A new spring 

I had such good intentions in my last home to garden. There is a long list around why that never happened:

The ground was SO rocky

The soil was so sandy

We were overgrown with weeds and crabgrass 

We were in direct blinding sunlight all day

We had no irrigation

And while all of these are true and real causes for the dry and mangled yard we resided in for five years to be honest it just felt like such a learning curve too! 

In school the teachers say, dig a hole, plant a seed, water and grow. And yes this is the basic process but really there is so much more to gardening. I just don’t know where to start. Please share any advice, tips, or tricks to maintaining your beautiful yard because we inherited a beautiful perennial garden and a number of flower beds just ready to burst forward with their spring bounty and I really don’t want to screw this up! 

Laugh if you want, but I plan to check out my local library and work on the craft of gardening to do my yard proud because I want to be covered in sweat and soil and look about and say, “yes I helped cultivate that!” So my good intentions are public now, which makes me feel for accountable to this beautiful ground around me. Ask me how it went in august! 

Cheddar Biscuits

It has been over a year since I felt like I owned my body. It is a funny thing to say since I live in it everyday, but when you carry a baby, give birth to that baby, and then nurse that baby for 12 months, you share your body. It is an amazing experience. In these moments, I felt in awe of everything that these cells could do without my conscious self dictating or driving the ship.  But that is always part of it, your body just sort of takes over and the part of you that makes you you, goes for the ride. It might be a ride of a lifetime but it is quite a ride. Becoming a mother might very will be the best thing I ever do in my life. It is a daily gift and a daily reminder that things are really really good in life. And it is a reminder that no matter how much I want to control all that is around me, I can’t and even my own body is at times (probably more often than I realize) out of my control.

Today though marks the one week mark since I last nursed little Owen. With him drinking out of sippy cups and fully transitioned to other nourishment, I find myself a little bit perplexed. What do I do with this body now? How exactly do I feel post-nursing my last baby?  It has been a HUGE transition and these last 7 days were really hard and really dark. Add to the transition of weaning, the flu and some marital strife and these last seven days were a bit of a misery march.  I know the title of this post is deceiving but I promise I will get to those biscuits and why those cheddar biscuits are so important to this tale.

But first, let’s talk about weaning. It happens. For some the weaning process is immediate, even before a nursing relationship is able to fully establish in those first hours or days of motherhood. For others the weaning process is longer, it takes 15+ months for mom and baby to negotiate a truce over who “owns” the boob and who gets to “access” the boob. For me, both of my boys sort of “broke up” with me. Henry was earlier than Owen. At 10/11 months, Henry grew impatient waiting for my milk and much preferred to get going after chugging on his sippy. Owen, I thought would be different. He loved nursing. And I loved nursing him. I thought about how maybe this baby, this baby that I have been told was my last baby, would linger a little longer in his babyhood. Unfortunately, on his first birthday something shifted (maybe hormones or maybe my body just gave a massive sigh of relief), but I was struggling to keep up my supply almost within 24 hours. It felt dire. We had not introduced a sippy cup yet! We had not introduced milk yet! We were rushing head first to an inevitable confrontation and I felt out of control (yet again) of this body which was no longer willing or able to feed Owen. My body started to reject nursing and started to show signs of ‘weaning sickness.” I had a constant headache that was blinding, I felt nauseous, and dizzy, and feverish, and all sorts of awful. It felt like I was both PMSing and pregnant simultaneously and I spent so much money on pregnancy tests over the next few days, and crossed everything hoping that maybe just maybe there would be one more baby for us and that it wasn’t just my body throwing in the towel. David made some moves to end our reproduction future and all of this was too much for me. I was ready to crawl into a big pit of pity and never come out. I felt (and still do a little) that everyone was against me. David was done having babies, Owen was done nursing, my body was done making milk & having babies, and the identity I had crafted and lived in comfortably for 3 years was shifted against my will and I was told to just: deal with it.

Then, the flu hit and our nursing days were truly done. I could not get out of bed, I could not feed Owen. Of course, like it was NO BIG DEAL Owen just drank milk from a cup! It is funny how I made myself sick with worry about how would this child eat and without blinking an eye he just transitioned. He resiliently said “okay,” while I rolled in bed sobbing my eyes out because I was sick from weaning, and sick from the flu, and sick in my heart because too much was happening all at once. Things still feel fragile 7 days later. Owen and Henry are just going about their days as usual, drinking milk like a boss and playing endlessly. But, I still feel a little removed from it all. Surely, I am not alone in the struggle with transitions and I know this story is not unique, yet it is affecting me right now and I am hoping with some more time I will continue to reconcile myself to some BIG changes: I am done having babies, I am done nursing babies, I am done weaning babies, and I am done sharing my body. And while all those things will inevitably happen, it feels so weird actually saying it, seeing it, and living it. I wonder if even ten years from now, I will still ache for this chapter in my life.

So here come the cheddar biscuits. In sharing and giving so much of my cellular essence to someone else and everyone else, I forgot that there are things I like to do with my time but could not do for a long time because I was too tired or busy or overwhelmed or involved in the chapter I am now closing. Like cooking and I mean really cooking from scratch with complicated recipes with lots of ingredients and multiple steps. And yes it will probably be two steps forward and a step back as I figure out these new steps as a mother to two boys who will continue to grow up and potentially grow away from their mama, but there are great things we can do together as they grow up, and as their immediate baby needs shift and change to new horizons, interests, and abilities. And while we all grow into this family dynamic, I know now that I can also bake a pretty delicious cheddar biscuit from scratch. Not the most complicated recipe, but you got to start somewhere. Anyway, I am working on it. I wish there was a script we could follow when adulting gets hard. I wish there was a pause button I could hit so I could just sit a little longer in this moment so that my heart can catch up to the reality it is now living in. It would be so much easier that way. At least the cheddar biscuits tasted good.


Pink dreams…

I have wanted to write this for a long time. I have also never wanted to write this down. It feels selfish, stupid, privileged, entitled, ungrateful, and loathesome. Yet it sits with me everyday and it sits heavy in my heart. I imagine then that I might not be alone in having this feeling. But when I think of the greater picture of life, the real trials that individuals face and that families embrace, it feels insignificant and pales in any comparison ever. It is hard to write this when thinking about our loved ones who hold fast to dreams of growing their own families. My best friend, Laura, in college would say that you cannot compare hards and you have to feel your feelings. So with her words in mind, I am going to share some feelings. In three weeks, Owen turns 1 and our baby days are over. We have been so blessed to have two healthy and happy boys. They are truly the best gifts in the whole world. With their father, they complete our family and I feel so much love for these three men and all the joy and laughs they bring to every single day. 

When I was growing up, I used to dream about visiting Rome. My friends and family members also shared these dreams. I would lay in my mother’s lap and we would talk about eating the delicious food and wine and walking through the ancient streets. We would visit the Coliseum and Roman forum, we would throw coins into the fountain of Trevi and drink cappuccino in the piazzas. We would wind our way through the roads of Tuscany and bathe in the warm sunlight. We would gaze in amazement at the great works of Michelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli. I planned my trip to the very last detail. I collected recommendations from friends and family and took all the steps necessary to make that trip. The day came after years of dreaming, envisioning, and planning. I boarded the airplane and we took off for the peninsula. David and I held hands and laughed as we deplaned for our adventure and then we realized that the plane landed in…Amsterdam! 

That is how it feels. I always dreamed of having a little girl. There were visions of daddy-daughter dances, being the “mother of the bride,” and doing all those mother-daughter things that I loved to do so much with my own mom. I dreamt about raising a brave, bold, independent and fierce young woman. I imagined telling her tales of not only her amazing great-grandmothers who shattered female standards but of her loving and kind grandmothers and of women like Ruth Bader Ginsberg who ensured that her life would be equal and valued. Or stories of Elizabeth Blackwell who challenged the patriarchy and became America’s first female doctor. We would admire the fictional Lesley Knope but also enjoy some pink fantasies nonetheless. And when she had her own babies, I would help raise them as my mother did for me and my grandmother for her. And of course there would be so much in between all of this.

But, I landed in Amsterdam. My friends who made it to Rome will revel in those dreams and realities. They have their daughters to raise and I will lovingly watch but the sadness of not also being in Rome will weigh on my heart everyday. I feel this little heaviness everyday as I scroll through Facebook or Instagram and see all the mothers of daughters. I feel a sadness as the only little girls I will really be able to kiss and hold are my two nieces, and I feel sad being different from my brother and brother-in-law who are raising their strong daughters. I feel like I am missing something crucial to my identity, a part of my skin, a part of my essence. In many many ways, I do not feel like my family is complete (or ever will be).

Yes, Amsterdam is beautiful! It has tulips and windmills and lovely, picturesque canals. It has Van Gogh and Rembrandt and a wild countryside. I would never change having Henry and Owen. They make my days beautiful and their unique personalities are hilarious to watch unfold. I want to be in Amsterdam! I am excited to raise strong, compassionate young men who support their partners’ dreams and who respect the dignity, humanity, and value of others. I am excited to run wild with them as they explore the world around them. But I will always dream of also visiting Rome and wondering what it would be like to bring my boy club there (I guess I am greedy). It is a feeling I will carry everyday of my life. I know it and it breaks my heart. 

Our best morning 

Getting glimpses into what mornings will look like here. Henry is playing an elaborate Lego game at the kitchen island and Owen is walking about on his own playing with a pushcart. Drinking my big latte and watching all this is sweet and weird. They are self-entertaining and my “quiet” morning might be coming back to me but a part of me wants to scoop up the boys and create the chaos I am accustomed too. You never want what you have, huh? 

Permission, Support, Courage

On Friday, I went to a SoulCyle class because it had been a year since I last hopped onto a bike and I finally felt “ready” to get back in the saddle. Clicking into the pedals, the nerves hit and I started to think that I made a mistake. Was I ready to really push myself? Was I awake enough to make this session “worth” the price of the entrance ticket? The instructor came in and started doing that thing that SoulCycle instructors do where they positive talk about goals, body image, and motivation. It may seem sappy but it was exactly the message that resonated most with me. As she turned out the lights and turned up the music, it hit me that almost a year ago to the day, I took my last SoulCycle class and I was not alone. Tucked inside  was baby Owen who seemingly slept through the rigorous class. I remember taking that final class and thinking about meeting my baby soon after, about what he would be like, what he would look like, and when he would arrive. It was hard to be on the bike with a bulging belly and it was weird to be back on that bike without one. That class had been for Owen. It was to give him a fit pregnancy, healthy environment, and ideally an easy delivery. This class was for me. The instructor Charlotte started to talk about three words: Permission, Support and Courage. And, I am not going to lie, I might have teared up a bit in class as she shared her message and as I reflected on all that happened in those 365 days since I last saw Charlotte.

After baby, looking in the mirror can be a little tough and rough. A deflated belly is hard to process. Shouldn’t everything just go back into place upon the little one’s arrival, no?  It was hard the first time with Henry to see the transformation that occurs in the postpartum period and it was just as hard the second time even though I had my previous knowledge. This is where Charlotte’s message about permission hit most. We don’t give ourselves enough permission to heal and be and recover. Often when grocery shopping, I will see a magazine cover that says something like “So and so is back to pre-baby body in just 2 weeks!” and she is lauded and praised and touted as the norm. Good for her! Seriously that is some impressive sh*t! But, I have learned for myself that I need to give myself permission. Permission to soak in all that just happened: I grew a human. This baby took over my entire body cavity. He moved all of my organs, he stretched out my skin, he took my nourishment, he grew strong and fat and pushed my bones to their limits. This is a point of pride! It took 9 months to get to that point and I need to give my body permission to heal and slowly return to a settled place. It is also so important to give permission to just be in awe: WOW.  And permission to not exercise until my body really feels ready to tackle that. And you know what, it might always be a little soft and a little “flabby” or it might always look like I have a “baby bump” but then again I did have two babies and my body will wear those experiences because I am only human.

Charlotte also shared a lot about support. When you are on a stationary bike you can let the wheel fly. This means not having any resistance and just allowing your legs to rotate freely and quickly as though you were sprinting along. This feels good but it is not always productive as you coast. When you add that resistance by turning the knob, Charlotte calls out “add support!” and then you feel the tension on the wheel and your legs have to work to rotate around that axis. You feel the support as though the ground became thicker and you muscles start to say hello. Mommying can be very isolating. Some nights when you are awake 3 or 4 times in the night with your baby you know that you need to be there for them and comfort them but you ache for sleep and I ached for someone to help me.  “What happens if you don’t stand in your own way,” Charlotte asks  “what would happen if you actually pushed yourself?” It took months for me to really ask for help with Owen’s sleep. I thought that with baby 2, I should just know how to get him to be comforted and to sleep. Working full-time and having a toddler on top of a new baby was a new equation. When I finally really let David in to support me at night, we all started to sleep better. Yes, David woke up and yes he cradled Owen and rocked him as Owen screamed into David’s face for what felt like hours, but Owen learned to be supported by David and I learned to be supported by David and we learned that we are WAY stronger when we work together than when we think “we got this” alone.

The class ended with Charlotte talking about courage. She had us working our way up a hill and adding more and more support to the bike when she said, “Are you giving it all you got? What would happen if you didn’t hold back? Maybe you would fall but you would learn something. You would learn how strong you are and how strong you can be!” Owen is working on walking. He fearlessly let’s go of the coffee table and takes a few steps. He falls a lot, he smashes his face sometimes on that table, but he smiles and tries again and again and he is getting better. You can see his balance improving, his steps becoming more confident, and his legs getting stronger. He is one courageous little dude. And sometimes we have to remember to take those steps too in life. To get out of our comfort zone. To give ourselves permission to try and to be courageous enough to get back into that saddle!

Uncle Andy & Alex

We just said goodbye this morning to Uncle Andy & Alex. They flew up to Boston from sunny West Palm Beach and landed in between two blizzards. While it might have been colder than they typically enjoyed, the boys delighted in their shared company, snow fights, and skiing. Alex did great his first time on the slopes and I cannot wait for Henry to join in on the fun next year. We played outside every couple hours and bundled up our southerners in all the winter gear we owned. It was so nice being able to spend so much time together and Henry and Owen loved every second of it. I hate having family far because these moments always make me heartsick for more. When it was time to say goodbye, Henry was so sad that the only consolation was promising to go down and visit them this summer! 

Da crib Part I 

We have been in our house for a little over a month and feel pretty settled but also feel ready to start tackling some of our “projects.” I guess every house is a “work in progress” as you inch slowly closer and closer to your vision for the space. 

The first room we are working on is the playroom. Since moving in we filled it with a new couch, rug, bookshelf, and coffee table. It feels fine for right now, but it is also exploding with toys. One of my goals for over my March spring break will be to purge and donate toys. The boys have accumulated so many things from holidays and birthdays and just random gift giving. This room clearly shows they are loved by their grandparents and aunts and uncles who shower them in gifts. And we are incredibly grateful for the “daycare” we have been able to set up, especially since my mom watches the boys at home many days during the work week. The room keeps those boys busy busy. But it is time to start saying goodbye to some of things in order to streamline the work that the kiddos do in there. And, a lot of the baby toys can be phased out with Owen inching closer to his first birthday. 

We also was to change the drapery which seems like an easy task but the previous owners bolted down those window coverings in a serious way! They are going to need some work to take off the various brackets that they deadbolted to the walls and then we will need to patch and paint, and find new curtains (although we might use our blue and white curtains here from our previous house) and then paint the walls, ceiling, and the trims (we want those to be white). So a lot to do to freshen up the room but while it might seem daunting, David and I are not in a rush. We see this as our forever home so we are excited to get started and will work through this patiently.