Friday, July 31, 2009

Night Swimming

My head is spinning...swimming. Especially at night because I'm not sleeping...well, I sleep until about midnight and then I'm up every 45 minutes or so. Partly nerves, partly the fact that there's a full sized human pushing on my bladder, and partly because I just have so much going through my brain and I have never been particularly good at stopping that whole racing thoughts thing. So, as I said, my head...swimming!! And how am I supposed to focus at work? Because of Night Swimming, I'm not sleeping, so I'm tired...and anxious, and peeing, and thinking about everything other than work. But it's all so incredible!! There is a real, live baby in my belly who is anxious to GET OUT and in a matter of days, we will be holding our new baby girl! Our family will expand by an additional 33% (or would it be 25%...I'm so bad at math). Our lives will be enriched completely and totally forever! I can't contain myself. If I didn't have said baby in said belly, I could do cartwheels with excitement... actually, I could still do a cartwheel if I wanted...just not in maternity shirts because they're way to floppy and would end up over my head.

ANYhow, it is amazing how much adding a child to a family makes a difference. For us, a wonderful difference. I can't find the down side even when I try! But, I have definitely noticed (and fabulous FaceBook has helped illuminate this for me exponentially) that many, many, if not most, people find all the ways kids are a pain. And, ya know, it's not just kids...this is a topic I was swimming around last night...and I have to soapbox it because I think it's starting to get to my heart...and the topic is this: MOST PEOPLE ARE APPARENTLY MISERABLE! I completely miserable of me to say that. How totally and entirely pessimistic. But do a little activity for me and you'll agree. If you are a Facebook user, go in to your friends' status updates and randomly screen 20, 30, 50, however many you want. Keep track of how many are positive and how many are negative...and I'm telling you that upwards of 50% will be MISERABLE! Seriously, everything from how annoying it is that their kids dare do anything wrong ever to complaining about the weather (this one is CONSTANT!) to lamenting about bad drivers, ugly people, annoying waiters, stupid goes on and on. I feel so sad about it. It's come up for me over and over since I've started on the Facebook thing and has, ridiculously, been upsetting enough to me that there have actually been times I've considered stopping Facebook altogether because it gets at my heart too much.

Do the people I love really feel this miserable all the time?

Is life really this wretched that the only things people can think to make public are the negative, sad, depressing things?

Is there really nothing to celebrate, feel joyful about, or just be thankful for?

Don't get me wrong...obviously this is not true of EVERYone, but I do have to say that it's true of more than not. And it gets to me because I think it's a symptom of a bigger issue...but I can't figure out the issue. Is it that we, as a people, are ingrates? Is it that we, as a society, are spoiled to the point that we're entitled and, therefore, nothing is ever good enough? Is it something else? I wish I could answer it. I've come up with a gazillion theories...there must be some study about it.

I also think it's contagious...the more negativity we each put out individually, the more negativity that comes back in the emotional universe, bouncing off the people around us like little emotional, cosmic pool balls, sending everyone flying into the holes. But, I truly believe this is the case with positivity too...and gratitude...I participated in the Gratitude Experiment ( a couple of years ago and I don't know what kind of cosmic difference it made, but it did make me feel better every day. The idea is to focus on things each day for which we are thankful...that's the simple take on it. I know it sounds awfully Oprah and "The Secret" and I'm not a particularly big Oprah person, but the concept is a great one, one I wish more people would least in my life. There's just so much to be thankful for, even when life seems treacherous... there's always a worse circumstance. There are always people who need you more than you need them. There's always something you can find to be joyful about (or at least to smirk about on the harder days)...but why do we not let ourselves go there?? Why is it so easy to turn to the bad find company in toxify the world around us with our own, usually self-created, poison?

I'm trying as best I can to focus on gratitude, to put the positive energy out there and to remember every day that there are more beautiful things than ugly. I hope that once in a while someone around me sees this and decides to try to do the same thing. And maybe even by writing this, one or two people might think before spewing yuckiness on their status the very least. I don't a social worker I should understand and be sensitive to the need to vent, share frustrations, and process the hard stuff. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a place for that. But, maybe on a public forum, maybe when 200+ people can read it and be affected by it, and maybe when there is not much of a beneficial reason to do it, it's not productive.

Any of my lovies in my life know that I am ALWAYS willing to have an open ear, a strong shoulder and a loving heart in times of need...that's not the issue...and I hope you all get the difference. But, maybe we could also all work together to share love openly, to find grace all around us, to swim in the miracles that are this world and this life. That's a hope I came to last night while swimming around in my thoughts...

And now, off the soapbox again until next time....thanks for enduring me! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sometimes less is more

I don't have a lot to say today...oh, c'mon, who am I kidding...sure I do! But, I don't have much time this morning. So, I'm taking the approach that this shot of my amazing little man may possibly speak for itself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Preserving history

Last night I had the joy of being photographed. Why did I not become a model for a living? I know it makes me a definite vain exhibitionist that I love posing so much, but I do and that's that. If anyone needs a model...

ANYway...For my birthday (which was July 5th, in case any of you forgot to celebrate), my only wish was to have maternity photos done. I didn't do this when I was pregnant with Shawn, but know a number of people who have done them and I just think they're so beautiful. Brianna being the second child, I have this nagging fear that she's going to be second best (or maybe third or fifth, given the other grandchildren). Already I see it...people ask less about how things are going, seem less interested or concerned about the pregnancy and the baby's development, and just generally treat it as if it's old hat, just because this isn't my first time. I get it, don't get me wrong...but it certainly implies something about how people are going to treat her or think of her in comparison to the majestic welcome that Shawn received.

Shawn has a pretty engaging personality, so I know that's part of it. He goes into a room, a store, a restaurant, a parking lot, a landfill...and everyone seems drawn to him. It's really astounding...and those moments bring me such pride. I love how much he cares about people and how interested he is in them. He loves to have us list everyone he knows over and over and, at only 25 months, knows most people in our lives' "real" or "whole names" (e.g., Mommy's real name is Pam) and where they live by town (or in the case of his Uncle Chris, by city and country - Dubrovnik, Croatia). It's an odd phenomenon, but says a lot about how into relationships and people he is. He just needs to know everything he can about everyone! It's just an example of how easy it is to be drawn to him.

And my mind and heart wonder...what about Brianna?
Already you all seem so less into her and you haven't even met her yet. That's not really fair, and I pray with all my heart that it ends when everyone sees her sweet angel face! I know she'll be as amazing as Shawn...well, you won't have to convince ME anyway! I've read all about Leos and have learned that they love to be the center of attention, love to be on stage, and will make sure they get the attention they need. I was scared in the beginning about the prospect of having a girl and of having a Leo...but now I'm completely sure it's the perfectly right thing. God knows what He's doing...Brianna will make you see and love her!! But, at the same time, I'm a Mommy who is very aware that no one get the short end of the stick.

So, to return to my original train of thought..back to the photo session... The shoot last night was a maternity shoot. First, our incredible photographer, Chelse photographed the whole fam (Bob, Shawn and me). Shawn was a bit not into it. He was okay at first, but I think really wanted to just focus on running around and exploring the gorgeous landscape of the park Chelse chose for the shoot. There was a family of deer just on the other side of the meadow and he loved watching them...I thought it was incredibly appropriate for the mood of the day. Family photos:.Family of Deer...there was a Mama, Daddy, and three babies. It was mesmerizing and I can understand Shawn wanting to focus there instead of on posing (though I was all for the camera!! Vain, as I said). So, she did as much as she could while letting him run, Shawn periodically turning to her and yelling "no pictures, no pictures", waving his hand toward her as if this would somehow mystically ward her off. No such luck for him. The family shoot came to an end and then Shawn got to go with Daddy to the playground, but not before getting up close and personal (like, within 20 feet) with two very baby deer. Bob said Shawn just loved it!

Chelse and I were off to do more shots of just Bri and I. And it was amazing. Seriously, if you're pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, I urge you to do this! The results will be timeless. I can't wait to share these with Brianna...I imagine a time when I no longer have a glimmer of youth on my side, when my little girl will be awestruck by how different her Mom looked. I imagine sitting with her and telling her what it was like then, how much this pregnancy overwhelmed me with joy, what a miracle she is. I imagine her wondering what we were all times were her Mom became the person she is now from the person she looked like then. While riding to one of the sites for the shots last night, Chelse and I were talking about this. She said her mom did photos when she was pregnant with her and that she loves to look at them; that it's fascinating to see her Mom so young. I remember looking at photographs of my Mom and Dad's wedding when I was a kid...the color seemed classic, the images captured were like memories from their minds that I could peek into for just a moment. I loved that. I used to look at them all the time and, somehow, although it was before I was even a consideration, I still feel like I was there.

My parents' wedding is part of my history...and in the same way, I want this time to be an element of Bri's history. I hope that's what I'm giving her. Because, the experience of yesterday was incredible too...feeling beautiful only 4 weeks before Brianna's due...having someone appreciate the pregnant female form...not being afraid to bare that baby belly...feeling like some kind of super model!! But, all of that is for me alone. I know that's just me feeding my vanity and needing to be validated. I know this...I'm a social worker...I do know my own issues!
In the end, though, I wanted to do this for her. I wanted something that could make this pregnancy special, different, set it apart from the first help her know that it was all of these things to me, even if it was my second pregnancy. She is unique...and this is one way to represent that fact. I really loved the experience and the pictures that I've seen so far are unbelieveably well done (thank you, Chelse!!). But, more than that, I love that this moment, this experience, is captured in our unique family history. And I pray that Brianna Sadie knows just how amazingly special she already is!!

Thanks, as always, for letting this vain exhibitionist share another moment! Until another thought strikes...


Monday, June 15, 2009

Coming up blank

I have no idea what I'm writing about today, but I know I haven't blogged in a while so thought I would come up with something as I go. Being a person of many opinions and racing thoughts, I'm sure I'll have no problem pontificating about something here as I get rolling...

So here's what's been going on for the past little while. Shawn has been going through a weird sleeping thing. See, for the last two years, we've considered ourselves blessed (OK...and a little, arrogantly, talented) to have a son who just has not struggled with the sleep problems that so many kids (and parents!!!) struggle with through infancy and toddlerdom. His first night sleeping through was at 1 month and 3 days old. He was regularly sleeping through the night around 2 months. We just never had a challenge with that. Then his 2nd birthday came...literally! On June 2 (his birthday), after the excitement of getting a brand new, amazing and fun bounce house:

...we did our normal evening bedtime routine, walked out of his room, shut the door...5 min later, Shawn's WAILING! So, startled, we assumed something was wrong and Bob (the "Baby Whisperer" as I call him) ran in to check...he was fine. Standing at the crib rail, staring at the door, looking maniacal, he immediately stopped, chatted with Bob for a few minutes, laid down and all was fine. Until he started crying again 5 min later. Bob went back in, calmed him down and went out...well, he finally settled after going in and soothing him three times. And so we began a pattern...good for us. That was a Tuesday night. He did it Wed., Thurs., and Fri nights. We tried letting him cry, going in wasn't stopping. Saturday and Sunday he slept well, exhausted from all the birthday partying and late bedtimes...

...but commenced again on week 2... one night, we let him cry for 2 brutal hours, after which he finally fell asleep only to wake again 30 minutes later...Bob finally went in and he settled right down for the night. We decided crying it out ("CIO" as the message boards call it) was not for Shawn. Now we decided to Ferberize. So, Friday night we did...from 8:15 until 11pm!!! Are you kidding me?? And even then he still woke early in the wee hours crying again!! ARGH!

Well, my brilliant, baby whispering husband came up with a plan. After a really good nap yesterday (naps are actually not a problem, but a good place to start), Bob suggested we celebrate and give him an M&M as a special celebratory treat. It was his first M&M...needless to say, he loved it. We promised there were more where that came from every time he slept without crying. Last bed at 8pm as always...out like a silent light and not a peep until 7:30am!!! And Shawn and I celebrated with a wiggle-dance, sing-song, and a red M&M, which he gripped in his little paw for five minutes (they DO melt in your hand!!) until he finally delighted in licking sweet, melty chocolate from his fingers and lips!! And he knew he was successful!!

I know it's hubs calls it "positive reinforcement", as I also should, given my training and work experience...but ultimately, it's bribery. You know what, though? We can afford two M&Ms a day...and that much chocolate is probably not going to hurt him. This little man might be eating M&Ms first thing until he's 37, but if he's sleeping peacefully, that's ok by me. I guess sometimes you just have to find what works and roll with it. I'm quite positive all those perfect mommies would have something to say about the role I'm giving food in his life, or the way that I'm not really teaching him self-soothing but rather just behaviors for reward...and not everything in life is rewarded and blah blah blahdiddy blah. BUT...Shawn's happy, we can get a little more rest, and despite what all those mommies say, I'm pretty sure no one's the worse for the wear!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Linking Thinking

Hi Friends and Followers!
Only have a second to check in, but my dad actually sent me a NY Times article recently that talks about a theme akin to my most recent post about mothering and such...thought I would share...check it out HERE!!

Check it out and let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Defending the regulars

Chatting about blogs yesterday, my really sweet and tender, blog-following-obsessed best friend was telling me that she's been reading this blog written by a stay at home mom of a bunch of kiddos (I think 5). This young blogger writes about mommy she raises her bundles, what she feeds them, what she thinks about modern parenting...all of the things that make up so many blog themes. My friend was telling me how guilty she felt after perusing this woman's latest post, wherein said "green-mama" (or G-M, as I will from hereon out call her) pontificated about the virtues of all things organic, natural, etc. On and on about how bad cow's milk is for human babies, how little ones shouldn't be introduced to solid food until 9 months or later, how cereals are actually very difficult to digest and, thus, not a good starter food, and so on. It wasn't necessarily the topic that was guilt-inducing, but her tenor was such that she implied that if you did not abide by her rules, you were somehow shortchanging your child. Much of her philosophy is, first of all, contrary to what many pediatricians will tell you, but also very much specific to G-M's values, beliefs and general approach to life. And, on top of it, all of these things seem to me to be challenging with the restrictions of a full-time working mom on a budget who simply might not have the hours or dollars to spare to shop for organic this and that, to make baby food prescribed to the specifications that G-M believes we should all obey, and to research exactly what it is, then, we're supposed to feed our angels, if not the things our pediatricians recommend. *Phew...long sentence!!*

Since we had this conversation, I've been pondering why, exactly, I'm so fired up about this. I told my friend she should leave a comment and stop following the blog. I mean, who among us really has the time or energy to waste feeling guilty about what we're not doing as parents when we're actually doing the very best we can with what we've got to work with? So, maybe we don't all belong to families making six figures. Maybe we don't all have the ability to stay home, no matter how much we wish we could. Maybe we don't all have daily help in getting things done for our little ones. And maybe bloggers should take this into account before they start preaching that their way is the right way.

I think this blogging thing is a fabulous idea. It gives us amateurs a chance to express ourselves, to share our stories, and to feel like we matter out there somewhere. But, it shouldn't be just another platform from which to pat ourselves on the back, announcing to all that we know best and everyone else is coming up short. Maybe instead, we should all take a moment to walk a few inches, at least, in those other people's shoes and understand that their values or their circumstances and ours might be different. To me, it seems all part of a bigger societal issue that could really bring me down if I let it, which is this seeming bubble syndrome...despite widespread media coverage of every little thing on earth and the ability to research and become voyeurs into every nook and cranny thanks to modern technology, somehow I feel like we've simultaneously gone into our own little bubbles, forgetting how many unique circumstances actually exist. It's my way or no way for so about breeding closed-mindedness! I get believing strongly in your own convictions...and I admire passion and dedication to an ideal or a philosophy about anything. Stand up for it...FOR YOU. And remember that maybe you're convinced your belief is right, but it's not necessarily right for us all. And by implying (or blatantly saying) so, you're alienating most of the rest of us. And, in the case of perhaps well-meaning folks like G-M, you're making the job of mom (or whatever else) feel overwhelming and something we should be ashamed of. And, you know what, my friend is one of the best moms I know! So, for her to feel guilty that she's not providing her children with organic, 100% natural soy milk products, made and grown locally and cultivated using sterile instruments in a vacuumous environment blows my mind. Ultimately, she loves her kids and is driven by that love in all moments of her life. That, to me, my friends, is a darn good mom.

And that's what I have to say about that...until next time something sparks me to climb on my soap poor kids...see what they have to look forward to? :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Counting sheep

I am not sleeping. It's 4am, I just finished a big grant and submitted today, I just received notice of a big grant award this week...WHY am I not sleeping? I should be relaxed, relieved, joyous! The body confounds me...the mind boggles me.

We went to a local farm for sheep shearing day recently with my family. Shawn loved it and, since then, has been obsessed with the pictures from the day, insisting, "Sheep...sheep! SHEEP!" until I let him sit (AGAIN) and look at the pictures he's so in love with (AGAIN)...until I traumatize him into a 2-year-old meltdown 10 minutes later when I tell him it's time for dinner. I am astounded at his love of the simplest things in life. I think it must be that everything is so brand's all a novelty. The whole world...his whole existence is still novel! I love that...and I think I want to try to approach things more in that way. To see things as new, beautiful...rather than taking life so for granted...I think that is one of the most simple yet awesome lessons he can teach me! Even the things I've seen a bazillion times can be new. The colors that day, the smell of the air in a moment. You know, I grew up on the Erie Canal and all we ever said was how dirty it was...never mind the amazing feat that is the Erie Canal. But we take it for granted. One fo the Seven Wonder of the World is an hour away, but do we ever really go and marvel at it...nah! It's just Niagara Falls...someone went over in a barrel again...who cares? How sad! God gave us this amazing world to love, care for, and wow about...but we don't...we just complain about the weather (No matter what! Too hot, too cold, too average!) and go through it all forgetting what a miracle this whole world is! No least, I'll try!!

For now, I leave you with a few of the pictures that have been captivating Shawn: