Monday, December 22, 2014

My anxiety is possibly out of proportion to the situation, or it is exactly appropriate

I'm pretty nervous about taking a 12-hour road trip with Mamie tomorrow.  When I think, "12 hours in a car with a toddler," anxiety seems warranted. But we've done this trip with her twice before in the last year.  We took a six-hour trip with her just at Thanksgiving.  What could go wrong?  Well, she could start crying when we get in the car and not stop until we get to Atmore.  I suppose if she were going to cry 12 straight hours, she could do it on any day, regardless of the setting. Ok, ok we'll be fine.



Mamie is 15 months old today.  She is crazy.  She climbs all the furniture, throws all the food, and refuses to be tamed into wearing shoes or barrettes. She also gives really sweet hugs and blows kisses.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fare thee well, peanut butter pie I always crave but never make

What I thought before Mamie was diagnosed with peanut allergy:

Peanut allergy is so rare, why do people make such a big deal about it?

What I think now:

Peanut allergy is so rare, but I'm glad people make such a big deal about it!

Statistics seem to be shifty, but the interwebs say less than one percent of Americans are allergic to peanuts.  This has given me a lot of omgwhymybaby feelings this week. Also, my perspective is distorted to suspect the inclusion of peanuts in everything from pizza crust to milk.

As with all problems, I attacked this one with my weapon of choice -- a book!  Super readers, to the rescue!

I hope after some adjustment this will all seem normal, and I won't see demonic Mr. Peanut around every corner.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What we talk about

Kids make good social currency. Anywhere you find yourself, if you are among people who have kids, you have plenty to talk about.  How does she sleep?  When did he walk? What schools are you looking at?

I fell into this pattern today with my friend at the gym.  We had 45 minutes of good treadmill time to chat and I bet half of it was babyish, until she said "What have you been doing for yourself?"

What have I been doing for myself?  I do make an effort to punctuate my days with things that are just for me -- reading, tv, writing, exercise. Naps. I always had this idea when Nick and I had kids, we would just fold them into an already rich and interesting life. Man, I hope that's what's happening.  I don't even have enough perspective at the moment to tell!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My Year of Mamie

I am in my office writing this post, while Mamie is in her room with her first ever non-family babysitter.  Like her first birthday, this is a milestone for us, an indication that I am maturing and that she is adaptable. I thought it would be a good time to write about her first year with us.

Did I ever tell you the story of when you were born?


The week before Mamie was born, I became increasingly uncomfortable. I'm sure any pregnant woman would say the same, but it was a whole month until her due date, and still I was at the point where walking more than a few yards was too much.  That Friday, I spent all day lying on the sofa while maids cleaned the house to prepare for her arrival in a few weeks, so I thought. Not knowing it would be our last meal before parenthood, Nick and I had a quick dinner at the Greek restaurant nearby.

Early Saturday morning, it was time to go to the hospital.  The next 30 hours were an agonizing mess of thirst, pain, decisions, waiting. Finally, we all agreed it was time for a C-section. And Mamie was born Sunday, September 22, 2013, at 12:46 p.m. Before I even saw her, I heard her squawking. I said, "That can't be real!" and I threw up all over the floor. (I never vomited once while I was pregnant, by the way, but motherhood turned me inside out.)

The next few days were ecstatic; the few after that were terrifying.

I had no idea what I was doing


The depth of my naiveté in those first weeks defies description. If my mom and sister-in-law had not shown up the first week, I might still not own any baby bottles or diaper cream. 

And it was all so intensely emotional I cried when she was taken to a different room, I sobbed when my mom left, I wailed when I thought I heard her wailing, but she was really totally asleep and I was hallucinating. I yelled at Nick for just about everything, and I survived on fig newtons while tethered to a breast pump for weeks.

Meanwhile, Mamie grew and changed and took it all in with curiosity, just as she has continued to do all year.

What shall we do today?



Once Nick went back to work, the holidays passed, the grandparents came and went, Mamie and I settled into a routine that was mostly house-bound. I was washing dishes and laundry four times a day, everyday. It became an obsession, the only way I could gauge how productive I was. That was my comfort zone, but Mamie has a totally different personality, if you can imagine.  I like to be home alone, she wants to be outdoors, surrounded by people and noise. And guess who is in charge?

Let me tell you about the most profound change in my life since Mamie was born.

She has turned me into a chronic exerciser


When this baby made it known she would need daily walks, I didn't know how far I could go.  The library was three blocks -- not too tough -- we went almost every day.  A little further each time until 2.5 miles was no big deal.  Now we have run three times this week and it was, ahem, pretty easy. I am genuinely excited to push Mamie in her first 5k in November.

Mamie was four months old when she and Nick granted me permission to sign up for a yoga class.  It was a gift I silently thanked them for at the end of every class, and I found myself able to do more and more impossible things each week.

Who's my best girl?



Every day I sing to Mamie, "Who's my best girl, the best girl in the world?" Today, she answered, "Dada." My kid has been funny since she woke up from her newborn stupor. She fake sneezes for attention, she talks out of the side of her mouth like a gangster, she mimics everything.  

She is happy. I say that with my fingers crossed because she had a sure-nuff tantrum yesterday, and I hope the tide isn't turning.

She loves books, cats, seals, and peekaboo. The new babysitter is great, but she wants Mama now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Decluttering as therapy

Today my big decluttering discovery was the disappointment I feel about my dream library.  We are so lucky to have this house that's big enough for everything we want, including a room just for books.  Except it's not just for books, it's also for cat litter boxes.  I've accepted this is the best location for the boxes, not trying to come up with a different arrangement, I just need to work through how this arrangement makes my library something other than the cozy booklover's grotto I dreamed of.



But I still believe it can be that dream place!  It will take a certain amount of work.  To spend any time in a room with litter boxes, there has to be daily scooping and sweeping.  Nick took over litter box duties 8 years ago when we started trying to have a baby. (According to science, pregnant ladies can't touch cat poop; I exploited this.) Let's face the straight poop here:  I can clean the litter boxes. Somewhere Nick is reading this and a joyful tear just trickled down his cheek.

What will it take for my library to be the place I want to spend time in?


  1. Hidden, unsmellable litter boxes.  We have the technology.
  2. Shelves of books, cataloged and organized in a librarianly way.  I am actually a trained professional in this area.
  3. Dust-free shelves, cat hair-free furniture, clean floors.  Just a little weekly cleaning, surely?
  4. Comfy furniture.  Done.
See?  I just needed to sort this all out in my mind to see that it's possible to have what I want.  Now if I can take my blinders off and actually spend some time in there, we'll be on our way.  So for today's 30 minute decluttering session in the library, I ran the Roomba, dusted the shelves, changed the air freshener, and wrote this blog post.  Baby steps.

The large closet in the library, full of miscellaneous bins of my stuff is another matter.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Today I threw away my push present

Today I threw away my push present. It was a tough thing to throw away the 8-month-old flip flops because they were the first gift Nick bought me the week after Mamie was born. (Unless a bag of candy bars counts?) Fresh new flip flops were a dream in the early days when everything about life seemed out of order and harder than I was capable of handling.

Still, today, I threw them away because 8 months of daily wear is all one can expect from even the best flip flops. It was a single step in my month-long decluttering program. I've learned that I can make a huge impact in just 10 minutes, but I can also get absolutely no where in a whole day.  I just have to keep working on it, and at this halfway point in the month, I still have hope and a little steam.

I started this project by assigning each room or area of the house to a day of the week.  For example today, Monday, my areas are the living room and the front yard.  The first week I only planned to spend 10 minutes in each area. In ten minutes I was able to sweep the front sidewalk and make a note that I want to hang a swing for Mamie.  Pretty satisfying.

This week I am up to 30 minutes per area, which feels like a suffocating eternity! While I am still SOOOOO resistant to diving into packed closets and miscellaneous bins and drawers because it is SOOOOO overwhelming, I have discovered an exciting happy secret about decluttering:

Every day, I find something awesome that I have been looking for or forgot I ever had. I mean, truly awesome, happiness-producing things.

For example:
  • A bag of Chowards candy that I totally don't remember buying.
  • My long-lost giant Starbucks iced coffee cup.
  • The business card for my favorite gardener, who is coming tomorrow to save us from our tangled landscape.
  • A stack of king-sized pillow cases to add to the stack I bought shortly after we moved here because I could never find any king-sized pillow cases; now we have at least 20. (They are also good for covering diaper changing pads, FYI.)
What will it be today?  I've already discovered 15 free minutes to sit down and write this post.

One of those dreaded bins which could contain any kind of treasure.  At the least, it contains Netflix DVDs we've had over a year.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

This is what a panic attack feels like

First thought: It's all over, I've done everything wrong.

An area the size of a grapefruit is burning below my rib cage. I feel like a hot rag is shoved in my throat, and I'm struggling to get any air through it.  If I breathe too deeply my chest will burst.

Through shallow breaths, my mind starts to list my failings:


  • Not nice
  • Not pretty
  • Not good at cooking or cleaning
  • Not interesting
  • Not a good mother
  • Not necessary
Two vices tighten, one on my forehead, one on the back of my neck. I want to reassure myself: But I'm smart.

Panic answers, Smart doesn't count if you don't do anything with it.

Vices tighten. Hands shake to thwart any useful activity. Throat aches from constriction.

You know how to fix this. Take deep breaths, take a pill. Just act normal, don't be weird.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beautiful Things: Handmade gifts for Mamie, Part 1

I think I could make 20 posts just documenting the sweet handcrafts family and friends have made for Mamie.  I'll start here with a quick and dirty few...

I love this modern quilt made by Mamie's Gran.  Yellow, white, and aqua are the base for most everything in her  nursery.
Another beautiful quilt, made by Mamie's Great Aunt Maria.


How about this adorable cap knit by Auntie Ingrid Grana Underwood? 



Really, this is just the beginning.  I have piles of cozy things and walls of art to show off, all made by Mamie's loved ones! (And these pics were taken when she was only a few weeks old, so she's not even the same baby anymore!)