Life as of Now

::Tap Tap Tap::

Oh blog.  Hello!  Nice to see you.  You definitely need a bit of a dusting and maybe some new curtains, but it’s nice to see you’re still technically here.

OK.

Since my last post:

Family

CarSelfie

  • We moved!  To San Diego!  About 6 weeks ago!  I will use these exclamation points when everyone is back in school and everyone just calms down!
  • Our new family motto is “Everyone Just Needs to Calm the Eff Down.”
  • We moved to be closer to Mr. A’s parents.  They’re amazing and I love them so hard.  They didn’t even blink an eye when I instituted a weekly family dinner immediately upon our arrival.  I just… really needed some routine and ritual as soon as possible.
  • Moving away from my friends and family was insanely hard.  I cried a lot.  Duh.
  • Being in San Diego feels like I have breathing room again.  Less pressure.  Friendlier people.  I have not a single ounce of doubt that this was the right move for us.
  • I am still in the same job, working out of our swanky (empty) 3rd Bedroom (I’m so alone).  Mike got a killer job at a new school and starts in August.  Miles just started his transition into a new Montessori school yesterday. (Spoiler Alert: He loves it.)
  • We got a mini-van about two months before deciding to move to San Diego, because of the drive from San Jose to San Diego.  So, that’s cool.  That DVD player is totally getting all the use we intended…. not.
  • We’ve been trying to add Baby #2 for a while now, but 4 miscarriages later with no explanation, I have turned into a rather happy hippy.  All organic, supplement ingesting, natural deodorant wearing, happy hippy.  (I think my body didn’t particularly enjoy the stress it was under that past year and wasn’t that into the idea of carrying a child.  I think things could be better now that we’re here but even if we never have another child I am pretty sure my family is going to be better of with better food in our bellies and a calmer way of living.)

Miles

  • Miles is now almost four years old.  I skipped right on through the two’s and most of the three’s and what do I have to show for it?  Well, I guess there’s this kid:

ice cream kid

  • Miles is, as his teacher described him, “a very social, very silly, stereotypical boy’s boy with a sensitive side that it real.”  That’s right.  Despite all my goals of creating a family without gender stereotypes he seems to heavily gravitate to things like sports, trucks, pirates, and dirt.  Although, I would like to point out that he additionally loves a good pedicure and loves fairies too.
He's a pirate fairy.  Obvs.
He’s a pirate fairy. Obvs.
  • He is stubborn and crazy and loves a good audience to misbehave in front of.  He likes pop music and when he asks to go to the park he always says he has a “park meeting to go to”.  He cried this morning when he woke up and I wasn’t there (He climbs into our bed in the middle of the night without fail).  The solution was cuddling.  This guy loves cuddling.
  • I have learned a lot about parenting since last I wrote here, and I plan on writing more about all those things.  I think the biggest thing I have learned is that I really only know how to parent my own kid.  And to read as much as humanly possible about various forms of parenting and child development and then throw as much as you can at your particular child until you find what fits.  For example, Miles goes to bed super easy, will try any food you put in front of him, hasn’t actually thrown a horrible tantrum in public in ages, and he met his new teacher last week and shook her hand like a little gentleman.  I’d love to take credit for all of those things, but aside from developing a pretty good amount of trust in terms of the food I serve him being not-too-spicy-I-promise, this kid is his own person.  You know?
  • He’s super weird and gets really upset when things are “unjust”.  That’s more of “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.  Ha.

Ok.  That’s a nice ramble to start with.

Miles at 15 Months

Sometime recently this baby turned in to this toddler.

swingdaddy 549884_10100619119805987_2143930591_n

Having a toddler is a whole different thing, let me tell you.  

I gave birth to a tiny, fragile baby.  It changed me in a lot of ways– my priorities, what a perfect Saturday looks like… but when they’re babies they just kind of go along for the ride of whatever interpretation of parenting you choose.    Then they become a toddler and they stop being cool with being strapped to your being and going with your plans like a loaf.  Miles suddenly has opinions and feeling and OH MY GOD he is fearless and does not give to thoughts about how going down the BIG BOY slide that the three year old’s are afraid of might actually give his mama a heart attack.  He doesn’t have time to care.  He’s too busy experiencing everything.

This morning I was sitting, enjoying my coffee, planning on spending at least another 15 minutes at home before taking Miles to school and heading to work.  I took out some of Miles’ cars for him to play with; I mentally high-fived myself for being on top of things this morning.  Miles took one look at his car, shook his head no, and went and grabbed his sweater, handed it to me before sitting down waiting for it to be put on.  He was ready to go to school thank you very much.  Determined child.  Exhausting, overwhelming, amazing, determined child.

He is trying to talk more.  He says belly button — (but it sounds like bawwy-buh-uh).  Close enough kid.  He is on the brink of so many things… so many things that are going to break every notion I have about who he has been so far.

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I’ve been quiet lately.  Having a baby has made my world much smaller, but I think I’m wrong in my feeling that it’s not of interest because it’s small.  More importantly I don’t want to miss recording life.  Two years ago, I started dating Mr. A, and I am so happy that I wrote through that and finding out I was pregnant.  They’re cherished bit of my story.

 

Miles at 15 months:

Favorite food: Beets and pizza

Stats: 25 pounds, taller than all the other kids

Love: Balls and cars and slides

Words: Mama, Dada, ball, nana (banana), Ba! (Bottle), belly button, dog, Abby, bye, bubble, tree, bird, uh-oh.

A first. #nablopomo

Dear Miles,

Ten things I wish for you on your first birthday:
  1. I hope that you continue to march to the beat of your own drummer.  Find the things that you LOVE and just be about those things unabashedly.  Find people to be in your tribe.  Forget about everyone else.
  2. I hope that you care about people.  Your Daddy has a huge heart and your Mama cries over injustice often, empathy is not a weakness.
  3. I hope you learn which rules to break.  Birthday cake can be a fine breakfast and sometimes ditching school to road-trip with your friends can be magical (Just make sure you tell your mom where you’re going and be safe!).
  4. I hope that our home is always a safe place.  I want you to feel comfortable being exactly who you are and when things get crazy I want you to always always always know you can find refuge at home.
  5. I hope that you’re a good friend.  Fiercely loyal and fun-loving.  I think that you are who your friends are, choose well.
  6. I hope you love learning and school and reading and science.  The world is so much bigger than you know.  There are journeys to go on.
  7. I hope you get in trouble just enough to learn your limits, but not enough to require Mommy and Daddy bailing you out of jail.
  8. I hope you stay fearless.  You it out as you go.
  9. I hope you never get to old for a little snuggle time.  I won’t tell anyone, but hopefully you won’t even care if I do.
  10. I hope you know how many people love you Buddy.  Even more than that, I hope you grow up with a deep sense of security because you have so many people in your corner.

You are the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Thank you for making me Mama. I love you.

Election Eve #NaBloPoMo

What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s election in the United States?

Fear.  I am afraid of what the country would look like under Mitt Romney, or any person who does not value social programs.  I worked for over three years in a non-profit that helped CashAid (Welfare) recipients afford child care.  I saw the number of people we were able to help become smaller and smaller due to budget cuts.  I believe in my bones that safety nets need to be in place to help people when they find themselves on the bottom.  I also now that as our budget shrunk, the regulations and rules to qualify for help became stricter.  The idea of a “welfare mom” taking advantage of the system goes against everything I know or have experienced.

I am afraid for the elimination of a woman’s right to choose.  I am not pro-abortion, I am pro-choice because I acknowledge that we make decisions sometimes that have consequences that are beyond our imaginations.  I became pregnant after dating my husband for just over a month.  What would I have done if he abandoned us?  Would I have had an abortion?  Would I have hoped I could take advantage of social programs to help me?  I don’t know the answer.  I am lucky that my husband and I took the path we did.  However, if that wasn’t the case it is not up to the government to tell me what my path should be.  If I chose to have a baby and be a solo-parent, I damn well deserve the right to have that choice be my own and empowering.

More than anything, I am concerned about the divisiveness in our country.  I believe that we’re all mostly the same, with some variations on a couple of hot-button items.  I think there are things bigger than labels of Democrat or Republican… things like the hurricane.  Things like taking care of each other.  Things like taking care of our children and our elderly.  I wish we could focus on the things we have in common more than we do.  (Myself included.)

 

::Drops Mic::

Miles Right Now. #nablopomo

Fearless.  Stubborn.  Social.

This is how I would describe my son as he’s gearing up to turn one.

He is growing up so very fast and as his personality comes out more and more when is apparent is that he is a bundle of contradictions.  He is fearless, regularly receiving accident reports at school for attempting feats outside of his skill level.  At the same time, he has been taking steps for a whole month now, but shows very little interest in making walking a full-time thing.  He walks mostly when he’s distracted or when he thinks no one is watching.  He’s tentative and brash at the same time.

He eats anything, preferring big flavors.  No thank you on plain pasta but put a little balsamic vinegar on it, and he will eat it with both hands.  Last week he surprised me me chomping down on some red bell pepper and yesterday he wanted to try the prosciutto I was preparing for his birthday party and he loved it.   He goes bananas for ice cream but will eat beets every day for lunch.

Yesterday I came into the front room to find Miles standing on the landing of our 2nd floor apartment.  My heart stopped as I imagined him trying to “walk” down those stairs (Luckily I got to him in time!).  We thought my father-in-law had accidentally left the the door a little open, and Miles took advantage of the opportunity.  Then that night Miles goes over to the front door and opens the door.  Like it was no big deal.  I’m horrified.  My husband is proud.  Our door is now forever deadbolted.  

He laughs when other people are laughing.  He is easier to deal with during the “witching hour” before bedtime if a guest comes over.  If he’s fussy, I’ll take him to Target because he loves looking at people and flirting with them in the aisles.

His hair is turning course and curly like his Dad’s, with my auburn color.  He takes of his socks every single morning on the way to school, no matter how cold it is.

On Friday’s coffee dates are a family affair.  Miles and I share an almond croissant.  Mike and I chat while Miles tries to stare at people until the give-in and start paying attention to him.  

I can’t believe he’s almost a year old.  A year ago tomorrow I woke up in labor.  Best thing that’s ever happened to me.

A house, a house, a house. #NaBloPoMo

Day 2: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

We live in an apartment.  A 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment with a tiny kitchen and stained carpets.  We stay because it fits us (in terms of size, not in terms of the stained carpets) and because the location cannot be beat.  We’re in our town’s towntown, where we can stroll to parks, restaurants, coffee, and even the library.  

Whenever there is a holiday event or street fair, we can simply walk there.  The neighborhood I live in is called “Old Town” and besides our complex, the area is full of cute houses with amazing old trees lining the streets.

If I could, I’d live here forever, but in a house.  Where everyone can walk to school and the neighborhoods shut down for block parties.  It feels like a movie, or something I hear happening in the mid-west.  Here in California, the suburbs can be a little more on the bland side.  There is character here.

I’d love to be in the house we could make our “forever” home.  Paint and a backyard.  Storage enough for tubs of seasonal decorations.

Day 1: Favorite Quote #NaBloPoMo

(I’m going to quietly come back to this space as if I haven’t been gone for six months.  Babies, amiright?  Time sinks.  I’ll let you know all about everything in the world in the next couple of weeks.  I’ve missed this little space so much lately.)

Day 1: Tell us your favorite quotation and why.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Khalil Gibran

 If I could I’d have this whole poem tattoo’d on my person.  It was incredibly powerful as I started my relationship with my Hubs, a reminder that I didn’t have to give up myself to be in love.  Mike was the first person I ever dated that I felt like myself throughout the “falling in love” process.  I didn’t mold into the person I was dating; and he loved me for it.  I knew I was, he like who I was, I liked him as he was.  Pretty fantastic place to begin.

Then came baby.  (A new tagline for my blog perhaps )  Lately, with an almost one year old, I find myself coming out of a daze.  It’s not that I’m not happy, that’s far from the truth.  What I can say is that I’m not quite “myself”.  At the end of the day, after giving all of me to a job, a baby, and a marriage…. I don’t have much left for me.  My job, baby, and marriage have thrived under this model, but I’ve become a little less sparkly.  I miss being sparkly.  Sigh.  Tell me that’s totally normal for a first time mom.

My life is full of so much amazing things, but to be the strongest pillar I can be, I need to carve some more time out my day for my self.  I think that writing again could be the first step.  (Followed by some bubble baths and regular baby-free friend time.)family photo

 

Money and Marriage

Before getting married, I was never very good at money.  At my best I was budgeting to the dime to get by, at my worst I was overspending and using credit cards to bridge the gap.  (Not advised my friends.)

After my horrible, no-good, very bad, break-up in 2009 I was fully on a spending spree.  It filled the hole.  I deserved it!  I would fly places and buy things like Anthropolie quilts and lovely dinners out.  By the time I had worked through all of those emotions and stopped over-spending I was left with some pretty serious debt and a severely defeated opinion of my ability to handle my own finances.

Then I got pregnant.

Mike had a savings account, which I took to mean he was SO GOOD AT MONEY!  What was actually the case was that he had no real expenses so he didn’t have to pay attention to his spending at all and his savings account would just grow and grow.

When I went on maternity leave, we had to dip into his savings a lot.  When I was only working part-time we had to dip into his savings a lot.  One night, before I found my new job and after my non-profit had declined my request to come back full time, we sat on the couch and had the real conversation that we could not keep going the way we were… the savings account was getting smaller.  We could go on for a month, tops.

That was one of the hardest nights we’ve had since we got married.  I cried a lot.  I felt really helpless and guilty and awful.  Mike felt powerless and frustrated and like he wasn’t properly providing for our new family.

Then I got a new job.  It pays way better, but I was still finding myself needing that next pay check so much.  I had a nebulous idea of “Hey, I’m making so much more money, now I can spend all the money I want!”  (Spoiler alert: This was false.)

We knew that we wanted Miles to start at a new (much more expensive) day care in the fall and Mike needed a new car.  It was time to budget and get our whole financial plan into order.

So we started a budget.  We started tracking.  And it’s been the MOST liberating experience I’ve ever had.

We still get to have all the fun we want, we’re just aware.  We have successfully finished out second month with our budget, and it’s been amazing.

We can confidently start Miles in his new school in the fall.  We can confidently buy Mike a new car, while not being afraid we will run out of money for diapers.

We have money in our savings account.  (We have a joint savings and individual accounts.)  For the first time in my entire life, I am spending less than I am making.  I have a savings account that is growing and making me all kinds of happy.

I have shared our tracking with some people, and wanted to do it here too.  We use Google Drive to track our spending.  We have categories that we’ve budged amount into, and each time we spend and enter that category, my sheet automatically sums up how much I have left in each category.  I made a generic version of what we use.  I hope it helps someone too!

Google Doc

The Best Decisions

For right now, the best thing I’ve been doing is not putting pressure on myself to write here.  I expect that it will come back again, but right now I have to let myself off the hook a little in terms of needing to write.  With that said, I am also allowing myself the freedom to get all inspired and want to write here and there, and Amy’s post today did it for me.

The Five Best Decisions I’ve Made in my Adult Life

1. Leaving my PhD Program

Sometimes we are on a path and we let that become our identity.  I was 19 when I decided to major in Sociology and I knew that that path would lead to grad school and a PhD.  It was a huge lesson in learning to trust myself and trust that I could change my mind.  I remember the day I decided to leave the program.  I was walking to class, feeling miserable, thinking about how I used to adore sociology.  I spend most of my undergraduate career talking the ears off of anyone who would listen about all the amazing things I was learning about (criminalization of drugs!  gender inequality and power in marriages! marxism and the bourgeoisie!).  Grad school took all that joy away.  On that walk, I was playing with the idea of leaving in my head and when I did a weight lifted.  The simple idea of a life outside of academia was the happiest thought I had thought in weeks, so I went towards that.

I still got my MA, so that's something.

2. Moving to a new town, with no friends but my Grandparents, and living on my own.

I still can’t believe that I did this sometimes.  Have I ever mentioned that I picked my grad school based off of the relationship I was in?  I picked my college based off of (in part) to its proximity to my boyfriend.  I was developing a pattern of making huge decisions for the wrong reasons.  This decision was my own.  I went to the store and picked out my new bed alone.  I signed the apartment lease alone. I could decide to drive to LA Friday after work and not run it by anyone.  I could stay out late Thursday night and no one cared.  I learned about myself.  I learned about boundaries.  I learned how to connect the wireless internet, kill spiders, and hang wall art straight.  Most importantly I learned that I could do a hell of a lot more than I thought I could.  This was the period of my life that I gained ALL THE CONFIDENCE and I walked around feeling like I could handle pretty much anything life threw at me.

3. Forgiving my Mom.

Having a parent battle any addiction is hard.  (duh?)  It took my mom years, and one serious relapse, to get her life back. At the time she was going through everything, it was really crucial for me to put distance between us.  I could not be responsible for her sobriety, and that was incredibly difficult.  In a lot of ways I lost my mom during those years.  When she had been sober for a couple of years, I had a really hard time trusting the permanence of her sobriety.  I was also really angry.  I would recoil when she tried to hold my hand.

Miles changed everything.  Since the moment he arrived, I got it.  I understood my mom better.  I know she loves me as much as I love Miles.  Love heals a lot of wounds people.  My mom is the best Grandma.  I call her almost every day, because I genuinely want to.  Miles was a like the off-button for all of my anger and resentment… all I feel now is forgiveness and the desire for her to live closer to me.

4. Keeping the Baby.

Mike and I had been dating for a whole of 1.5 months when I found out I was pregnant.  An abortion could have been a real option for us.  We’d be crazy to have a baby after such a short time, right?

We chose Miles instead.  Of course this decision is the biggest decision I have ever made, but it’s also one of the best.  I am a better person because I am his Mamma.  My priorities have been adjusted to include a large amount of building obstacle courses for Miles to climb over.  He is so full of joy and mischief.  Life is better with him by about a million points.

 

5. Marrying my Baby’s Daddy.

Life is hard sometimes.  Sometimes we both get stressed out and we clench our jaws until we can just get through that day.  Most of the time, though, he’s a treat.  He’s my best friend.  I look forward to Miles falling asleep at night because it means I get to hang out with Mike.  I have full faith in him and us.  I want to have more babies with him and to spend my vacations sipping wine with him.  He’s hilarious and a good dancer and he adores me.  We chose each other and haven’t looked back since.

 

What about you guys?  What are the best decisions you’ve ever made?

Six Months of Mamahood

Miles is six months old.  I’ve been a Mama for six whole months, and I still sneak into his room at night sometimes to watch him sleeping.  He’s turning into such a little man and if I stop to think about it too much, I inevitably cry.  He eats real food now, just picks up chunks of banana or mango like it’s no big thing and puts them squarely in his mouth.  He makes hugely loud sounds that I call his Dino Roars.  He does it to get reactions out of people, and it works.  (Ask anyone in line at Starbucks this morning!) He is just so freaking funny!

He is mobile now.  Army crawling across the floor to poke Daddy in the face.  Diaper changes have turned into a wrestling match because AS SOON as you put him on his back he has flipped over so he can get his hands on ALL THE THINGS in the diaper changing bin.  He’ll go from cuddly to on-the-move in .3 seconds.  He belly laughs and flirts, flashing his dimple to unsuspecting women in the checkout aisle.

He is in the 90th percentile in height, 60th for weight.  Our chunk of  baby is turning into a long and lean little dude, but still doesn’t have a single tooth.

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Being a mama has changed me.  (Duh?)  I knew it would, but I didn’t know how exactly.  My heart feels bigger and more fragile now that he’s here.  My world is smaller but a zillion times more beautiful.

I am enjoying simultaneously loving the age he is at, mourning the things he’s already left behind, and looking forward to everything that he will grow and do.  He already has SUCH a personality.  I want everyone to come and spend time with him so they can experience the glory of this happy, light-filled, boy.

Don’t even get me STARTED on how he lights up when Mike walks into the room.  His entire face.  Utter joy.

This little man made me a Mama.  I LOVE being a mama.  Every single thing about it.

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When Amy was here for our race last weekend we talked about how I feel the urge to be Super Mom, Super Wife, and Super Employee at all times.  She helped me get to the point where I am okay with not having the time or (to be honest) the desire to start regularly working out right now.  The time will come for that, but right now I don’t want to miss time with Miles.  I can’t imagine being off running in the morning and missing his sweet baby snuggles.  So for now, we go for walks every day and I will practice some self-love until I really feel “in shape” again.

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My first Mother’s Day was perfect.  I ran off with a girlfriend for a pedicure and then the family went out to the park for a picnic that Mike had planned.  The park we go to is super close to our house and is full of neighborhood families being adorable.  Miles is obsessed with going high on the swings and he laughs the higher he goes.

While we were sitting on our blanket I said to Mike that it was crazy to think about Miles one day being old enough to swing by himself and I’ll have to eventually trust that he won’t let go of the swing and fall.  Mike’s response: “And I am going to have to trust one day he will let go at the right time to do kick ass tricks.”