17-year cicadas and some demolition

I will try to avoid too much about how busy or stressful my weekend is because A) I’m  boring myself talking about it all the time and B) parenthood is basically the state of being busy and stressed.


Just a quick update.

I moved back to the forest just in time for the 17-year cicadas to emerge. The first time I experienced this I was 13 and totally horrified. This time I’m still a little horrified but it’s tempered with a little fascination and yes, even admiration.


These things are  born underground, dig their way out, then push their way out of hard little exoskeletons, climb higher while the sun warms and dries them and their wings stretch out, then spend their short lives singing for a mate. Then they die, and their offspring won’t see the light of day for almost two decades. The Baby will be finishing up his junior year of high school before they return.

Isn’t that a little crazy?

Don’t get me wrong… I will gladly take another nearly two decades before I see them again, but I have new appreciation for these red-eyed, flying kazoos. As long as they stay out of my house and most especially out of my hair, we can coexist in peace.

This weekend also marked the tearing out of the atrocious brown shag carpet and old linoleum in the living room, dining room and kitchen. It was rough, miserable work but I can’t wait to get new floors, especially because The Baby is discovering how to get from Point A to Point B by rolling like a little tumbleweed. The Husband and I both feel like we took a moderate beating, having had to aggressively smash and tear the linoleum and particle board up from their super strong glue and long, long staples. Here are a few photos from demolition.

My, what a mess we made
Glue and staples, glue and staples

I have plenty more to say about our weekend (which featured both a certain Husband’s birthday and the unfortunate loss of another member of our family), but I will save it for another day.

In the meantime, here’s hoping the cicadas lull you to sleep if you’re also enjoying their epic return.

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17-year cicadas and some demolition

Podcasts for moms and moms-to-be

Listen up! A podcast playlist for new moms and moms-to-beI’ve been an insatiable podcast consumer for a pretty long time. It all started when The Husband (back then The Boyfriend/The Fiance) and I had many 10-hour drives to Ohio from South Carolina to visit family. We would load up our iPod with Stuff You Should Know,The Adam Carolla Show and Doug Loves Movies. It made the time pass a little easier and was far better than trying to find a new radio station every few hours.

Peak podcast consumption for me hit when we moved to Cleveland and I started walking to work every morning. I had 45 minutes of uninterrupted me-time every morning and again every afternoon, and I chose to spend it absorbed in other people’s voices and as the *world’s easiest kidnapping target.

Obsessive person that I am, I started hunting for pregnancy related podcasts the nanosecond after The Husband and I started thinking about maybe thinking about talking about having a baby. Because pregnancy is short and parenthood is long, there weren’t that many to pick from. If anyone wants to start a pregnancy podcast with me, get in touch. I’m calling it Farting in the Elevator.

Until that gem debuts, though, here is a list of podcasts – series and episodes – on impending parenthood that I enjoyed enough to **risk life and limb to listen to on my way to and from work ***each day for two years.

*As part of my job I regularly read crime synopses that started with women being abducted off the street by men offering rides before having HORRIBLE HORRIBLE things done to them. Detectives warned me not to wear earbuds (and also to carry around a big can of wasp spray because it makes excellent pepper spray… um, thanks for the tip?) I tried to remember to only keep one earbud in so I could hear for any danger while I was walking.

**One day while I was about four months pregnant, a guy in a white truck pulled over while I was walking on a not-very-busy street and asked me TWICE if he could give me a ride somewhere and didn’t leave until I made it look like I was calling the police. I am a FULL fledged idiot because (again, even though I worked in a criminal-justice related job) I didn’t actually call the police on him until hours later, but let this be a warning to you, pregnant dummies: If you’re going to walk around with earbuds in, leave one out so you can be aware of your surroundings, and keep that big can of wasp spray handy.

***I mixed these up with regular-people podcast because while I was losing sight of my feet and could barely remember my name some days, I was still a whole person, not just a reckless (see above) baby incubator.

Podcasts for pregnant women and new moms – what to listen to and what to skip

Ratings out of five stars

Give these a listen

One earbud only.

One Bad Mother (series)

This is a motherhood podcast on the Maximum Fun network, and it is the most tolerable, relatable parenting podcast I’ve been able to find. Hosts Biz and Theresa share parenting failures and successes, have very real conversations about the tough parts of parenthood, discuss feminism and identity and all the stuff you worry you’ll lose on the other side of that 36-hour labor, and have a phone number you can call if you want to leave an ugly-crying message. They also have pretty interesting guests on the show. My only beef is that they could be better interviewers – their questions (especially Biz’s) tend to be more like “Let me ask you this question so I can then tell you a story about my life.” But if you’re okay with swearing and don’t want to hear somebody lie about how much they have their shit together, this is a great podcast.

My rating: 4.5 stars

The Longest Shortest Time (series)

This show’s tagline is “the parenting show for everyone,” but I am here to say that its host, Hillary Frank, is decidedly not for everyone. I really liked this podcast while I was super early in my pregnancy, but by the time I got caught up on episodes, I was sick to death of Hillary. Something about her just doesn’t jive with me. She says “um” way too much, I specifically dislike the friends she brings on her show to tell stories (the “I Have News” family. Ugh.) And yet, in other ways it is a really worthwhile show. There have been some great guests and amazing stories (I particularly recommend The Parents’ Guide to Doing It, Building a Better Boobie Trap and Pediatricians, They’re Just Like Us). And while I don’t necessarily recommend listening to her episodes on childbirth injuries before you give birth (because she had a really traumatic birth injury and why scare yourself?) it is certainly worthwhile for anyone struggling to recover from childbirth. Basically, I think I would love this podcast if Hillary were a producer and let somebody else do the talking. But that’s just me. Try it out.

My rating: 3 stars

Pea in the Podcast (series)

The production value on this one isn’t great, and I get the feeling it hasn’t been updated in  awhile, but even so I enjoyed the short week-by-week podcasts and the more in depth topical episodes. This falls into the hyper educational, not particularly entertaining category of podcasts, but if you’re not into reading pregnancy books, this is a great alternative. Host Bonnie Petrie is informative without sounding preachy, and the series is a fun way to tick off the weeks as you go along.

My rating: 4 stars

Mom and Dad are Fighting (series)

Slates’ Allison Benedikt and Dan Kois host this parenting podcast, which I really like but which is probably best suited for parents of slightly older kids – you may not find a whole lot to relate to if you’re expecting or trying to figure out how to swaddle your newborn. (I remember continually rebuffing or filing away any advice I got about actual parenting when I was pregnant, by the way… I kept thinking, “I’m pregnant, not a ‘mom!’ I don’t need to know anything about babies! Talk to me about leaky boobs and cute nursery designs.” Utter nonsense, but I also didn’t call the police when I was almost kidnapped. So what do I know.) Anyway… there is very little dad representation in the parenting podcast world. (I found and listened to an episode or two of this one… might be good, especially if you love British accents as much as I do, but I am not the intended audience.) I like that this covers both, and they always have great guests. One downside is you get limited content if you’re not paying for Slate+.

My rating: 4 stars in general, 3 stars for extremely new parents

23 weeks, 6 days (update) (episode)

If you’re feeling fragile or emotional, maybe hold off on this one, but this is a great episode of one of the greatest podcasts ever, Radiolab. It’s about a couple whose daughter came early–by some accounts way too early to survive–and the harrowing decisions and thought processes behind those decisions. It’s about the miracles of medicine and the ethical dilemmas that these advances create. I won’t give too much away, but because I’m addressing a crowd that likely cries during most commercials, I feel it’s important to tell you that this one has a happy ending.

My rating: 5 stars

Milk Wanted (episode)

Reply All is a newer podcast (about the Internet, but about so much more! I love it!) and in this episode, Phia Bennin covers the wild world of breast milk — those who need it, those who want to give it away, and all the complexities of exchanging this liquid gold. Listen while you pump!

My rating: 5 stars

Mother, Mommy, Mama, Mom (episode)

The Moth, the great storytelling radio show and podcast, is another solid favorite of mine. This one features, obviously, stories about motherhood. Including a story by everyone’s all time favorite human being, Molly Ringwald. Enjoy!

My rating: 5 stars

Sawbones: Our Birth Story (episode)

Sawbones is a quirky Maximum Fun podcast that covers weird medical history stuff. I avoided it forever because I’m pretty squeamish, but it’s fairly entertaining overall and I like the dynamic between Dr. Sydnee McEvoy and her husband Justin, who has obviously embraced the role of ignorant buffoon. Sometimes they go a little too far with that schtick, and like all the greatest couples are probably having more fun with each other than everyone else around them, but that’s part of what I like about it. They recently had a baby girl, and their birth story is a good one. Not good as in, “exactly how we expected it to be,” but as in, “We hit some speedbumps along the way but came out on the other side with a healthy baby.” It’s interesting to hear a family medicine doctor talk about her role as a patient. I know most pregnant women see the prospect of an unplanned C-section as something to fear and dread; this will put you in the frame of mind to be more okay with it if it happens.

My rating: 4 stars

Don’t bother

Do what you want. You’ve been warned.

Preggie Pals (series)

UGHHHHHH………… From the shrill children that the hosts undoubtedly think sound adorable as they read the podcast’s disclaimers to the stilted and unnatural “conversations” in each episode… as much as I wanted to hear about the topics covered in Preggie Pals, I more wanted to drive to their studio and burn it to the ground to protect the rest of the world from ever having to listen to them again. I’m sure there’s an audience out there for them (there’s a whole library of podcasts produced through New Mommy Media, somehow), but that audience is NOT. ME.

My rating: Zero stars. Zero.

The Cathedral (episode)

Want to hear a devastating story about a child’s terminal illness and how his parents cope with that terminal illness in a beautiful and just as devastating way? Didn’t think so. I love, love, love Reply All. I really regretted hearing this story.

My rating: 1 star, if you’re brave

Bad Baby (episode)

This is an episode of This American Life that you’ll want to pass over for now if you’re approaching first-time parenthood. Two words: “Demon child.” I’ll leave it at that.

My rating: 4.5 stars for interesting, minus 3 stars for trauma: .5 stars

 Okay, mamas – what am I missing? I could always use another podcast to listen to!

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Podcasts for moms and moms-to-be

Five things about five months old

5-month-old baby!

Another milestone day in TLMB household – The Baby turns five months today. I find myself on these anniversary days thinking back to what I was doing five months ago at this very time. Today, The Baby tosses in his crib, deciding whether to take a longer nap or not. Five months ago at this same time, I was being ushered into the labor room at the hospital, hoisting up my hospital gown to get a monitor belt wrapped around my improbably big, quaking belly. By the time he is going down for his next nap, five-month-ago me will be cradling his slippery body on my chest, losing my breath with the shock and beauty of him.

In celebration of five months, here are five things I am marveling at about having a five-month-old.

1. Rolling right along

The Baby has had the front-to-back roll mastered for a good long time now, but just two days ago he confidently started rolling from back to front. He has also started scooting backward on his belly, and can hold himself up in crawling position for a few wobbly seconds. This leap in coordination and core strength make him one step closer to toddling around. It’s so exciting to see him figure these things out, but seeing as we still need to unpack before we can really start baby-proofing, I’m grateful he’s still pretty good at staying in one place.

2. My hacking, cackling comedian

The Baby spends lots of time playing with his voice. While sometimes he wants to engage in a “conversation” of sorts with me or whoever is around, other times it’s clear he’s just singing to himself and doesn’t want to be interrupted. One of his favorite things to do is to make fake coughing sounds. I can’t figure out if he thinks it sounds like laughter, or what, but it definitely gets a reaction from people, and that’s his obvious goal. He’ll hack away while I’m changing his diaper or carrying him through the grocery store. When I meet his eyes, they sparkle like the punchline of a joke and we both crack up.

3. We love routines

I’ve whined and whined about short naptimes, and just in the span of a week they’ve finally started to get a little better. His appreciation of his *swaddle and dark room during naptimes means there is no hope of me getting to sleep in his carrier, or the stroller for that matter (sigh), but I’ll take a good hour and a half nap any way I can get it! He’s even started letting me (every so often) put him down in his crib with his eyes dozy and falls asleep with the weight of my hand on his chest. I know celebrating this victory publicly means he’ll probably quit napping altogether, and I also acknowledge that baby sleep is among the most boring topics imaginable, so I **promise to shut up about it for a little bit.

4. I bet I could eat more than you.

I’m not sure why I thought my pregnancy-followed-by-early-breastfeeding appetite would start to wane as the baby got bigger, but sweet cheesecake was I wrong. I wake up every morning looking about as skinny as I’ve ever been (which is a middling, sturdy figure, even still) because The Baby snacks throughout the night and I don’t. But as soon as my feet hit the floor I’m raiding the cupboards like I’ve never seen food before. Take today, for example: The Husband makes us both a smoothie before he leaves for work, so I chugged that, followed by a Peter Fox-sized bowl of cereal and a fiber granola bar. By 9:30 a.m. I had made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I ran an errand and then had a cereal bar when we got home to tide me over until The Baby’s nap when I could eat a proper lunch. For “proper lunch” I had three halves of long-ago frozen twice-baked potatoes with spinach and cheese (the last vestiges of my nesting freezer meals), along with another peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Of course I have to eat a lot… The Baby is almost 18 pounds of pure ravenous baby meat and until he starts eating solids in any significant volume, I am a walking, talking, calorie factory for him.

5. He knows what he wants

The Baby has been smiling and cooing for awhile now, but it’s just been the past few weeks that he’s started to show real preferences and reactions to the world around him… like when his dad comes home from work and he lights up, or when I take away something (like a magazine) that he’s dying to eat whole, and he gets angry. I know both ends of this spectrum will blow up as he approaches toddlerhood, and it won’t be quite so fun when he’s prostrate on the grocery store floor because I won’t let him open a box of breadcrumbs and throw it around like confetti, but right now it’s really fun to see it emerging.

*I know, he’s rolling over front to back. But not in his swaddle, yet. And I have a video baby monitor I watch all the time, so I’m not going to let him flip over in his swaddle. Don’t freak out on me, Internet.

**I do not really promise to quit complaining about baby sleep. I can’t stop myself.

Parents: What struck you about the five month mark? What does your baby do to make you laugh?

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Five things about five months old

Vitality and Mortality

This week started off rough and took a nosedive from there.

My sweet Granny, the one whose house I now live in and whose worldly possessions are now scattered, dusty, around me with price tags as I sit in her dark garage awaiting the customers who won’t come on this rainy Saturday morning, died on Wednesday afternoon.

I knew this was coming. She has been sick for so long and I have already said goodbye so many times.

Four days before Christmas I spent the day at her side in the ICU, enormously pregnant and watching her try to flip invisible coins and search her covers for clothespins that weren’t there, hallucinating because her heart was failing and not pumping enough oxygen to her brain.

A few weeks ago she was in the hospital again, with an infection. She lay in her hospital bed as small and fragile as a baby, waking up briefly to be fed an ice chip and to tell me the field was on fire. Her fingers and nose were purple. I kissed her on the forehead as I left, thought it again might be time.

She came back to the nursing home. The last time I saw her, she was upright in her wheelchair, sitting next to my grandfather, both of them lucid, both of them smiling as The Baby cooed and laughed stomped from my lap.

The Baby’s energy always seemed to revitalize them. I felt lucky to see them both awake and talking, a rare occurrence since they were both assigned hospice care. I remember saying, “See you soon,” my usual optimistic attempt at a casual goodbye, but I felt confident I meant it that time. They seemed well.

But it was the last time I saw her.

Her death and the parallel clearing out of her possessions bitterly punctuate the impermanence of things that seem steadfast. She was always there for me.  Until she wasn’t.

We couldn’t cancel the garage sale, and the busyness of the week kept me from having to spend too much time feeling this loss. But in the quiet minutes between greeting customers and tickling the baby, her absence is palpable.

The death of an old woman is the natural order, not a tragedy. As hard as we try to forget this fact, we will all die someday.

The best I can do to honor her memory is just to remember her. How she taught me to bake. How she led me by the hand through the fields that are now my backyard and named the trees and birds and flowers: Jack-in-the-pulpit, May apple, chickadee. How she’d rock me to sleep on the wooden porch swing while the tree frogs chirped.

I got out the porch swing yesterday and hung it back up. Rocked The Baby to sleep.

A sweetness sidled up next to the deep ache in my heart. She is mostly gone, but not completely.

Granny's handkerchief collection
Vitality and Mortality

And it all hits the fan

Mom confession: I do not have it together.Remember that cute post I published last week on lists and productivity and keeping your shit together as a SAHM?

Well, karma read it, drove to my house, rapped on the door and sucker punched me for my brazen overconfidence.

It was kind of a rough weekend. Followed by a rough Monday. And it’s 3:30 on Tuesday and I’m drinking a well-earned beer while my baby takes his 38-minute nap, his third of the day but his fifth that I’ve tried to put him down for.

I confess, Internet. I may have been able to move piles out of the way enough to take a semi-Pinterest-worthy photo of a cup of coffee (cold, nearly moldy, from The Husband because The Baby doesn’t tolerate caffeine well) on our desk, but who am I kidding? I DO.NOT.HAVE.IT.TOGETHER.



Allow me to wallow in self-pity while I drink this beer, won’t you?

As I’ve mentioned before, my baby won’t stay asleep through more than one sleep cycle during a nap. So for the past three weeks, I’ve been dutifully going through a nap routine: hanging my makeshift blackout curtain across the row of thumbtacks above his curtain-rodless window because we are eternally still moving in; nursing him; stopping when he finishes eating; giving him a pacifier and swaddling him; rocking him while singing several verses of “One elephant went out to play” (counting up as I go along to save myself from madness and to measure how long it takes); attempting to put him down drowsy and not all the way asleep, but often putting him down all the way asleep because drowsy rarely works and I’ve already invested a lot of time and maybe I really have to pee/try to get some work done, and then backing out of the room praying it worked. Usually, it does.

For about 38 minutes. Then, he wakes up fully (I have tried sneaking up on him and shushing him to sleep in his crib. He laughs in my face) so I have to pick him up, rock him back to sleep, hold him in the rocking chair until he gets through his REM cycle and falls back into a deep sleep (if I don’t wait, he wakes up and I have to start over), then put him down, and then I maybe have 15-20 minutes to try to do something before he’s awake again.

All in all, I calculate I spend 2.5 hours a day getting him to nap for 4.5 hours.

I expected it to get better. I expected him to start sleeping through that sleep cycle and letting me get some work done. Because as much as I’ve been Pollyanna-ing about how I’m loving SAHM-hood and just hoping to keep my  skills sharp through some light contract work, the truth of the matter is we need the money. I need to be able to work at least an hour or so a day, but it’s been impossible to settle into any sort of routine when I have what equates to the length of a smoke break every few hours (I don’t smoke.)

So today I said fuck it. If he wakes up, he wakes up. And he has, and he’s cranky as hell. I’ve let him kick around in his swaddle contentedly after he wakes up 38 minutes in, hoping and praying that somehow he’ll realize he’s still tired and go back to sleep, but alas.

At the same time, I’m trying to set up the garage sale from hell, moving boxes from one place to another in the the futile attempt to make enough room for the mountain of electric can openers, painted ceramics, pots and pans and pots and pans and pots and pans that are my grandparents’ legacy.

I’m doing it with a panicked fervor because it’s not just an annoyance that we’ve got a bunch of stuff, it’s an annoyance that has cost us about $200 a month to keep in a storage unit, and again I QUIT MY JOB AND WE NEED TO SAVE MONEY.

Garage sale
Today’s fresh hell.

And through all this, I can’t even work on the garage sale or my side gig writing and designing in the evenings because my sweet little baby can’t sleep longer than 40 minutes, even at night, because he’s still sleeping by my side. So I am tethered to my bed, reading or making tomorrow’s laughable to-do list or just staring wide-eyed at the ceiling hoping a solution will come to me.

I just wish someone would take my hand, teach me how to get my baby to sleep longer, and maybe make me some cookies.

And it’s been 38 minutes, so my baby is awake.

Until next time, remember: Don’t let people who seem to have their shit together intimidate you. They might be faking it, and even if they’re not, it’s never a permanent state of being. We’re all just doing our best.

Cheer a girl up… I may be failing sleep training 101, garage sales and basic grooming, but if you’ve ever felt like crying and drinking at 3 p.m. on a weekday, throw me a bone and vote for me below.

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And it all hits the fan

Productivity and the SAHM


Found this while cleaning out my grandparents’ house. As soon as the rush is over…

Tomorrow will mark The Baby’s 20th week on the planet, and my eighth week as a stay-at-home (trying to be a work-at-home) mom.

The “work-at-home” thing has been pretty challenging in the midst of everything else that’s going on right now. It took a lot of work to close on the house and project-manage moving into my grandparents’ house. We had a dumpster on site, filled twice. I rented a portable storage unit that is sitting in front of our garage, filled to capacity with stuff I hope to sell at a yard sale next week (because it is clocking a staggering monthly rental fee.) There is still so much stuff to go through, it feels like a Sisyphean version of that sliding tiles puzzle, except instead of producing a picture of Batgirl, I’m trying to put together a house that won’t kill our son when he starts crawling.  Yesterday we had 1,500 square feet of hardwood floors delivered, and they had to be put on the grass because the stupid POD is blocking our garage, so during naps I’m dragging wagon loads of boxes to the porch, which is littered with remnants of our last few trips to the old house to gather up the detritus from our garage.

Feel free to cut me off here and mock me. Wahhh, you have so much work to do in your ancestral house on a big patch of bucolic land. You can literally see bluebirds out your window from where you are sitting. Shut. Up.

I know. I’m complaining about stuff I should be endlessly grateful for. And I am endlessly grateful. But I’m also tired.

And being tired while I’m trying to nurture my baby’s development, to stay on top of the laundry, to blog, to work and to drag shit from one room in the house to another, is a lot to keep track of.

So even though it might be crazy-making to other people, I have carried my most ingrained work habit to my now SAHM/WAHM life: List-keeping.

I haven’t been at this SAHM thing long, but I’ve been doing this daily list keeping as a habit at my job for my entire career. This habit has been immensely helpful to me at home, so I thought I’d share some tips, adapted to this new mom role.

Take charge of your SAHM day with a well-planned to-do list

Home with the baby? Take charge of your day with a well-planned to-do listStart your list the night before.

Every evening, I start a list for the following morning of what I hope to accomplish. With the 1,000 unfinished things I have to do, this helps me sleep easier, because I know I won’t forget what I need to do when morning rolls around.

Include everything on your list.

I add to the list I started the night before during The Baby’s morning tummy time. And it encompasses almost everything I do during the day, from the most basic self-care (“eat breakfast”) to the house management and errand reminders, to the stuff that feels like I’m not being productive but that is so vital for The Baby’s well-being and our relationship (yes, I write “giggle time” on my list every day to remind me that making my baby laugh is an important duty. In fact, it’s why I quit my  job. It’s been tough adjusting to the reality that time earning money does not equal time wasted… which is another reason the list is so helpful. It puts value on the things I need to do.)

Go low-tech.

I use a three-subject, spiral-bound notebook I found in my grandparents’ pile of unused office supplies. Sure, I could use an app on my phone, but I’ve been trying my damnedest to keep my baby’s eyes off screens, so having a notebook makes it easy to keep up with my day without staring into the glowing screen of my phone (which is another issue altogether that I’ll save for another post). I use the first section for my daily to-do lists, the second section for various project plans (for example, my yard sale plans) and the third section for weekly grocery lists and meal planning. Again, there are tons of ways to do this electronically, but I like having the ability to look at my list without picking up my phone.

Go beyond the check mark.

I’ve started using my to-do list as a daily log in addition to a planner. I’ve been trying for the past few weeks to get The Baby on some semblance of a nap schedule, and I’ve been tracking when he falls asleep, when he wakes up halfway through and how long I hold him (yes, another post topic: my stupid nap training), and when he finally wakes up at the end. I also make little notes about the results of phone calls I have to make to utility companies, etc. Being able to flip back through this not only serves as a helpful resource, but is also a nice way for me to appreciate the progress we’re making.

Be specific and realistic.

Never, never put “finish laundry” as a list item. Because guess what: You will never “finish” your laundry. Instead, put, “do two loads of laundry,” or “put laundry away.” Is your kitchen trashed from one end to the next? You may not be able to “clean kitchen” all the way, but you can probably empty the dishwasher, reload the dishwasher, sweep the floor or wipe down the counters. It feels good to check things off a list, so give yourself plenty of opportunities to do so.

I also find this helps keep me from getting overwhelmed, giving up and sitting on the couch with a carton of ice cream.

Being specific and listing out discrete tasks also makes it easy to pick and choose things that don’t take a lot of time when you have 15 minutes left before naptime is up.

Don’t despair if your day goes off the rails.

Yesterday’s flooring delivery ended up being such a huge cluster that it ate up about two hours of my day, or an entire span between two naps. Other days, I overestimate how much time I have for errands and the baby’s middle nap is screwed. I almost never get everything checked off my list. But after several weeks of list-making, I am very much okay with this, because I…

Appreciate how much work goes into SAHM-hood.

Another reason having a list is helpful is it helps me realize I’ve been productive even on those many occasions when I look around me at the end of the day, to the sink full of dishes and the boxes and the scattered baby clothes. Yeah, I didn’t get around to cleaning, but I paid bills. I fed the baby. I went to the grocery store. I took a SHOWER.

Two months in, this has been a really helpful tool for me for getting shit done and for also not panicking at the existential crisis that is the transition to SAHM-hood. Maybe it will help you, too!

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Productivity and the SAHM

The pregnancy hand you’re dealt

13 weeks pregnant
Me at 13 weeks thinking I had a bump. LOLOLOLOL/sob.

Still unpacking from the move (and anticipate I’ll be doing this until we get through the big giant  yard sale we have to have and get our new floors installed… so, maybe I’ll be able to take a full breath without panicking sometime in July.) Anyway, still unpacking. I came across my pregnancy journal, and while I left behind the topic of pregnancy for several months, it’s been a year since I found out I was pregnant and I’m starting to get a little nostalgic for that crazy and brand-new time in my life, so I thought I’d look back on how it went.

When you read pregnancy books, they provide an exhaustive list of pregnancy symptoms and side effects, some benign and some devastating, and most falling somewhere around “incredibly uncomfortable” on that spectrum.

Early on in my pregnancy, before I had a bump to speak of, before I could feel kicks, I consumed pregnancy information as though it were the elixir that would keep this one going. All this reading led me to expect I would run into every single symptom in the books, almost like mile markers on a journey.

But, my special snowflakes, just as every person is different, every pregnancy is different. I think a better metaphor for pregnancy is a game of cards – there’s a deck of about 500 symptoms you can get, and everyone gets dealt their hand.

Let’s see, a pair of hemorrhoids, a straight flush of heartburn, three losses of bladder control…
Photo: Nayuki from Toronto, Canada (A hand of cards) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
 Here’s the hand I was dealt, along with some of the symptoms I dodged.

[Here’s your TMI warning, people who don’t want to know about my bodily functions. Who don’t you instead read this post about how we decorated the nursery? There, isn’t that trauma free?] 

  • Constantly  having to pee. Both times I was pregnant, the very day I could take a pregnancy test I already had this symptom (having to pee about every 20 minutes… sort of like having a UTI but without the accompanying pain.) When I was pregnant with The Baby, I decided to take a pregnancy test at about 5:50 a.m. I struggled with when to take it because you get the best results with your “first morning urine,” but I had been getting up to pee continually since about 2 a.m., so… Yeah. That lasted several weeks, I think?
  • “Pregnancy brain” and moodiness. I was a little forgetful and cried once or twice. This one barely registers and I blame it on exhaustion more than anything. The one time I do remember crying, I was standing in front of the open refrigerator sniffling because I was too tired to cook dinner.
  • Sore boobs. This was another early indicator. It felt almost like the burning sensation you can get from pulling a muscle, on top of a bruise. They also got huge for a little bit, but then things calmed down (or at least they quit growing, and also lost the race with my belly) as I approached the second trimester.
  • Food aversions. Here’s a list of my favorite foods during the first trimester: Cereal. The end. I never vomited or had real morning sickness, but I hated vegetables, meat, anything garlicky or oniony, I didn’t miss beer one bit (which I was surprised by), and I basically lived off Honey Nut Cheerios for the first trimester.
  • Nosebleeds. I got two of these. Nothing crazy.
  • Insane dreams. I have always been a vivid dreamer, but my dreams during pregnancy were NUTS. They rarely had anything to do with babies (and then not until I approached childbirth), and were usually flop-sweat inducing nightmares. Which was great, because I was sleeping so effing much, because I had…
  • Unbelievable fatigue. There were times in the first trimester I went to bed at 6:30 p.m. I rarely made it past 7:30 or 8. I luxuriated in weekend naps. I think early pregnancy sleep is the best sleep I ever got. (Or at least the last good sleep I ever got, ha!) We took a vacation to Asheville NC when I was about 15 weeks along, expecting that I’d be through the fatigue by then, but I still didn’t see a sunset the whole trip. I finally came out of this by about 18 weeks, at least for a little while.
  • Heartburn. If I had to pick the worst symptom of pregnancy, it would be the heartburn and acid reflux I grew so acquainted with starting early in my second trimester. I lived on Tums for as long as I could, and ended up eventually conceding that I needed stronger medication as the pregnancy wore on, because I couldn’t eat anything – drinking water even triggered it. There were several nights I woke from a sound sleep choking on stomach acid that had crawled up my throat. I guess that’s what you get when your hormones loosen every closure in your body and your stomach shoves all your organs up to your armpits.
  • Hip pain. As I got bigger and had to stick to side-lying at night, hip pain started to become another source of bad sleep on top of always having to pee and acid reflux and waking up from nightmares. I think I started to develop hip bursitis in pregnancy (this pain got worse/followed me postpartum, and is finally starting to feel like it is fading). I bought one of those stupid, giant pregnancy pillows and slowly took over the entire bed.
  • Linea nigra. I did get a darkish line up my belly. (I’m 4.5 months postpartum and it’s about gone.) I was happy to dodge the “mask of pregnancy” that I fully expected to get, since my most recent hormonal birth control resulted in a cute little melasma mustache. I wore sunscreen like it was my JOB throughout the pregnancy just in case.

I think that pretty much covers the gamut. I dodged any serious morning sickness, hemorrhoids/constipation (eat your fiber and drink your water, ladies!), swollen hands/feet (just a tiny bit the last week or so),  any really troubling emotional meltdowns/moodiness, pants-peeing, or too much trouble breathing. Now that I’m looking at it though, it is a pretty long list…

Word of advice, new moms: If you’re ever feeling nostalgic about pregnancy, just think back through all the queasiness and pain and exhaustion you endured. That’ll settle it right down for you.

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The pregnancy hand you’re dealt

Four things I learned from my mom

mother's day
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there… especially mine. 🙂

Today is my first Mother’s Day. (I was expecting last Mother’s Day, but it was early days and in the wake of a miscarriage, we didn’t acknowledge it because we were a little afraid of jinxing it.)

While it’s my first Mother’s Day, it’s my mom’s 30th. And it’s true, once you become a parent yourself, only then can you begin to appreciate the work, love and enthusiasm your own parents invested in you. So on this Mother’s Day, here are some things I learned from my own mother.

  1. It’s OK to be goofy. My mom used to embarrass the bejesus out of me because she was always so exuberantly, enthusiastically into playing with kids (my cousins, the kids she watched in home daycare, etc.) Now that I see her with my baby, and I see his eyes light up when she sings and plays and points out the world to him, I think to myself, “Seriously, who cares who is looking at you if you can make a baby laugh?”
  2. Chase your dreams — even if those dreams are different from one night to the next. My mom did a good job of retaining her own identity as a person throughout motherhood, whether she was taking Tai Chi classes or painting or any other of a long list of hobbies and pursuits. I didn’t always (okay, let’s be real, almost never) get into them with her, she was a good role model for not letting her personal definition end at “Mom.”
  3. You can share half of someone’s genes and be very, very different. My mom and I almost couldn’t be more different. She’s wildly extroverted and never met a stranger; I am leery of people who talk to me in public and am decidedly introverted. She’s really involved in her church and spirituality is not really a part of my life. She’s whimsical and doggedly driven to make sure everyone is getting along, and I’m practical and often blunt to the point of insensitivity. This has been a rough road to travel for a mother-daughter pair, who both likely have carried dreams of giggly pedicure sessions and secrets and long phone calls and other *Gilmore Girl-esque (*never actually watched the show, just assume they’re bffs) sense. But love for your family doesn’t always take the easy, sitcom saccharine form we want it to. We have to accept our differences and love each other in them. This lesson will serve me well as my children become their own human selves.
  4. The most important skill for motherhood is just being there. My mom and I talked yesterday about what her mom taught her about motherhood, and it was, simply, “Being there for me whenever I needed her.” My mom lost her mom last year (on the day I found out I was pregnant with The Baby.) I know she misses her very much, and today is probably going to be tough for her because of that. While my grandma isn’t here anymore, she was very present throughout my mom’s life — an incomparable source of love and support and acceptance. My mom has been that to me, as well. That legacy of unconditional love is the very definition of motherhood, and is the same lesson my mom has taught me. I will live out my life trying to emulate her in that respect.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

And whether you’re a new mom, a veteran mom, an expectant mom, a trying mom, a wishing-you-could-be a mom, a so-not-ready-to-be a mom, or a like-a-mom to someone, kick your feet up and eat ice cream for breakfast today. You’ve earned it.

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Four things I learned from my mom

The things you won’t remember

The things you won't remember: a letter to my babyWe signed the paperwork to close on our house today, so it’s official. We are no longer owners of the house our baby first knew, or residents of Cleveland. As I’ve said before, while I’m happy with the direction our lives have turned in the past few months, it’s bittersweet to close this chapter.

It has also led me to thinking about the myriad things The Baby won’t remember about his early days. As babies do, he is growing so fast. I thought I’d write a letter to The Baby to commemorate some of those things.

Dear Baby,

There are so many things I cherish about our life right now that you will never know. It makes me sad to think you won’t recall your first, sunlit bedroom with its blue walls and closet library, or that you very likely won’t remember meeting my grandparents.

You won’t remember the long walks in your stroller, just as the winter weather was breaking, or the way our dog became just a little gentler as she served as our guide through our neighborhood — past the used car lots, around the library, and over the sidewalks bumpy and broken by the roots of old trees.

You won’t remember the hours of naps you took in your carrier, your head resting over my heart as I wrapped our dishes in newspaper, folded laundry, ate a snack.

You won’t remember, more recently, being wrapped in a swaddle and sung to, approximately 12 verses of, “One elephant went out to play…” before you dozed enough that I could place you in your crib for a nap, or that 40 minutes later, when you stirred and couldn’t go back to sleep on your own,  I did it all over again and held you while you dreamed, until I could put you back down again, and how I do this three times a day.

You won’t remember how excited you feel when your dad comes home from work, your fat little legs twitching out stomps and your fingers waving toward him. You won’t remember how your grandmother sings to you over the phone, or how my mother holds you while we toss old hot dog buns to the fish in our pond, and you smile.

You won’t remember how we both laugh when you sneeze. Or that a kiss behind your ear makes you shriek with joy. Or that when you’re upset in the car, I reach behind me and we hold hands.

You won’t remember things yet to come — your first steps, your first taste of ice cream. These first experiences that form you, that will be the parts that accumulate to make up your whole person, will be visceral, felt and ingrained but never something you can inventory.

It is my great challenge and my great gift, as your mother, to hold these moments in my own memory as a monument to the precious and fleeting earliest days of your life. You won’t remember, but I won’t forget.



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The things you won’t remember

Parenting with your best friend

Happy Cuatro de Mayo, everyone!

What, you don’t celebrate Cuatro de Mayo?

Of course you don’t. Because it’s my holiday. Mine and The Husband’s.

It’s the anniversary of our first date in 2007, and we’ve been celebrating it instead of Valentine’s Day ever since. (I highly recommend this if you’re sick of Valentine’s Day. Replace it with a significant date of your own and celebrate that instead.)

tbt-the early days
Here’s a picture from about a month into dating. We were so young!

We met at Ohio University my freshman year, but it wasn’t until late in my junior year that the stars aligned and we started dating. Our first “date” was, as most things are at OU, a happy hour followed by a long night of shuffling up and down Court Street with friends. But we found ourselves holding hands the third or fourth bar in, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Nine years covers a lot of ground. We’ve certainly had the opportunity to play out much of our wedding vows — better and worse, in sickness and in health… We probably won’t ever be rich, and we were never really poor, but we lived through the Great Recession together on rice and beans, and we just made a few bucks on a house, allowing me to stay at home with The Baby for a little while, so I’m  not complaining.

Parenting, of course, is an entirely new frontier in this relationship, and that uncharted territory was something that really scared us away from having kids any sooner than we did. All the horror stories of fighting and affairs and messy divorces after having children made us wonder how becoming parents would change us — not just individually, but Us, us. We wondered if the glue was strong enough.

Four months in, here’s how parenting has changed us: We spend more time apart.

This has been difficult, because we really like each other.

From grocery shopping to visiting each other’s families to just hanging out when we have free time, we’ve always been (probably obnoxiously) attached to each other. Now that we have a baby, this isn’t so easy. We no longer go to bed at the same time. It’s usually The Baby and me doing the week’s grocery shopping. And if we’re visiting friends or family, one of us (often me, since The Baby is still breastfeeding and I’m lazy about pumping) has to get the baby to nap. So even though there are more of us in the family now, I am finding that solitude is a part of new motherhood that takes some adjusting to, and I’m sure The Dad feels the same way on his new, longer commutes or as he does chores alone as I put the baby to bed.

And yet, when we do have time together, with or without the baby, it’s still time with my best friend.

I was reminded of this yesterday when the three of us were lying on the nursery floor, The Husband and I playing a new game we made up called Mad Lib Story Time: One of us narrates the story but leaves blank spaces for the other to fill in with utter nonsense.

[I’m sure this won’t be funny in writing, but to give you a sense of how to play…

Me, holding lion rattle: This is a lion. His name is…

TH: Andy

Me: He works at a…

TH: Dairy store.

Me. Dairy store? Like a store that just sells dairy? Is it retail?

TH: It is a fill-your-own dairy store.

Me: All day long at the Dairy Store, Andy…

TH: Makes sure the bottles are filled to the very top.

Me: Andy’s favorite kind of milk is…

TH: Five percent.

You get the idea. Go be ridiculous with your baby.]

The Husband had me laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face.

Minus the baby, this is just about exactly how our friendship started so many years ago – uncontrollable laughter and an indescribable connection.

I know it’s still really early days in our lives of parenthood, but I’m no longer worried that the glue of our relationship will be weakened by it. Because for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, covered in spit up and drowning in laughter, we’ve got a good thing going.


Parenting with your best friend