Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Things Are About To Get Real

So Boo and I have lived in our house for just over a year, and since the day we moved in we have been a bit at odds about 'housework'. Not the day to day vacuuming and dusting. Those tasks fall firmly in my court. But about things like remodeling, and landscaping, and changing the decor.

You see, the first house Boo and I bought was what you might call a fixer-upper. Sure some would have called it a burner-downer, but we like to see the glass as half full. Besides, it's what we could afford :).

Needless to say we fixed it up. And it took 3 months of living with my parents, and working 40 hours a week at our real jobs and 40 hours a week at our house. And it was brutal. So we both agreed that we were never doing that again. This time around we bought a beautiful move in ready traditional two story home.

And it is beautiful.

It is also beige. And it has carpet in the master bathroom. And carpet in the basement. Well I should say HAD carpet in the basement :). At any rate it was most definitely move in ready on a level that our previous home wasn't. But now after a year of living in someone else's decor I'm ready to put my mark on the place.

So here we go.

We have already torn out the hedges from the front of the house, removed the nasty outdated lava rock and landscaped with something more to my taste. Now we are on to the backyard where we removed a ton (haha get it...) more lava rock and some more bushes. The plan being that we will be transplanting some rose bushes, building ourselves a sweet privacy screen, and decorating with new patio furniture and a sweet new grill. But the planting has to be done before the weather turns chilly, and that means more landscaping before September gets here.

We also tore out the carpet in the basement to replace it with an epoxy floor covering that is nigh on indestructible. But before the new floor can be installed we need to remove the carpet adhesive and paint the walls. And the flooring is getting installed in early September.

Also on the agenda as a small side project is new paint for the guest bedroom. It's currently yellow and while my bright orange floral bedding set goes nicely with the existing paint, I think it's time we toned it down to something a little more my style. And I scored an awesome new dresser to put in my new room, but it needs refinishing. Plus, the room is in DESPERATE need of a new fan.

Oh, and I've finally been inspired for artwork in Baby's room, so I'm on the hunt for that as well. 

So, here comes August and on the agenda so far for this standard 31-day month are:
  • Trip to Indiana to see the family
  • Backyard landscaping etc
  • Stripping of basement carpet adhesive
  • Trip to Colorado to see the other family
  • Painting of basement walls
  • Painting of guest room
 On the back burner, to be squeezed in if/when possible are:
  • Refinishing of new-old dresser
  • Procurement and installation of art for Baby's room
To say this is an ambitious list would be the understatement of the century. And I couldn't be more excited about it. I can't wait to see how close we actually get to crossing all of these things off the list!

Updates and pictures to come!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Royal Baby

I know news outlets everywhere are talking about William and Kate's new baby. And I know that thousands of people waited outside Buckingham palace for a chance to glimpse the little tyke. I'm not one of those people. I think I heard off-hand that Kate was pregnant, and that's the last thought I gave to the matter.

In light of her recent delivery I would like to say this to Kate Middleton: Thank you.

Thank you for choosing a vaginal birth. Thank you for standing publicly on the knowledge that your body was made to deliver a baby, to deliver your baby, and that an elective cesarean was not necessary nor wanted.

Thank you for breastfeeding. Thank you for choosing what is hard, and dedicating your time, your body, and your mind to your son. Thank you for taking a stand about what you feel is right, because in the public eye your stand can have a vastly wide impact on what is considered popular or normal.

Thank you for showing your post-partum belly. I know it isn't easy to get dressed those first days/weeks after giving birth. And I know it's got to be that much harder to do it in front of a nation of cameras. But you have given women everywhere a confidence boost by coming home from the hospital looking natural, instead of rail thin.

Thank you Kate, for being the mother you are choosing to be. I wish you all the best, and success in everything you put your mind to for your son.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Becoming a Mother, Staying Human

In December I became a mother to the most beautiful, precious, wonderful baby. I'm sure every mother in the world feels the same about their own child(ren). Since then, I've enjoyed every moment and every event that being a mother has brought me. Well, almost every moment.

Now, 7 months later I still marvel at my beautiful son. Every day he is doing something different. Every day he changes and grows and it is an incredible thing to witness up close. So many days I just find myself marveling at him. But not every day.

For the last few weeks I have been struggling to get through each day. Baby has been sick, and teething which makes him clingy and fussy and needy all of which are a departure from his normal happy content playful self. Every moment seemed to be a battle of some kind. When I picked him up he would immediately flop over my arm toward the ground making it impossible to carry him, so I would set him down. When I set him down he would cry and crawl over to my feet and try to climb back up. He would refuse to nap, even when he was exhausted. So I would nurse him to sleep. I would nurse and he would sleep. But if I moved, or sneezed, or the dogs shook their ears he would wake up. And so we went, all week long, in this never ending dance of up and down, asleep and awake, nursing and crying. Days ran together with nights. Sleep became something I used to do, and I think I showered maybe four times in two weeks. Saying the chores I normally accomplish while he plays or sleeps didn't get done would be an understatement. Even simple tasks like making the grocery list or turning the dogs out became battles. Let me tell you, it's not easy to write a list with a 7 month old on your lap trying to chew the pen.

Don't get me wrong, not every single moment was terrible. He got a new tooth! And he started crawling up on his hands and knees instead of on his belly. And there were still plenty of heart-melting smiles and time-stopping giggles. Those are the wonderful moments. But sitting on the couch holding a sleeping baby when you're really just desperate to use the bathroom is not wonderful.

And after days and days with no time to myself, I found that I was really starting to resent my son. And in turn, my husband. And basically my life. I resented not having 5 minutes to myself. I resented the baby for getting his needs met while mine went by the wayside. I resented his ability to cry when he is upset or lonely, while I must devote my time to him regardless of how I feel. Then I started to resent my husband. I resented that he would come home and after 10 minutes ask me to ''watch the kid" so he could use the bathroom. What a novel idea: using the bathroom while someone else comforts the fussy baby...I resented his daily shower, and his full nights of sleep, and how nice it must be to come home after a long day and have someone else cook you dinner. I was just resenting life.

Then, of course, the guilt set in. As if feeling resentful all day every day isn't bad enough. I felt guilty for not having the house cleaned up or the laundry done. I felt guilty about not getting out to run errands and for having no groceries, and for not cooking dinner. Guilt for not taking the baby to the park. Guilt for feeling selfish about needing a shower or to go poop. Guilt for resenting life.

Last Wednesday things finally took a turn for the better. Not because Baby is less clingy or fussy. Not because he's napping more or we are back to our normal routine. Because I discovered that I'm still human.

Wednesday afternoon I was relegated to another day trapped on the couch with nothing but bad daytime T.V. while Baby slept. I looked longingly at his baby quilt, trying to dream up a way to move him onto it without waking him. The dogs were whining at the back door to go outside. The kitchen table had no room to eat for the crap that had accumulated there. And don't even get me started on the kitchen floor...As I sat there blaming all of these things on my peaceful sleeping baby I just began to feel like a complete failure as a mother. I wondered why I couldn't just enjoy holding my son, or forget about the other things and take a nap. But I couldn't. And then more guilt for those shortcomings. As I was willing myself out of resentment and guilt and into sleep it hit me: I'm human. Yes I'm a mother, but I'm still just human.

I have needs, and when those needs aren't being met I can grin and bear it for a time. But after that time it is only natural to feel resentful or selfish. Wishing I could have time for myself doesn't make me a bad mother. It makes me human. And on the contrary, I believe it is evidence that I am a good mother, because I will still meet the needs of my son before myself, even when that's not what I WANT to do. As I pondered this, the resentment and guilt seemed to melt away. My needs didn't melt away. Neither did the mess in my house or the piles of dirty laundry. And to own the truth, the resentment still lingered a bit. I still wanted to set the sleeping baby down so I could go pee, but the guilt was gone.

And then, as if God was just reinforcing my new epiphany the most beautiful thing happened. As I sat there, resigning myself to another hour on the couch something startled Baby from his sleep. His eyes flew open and he looked scared. His face crinkled up and he drew in his breath to cry and then, he looked at me. His expression changed from fear to recognition. He give a tiny whimper as he let out his breath, but then he gave a tiny smile and closed his eyes. He snuggled in a little closer and drifted back to sleep.

As I sat in awe of the silent conversation that had just passed between us I was so thankful to be trapped on the couch with nothing but bad daytime T.V. It wasn't a waste of time to hold my sleeping son. Vacuuming the kitchen floor was not more important. What really mattered was that when he woke up I was there, to look down at him and whisper 'shhh'. For him to see that he was not alone, and that he was safe. So that he would know.

On Saturday morning Mom came over to tell me about a meeting she had just been to. I took the opportunity (as Boo was at the movies) to ask her to watch Baby so I could take a shower. She of course agreed. I took a long, hot, leisurely shower. As I toweled off I could hear Baby crying downstairs, so I dressed and headed down. I scooped him up off the floor and sat down to nurse him to sleep. And I realized, though I may resent it at times, this is a privilege that no other person in the world has.

These last weeks have been tough. But they have reinforced what I already knew: that becoming a mom is ongoing. Sure I became a mother the moment my son was born, but I'm still learning how to be his mom. I also learned something new: that becoming a mom doesn't replace being human. There will still be days when I have needs, and days when I wish those needs could come first. So I will work on voicing those needs and taking the help that is offered. And in the meantime, I can enjoy the excuse to sit on the couch and watch T.V.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

We Are So Bass Ackwards

Last night I was surfing Facebook as I rocked Baby after his bedtime feeding when I came across this article in a small private group I am a part of.

Mississippi Stillborn Manslaughter Charge Raising Fears

The link was accompanied by a post from a woman who recently miscarried a baby, and is obese by the medical definition. She expressed her concern that this kind of precedent could mean she would face legal consequences in addition to having lost her baby.

After reading the comment I was intrigued, and so, I read the article.

After reading the article I was incensed.

Where do I even begin?!? Ok, I get it that the lady was using drugs while she was pregnant. But really, I would wager that happens a lot more often than anyone wants to admit. But seriously, there's no way they could ever prove that the drug use is the only reason she miscarried. And what? The police/prosecutors in Mississippi don't have anything better to do than track down women who may or may not have been 100% healthy during their pregnancies? I guess if I go check the crime statistics for Jackson every category other than 'poor prenatal behavior' is going to say 0. Doubtful.

And let's talk about the semantics. In the article the prosecutor says "I've got a dead child here" and "We are dealing with one case...the death of child." but the article clearly states that the child was stillborn. Last I checked the rest of the U.S. defines the unborn as 'fetus' until it takes a breath. Don't get me wrong, I think a baby is a baby regardless of which side of the uterine lining they are on. But we aren't talking about my views, we are talking about the law. So what this prosecutor is saying is that Mississippi law applied to this case defines the baby as a child, and therefore seeks to prosecute the baby's 'killer'. I sure hope if I search abortion statistics for Jackson I also get 0.

I mean what kind of ass backward world do we live in where a woman can drive to the clinic and pay a doctor to abort her child but a woman who has the misfortune to lose her baby naturally is then charged with a crime?!? Seriously America?? Since when do we say "a child isn't a person" until we decide that we have a vendetta against the mother and then we turn around to say "the child is a child and we have a duty to avenge their death".

W. T. F.


Friday, July 12, 2013

It Works!

A few weeks ago I had the following conversation with an acquaintance of mine. 
Acquaintance: You look great! Can you give me some tips for working on my legs/butt and my arms.
Me: Sure. One of the best exercises my trainer has given me for my butt is this: lay on your back with your calves on a yoga ball. Then lift your butt into the air and roll the ball in to touch your butt and then back out. Roll the ball in/out 15 times before you put your butt back down. Do 3 sets of 15.
Acquaintance: Great. I want to lose my baby weight, but I need something that will work super fast so I don't have to spend hours working out.
Me: :-/

Here's the thing...MIRACLE WEIGHT LOSS AND FITNESS PLANS DON'T EXIST!!!!! If they did, everyone would look like supermodels!!! But I digress...

Allow me to give a little back story. I had a baby in December. Before my pregnancy I was lazy and never worked out ever so I was about 40 pounds overweight, and I didn't have an ounce of muscle on my entire body. Then, during my pregnancy I bought into the "I can eat whatever I want because I'm pregnant" fallacy, and I gained 50 pounds. When I had Baby I did lose about 30 pounds in the hospital. That's what happens when you birth Eleven Pounds Baby. (Someday I'll get around to explaining that name...). Anyway, for all you math majors out there that meant I was still 60 pounds overweight.

In April I decided to seriously do something about it. Boo, who is always wonderfully supportive, gave me a smile and a check and sent me off to the personal trainer. On June 11th I celebrated the loss of my final pregnancy pound. Woot! I remember the day because I was so excited that I did it in under 6 months. Since then I have lost maybe 2 more pounds, but I always knew this would be a long hard journey.

The point is, when someone says "Great. I want to lose my baby weight, but I need something that will work super fast so I don't have to spend hours working out" I want to strangle them. Seriously?!? Are you kidding me right now?!? Don't look at me and say I look great and then insult all of my hard work by implying that I did this overnight with minimal effort. No. I've worked my ass off. Literally.

I have sacrificed my evenings with Boo to go to the gym. I've cut out all junk from my diet, and eat so much protein every day that I wouldn't be surprised if I turn into a chicken. I've sweated, and cried. I've made a complete ass of myself at Zumba. I've been so sore that I can't go up the stairs in my house while carrying Baby. I've had days where I struggled and days that I succeeded and on nearly every one I called my bathroom scale a bastard. But I am more than 30% to my goal and that feels really really good.

Then, I had an experience with It Works! Body Wraps. Please don't take this post as a product endorsement in any way. It's not.

The premise of these wraps is basically this: wrap this really really cold slimy thing around your trouble area (in my case my midsection which was recently demolished by Eleven Pounds Baby), wrap some cling wrap over top, bake for 45 minutes, remove the wrap and voila! your problem area will be transformed!

About a week after the previously referenced conversation was my body wrap extravaganza. My friend recently became a distributor and in an effort to expand her network invited me to try a wrap at a party she was hosting. In an effort to be supportive, I went. And I'll admit, part of me was really hoping that this magic wrap could make me lose 9 inches around my waist in 45 minutes. Because really, who doesn't want those kind of results?!? 

Let's just say my results would never make the commercial unless they were categorized under "results may vary". At first I told myself it was fine, because I never really expected it to be some kind of miracle wrap anyway. Then, I was angry that I spent $25 on it. Now finally, after a few weeks, I've just accepted the simple truth..."It" doesn't work. "It" doesn't make you fit or thin or in shape or anything. "It" doesn't do anything. YOU do it. I DO IT.

What works isn't some magic pill that you take once a day, or a powder that you sprinkle on your french fries. It isn't a fad diet or one trip to the gym in January. What really works when it comes to fitness and health goals is a lifestyle that includes fitness and health. What really works for weight loss is commitment, dedication, sweat, and effort.

So I'm going to get that firm flat stomach and I'm going to lose those inches off my waist and hips. And I'm going to do it the good old fashioned way. I'm going to pass the fast food joints on my way to the gym. And I'm going to be honest with other people.

Acquaintance: You look great! Can you give me some tips for working on my legs/butt and my arms.
Me: Sure. One of the best exercises my trainer has given me for my butt is this: lay on your back with your calves on a yoga ball. Then lift your butt into the air and roll the ball in to touch your butt and then back out. Roll the ball in/out 15 times before you put your butt back down. Do 3 sets of 15.
Acquaintance: Great. I want to lose my baby weight, but I need something that will work super fast so I don't have to spend hours working out.
Me:Well, I don't know what to tell you. It takes work. I lift weights 3-4 times a week and do 3-4 cardio workouts plus an hour of yoga.