Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Night of the Rambling Thoughts

Two coffees in the mid to late afternoon yesterday equalled a night of insomnia. Thus, a night of thinking and musing, especially about the future.

I've been feeling really ambivalent about my work lately, for a number of reasons. At the forefront is this amazing SAHM summer I'm having. I enjoy being with my child for the majority if not all of the day. Before the arrival of AwesomeKid, I had always thought that I would be unhappy, bored, and unfulfilled if I was a full-time mom. I don't think that's the case anymore. Additionally, the past two years at work have just been rough. I know that's because I was pregnant/pumping/adjusting to motherhood for this whole time. I know that when I go back for the fall semester things may be different, but I'm scared that they won't.

Being a musician and a teacher/music director has been part of my identity for my entire adult life. It's weird to feel myself losing enthusiasm. Working with the younger set is easy and not as challenging as it used to be, although there is still a lot I could improve upon. Working with the older (teenage) crew has just been an exercise in frustration for the past five years, if I'm totally honest about it. I don't think I'm cut out to work with teenagers, but it could be the school climate I'm working in -- all boys, machismo values, sports above all, slackerdom rampant... And the over involved parents and their endless emails trying to wrangle special treatment for their kids... At the end of last year I really felt like giving up, but I signed the contract anyways.

Plus, I have issues working for a Catholic instutution. I'm not religious, and I strongly object to the Catholic Church's anti-feminism, sex negativity and bigotry regarding homosexuality. I don't like being one of the faces of that instutution in the minds of my students.

So, there are a lot of negatives associated with the current work situation. But it is the devil I know, and the city I live in does not support arts education in its public schools, for the most part. So there it is, I guess.

Rattling around in the back of my head, though, is this totally other field of work. I've been fascinated with birth and birth advocacy since my Bradley classes and my husband and I's amazing birth experience. The enthusiasm has not dwindled. I find the natural process of birth amazing and transcendent, despite its earthy, guttural, primitive quality. I cry when I read birth stories. My husband and I still talk about our AwesomeKid's birth on a fairly regular basis. I read articles about birth and the controversies surrounding the home/natural birth communities and hospital protocols. I firmly belief that the treatment of women in pregnancy and labor/delivery is a feminist issue, though it is largely ignored.

I'd really like to get certified to teach Bradley classes, since the method worked so well for my husband and I, but there's no way that would bring in more that spending money. I've thought about doula-ing also, but I am really really not good when I don't get enough sleep, and what would I do with a client like myself (27 hours of labor)? I was a zombie after coaching my sister's birth, and her's was fast - 12 hours from start to finish. I don't know...

But it still appeals to me. It sounds fulfilling. It'd be a completely different line of work. There would be wack hours, but more time not working... I'd be my own boss. I could subsidize with performing - my first love before teaching... I don't know. There's a training for doula/birth educator certification in my city in a few months. Is this something I should check out? Or am I just burnt out and looking for an escape from the current job? There are a lot of other things I could attempt within the field I already know - setting up a private studio, attempting to find a new school, gigging... How much of all these thoughts are pipe dreams and how much could really work for me?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

SAHM Summer: Weeks 2 and 3

Still effing loving it. It's not monotony - it's a lovely routine. Breakfast, clean up breakfast, park or playground, lunch, clean up lunch, inside play, nap, snack #1, clean up snack #1, adventure to somewhere OR more toy time, snack #2, clean up snack #2, outside time unless it's over 90 degrees, dinner, clean up dinner, possible outside time, bath, stories, bed. BAM!

10 Things I love about My SAHM Summer (so far):

1- Seeing my AwesomeKid grow up before my eyes.
2- My hippy heart LOVES eating all my farmers' market foods with AwesomeKid.
3- No dealing with moody adolescents.
4- No lesson plans.
5- Having more energy! Which means more fun extracurriculars for me after AwesomeKid goes to bed for the night. Current projects: late night gym trips and Dragon Age: Origins.
6- Being as fly on the wall and watching AwesomeKid pretending with her stuffed animals.
7- Coloring.
8- Discovering kid stuff around town that we can't do together while I'm working. So far, we've discovered a warehouse where you can go to jump on about 10 different spacewalks,we've signed up for Kindermusik classes, and we've gone to a special after hours zoo event. Planning to check out the Children's Museum and do some baby swimming lessons too.
9- I can wear whatever I want.
10 - Playgrounds.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Zen and the Art of Household Maintenance

Exhibit A1: The kitchen.

I have a lot of childhood memories of my mother being very stressed out about the state of our house. I remember feeling like my mom was missing out on a lot of fun because she was always trying to organize and stuff.   

Exhibit A2: Detail of the kitchen
We had a big house, four girls, and way too many toys thanks to our very overly genorous grandma. I suppose we were pretty messy as a group - I know that our kids' bathroom was full of dirty clothes and I guess that's pretty gross. And I recall the playroom being taken over with elaborate "houses" made from easels and blankets sand pillows.  That probably looked pretty awful through the lens of adult perspective.  And, generally, none of us cleaned our room on a regular basis...  OK, so there was some merit to her constant fretting about how much of a wreck the house was.  And in retrospect, the four of us were probably being brats by being so unhelpful about cleaning.  Things you realize with age...

As much stress as the lack of cleanliness caused, she was fighting a losing battle. Despite her crusades against clutter, all four of her progeny are pretty much slobs. We have a collective tendency to roll our eyes at folks who regularly clean their windows and change sheets once a week.  I have a terrible time with basic stuff like actually walking across the room to put things away, and (blush) even throw trash away.  My sisters are worse.  When I helped them clean out an apartment they shared a few years back, even I was grossed out by the mess - and it takes a lot to gross me out. 

Exhibit B: Toys gone mad.

Since the arrival of AwesomeKid, it's been an uphill battle to keep our house from descending into complete and total squalor. Between my laissez faire attitude and BestHusbandEver's tendency to hoard and pile ("If it's in a neat stack it's not clutter!"), AND the lack of a dishwashing machine, we are like a sinking ship in an ocean of crap. It's actually enough crap that it sometimes makes me anxious and makes me start to miss the fun stuff and obsess about the mess everywhere. Which means I might be becoming my mother.


Exhibit C: Crap everywhere!!!

So the mess generally had been taking over slowly and steadily, and with both of us working full time, the running around toddler who NEVER STOPS, and the accompanying exhaustion, BestHusbandEver and I were feeling a bit lost and hopeless about the whole situation. 

But then we did something brave, something bold, something AMAZING!  Something I never ever thought I would do.  The laissez faire attitude stopped, we recognized the importance of cleanliness and we took matters into our own hands!  We took a brave new step in the battle against the STUFF!

Did we throw out all the stuff we don't need?  Did we create a system for organization? Did we actually start cleaning up on a regular basis?  NO!

We hired a housekeeper.  Best effing decision EVER. 

Exhibit D: Shiny!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fast Times at the Very Granola House

Little red monster
Mommy does a good impression.
And you're on YouTube.

* * *

At the Toys R Us
Legos taunt your mom and dad.
Toddler toys for now.

* * *

Baby birds in nest.
Tweet tweet tweet! They were so sweet.
Goddamn neighbor's cat.

Friday, June 3, 2011

SAHM for the Summer: Week 1 Complete

School's out for the summer, bitches!!! Jubilation, joy, etc. etc.... This was a ridiculously tough year, with the whole adjusting to full-time working mom thing and now I've got two full months of playing SAHM with my AwesomeKid!!!

Week 1 is complete, and I've got to say, this is so, so, so, um... Well, it feels bad to say it because I don't want to, like, downgrade the work of SAHMs everywhere, but as of now it's sooooo easy. Sooooooo much easier than working. We sleep til 7:30, we have time to eat breakfast as a family, we can play play play all day... Even when AwesomeKid is in a bad mood (like today, without the nap strike followed by super crankiness meltdowns), it is less stressful.

I think part of the ease and joy come from AwesomeKid's age right now. She's 17 months, so the nursing all the time thing is in the past, and she's literally adding new words to her vocabulary daily. It is fascinating to watch and interact with her. She's starting to pretend, which is just amazing to see developing. She's been really interested in dressing stuffed animals and making them turn the pages in books and things like that. So amazing.

Now, if I had been at this for 17 months already? With no breaks ever? Probably wouldn't be so chipper. Pretty sure of that. But for now, I'll savor the time I have. Yay for summer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Just what I needed -- Linky Love

There was no plan to become an extended breastfeeder, but here we are, or here I am. Awesome Kid is 15 months and weaning is nowhere in sight. I tried to start cutting back when she made it to a year, and at least now the pump is gone, but the kid really loves her "na-na" time. I don't have the stomach to deny her the boob, especially when she obviously associates it with security and snuggles and feeling loved.
I'd been feeling frustrated with the nursing situation as of late, especially how it continues to affect my sleep. The other night I read this lovely post by Navelgazing Midwife, which struck me in exactly the place I needed to be, um, struck. Literally exactly what I needed to hear at this place in my life. Great when stuff like that falls in your lap. Or on your iPhone.

Another grand post that made it's way to me at the perfect time was from JJKidding. Husband (Still the best ever) and I are thus far pretty laid back as parents. We're not into major discipline with a 15 month old, and we let her explore and make messes as long as she's not going to hurt herself. She's a complete whirlwind that doesn't ever seem to stop moving, and we are cool with that even if it's exhausting. Anyways, there have been a few snarky comments that got back to me from judge-y family people (who don't have kids, or who haven't had young ones in over 20 years). I mostly let it roll off the back but it's nice to know other people out there have similar experiences and philosophies about parenting.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Make! Your! Own! Baby! Food!

The Cliff Notes version of any baby food recipe book:

Introduction - You should make your own baby food that is ORGANIC and NATURAL and GOOD instead of buying EVIL PROCESSED CORPORATE food. You spent at least $20 on this book so you could do that! Yay you! Fresh food is better for your baby. Feed your baby fresh food now, and s/he will grow up to be not obese and you will have no trouble with picky eating ever.



1) Get fruit that is naturally soft and squishy. Mash it up.

2) Steam fruit or veggies that are not naturally soft and squishy until they are soft and squishy.  Mash them up.  

3) Buy some organic whole milk yogurt.  Feed it to your baby.

4) Here is a ridiculously complicated recipe involving grinding your own grains to make cereal.  Ignore this one and go buy a box of rice cereal.  You have a baby.  You don't have time for that foolishness.  

5) Oh yeah, eventually your baby should eat meat too.  Cook it and then mash it up.  Use the blender.  


Ta Da!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recipe: Red Lentil Soup

Simple, yummy, healthy. Takes less than 20 minutes i f you chop everything ahead of time. Woot.

1/2 onion, chopped
3-4 stalks curly, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup beet greens, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon basil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup red lentils
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Sauté onion, celery, garlic, carrots, greens, and seasoning with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil tunnel onion is soft. Add lentils and chicken broth, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Add more salt and pepper as necessary.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rachel Scott

So, life. It keeps going.

At work this week, the powers that be trotted all of the kids out to the gym for an assembly on bullying, which I initially thought was going to be super cheesy, just like the Coke presentations of my youth*. Instead it was one of those things that is so sad it leaves you feeling hollow for the rest of the day.

The presentation was part of a project called Rachel's Challenge. Rachel was a girl who was killed at age 17 in the Columbine shootings. Weird that none of my students knew about Columbine. It was such a huge deal, but now it's just the distant past.
Rachel's father was the presenter. He talked about finding Rachel's diary and essays she had written about her views on life, on how people should be kind and refrain from judging others without knowing the full story. Idealism. It actually reminded me a lot of myself as a teenager - I was super idealistic, really did try to be nice to everyone. I wanted to grow up to help refugees and work for Amnesty International...

Anyways, this project, Rachel's Challenge, outlines tenets for living based on her writings, and it's a wonderful concept. Be kind, give second chances, choose positive role models... Great stuff, and it was great for our students to hear. Something about the message coming from "beyond the grave" seemed to really strike a chord for a lot of them.

The footage they used was just gut wrenching. The thing that almost broke me was the video montage of her growing up, starting with videos of her at the same age my daughter is now. It was so so sad, to see her father up there, knowing that he has given this presentation a million times, and that every time he's reliving and remembering her loss. And while I'm sure he gets solace knowing that this message of peace has been spread all over the world in his daughter's name, I'm also sure he'd rather she had the chance to grow up and create her own legacy.

There was some talk in the teachers' lounge about destiny, and maybe this girl was meant to die so that this project and her message could spread throughout the world. One student told me he thought Rachel was a prophet, because of her prolific writings. I just keep thinking - here was a person who has been suspended in time at the height of idealism. She is forever seventeen in the minds of everyone knew her and who hears about her. But if those terrible, evil boys hadn't shot her in cold blood, she'd be my age today. She could have become "great", or maybe she'd have shed some idealism. She could have a family. She could have a blog. She could play on her iPhone too much. She could be stressing about how messy her house is. She could be alive.

I don't believe people are "meant" to die violent deaths. I don't believe people are destined to suffer. I can't. I don't care how much good has resulted from that kind, beautiful teenager's death. It would be better if she was alive today.

* Coke presentations = Trot all of the kids to the gym and make them watch an "inspiring" multimedia presentation with trite truisms about life and how drugs are bad blended in with positive popular music. Designed for super short attention spans. All sponsored by Coke, so that the school feels less bad about picking corn syrup beverages at its population. Dunno how popular these were/are in other regions, but they were BIg Events when I was in high school.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Things that are True

1) Autocorrect is annoying.
2) So is my cat.
3) If you don't like the Christmas present my husband and I gave you, you don't need to let us know through a third party. That's rude. Also, it's even ruder to give it back through said third party. That's why re-gifting exists.
4) White is the absolute worst color choice for toddler clothing.
5) Six month sized dresses make excellent 12 month sized tops.
6) People who work on commission and for tips need to pay their bills too. They aren't jerks for wanting to make a comfortable living.
7) Michael Pollan is a wise dude when it comes to food. His books are full of many pearls of wisdom.
8) Ricki Lake is a wise chica when it comes to childbirth. Every pregnant woman in the USA should watch her documentary, The Business of Being Born. It's available through Netflix.
9) Being a good singer with healthy vocal technique involves many years of study and dedicated practice. It is not just a "gift" or a natural talent.
10) The only two books that have reduced me to real actual tears in my adult life: Les Miserables (Hugo), and Love You Forever (Munsch). And I have read a lot of books.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Power of Hormones

I decided to cut back on the pumping at work, because AwesomeKid has been less interested in the boobs as of late, plus she has moved into the "Walkers" class at daycare, where she is allowed to eat non-purées. Finger food has been her preferred food for many months now, but daycares have rules, so she's been stuck with mush until now. So the combination of real food at daycare, her unending campaign against bottles, and hitting that magical twelve month made it seem like the time was ripe to cut out at least one pumping session per day.

The first few days went fine. I was a little (ok, a lot) more busty than usual, but that's no big. A little bit of pressure, but no pain. All was smooth sailing. Alas, what I had not counted on was the hormones.

I woke up a little late on Thursday, but I'm always a little late. Normally, I just rush around and make it work. Some things get left behind occasionally, which generally annoys me but so it goes. I don't like how disorganized I've become, but I have adopted a "strive for your best, and remember your best won't be perfect under your current life circumstances" way of looking at the work situation as of late.

But back to Thursday. I woke up late, and on Thursday it was a TRAGEDY. I was really really really angry with myself for sleeping in. And then I had no clean clothes, so that made me more angry. The dishes were piling over in the sink AGAIN, and I got really worked up thinking about how much time I spend doing dishes when I could be doing other things, and how BestHusbandEver could really do the dishes more often, and how unfair the lack of a dishwasher was for our family. Then I started thinking about the piles of laundry, and that made me mad too. I think I tripped over several toys, which exacerbated the angst.

So next thing I know, I'm crying and telling BestHusbandEver that we need a serious discussion about our division of domestic responsibilities, but we can't talk about it now because I need to leave for work, and by the way I am completely overwhelmed with life and I haven't had more that four hours of sleep at a time for almost a year, and I just don't know how I can handle this anymore.

Bear in mind, that while I don't get much sleep, and I do have a fair amount of stressors (what working mom doesn't?), I generally am pretty damn satisfied with life and don't really care about having a messy house. This freak out really did come out of nowhere.

Anyhow, I get to work, my eyes are all red, I'm in the bathroom trying to calm down, and I wind up telling my first class I have a cold plus I slept in my contacts. After that I went and cried in the bathroom about how horrible my life was for a while. It was bizarre. I was literally shaking with emotion. I was considering quitting my job right then and there. Could not stop crying when I wasn't actually teaching. It was very dramatic.

I made it through the day, but it felt like I'd been through some horrible trauma. I had that whole post crying your eyes out empty feeling. It was awful. I was just so sad, and the fact that this sadness had come out of nowhere was worrying. I thought I might be pregnant, because the feeling reminded me very strongly of my weepy anxious pregnant self.

Then it hit me. The boobs weren't full and huge in the morning as they had been the past few days. My body had adjusted its milk production. HORMONES were at play here. The power of Google confirmed it. Actually, there was very little stuff out there about weaning and mood swings, but there was enough to confirm my suspicions. Evidently the milk producing hormone is associated with feelings of calm and peace and all that happy stuff. I guess I was having some kind of peace love happiness hormone withdrawal. Luckily, it was short-lived, because all was well with the world by Friday.

Hormones. They are powerful. I don't like to give them credit, because I don't like to think I'm ruled by my primitive reptile brain. But sometimes I am, I guess. Fingers crossed they can keep in check for the rest of the weaning process, because Thursday really sucked. At least I feel prepared for the possibility, and I'll know to call in in sick next time. Yay me.