Archive | June, 2014

monday morning

30 Jun

We’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t have the camera ready for her first rendition this morning, arguably more gleeful and exuberant.  Still, not a bad way to start the week, in her “big sister” tee, pant-less.  Also subtly noted in this video, now that we have two girls, we’ve fully embraced the explosion of pink (and purple and sparkles).

Still coming off the high of seeing Ari delightfully play in a sprinkler with one of her besties yesterday afternoon.  We love summer!


to my daughters, on our bodies

23 Jun

Ari & Evie,

I’ve reached that time, over a month postpartum, 10-12 lb heavier and a lot softer than my standard, generally not quite comfortable in my own skin.  I’m hyperaware of the angle of my face in pictures, trying to avoid the double chin.  Our tender moments in the bath after our beach explorations were interrupted when I gripped handfuls of doughy flesh around my midsection.  I’m feeling particularly insecure, vulnerable, weak, sloppy, less capable, and frankly less attractive.

I’ve been here before, and I keep telling myself to be kind to myself, to fight against these sinking emotions that creep in the first couple months after birthing a child.  I’m eating well.  I’m exercising my body when possible (i.e. when John is available for all parenting needs and I’m not overwhelmingly exhausted).  And I’m breastfeeding.  Last time, despite efforts, it took me over four months to shed a pound, but eventually the weight came off, the muscle mass returned, and my non-maternity clothes fit again.  My body will get back to “normal” but, in the mean time, I’d like to go over a few things with you two.

I am your mother, a mother of two sweet, healthy daughters now and, as such, I embrace the increased responsibility to be good to my body and to demonstrate thoughtful body awareness and image.  Sure, there might be others to whom you look as examples of how to view your body, but (and maybe I’m being cocky or naive here) I think there’s a good chance that I’ll be one of them.  If you treat your body unkindly or carelessly because of something you’ve seen me do, utter, or suggest, I will have disappointed you and myself.  So, here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. I will love my body and celebrate its abilities, always.  I will encourage you to do the same.
  2. If there are aspects of my body that I would like to change, I will do so with the goal of improved health, not simply fitting into a smaller dress size.  And I will be reasonable and flexible with my expectations, I will not allow myself to be consumed by them, nor will I be demoralized if they veer from plan.
  3. I will use weight as only one marker of change, and only when appropriate.
  4. When anyone–your father, family and friends, members of the crossfit community–comment positively on my appearance, I will respond with gratitude and subdue the urge to add some deprecating remark or disclaimer.  (It’s a defense mechanism: I want people know that I’m acutely aware of my “flaws,” so that they judge me less–kind of sad, isn’t it?)  A simple “thank you” and a sincere smile are all that’s needed.
  5. I will do my best of demonstrate healthy eating habits by enjoying a wide range of foods aimed at nourishment, consumed mostly in discrete meals with maybe an afternoon goûter, as in France, but of course also allow for inconsistencies.  (We don’t need our meal times or rituals to be ruled over by a jail sergeant.  For instance, when your father has worked a string of evening shifts and it’s the hottest day of the year, it’s okay to celebrate with an afternoon yogurt, just ’cause.  It’s even okay to use two spoons.)photo 1 photo 2 photo 3
  6. I will never starve myself or join some ridiculous food fad that will leave me deprived.
  7. Two vague mantras that I’ll try to practice regarding consumption: a) Everything in moderation, including moderation. b) Spent more, eat less.
  8. When it comes to your bodies, please know that I am hardwired to love them as part of your whole package, unconditionally.  You’re in the life stage now where I just want to nibble your toes and smother your bellies with kisses.  I’m sure I’ll be less inclined to do so in 13 years, which you’ll appreciate, but I won’t adore and respect your bodies any less.

Some of these points will be easier said than done.  I’m a work in progress, but know that I’m trying.  Thank you for unknowingly encouraging me in these pursuits.  I love you both, my sweet, brave, beautiful girls, to the stars and back, and I will always strive for you to feel that love, and the support for mind and body that is an implicit component of it.



beach beach beach!!–or some variation

18 Jun


On Friday afternoon I packed up the kiddos and drove down to Bethany Beach.  Between beach traffic, a closed bridge, and flash flooding, the car ride was more of an adventure than I had planned.  For the first couple hours, I felt like I was winning!  We left immediately after Evie nursed, and she happily went right to sleep.  A good variety of special snacks, Putumayo World Music, and a set of mommy’s keys kept Ari content.  The last two hours, unfortunately, were not so pleasant for them, as depicted by the state of Ari hair (mashed up, tangled-beyond-repair sticky beehive).  I hope that most was forgiven when we arrived at this oasis on the bay.  Our hosts moved their cars so we could park in the garage during the downpour.  They cradled Evie, found toys for Ari to enjoy (at 9:30pm, was pretty special!), and they poured me a glass of cabernet!

John spent most of last week moonlighting at a beach nearby to Bethany, so he joined us after getting off his last shift, close to 11pm.  We had a feast of meatballs that one of our favorite mothers had kindly made and frozen for us, and I subsequently threw into the car at the last minute.  The sustenance was appreciated during what turned out to be a tumultuous night.

All worth it.  So worth it.  We hit the beach shortly after 8am and, for the next several hours, could not keep Aurelia out of the water.  She would sprint to it, slash and fall delightfully into the coming waves, and it was all John could do to keep her from running right into the ocean.  It was not hot, and we would have to take breaks when her lips turned blue, her body covered in goosebumps, and her limbs stiff.  But we could hardly get her covered in a towel before she would be reaching toward the ocean, begging “wa-wa, wa-wa, puh-weeeess!”

And she learned a new word: BEACH!  Of course, it came out like another word that starts with the letter “b” and ends with an itch.  We didn’t help things by cracking up–Ari would smile proudly and repeat “beach,” or some variation, over and over again…*sigh*, we are in trouble!

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Evie slept squishyly through most of her first beach experience:

IMG_5593After a similar outing the following morning, we made our way home, this time by caravan–so much better!  We stopped briefly at the outlets, and Ari picked out these accessories:


She refused to take them off.  Stylin’ since 2012, already cooler than her mama.


mother’s kiss

16 Jun

mother's kiss

Aurelia’s NYC cousins gave her a board book of the Met ABCs–“A” for “apple,” “B” “boat” with works of art depicting the word.  For the letter “K,” we see a photograph of Mary Cassatt’s “Mother’s Kiss.”  Normally we get to that page, and I abruptly wrap my arms around her and squeal “KISSES” and smother her cheeks!  But for the last week, when Ari’s turned to this page, she points to the woman and exuberantly exclaims “MA-MA!!!”  I love this girl!


15 Jun

We’re at a weekend away at the beach, and Ari’s started something I haven’t seen from her so far.  On the night we got here, she went down to bed after a long car ride without a hitch, then started crying passionately as soon as I reached the door.  This in itself isn’t remarkable.  But then, when I went back in for my one-time rescue, she didn’t want to be picked up; she just dove back between her stuffed animals and, contently, allowed me to sing another verse and stroke her back.  Unusual.

John and I normally rescue once, sometimes twice if something is a bit unusual.  But, as I waited for John to arrive (he was coming from his moonlighting gig in a nearby beach town), my hosts through airbnb (who were kindly chatting and baby-holding over a glass of cabernet) asked if they could comfort her.  Sure, we’re on vacay, no need to be a stickler with all the rules.  And the same thing happened: Ari didn’t want to be picked up; really didn’t even require any soothing; would leap into her sleeping position as soon as she saw someone had returned.

When John observed this behavior during nap-time and again at bed-time the next day, we considered that maybe she’s just of the age when she doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping in an unfamiliar room by herself–is this a thing?  Thinking back, as a kid, I think I probably didn’t feel too secure sleeping someplace new on my own.  John’s solution: lie down next to Ari’s pack-n-play and take a snooze on the floor.  Worked well during nap-time, but clearly he would at some point need to get up at bed-time to have dinner and, well, not sleep an entire night on the floor.

After about 30 minutes of lying next to our honey, intermittently singing and stroking her back, I interrupted.  How do you feel about breaking the rules?  We extricated Aurelia from the confines of her pack-n-play so we could watch the fiery sun sink over the bay.

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In these next two pictures, John was telling Ari, “Come-here, Come-‘ere, Come-‘ere!”  So she was waving her hand toward herself to signal the sentiment.

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I love how Aurelia is so lovingly leaning into him!

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Evelyn, mouth gaping as well, joins in with the crazy:

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Happy father’s day, to this crazy cat, who doesn’t think twice about simply sleeping on the floor next to his daughter to help her feel safe, and does/thinks/feels about a million and a half other things daily that make us so lucky to have him!  And to our fathers, and the other daddies in our lives, both peers and mentors–so much love!

waking up

13 Jun

Our Evelyn will be one month old tomorrow.  Some things are definitely easier: We have routines.  Ari has become more patient when Evie needs something, going so far as suggesting that I whip out a boob to nurse her when she’s wailing away.  And I have become a little less queasy with letting them alternate crying, or letting them both cry at once when I can’t figure it out.

On the flip side, gone are the days when Evie will sleep the day away, which means I’m losing my morning nap and any chance at doing anything outside of the family tasks without help.  (For example: I just spent the last five hours packing for a two-day trip to the beach–wish us luck!)  Of course the future botanist that she is did choose to slumber through most of Longwood Gardens when her grandfather was in town:


John was moonlighting several hours away earlier this week, coming home super late Wednesday night and leaving again this morning.  It was only three days, and I had a kind neighbor and a generous grandfather around to baby-hold during Ari’s bedtime routine, and I still felt run down by the time John made it home.  I couldn’t help but comment last night, “Dude, this parenting thing is WAY more doable with two parents!”–Captain Obvious.  Single parents, you have my utmost respect!

One of my best friends quoted an article that she had read, interested to know my take: “Parenting an infant isn’t difficult; it’s boring.”  Another close friend with a three-month-old at the time remarked, “Parenting an infant isn’t difficult, as long as you resign yourself to the fact that you won’t get anything else done, like feed or clean yourself.”  In my very limited experience, I think there is truth in both statements.  However, when you throw a toddler in with an infant, life is definitely not boring, which, in a way, I think makes things easier.  My head is spinning and I’m more exhausted, but the days are moving faster than I recall when Ari was small(er).  (Evie is going to be a month old!!)  I’ve embraced the fact that I get a bye when it comes to being showered or dressed in clothing lacking dried bodily fluids, and I have more readily accepted help, especially when it comes to keeping me and the troops fed.

And then, every now and again, the four of us make it out of our house to celebrate the house-warming of one of a favorite couples.  The picture below sums it up: my precocious toddler stealing another child’s toy all the while caked in guacamole; my arms free of small children (my infant happily sleeping in another good friend’s capable arms, outside of picture frame); gluten-free beer in hand; bare feet.



6 Jun

There are moms I know who lost all the baby weight the first month after delivering.  They wear cute athletic clothing and have their hair sweetly tousled.  They take care of multiple kids under 4 without daycare or sitters and somehow still look as good as if they got 8+ hours of sleep a night.  Oh, and they’re remarkably kind and make the best roast chicken you’ve ever had.

I am not one of those moms.

Right now my ensemble consists of scrub bottoms and nursing tanks because they are the only things that fit.  I have two kids with one going to daycare so she can play and I can sleep when the baby sleeps, and I still look hungover.  John says our eldest gets her temper from me, and the last time I attempted roast chicken I’m pretty sure I gave myself food poisoning.

Still, I was pretty damn pleased with myself when I showed up at Penn this Wednesday, exactly three weeks after Evie was born, for an interview wearing one of my more fitted maternity dresses and cute grey pumps.  Unfortunately, by the time I got to the interview, I was sweating buckets (the hot flashes of postpartum/lactation are insane) and had blisters over the top of several toes, literally bleeding into my cute grey pumps.  I’m hoping I came off as interested and excited, rather than just hot, sticky, and bloody.

So now to complement the scrub-nursing tank look, I’m wearing my fancy Jack Rogers sandals, made for summer weddings, because they are the only footwear I own that don’t aggravate my many new blisters…and I must have looked like a strange bird at the playground yesterday, hobbling over to the elder child in fancy sandals with the younger strapped to me in this still awkward wrap-like device, trying not to put too much strain on Evie’s neck while bouncing around trying to keep up with the now fast Ari.

Note to self: when going to a public area when I might need to enlist the help of older kids to wrangle my own, always bring some kind of bribe.  Throwing a small container bubbles at the bottom of the stroller while running out the door yesterday might have saved the outing.  (The kids had their own bubble-making “utensils” but had run out of the “soapy formula”–no clue of the proper names of these things.)  Ari was in heaven, and Evie slept through the whole thing.

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the things we get to do

3 Jun

I simply had to repost this list, and clearly will be ordering Jason Good’s This is Ridiculous This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists.  Spot on.

Oh, but the New and Wonderful New Things You’ll Get to Do
By Jason Good, father of two

There are, indeed, countless things you will no longer be able to do after having children, like grooming, learning, stretching and snorkeling. But don’t fret. Here are just a few of the amazing new things you’ll get to do instead.

1. Butter a piece of toast while peeing
2. Brush someone’s teeth against his will
3. Blow on food while it’s in someone else’s mouth
4. Help someone else blow on food while it’s in someone else’s mouth
5. Eat food that has fallen out of someone else’s mouth
6. Eat food you found on the floor
7. Eat food you found on the mantle
8. Eat candy you found in a shoe
9. Put someone in a Bob the Builder costume while fighting off diarrhea
10. Visit a psychiatrist
11. Wipe somebody’s nose with your bare hand
12. Eat baby food
13. Blame a fart on a child
14. Get someone dressed while you’re in the shower
15. Cut up a grape
16. Almost agree to cut up a raisin
17. Pretend to enjoy the flavor of a prune
18. Ask someone why their hair smells like yogurt
19. Ask someone why their hair smells like your antiperspirant
20. Put someone else’s toenail clippings in your pocket
21. Let someone watch you pee as they stare blankly while eating a Popsicle

I read this out loud to John last night with beer literally shooting through my nose toward the end, mostly because I’ve taken part in almost all of these without appreciating the comic elements until seeing them in print.  3 and 11 are parts of our daily morning routine.  18 and 19 happen with more regularity than I’d like to admit.  Oh my god, 21.  Just 21.  Every day.  Substitute string cheese or craisins or keys.

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2 Jun

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I totally deserve what I’m getting.  When my older brothers had their kids, my sister and I were certainly not subtle in our mockery.  The Manhattan sibling had Mireille (oh goodness how Americans would butcher that French “r”) and Henderson Doyle (excuse me, but is your son a law firm?), while Colorado sibling had Kinley Rain (after Mt. McKinley) and Waverly Snow (would a third child have been “Sleet” or “Hail,” or which other form of precipitation?).

Now it’s my turn, and it’s a bitter pill.  I’ll never forget one parent’s first reaction to our eldest’s name, Aurelia: “It’s too bad it’s such an ugly name when pronounced in the English.”  And then there were the many whispers from siblings commenting that no one knew how to pronounce the name and were afraid to try (for the record, just watch this scene from Love Actually).

I just got off the phone with Evelyn Adelina’s namesake, a kind, often supportive, and inspiring woman.  Her response: “Well, the two names really don’t go well together.”  *face palm*

At least we make ’em relatively cute.  Hopefully their characters will be strong enough to carry the tragic names we’ve chosen:

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