4.15.2015

I have a new goal: set aside time to write (if possible) daily. This may be mundane journal type entries, but especially as I near the end of the semester, things are quite hectic and I think that maybe if I take some time to write daily– however briefly, it may offer me occasion to reflect and decompress.

I am working on a presentation on “Possible Worlds” in my narratology class, as well as a paper analyzing the narrative in an episode of a televison series. I selected the episode “Fight” from Masters of Sex. From the moment I saw the episode last summer I knew that i wanted to write about it, so I am excited to get to do so.

In American literature, our final paper looms with only three weeks away. I am doing some preliminary research there as I continue to hammer down the focus of my paper and the argument. More on that in another post.

Work is very hectic, so I won’t get into that except to say that i am very excited about these final celebrations. Each one is very special to me and I cannot wait to share in the joy with the brides and grooms i have the pleasure to work with. I couldn’t ask for a better “final chapter.”

This morning, I read Dickinson as the rain fell out my window. It later prompted me to pen my own poem (something about reading poetry always makes me want to write it.) It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll probably share it eventually.

In the interim, what I read this morning that really struck me, reposted from http://www.bartleby.com/113/3006.html


VI
IF you were coming in the fall,
I ’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.
If I could see you in a year,         5
I ’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.
If only centuries delayed,
I ’d count them on my hand,         10
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.
If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I ’d toss it yonder like a rind,         15
And taste eternity.
But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.         20

Update (or, the blog post helping me avoid responsibility)

So, I had all these goals of writing regularly, but then life decided to come in and mess all of that up. About a week into the semester, I accidentally cut my index finger on my write hand. The cut was so deep that I ended up needing surgery a week after that, and then had limited hand use for 4 weeks. This, I admit, was pretty tragic at first. I was in a lot of pain, it was awful not being able to use my hand, and I just generally struggled. I felt pretty sorry for myself. It was not a good time.

Then, I got sick. Like, really, really sick. I ended up in the emergency room with a 103.8 degree fever and feeling like I was dying. I had no idea what was wrong with me– and neither did the doctors. After a lot of back and forth and many, many tests, we discovered that i had a very nasty case of recurring mono/epstein barr virus (EBV). I have been sick for about 7 weeks.

I’ll admit that having EBV and a bum finger did NOT make for the best start of my first semester back in graduate school. It’s been a challenge in an already challenging environment. But, I’m adapting, and I’m getting better, and I’m feeling like maybe– just maybe– I can handle this. Check in with me in a few weeks to see if that’s really the case, but for right now– I feel like maybe I’ll survive this crazy season.

At the present moment, I have two big papers due on the horizon, a looming comprehensive Exam in my literature class, multiple weddings and work events, and just general craziness. I need to go work on those things, but hey, writing this works too, right?

Welcome to being a PhD Candidate

No one said it was gonna be easy, and man, they were not lying. PhD programs are for real, and I’ve learned pretty quickly that I am woefully unprepared for what lies ahead.

In all honesty, I think its normal to feel like a fish out of water when you first enter your PhD program. In the past two weeks, I’ve experienced everything from elation to despair; it’s been a both tragedy and comedy at once. I realize that I pretty much don’t know anything at all, and that I am really behind when it comes to catching up. I should, in fact, be reading right now instead of writing this, but I needed a break from all the reading and attempts at getting to appear as though I’m “catching up.” Real talk– you never catch up.

There’s no way to know 100% of everything, and that’s ok. Part of why I’m doing this in the first place is my love of learning, the love of being a student, the love of knowledge acquisition– a love motivated largely by the fact that there’s no way I’m ever going to know and learn all this world and life has to offer.

I can rationally say and type that information, but the truth of the matter is that I’m still feeling like the lowest woman on the totem pole over here– and hey, that’s ok.  I’ll keep plugging at it until I have a glimmer of self confidence. I’ll let you know when that time comes, if ever.

Today I start Anew

I’m nervous.

if you ever read this blog, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been absent for like, a year. The reason being is that my entire life has been upside down over the past year. So much has changed. I’ve evolved as a person. My little darling girl, Emmaline, is no longer a blob-baby but growing into a little person, exploring the world and learning with zeal and pleasure.

About a year ago, I was starting to feel the weight of being at a crossroads: I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had a kind of crisis moment: for the seven years previous, I had been so sure of everything. I wanted to create. I wanted to work for myself. I wanted and needed to be a free spirit.

And then, I had a little girl. And everything– and I do mean everything– changed.

I no longer wanted to spend every minute of every day working– of being tied to social media and my email and my phone. I didn’t want to feel fractured by being pulled in so many directions. The older she got, the quicker time flew, and I realized that if I did not slow down I would miss everything. She would grow up and I would be so busy working that I’d missed all the important moments of my daughter’s life while I was busy on email or pinning my work to Pinterest.

I started thinking about what would I like to do that would not involve being 100% devoted to my own business. I realized that in working for myself, it required all of myself– I didn’t know how to balance. I DON’T know how to balance home and work life. The fact of the matter is that I pour ALL of myself into my business, and I knew that I wasn’t going to stop doing that. I realized that other than flowers and designing, which unlocks so much of my creative soul– the other passion I’ve always had was teaching, and learning, and the written and spoken word. I had always planned to go back and get my PhD, and now seemed like the right time to start working on my application and preparing the way for taking a step in a different direction.

Applying is such a process— I worked on updating my CV and looking over what I had accomplished leading up to and immediately following my Master’s Degree. So much had changed in the seven years I’d been gone, both in myself and in academia. I realized with each passing day, as I prepared, polished, and concentrated on creating a different path for my future– I knew more and more that this was the right path, and that I had been led to making this decision.

With heavy heart and after much deliberation, I started to make a plan for the exit strategy for my busy business. I set an end date, sent in my applications for school, and went about trying to figure out how to achieve more of that work/life balance (truth: I have not figured it out, and I’m not sure I will). The fall passed in a busy blur. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for working when my daughter was really starting to become her own person. I would be gone from morning until late afternoon, and then would still have things I had to do, emails to send, proposals to complete, estimates to fabricate— the day in fall when I got my acceptance letter to school was a life changing moment for me. I knew it was right. I knew I was making the best decision for my family, and for myself.

There’s much more to this story and much I probably will want to share when I get the distance and perspective to do so, and since I do have the heart of a teacher– there’s a lot that I want to share about what I have learned about what it means to put a close to a business that was so much of your life. In many ways, my business was my first child. From incubation to birth to toddlerhood, I watched a seed of my imagination grow into something real and both heartbreaking and beautifully fulfilling at the same time. I want to talk about that, and I will talk about it, but now is not the time.

Today, I start classes in my PhD program. I am excited to see what the future holds (along with a good bit of trepidation). I’m returning to school after a seven year hiatus and I admit it, I’m scared.  But it’s the most delicious fear, for I know that what comes with it is the chance to tell my daughter a story, about how life is not limited to just one dream, one opportunity– we can be good at many things, have endless skills, that life is always one big adventure. That it’s important to know that sometimes you have to let something you love go in order to thrive and unlock a new kind of happiness. That family is important– it’s the most important thing– and that her momma was brave enough to tackle a new career at 35. I hope she’s proud of what I’m about to embark on and what I hope to accomplish, and I hope that the coming months see more hours devoted to time just watching her grow, sharing in her discoveries, and being a mom.

More from me soon!

Truth: the weight isn’t over

I have struggled with my weight and body image for as long as I can remember. In fact, most of my memories circle around how I looked at the time. I can remember being in size 10 jeans at age 10 and feeling flabby. I can remember the years I was borderline anorexic, limiting my calories to 1,000 a day and my fat intake under 20 grams until my hair fell out and my cheekbones were gaunt, feeling the triumph of fitting into a size 5 dress and wearing what were skinny jeans before they were called skinny jeans. “This, ” I remember saying to myself at age 17, “is the best day of my life” as I stared at myself before prom, in a lithe silver gown that pronounced my hollows and lack of curves.

I have always yo-yoed. I’ve been “dieting” since I was 10 and became achingly conscious of my size, the fact that I was “fluffy” instead of slender, the fact that I didn’t fit any ideal of beauty that I could find respectable. I tried everything: low cal, low fat, pills, low carb, exercising until it hurt.

I remember consulting with my campus doctor at age 25 when he told me I was obsese. at the time, I was working out an hour a day, eating 1500 calories and trying to lose weight. I’m 5 10, I was starving every day, and he said “some bodies like to hold onto the weight. You maybe have a slow metabolism. My wife is the same way. Just keep trying. Try 1200 calories.”

If you’ve ever dieted– or spent a lifetime of diets, you get accustomed to that empty knawing feeling in your stomach where you want nothing more than something to fill that hole. For me, I’ve spent a lifetime feeling hungry and unsatisfied, empty and angry at my body for grasping at every calorie and not letting it go.

When I had a “reason” to lose weight I was motivated and focused. On my wedding day, I weighed 155 lbs. that was the thinnest I have been since those lean high school years (where I was 125 and sick).

Before my daughter, before I was pregnant, I was on the ketogenic diet. (Low carbs, high fat). I lost 40 lbs rapidly, had perfect skin, lots of energy, no gas (really!) but I felt
Sad and angry irrationally. Some people get this way from the lack of sugar in their diet. I remember wondering if it was worth the trade off: I wasn’t happy but I looked good.

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Then I got pregnant. Every day I was sick, but after the drugs kicked in and I felt ok, I would eat. And eat. And eat. Long lost carbs were again my friend. I ate sugar like it was going out of business. And all at once I gained– 12 lbs the first trimester (amazing since I really ate very little, but I’m sure it has a lot to do with sugar). Then, it just kept going. And going.

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And they just kept coming… A 12 to 16 week progression shot is below

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And by the end, I was at 250 lbs. I started at 184 (which was considered overweight to begin with!)

Me in my hugely pregnant glory 2 days before we met our daughter:

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So, yes, I gained a lot.  About two weeks after giving birth I had dropped from 250 to 225, giving me hope that maybe the weight would just fall off like everyone told me it would with breastfeeding

But three months passed and instead of losing weight, I started to gain a pound here and there. It was awful. I struggled with my milk supply and noticed on the days I didn’t eat an obscene number of calories and fat my supply would drop the next day. I tried going walking at the start of the year and my supply further plummeted

At seven months post partum I am sitting at 235 lbs, the largest I have ever been (not pregnant that is) and I’m miserable in my skin. I kept thinking things would change, but now I realize that things aren’t going to change.

I guess I wanted to post this to go up in the face of the idea that all
Mothers lose the weight when breastfeeding. That’s a myth, and I’m
Proof of it. I know this is just a season of my life and one I try to take in stride, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

To my fellow mom readers, tell
Me about your weight gain and loss journey.

Adventures in home renovation: the before

We bought our sweet 1930s Tudor the year we were married with high hopes of DIY renovations. “How hard can it be?” We asked ourselves? How hard indeed— we have had our house for 2 1/2 years and only now is the downstairs in sight of being done. It’s something I’ve wanted to share and blog about because it’s been an adventure and I think people should know about the adventure.

We searched for a house for two years before finding this one. Two years, 111 houses total. I’m picky and I admit it, but I had a few basic needs I wanted to have in our home: we wanted brick exterior, something built pre 1950, something with character, something in a decent enough neighborhood. 3 bedrooms at least, a garage for my husband.

When we first saw our house, I knew. I’m a big intuition person, and I just knew it was “the one.” We walked in and it was well worn and well used and needed a lot of work. After deliberating we put in our offer on Valentines Day 2011. I’m a florist and at the time ran a flower shop so you can imagine that madness.

Here’s our house:

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A sweet couple had bought our house in the 1950s and probably planted those huge trees then that were once bushes. They grew when no one trimmed them. Ever.

Anyway, so they didn’t accept our offer. They wanted a lot more than we were willing to pay (and we were not going to go higher because we knew it needed loads and loads of work). I was pretty devastated.

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We kept looking but I’ll admit it, my heart wasn’t in it. At that point, I checked the MLS daily and about two weeks later our House was back on the market. The first couple had backed out.

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The living room and fireplace. Everything was white (they painted it in 1950 and then did nothing else with it).

We put in our new offer (a little
Higher this time) did some back and forth negotiations, and then we got it!

The original kitchen with original
Cabinets and dining room.

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As you can see, it needed lots of
Love and work, but we were determined. The bathroom was tiny:

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And the master had a weird closet:

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But there was so much potential. This is the upstairs landing:

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And we were off. We closed on April 5 and started working the very next day. I will share the projects with you in future posts!

DIY momma : lemon-lavender bath soak with essential oils

Once a week, I make a spa bath (complete with spa music and candles) with an Epsom salt soak I make at home that is super easy and pretty much magical.

The recipe includes Epsom salt and some essential oils. That’s it! It costs about $12 for 12 8 oz jars. I give them as gifts and let other people experience the goodness.

Here’s my recipe for a magical soak that will take away your aches and pains and leave you feeling refreshed and energized:

Epsom salts (12 cups = 12 8 oz mason jars)

I use these salts from the San Francisco Salt company from Amazon

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I get out a stainless steel (or glass) bowl. Avoid plastics — the essential oils can damage those! I strap in the babe and we get to making our salt

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I break up any clumps and then add 6 drops of doTERRA lemon

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Mix that all into the salts (I use a stainless steel ladle), then do the same with lavender

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Mix, mix, mix. This is a great combo for allergy sufferers (me, me) and for tired mommas that need a good invigorating soak.

Once well

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Now, fill up jars with the soak. I use these cute quilted mason jars because I like to give them as gifts to my momma friends.

This recipe will make a case.

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For gift giving, I wrap a little tag with bakers twine around them and voila! Done!

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Must Haves, Dos, and Don’ts: Baby’s first three-six months

DIAPERS:

So, no matter what you need to face the facts: your baby, your sweet little bundle of joy, was made to poop, And by poop, i mean explode feces everywhere. It becomes a fact of life you and your spouse will often laugh about as you wipe poop from everywhere. Emmaline’s car seat, swing, and anything that puts her in reclining position is affectionately known as her “poop chair.” Finding a diaper that helps contain the mess is a plus, but you have to go into it knowing that the poop can’t always be contained, and this is simply the nature of poop. You will soon understand and accept this, as it is the reality of your new life as parent.

AS a disclaimer, we did explore cloth diapering and decided it was too much for us to handle. So I have no reccs to that effect but can say if you do it, awesome. And we ultimately wanted a diaper that was more environmentally sound, but we got some from the hospital and as gifts, so we did try those out and that’s why we have a review about them.

Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive: If I wasn’t wanting to be environmentally conscious, these would be my diapers of choice. We got them at the hospital. The pluses: 1) they have a leak indicator with a moisture band— yes. 2 )Even though they are sensitive, they smell nice.  They fit well and we had really few blow-outs.  The main reason we didn’t get these is because they are chalk full of chemicals and are really mega bad for the environment.

LUV’s : We  got a huge box of these which was an amazing gift from a friend. In one use, Emmaline broke out in a rash— so we didn’t use them again.

7th Generation: These are dye free, no chemical, etc etc diapers. They didn’t do a good job containing messes,  She was always pooping out of these guys, and even pee would leak. Not our favorite.

Honest Co.: We love Honest Co diapers. Even if they are spendy, they are made from all natural materials, are chemical free, great for our baby’s sensitive skin, and are better than regular disposables for the environment. Add to the mix that they have some cute styles and you have my favorite diaper.  We order the bundle and get them delivered once a month and I never have to worry about having diapers. They magically appear on my doorstep in cute styles.

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WIPES:

Huggies “Natural Care”: These SUCK. They are kind of slimy and don’t do a good job cleaning up messes. Skip them.

Pamper’s Sensitive: We got these at the hospital and they are good at cleaning up messes, have a nice scent, and didn’t bother her skin. I like them

Honest Company: The first type of wipe we got we didn’t like, and then they changed the formulation to one with a pattern on it that made it so they were a little toothy and did a much better job cleaning. The only con: they don’t come out of the wipe container in individual sheets– you will get like a foot of sheets, which can blow in the middle of the night. But they are head to toe wipes (which you need, believe me) and we use them for lots of applications. Side note: 4 packs of wipes which come with the Honest co bundle are never enough, so we had to keep getting more wipes.

Make your own: We go through wipes like it’s going out of style, so we make our own. Recipe to follow in another blog post

PACIFIERS: Our kid isn’t really into pacifiers. Well, let me correct that, she doesn’t love pacifiers, but she does love her thumb, so I have that nightmare of her future messed up mouth to worry about– but at least she looks cute sucking on it.

Soothies: these are useless without the attached Wubba Nub, which you should just go ahead and get, mothers.  Please note: they are divided in age categories, so pay attention to that when buying your paci.

Nuk: Again, my child could care less, but if I could make her like one, I would think she would like this one the most.

Wubba Nub: These are cute little animals with a pacifier attached. They are adorable. She likes to suck on the eggs and not the actual pacifier, but if she’s happy I’m happy.

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BOTTLES:

We tried lots of bottles– Avent, Medela Calma, evenflo, etc etc. and ended up going with the Tommy Tippee because they really do have a slow flow and seems more like breastfeeding. Plus, now that she’s six months old it’s adorable to watch her hold them.

TEETHERS:

Monkey from Target: theres this monkey from Target that my kid loves. Like, loves. You could try to pry it from her fingers but it would be no use, she is not letting you take the monkey. I don’t know if it’s a good teether or not, but she really seems to enjoy it, so that makes me happy at least.

Sophie the giraffe — This b!&%h is from France, so that’s why she costs $25. I think Sophie spends more time hurdling through space than in Emmaline’s mouth. She seems to like to watch it fly through the air.  As a teether: sure, she uses it as such, but she’s really expensive.  But let’s be honest, what isn’t?

PASTES and SUCH

Dr Boudreauxs Butt Paste— don’t let the name scare you. This stuff is great for rashes and creating a protective barrier for tender little fannies.

Honest Co. Healing Balm– This stuff is crack. We use it all the time for every type of skin issue (and I mix in some of our essential oils along with it). Emmaline has eczema so it helps having a nice thick salve.

Healing Balm

Mom tip: natural eczema and yeast infection cures

Our babe has some issues with eczema and with it getting nasty. Modern medicine wants you to use a cortisone cream to treat the eczema, and I’m not going to lie– before I had our babe I was all about quick fixes and over the counter cure. But now I want to keep her away from chemicals and anything that could potentially harm her. So I started looking into natural ways to treat common ailments.

Before she was born, we got the Honest Company sample pack that included the healing balm. This magical salve blends sunflower oil, coconut oil and other all natural ingredients to make an amazing multipurpose ointment that I feel good about using because it’s organic and there’s no chemicals ever. Check out the details here: https://www.honest.com/bath-and-body/healing-balm

When a patch beneath her chin (where the drool likes to hang out all day) got inflamed and then looked scabby, we had our pediatrician check it out. He said it looked like she had a bit of a yeast infection and to use some Monistat. I wanted an all natural solution, so I looked to my essential oils.

I paired the anti fungal melaleuca and the healing lavender with our honest balm and bam– her rash looks a million times better today!

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Just one drop of each applied twice a day is having awesome results. You could use this combo on any open rash, and we use the honest balm with lavender on her eczema after every bath and went from a whole body problem to just a few patches in a matter of weeks!!

Pretty awesome. Have you ever tried essential oils to help with natural healing in your home? I would love to chat with other moms trying this out!

6 months, still new

Today, my daughter is six months old. This seems incredible to me, life-altering and commonplace all at the same time. I look at her and can see glimmers of the little person she is becoming, my little baby slowly evolving to my little girl, and it’s wonderful and terrifying all at once.

The first few months were crazy chaos, not unlike being thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool and being forced to swim with no knowledge of swimming other than YouTube videos and books and forums and the advice of others on how to swim. “You move your arms like this and your legs like that, and you create a sort of buoyancy, see with your body, and it’s all really natural and really easy and honestly— anyone can do it. It’s instinctual. You’ll figure it out.” You become a mother in stages: I remember how my life changed instantly in the moment I saw those two pink lines, my joy followed by the complete and utter revision of life as I knew it. Everything, from how I ate to how I felt was amended for the health of the baby. No caffeine, no artificial sweeteners. Organic. The best vitamins, the best everything. Don’t get too stressed, the baby may feel it. My entire worldview was altered, and from that moment I was “mother” and yet so little trulychanged. In my heart I was mother to the child that would be, but I had no concept of knowing what mothering would be, what it would look like when I wore its delicate crown.

Right before Emmaline was born, I remember trying to squeeze in as much “us”time as possible. For 9 months all of our conversations had been around her– how we would be for her, as parents. What we would and wouldn’t do. But at the very end, the final chapter of my pregnancy, I wanted to slow down all the sudden. I wanted to go back to 11 months before and relive those moments just a little bit, to experience my life as not a million pound pregnant woman in the summer heat. I wanted to feel sexy and beautiful and my husbands wife. It’s not that I didn’t want to not be where I was, I just wanted a quick rewind, a chance to remember and relish and recall– because prior to being pregnant all our energy had been all about getting pregnant, and it was hard and we were sad a lot, and we felt like everything was futile. But then it all changed, and we were pregnant and spent months rehearsing parenthood and on the Eve of just that– of it all being real, I wanted to step back and just be husband and wife, a thing we would not “just” be again.

Now, we are his and her, and baby too— husband and wife and child; family. And these six months– my, how they have flown. How we have grown together in our new roles as parents. And how it has changed us in so many ways, changed us to know a different kind of happy, a clarified definition of tired, a strange new articulation of ourselves. It’s beautiful and wonderful and yet still alien at times.

So, on my daughters 6 month half birthday I realize that the chaos has died down a bit and we’ve really settled into our new normal. My house is starting to be cleaned on a regular basis, and I’m not zombie tired all the time. I’ve figured out how to get stuff done (like blogging again!) and how to wear the mantle of mother, but also as wife and lady who works and person who needs a few minutes to herself every day.

I have no idea what the next six months will bring, but I do know this: today, my daughter is six months old, and she has made my life different abs wonderful, and I can’t wait for tomorrow and the day after, but would be just as happy for it to slow down and crystallize this moment, this day, this hour— so I can savor and reflect and relish all that it means to be a mom to a six month old.

Here’s a peek of her getting her 6 month photos done today, where she sat up totally unassisted for the first time.

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