Tuesday, June 28, 2016
I have really missed this space. Since my last blog post a few months ago, I've written a couple dozen mental posts, but never actually gotten them written. Turns out mental blog posts don't count as real blog posts.
So here I am, back writing an actual post.
Part of the reason for the break was that the past few months have been busy. We moved into our new house (!!!), and we're getting adjusted while slowly unpacking all of our boxes. My sister got married (!!!), and we spent a week in Michigan for the wedding, then had another reception back in St. Louis. Baby T turned one (!!!), and we celebrated his birthday with a simple little party. On top of that we've been working on getting into a more predictable daily routine to try to help Baby T sleep better at night. Our plans for regular sleep have been foiled by a couple bouts of sickness, but I'm hoping we're reaching the end of that.
I've been staying at home with Baby T since we moved back to St. Louis, and it's been so good in so many ways. It's also been interesting for me to not have a job out of the house I regularly go to or having to be accountable to someone other than my baby. But I wouldn't trade the time I've had with him for anything. Everyday there's a little moment where I think "I wouldn't have had this if I was working."
The ups have been getting to spend lots of time with Baby T and having a very flexible schedule. The downs have been finding myself in a bit of a personal rut and not knowing where I want to go from here. When I think about working outside of the home I get panicky thinking about leaving my little guy, but thinking about being a stay at home mom for a long time doesn't feel great either. I'm not sure what the answer will be, but I thought picking up blogging again might help me figure out what I want to do.
Another reason for the break is that I've been feeling a little stuck, though I didn't realize that until just recently. I miss making goals and bucket lists. I miss taking pictures and sharing them. I miss painting and having projects. I miss reflecting on my daily life. The last time I found myself in a bit of a rut, I began this blog. Finding little things to be grateful for in my everyday life made a huge difference for me, and I felt thankful for things I had been overlooking. Eventually I found a new job, some new hobbies, then another new job that ended up being the perfect fit for me. Then I left it to move home. It's been a great move for us, but it's also been a huge transition, and even the perfect move brings growing pains.
But ruts and feelings of dissatisfaction are huge gifts. They get me to take a closer look at my life, figure out what's missing, and open me to new possibilities.
The last reason for the break is that I didn't know what I wanted this blog to be anymore. I got a strange reminder that writing a blog is in its nature a very public thing, meaning anyone can read anything I write. That's what I want in a way (obviously), but it means I need to be picky about what I choose to share, especially now that I have a baby. You've probably noticed that I haven't shared any pictures of his face, and I rarely mention his full name. While I'm sure that 99% of the people reading this would only have the purest of intentions checking up on my little guy (especially because it's mostly my friends and family that read this!), I get nervous about that 1%. Figuring out what this space looks like when my life is focused on a baby whose privacy I want to protect will just be a process.
So there you have it. A quick check in post that will hopefully be the start of a refocusing on blogging and the things that bring me joy. I feel a little better already. Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
We bought a house! We bought a house! We bought a house!
I'm just a little excited about it. We found the most adorable house in the coolest neighborhood for a pretty great price. We move in just a few weeks, and we are so happy because it's our very first house! Everything fell into place so perfectly with this house it's pretty tempting to think it was meant to be.
We'd been looking for a house for a few months, and we were just about to expand our search to other neighborhoods when the perfect house popped up. We found it posted in the morning, viewed it in the afternoon, put an offer down in the evening, and had our offer accepted by the time we went to bed! It was a pretty exciting day. Our love of the house grew when most of the inspections went pretty well too. Not bad for a house that's over 80 years old!
This is a photo of our adorable kitchen. We'll be keeping that amazing stove for storage, but we couldn't keep it for daily use since it didn't fit most of our bakeware (and also wasn't up to code). The rest of the house has some great character too. Original hardwood floors, unpainted baseboards (yes!), stained glass windows, and a fireplace! I can't wait to move in and start decorating and making our house a home.
Best of all, Baby T will get to celebrate his first birthday in our new house. There's something pretty special about starting to have our birthdays and holidays in a place we'll be for (hopefully) a long time.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Today I celebrate my 31st birthday, and WOW does it feel crazy to type that. I remember when my older cousins turned 30 and complained about how old they felt, and now I'm as old as they were when they said that! And even though I'm a year older than 30 and have a baby, I still feel pretty young. It's like my grandma told me once: she still felt like the same person she was when she was 18. She had aged on the outside, but on the inside she still felt like the same person. Age is a funny thing.
Last year I set 15 goals for myself. Here's how I did with them.
1. Spend time in the garden (community and porch) - check
Before we moved from Milwaukee in November, I spent some time on the front porch and the community garden with Baby T. Not as much as I expected to, but it was something.
2. Keep up with regular low impact exercise - check
Being a stay at home and living in a place with a milder winter has made exercising a lot easier. I go walking regularly and started doing a stroller boot camp. Which is much more a boot camp than a stroller class.
3. Get back to roller derby - nope
Moving away from Milwaukee made this difficult. I probably could have found a way to do roller derby in St. Louis, but I haven't had the motivation to look into it. I sure do miss it though.
4. Bake something new - check
I made some delicious ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party. It wasn't difficult, but it was new, so it counts.
5. Complete one big painting project - working on it! more to come on this
6. Try a new craft - not really
I've been doing more ink drawings, but I don't think that's what I really meant when I wrote this goal.
7. Try oil paints - nope
I didn't have access to oil paints, but I recently found out a friend has some and wants to paint together. Maybe by this time next year, I'll have overcome my fear of oils!
8. Take the baby to St. Louis, Portland, and one other place - check
We travelled all over with Baby T! We went to Portland twice, Michigan, St. Louis, and then back up to Milwaukee after we moved back to St. Louis.
9. Embrace motherhood - check (I think?)
You can judge for yourself based on my "thoughts on motherhood" posts.
10. Complete 52 week photography challenge - nope
11. Make some baby photo albums - nope. I really need to get on this one.
12. Go on regular dates with Paul - check
I think we get out pretty regularly for being new parents. We've been to the movies, out to dinner, and even to an adult birthday party! We are basically the hippest.
13. Be kind to myself - check
The kindest thing I've done for myself is allowing myself to be a stay at home mom after we moved to St. Louis. I felt a panic every time I thought about finding a new job, and I felt so happy and complete spending time with my baby guy. I listened to myself (and Paul listened to me too), and I decided to spend some time at home. Though money is tight, it's been a wonderful thing for our family.
14. Play and dance - check
If it makes Baby T smile, I pretty much do it. So yes, lots of playing and dancing happened this year.
15. Start a family tradition - check
On Sundays we like to go to mass then go out to lunch. We usually pick a different "ethnic" restaurant to try out. It's been fun to have that time and to explore St. Louis together. We also started making lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) for special holidays.
And there you have it. My 31st year of life. For my 32nd year, I'd like to focus on being healthier. I love Michael Pollan and eating for the environment and taking care of my body, but I don't actually do it. I think that I eat mostly plants like Michael Pollan suggests, but the reality is that I eat mostly carbs. Eating healthy nowadays almost feels counter cultural, so I don't completely blame myself for falling into bad eating habits. But hopefully this time next year, my eating habits will look at least a little different from what they do now. It's not just for me that I do this but for my husband and my little baby guy. Life is so good with them, I want to be able to enjoy it for a long time to come.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
I have a baby who is nine months old (technically 9 1/2 at the time of this writing), and I have no idea how that happened. When I was pregnant with Theo nine month olds seemed HUGE and old! And I figured a mom of a nine month old obviously had everything about parenting figured out. Now I'm the mom with the huge, old baby, but everything seems just as it did when we came home from the hospital - though I know so much has changed.
Time is tricking that way. The days are long and the weeks are short. So time always seems like it passes so slowly, then you blink and your baby is suddenly nine months old and WALKING! Yes, Baby T is walking. You can probably imagine that I have mixed feelings about this. I'm so proud of my baby guy, but having a walking baby is so much work. I have to watch him like him a hawk, and even then he still manages to fall and hurt himself or get something in his mouth that he shouldn't have. He's so fast!!
Here are a few other thoughts from this mom of a nine-month old.
- I've talked about how having a c-section really rocked my world, and nine months later I still feel like I'm coming to terms with it. Every time a friend has a baby "normally," I feel so happy that they didn't have to go through what I did, but I also feel a twinge of jealousy. There's also feelings that I wasn't strong enough to have Baby T or that my body failed somehow. I was sharing this with my mom yesterday, and she something so helpful. She told me to remember how strong I had to be to make it through my labor and that I did what I had to do to safely bring Baby T into the world. Instead of feeling like I failed because I had such a hard labor, remember to feel strong for getting through it. Hearing that made something click for me. Hopefully that will help me find more peace with my labor experience.
-Newborns feel so tiny to me now. A few friends have had babies in the past month or so, and when I hold them I feel like I'm holding a big folded towel. One that squirms and makes squeaky sounds. They are just tiny and light!
- It is amazing to be a witness to a baby's development. There is so much evolution on a weekly basis. I say the phrase "this is the new thing he's doing" a few times a week. I try to journal about the little things he does since most of them seem to be very fleeting. Some of the things he's currently doing: walking around the house with socks in his mouth, saying "doi doi doi" when he gets frustrated, reading all of his board books, feeding himself with little finger foods, and tucking his toes onto the bottom of his high chair tray.
- Having to put away baby clothes that don't fit anymore is the best way to get me to cry.
- I spent a week in Milwaukee this month, and let me tell you something that is probably completely obvious: it's hard travelling with a baby. The actual car trip was fine, surprisingly. But spending a week at someone else's house - even if they are the nicest people in the world - is enough to turn a baby's world upside down. I felt like I was on edge most of the time trying to keep Theo from eating things he shouldn't and just trying to keep things feeling normal. Come to think of it, it probably also didn't help that I was trying to train someone at my old job - with no babysitter. Moral of the story: try not to bring your baby on week long work trips.
- Want to know how to make a very happy mom anxious? Ask her if her baby is sleeping through the night. If you want to make her really anxious, tell her about how well your babies slept through the night at that age, without having to do anything. I really don't mind that Theo doesn't sleep through the night consistently, but having to justify his little natural behaviors is hard.
- Theo is going through a period of separation anxiety. And I find that I also have separation anxiety being away from him. Don't get me wrong, having a few hours away from him for a date night or time with friends is fantastic and a great way to hit the reset button. But thinking about a whole day or a whole night away from him gets my heart racing! My mom says that motherhood is a journey of letting go, and I'm finding that to be true, but not to be easy.
- Laughing with Baby T is one of my favorite things in the world. He'll giggle, then I'll giggle, then he'll giggle again, then I'll do it again too, and we'll gone on like this for a few minutes. Because we're that cool. But seriously, making him laugh is the best feeling in the world. The only competing feeling is watching Paul make him laugh. <heartmelt>
- My baby guy looks more like a little boy everyday. He's learning to express himself and really seems to be understanding more. He watches animals at the zoo. He pulls food out of his mouth, checks it out, then eats it again. He stretches his neck to look around corners for things. He waits, moving from foot to foot, while the tub fills with water for his bath. He tries jumping out of my arms so he can climb up the stairs to his room. And he arches his back when he sees that he's going to the diaper changing station. It's so cool to see him discovering and making sense of his world.
- I am so, so, so thankful to be spending this special time at home with Theo. When we moved to St. Louis, I went back and forth about whether to find a job or stay home full time. I felt like I *should* be working, but everytime I looked at jobs I got all panicky. Over the past couple of months we've settled into such a nice routine, and I couldn't imagine trading this time at home with Theo for anything.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Bonus: some white magnolias! The bulb garden is below and is just as beautiful, but that post will be for another day.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
St. Louis weather is largely unpredictable, with a warm, sunny day followed immediately by a freak snow storm. There's a saying here that goes something like "if you don't like the weather, just wait a day and it'll probably change." Except for summer weather. Heat and humidity are the name of the game of summer in St. Louis.
During one of my many visits to the Missouri Botanical Garden's orchid show in February, I noticed a "what's in season" sign. It was the middle of winter, so I didn't expect any flowers or trees to be showing. Instead, the sign read:
"Seiwa-en: Garden of Pure, Clear Harmony and Peace. Snow is considered to be a flower in the Japanese Garden. In the winter, shapes and contrasts become the visual pleasures of this garden, and many elements are meant to be appreciated when the snow delineates their graceful forms."
Beautiful right? It inspired me to venture outside to take a few pictures during the next snow. Predictably, the snow only stayed around for about a day, so I'm glad I went when I did.
I stood by this waterfall for a few minutes before walking out of the Japanese garden. Have you ever noticed how being still for a few minutes in normal life seems like hours? Well, it was a beautiful place to spend a few moments or a few hours.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
March 2 seems like a great day to share my New Year's resolution for 2016. Blame it on lack of sleep or all the time spent chasing a little baby guy around, but I'm honestly just happy I'm managing to share it with you at all!
Ironically, this has been the longest I've stuck to a resolution in quite some time. I'll give some credit to the tracking tool I purchased from Elise Joy. For $4 I downloaded the tracking sheet and could print it as many times as I wanted. Now, could I have just made one myself? Absolutely. But there was something about making a tiny investment in the tracker that made me want to stick to my commitment a little more. Plus I saw that someone last year had colored their circles in with different markers and that made me want to do it too.
I've committed to sketching, drawing, or doodling fifteen minutes a day for every day in 2016. So far I've missed only one day had three other days where I sketched, just not for the full fifteen minutes. Most days I draw for longer than fifteen minutes, but I never "require" myself to do it too long so that it always seems manageable with everything else I have going on.
In January I copied Lisa Congdon's sketchbook pages and threw in random original drawings like the one above. In February I copied Mirdinara's sketchbook which was much harder and not nearly as enjoyable. But I stuck with it all month and practiced a style that was out of my comfort zone which is what I've been hoping to do as an artist for some time.
The hardest part of art for me is usually practicing and this resolution has finally helped me work on that. Plus it's a great way to relax in the evenings, and I feel like I'm "accomplishing" something completely unrelated to being a mom or wife. I've come to realize that I need something that is mine alone so that I can be a better person for my family and friends.