Monday, January 19, 2015

A Woman in her Thirties Gives up Bubba

You know how when you have one kid people tell you that the second is going to be totally different?  And you believe them, but not really?  Not until you are actually in the midst of these two creatures and realize yes, everyone was right.  Two different people here.

I've had this realization on a daily basis in the last two and a half years, and a perfect example of that is with the pacifier.  Anna took one for a few weeks when she was a newborn, but once she figured out how to take out the paci on her own, she really had no interest in it. 

Anna, right about the time she dumped the paci.  I die.

I was totally relieved that Anna wasn't into the paci.  In fact, she was never a 'lovie' kid.  It was like she'd given me a gift in that department.  So when Aaron came along, I was hoping for the same-- take the paci for a couple months, then dump it on his own.

Not so much.

As with many things for a woman in her thirties, the paci with Aaron has been all about negotiation.  You can have it until you're one.  Okay, you can have it at home only, until you're one and a half.  You can have it until you're two, but only for sleep.  You can have it until you're two and a half, but only... 


When Aaron turned two, I made myself a promise at Target:  I was DONE buying pacifiers.  Once that package was gone, it was time to give up the paci.  Firm.  Done. 

Full disclosure:  It was an economy pack.

I figured I'd struck a good deal.  I had an end date in sight, but that big giant stack of pacis seemed like it would last forever.

Then I looked at my stash two weeks ago and realized I was down to one.  ONE.

My face, pretty much.

I negotiated internally some more.  People have very strong opinions about pacifiers, from 'Who cares!  Don't worry about it!' to 'HOW could you let him still have that thing past 15 months?'  I made myself a promise awhile back to stop letting other parents tell me how to parent, so I shook all those opinions off (Thanks, Taylor!) and went back to my staunch woman-in-her-thirties stubbornness and said it was time.  No more paci. 

It was hard, people.  Sleep, as I've mentioned thirty million times, is a struggle here.  I was dreading adding to that struggle.  But all signs pointed to this being the right thing to do, so it was off to Target Buddy and I went.  Only this time, it was to buy his 'Big Boy Toy' to take the place of his paci (or Bubba, as it's known here...)

He picked a sword from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Then we made a big show about throwing away the Bubba.  Because...

'Bubbas are for babies.  And you are a big boy.' (I have repeated this phrase uncountable times in the last two weeks..)

It was hard.  I'm not going to lie.  It's still hard.  One look at my eyes will tell you that.  However, we did it.  And when a woman in her thirties says it's time to give up the Bubba... no matter what that proverbial Bubba might be...  IT IS TIME TO GIVE UP THE BUBBA.  

And she celebrates her success with a glass of wine, two or seven cups of coffee in the morning, and a pat on the back for a job (finally) well done.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Woman in her Thirties Resolves, 2015

You know I loooove me some New Year's Resolutions.  Bring it on, people!  Make yourselves happy!  Tell the world and hold yourself accountable!

So it's January 2, and time for me to list mine:

1.  Get in the black

So many people have asked me about the book and how it's going.  I love it when people ask what they're really wondering, and that is whether or not I'm making money on it yet.  The answer is no, I'm not. I'm about halfway there.  So this year will be all about getting creative with selling the book, so I can make room for my second resolution...

2.  Publish book two

Yes, it's done.  My same amazing group of seventh graders from last year is going to read and edit it this month.  I learned SO STINKING MUCH publishing The Take Back of Lincoln Junior High, so I'm looking forward to doing this second one even better.

3. Deal with the sleep issue

For four years, I have been able to blame my children for my sleepy, sleepy state of living.  But now that sleeping through the night is a fairly consistent thing, I find that I am still living the toss-turny-no-sleepy-for-Mommy lifestyle.  Sleep has always been difficult for me, and I really need to prioritize getting better at it this year.  (Ideas welcome...)

4.  Become a lunchtime vegan

I am not much of a meat-eater, and when L is away I almost never cook meat (I do cook fish).  I have always liked the idea of cooking one vegetarian meal for the family a week, but that has just never worked out.  In the last year, I have adopted a habit of not eating much for lunch-- a smoothie or whatever leftovers I can scrounge in the fridge.  I'm not trying to lose weight (I snack all day, homies), it's just the Momma-on-the-go life.  So I figure I can use what is almost always a meal by myself and eat vegan, or at least vegetarian.  (Ideas welcome...)

5.  Have more fun

When people have asked about Christmas this year, I keep responding the same way.  'It was the most fun I can remember having on Christmas since I was a kid.'  That's because my babies aren't babies anymore, and I got to see the magic of Christmas through their eyes:

So in 2015, we're going to live it up.  Feb in Austin.  Arizona in March (weeeeeell, that one's just for me!)  Trips to the movies and museums and shows. Polar Vortex be damned, there's a big ol' world to discover!

Happy New Year, blog friends!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Woman in Her Thirties Posts a Year of Gratitude

Remember how I posted this a year ago, about how I was going to do the 365 Grateful Project on Instagram for 2014?

Raise your hand if you didn't think I'd do it.  Go on, admit it.  I can't see it, anyway.

Well, suckas, I did.  I was not perfect at it, but I think overall the amount of days I missed could be counted on one hand.  I'm no mathematician, but I that means I ROCK.  A woman in her thirties means what she says and says what she means.

The 365 Grateful Project was eye-opening and totally worthwhile, and let me say for the record that if you are reading this and are tempted to give it a try for 2015, DO IT.  Here are a few of the many things I learned being #365grateful.

1.  It was way easier than I thought.

I am a picture taking fool, so taking just one picture every day was a piece of cake for me.  But it was more than just the actual taking the picture.  I was worried that I would struggle to find something genuine every day that I was grateful for.  Especially in the depths of the Polar Vortex, endless sleep deprivation, etc. etc.  But it was easy.  SUPER easy.  In fact, I could have posted twice a day with no problem.  Once I was in the habit of being grateful, I was grateful for lots of things, all the time.

One of my favorites, from early in the year.  

2.  The little things were sometimes more profound than the big things.

I had so much to be grateful for this year. Remember how I published a book, and my life-long dream of becoming a writer came true?  That was a BIG thing.  

Of course I'm so grateful for that, but the 365 Grateful Project made me step back and think about the rungs on the ladder to getting me there.  The things I might have taken for granted.

Hot wheels on a miserable February day.

Sweet Daniel, and all the happiness he brings us (when he's not stealing the kids' food).


Life isn't all about the big things, it's the little things, too.  And they all add up, when you start seeing them.

3.  Gratitude is a state of mind.

It is not enough to be thankful sometimes.  It has to be every day.  It has be be an engrained part of you, like potty training.  Yeah, that's it.  Being grateful is like being potty trained.


What I mean is that once I started looking at life through a lens of gratitude, it became a part of who I am. Here's a good example:

This picture was taken after a solid 24 hours of puking.  Hard to believe Anna had it in her.  And once she was done, guess who was next?  Only I had it worse than her, to the point of needing IV fluid.  But as I lay on the couch and took this pic, I kept thinking, 'at least she's better.  At least L is home.  At least my neighbor can take me to the ER.'  

See what I mean? Being grateful doesn't necessarily mean being happy.  (I was certainly not happy when I snapped this pic.)  But I was aware, and thankful for the things I knew would get me past the hard part.  

4.  Gratitude helps you live in the present moment.

If there is one thing I'm bad at, it's this.  Meditation is the hardest part of yoga for me.  Napping is not in the cards; never has been.  My mind is constantly moving toward the next thing, the next thing, and then the next thing.  It's annoying.  

But the 365 Grateful Project helped me recognize the moment, the space I was inhabiting, for better or worse.

For example, look at this picture of my little Mister Buddy.  Look.  No, really look.  Think about how many times you look at your kids, your pets, your partner, in all their sleepy perfection and not take a moment to soak it in.  I do it all the time.  But not this day, not in this moment.  And I'm so grateful, because now I have this picture to melt over for all eternity.  

5.  Gratitude is contagious.

I've taken some flack over the 365 Grateful project, I won't lie. I'm sure my once daily posts got annoying for some, especially if they were not in the mood for Polly Positivity.  But overall, the people I've talked to that have followed me on Instagram have been overwhelmingly glad that I did it, because it has encouraged them to be grateful, too.  Maybe not in a snap-a-pic every day kind of way, maybe not in a public kind of way.  But maybe in an ever-so-slight mind shift kind of way. 

At least, that is the hope.  And I think, at the end of the day, that is what is point of gratitude.  Hope in the face of adversity.  Thankfulness, even when we don't feel like life is going our way.  Figuring out small happinesses, and by sharing them, paying them forward.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Woman in Her Thirties and Community

When you're buying a home for the first time, people always repeat the same old mantra:   Location, location, location.  I remember it from when I bought my first home, a townhouse in Sacramento near the river, and I remember it when we moved many multiple times since then, and I certainly remember it when we bought our house here in P-town.

For those of you not from here, or maybe those of you who didn't see our family grace the cover of our neighborhood magazine...

This is T and H, both laughing uncontrollably at that magazine cover.  I love my friends. 

... Pleasantville has a bit of reputation for snobbery.  Not just my neighborhood (though it certainly does), but the whole of P-town. We are called cake-eaters, which is pretty dumb if you think about it, but I get it now.  Especially as an outsider, someone who didn't grow up knowing many of her neighbors, and doesn't have much to relate to when it comes to country clubs and nannies.

Here's what I've discovered in the last five years living here:  The reputation I live amidst is not completely unfounded.  As a friend said the other day, 'You get caught up in the bubble; you start comparing yourself to the people around you and focus on what you don't have, rather than what you do.'  Yes.  Yes here, yes for many women in their thirties, I would imagine.

However, two things happened this month that made me appreciate this bubble in which I live.  The first involves this big, gray cloud that has hung over me since I was about sixteen years old-- a molar in my mouth that never came down to play with my other teeth and ended up fuzing to my cheekbone. The technical term is 'ankylosed', and to make a long story short, that thing had to come out.  I really didn't know what to expect in terms of recovery, but I figured shoot, I recovered from a C-Section, didn't I?  And at least this time I didn't have to breastfeed after.

I didn't tell too many people what was going on because I was in denial felt like I had things under control.  On surgery day, L was prepped and ready to take over for a few days so I could stay drugged up and get through the most painful hump of recovery.  The people who did know kept offering to bring food, take my kids, sit with me and wipe the drool from my mouth, anything.  L came home from picking the kids up from school that day and said, 'Jeez, everyone there is SO nice!'  Because it's true.

And as much as I said, 'Please, I'm on an Ensure diet anyway! Don't bring me anything!' I kept getting stuff:

Pumpkin bread and Juice So Good... my new favorite thing!

Beautiful flowers

Nie Nie's delicious soup

A woman in her thirties knows enough about the world to know that this doesn't happen everywhere. My surgery ended up being MUCH better than we'd anticipated (hooray!), and I was reminded yet again of the generosity of the people I'm surrounded with.

A few days after this, while I was still recovering, the news of a dear neighbor's grave condition started filtering through the neighborhood.  She had been battling cancer for some time, and as the end drew near, the neighbors all rallied.  Visits to hospice, lots and lots of food deliveries, flowers, cards... Her funeral was Friday, and as I sat in my pew next to another set of neighbors we really truly couldn't live without, I was overcome with appreciation for where I live.  That afternoon, as we hand-delivered our Christmas cards...

I talked to Anna about how lucky she was to live here. She, of course, had no idea what I was talking about...

... and neither will her brother, at least not until they go out into the world and see it for themselves.  So until then, I will just have to eat my cake (or pumpkin bread, whatever) and appreciate it for them.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Woman in her Thirties Makes the Best of It

Over the last few weeks, when I have told people that L had to travel for work over the Thanksgiving holiday, I got a whole slew of different responses.  Everything from, 'What kind of a jerk travels for work over Thanksgiving?' to 'We never spend holidays together. Welcome to my world.'  It was interesting, too, how I responded to all of these people.  Everything from 'Yeah, this is the last time THIS is ever going to happen', to 'It's not that big of a deal, not really'.

My response changed based on the person, by the situation. I changed my perception based on the perception of others. This is NOT how a woman in her thirties is supposed to behave.  Had I learned nothing on this journey in my thirties?

Besides yoga?

I thought and thought about this as we approached the holiday, and kept coming back to a conversation I had with my wonderful neighbor some time ago.  She and her husband have two grown children, and are living the dream.  Because her husband is a retired pilot, they travel anywhere, anytime, for free.  They take great pride making their own alcoholic beverages.  They host Downton Abbey parties.  They are among the most giving and kind people I've ever known.  I mean, seriously.  THE DREAM.

Anyway, she told me awhile back that she-- like me-- was alone a lot in parenting.  There's no way around the suckage of that.  However, she reminded me, I have two choices in this situation.  I can get angry and resentful.  I can compare my life to the lives of the people around me and I can shine big giant spotlights on how much better their lives are than mine.  I can wallow in my own self-pity and take my children down into the pit with me.


I can make the best of it.  For my neighbors, it was about celebrating holidays on different days, when they could all be together.  And if that didn't work out for whatever reason, they would understand that such-and-such was just a day, and wouldn't define them or their family unit.  I can focus on all the blessings we have (COUNTLESS) and choose to be happy.

I'm not going to lie... we missed Daddy this year on Thanksgiving.  We set a place for him:

We called him lots, but tried not to make him feel too bad (it's not like traveling over the holiday is easy for the person traveling...)  We had a simple dinner with YeYe and NieNie and wrote what we were thankful for on the white tablecloth.

(Daddy, of course.)

And when I asked Daddy what he wanted me to write on the tablecloth for him this year, this is what he said:

Honestly, when I wrote that, I realized exactly what my neighbor was talking about.  About making the best of things.  About how it affects everyone, when you're positive.  About how a day is just a day, but a family is defined by more.

Happy Thanksgiving from our silly, unconventional, wonderfully imperfect family to yours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Woman in Her Thirties, the Fourth

Dear Anna,

This week, you are four years old.


You're a good counter, so let's do some counting:





Crazy, isn't it?  Counting, I mean.

But back to you, and your four-ness.  The past 365 days have been all about figuring out how things work.  From 'Momma, why do the clouds move?' to 'Why do we vote?' to 'Why does Aaron's belly button look funny?'  (you were not referring to his belly button), you have thrown me each and every day with the daunting task of explaining the world.  When I was younger and imagined myself as a mom, my answers to these questions have been both articulate and informative.  Now, though, I bumble through a lot of, 'Uh, well... um... it's... complicated, Bubbie.'

And it is, isn't it?  Life is so darn complicated, at least it is to this woman in her thirties.  But for you, well, I can see how this would not be an acceptable answer.

Buddy is crying?  'Make him feel happy, Momma.'

Daddy is traveling? 'Tell him to come home now, Momma.'

Momma misses her home, momma feels sick, momma is having a hard morning?  'Put on the happy song, Momma. (Eric Hutchinson is your current favorite.) If you sing with us, then you will feel happy.'

I could go on here about your accomplishments.  Piano lessons.  How each and every teacher you've had has raved about what a joy you are.  Your correct pronunciation of the word 'croissant'.  But someday, when I'm old and gray and looking back on the highlights of my life, I will think back to this beautiful, smiling face:

And those won't be the details that come to mind.  What I'll have with me is the memory that this was the year I saw that your inner beauty far surpassed what you look like on the outside.  I won't remember your score on your kindergarten screening test, but I'll remember how many people have described you as a loving and caring friend.  How you worried about the lonely boy at the zoo.  How you patiently taught your brother to play hide and seek.  How, when you saw me shedding a tear a few weeks back, you ran to me and said, 'You're the best momma in the world!"

So happy birthday to my sweet, caring, kind, smart, inquisitive, silly, thoughtful, and yes, beautiful baby girl.  Who you are fills me more more joy than I could ever communicate in words. I am so proud to be your mom.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Woman in Her Thirties, The Hippie

I've been practicing yoga regularly for a little over four years now.  Notice how I said 'practicing' yoga. That's what the yogis say. They also say things like 'core lock' and 'ujjayi pranayama'.  And other hippie things.

This morning, in my weekly 75-minute sweat-fest, I started thinking about all the ways that yoga has changed my life.  And it made me cry.  You'd think this is an abnormal thing, to cry in the middle of a crazy-hard workout, but yogis do it often.  We're weepy, sentimental warriors, the lot of us.  Even the dudes.

So, since it's November (what?!) and it's time to get grateful, here are all the things yoga has taught me over the years.  And why you should 'practice', too. (Photos by Mimsydotes, obviously.)

1.  I'm a badass

When I first started practicing yoga in earnest, I was pregnant.   But yoga was never harder for me than after Aaron's birth, after seven months of strict no-exercise restrictions followed by an emergency C-Section.  My 'core-lock' was more like Jell-O pudding, and I simply could not engage my abdominal muscles in the same way anymore.  But now, I can rock boat pose like nobody's biz, because I worked really, really hard at it.  I used to be terribly inflexible, and now I'm a toe-touching, king pigeon-ing, Dancing Shiva.  Aka, badass.

2.  Attitude is everything

Yoga is all about the mental/physical balance, which I really didn't understand for a long time.  But you know how there are people who choose to be happy, so therefore they are happy?  And there are people who choose to be miserable, so they are?  It's like that.  If I go into yoga class and say, 'today I'm going to be Poopy McPooperpants and grunt my way through every posture while staring at the clock', then it's guaranteed to be a long workout.  But if I go in and say, 'I'm a goddess and there's never been a more goddessy-goddess than me,' then that's pretty much how it goes.  And also, in life.

3.  If I don't practice at least once a week, I'm a terrible person

After practicing so long, I don't understand how every woman in her thirties doesn't take yoga.  Everything hurts if I don't go to yoga-- from my fingers to my knees to my back to my shoulders-- EVERYTHING.  When I hurt, I am grumpy.  When I'm grumpy, I'm mean.  And now that I'm a mom, when I'm grumpy and mean then my kids are learning to be grumpy and mean, too.  So yeah, yoga.

4.  Yoga is a way to give thanks

This morning, while holding dolphin pose for an ungodly amount of time, I went to a dark place in my head. It was the night of June 21, 2012, the night Aaron was born.  I don't know why I thought of it, but I remembered that I'd called my mom from the ambulance.  'I love you,' I said to her.  'Pray for me.' Because I really thought I was saying goodbye.

See why the tears?

But it occurred to me that by practicing yoga I have been giving thanks for that evening, that all turned out well.  I'm healthy, Aaron is healthy, we're all so flippin' lucky to be on this planet at this moment, and life is so unbelievably beautiful.  Even when it's really hard.  But then again, isn't it the hard that makes us appreciate the beauty?  I went on and on in my head about this, my good fortune and all the blessings I have, that I didn't even notice that the teacher had said we could release the pose.  I've never gotten that from kickboxing, people.

So there you have it.  A woman in her thirties is a certified yoga hippie.  Namaste, people.  And all that stuff.