Friday, February 5, 2016

5 Things - The Sleep-Deprived Self-Acceptance Edition (Sort of)

I mostly just wanted to use all those S's.

photo credit: passing time via photopin (license)
1. This post on learning to accept how life has changed your body from Addie Zierman.

Addie is a writer I've only fairly recently gotten into. Her first book, When We Were On Fire, is a searingly honest look at what happens when everything you felt was certain in life (marriage, faith, community, and family) start seemingly tumbling away from you.

This new post of hers, "Size Up", is a post about buying a new pair of blue jeans. It doesn't necessarily seem like something to turn into poignancy; no one likes having to admit they've gone up a size or three from the clothes they used to wear.

Addie turns this moment into a rumination on how life changes us inside and out, and there's something to the acknowledgement and acceptance that your body must evolve alongside you, and sometimes that means accepting that the number on the tag is going to change, too.

It's a beautiful post, and I highly recommend it.

In fact, go click and read it now.

I'll wait.

2. This dress.

I haven't ordered from Boden in a long while, for a variety of reasons, but this. dress.

I don't even wear dresses, and I love this dress.

I love the color, and the longer arms, and the drawstring and and and and.

Love it all.

So I'll go back to staring wistfully at it.

3. This post from Sarah Bessey, "The Nightwatch", on the way that parenting a non-sleeping baby is horrible and also simultaneously full of perfect sweetness.

The thing about parenting is that to have a baby who just. won't. sleep. is to have everyone tell you that you just haven't tried the right thing, yet. And it doesn't matter how many things you have tried, and it doesn't matter how many times you tell people you have tried everything, they will all try to tell you that the problem is just that you haven't tried hard enough.

Audra isn't a good sleeper. And neither is Sarah Bessey's girl Maggie, who is nonetheless a smile-all-the-time pile of happiness, the fourth child and the subject of no small amount of sibling adoration.

Reading this, I just kept nodding my head.

We are tired, in our house, and have been tired since she was born. (I've been tired since I was four months pregnant, granted, but it became a team effort in August 2014.) She sleeps through the night usually only just enough to throw us off guard before three more days of waking up again.

Sarah writes so well the way that sitting with your little one at midnight... and 3... and 6... can involve such moments of exhausted desperation and simultaneously be so full of happiness. Which I suppose is parenting, in a nutshell.

Exhausted, desperate happiness.
4. These shoes from Target, which would just go perfectly with that Boden dress above, right?

... right?

I don't do much window-shopping these days... or at least not for me. I do a ton of window-shopping for toddler clothes, but when it comes to my wardrobe I'm basically just living on blue jeans and cardigans out of the back of the closet. But I think with the dress and the shoes? I could be pretty damn adorable this spring.

You know, the two weeks of spring South Carolina has before it's suddenly blisteringly hot and summer.

In April.

5. I'd like to end with a post from my friend Rachel, "Snapback". I've already shared it ALL OVER Facebook in like six different places, so a lot of you have probably already seen it.

Here's how it starts: "I look rough these days. That's not fishing for compliments, I promise."

Rachel has a little one a few months younger than mine, and we've been kind of right alongside each other in becoming first-time moms. We even both live in the South, although she's a bit further down there than I am.

Her thoughts on postpartum bodies meaning more than just "get your body back six weeks/six months after baby" and being a little more of acknowledging how you are changed, and no Insanity workout takes that change away. About accepting the bit of stomach that is perfect for your little one to rest on, about acknowledging that maybe you have become that mom, wearing yoga pants and a T-shirt while your child is impeccably dressed.

About acknowledging that that's just part of the journey.

If you haven't read it, I suggest you do. It's just perfect. I know all my "reads" in this roundup have been parenting-related, at least somewhat, although I think Addie's resonates for anyone going into their thirties or forties and facing the changes in our bodies and in the mirror.

But I adore Rachel, and I saved her post for last for a reason. Go read it, and get to know her, and you'll adore her frank, honest take on motherhood, too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

In Which Dreams Are Weird

Last night, after a night of Audra waking us up every two hours like horrible magical clockwork, I had this dream that Jason and I were back in Illinois visiting my hometown.

It wasn't exactly my hometown, not really - this version of it was full of bustling shops around a busy Main Street, a place where the grain elevator was never torn down and there was still a grocery store next door to my childhood church, with a tanning salon on the other side that I think maybe isn't a tanning salon anymore and that was, once upon a time, a bank.

It wasn't a dream that took place in a true past or anything - McLean was never so busy in my lifetime as it was in this dream. There were shops that have never existed there, so far as I know. But I guess it was kind of the town we all would have liked it to be.

We were walking, all of us - my husband and I and my parents, glimpses of my siblings and my little niece, too, though they are fuzzier. We turned a corner where a barber shop used to be, the barber inside always seemed eternal until he suddenly wasn't.

He used to give me Dum-Dum suckers sometimes.

We were talking about the barber, who waved at us while working on an older customer. I think I remembered them both perfectly, far better than I do while awake.

I think Audra was with us - but maybe not.

Dad and I were joking about the Highlander movie, how 'they can only make one', laughing about the ridiculous joke. I remembered feeling sort of flushed with warmth at this great moment. We waved back at the barber and moved on, walking past an empty spot of grass where a library currently stands, next to the post office, which of course is exactly the same.

I said something to Dad, and he replied, and I remembered quite suddenly within the dream that he was dead.

I remember looking at his face, really looking, to see if he had noticed. As though perhaps he just didn't know it yet. He was laughing, something about the Highlander movie again. I was startled and deflated and just so mad, in the dream, that I couldn't just have a little bit more time where I didn't know.

He looked away from me, over across the town square, and he was still laughing.

I woke up. I had slept right through my alarm.

Or, to be more exact...

The alarm had gone off and I actually moved to pick it up off the floor next to the bed, physically turned it off, rolled back over, and gone right back to total sleep, apparently without a break in the dream. Or maybe the alarm had been the break, the point at which I realized something was off, and I just... didn't want to wake up just yet.

Despite it showing that I was thirty minutes later getting up than I should be, I wondered if maybe I just rolled over again, I could go right back to the dream.

Audra made a noise from her room. Not awake, not yet, but her psychic awareness of times that I want to lie in bed for just five more minutes was prodding her towards it.

So I got up and made myself a bowl of Cheerios, fed the dog, and squinted outside into the grayish dawn.

I still kind of wish I had been able to just keep sleeping.

I'm still pretty mad.

Friday, January 29, 2016


 Reading… Don't Put Lipstick on the Cat by Kersten Campbell, which is my fizzy-bright funny relax-after-the-baby's-in-bed read right now, alongside Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches (sensing a theme, guys?) by Rachel Jankovic. Both are short books, quick reads that are nonetheless taking me forever since I find myself with twenty minutes or less of reading time most nights. Hoping to find a little bit more time  at some point and finally start on People of the Songtrail, the newest in a series of books that I have written about my frankly unreasonably intense and irrational love of before.  

Seriously. Those books are crack cocaine to me.

Watching… So. Much. Daniel. Tiger. There is no possible problem that I do not have a short, catchy little tune to sing in reply. "I'm not going to let my daughter have time with television until she's in school," I said. Then I started being late to work every time I decided to have a screen-free morning or nearly an hour late with dinner once she dropped her afternoon nap and decided it was more fun to literally hang off my leg saying "mommy mommy mommy mommy" over and over again for literally no reason whatsoever while I tried desperately to cook.

There is no entertaining TV in this house. Only Daniel Tiger. At least he's adorable and listens to his parents.

It could be worse; she could be watching Caillou.

I'm totally up for the Mother of the Year Award.

Listening… Mostly just to NPR on the way to work in the morning. JD McPherson's new CD on the occasional day I remember it lives in the CD player. To my toddler's half-shriek laughter when we spend about thirty minutes just saying "tickle tickle tickle" and wagging our fingers at each other, which is apparently her new favorite game.

To the voice in my head telling me I need to go eat crepes.

Eating… Not crepes, sadly... yet. This last week I made borscht for the first time using Martha Stewart recipe, which turned out to be a serious surprise hit with Audra. She loved it. We strained out the liquid and just fed her the cooked beets, carrots, celery, onions, and beef. She nearly ate as much as I did. And ate it really well the next night, too (I never cook in less than twelve-person batches, somehow).

Tuesday we ate Annie's White Shells and Cheese with steamed broccoli, because steamed broccoli is healthy and she loves it and Jason was hanging out with friends that night and pffffft, macaroni and cheese is awesome don't judge me.

Mother. Of. The Year.

I made up for it I think when we made dinner for our friends and their kiddos two nights later and I made these vegan enchiladas, with a side of black beans and sauteed corn-and-zucchini. Which I immediately added crumbled up Mexican fresco cheese to, because vegan ain't my bag, baby.

And they were wonderful, and it's a pretty inexpensive meal to throw together and is going to be in regular rotation from here on out.

Oh, and eating blueberries, because Audra is going through a blueberry obsession and it turns out I super like blueberries, too. I'm surprised my skin isn't turning colors at this point.

Drinking… Well, coffee. That never changes. I was going to try to drink more water, then discovered that if I replaced coffee with water, I was suddenly very much aware of how often it is that we don't sleep through the night. So I'm back to drinking too much coffee. Lots of cream, little sugar.

Coffee coffee coffee.

Loving… Headbands. Seriously. I'm not even being sarcastic, I'm actually going through a headband thing right now. I picked up a couple of the reversible headbands from Natalie over at Natalie Creates with Christmas money, and once they showed up (alongside our new planting calendar for the We-Are-Actually-Going-to-Garden-Like-Adults year we're planning) I have basically not taken them off. So, obviously I spent the last of my Christmas money on two more.

I'm a reasonable human being who in no way makes impulse purchases when gifted with spending money.

Nope, not me.

(I also used some of the last of the Christmas money on this T-shirt and I regret nothing.)

Hoping… Mostly just that 2016 will be kinder to us, in the end, than 2015 was. I could stand to have time enough without any crises to get a little content for a while.

Celebrating… Audra's day-by-day development explosions when it comes to speaking and walk-running, and discovering the world. Jason being able to actually get some blacksmithing done, with his new job giving him more time to work on it. How much I love my own job. How much Audra loves her daycare. My mom moving into a house that will be perfect for her. Lots of things.

Disliking… Distance, always. The ache of grief at a point where I am no longer comfortable openly showing that particular emotion.

 That the word Audra grasped most readily and has the greatest command of is "no".

Not having a cat in the house for the first time in eight years, during a time in my life when I would really like to have a fuzzy cat to snuggle with sometimes in the evenings.

All of Jason's incredibly reasonable and well-thought-out arguments as to why now is a bad time to add another pet.

Starting… to try and take a better interest in the house. The thing is, we've lived here for three years, three and a half at this point, and we still live a bit like the apartments dwellers we were for seven years. We painted one wall, which I love, but have never really made permanent changes elsewhere. This is the year I'm painting the kitchen. I've decided. And maybe we'll finish the living room, too.

This is the year we're going to really work in the garden. We've bought some great seeds to try out and I'm actually looking forward to starting things up once it's warm for good in the spring. It's a strange feeling, to be excited about planting corn.

I imagine my father would find that pretty hilarious.

Discovering… alongside Audra each step in the process of learning to be a person. I have watched her mimic our facial expression in infancy, and now in toddlerhood she mimics our motions more easily. She 'helped' Jason mop a couple of days ago. She'll bring the dustpan over for me when I'm sweeping.

She knows that 'cooking' is a thing I do on the big white thing that I tell her is too hot too touch, and then food happens after I stand there for a while. I pick her up so she can see the steps I'm taking and narrate through them. She tries to repeat any word she even vaguely recognizes.

She figured out that shoes mean going somewhere, and so watches closely to see when we put our shoes on to gather from that what we'll do next. She insists on wearing shoes all the time whenever she can right now.

She tries to help take her clothes off and put the new clothes on. She will watch me get dressed, intently, following every move I make to try and figure out what it is I can do that she can't.

So, I discover right with her how the steps unfold to figuring out how to grow up.

It's wonderful.

Although I do occasionally wish it was happening more slowly.

Now it’s your turn! Answer any of the above prompts in the comments or create your own post and leave me a link! I snagged the idea for this post from Sarah over at Sarah on Purpose.