Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Two For One

Next month I will have a two-and-a-half year old. Before I became a mother, I assumed I would have another child by now, or at least be pregnant. Isn't that what people do? They get married, have a baby, wait a little and then do it again. Not me. I have never been so sure of my individuality until now. I now know what I can handle, and how much of it. I love my daughter beyond words. She is a strong willed child though. Talk about individuality. We still have our moments dealing with sleep, whining, and getting out the door. It's a lot, and sometimes all in one day. Then there is the positive side of this age. She is potty trained, verbal, and my little buddy. We have so much fun together. I can't see adding to the mix right now on either side.

There was recently an article called "One and Done" about having a single child. I never thought about stopping at one, but this made a really good argument for it. It disproved all the theories of only having one, from spoiling to loneliness. For a week I was sold. Then I got sad. I realized that I do want another, I just am not quite ready. How does one prepare? Is there ever a good time?

There are so many pros and cons to how you space your kids. Have them be babies together, and then be done with that phase. If they are close in age, is that a given they will be close friends? Is it a given that if they are farther apart that they will be not close friends? Is having two really as chaotic as everyone says. I remember my friend being warned before she had her first daughter how much her life would change. After the warnings she felt that if it was anything short of WWIII, she would be okay. Later she admitted to me that it was her personal version of WWIII and that she was glad they survived the first three months. She is pregnant again. She has a very good attitude about what to expect this time. She said that she has no idea what it will be like so there is no use in worrying about it. It will be what it will be, and she will figure it out again. I worry. It is genetic for me, but I admire her and her mental stability.

There is that too. Mental stuff, post-partum, lack of sleep, no time for yourself and sharing your body with a baby again. My doctor told me a secret after I delivered my daughter. He waited to tell me that I had the worst pregnancy he has ever seen. I threw up all the way to the delivery room and in there too. I am terrified (not just worried) that I will be sick again. This time though I will have a responsibility to my daughter and can't be in bed all day or safely located near a toilet.

I might be a glutton for punishment. I know with the first wave of nausea, I will reevaluate my decision to again enter the inferno region for nine months. I am certain though that having another baby will be a positive addition for all three of us here in this family. Now I can see how my daughter looks at babies, and is gentle and loving with them. Another year from now she will understand that much more how the change having a sibling will affect her. She will be able to express her feelings better too. I watch my husband holding our friend's newborn and how he longs to cradle another of his own. I, too, can't help but think the same thoughts. The best day of my life was holding our daughter in my arms for the first time. The moment for both of us was elation. I do want another chance to feel that joy, to fall in love, and to walk around for a few months day dreaming of sleep while blissfully exhausted.


I haven't written in so long. I have no excuse. I made a commitment in January to write and here it is almost January and I haven't put anything up since July. Wow, five months. I guess I have a lot of catching up to do.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Going At It Alone

Crying is not something I am afraid of. Sensitivity comes easily to me. Getting emotional, I can cry at the drop of a hat. Having a baby just heightened all that would fit into the "feelings" category. Each milestone is joyful and a little sad. I am now the mother of a two year old and I keep having to repeat that to myself.

Two, so far, has been the most adorable stage -- and the most challenging. As a mom, I know that following your instincts is best, but for us first timers, confidence is lacking at times. I read books, research different philosophies, and rely on advice from friends and family. It takes a village, right?

There have been quite a lot of changes in my house lately. My mom came to visit for a month. My husband landed a great new job, and everyday I look at my daughter I am reminded of the definition of change. My mom gave me a much needed extra set of hands. I could set appointments, go on dates with my husband, go grocery shopping without having to open half the packages for a hungry toddler. I also had my mom to give me advice, whether I asked for it or not. It was also the first time I saw her as an amazing grandmother for my daughter, and not just my mom.

My mom left recently and I miss her. It was a support system that was nice to have. My husband's new job started this week as well. He had always come home around five before and now the earliest he comes home is six thirty. All of the sudden, I feel so alone. I have this little girl who I talk to all day long but no extra set of hands when things get sticky. So it's back to the instincts for me. I read my parenting books now and then, but for the most part, I'm on my own.

It feels kind of good too. A little more sense of rhythm between my peanut and me. We are starting to figure out what our new days look like. Much to my surprise, she went right back to learning how to play, independently. I was concerned because my mom paid her so much attention, she had a built in playmate. Now when my husband comes home they have a little time before she goes to bed. I then have time to relax and spend time with my husband alone -- and we appreciate it more now, since it's limited. I appreciate everything more now too, including my abilities as a mom.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We Do What We Can

I recently had a conversation with a friend about junk food. We discussed how we would try to ration the artificial crap that is out there, and how much we'd actually let our kids eat. I have no problem with sugar. I would be the worst hypocrite if I did. You can catch me with a piece of chocolate daily so I won't be telling my daughter she can't have a cookie. On the other hand, I would like to avoid any candy that isn't real. I don't want want to be depriving though, or end up with a kid who can't get enough when she gets her hands on it.

We try so hard to be healthy now. Even my website is based on the bigger picture. I drive a Hybrid, use chlorine-free products, buy organic, shop locally and recycle. There are stores dedicated to people like me, festivals, web sites, natural stuff to buy everywhere. Schools restrict soda and candy now too. As a community in LA (despite the amount of artificial stuff that stereotypically defines LA), there is a growing effort to be real-er.

It can be comforting to know I am not alone. I do believe that candy will make its way into her life, and I cannot fight that. In fact, accepting that is all I can do. For no matter how hard I try, there are certain situations out of my control. For example, before my daughter had even eaten real foods we went to a class that was about sensory and tactile overload. They thought it might be fun for them to "swim" in a big inflatable pool of jello. Moms made all kinds, including the worst of the worst (sugar-free cherry). I threw in my small amounting-to-nothing amount of natural gel, and was reassured that the babies wouldn't eat it. They mostly want to feel it. My daughter crawled in and it took her about ten seconds to figure out how to inhale it by the handfuls. I wanted to cry. I might have actually cried and then I laughed. Thats the way it goes. You do what you can.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Two Soon

For all I hear about the terrible two's, I can only hope I survive intact. At 21 months, I am beginning to get a glimpse. My daughter doesn't really say the word "no" but she says "uh uh" (no way, Jose) with gusto. I walk myself into it most of the time by asking her questions instead of making basic statements.

"Do you want to go the the park?"

"Uh Uh!"

"Do you want to eat lunch?"

"Uh Uh!

"Time to get dressed"

"Uh Uh!

Oh well, this is a phase and I am trying to be patient and reason with myself when I know there is no reasoning with her. I have a tendency to argue, and I know that I simply cannot argue with her. I have thrown in a few "uh huh's" back, but thats as far as I can go.

She is expressing her frustrations, and learning that she can't always get what she wants. I can relate to that. That is a hard concept for all of us.

She also, in her fury, hit me for the first time this past week. I responded promptly and explained that we do not hit. First she thought it was funny so I realized I had to be a bit firmer. I looked her in the eye and told her again and she cried and cried. It was so hard on both of us. Boy, do I need a tougher skin. I have wanted kids my whole life. Deep down, I know I still want another, but if you ask me right this second, my answer is "uh uh."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Twenty Months

On these last days of my daughter's 19th month on this planet, I am spending a lot of time looking at her in awe. My life has been entirely about being her mother. I hired a babysitter for the first time last week and it was wild to have time to be me for a little bit.

I haven't forgotten who I am, but more how I used to do things. My mind never really stops thinking about her now. It's hard to feel carefree knowing you are responsible for another life. That being said, I had a huge smile on my face last week coming home after some time alone.

Change was never easy for me and now before my very eyes it is happening. Twenty months came so quickly and it feels really hard to hold on to right now. Each day she says something new, does something amazing, and moves me in ways I never realized before.

Twenty months feels like a milestone. Close to two and closer to kid and not baby. It occured to me the other day that when I thought of having a baby, I thought just that. I didn't think beyond the baby part so much. I'm trying to pace myself though and remind myself that 20 months is still so new. She is only twenty months and I am only twenty months a mom. We will learn together how it all works.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

So Long, Fairwell

When I started this blog, my only intention was to have an outlet to express myself and document my experience as a mom. In some ways by writing, I am realizing that I am also talking to myself, and trying to appear that I have it together. Sometimes, I don't.

Last week was a really crappy week for me. Right after I wrote about how grateful I was for everything, I started to fall apart over everything. I'm the kind of person that when things are good they are really good, but when they turn a bit I manage to pull everything down. I guess the definition of that might be moody. Perhaps.

One intention I don't have with this blog is being sanctamonious. My experience is only mine. My opinion is only mine. I will express it here but I am not preaching. I haven't met one mother out there who does anything exactly like anyone else. I don't judge anyone for the choices they make. Sure, I may disagree and do things another way but I try to respect their individual choices. If I feel someone is judging me though, that is when it gets tricky. That's when my inner Queens (as in New York) comes out and I start referring to certain women as materialistic, catty bitches. That's a bit harsh, but I feel as if I have been crossed. It's amazing the instinct as a mother that I have to protect my daughter and myself from tricky women.

I live in Los Angeles, so it's not ridiculous to find that people here can be shallow and materialistic. What is ridiculous is that I became friends with some of those people. When you have a baby, you make friends with people that also have a baby, despite that being the only thing you have in common. Some women escaped this "mommy group" phase and kept all their real friends from their past life. I love my friends, but I still got sucked into the clique crap. It served a purpose at a time to surround myself with women going through the same thing at the same time (at least that is the theory behind it). The reality is, two people rarely have the same experience. Not only were these women going about this life change differently than I was, I also had no idea who they really were.

Since I have a daughter, I especially don't feel right about exposing her to conversations about the latest designer, and that now they are making baby clothes. Or listening to them while they talk about other women who have things that they want. Even worse, hearing them judge the other women who aren't there that day (even though they are "so close"). I felt I was back in Junior High.

It took me a long time to get to this realization. From the outside, my husband and my real friends were wondering what I was doing spending time with these people in the first place. I know now that it was to fill the void -- to feel I had a community. I have that in my true friends, though it can be a challenge in LA to feel physically close to anyone at times. I do have an amazing group of people around me. I gave myself a gift by finally letting go of the wrong people. It feels really liberating, and really good.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Taking It Easy

If there is one running thought I would like to remind myself of these days, it would be to keep my expectations low. I am a perfectionist, and when things don't work I think I'm a failure. I set myself up for that all the time. Having a toddler definitely requires a schedule, but there is a lot of stuff that needs to happen in one short day. If I am off by even 20 minutes, she lets me know. If she is hungry or tired, she will make herself heard. But, because I'm human, I cannot do it "right" everyday. Today, I am allowing myself to screw up.

Recently a friend and I were talking about expectations. We were sharing the usual banter of how hard it can be at times. A few minutes into talking we started realizing how much of this crap we put on ourselves. The society we live in puts a lot ideas into our heads about how things should look. We constantly want (and think we need) to acquire more, bigger, and better things.

A study was done not that long ago that showed that Denmark as a country had the happiest people. The biggest reason for that is that they don't have such huge expectations. When they buy houses, they buy for life. They don't buy it and consider how much it will resell for, or how in a few years they will upgrade to a nicer one. They live in the moment and are content with what they have.

I'm not saying we shouldn't all have high standards. I enjoy nice things. I love my high thread count sheets, my expensive sunscreen, and will only use the "best" diapers on my daughter, but if I couldn't have those things I wouldn't suffer. If you ask a lot of friends of mine what their best childhood memory was, they would probably say summer camp. A few weeks away in the woods with nothing but fun and friends. No phones, no computer, no shopping and yet it was the time of their lives.

I am going to try and take a few minutes everyday and lower my expectations. When it all hits the fan, I am not going to hit the fan too. When my daughter had a meltdown today, I simply observed and then acknowledged her struggle. I didn't rush to fix it and put her back together. We fall apart. We are human. It's nice to expect a little less than the best. I think if I can end my day saying I did what I could today -- that is a success.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

Recently, I have felt a bit overwhelmed. My daughter is in a stage where she is testing her boundaries. I was making her dinner last night and she was playing next to me. I was putting food on her plate when I heard her saying, "Mama, mama, mama." I looked up to find her drawing big blue circles on the wall with crayon. Even bigger than the circles was the smile on her face.

I was starting to feel like every day began with a race. From the minute I woke up, I felt I was falling behind. Get her up, feed her, change her, dress her (most of the above, a wrestling match at times). Get her snacks prepared and our water bottles filled, clean up from breakfast, get myself dressed...and poof, I am late to our first outing of the day! Then when we're finally out and about, I started to feel like I had to be so cautious of the time so we could race back for lunch and a nap. I would put her into the crib for a nap and remember that a human actually needs oxygen to survive. I should probably take a breath here and there.

I know not everyone has anxiety like I do. I have suffered my share of panic attacks. Anxiety is something I would like to say is foreign to me, but it is not. We are very well-aquainted. But what's interesting is that I wasn't having any of it this time. There simply wasn't any room for it. It also isn't warrented this time. Life can be overwhelming, but it is also so incredibly rich.

I wanted this little girl for so long. I dreamed of being married to a man as good as my husband. I wake up everyday and have my health. I cannot take that for granted. Those three things are huge, but wait: there's more. So much more. I get to go in and see her smiling face each day (and granted the first word out of her mouth every morning is dada). She is so happy to see me. I have the privilege of getting to spend everyday with her right now. I witness every new thing she says and does. Every new spin, song, skip, jump, word -- I get to experience with her. It is magical. It is magic.

I have a husband who listens while I talk about how I "feel" and doesn't roll his eyes. He encourages me when I am down. He is my friend. He calls me during the day to say hi and tells me what is happening with him at work, what he had for lunch and where he ate it. I love his calls. Are we perfect? No way! At times we bicker, pick on each other and sweat the small stuff, but this past week really made me take pause. The things I freaked out about. Come on! Simply not worth it. My cup runneth over. I am a lucky woman.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Good Stuff

A friend recently told me she was pregnant. She wanted to get pregnant for so long, and her circumstances weren't the most condusive to having a new baby until recently. She had some problems with her cycle, so she expected they would have to try a long time before getting pregnant.

She was very wrong. First try! She is very lucky -- and very shocked.

So yesterday she met me at the park and said, "So, what's good?" She was watching my daughter play with such intent. I thought she meant baby products, soaps, etc., and then she clarified: "Not what's good for the baby -- what's good about
having a baby?"

I remember feeling that the reality of knowing you are pregnant created in me a huge amount of new anxiety. I also remember how it can cloud your ability to remember how painfully you longed for this moment, excitement and fear together. So, I decided to put together a little list for her. A short list of "what's good."

The first view of a heartbeat on an ultra sound.
Finding out the baby is healthy.
Seeing hands and feet, eyes, a nose and a mouth on the ultrasound and realizing that's your baby.
The first time a stranger notices your baby belly and asks when you are due.
The first time you feel a flutter and know for sure that you just felt a kick inside you.
Putting a nursery together and realizing your baby will go in it.
The closeness you feel with your partner when you are learning birthing positions and breathing exercises.
The deeper closeness you feel when you are using those tools in labor.
The calm between contractions when you know all of this is going to soon lead to a baby in your arms.
The final push when the doctor says he can see a head.
When your baby is out and placed on your stomach.
The feeling of warmth and awe.
Touching your baby.
Feeling your baby's ears, head and looking at the fingers.
Kissing that head.
Looking at your partner, watching in amazement at what you two just created.
Seeing how moved he is.
The first time your baby nurses.
Sleeping with your baby nestled on you.
The first coo, and the first smile.
When your baby clasps it's hand around your finger.

That's my list, and that is only for the first 2 months or so. It just gets better and better. Nothing I could write though will ever do justice to the actual feelings that each person alone will feel from their new little baby. Your experience will be yours, and yours alone. Hold on to your hats though -- it's quite a wonderful and wild ride.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lemon Zucchini Cookies

To go along with my story on balance, here is a recipe that I think is a tasty complement. I adapted this recipe from a cornmeal cookies recipe published in "Everyday Food."

This one I put together partly because I didn't have all the ingredients for cornmeal cookies. The other reason was because I wanted to serve them to my daughter, so I cut the sugar down and added whole wheat flour. The confectioners sugar makes them light and airy, and the lemon adds that nice little tang.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup of natural confectioners sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon packed lemon zest (finely grated)
1 teaspoon course salt
1 cup of graham flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1 medium zucchini, grated fine (about 1 cup)

In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until pale and fluffy. Stir in vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Add flours and mix until crumbly. Add zucchini and stir until a thick dough forms.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons , 2 inches apart on to two parchment-paper lined sheets. Press down until slightly flat. Bake until cookies are light golden at the edges, about 25-30 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Makes 25 or so cookies.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I strive for balance in my life. Now that I am a parent I see how very important that is when you are raising a child. I knew I felt strongly about certain convictions and beliefs. I knew that certain values that were important to me would influence my decisions I made for how I wanted to raise my baby. I wasn't aware of how impressionable I would feel about others and their opinions.

When I was newly pregnant, the wife of a co-worker of my husband (whom I barely knew) told me that I HAD to sign up for this baby class. I said I would consider it. She said I had to sign up immediately if I wanted my baby to get into it. There was a waiting list for a baby class, which little did I know would be the beginning of waiting lists (the biggest scam ever) all over the city of Los Angeles. She claimed this mommy group (or so I thought that's what it was) would change my whole experience of being a new parent (that was quite an endorsement!). The session was 10 weeks at 35 bucks a pop. That is a lot of moola, but if it could gently ease me into a lovely circle of women, all sitting around nursing new little people and chatting about getting the swing of things, then it must be worth it.

Months later my baby was born and I received a congratulations call that we had "gotten in." So I went with my little newborn on a warm Wendsday afternoon. I was greeted at the door with a set of rules, a folder of lecture topics and a desperate need to protect my innocent child from the woman running this class. This was no support group, this was a militant baby boot camp. This woman collected thousands of dollars and spewed her ideas of how to raise our babies. She used phrases like"I will not have your baby sleeping in a bassinet anymore, by next week when you come back they should be in their own cribs" Who the hell was she? I was so vulnerable at that time that I questioned my instincts and better judgement. She said bumpers were dangerous, and even though my doctor had said mine were okay, I raced back home that night, ripped them all off and threw my husband a look and said, "She told me to."

With a little time and a little sleep, I regained my confidence and left the group. This wouldn't be the first, and won't be the last, time that I question myself though. I questioned allowing my baby to cry it out when I wanted her to sleep through the night. I knew it wasn't something I could do but friends who I looked up to all did it. I considered it, but even in my devil deal making pleas for sleep, I couldn't do it that way. I considered a woman's opinion of not feeding a child meat until there 3. I wondered if my friend who won't let her child eat any sugar was on to something. I liked the idea of deeper bonding with your baby by limiting stroller time and wearing your baby instead. I agreed with no TV until two. I agreed with a NY times article that explained some great reasons for not saying "good job"to your kids. I would hear an idea and suddenly I couldn't walk out the door without doing something that broke some crazy rule somewhere.

At some point I remembered something my friend Andrea said about raising kids. She said that there are many right ways of bringing up children and really only a few wrong ways. I agree. While I have a bunch of great friends that I love spending time together with our kids, I cannot say that there is a single one that I parent the same way as. I like to have my daughter sit down and eat when she snacks but I have friends who let there kids roam freely with a sandwich in their hands. That doesn't work for me but if I am in their house then we bend the rules a bit. Going with the flow makes life easier for everyone. I am pretty strict about nap times and bedtimes but there is a time and place where the set scheduele doesn't apply.

Children are constantly changing. My mother always says that just when you get used to something -- it will change. I felt so resistant when my daughter went from two naps to one a day. It was such a big adjustment for me. I have to learn that change happens and when it does, it's best to handle it with grace. My reactions are, after all, are an example for her. So bring on the sugar -- once in a while. Put them to bed later on special occasions. Get out and travel with your kids. It's a pain but it is almost always worth it.

Balance isn't so much filling your plate so full and hoping it doesn't fall -- but landing gracefully when it does. So I continue to strive for balance. When it happens I see my spirits lift, and the spirits of my daughter, too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Welcome to Twig Hugger

It's a new year and a goal was to start writing on my blog. It's only January 19th, so considering another goal was to not be too hard on myself -- I'm off to a great start.

I am a mother of one little girl (18 months) and want to share my new experiences of being a parent in the world we live in today. I am a socially-conscious, environmentally friendly, hard working play-at-home mom.

I have a degree in education and enough babysitting references to make up a small village, but no single piece of paper or person could have prepared me for having my own child. I knew I was capable, but had no idea of the job description. I knew having a child would be a new set of challenges, but had no idea how unbelievably hard this can be at times. I knew I would fall in love immediately, but had no idea I had a whole reservoir of love that I never even tapped into before.

I thought my life would become a hybrid of the old me and the new me, but in reality, it all feels pretty darn foreign. Amazing, but all new to me. So I wanted to share what I have learned so far. I've learned about starting all over and making new friends, making new food, making a ton more garbage in diapers and plastic, making some new things, making new discoveries (and even opinions, too).

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for new updates coming soon.