Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh Yeah, That...

The last couple of posts have been about the transitions I am experiencing lately.  Well, I forgot to mention a rather big one.  And I am pretty sure that this is coloring how I am dealing with everything else.

For the past six months, I have been transitioning to a new stage in my life.  For the six years (and change) prior, I had been either pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant.  Let me state that again so it will really sink in:
For six years of my life, I had been pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant. 
For two years before we started a family, I was in graduate school for elementary education, interning in a school or working as a graduate assistant during the day and taking classes at night.  I had J two months after I graduated with my Master's degree.  Before that, I was commuting to work in Manhattan at a software development company. 

No wonder I've been going through so much emotional upheaval.  For the first time since probably graduating high school or maybe college, I have the opportunity to step back and see who I am and how I want to make a contribution to society (as an individual instead of as a mother).  I wasn't entirely sure who I was or what I wanted to do then, and although I am more sure of who I am, I am still not quite sure what I want to do.

It's exciting to have a relatively blank slate before me.  I have so many ideas for things I want to do, to try, but I am not sure where or how to start (hence this blog).  But I also look back and see how I got here, and what I would do differently, given the chance.

In unrelated news, I'm going out to dinner and then to see Twilight: Eclipse tomorrow night with some friends.  I think I'm a little too excited.  It's a trifecta:  dinner, out with the girls, and sparkly vampires on the big screen.  Squee!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Random Redux

My one fan (yay! I have a follower!) posted a comment that in my last post, I merely touched on all of the transitions I'm experiencing.

So, how do I feel about that?  How am I dealing with them?

Well, truth be told, I've always had a hard time shifting gears, both personally and professionally.  Could it be because I'm such a perfectionist that once I've mastered a job, instead of transferring to a new position or department, I need a complete change of venue?  Or is it because, as an overachiever, I have a hard time going from the expert at something to the neophyte while working with the same people?

The number of transitions happening simultaneously is taking a toll, and mostly because I have little control over them.  J is feeling his oats a little now that he's finished kindergarten.  T is testing limits and has taken to hitting S.  S will be mobile this summer.  I need to be better about eliminating problem foods from my diet.  Hubster is being called by recruiters.  The only transition that is completely within my control is my diet.  I can't control J's behavior, force T not to hit S, nor can I confine S's movement.  Hub's job situation is in his hands.

Oh, and for the first time in six years, I am not pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant.

Perhaps this is why I've been wistful for my past, and a little too interested in the Twilight saga...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Random Thoughts

Today was J's last day of school.  He is no longer a kindergartener!  I got a little sentimental earlier today.  He is almost six years old, and now the time where I am his primary influence is waning.  Next year, he will be at school all day, five days a week.  It's up to him to make good choices.  I pray that I did enough for him thus far.

As much as I love spending summer days at the lake, I'm a little overwhelmed by having all three boys mobile.  Plus, I am hoping that S gets over his aversion to walking barefoot in the sand.  Fortunately, K will be helping me with the boys, which will be a tremendous help.  She is a great kid; a good person, so patient with the boys, loves to play with them, and I trust her with their safety.  So while I am a little overwhelmed, I am a lot relieved that I have K.

I realized yesterday that I am a lot like the kids.  I don't do so well with transitions.  I had a nice school-year routine worked out, and I was not looking forward to those days of working out the new routine.  Fortunately swimming lessons start next Monday, so we should be settling into a nice groove rather quickly.

The Hubster sent an email to a headhunter today.  He didn't give too many specifics, as I doubt he was given much more than a company name and location, but it would be closer to home.  I don't envy that he has to get up every day to go to an office and deal with the nonsense that he does, but however things work out, I want him to be happy. 

This gluten-free living thing is okay.  Some things I am learning to do without, like bread.  I miss bagels, but not as much as cookies.  And brownies.  And muffins.  I've bought a few different gluten-free mixes that have not been successful at all.  The brownie mix was disgusting.  Granted, I made them with applesauce instead of oil and flax seed instead of eggs, but the texture was awful.  They were spongy, sort of like marshmallows, but without the melt-in-your-mouth satisfaction.  The muffins are okay, as long as you only eat the tops.  I can't put my finger on why, but I've noticed that most gluten-free baked goods have a chemical taste that I just find incredibly unappealing.  Which leads me to munch on dark chocolate-covered cherries and almonds.  Very tasty, but caffeinated.  I haven't been sleeping very well as a result.  I found a recipe for flourless cookies in the newspaper that I might try next...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fly on the Wall

Earlier today I experienced an awesome mommy highlight. 

J recently discovered the Captain Underpants books, and can't get enough of them.  So today while we were at the library, I suggested that he ask the librarian where to find the books, and if she could suggest others that he might enjoy. 

I was in the children's room with T and S when J headed to the circulation desk.  After a few minutes, I poked my head out to see how he was doing, and there he was with the librarian, crouched in front of the shelf where the Captain Underpants books are kept.  It was such a great feeling, being a fly on the wall, watching my soon-to-be first grader. 

I was so proud of him for so many reasons:  that he is an emerging reader, that he wants to read, that he has found a series of chapter books that captivate him, that he is learning how to use the library and its staff to find books to enjoy, that he helped me "preview" picture books for him and T to share, that he willingly helped T play games on the library computer, that he lovingly picked out DVDs that S might enjoy.

I spend so much of my time agonizing over every parenting decision, worrying that I do the right thing as a mother.  It was so gratifying to see my child in such a positive light.  I love J immensely, and I am incredibly proud of him, and today I felt proud to be his mother.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Wish I Fell More

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about wanting a second chance at certain times in my life.  The primary reason why I've been feeling that way is my twenty-year high school reunion, which was almost two years ago.  I didn't go because I was thirty-six weeks pregnant with S, but I did reconnect through a reunion website and later through Facebook with people I hadn't seen nor spoken to in twenty five years.  (My family moved to another state after my freshman year of high school)  It got me thinking...

What if my family never moved in 1985?  What if I stayed in that town, and I graduated from my first high school?  And then, deeper questions.  What if I learned to take more chances, and not be so afraid of what bad things might happen?  What if I went out with any and every boy who asked me, regardless of what he looked like, who he was friends with, how he was perceived?  What if I tried out for every activity that interested me, regardless of what others might think, who else was or wasn't involved? 

What if I refused to let fear drive my decisions?

What if I took buttloads of chances, and fell, and learned how to deal with it?

I learned how to ski (ironically) during my freshman year of high school.  I loved the sense of freedom, of speeding downhill with the wind whipping my hair.  I remember telling my parents how much fun it was, and that they should try it, too! 

My father's response was, "I'm too old for an injury in this stage of my career."

That's kind of how I feel now.  I don't make certain changes that I know I should because I'm too afraid of... what?  Getting hurt?  Not physically, but yes, getting hurt.  Of being alone.  Of being lonely.  Of not being able to make it on my own. 

But I need to force myself not to be driven by fear.  To trust that the really important relationships are strong enough for me to be who I really am, to say how I really feel, to ask for what I really need.

Right now I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff staring down into the ocean, too afraid to dive, when what I need to do is brace myself and dive.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Misplaced Priorities

I just breezed through this article on msnbc.com

This comment in particular stood out for me:
In a recent article “The Food Movement, Rising,” in the New York Review of Books, writer Michael Pollan makes a strong case that the American family meal is threatened, partly because women are busy with full-time jobs outside the home, but also because “foodwork” is underappreciated in today’s world. In the book, “The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics and Civil Society," author Janet A. Flammang, also argues that we need to change our current views of kitchen duties.

What bothers me the most about this passage, which is the focus of the article, is that the responsibility for food preparation primarily falls on women.  Sure, men grill, but who goes to the grocery store, marinates the meat, prepares the sides, and then cleans up afterward?  I'll give you a hint:  it's usually the same person who agonizes over whether or not to vaccinate their children on schedule, which preschool is the "best" fit for each one, and how to most effectively discipline each child. 
It always burns me to read articles like this that point out how different positive aspects of family life erode after the mother returns to full time work.  Don't get me wrong.  I understand that in our current state of affairs, mothers must go back to work for financial reasons.  I also understand that many mothers choose to work for personal reasons (and her mental health is a perfectly valid reason).  And yes, until recently, women were responsible for childrearing and food preparation.  But you don't throw women under the bus while giving the men a free pass.
I'm talking about quotes like this:
...fathers don't view planning and preparing the family meal as valuable as other duties...
There are plenty of articles explaining why obesity increases, or children's behavior suffers, or what have you because both parents work.  I'd like to read the articles that propose some real solutions.  And I'd also like to know how these researchers plan to change men's attitudes so that we mothers don't shoulder all of the blame anymore.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Learning to Fly

The other day, I let J do something for the first time. 

I let him play outside with some of the neighbor kids by himself. 

Now before you pick up the phone to call CPS on me, they were not unsupervised.  My neighbor was outside gardening while the kids played.  I just wasn't out there watching him every second (but I did peek from time to time).

For what might be the first time for him, J wasn't among the "big kids" - he and our neighbor L are both finishing kindergarten.  L's brother C is in second grade, and our neighbor G is in fourth grade.  J was not only the youngest boy, but the very youngest person in the group.  I hope that spending time with older boys (who are really nice, good kids) will have a positive effect on J.  He's a super kid, but lacks confidence when faced with something new, or that he's not very good at (swimming, playing certain sports, riding a bike).  Hopefully watching C and G will encourage J to try new things, and to practice the skills he's developing.

J had a blast.  Afterwards I made a point to tell him that I let him play outside without me there because (a) he's getting older, (b) he knows how to be a good listener, and (c) he can make good choices.  Fortunately he did all these things on both occasions. 

Now, while J was having fun playing outside, I was more encouraged by the conversation we had afterward.  J asked if he could ride on C's battery-powered four-wheeler.  I told him I thought he was a little young to do that.  He then asked if he could ride on his scooter.  I said that he would need to wear his helmet, then reminded him that he doesn't like to ride his bike.  J was quiet.  I'm hoping that this got him thinking - like, maybe this summer, learning to riding a bike will become important.

This is going to be an interesting summer.  I'm excited

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Celebrate K

Tomorrow is Celebrate K at J's school.  Technically, it's the kindergarten graduation, but since some children repeat the year (usually because of late birthdays), it's called "Celebrate K."

I can tell that J is a feeling somewhat nervous? anxious? sad? that the school year is almost over.  Earlier today I asked him which of his classmates he would like to be in his class next year and he replied "all of them."  He's had an incredibly positive experience and I don't blame him for not wanting it to end.

J's first year of school has flown.  It feels like just a few weeks ago we waited for the bus on the first day of school.  And while I was worried that he might be nervous about riding the bus, he strode up to the door and climbed on without looking back.  He has grown and changed so much this year, and not just physically.  J has gained confidence.  He is a natural leader, and is friends with so many kids.  I am so proud of him.

I can remember his birth like it was yesterday.  The days of contractions, sleeping at the dining room table, and then finally being admitted to the hospital to be induced.  Enduring the increasing doses of pitocin, and finally sleeping once the epidural was administered.  The doctor telling me that he'd be back in about an hour after he performs a C-section.  Pushing.  The doctor resting J on the table immediately after he was born.  Finding out he was a he.  The devil horns he made with his seconds-old hands.  The nurses telling us, then showing us, that he has dimples.  And that's just within J's first minutes.

It's amazing that J has only been in our lives for nearly six years.  I feel like he's been a part of me forever.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I made a promise to myself to try to write something here every day.  As you can see, I haven't been doing too well. 

When I have an axe to grind, or something specific has been bothering me, writing an entry has been easy.  I can shoot off three paragraphs without much effort at all.  It's those days when I don't have much to say that are more difficult.  I suppose that's par for the course for most writers.  And that's where I need to improve.

On the upside, I have motivation:  if I want to make some money writing, I need to actually write.  That alone is rather motivating.

So...  how to approach the blank page? 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Found the Other Shoe

...and it's got my in-laws' name on it.  Shoulda known!

Please allow me to clarify:  I love my in-laws.  I really do.  There are moments when they drive me crazy (and I'm sure it goes both ways), but all in all, I could have done much worse.  It's just that where the Hubs is concerned, he tends to turn into a DuH where they're involved.

For instance, DuH told me before dinner that he invited his sister to come visit us on Friday and spend the night in S's room.  Um, what?  You invited your thirty-five year old single, childless sister who lives in Manhattan to sleep in the bed in our seventeen-month-old son's room?  Who wakes up at 7am on a weekend?  Are you insane?  (apparently so)  And you thought I wouldn't have a problem with that?  Sorry, DuH, but she can sleep on the couch.

And then there's Father's Day.  My MIL invited us to their house next weekend.  Look, if SIL comes to visit on Friday and spends all day Saturday with us, there is no way I want to visit his parents on Sunday.  Sorry.  Too much in-law-y goodness for me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I am actually hesitant to type this, lest I jinx myself.

Things have been relatively calm lately.  In fact, I have been in a rather good mood, and things have been going quite smoothly between the Hubster and me.  Today wasn't my finest day with the kids, but it was a short day, so I am cutting myself some slack, but overall, things are good.

Don't worry, the other shoe has to drop eventually.

School ends in two weeks, and then I will have all three boys home all the time.  And despite plans for the boys for MWF, there will be days I'll want to build a cube out of cyclone fence and let all three of them have at it.

But for now, I'm enjoying the peace.  Om shanti.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I love listening to Rosie O'Donnell's XM Radio show.  I've always liked her as a personality, and I find her incredibly likeable as a radio host.

Rosie has mentioned on many occasions that the Columbine tragedy was the first incident where she had an extreme emotional reaction.  As I recall, she felt quite depressed about it.  I always thought that that was a rather dramatic response.  And I should know, I'm quite a drama queen myself.

Recently I have been rethinking my reaction. 

This BP rig explosion and the company's response (or, more accurately, their lack thereof) has really gotten me down.  And pretty pissed, too.  It's bad enough that men were killed, but for the company to drag their feet and find fixes that would allow them to continue collecting the oil (can't do anything that would compromise profits now, can we?) is disgusting.

BP should be forced to pay for every last cent of anything related to the cleanup - compensating the families of the workers killed or injured in the explosion, the fishermen whose livelihoods have been possibly forever affected, cleaning all of those poor animals, you name it.

And the CEO should be strung up.  Or stuck in the hole.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Yesterday, I caught up with a good friend from college.  After our conversation, I started wondering.  What happened to my old roommate?  Once the kids were in bed, I went through the usual channels - Facebook and Google.  The results were very interesting.

I am pretty sure that my college roommate, the one who didn't wear underwear for two years and dressed in leggings and sweatshirts with the collars cut off over tank tops, the one who kept a list of the guys she had been with, the one who took pride in "corrupting" me, is a doctor.  A physical therapist and a friggin' doctor.

Don't get me wrong, I am really happy for her.  I remember the last time I saw her, at a friend's wedding, she mentioned that she was going to go back to school for physical therapy.  I think it's fantastic that she has found a career path in which she's thriving.

But now I feel like a slacker.

I think perhaps a Ph. D. may be in my future.  Just to prove to myself that I can get one.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Something in the air is making me wistful, longing for a do-over of some part of my past - high school?  My 20s?

Probably because I am slowly coming to accept that I can't "fix" J or prevent him from repeating many of my mistakes.  I've been thinking about how I let fear keep me from so many things as I grew up - participating in all of the activities I would have liked, letting a less than ideal boy ask me out and accepting, challenging myself in a really tough class, being who I wanted to be instead of who I thought the rest of the world wanted me to be, or should be.

Didn't help that I watched the last half hour of "Twilight."  Robert Pattinson brings out the fan-girl in me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


As a mother, I always try to do right by my kids.  Every day I make decisions with their best interests in mind, and they run the gamut from which brand of juice to buy to what kind of behavior plan to implement.  I am a big researcher, and do my best to make my decisions based on as much information as possible.

Recently, I have wondered if some of my decisions were sound.  Last week, while driving, I was listening to Rosie O'Donnell on XM Radio.  She was talking about a recent online article that says that most sunscreens are cancer-causing, and the FDA has known this for about ten years.  (The article provides a link to the Environmental Working Group's searchable database rating the safety of many sunscreens)

So now, I've discovered that the sunscreens that I've been using on my children - all under the age of six - is not particularly safe for them.  Fantastic.

I also learned last year that soy is the most genetically modified crop grown in the United States.  Many breast cancer survivors are told to avoid soy products entirely not only because they mimic estrogen, but because they are a GMO crop. 

Guess what J drank almost exclusively for at least a year, after I weaned him?  I'll give you a hint:  While nursing, I had to drastically cut back on dairy because he was so sensitive to it.  Did you guess soy milk?  Ding, ding, you get a prize!  Sure, it was organic, but organic soybeans are still GMO.  Wonderful.

It's maddening that we're finding out after the fact that so many choices we consciously made specifically because we thought it was the best option, based on the information we were provided, were so wrong, and possibly damaging.  What bothers me the most is that both sunscreen and soy milk could have a lasting effect on the boys, especially with regard to their hormones.

What to do?