5.27.2014

3-day weekend: birthday grilling, wedding, and garden planting

It was a great, long weekend. Just what I needed after a crazy few days at work.
Saturday we celebrated Trav's birthday by grilling with Ro, Pat, and the girls. We made so much food, and the girls played next door in the sandbox. It was a bit overcast, but nice, and only had one super brief (like 60 seconds, max) rain. The girls ran around like crazy downstairs, watched a movie, and played with the balloons Trav brought home from work. It was a great day.

Gwen and Auntie Ro enjoy some snuggles.

Trav and Casey play keep the balloon in the air.

Sunday Trav had tennis, then that evening we had a wedding for one of my coworkers. It was a lot of fun and we had a great time together. The location was gorgeous, the food was amazing, and we danced past my bedtime.  :-)  My mom was back home with Gwen so it was easy to cut loose and have a great time, knowing Gwen was in good hands. So have a great time we did!



We ended up leaving at 11 o'clock, a bit before the wedding was done since we knew Gwen would be up early no matter when we went to bed. Well, miracle of miracles, while she did wake at 5, she managed to fall back asleep in bed with us until quarter of nine!! It was amazing. We ate some breakfast, then my mom headed out and we got the rest of our day going.

We finally got a chance to plant our garden, a little later then normal, but its done! This year we have hot banana peppers, hot chili peppers, sweet red bell peppers, and petite orange peppers; plus onion chives, sweet basil, bush beans, and I have mint from last year. Can't wait to see it all grow! I have to plant my pumpkin seeds too.



We ended our day with some Harry Potter, since we were all feeling pretty tired and lazy at that point! 

The one other thing I did yesterday was have a talk with Gwen to try to explain Memorial Day to her. She asked why we had flags out and why we were seeing so many firetrucks and police. It was hard to strike the proper balance of explaining exactly why the day was so important and meaningful, without it being too sad or heavy for a 4-year old. But she seemed to get it, so that was good.

This week ahead is an interesting one since I'm at work for only one day! Tuesday should prove to be insanely hectic, but I can't complain since then I'm off! Wednesday I'll get Gwen and Trav going in the morning, then head out to Boston (after rush hour). I'm there Wednesday, Thursday, then drive home Friday. I'm excited to see everyone!

How was your long weekend?

5.23.2014

i haven't forgotten you

Beautiful blooms.

Sorry I've been so quiet lately. Things have been hectic, in a good way. Well, I could use a little less of the work craziness, but otherwise good things. Yesterday was Trav's birthday and I did some cooking for him: steaks, roasted cauliflower, sauteed spinach, and lobster bisque (the last one store bought, that's a little much for me to attempt on a week night)! For dessert, pizzelles, his favorite.

My parents gifted him with a subscription to Foot Cardigan, which tickled me to no end. His love of socks is well documented, so this is a great gift for him. His first pair, zombie socks, was spot on. Fittingly, one of things I'd bought for him ages ago was a zombie shirt. His main gift was a new tent though. No more struggling with poles with no elastic!

My lilac bloomed finally, and its really perfect timing since we have friends coming over this weekend for a little grilling for Trav's birthday. It makes the backyard smell amazing!

Other then birthday things, I have some stuff in the works that I hope to share soon, but have some details to iron out first. In the meantime, I'll see what I can get around to posting next week. Might be patchy again with my trip to Boston, but I'll try to check in. Hope you enjoy your look weekend and have a great Memorial Day!

5.22.2014

CM: detective case files: parent edition

My newest piece from Connected Mom

I remember a conversation with my husband when Gwen was just a babe, about the daily daycare sheets. Every morning the person doing drop off (my husband 99% of the time) would fill out one side listing last diaper, last food/bottle/nursing, how they slept, and asking for any other important information. I noticed that he was writing basically the same thing every day. Now because we had a specific morning routine, the nursing time and diaper time really didn't change; but the "how they slept" part... well that changed drastically. But day after day, "fine." I questioned him about it, and he shrugged it off, asking what it mattered.

What I pointed out was this: Being a caregiver is like playing detective sometimes. Especially when you are watching a baby would isn't a great communicator yet, any clue that you can find which might help explain their actions is a huge help. Knowing that she had a horrible night sleep could be the difference between them recognizing her need for an earlier nap, or missing the window and ending up with a overtired mess of a girl on their hands. The same way that we learned from her sheets at the end of the day, that she might be extra hunger if she didn't eat a lot, or we might need to start bedtime a little early if she didn't nap well.

Gwen is four now, and there are no more daily logs of every bite, bathroom break, and certainly no more naps (::sigh::). But those little clues are just as important now. On evening that she's having a particularly hard time, its easy to just get frustrated, but its more productive to look for clues. Has she been sleeping well? Ask her about her day, did something happen? Its not always so cut and dry, but having some idea what might be causing the crankiness can make it a lot easier to handle, and be a bit help in figuring out what she needs to pull it together. Does she need sleep, or maybe just more hugs? Maybe she needs to be reassured that something that happened during the day isn't the end of the world.

As she gets older, there are more and more times when we can have real conversations about what is bothering her. But there are still times when I need to pull out my detective badge to figure it out.



5.19.2014

birthday dinners and tennis lessons

Great full weekend behind us. Weekends like that are always fun, but always fly by way way too fast.

Saturday we went to a birthday party for a friend's daughter's 2nd birthday.


Notice my daughter's reaction when she sees me taking a picture!


It was a cute party full of little girls. This was one of my favorite scenes...


He's such a good girl's dad!

After the party we headed home to get some chores done, then that night I took Ro out for dinner for a belated birthday celebrate. We went to Teikoku and that food was AMAZING!


I can't stop thinking about my shrimp tempura or asparagus in soy sesame ginger dressing, even now!


Sunday I woke up to the smell of cooking. Trav filled our fridge with two great meals for eating this week! What a great thing to wake up to! Sunday is of course tennis day for Trav. While he did that, Gwen hung out with the neighbors, and I headed to meet a yoga friend for lunch. I loved getting to spend time with sweet Elly outside of yoga!

I hit up some grocery stores and Trader Joe's on the way home. Once there I grabbed Trav and Gwen from next door and we all went to the tennis courts so Gwen could practice (her suggestion!).



She gets frustrated sometimes when she misses, but she mostly has fun with it. Trav loves it of course! He'd love to have a fellow tennis player in the family (I try, but I'm NOT good!).

By that time it was almost dinner, so we headed home to heat some things up. All-in-all, lots of fun.

Now it on to a busy week at work, followed by a long weekend (with a wedding), then next week I'm off to Boston. After that its June already!!

Hope your weekends were full of fun!

5.16.2014

nothing new: update

I realized that after my initial nothing new post I haven't really offered any updates. It wasn't intentional, I just kept forgetting to! So only two weeks before being done with my initial period, I'm finally checking in.

Honestly the first few days were hard, but overall its been easier then I thought it would be! It was like I needed to give myself some adjustment time to allow for a mindset change. At first I would constantly find myself saying, "oh man, I would so get that..." and feeling deprived by not being "allowed" to. But pretty quickly I realized that even a day or two later, I couldn't remember what it was that I was so sad not to get. There is so much that is tempting in the short term, but my life is no worse without it. In the first few weeks I unsubscribed from every sales pitch, this just in, look what's new for summer email that came my way. It was so nice to not have all that junk in my inbox anyway!

More specifically, here are the rules I set out to keep and how I did with each: 

Food: I will obviously be buying food. But I'm going to stick to grocery store shopping. So no eating out lunches, or stopping for a little bag of snacks. I have some money on my Starbucks card, but once that is gone, its gone and I won't add more. (My one exception: my coworkers and I treat each other for our birthdays.)  I did really well at the beginning, probably through a full month, but have cheated a bit this month. I feel like of all the things to cheat with, this is the "best" because its not bringing anything new permanently into my life... but I really do want to shy away from things that create waste for one time use (so all those individual snacky things). That said, I have done so so so much better about having good food stocked at work so I'm not tempted to head out to grab a lunch. And since I have more things on hand, I'm also less likely to grab snacks on the way home since I'm fuller. So I would call this a pass more then fail, though I want to try to do even better!

Hygiene: Shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. Things that keep me healthy and clean, I will buy as needed. Perfume or special scented lotions, or other nice but not necessary things, I will be skipping.  This one has been fine. During the past two months, I ran out of shampoo, body wash, and face lotion. I bought new shampoo, and eventually bought more face lotion (I tried some other stuff I had on hand, but really didn't like the results, so I did rebuy my lotion. That said, the lotion I use lasts me for almost 2 years, so I'm going to call it an investment!). I haven't replaced the body wash and don't plan to. I'm almost done with my current bottle of lotion, but I have so many other ones in my closet, it will be nice to use them and get them out of there!

Birthdays: I will try to make people gifts if I can, or if not try to treat them to an activity vs. buying them "stuff." But in the end, I will get birthday gifts as needed. May is a huge month for birthdays, so I was a little worried beforehand, but its its gone well! For Mother's Day I gifted my Mom with time helping her in her garden, which is one of her favorite things. (And Trav, for his part, treated my mom and I to pedicures... so no "stuff." Good job Trav!) For my Dad's birthday, he told me all he wanted was videos of Gwen, so we happily played around and made him a few cute ones. For a girlfriends birthday, I treated her to a birthday dinner. For a friend's daughter, tickets to the Please Touch Museum. I had already purchased a few things for Trav's birthday, back in February, so he will be getting those. But one of them is an "one in, one out" situation, which makes me feel better. I did shop off a register for a wedding we are going to this month, but overall I'm calling it a win!

Yoga: I will buy new yoga class cards as needed, but no new yoga gear. Done and done.

I'm really pleased with how this is going so far and how its making me feel. I like being conscientious and completely aware of my consuming, and its effect on our lives, our bank account, and the environment in general. So that said, I'm renewing my commitment for another 2 months. I want to see if I can get through the summer and do even better then I have so far.

Trav and I have also decided to do a yard sale, and get rid of a lot of stuff that has been cluttering our house for too long. I can not wait! So no in, plus stuff out, means we are moving in the right direction!

5.15.2014

marching on

Life is so funny sometimes and time so relative. Yesterday returning to work felt like a Monday after a long (slightly boring, rather odd) weekend. Today I can't believe its not Friday already because it has already felt like such a long week.

Tuesday I was chosen for jury duty. We were done, completely, by a little after 4. Selected, served, released, all in one day! It was interesting to actually serve and experience the whole process, but the case itself was rather dull. An insurance thing. Still, even with it being rather small in the grand scheme of what we could have had to deal with for a federal case, it was crazy being in the jury room deliberating, deciding what would become the legally binding outcome of this case. Just a little surreal.

I'm glad I got to experience it. I'm glad it wasn't something more high profile. I'm glad its over.

Now on to the rest of the week.

5.12.2014

civic duty

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all the Mamas out there. I celebrated mine with a pedi with my mom on Saturday (thanks to Trav!), then some breakfast in bed on Sunday. Gwen made me a really cute bead necklace at daycare, and gave me lots of extra hugs and kisses. Love that girl.

I had/have Jury Duty today and tomorrow. Didn't get picked for now, but I'm in a group being sent up to a court room first thing tomorrow morning, so we'll see what happens. Don't know what to wish for. It would be interesting to experience a trial, but this isn't a great time! Guess its a good thing its completely out of my control!

Wish me the best possible outcome and see you later this week!

5.08.2014

CM: one year post weaning... and still a lactivist!

My most recent post from Connected Mom, reflecting on what breastfeeding has brought me, one year post-weaning. 


This month marks one year since Gwen self-weaned. It blows my mind that its been so long already, but on the flip side, Gwen seems so grown to me now, and its hard to believe that she was still a nursling only 12 months ago. Breastfeeding was such an integral part of our lives for such a large part of her life, that when I stop and think about those moments, its hard to believe that something like that could just end. One day, be done.

Breastfeeding was such a joy to both Gwen and I. There were times when it was hard, times when it was frustrating and I was touched out. But there were many more times when it just made me so eternally grateful for what my body was able to do. For almost 6 months I used my body alone to feed my child! And for almost 3 more years I was able to be a source of nutrients, and just as good, comfort. When nothing else would help her sleep or ease her heartache, nursing could sooth her. It was a labor of love for sure... and I loved it. 

But just because we aren't nursing anymore doesn't mean that breastfeeding isn't still extremely important to me. Gwen and I talk about nursing (both humans and animals feeding their young), and about how she nursed. She speaks of it fondly, still. I talk about nursing in general with friends, especially the run of friends who have gotten pregnant and had babies in that time.

Many times when you love something, but then stop "practicing" for whatever reason, it can fade into the happy memory section of your brain... occasionally promoting a warm sense of nostalgia but not a part of your day to day anymore. When I realized that even a year out, breastfeeding was still an important part of my life, well it spurred some action on my part. Starting this summer, I'll be taking a college course to become a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor. I will be able to teach pre-birth breastfeeding courses, and advise Mamas on nursing. Hopefully it will be just the first step towards becoming either a IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), or a Doula, or both!

I'm so excited to pursue this certification. It's amazing to me that something I did because it was 1) natural, 2) the best choice for my baby, 3) comforting for both of us ... has become such a passion. A year post-weaning and breastfeeding continues to change my life! I can't wait to see where this leads me!


If your babies have weaned, has breastfeeding remained a part of your life?
If not, do you have a favorite breastfeeding memory? 



5.07.2014

5.06.2014

feels like summer is almost here...

This weekend was pretty lazy, in a good way. My lazy Friday was everything I hoped for. Knocked out a whole stack of magazines and watched an SVU marathon. Win!

The biggest part of our weekend was the start of tennis on Sunday. It really feels like summer is around the corner when tennis starts! (Though this Sunday felt NOTHING like summer. It was chilly!)

We headed over to the tennis courts first thing in the morning, to sweep away the puddles from Saturday's rain.


Gwen was very eager to help, basically taking the broom and not giving it up!


The day itself went well. Good turnout, fun hanging out with the neighbors again after not seeing each other most of the winter, and grilling of course.

Though I'm not looking forward to the heat, I am looking forward to everything else that summer brings. The outdoor time, grilling and swimming, vacations and a slower time at work. And of course, tennis! I'm ready for it all.

What trumpets the arrival of summer to you? What are you looking forward to this summer?

5.04.2014

malas and other meaningful things

Over the weekend Gwen was drawing with chalk on the front porch. She drew me first, then paused and looked at me, "Should I add your necklace and bracelets, Mom? Because it doesn't really look like you without them..."  Its true. I wear a Hamsa on a chain around my neck, and two malas on my wrist. Always. I eat with them, sleep with them, shower with them, yoga with them, play with them and work with them. They have become so important to me, and they don't come off.

So what are these pieces? Well, a Hamsa is a well known symbol throughout the Middle East and Africa, and is represented in most major religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism). Also known as the Hand of Fatima, the Hand of Mary, or the Hand of Miriam, it is supposed to bring luck or ward off the evil eye. It is reflected in yogic mudras. There are stories that trace the symbol back to Carthage, Horas, or Egyptian mythology.

Source: google image search for hamsa (1, 2, 4),
hand of fatima (3, 5), hand of mary (6)

I bought mine inexpensively online, but a jeweler friend of mine molded it and recast it in silver for me, so it will last. Its good to have skilled friends!


The bracelets? I call them my malas, though only one really is. A mala is a set of beads used by Hindus and Buddhists, for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. Malas are typically made with 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads; though some practitioners use malas of 21 or 28 beads for doing prostrations (which is what mine is).

When I bought my mala, they said it was Jade... though I believe it is actually Indian Agate. Different stones have different properties. Jade is a symbol of purity and serenity. It signifies wisdom gathered in tranquility. It is a protective stone, which keeps the wearer from harm and brings harmony. It is believed to attract good luck and friendship. Agate is formed from microscopic crystals of quartz laid down in bands. This is a very stable crystal. Agates are grounding stones, bringing about an emotional, physical, and intellectual balance. They aid in centering and stabilizing physical energy. Agate has the power to harmonize yin and yang, the positive and negative forces that hold the universe in place. A soothing and calming stone, agate works slowly but brings great strength. Its multiple layers can bring hidden information to light.

My second bracelet is just a totem for me. A reminder. A simple wooden bead carved with the word breathe, and turquoise beads. Turquoise is an efficient healer, providing solace for the spirit and well-being for the body. It is a protective stone and has been used for amulets. It promotes spiritual attunement and enhances communication with the physical and spiritual worlds. Turquoise is a purification stone. It dispels negative energy and clears electromagnetic smog, providing protection against pollutants in the environment. It balances and aligns all the chakras with the subtle bodies and attunes the physical level to the spiritual.

Wearing these pieces makes me feel grounded and offer me comfort. When I am stressed or nervous, I often finding myself touching them for comfort.

Why these symbols? Well, as someone who believes in G*d, but doesn't align with a particular religion, I find the timelessness and universality of the Hamsa to be appealing. People from multiple faiths have assumed it was their own, and I like that too. I've always had a deep interest and appreciation in Buddhism, and like the idea of having something always on my person which encourages prayer and reflection... hence the mala. And even if the effects are only psychosomatic or a placebo effect, I still like the idea of having things that promote serenity, harmony, stability, and well-being always on my person.

Clearly they mean a lot to me... enough for me to write a whole, random blog post about!

What about you? Do you have any special pieces of jewelry that never leave your person?

5.01.2014

saturated

It rained yesterday, harder than I've seen in a long time. The sky never getting lighter than twilight, and the rain coming down in sheets. Everything is saturated today. The ground is wet, the plants are wet, even the air is incredibly heavy with moisture. My umbrella, left outside but in a covered area, didn't dry even a smidge; and at 10:30 my hair is still damp from my shower. It's warmer today which is nice, but the permeation makes it a little harder to enjoy. Nonetheless, I'm glad it's not raining anymore.

This week has been a bit ridiculous. Tuesday I was in DC with train delays and consequently late nights. Yesterday, I was able to have a late start, but consequently had a manic day once I arrived. I also had the frustration that goes with knowing you did something a bit daft. C'est la vie. All is well that ends well.

Tomorrow I have off, an appointment in the morning, but otherwise a day of rest. And I mean rest. I will be making my biggest cup of tea, grabbing some snacks, a book, and a stack of magazines and lounging in bed. To say I'm looking forward to it might just be the understatement of the century.

But for now, I have to finish trying to shove a weeks worth of work into my 3-office days week. Wish me luck and have a great weekend!!