Saturday, November 5, 2011


I remember how I felt when I first started this blog.  I was excited to have a place to put my thoughts.  I was anxious to share with friends and family as a way of connecting.  I was curious if anyone would read my blog and find what I have to say interesting.  I wondered if my blog would be discovered by strangers who would share with their friends and presto!  I'd have followers!  Mostly I wondered if anyone would read it.

Now, it has become just another part of my life I feel pressured by.  Daily I check my Google Reader and enjoy the words and wit and wisdom of friends and strangers I've chosen to follow and I wonder why I can't think of anything to say myself.  My life is full.  Why can't I talk about it?  I'm funny.  Why can't I think of anything witty to share?  Lord knows I have the most ridiculous thoughts sometimes.  Why can't I put those thoughts into words and share them with the world?

It seems like more and more I've become aware of how much incredible pressure I put on myself to, ... whatever.  Fill in the blank.  Pressure to be funny.  Pressure to be clever.  Pressure to be profound.  Pressure to do the f-ing dishes.  It is everywhere!  In so many degrees and to be honest, it is really starting to annoy me.  Oh how I long for that time in my life when I didn't worry about what other people thought!  Of course, when I really stop to think about that "time in my life", I realize I can't really remember a time when I didn't care what other people think.  Hell, worrying about everyone else and their perception of me is one of the big reasons I wound up in therapy.  But I digress.

But it isn't just the pressure I put on myself.  Since I've become a mother I pay close attention to the blogosphere.  I read my mommy books.  I subscribe to magazines.  The pressure is freaking everywhere.  And it isn't just on mommies.  Sure, I feel this pressure as a mommy.  But I also feel it as a woman.  As an American.  As a human, for crying out loud.  Like living on Earth these days means being snuggled up inside a pressure cooker and, wait for it, acting like you're not.

That's the crux of the problem.  The biggest stress of all.  That despite all this, pressure, in order to truly be the ultimate mother, woman, employee, or whatever, you have to act like despite all the pressure to be perfect, you truly are under no pressure at all.  You must give the impression that it is no big deal and that this brilliance you achieve in every aspect of your life is really just a coincidence.

Take motherhood, for example.  The ultimate example of pressure.  In order to be a good, albeit great mother, you must feed your baby the healthiest options available.  Surely you could never consider feeding your baby, your child, anything less than the best.  Veggies at every meal?  Of course.  Fresh veggies?  Duh.  Organic veggies?  Obviously.  Local veggies?  Only if you truly care about the ... world.  I mean, if you don't care about the world at all I guess you could feed your child fresh, organic green beans from, (gasp!) California, but if you truly give a crap about the community you bother to live in than SURELY you will bother to buy local, farm-fresh, organic green beans picked THIS MORNING.  I mean, come on, don't you care at all?

See what I mean by pressure?  Do you know how expensive it is to buy local organic fresh veggies?  Yeah, I said it.  It is just plain expensive to get something green on my child's plate, let alone the premium stuff the primo-mommies are providing their children.

Regardless of what the topic is - food, clothing, discipline, education - the pressure is on for mommies to provide the best.  We must carefully research each topic, weed out the nonsense, avoid the insane and overly zealous and ultimately deliver what is unquestionably the perfect specimen of childhood nutrition at every instance that our child opens his/her mouth.  If we don't, well, we suck and have failed at parenting.

But that isn't even the real pressure.  The actual part of the story that makes mommies cringe is not that we make the best decision about what we feed our children.  The irony of the whole story is that we have to appear completely disinterested in the whole topic.  Not only do you have to spend all morning researching the availability of organic arugula at the local farmers' markets, you also have to act like choosing the $6 per pound greens was merely an afterthought to your weekly menu planning.  "Of course I thought about it, but I didn't think too much."  It isn't that buying organic, local produce is something I worry about, rather it is something that just naturally occurs in my grocery shopping experience.

All around us we have to make the popular, worldly, educated choice but more importantly, you have to appear like choosing this option wasn't really a big deal.  "Oh, you feed your baby canned green beans?  Good for you!  Where do you buy them?  I mean, I usually get my green beans in my weekly produce box from the community garden down the street, but canned green beans would be so convenient!  Aren't you clever for choosing something so innovative as canned green beans?  Thank you for setting such a good example for mommies everywhere!"

What is so exhausting about this whole topic of disinterested perfection is that it applies to every f-ing aspect of our lives.  The message is everywhere.

  • Be green.  Avoid BPA at all costs.  Conserve energy.  Recycle.  But don't freak out about plastic bags or canned tomatoes or plastic water bottles at parties because really, you can only do so much.
  • Eat well.  Exercise.  Look great in a bikini!  But don't worry about your body too much because it isn't healthy to be obsessed about how you look.
  • Honor your home.  Nurture your family.  Provide a loving environment for your children.  But make sure you portray the ideal feminist by working full time, climbing the corporate ladder and stomping on any idiot that gets in the way of your career.  
  • Whip up a delicious spread of snacks for a crowd coming over to watch the football game, decorate your house in the appropriate team's colors and make favors of personalized football jersey sugar cookies complete with every guests' name but also be able to commentate the entire game and get really irritated by the idiot ref's call during the fourth quarter.
  • Create the most beautiful centerpiece imaginable but make sure you can put it together with whatever you have lying around your house.
  • Be able to debate the most complex political issue but also be able to recommend the most fashionable red wine to serve at your book club and know what your teenager enjoys listening to on the radio but also be able to identify the lead in the off-Broadway performance of Miss Saigon this weekend and how she compares to the lady who portrayed her last season and how to copy what she wore on the red carpet using what you can find at the local consignment shop and a packet of sequins purchased at Joann's with a 50% off coupon.

Yeah.  That's pressure.  Perform as if your life depends on it but make sure you act like you don't give a damn.

And then be sure to blog about it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pesto Presto

What is it about pesto?  If I see something on a menu that has pesto in it I'm immediately drawn to it.  The mere thought of pesto makes me think of summer and delicious dishes and spreading pesto deliciousness on crackers/toast/pita/my finger...whatever.  It is so good.  Garlic?  Oh yeah.  Fresh basil?  Be still my heart.  There is not one thing about pesto that is bad which is why it so, so good.

What I love about pesto is that it is easy to make and incredibly forgiving.  You can make pesto out of anything.  I think the most traditional recipe involves garlic (I love you, Garlic), basil, pine nuts,  parmesan cheese and olive oil.  Not much to complain about with this combination of delightful ingredients, but I will mention that pine nuts are ridiculously expensive.  I typically replace the pine nuts with it's very unglamorous cousin, the walnut.  To be perfectly honest, I can't really tell the difference in taste, but my wallet thanks me.

Other substitutions are often made to save some calories.  Traditional pestos require copious amounts of oil (though olive oil is very good for you), cheese and nuts.  Now, these ingredients bring much to the table in terms of flavor but they also pack on the calories and fat grams.  I'm totally on board with the good fat found in olive oil and nuts, but I enjoy eating pesto with a spoon and even too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

My recipe for pesto serves it's purpose well in that it gives me that garlicky, basil spread but saves my wallet and my daily calorie count.  Remember, pesto is forgiving.  Add more of whatever flavor makes your heart sing and go ahead, eat it with a spoon.

Summer Pesto

Combine in food processor:
3-4 garlic cloves
huge handful of fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup of shelled pistachio nuts (roasted and salted) or whatever nut you have handy
2 ounces of grated parmesan cheese
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
pinch of salt and pepper

Pulse in food processor till well combined and thick.

Stream in oil (olive, canola, whatever you have) until pesto is desired consistency.  You don't need as much as you think.  The zucchini helps stretch the recipe and only mildly affects the flavor.  I can't taste it.

I've frozen pesto in ice cube trays for easy additions to pastas and sauces.  If you are going to store fresh pesto, I suggest you put it in a deep container (so you have less surface area exposed to air) and cover the surface with oil to avoid the pesto turning brown.  If it does turn brown, by all means, use it anyway, it will taste great, it will just be brown.  Simply turn off the lights so you can't see and eat it with a spoon.  It is so, so good.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blog Delinquent

I wanted to come up with this really ingenious excuse for why I haven't blogged lately.  Even as I write this I'm coming up completely blank.  Sometimes, you just go months without anything really interesting to say.

Anything I really feel like blogging about I can't imagine would be interesting to anyone else.  Maybe I should explore a theme for this blog to give me some direction.

Anyhoo, at least my friends who have me linked into their blogs will no longer have to look at "4 months ago" as my most recent post.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Who's flying this plane, anyway?

There are so many things about myself that I never realized until I became a parent.

I didn't realize that I would be completely cliché about all things parenting, for starters. Normally repulsed by any discussion of bodily functions, I will now happily chatter away about the size, frequency, and consistency of Camille's BMs. We have taken easily 5000 pictures of Camille since her birth. I stood staring at a bib in Target that said, "I'm the Star of Mommy's Blog" for about 5 minutes debating whether I should buy it or not.

I was also hoping to be the kind of parent that just does everything naturally but instead I read any and every book regarding pregnancy and childrearing that was recommended to me. The last part is important because I didn't realize how important it would be to me to be current on all the trends. Whatever the "it" topic (food, sleep training, safety) I want to make sure I'm aware, educated and armed with an opinion because God knows I don't want to be the clueless parent. Of course, this just emphasizes how completely clueless I am about parenting. Camille has proven time and time again that books be damned, she's doing it her own way.

But the biggest surprise I've had since becoming a parent is the realization that I am a complete control freak. I think this will come to no surprise to my friends and family, and certainly not to my husband, but it really blindsided me. Losing all sense of control when you become a parent is probably fairly normal, and my desire to always appear smart, capable and good at whatever I'm doing really came back and bit me in the ass the moment control started slipping away.

I thought heart surgery would be the hardest part of the journey. Again, in my effort to appear educated and wise, I said that we may have trouble conceiving, but I never really imagined the magnitude of our fertility challenges. I told people I knew pregnancy and delivery would be incredibly challenging, but I believed that my experience would be okay and would go the way I expected. Then Camille came 6 weeks early and required an 18 day stay in the NICU. I made sure people knew that I understood how challenging breastfeeding could be for mommas, but I really believed that it wouldn't be that way for me.

Like putting checkmarks on a shopping list, each of my preconceived notions about all things regarding conception, gestation, and delivery of our daughter have been placed in the "That's what you think" category. I suppose if I were a better person I would sit back, enjoy the ride, and chalk it up to being all part of the experience and joy a parenting.

But I'm not that person and the reality is, it is really hard. Each time I watch another one of my well thought out plans go drifting out the window part of me feels really sad and disappointed, and another part feels like saying, "You dummy, that's what you get for thinking you can control how things go." The latest example of this is breastfeeding. Before Camille, I planned to breastfeed if I ever became a mother and never really considered the alternative. When Camille came early, I knew the only way to continue with my plan was to have a pump in ICU with me. So, by golly, I made certain there was a breast pump in there and I started pumping within hours of delivery. And every 3 hours after that. For...ever. Camille wasn't ready to breastfeed exclusively till 8 weeks old, so we fed, pumped and gave bottles every 3 hours for 2 months. And the day the lactation consultant told us we didn't have to pump anymore, I rejoiced.

I still planned to breastfeed till one year and wean her over the summer. Once again, my plan was rejected. Camille took a break from being a champion nurser and my supply took a dip around 5 months. We didn't realize there was a problem till her weight was affected and despite 2 more months of constant pumping and feeding, supplementing with formula, herbs, massage, tea, water, you name it, we never really recovered. Like a stubborn, bull-headed mule I've fought and fought this to the brink of insanity and though I've been done pumping for a week and only nurse once a day, if at all, I still want to cry about it.

It isn't formula. Formula is fine - Camille is thriving. I just wanted this neat, pretty, perfect mommy experience where we breastfeed for a year, take long walks in the stroller, go to farmers' markets with her strapped to me and buy organic veggies, you know. The idyllic experience that is sort of silly because being a mommy isn't pretty and perfect. Instead, it is exhausting, tear-stained, and covered in sweet potatoes. And that little scene I had in my head got replaced with reality. Which is SO much better anyway.

Our reality is making Camille a bottle in the morning and snuggling with her in her chair while she sucks it down and lets out a trucker burp. Reality is Camille sneezing during her mouthful of dinner and spraying it all over me, and then looking up at me and laughing. Reality is Bill telling me he has to change Camille's clothes after their walks because he sweats so much in the Ergo. I much prefer reality because every movie has the scene I'd envisioned in my head, but I'm the only one who has Camille.

I know there will be many other points in Camille's life where I will imagine it a certain way, only to find out that what I want/think/dream doesn't really matter, because it isn't about me. I would be lying if I thought I could let my desire for control go, so I won't, but I do hope that over time I learn to get over it quickly. I definitely have better things to do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bullying sucks

We had an assembly today.  I remember as kids there was nothing better than an assembly.  Mainly because you get out of class.  In fact, I think when we were headed back to class we felt a little disappointed, not because we had to go back to class but because the assemblies were usually a letdown.  Today's assembly was about bullying.  It seems that this year especially we have spend a considerable amount of time talking with kids about bullying and what they can do to help improve the school culture.  More than ever before it seems like this message is falling on deaf ears.  I think kids know all the answers adults want to hear when it comes time to talk about bullying and how to decrease those behaviors but I also get the sense that they are humoring us.  "Bullying can leave lifelong scars."  "The bullies do it for attention."  "The bullies may have sad lives at home."  Kids have heard this message before but they seem numb to the subject.

I don't think this means that kids don't care.  Why bullying is such a problem is a whole other subject.  Changes in technology?  Popular culture that glorifies and rewards the "mean kids"?  A numbness to the feelings of others due to ________ (absent parents, violent video games, high fructose corn syrup)?  Whatever the reason bullying is rampant in our schools, I think kids do care about the problem, it just is so very, very big.  If I'm feeling helpless, how must they feel?

The presentation was good today.  Fresh voice, energetic speaker with a story of his own, et cetera.  The difference today was that this was the first time I've talked about bullying as a mother.  Though I was sitting in a gym surrounded by middle school children, my thoughts the entire time were on Camille.  And I just felt like crying.  This ache settled deep in my bones for her and I felt like I couldn't breathe properly.  I had to really fight to stay in control because crying in front of a middle schoolers is really embarrassing.

I just can't take the thought that someone could be mean to her.  Someone someday might say something to her that hurts her.  Or scares her.  Or makes her doubt her worth.  The thought makes my skin crawl.  As I was listening to the presentation, watching video clips of kids at schools across the country, I started thinking about private school.  How much would it cost?  Could we consider that as an option to protect her?  But I can't protect her.  Not really.  At some point in her life, she is going to figure it out.  Even if I shelter her from reality as long as possible she will come across meanness in this world.  She will discover eventually that not everyone is kind, not everyone is considerate, not everyone cares about her feelings.

I don't know who my girl will become.  But I pray with all my might that whether butcher, baker or candlestick maker that she be kind.  That she cares for her fellow man.  That she have empathy.  I pray she'll embrace diversity and respect people when they are different than she.  And I pray that somehow, we'll teach her how to respond when she realizes that not all rest of the world is like that.

The assembly did speak to me about my own actions and behaviors as well.  On the drive home, another driver "merged" into my lane in a way that should better be described as "barging in without looking at a really unsafe speed and with total disregard for lines on the road and traffic laws".  I believe I said something to the affect of, "nice driving, jerko."  Little ears will soon be in the car with me and will understand not just that what I said was mean, but also how easily I judged, criticized, ridiculed and condemned someone who made a mistake.  I treated a total stranger as if he had no feelings.  And I do it all the time.  How can I expect my daughter to respect people who make mistakes, to be courteous to others, if I toss insults around without a second thought?  How can I expect my daughter to be sensitive to others' feelings if I laugh and joke at TV shows whose entire purpose is to mock people?  Just because I don't know someone personally doesn't take away my responsibility to respect him or her.  I need to clean up my act, and quickly.  She can't talk yet, but my baby can hear.  She can understand.  And she is learning every day about the world around her.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The time has come

Oh man, I've been dreading this post.  I haven't posted in a long time because I have been composing it in my head, knowing that after this post, everything will be very, very different.  Before this post, I was a stay at home mommy and after, I'll be a working mommy.  I could get all negative and mopey about returning to work, and that would be true to how I'm feeling, but instead I'd like to at least try to find some positives.

What I will miss when I return to work is obvious.  My baby girl is slowly moving out of the fragile, baby stage into the fun, exciting stage.  Everything she does enthralls her.  Finding her feet, pulling on her tights, trying her darndest to flip onto her tummy.  I'll just plain miss watching her.  And holding her.  Our new fun thing is to look at mirrors.  I hold her and she grins and grins, trying to figure it out.  Is mommy holding me, or is she in there?  So fun.

At six and a half months, Camille is just awesome.  She can flip from her tummy to her back without a pause and just recently learned that her feet will reach all the way to her mouth.  She is eating rice cereal and seems to really enjoy the new texture and taste.  She is a bouncing machine in her jumperoo and adores the pink bear that Grannie and Grandpa gave her that sings.  She falls asleep for her naps within minutes and can sleep all night without needing attention from us.  She still wakes up periodically, but can put herself back to sleep in usually 10 minutes.

She is constantly smiling.  When she wakes up, when she eats, when playing with a toy, when looking at Teddy.  My favorite is when we put her on the changing table to get her sleep sack on before bed.  Daddy reads from a book while I get her in the sleep sack and she always looks back towards him the second you lay her down, because she's looking for Bill to start reading.  And she grins this huge grin.  Baby Girl loves her daddy.

It will be so amazing to have Bill take over because he is the kind of dad every kid wants.  He is goofy, he is fun, he is devoted, and he completely adores her.  Bill will now understand how fast time can really go.

Even though there is so much that I will miss there are actually some things that I will not miss.

1.  Washing baby dishes.  I pump and give her a bottle every time I feed her.  That equals a lot of pump parts and bottles to wash and sterilize.  My hands are like sand paper.  When Camille goes down for her nap, I spend 20 minutes washing everything.  I will not miss that.

2.  Playing the guessing game.  What time will she wake up?  How long will she sleep?  When will she want to eat?  If she wakes up at this time, will we have time to eat before we need to leave?  What if she only sleeps 35 minutes?  Will we need another nap before dinner?  Ugh.

3.  Teddy's eyes.  That dog has been staring at me with those huge chocolate eyes for months with such a look of disappointment.  I'm home, yet he is ignored.  He doesn't even get excited about walks anymore because they are so infrequent (thank you rain and unpredictable schedule).

4.  The elusive nap.  I am a terrible napper.  A nap has to find me, not the other way around.  I'll be just starting to drift, you know that moment that feels so good as you are just starting to fall asleep?  Then I hear her on the monitor.  Bill always seems mystified that I didn't take more naps during my maternity leave, especially when I was up three times a night.  My naps now will be intentional.  And successful.  And probably just as infrequent.

5.  Online shopping.  It is so, so easy, and so, so dangerous.  I need a new book.  Zing! It arrives on my doorstep.  Camille needs a new _____.  Zing!  Two days later it is here!  I've never been patient and free two day shipping at Amazon is a scary, scary thing for stay at home mommies.

6.  Grizzly, Chaucer, and Emmy.  Those damn (sorry) dogs have been driving me apeshit since Camille's napping became more predictable.  Grizzly is the German Shepherd with completely moronic owners who let him run around off leash.  Grizzly thinks people calling him or trying to get him to come in is a hilarious game, which makes his owners yelling "Grizzly" constantly completely counterproductive, as Grizzly just runs the other way.  Chaucer and Emmy are the dogs across the street who are never allowed off leash or out of their yard and bark non stop when they see Grizzly strutting around the street or turning cookies in our grass.  Miraculously they've never woken Camille but they've caused my blood pressure to sky rocket, made even worse when I talk to Grizzly's owners and hear, "We try to get him in and he never comes."  Maddening.

That's it.  Those things are the ONLY things I will not miss.  Everything else I will miss terribly.  Camille and I will never get to spend this much one on one time together again unless one of us is sick, which would completely suck.  I am completely blessed to have been able to spend 7 months with her and I know how lucky, lucky, lucky I am.  And it has to end, right?  And now our relationship will change, but it will be just as sweet.  Just different, and that's okay.

Do I sound convincing?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I looked up online to find out that Black Ironwood is the densest, hardest wood on the planet, but I should have known because my head is made of it. Remember that last post I wrote? The one about sleep? The one where I am perplexed at why people always ask me if my baby is hungry? Well, back to that dome of wood that sits atop my shoulders...she was.

We went to the doctor for her 6 month appointment and discovered that she's only gained 3 ounces in a month. She should have gained a pound. Her percentile has dropped from 20% to 7% in weight. The doctor asked me to talk about her feedings and I told her how Camille often cries when I switch sides and sometimes takes 5 minutes or more to calm down after a feeding. I thought she needed help burping since she's always been a lousy burper. Then doctor asked if she does that after her nightly bottle. No, she doesn't. Because she's not hungry after her bottle.

In my defense, I never had production problems before and she eats at least every 2-3 hours. But apparently I have some production problems now which is why she hasn't been gaining weight. She's getting enough calories to support her length gain and head circumference gain, which are both right on target, but there isn't anything left to add to those squishy cheeks and nummy thighs.

I can feel bad all I want but the more important thing to do is to get her back on track, which is fairly simple: just give her a bottle chaser after she breastfeeds. We have milk stored in the freezer and Camille will eat formula, so this shouldn't be a problem at all. In fact, after her last feeding, she chugged a full 6 ounces from the bottle. (That is about what she eats for her nighttime feeding and she ate that in addition to breastfeeding.)

I know it isn't my fault but I feel like such a nitwit.