parenting

Ring of fire: my life as a performance artist

Some days it feels like I am jumping through hoops that happen to be aflame.You don’t need to be a parent to know what I am talking about. When we stop to think about it we all have a myriad of responsibilities at any given time. It’s performance art at it’s finest. Stirring the morning oatmeal while carefully helping a toddler with his sippy cup, chatting on the phone with customer service while folding laundry, sweeping the floors while listening to an audiobook, or favorite podcast, the list is endless. There are rings of fire everywhere and we somehow manage to leap through them without being singed, most of the time anyway. For me, the biggest ring of fire is most often my anxiety followed by smaller rings that need to be negotiated.

This week is a busy one for me. My husband turned 30 today and I wanted to make his birthday special, so that turned into a little project for me. We are also going on vacation this weekend and there’s a lot of packing and list making to do. On top of that there’s the daily task of keeping the house clean and its inhabitants fed (and clean as well!).

A week like this one really gets started a few weeks in advance. I ordered a present for my husband online and I also decided to start a group card for him. If you’ve never heard of this service you should definitely check it out here. It’s a fun way to make a birthday special. I also did some Pinterest research for ideas for a birthday cake. I usually bake a cake for my husband’s birthday, it’s become tradition. As much as I love to keep things hot and spicy in the challenge department I decided that I could not manage to bake a cake this time. I just felt like I had too much going on. I could have baked a cake but I was afraid of what that would do to my overall timeline. A friend pointed out that baking should be fun. I agreed, and decided that stressing out over a cake was not worth it. I decided to order a cake from my local grocer’s bakery.

I still wanted to make the cake my own so I ordered a vanilla cake with white buttercream frosting. Two tiers, with a border. The decorating I would do at home. Such a simple thing saved me hours in the kitchen. I have decided that this has been a brilliant idea. Do any of you do this? I can think of so many awesome ways I can decorate one of these store-bought cakes. It might just be the new tradition.

On Tuesday I ordered the cake and picked it up that evening while doing my grocery shopping. Before heading home I stopped at the Dollar Tree for some balloons and adhesive tape. I also picked up a banner that I wasn’t planning on purchasing but once I saw it I knew that I did not want to make it as I had planned. Once I got home I had to clean up the after-dinner mess and tidy up a bit before finally sitting down to work on Wednesday’s birthday celebration. It’s a lot of multi-tasking.

Here’s how the big day turned out:

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Dinner at Friday's.

Dinner at Friday’s.

Cool birthday sign I picked up at the dollar store.

Cool birthday sign I picked up at the dollar store.

The finished cake. I added the ribbon and the bunting.

The finished cake. I added the ribbon and the bunting.

Why I blog

I’ve been blogging for almost a year! I sometimes can’t believe that I have managed to write over eighty posts so far. It’s been a lot of fun for me to come up with things to write about and share my thoughts as well as snippets of my life with family and friends.

Here are four reasons why I blog and plan to do so for a long time:

  1. It’s fun. Blogging can be as serious or as lighthearted as you want it to be. It’s encouraged me to try new things and learn about new things.
  2. It’s a creative outlet. The content of my blog is all my own. I decide what I post and how I post it. I can blog about anything I want, recipes, hairstyle ideas, and even crafts.
  3. It allows me to document thoughts, events, and other interesting endeavors.  My favorite part about blogging is being able to look back. One day, when Diego is older he will be able to sift through our lives through the blog. He will be able to get to know me in a different way. I think that’s a wonderful thing.
  4. I love writing and blogging is a way to practice. Writing, like anything, is something you get better at through practice. I try to write a little every day. My blog is just one of the places I do so. Sometimes I look back on a post and I think about all the ways it could have been better. If I encounter a typo or grammatical error I am quick to correct it. I don’t aim for perfection, but I try to not make any grave mistakes.

When I started this blog, I did so in order to be able to share my life with friends and family far and wide, and with the hopes of maybe sharing it with some friends I made along the way. I like to share experiences, perspectives, inspiration, and photographs. I started this blog in order to document my life as a wife, mother, and eternal optimist. A lot of my posts will be centered around my own parenting wins and losses, but I like to share things that would be of interest to people whether they are parents themselves or not.

I was a better mother before having Diego

Before having Diego I had a lot of answers. I had plans, and scenarios that put me first in line for a reality check. I was determined to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice regarding no television for children under two, I was going to swaddle my way into a baby that slept through the night within the first six months, I was going to breastfeed for at least a year and I forget what other lofty goals I had for myself and my unborn child. I read books, blogs, journal articles, and watched countless YouTube videos about everything from which stroller is best to what foods to avoid.

We are all better parents before our children arrive. We are so full of energy and motivation that we can’t fathom that we will fail, or deviate from our preconceived ideas about what parenthood will entail. My first lesson in this came at my thirty-five week appointment where my blood pressure was so high I had to be admitted right away. Right then, I knew that my natural childbirth had slipped through my fingers. I had wanted a vaginal birth, I wanted to feel the pain of labor no matter how briefly (I was always open to an epidural) and I wanted to give birth to my baby in the beautiful way I had seen time and time again. My doctor, accustomed to my neuroses assured me that everything would be ok. She also reminded me that things change. I knew this. I had discussed this with her at length, but in that moment, overcome by fear, I could only grieve for that experience I wouldn’t have.

Diego was born via Cesarian section the next day. I saw him briefly before he was taken to the NICU. Already, my plans were changed. I did not get to nurse him right away. It would be days before I would put him to my breast. Breastfeeding is hard and even more so when your baby has been drinking from a bottle while in the NICU. I was pumping regularly and fortunate to have an ample supply but I couldn’t be there to feed him every three hours so I had to be satisfied with sending baggies of pumped colostrum/milk to him.

When we finally brought him home I discovered that he could break through his swaddle and end up scratching his face. He did not like having his arms contained. We tried using mittens to avoid scratches but his jerky movements had him smacking himself in the face and waking himself up. Where was this swaddle magic I heard so much about?! By the time Diego was four months we couldn’t swaddle him anymore because he could turn over. Sleep would elude us for most of his first year. We had some good nights where he slept for five or six hours straight but those were rare. We tried everything to no avail. Books will tell you that by six months babies should be able to sleep through the night but babies don’t read the books!

Diego is now almost eighteen months and has been sleeping around twelve hours straight each night for a while. He obviously did not fit the mold when it comes to typical sleep in babies.

As for television, he watches some shows. There are days when the TV stays off all day and he doesn’t miss it. It’s not part of his routine, but he does watch it. How unrealistic is it to expect parents to not expose their kids to ANY television whatsoever? In my opinion it’s pretty unrealistc. At least for us. Somedays I need those thirty minutes to an hour to get something done. Other days it’s just nice to sit together as we sing along to some of his favorite songs on his favorite show.

I was a better mother before having Diego because I had answers. I thought the experiences of others would somehow help me navigate first time motherhood with grace. Nothing helps you when you’re up at four in the morning, crying because your baby hasn’t let you sleep in days and if you put him down you will only ensure a screamfest. The books don’t tell you that sometimes a shower is the last thing you will want at the end of a long day of pumping, feeding and cleaning up poop. There are days when we are at our worst, when we cut corners, feed our kids frozen chicken nuggets, and let them tear our mail into pieces just for a few minutes of peace and quiet.

I was  a better mother, but now I am something even better: I’m mama.

 

One pot meal and a crib bandit

I am in the middle of a spring cleaning sort of thing. I am going through our closets and getting rid of all the junk that we no longer need or use. I also went through Diego’s clothes and picked out the ones that no longer fit him. We took a nice little haul over to our local Goodwill. There is still a closet that is pending but the house already feels more spacious.

Kicking up all this dust has not helped the cold I have but I’ve pushed on. This needs to get done and I have been putting it off for far too long. My work in progress should be complete by the end of the week. In addition to all this cleaning I took the opportunity to rearrange the furniture in Diego’s room. I think it’s a better configuration, namely because his crib in no longer right by the door. I’m hoping that my husband’s leaving in the morning no longer disturbs him and that he will sleep a little longer.

My favorite part of my day today was the meal I made for lunch. It’s a one pot pasta meal that is both easy and tasty. I made it using bow tie pasta but you can use whatever cut of pasta you like.

I used:

about 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes (halved)

Two cloves of garlic (peeled)

Dry oregano to taste

Salt

Pepper

About 1/2 a box of bow ties

Enough water to cover the pasta.

Throw all of these ingredients in a pot and cook until pasta is cooked through. I also added some fresh baby spinach towards the end of cooking. If the sauce is too watery ladle some of it out and allow it to thicken a little. You can add basil if you have it. I’m sure that would be good, too.

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Lastly, Diego let me know it was time to lower his mattress again. It was the first thing my husband did when he came home.

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