes to work each day to support our family, and his income supports all of us. There are people who probably also love "the simple life" whose circumstances just don't allow for such flexibility, because everyone in the household is working, or someone is tending to a sick family member, or a million other circumstances that make things complicated.

In this period in my own life, I think a saving grace is that I am not a perfectionist. We have not been doing cloth diapers with Lily, have not always been making a home-cooked meal, and have not been forcing "simplicity" when it just feels fake or complicated. We drive more often than we did when Zosia was a baby, my garden is looking pretty weedy, and I haven't made my own granola in weeks. I dream about a time that I'll have the time and energy and ability to do all those things that I love doing, but for now I'm happy with two healthy and beautiful children under my care and one supportive and loving husband at my side. And I am so beyond judging anyone for their life choices-- be it going through the drive-through at McDonalds, having a dvd player in their car, putting their kids in daycare. Because we're all trying.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Seasonal Recipe

We try to do a lot of seasonal cooking-- partly because it means we can use fresher ingredients in our meals, but also because it gives a sort of rhythm to the year. We know when we're eating roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and apples, it's fall. Or when we're eating black bean soup, it's winter.

This recipe is from the Simply in Season Cookbook, which is currently hands down my favorite cookbook. I love it because it uses Dandelion greens, which (who knew?) are edible. I know that our yard has plenty dandelions for many a springtime salad, but you can also purchase these at a farmer's market or grocery store. It sounds like a crazy food combination, but it's delicious.

Dandelion Bacon Salad

1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar
1/4 cup honey or sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Blend in a small bowl.

1/2 cup evaporated milk
Stir in.

4 slices bacon
Fry in a Dutch oven or very large frypan and drain on paper towel. Remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pan. Crumble bacon and set aside.

1 tablespoon flour
Add to reserved bacon fat in frypan, heat, and stir until smooth. Slowly stir in the lemon mixture. Heat and stir until thickened. Turn off heat but leave pan on the burner.

8 cups dandelion greens (chopped)
Add to warm dressing and stir gently to coat. Garnish with bacon and chopped hard-cooked egg.

Variation: Substitute escarole, endive, or Boston lettuce. Other optional garnishes include red onion rings, mushrooms, or dried cherries.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Here are a few pics from our Mother's Day Outing to Reston this morning. I hope all the moms out there had a restful reprise from their busy and meaningful jobs!
Me, Ben and Lily:
Ben, Irene, my Aunt Basia, and Lily:
Irene and Robbie:
My Mom, Dad, and Zosia:
Zosia and my Mom:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Discretion and the Boob

I am a horrible public breastfeeder. If you have been around me while I am nursing, you have no doubt been flashed, either significantly or subtly. I am sorry about this. It is something I am working on. Those of you who have not nursed babies before may assume that it is no big deal. You have seen women out and about nursing holding a baby, covering themselves discreetly, and carrying on a conversation or sipping a coffee. It looks easy. Well, I will have you know that these women are miracle workers.

Zosia was not a great breastfeeder-- she had a hard time latching on and staying on, which meant that I had to "work at it" to keep her nursing properly (aka: repeatedly remove and re-insert the breast). And she was constantly kicking, writhing about even while nursing. If I tried to cover her up, I would have to look under the blanket repeatedly, and if that didn't make covering up difficult, Zosia kicked off the blanket half of the time anyway. So with her, I more or less avoided breastfeeding in palces that would be really awkward or just resigned myself to the fact that the world was going to see my breasts.

Now, as a mother of a toddler and newborn, I have realized that I am going to be breastfeeding in public a lot more. I'm around people, out and about with Zosia, and don't have the luxury of sneaking away to a private place. So, I am giving this whole "discreet nursing" thing another try. And I think I've been making some headway. Of course, I have a different baby I'm working with, which, this time, makes it easier. But there are a few tricks I've picked up:

1) If you're covering up with a blanket, tuck the blanket in on the shoulder opposite the breast that you are nursing from (as opposed to the same shoulder which is what I always used to do). I came upon this by chance, but it makes looking at your baby much easier and makes it harder for the blanket to fall down.

2) I have seen, but not tried, "nursing covers," which are sort of like aprons made for nursing. I'm totally going to try to make one/ buy one on the cheap, so I'll let you know how it goes (the picture above is one such cover).

3) Prop the baby up using the arm on the same side as the breast you are nursing from. At least when the baby is little enough, you can more or less support their entire weight with your arm, and it's more comfortable and easier on your back than slouching down to the baby.

I would absolutely love to hear any more tips out there on nursing in public... I have quite a ways to go. And I'll keep you posted on progress!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our Move-iversary

Ben and I just realized that as of this week, we have been living in Virginia for a full year. It honestly does not quite feel like that long. Between Zosia growing like a weed, living at my parents' house for several months, essentially starting a new job, buying a house, making it inhabitable, moving, getting pregnant, and having a baby, it has been a crazy whirlwind of a year. Ben and I still miss so many things about Boston-- our amazing community, the walkability, the dry and mild summers, to name a few. We loved New England. But being here in Virginia has had so many unexpected blessings. It has been incredible to be around family and to have Zosia (and now Lily) have the blessing of being around many grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We love our neighborhood, and have settled into a groove of work, leisure, church.

I think that one thing about being the child of immigrants is that you often don't have a feeling of belonging in a single place. Having moved around Northern Virginia for my whole childhood, I don't feel like there's a single "home" that I can go back to, and my family's history in this area is so recent that I don't feel like I'm a local. But this morning, I was out running errands with Zosia (Lily was home with pops), and I was over in the part of Falls Church that my family lived in when I was born. I have only vague memories (or memories through photos), but I have heard many stories about those early years. This morning, I drove by the doctor's office my mom said she walked to when she was really really pregnant with Irene, by the McDonalds that we used to have birthday parties at, and imagined the many family members (my grandmother, grandfather, great-aunt) that were characters in those days. And I felt quite strongly that I belong in this place-- that I am from this place. And it feels good to be home.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... countless azaleas. I had forgotten how beautiful the spring is in Virginia.

I am thinking... about getting the house tidy and clean.

I am thankful for... a husband that surprises me every day with his generosity.

From the learning rooms... Zosia has completed her first "learning project"-- making matching animal cards from cutouts from National Geographic.

From the kitchen... the sound of the dishwasher and some homemade banana/chocolate chip bread in the fridge.

I am wearing... a stone necklace that was a present from my parents.

I am creating... a home for my family.

I am going... for a walk with the whole family this afternoon.

I am reading... mainly magazines and the newspaper... need to find a good book.

I am hoping... that the next days with just me and the babies will go as smoothly as the first.

I am hearing... naptime silence (although Zosia sounds like she's still whining a bit).

Around the house... I had an hour to clean up this morning and feel much better. It's amazing how a totally cluttered house sometimes makes me feel cluttered.

One of my favorite things... is having my Aunt Basia come over to play with Zosia.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Doing another "learning project" with Zosia, having some more friends come by to see Lily, a very relaxed weekend with the family.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Me" time

I have always totally rolled my eyes at the concept of "me time." It has often felt like this modern cliche that was birthed by our obsession with individualism and self-absorption. But, I will confess, I've been really enjoying time without dependents these days, however fleeting it might be.

Here's my theory: when Zosia went from being a newborn to a baby to a toddler, her demands on our time and attention decreased. So even on days that I did not explicitly carve out time for myself, I was able to catch moments of it throughout my day. I could read the paper while Zosia played independently, she would "cook" in the kitchen while I actually cooked in the kitchen, etc. But when a newborn is thrown in to the equation (especially a newborn in addition to a toddler), the equilibrium is temporarily disturbed. Suddenly, I am a food source and a caretaker of a little baby in addition to being a teacher/playmate/caretaker of a toddler, a spouse, a pet owner, a member of a household.

Yesterday evening we realized that Selma (our dog) was going totally stir crazy, and that she needed an actual long walk. Ben and zosia have been a bit under the weather, Lily was sleeping, and so I eagerly volunteered. We went on a nice long walk through Falls Church, and between the fact that this was one of the few times I've ventured out since Lily was born and the fact that this was my first long walk in months that I have not been pregnant, it was amazing. It was foggy and a bit drizzly, which can actually be wonderful weather for a walk, and there weren't many people out. During the last few weeks spring has taken over, and so the landscape had transformed in the two weeks that I had seen it. I came back feeling rejuvenated and energized (don't you love exercise?).

So, I still feel totally chiche doing it, but I think I am going to be intentional about finding some (however small) amount of time to spend by myself each day. And as the season of parenthood changes to something that's a little less demanding, I can start to find myself again within the context of my family.