Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Station Eleven

Something about this time around with a new baby has been hitting me differently; there are two of them, yet I have had way more time and inclination for reading!  With August, it was about SIX MONTHS before I was able to follow a book to its conclusion, whereas I had several books done within Bash's first few weeks.  I'm trying to make a conscious effort to not check my phone an hour before going to sleep (and, when I'm feeling super virtuous, I leave it to charge upstairs while hanging with JP when the kids are finally in bed), and am not poring over our baby books for answers to the teeniest questions this time.  More time for fiction is always a plus!

My most recent favorite read has been Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.  You know I love my post-apocolyptic novels set in the near future, and this one is even better because there are no zombies in it!  Mandel's story follows Kirsten, a 23-year-old woman who performs in the Traveling Symphony, moving from settlement to settlement in a world devastated by a pandemic.  The Georgia Flu (country, not state) decimated the world's population, and the Symphony lives by the creed, 'Because survival is insufficient.'  Kirsten and her pack perform Shakespeare and play Beethoven concertos for small camps around the Great Lakes.  Woven throughout this plot is Kirsten's backstory, which involves the wildly successful Arthur Leander, his wife, and best friend. 

It's a tightly-written book that left me feeling unsettled- in the best way.  It's magical to be transported by an idea that feels dangerously plausible; poor JP was reminded several times of our emergency plan, and I'm still feeling the urge to stock our basement with extra canned goods and blankets so that we'll be prepared for an event like the one in Station Eleven.  Mandel dives into what's worth saving in life, what luck and hard work really provide for us, and the ties that bind us all.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Making it Look Easy

I've been debating writing a post on this, because it's a bit of a mixed bag for me.  A few friends have mentioned in passing, 'You make having two kids look so easy!' or 'What a perfect life you have!' and it's meant as a compliment.  I should say, it seems like it's meant as a compliment.  And, while I see the kind place they're coming from and know it's in no way meant as a jab at me, those words fill me with a sense of dread.

I have a two-year-old, so this sight of him on the ground in tears is pretty much a given at least a few times a week.  Sometimes a few times a day.  Generally, though, people don't want to see pictures of that.
And it's not always a private show just for me.  August had a meltdown at the GA Aquarium when I told him we had to go home.

There was a several-week stretch when Bash would only nap while nursing next to me.  Which meant, on top of not sleeping when the baby sleeps, I either dealt with a fussy baby or a fussy toddler who wanted my undivided attention (currently being eaten up by said sleeping baby).  That's an exhausting time that my playground group didn't get to witness.

And, as much as I adore August, he's not really great with knowing people's pain thresholds.  He's really good at clocking my head with his while sitting in my lap for story times.  Don't even get me started on how much laundry is being done in this house; between a toddler trying to feed himself drippy yogurt and a baby spitting up like its his job (which, I guess it kind of is), it's rare that we each go through only one outfit a day.

Then there's the guilt.  August can quote passages from several Disney and Pixar films, at the young age of 2, and Bash loves to stare at the TV screen.  But how else am I supposed to get time to prep dinner or let the dog out?

Don't misunderstand me: I LOVE my kids, my husband, my life in general.  I appreciate that I can stay home and that we can afford to have me do it.  I am incredibly lucky to be married to a man who puts his family before pretty much everything.  (Except Spanish futbol, but that's another conversation entirely.)  Being a stay at home mom is the best fit for us at this stage; I didn't have a full-fledged career when I had August, so didn't have anything I was passionately looking forward to returning to after a maternity leave.

But you would think that being a stay at home mom has basically lobotomized me that way some parties and dinners go.  Because I don't work outside the home, it's as though I couldn't possibly have anything to contribute to a conversation; an IRS employee has more clout at an event than I do.  There have been more occasions than I'd care to mention which have led to me relegated to a corner, sipping wine by myself, while other people talk about their careers.  I have stuff to talk about, too!  I've read fascinating books, watched thought-provoking films and TV shows, am up on current events!  That's got to be way more interesting than talking about tax brackets and business plans, right?

So much of my life is awesome and we have a lot of laughs and smiles.  These boys are 65% an absolute joy, and 35% thoroughly exhausting and frustrating.  I have a lot of help, though, and should be totally upfront about that.  Since he was 16 months old, August has been in some sort of daycare/preschool/summer camp situation a couple mornings a week so I can get time with just one kid, and we have people who clean our house once a week.  We also have a mother-in-law who watched the boys every so often, and a great babysitter for date nights.  THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT.  These people have been worth their weight in gold.  So it really does take a village to make one person's job look 'easy'.

This 'picture perfect life' is more complex and interesting than that title would lead you to believe.  When I really dig down, my issue is that, if this is what easy and perfect look like, why do I have so many frustrating encounters with people who aren't parents or stay at home parents?  Am I allowed to vent about my kids' bad sleeping habits, or will that pop the bubble?  If I admit to struggling more days of the week than not, will I get the brush-off?  And, even when things aren't picture perfect, am I allowed to still enjoy it?  One of my favorite pictures of the boys so far (nearly six months into brotherhood) is this one of August very gingerly pulling a booger out of Bash's nose.  Gross?  Yes.  Endearing and gentle?  Absolutely.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Our Week in Photos

 Bash is so happy to get loving from his aunts!

One of my favorite visitors to the house is always Haley.  She stopped in last weekend, and we took her for a morning out on the town!  Well, actually just to a railway museum in Duluth, where we rode a mini 1950s train around a couple of times.  She wore Bash the whole time; what a lovely gesture!  He was very well entertained.

Mia got some loving, too.

 And August tried on his handmade superhero cape from Auntie Haley!  It really made that castle building go so much more smoothly ;)

 This little man and his smiles.  I just love watching him develop.

August missed his nap one afternoon, so made up for it by sleeping in the stroller on a Trader Joe's run a few hours later.  He never sleeps in the stroller!  This was so awesome!

 We checked out some fire trucks one evening, and August couldn't have been happier to be held by his papa while looking at them.  It doesn't take much some days.

Just two cool guys, hanging out at city hall.

 Bash has been eating solids!  While he sits in the high chair, August kind of titters around him, climbing on the rungs, playing with his toys, and holding Bash's hand.  It's pretty precious.

 I love how Bash fell asleep during one of our morning runs this week.  Doesn't it look like he's posing for a boy band portrait?

This little Italian chef has been hanging out in our dining room (I don't really know where to put him, so it's as good a place as any), and August has decided that they're friends.  I came around the corner Thursday afternoon and he was hugging it out.  Nice kid. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Our Week in Photos

 I am always so happy to spend time with this strong, funny, kind woman.  Did I mention that she knows the best places to eat in Tallahassee?  We hit up this place for snowballs- shaved ice filled with soft serve and topped with flavored syrups and sweetened condensed milk.  YESSSS.

On Monday, August, Bash, and I hit up the GA Aquarium with another friend and her two children.  The six of us lasted nearly 2 hours, after which we all stumbled back to our cars in an exhausted haze.  Toddlers and babies and crowded spaces are such a great combination.

Lest you think the two older boys are the only ones who like to build things, here is photographic proof that Bash is also into castles.

On a Wednesday morning with no plans, I took my boys to one of our favorite paths, and left the stroller in the car, i.e. August had to walk.  We did a 1.5 mile loop, and he was (generally) a trooper!  We got to cool off/play with trucks in this little creek, which made the older kid very happy.

Bash was in the Ergo carrier, and seemed so content just gazing at the trees surrounding us and listen to me sing every so often.  He is such a chill kid sometimes.
And he's basically all cheeks these days!

Starting the truck obsession young!

Every so often, August just spontaneously 'hugs' Bash.  We never make him give kisses or hugs (even to us), so it's really sweet to see that he just veers toward being affectionate.  These boys are so entertaining to hang out with each day.

Bash has recently discovered his feet!  And socks!  Who knew the very best toys are already attached to us?!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Our Week in Photos

JP and I swapped our mid-afternoon-moment photos; this was mine.  August will run up behind me, wrapped his arms around my neck, and just hang out.  And Bash just looks like, 'Oh, what is this crazy contraption?'

 THAT FACE.  Heavens to Betsy, it is made for kissing.

'You see, Bash, the bed tips back and the dirt falls out.' 'Oh yes, of course.  I see that now.'
My imaginary conversations these boys have are always very civilized.

(See two comments above.)  This is how he woke up from a nap this week!

We took then boys to Dunwoody Nature Center and let August wander up and down the creek while Bash watched.  He is just so taken with his big brother.

August got this water/sand table for his birthday and our biggest mistake/hit has been putting enough sand for a small beach in one side.  He is entertained for hours at a time with this thing.

Dallas and Laura have a house!  Being the wonderful houseguests that we are, August climbed onto Uncle Dallas' lap mid-conversation to show him a truck video on JP's phone.

My favorite way to start the week lately is to run around a park near our house, then let August play in the playground.  This week, he decided to forgo the slides and ladders in favor of shoveling mulch from place to place in these little trucks.  It was a pretty big undertaking, but he managed.

Bash loves his hand-me-down bouncer!  He goes to town jumping up and down, and loves to hit that little keyboard (which does nothing fancy).  It's so fun to watch him enjoy this as much as August did!

It was a close friend's birthday last week, so we brought the fixin's for ice cream cones.  This is probably the first time these three boys have sat still and quietly in the last 18 months.

At a local nature center, August took it upon himself to organize this box of 'ribbits.'  He even made some of them hop around the table.  It was pretty cute.

A truly glamour mom moment in the Target dressing room.

Of course, the moms in my play group found the time to squeeze in a Magic Mike XXL screening.  We are busy, but have priorities.  And, oh man, was this movie awful but fun to watch.

Another mid-afternoon-moment photo for JP.

 The lighting in Bash's room is on point after his afternoon nap, and he has the cutest expression here!

JP is just the cutest dad with nostalgia.  He bid on this Playmobil castle set on eBay, and it's the exact one he played with as a kid.  Now he and August are enjoying building the walls and driving August's trains along the ramparts.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Things To Do in Your First Trimester

Being pregnant is pretty much the craziest time in life.  Assuming morning sickness hasn't taken over your day, things probably seem pretty normal to the outside world: no belly yet, no weird dark line down your stomach while in a bathing suit.  You look the same (with maybe a slightly larger chest), except there's this little being swimming around in your tummy.  
It's usually too early to tell the gender, so can't pick out a name or do a ton of registry items yet.  There's no way you're planning a baby shower so far in advance, and you're probably not even telling your work yet.  Have no fear!  There is still some fun stuff you can do in your first trimester to prep for baby, and to keep your third trimester from being way too busy.  

1. Research.  Don't go crazy; it's easy to fall down the rabbit hole of pregnancy information available both online and in a library/bookstore.  Check out a few reputable sources for the details on what happens during birth, pain options available to you in a hospital or birthing center, what's considered normal during each month of gestation, etc.  I enjoyed having a few apps on my phone to check periodically, as well as a couple of not-scary books to browse on my downtime.  The Mayo Clinic's line of pregnancy and baby books is pretty solid, and I also liked You and Your Baby .  I wish someone had told me how scary and kind-of irritating What to Expect When You're Expecting was, so I will say it hear: pass on this publication.

2 & 3. Now that you have an idea of what you want out of your birth experience, you'll need to  find a good midwife/obstetrician.  This kind of goes hand-in-hand with hospital tours, so we'll lump these together.  
I moved halfway through my pregnancy with August, so just wound up at the first ob practice I could find that delivered at the best hospital in our area.  They took blood at nearly every appointment, did a lot of (unnecessary) tests, and were very sterile.  They had a small office, though, and I had to schedule every ultrasound with a different practice, resulting in more driving and appointments.  Had I done more research, I would have found that they specialize in high-risk pregnancies, which mine was not.  I swore I would find a less invasive practice for the next time around.
When I was pregnant with Bash, I went with a midwife practice close to us, which drew blood only twice and had an ultrasound machine and technician in house.  I really liked the midwives, and the low-key approach to each visit.  However, midwives can't deliver at the hospital I used with August, so I had to use another one, which I did not enjoy nearly as much.  
The point of this long-winded story is that the midwives/doctors and hospitals you use matter.  They can make the birthing experience awesome or a disaster.  Do your research and check out your options.  If you want a water birth, make sure your hospital has the tubs.  If you want a midwife, ensure they have privileges at your chosen hospital.

4. Start a journal. I have done a lousy job of documenting my second pregnancy, and have yet to even write down Bash's birth story (which sounds silly, but I don't want to forget anything!).  Write down your partner's reaction to a positive pregnancy test, keep a list of baby names you like, jot down your fears and joys.  It'll be a hoot to compare your pregnancies, if you have more than one. 

5. It's easy to get overwhelmed and compare yourself to other moms and your pre-pregnant self, so be kind.  To yourself, to your partner, to your pet.  If this is your first pregnancy, it's all new and you're doing the best you can.  If you're too tired to exercise today, nap and try again tomorrow.  If you cry during Mighty Ducks 2 (not that I would know anything about that), laugh it off and blame the hormones.  There is enough going on, so don't add to your stress level.  Do your best to choose kindness.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Our Week in Photos

We've had a pretty full week here in Georgia; let's get to it!

Tuesday morning, the boys and I set out to a nearby farm for some blackberry picking.  I would say about half of the berries ended up in August's tummy, not the basket.  He was happy, though, so whatever works!  How adorable is he in those overalls?!

 I got some baby snuggles while August played in the Chattahoochee at a park later that day.  Bash just loves watching his big brother play; it's so cool to watch him already looking up to August.

 August took his job of shoveling sand and throwing it into the river very seriously.  Also, fed a LOT of bread to the ducks in the distance.

 Doesn't Mia look like she's about to lead a board meeting with her legs like that?

 The big guy in his happy place: an empty ball pit with a mini dig-dig in one hand and mini dump truck in the other.  On rainy or super hot (or super cold) days, indoor playgrounds are a lifesaver, especially when we can meet up with friends to get our energy out!

 A contemplative Bash wonders how many of August's mini trucks he can grab before August notices.

 Hahaha, just kidding.  Bash knows not to mess with his big bro's toys!
That smile just gets me every time.

 August's new move is to run up behind me and jump onto my back for a rear hug.  It's very sweet, if a bit out of left field.

Oh man, I had every intention of posting this update yesterday, but spent most of the day in the doctor's office, then the ER, with my men.  Bash had an insanely high fever all day, and, after having blood drawn and a catheter to pull a sample, we discovered that he has a UTI and minor ear infection.  He was such a trooper with all the people poking him, and it broke my heart that he was feeling so bad.  We were at the best kids' hospital in the area, though (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta was amazing), and they were so accommodating with it being a Friday before a holiday.  We are so lucky that we've made it two years without a visit to the ER; here's hoping that we can make it even more next time. 
Bash is on antibiotics and a strict snuggle schedule to feel better.