Monday, December 14, 2015

Keeping it Real: My Clutter.

Clutter is - unfortunately - a central part of me. I am a scattered person in every aspect of my life, always running in a million different directions at a time, and so are my belongings.
Growing up, I had three drawers in the headboard behind my bed. I spent hours "cleaning out" those drawers as demanded by my uber-neat mother, but despite her constant attempts to reign in my mess, merely weeks later it would be time for another required clean-out as my "stuff" accumulated once again.  These days, to my mother's disappointment, I am messier than ever before.
Lest you imagine my family living in an episode of Hoarders, as addicted as I am to having "stuff," I am equally so to the tools that I believe will help me conquer that addiction - shelves, hooks, baskets, and anything sold at The Container Store. But while each is a solution to a minor part of this major problem, in the end they add to the issue and leave us in worse shape than when we started, because they're more stuff.
My husband has 1/100th of the clutter problem I do, so it has yet to create the real tension that it could in our home - but I can feel that mounting. When we moved in together, I contained my clutter for a little while, but it crept out every now and then. Since we had our two children, and I am now responsible for three people's belongings, it has been put on full blast.
Closets have always been a hazard of mine - a place in which my stuff gets stuffed, with doors that conveniently hide all behind them. Today it is a mess of clothes too small, shoes too out of style, too many sweatshirts that I never wear and way too many pairs of slippers and robes for someone who never puts on either.
Desks and counters are constantly full of papers, mail, and every office supply you could imagine at the ready, some never even used but always available should the need arise. Magazines, books, bills, statements, folders, notebooks and reminders get stacked in piles - one in the kitchen, a few in our bedroom and one in the living room - disasters to anyone looking, but a system that I (mostly) understand.
A common theme in my clutter story is out of sight, out of mind. These days, with Mommy Brain permanently in place, I have even purchased items, put them away, and then re-purchased them. If I can't see it, it truly flees my mind. Many of the items around my home that contribute to my clutter are mementos of friends I've made, trips I've taken, special occasions from my past - things of which I want to be reminded frequently.
I aspire to be neat - I really and truly do. And I gain immense personal satisfaction when I do purge and keep something organized for a week or two (at best). But then, my busy life intercedes. I take out four outfits until I find the one I want to wear, and fling the other three onto the floor of the closet or back of the chair in our bedroom before running out. I find the makeup I bought on sale yesterday in the morning as we run out the door to school, so leave it in the CVS bag on my small vanity instead of finding someplace to put it (which would inevitably mean I'd forget I had even bought it, remember?). I stack clothes to donate, return and put into long-term storage behind our bedroom door, and it becomes a task too big to tackle during whatever little "free time" I find myself having.
Our closets burst open, filled with presents purchased for friends and never delivered, clothes too small for Rebecca but too big for Lila still, and a million items purchased for far-flung "what if?" scenarios. Should we ever be trapped in our apartment for days on end, we could live off of the amount of rainy-day activities I have accumulated throughout the years.
I recently swore on Facebook - so you know it was with the most real of intentions - that I'd KonMari our apartment. It hasn't happened as of yet, but I fantasize about it often. I think the tremendous effort it would take is terrifying and paralyzing me.
Instead, I try to tackle small portions of our clutter daily - I've recently made furniture switches to our home to help, and before Lila was born we installed built-in cabinets to give us more storage options. Many of the toys we owned went into the newly-built shelves, fitting in perfectly and bringing me much satisfaction.
One day, as Rebecca welcomed a new friend over, I overheard her saying, "you can come into my room!  I don't have very many toys, but we can play with my dollhouse " (This is the one toy still out on display) This is the opposite of the truth, I assure you. Astonished, I reminded her that her toys were in the cabinets now, and opened the doors - reuniting her with her long lost belongings and activities. She had 100% ignored them since we closed them in. So it seems I have passed on my "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. Here's hoping the clutter gene ends with me.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Keeping it Real: Life.

Yes, it's been six weeks since I've written here. I've started and stopped a few posts that felt forced, because I thought that I "should" be posting. Which is when I realized - this is MY blog! I can post as much, or as little, as I want! So rather than be half-assed, which is what an "I should be posting" post feels like, I opted not to.

My life these days is a whirlwind - of tasks, errands, jobs and volunteering. It is a different schedule every day, a plan for each week that gets thrown off by sick children, last minute needs or offers for work and... life. It has been SO hard to get used to this, after having been at the same job for more than 12 years, but I'm finally getting the hang of it, I think, a year in. 

Because at first I thought it was just a crazy day or two. Then a crazy week. Then a crazy month. But the truth is that it's not crazy at all - it's my new normal. 

The trick? Embrace the crazy. Embrace the unpredictability. Embrace the mid-day pop-into-the-apartment-to-grab-something-you-forgot-and-get-to-hug-your-baby-snuggles. (Then embrace your nanny who takes and comforts that confused child who doesn't understand why you only hugged her for a second then ran back out). Embrace the chance to be with your older daughter's class at the school book fair. Embrace the ability to give time to causes that mean so much to you - like helping new moms. Like the public education system in your town. Like Postpartum Progress. Embrace the laughter-filled evenings as Lila learns to talk and Rebecca gets out her end-of-day energy. Embrace the nighttime wakings and chances to lay in the darkness with a baby who would rather sleep on you than in her crib.

What I have realized fuels me best is a healthy mix of passion and pressure. One or the other is fine and gets me going, but put the two together and I can not be stopped.

Luckily, recently there's been no shortage of either. I've been helping new moms. I've been forging relationships with people who can help me do more. I've been cultivating my passion for writing and messaging, informed, powered and made possible by those years in that office. I've been undergoing various trainings that will prepare me to be a better peer advocate in the future. I've been going non-stop on all cylinders.

At my last therapy session, I told my therapist what I had been up to. It took ten minutes, and I am sure I left out an item or two. After each thing, I said, "I mean, I don't know why. I'm just doing it. We'll see where it goes." And she told me to stop doing that - stop saying I don't know what I'm doing or why - because I do. I am writing and helping clients. I am helping new moms who are suffering. I am forging relationships that will help me do more of both, and then some.

I am fueled right now by the perfect mix of passion and pressure - and we will, indeed, see where it goes. I can't wait.

Monday, October 5, 2015

TestiMOMial: Our glider!

This is the first in another new series here at Real Life, Real Laughter - the TestiMOMial: my homages to the things that have helped me navigate this parenting journey the most.

Today's testiMOMial is for a clunky, massive, brown, fuzzy part of my life for the past five years - our glider. This piece of furniture is akin to a rocking chair, but provides a more smooth back-and-forth movement experience. Commonly only found in nurseries, gliders are where you spend 95-98% of your time the first month home from the hospital. It's where you feed the baby. It's where you burp the baby. It's where you soothe the baby. It's where you catch some shut-eye when the baby falls asleep in your arms and you're terrified to put them down in their crib or bassinet or Fisher Price Rock and Play. It is where you might take the requisite "1 Month Old!" "2 Months Old!" etc. pictures.

Once the baby is a bit older, you will likely still feed them bottles from the glider, and begin to do some of your nighttime routine from its trusty seat, like reading books or singing a lullaby. Without realizing it, this large piece of furniture will worm its way into your heart and stay there, a memento of the days (and long, long nights) that have passed. It will serve as a reminder of how much your child has grown, as she suddenly fits differently in your lap versus your arms, and eventually in the seat by herself.

And it will remind you of nights along the way when your child wakes up from a nightmare or sickness, when you burst into their room to respond to their tears, scoop them up and rock them back to peaceful sleep. And then you stay there just a few minutes longer, because - well - they're so incredible to hold when they're asleep.

And it is where, perhaps like me, you will spend a large part of your next pregnancy, when nowhere else in your home is comfortable. And your now three-year-old daughter will worm her way in there next to you, barely fitting herself in the small space your large body leaves.

And it is where you will go through all the same motions with your second daughter - the feeding, rocking, burping and endless hours spent in its brown corduroy seat, feet up on the ottoman that glides with it, as you ease into life as a mother of two. You will let your older daughter snuggle into its seat with you and the baby, and it will become a fixture in your living room.

Wait, what? Yes. My living room. We live in a 2 BR apartment - there was no room for it in their bedroom once we put a twin-sized bed and crib in there! Not to mention, the baby didn't even sleep in that room until she was five months old. So yes, the glider took up residence in our living room. It actually took up most of our living room.

So just before Lila turned 1, we got rid of the glider.We no longer needed to feed her in it, and given her propensity for climbing onto, into and off of things, it seemed more like a hazard than necessary. Ah, space, glorious, space was ours!! It was amazing to see our hardwood floor again.

Then? The plague hit our home. In the past month, Lila has been sick non. stop. This poor baby has been waking up multiple times a night, and given that now she does share a room with her older sister, Evan and I have been in there multiple times a night to pick her up and soothe her as quickly as possible.

WHAT I WOULDN'T GIVE FOR MY GLIDER BACK! At least in its embrace I could rest while she did - now I find myself swaying while holding her by her crib - not restful at ALL. Or letting her fall asleep on my chest on the couch. Not comfortable for either of us, honestly. Or bringing her into my bed, which we NEVER did with Rebecca - because we had the glider. Sigh.

So get a glider, love your glider and don't ditch it too soon - it is really an amazing piece of equipment!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Keeping it Real: Sharing a Bed.

In my last post, I hinted at hating sharing a bed with my husband. I was sort of kidding - but not really. And he would agree. We both relish nights spent apart, regaling each other with stories of sleeping diagonally, not being jarred awake and blissfully dozing through the night in full. We are not one of those couples who wake up intertwined, eyes slowly fluttering open as they cutely yawn and stretch their arms overhead together.
During the day, Evan and I are a pretty cute, occasionally romantic couple. We eat dinner together every night it is possible, kiss whenever we're leaving in the morning or first get home in the evening, frequently text, chat online or Facetime when we're apart, and get in bed around the same time most nights.Initially we lay an arm or throw a leg over the other as we read, crush candy or watch television for a little while, until one rolls over and signals that they are falling asleep. The other follows suit and stops whatever evening activity they have undertaken to spoon or snuggle in for a little while, until - usually simultaneously - we roll away from each other for the night. <Cue record scratch.>
I just can't sleep if part of my body is touching someone else for multiple reasons. It's too hot. It's too much pressure - if he falls asleep and I want to change positions, I'll wake him, which I don't want to do! It's too much literal pressure - whatever body part is draped over me, be it a leg, arm or his head, steadily feels heavier and heavier until I swear it's going to crush me. And... well... Evan's chest hair is tickly, and I'm sure my head of curls is no picnic for him to deal with at night.
Bed linens are another reason we hate sleeping in the same bed. When we first moved in together, I noted that come morning, the fitted sheet on his side of the bed was frequently pulled off the corner of the mattress and his pillowcase off his pillow. I have no idea when or how this happens, as I seem to sleep through it, but there were multiple mornings where I stood flabbergasted at what had occurred in our full-sized bed overnight. I bought fitted sheet clips and essentially trained Evan to keep it on, and have learned to just shake my head and sigh at whatever it is he does with the pillows. (This doesn't even account for the fact that he mushes the nice, fluffy pillows into dense, round, crumpled balls that he either sleeps on or just hugs...)
But his new habit is one that is causing friction between us these days. I think he is too warm when he gets into bed (we will get into temperature in a minute), and throws off the sheet and blanket, pushing them into a huge pile in between us. I then snuggle into them and roll over multiple times throughout the night, which in the morning gives the illusion that I have stolen all the blankets, the narrative that he chooses to believe. I maintain that it wouldn't happen if he didn't shirk the covers in the first place. We seem to have disagreed to agree on this one and it gets brought up frequently with varying levels of annoyance and sarcasm on both of our parts. Definitely a sticking point.
Of course, there is the topic of changing positions throughout the night, or even getting comfortable in the first place. I nicely roll over or adjust my position carefully, trying to contort my body without affecting him or interrupting his rest. But my husband - well, we have dubbed what he does "flopping like a flounder." He literally flips himself over like a fish who has been caught and is trying to free himself, shaking the entire bed, headboard and lifting all of the covers in the meantime. It is jarring and annoying and just the worst - but since we gave it a funny name I can just laugh it off. Usually.
Last but not least, there is temperature. I like to be warm, but not too warm when sleeping. My husband likes to be cold. On this topic, we have learned to compromise. Thus, while he turns the AC on or the heat off, I sleep in hooded sweatshirts. It works - I stay cozy while he is cold, and we both sleep as much like rocks as is possible when you hate sharing your bed. 
I didn't even need to consult him to write this. Sure, if he were writing this, he would harp on and on about the fact that I snore, which I don't think is true. I have asked him to record me, but he has yet to do so, because every time he tries he is laughing too hard. Which I guess is how we get through our nights together - laughing at each other's ridiculous habits, me on one side of the bed all layered up for another cold night and him blissfully hugging a pillow and flopping like a flounder. Like I said - we are so romantic...

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Plague of September '15

In the past two weeks, Lila has had:
- coxsackie (aka hand foot and mouth, which is a better name but not by much and is also not the same as hoof and mouth)
- four new teeth break through
- pinkeye
- an ear infection
- a cold / cough

This girl has been put through the ringer. And I'm not going to lie, so have we as parents! It is so difficult to see your little ones in pain or discomfort of any kind, and to deal with their clinginess/ fussiness / unhappiness / lack of appetite. I know now that is all compounded when it also affects what you can / can't do with an older child, and you risk them getting sick too. We did our best to keep the girls apart as much as possible throughout this time, and Rebecca has been a rockstar about it, but you can't tell a one-year-old not to go near her sister with whom she is obsessed, and - oh right - they share a room.

Here is how we have survived this time of plague in our 2-bedroom apartment:

- As always, my husband and I have become expert divide and conquerors. We have switched off bedtime duties, medicine-giving duties, tackling the social agenda of our older daughter while ensuring Lila stayed appropriately quarantined, middle-of-the-night wake-ups, and then some. I couldn't do it without him.

- Go to the doctor! With Rebecca, I never wanted to bother our pediatrician. I know some people go in the opposite direction and are there for every bump, bruise or sniffle, but I always felt like my reasons to go weren't worthy of a  visit, until it was too late and we had That Awful Night where she was up screaming at 4 AM and we didn't know what was wrong or what to do. This time I was able to tell quite quickly that Lila was suffering. She was at the doctor early with her pinkeye, which made us aware that she was on the verge of an ear infection too and let us be ahead of it for the first time ever! We avoided That Awful Night and just had a few pretty bad ones instead, which I will call a win (albeit only by a small margin). You know your kid - if something feels wrong, there is no harm in having it checked out. Yes, it took me 4 1/2 years to figure that out for myself.

- Whatever it Takes - At night when the girls are sick, all rules go out the window. We take them out of the crib. We cuddle more. We spend nights on the couch together or even in our bed (we are def not a cosleeping family - I can barely handle sharing a bed with my husband!). We do whatever is necessary to get through the night as comfortably for everyone as possible. For Rebecca in the passt, this has included middle of the night popsicles to soothe an angry throat, The Goodnight Show special on Sprout On Demand to lull her to sleep, and even the iPad in bed. Whatever. It. Takes.

- Use the space you have - The shared room has not been a problem at all yet. Rebecca has been a pretty great sleeper and, like everyone says, slept through Lila's various nighttime antics. Lila, though, has only gotten bigger, smarter and more aware since moving into the bedroom from her - ahem - palatial surroundings of the living room. The glider stayed in the living room for the past year, and has been where she got all her bottles, and where we would bring her if for any reason she woke up before an appropriate time (as deemed by us, not her). As luck would have it, we got rid of our glider three weeks ago, just days before the plague began. This has left us without a comfortable command center from which to navigate this time (but with a TON MORE ROOM - damn those gliders are big!!). As such, we've learned the optimal way to lay on the couch so that our feet are supported, chest is elevated leaving Lila at a bit of an angle. and she isn't staring out the window at the lights that keep her awake. We make our space work - and the next day I search real estate listing for hours. Just kidding. Kind of.

- Wine.

- Ice has been a lifesaver for us. Lila thinks it's fun to play with and suck on, and it clearly has made her more comfortable throughout the coxsackie and teething portions of this time. It also helped hydrate her, however little, which brought me some comfort. Ditto to Pedialyte freezer pops - Rebecca begs to eat those, and we have to literally tell her to be happy she's not sick and doesn't need them. Other lifesavers include: Tylenol. Motrin. NoseFrida. Boogie Wipes. Bulb syringe. Bathtime (always a winner, even when sick). Pacifiers. Lovies.

I know, none of this seems like rocket science - but it has been our reality recently, so I'm sharing here. The good, the bad and the ugly, right? And I promise, it has been pretty ugly. Here's hoping the worst is behind us - though I bet a pretty long Winter is ahead. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lila's birthday... and birth

Lila turned one on Saturday.

 It was the perfect birthday, other than her still being a bit out of sorts from having been sick all week. But she looked adorable, had a blast and we got to see just about our entire family. And she got to try cake. 


We had everyone for lunch at an awesome local pizza place, and then the local synagogue where we had her baby naming. This was made extra special by the fact that my father-in-law's grandfather (so... Lila's great-great-grandfather) was a founding member of said synagogue, and we recently found his name on pews and a plaque there.

All together, it was a fabulous day. She barely got any new toys (HOORAY! A) We have no room for them and B) She won't play with them because they're not something of mine or Rebecca's), but got some incredibly special gifts to treasure when she is older.

So I got around to thinking about the night she was born. Errr, rather the nightS over which she was born. We got to the hospital for a planned, but still done on a somewhat emergency basis thanks to my cholestasis suddenly getting worse, induction on Wednesday night, September 10. Our nanny Dina and my in-laws were set to stay with Rebecca. We arrived at 8, per instructions, and waited three and a half hours for a room to open up. Our doctor was a spitfire and promised that we'd get a bed, but couldn't promise where in the hospital it would be. Yikes! But okay I guess?! We ended up getting a great room right in Labor and Delivery, thank goodness.

We settled in, I got Cervidil put in and made peace with having a September 11 baby. At that point I was just ready for her to be born - I was uncomfortable, exhausted, and honestly? Delivering Rebecca was the easiest part of last time! I wasn't at all nervous for the birth.

It was three weeks prior to my due date, so we were really kickstarting things from scratch. They gave me an epidural insanely early, as I was really nervous about that part of the birth, given my spinal headache with Rebecca. All went smoothly after I talked to the anesthesiologist for a long time about my prior experience. And then, I just laid there. All through September 11, cranking up the Pitocin, re-upping my epidural, watching 9/11 ceremonies and crying, a Kardashians marathon and laughing, letting the doctor break my water, talking to my family, Evan watching The West Wing on Netflix - it was like a party in that room as I waited to feel ready to push.

At 11:30 PM things started to change. Suddenly I didn't want to talk anymore. The contractions were more intense, and the pressure I could feel was mounting. At 11:45 I asked for the doctor to come in. At midnight she did, and said I was fully dilated. Go time! It was at that instant that I realized I hadn't re-upped my epidural in the past whirlwind half hour. I could... ummm... feel things. NOOOOOO NO NO NO NO, this was not how it was supposed to go! Everyone told me how easy second deliveries are, and how it'd be no big deal. I told me that!  This was not that.

I begged for another epidural, for someone to come and give me more medicine - everyone was telling me it'd just be easier and quicker for me to push, and I steadfastly refused (and I wonder where Rebecca gets that stubborn side...). I actually told them to put water in there and tell me it was medicine. They injected something into the line, and said, "Okay, now push." Point proven. I did. It hurt. I felt it all. I was screaming things that are not able to be written here. I kept apologizing too for my vulgarity. It was quite a scene. 

I had pushed a few times and knew we were almost there, at which point the doctor on call says, "Oh! I forgot my booties." And LEAVES THE ROOM. I was dumbfounded, screaming and cursing in pain. My husband - who watched Rebecca be born and still says it was the coolest thing he's ever seen - was turned away from the... situation. The nurse who was filling in for the doctor who was GETTING HER BOOTIES kept telling him to look, and he later told me that he couldn't, because he was laughing too hard at the things coming out of my mouth, and he knew if I saw I'd rip him apart. He was 100% right.

At this point, it was time for me to push again, after which the nurse digs her feet into the ground and proceeds to put her hands up in front of her and hold them there, and push with all of her strength. She is HOLDING MY BABY IN ME. I swear. I'm sorry that is graphic - but so is having a baby. And it hurts. And I can feel it. And I yell, "Where the $&@% is she?! SHE DOESN'T NEED HER $%&#ING BOOTIES!" at which point my doctor comes back in, THANK GOODNESS WITH HER BOOTIES. I push another time and little Lila Jane was born, at 12:35 AM on September 12.



My mother maintains that I didn't really want a September 11th baby, and my mother-in-law says that Lila didn't want a September 11th birthday. Either way, we had an amazing September 12, 2014, and a fabulous time celebrating that on the 12th in 2015.

And I hate the word booties.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Celebrating our first date and our wedding - ten and seven years ago today!

So as we now know, I met Evan at the end of August, right before leaving for my annual family trip to Georgia. Once I got back he called, and we set up a date for the following Tuesday evening - September 13, 2005.


I was SO excited and a little bit nervous as I walked over to Rare View where we had planned to meet. A friend had recommended it to him, and it was one of my favorite spots. I arrived late (of course) and rushed around the corner to see him on his phone - I talked smack right from the beginning, joking about how he had lost points by being on his phone when I arrived, and he gave it right back to me, saying how if I hadn't been late he wouldn't have been. We were playful, smiling and giving each other shit right from the very beginning. I liked him instantly.

We went up to the roof, in the shadow of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, and talked. for. hours. At least three or four, while I drank blood orange cosmos and he had gin and tonics - again, at least three or four. We laughed and the conversation flowed easily, and while I don't remember a single thing we talked about, I know that it was hands down the best date I'd ever had.

Apparently it was Evan's too  - he called his friend Steve - who would eventually be the best man at our wedding - from the bathroom to tell him A) how drunk he was and B) how well it was going. Steve told him not to mess it up.

We shut down the bar - they eventually kicked us out, at which point we had to stand up. Oooooh boy. We were both pretty tipsy, and walked to the elevator singing "Closing Time" together on the way down from the rooftop venue. We held hands and walked back towards my apartment, realizing that we never ate dinner, hence the drinks hitting us so hard. We wandered past my local watering hole, The Overlook, but their kitchen had closed. And we definitely didn't need more to drink.

We got to my apartment and I invited Evan up to get something to eat - we were starving!! We got into my kitchen, I opened the fridge and said, "Ummm, we have apples..." and looked at him, and he said, "I don't care about the apples" and kissed me. Our first kiss, on our first date, ten years ago today.

We never looked back. The best part of how this all happened was that we never played any games. It was obvious that we liked each other immediately so that was that.We were both on Instant Messenger constantly, him in his third year at law school and me while at work, and we started IMing later that day. That afternoon I told him about a Katrina relief concert at MSGthe following week that I had tickets for and invited him to be my date. He said yes, and shortly thereafter  I told him that I didn't want to wait until Tuesday to see him - see, no games! - so we went out that Friday, to the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy, where we drank two bottles of white wine, again got completely drunk together, and I fell 100%, head over heels in love with him.

We moved in together in Hoboken in August '07, got engaged in December of that year, and married on September 13, 2008 - three years to the day from our first date. 


The day was incredible, of course, but our anniversaries celebrating it have always been - well - not the most romantic. This time of year is difficult with the Jewish holidays, and we've had Kol Nidre anniversaries, Rosh Hashana ones like this year, botched dinner plans, gifts that bombed and everything else. But nothing can top our sixth anniversary. Last year found us celebrating at Weill Cornell Medical Center with our newest baby girl, Lila Jane.

What a whirlwind ten - and seven - years - I love you so much, Evan, and am thankful that no matter what has been thrown at us in the past decade, we have approached it with our trademark sarcasm, wit, laughter and love. You are the best best friend a girl could ask for, the most incredibly devoted husband and the sweetest father to our girls. Lerve you...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

One Year Ago...

A year ago right now, I had been in the hospital for about 28 hours, being induced with Lila. I had spent the day in a bed, watching a Kardashian marathon and 9/11 ceremonies, as my family surrounded me and we awaited the newest family member's arrival. At this exact moment, after a full 24 hours of medication to kickstart my body into labor three weeks early, I finally began to feel like I was getting somewhere. Just more than half an hour later, Lila was in our arms.

What a fast, amazing, exhausting, hilarious, emotional, heartwrenching, heartwarming - and did I mention fast? - year it has been!!

Lila Jane - AKA Lila Tov, Boo Boo, Lover, Lilali, Lilaboops, Meepers, Beepers and Boops (guess who gave you the last few nicknames there) - you spent your first few months in this world mostly silent. You observed. You slept. You ate. But man, you GRUNTED. It was horrifying. I thought something was seriously wrong with you, and thanks to my anxiety spent many sleepless moments trying to figure out what exactly it was. (Spoiler alert: it was nothing.) But yes, other than the grunting, you were a dream baby. "Rent-a-baby" was the nickname my friends gave you, as you were the epitome of what someone would special order if they could - adorable, quiet and a perfect angel! You slipped into our lives seamlessly, into your sister's world like you had always been there and instantly into our hearts.

Once you were a few months old, you began to make your presence known. You found your voice, and used it any chance you could, squawking to let us know where you were at any given moment. And - to this day, and since day one - you hate being alone. You have always sensed when people leave the room and whine and cry until they are back. You are a snugglebunny, and love resting your head on our shoulder when we carry you, or resting on our chests as we lay on the couch or in bed, and often crawl over to put your head in my lap. This - among many, if not every, other thing - is one of the big differences between you and your older sister.

You are the antithesis of Rebecca in just about every way. She was a loud baby who became totally relaxed - you're the opposite. She was a great sleeper - you haven't quite figured out the magic of soothing yourself yet (although since you share a room with her, this could be because we haven't sleep trained you as steadfastly as we did her). She never wanted to sleep anywhere except her crib - you'd gladly never go in there, it seems. She never cared about getting into cabinets, or climbing things, and you, my dear, are everywhere, We joking call you our puppy because you are just as precocious. We have found you:

  • eating shoes (and just about anything else you see or find)
  • with your hand in the toilet
  • in the dishwasher
  • in the cabinet under the sink in our hotel room
  • standing atop the ottoman
  • hanging onto the front of our TV stand while perched on the shelf of it
  • licking floors, furniture, windows, doors, knobs, my pocketbook and countless other items
The most common phrase in our house is, "Where are you Lila?" because we can hear you squawking but have no idea where you have gone - you are fast, sneaky and fearless. We better watch out.

You love Elmo, cheese, Cheerios, your pacifier, and lovies. You love music, especially the ABCs, dancing, making towers and knocking them down, and pushing buttons.You imitate us more and more each day, and my favorite is when you make smooshyface, where you pucker up your lips really big and breathe in and out of your little tiny nose loudly a few times, and it's the cutest thing I've ever seen. 

You have taken a step here or there, but aren't walking on your own yet - but man are you fast with your plastic walker. And when you crawl. You crawled all over Sea Island last month - the beach, by the pool, in the pool, in our hotel room, in restaurants, on the airplane, at Newark Airport... you have no qualms about your poor little knees getting roughed up and always get wherever you need to go. Which is usually wherever Rebecca is.

You love your sister more than anything. You can be completely engrossed in an activity, but if you hear her voice your head immediately swings to find her and you're off. You try to do everything she does, laugh at everything she does and take every opportunity to play with her. And she is INCREDIBLE with you. Better than I could have imagined, she loves being my "helper buddy" and taking care of you, playing with you, giving me updates on what you're doing when you're together, feeding you and taking baths together. 

Watching you two together gives me more peace, satisfaction and happiness than anything else in the world. I love my girls, and am so thankful that you have given me that by being you. By being part of us. Happy happy happy first birthday, Lila - and here's to many, MANY more fast, amazing, exhausting, hilarious, emotional, heartwrenching, heartwarming years to come...

(And, in the time that it took me to write this, you were born a year ago!!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What a Decade - The Night I Met The One

Ten years ago, in August 2005, I had been single for about a year and a half. I was on JDate, and being set up by a few people, but met no one special. I wasn't quite feeling pressured about it, but at 25 was certainly ready to settle down and meet my lobster.

My best friend Leslie's husband, Marc, was in law school, and she called me after going out with his friends one night to say she had someone to introduce me to. She'd met him before but only really hung out with him the night before, and knew he was perfect for me instantly. She had told him so as well. 

Now - she had already attempted to fix me up once with another of Marc's law school friends, so I told her not to give this guy my number so we could go on some awkward first date, and that instead I'd meet him out one night with all of their friends. I'd met many of them before, so at least it'd be a low-pressure situation.

A bit of time passed, and it hadn't happened yet - then she called one day to tell me that he had asked Marc about it, so I figured he at least was open to meeting someone, a good sign. We chose a Thursday night when the group would be out celebrating two birthdays at a bar in Hoboken. That was ten years ago last night. 

First, I went to Leslie and Marc's apartment, where she and I split a bottle of white wine. Yes, a whole bottle. It was a beautiful summer night and we drank out on her tiny patio, catching up. Then we went to dinner at a local BYOB Mexican restaurant where they take your bottle of wine and make sangria with it. So we drank - yes - that whole pitcher as well. 

I. Was. Wasted.

We walked into the bar, I got (yet another) drink, and we made our way down the tiny flight of stairs to where their group had gathered. She pointed Evan out to me, and I remember thinking that he looked like such a nice guy, and had the most gorgeous blue eyes. 

Somehow he and I ended up talking. It's all a bit blurry, and thankfully was for him too because he had been there for a while, so I wasn't on such a drastically different level of sobriety than him. I remember asking him where he lived - "Harrison." "Oh, New York? I grew up..." "No, New Jersey." "Oh. Well where did you grow up?" "Middletown." "Oh, New York!?" "No. I'M FROM NEW JERSEY." Ha - that is the first conversation either of us remember having with each other. It was like a Marx Brothers skit from minute one. 

At some point, I wanted to confirm that he knew I was the girl he was supposed to meet, so I think I said something super slick like, "I'm Lesley. We were supposed to meet..." And he stared at me smiling, nodding, and said he knew that. I barely remember anything else - just that he stood right by my side for the rest of the night. I can still remember what it felt like that night, standing next to him and looking up as we talked, though neither of us remember about what. It was instantly comfortable, playful and easy. He bought me another drink (like I needed that!) and told me not to move while he went to get it, and I didn't. Smoking cigarettes was still allowed in Hoboken bars, and at one point while (I think) trying to impress him, I danced and fell (again, suuuuuper slick), burning my hand on one of the butts. THAT I remember. Ouch.

Soon after, he walked me to the PATH train so I could get home to New York City. It was just a few blocks, and we randomly spoke French to each other, because we'd realized we both took it in high school. And I complained about my hand, and he told me he was impressed I wasn't complaining about my feet and shoes like most girls did. And I said that I only wasn't because my burnt hand hurt so damn much.

At the train, he took my number and didn't kiss me good-bye - a move I thought was to leave me wanting a kiss, but I have learned since he was just too shy to make. (All together now - awwwwwwwww...) I left the next day on my annual family vacation (the same trip we are on together right now) and told them all I had met a guy I really liked. He called right after I got back, and we went on our first date a week later. You'll hear about that on that anniversary. 

Happy ten years since we met, Evan...  I'll try not to complain about my shoes hurting tonight! Lerve you...

Friday, August 14, 2015

5QFriday: About to Be a Second-Time Mommy!

My former colleague Luna Newton has changed so much since I met her. She was on accounts of mine at CooperKatz, and a career managee of mine, and we quickly grew close. Since then she has gotten married, had a baby, left the firm and started her own freelance career and is now about to have her second baby. we have been in touch personally and professionally and I can't wait to see what's next for one of the sweetest girls there is!!

In honor of her Sunday due date with her second, here are her answers to questions I posed to her for 5QFriday...

1) What are you most excited for about having a second baby?

I am excited about having a second chance to enjoy the moments that went by so fast with my first. I was so anxious when my daughter was born that I almost wished the newborn phase would pass quickly so that I would know she was going to be okay. I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have and am grateful to have this chance again.


2) What are you most nervous about (if anything!)?

Well, I'm a lot less nervous going into this pregnancy than I was with my first. Throughout my first pregnancy and probably the first six months after my daughter's birth, I was nervous about EVERYTHING. From how my life and friendships would change after baby, to how my marriage would evolve, to how I would be as a mother. Despite my fears, somehow everything fell into place -- my true friends were still there, my marriage become even stronger, and I eventually turned into the best and most confident form of myself that I ever knew, and that was becoming a mom. 


 3) You have effectively been all three - a working mom, a stay-at-home mom and a mom working from home. Which works best for you? Why?

Being a work-at-home mom is the best choice for me right now, at this point in my life, because it offers me the flexibility of being at home with a husband who travels often and fulfills my desire to be physically close to my child, while keeping my professional engine running at the same time. But none of those options are easy for any woman (even if they make it look easy) and all of them take sacrifice. I've had to sacrifice the fun and intelligent day-to-day conversations I had with wonderful colleagues at my old job. I've also had to find ways to continue to grow and develop professionally without having the guidance of my former superiors. 

Being a work-at-home mom and having my own business also comes with a large degree of risk -- I never know if a client will drop me out of the blue, or where I will find my next project and source of income. But I guess that uncertainly is part of life, right? You work hard, put yourself out there, prepare for the worst and always hope for the best. 


4) You have also been a city mom and suburban mom - best differences? Worst? Biggest surprise about life in the 'burbs?

I loved my time living on the Upper West Side but when my daughter was born and we were three people in a one-bedroom apartment, living in the city became a burden. Sleep training (or the lack there of) was a big problem and although we relished our weekend brunches and endless strolls around town with the baby, something had to give. Even though I knew moving to the suburbs was an eventuality for our family, I was a big city girl my whole life and it took a lot to make this move. 

Living in the suburbs does have its advantages. Besides the obvious reasons -- good schools, safe neighborhoods, clean snowy sidewalks and fresh air -- my car has become my best friend and now I can't imagine life without it. It's seriously my safe haven and home away from home. Also the change of pace out here is slower, and when you have kids, I was surprised to realize that it's actually kind of nice -- not boring. Now that I've settled into a good routine and made friends, I realize that aside from marrying my husband, moving here was the best decision I ever made.


5) What is the best piece of parenting advice you've ever gotten?

Trust your instincts. It's not foolproof, but you will usually be right 98 percent of the time. The only exception to this is during the newborn phase when you are jacked up with hormones, sleep-deprived, still healing and emotional. Then I would say, surround yourself with those you fully trust to help you get through this vulnerable time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Case for Self-Fullness

At the Warrior Mom Conference, one of the most powerful sessions was learning what it means to thrive after having a PMAD (perinatal mood and anxiety disorder). Kate Kripke from the Postpartum Wellness Center in Boulder talked about what mothers who thrive do, listing things like:

  • She knows that feeling anxious is a normal part of motherhood. 
  • She is willing to be Good Enough (and she understands that mistakes are even important)
  • She accepts and maybe even prides herself on her vulnerabilities
  • She understands the need for community and she uses it well
Each of these is profound for a mother who has been through an emotional complication after having their baby. You don't understand that anxiety is normal, because you can't comprehend a manageable level of it. You feel the need to be perfect, as every mom around you appears to be. You find it difficult to be vulnerable, because a chink in your armor is an instant reminder of past problems. And asking for help from people in your chosen community (friends, family, neighbors) is one of the hardest - but most vital - things to do. Each of us works hard at busting through these blockages and a host of others to become the mom we know we can be - an ongoing battle within our post-PMAD selves.

But the part of her speech with which I most personally struggle is that a mother who thrives "understands the need for self-fullness and that this self-fullness is in service of her child(ren)."

"Self-care" is a huge part of motherhood - it is essential to make sure you are filling yourself up in order to have any of yourself to give to others, namely your children and partner. Once I was diagnosed with my PPD, my therapist and just about everyone else said I must take time for things that made me feel like myself. For me, self-care was going out with friends or having visitors, taking time for manicures / pedicures and doing anything mindless like watching television, shopping or even time to just click aimlessly around the internet or my phone. So in the midst of my PPD battle I made sure I did these things. They came easily to me, as I always felt better as soon as I was away from Rebecca - which pushed me even further down the rabbit hole and made me question being a mother even more. Why was it so easy for me to just wave to whoever was watching her, close the door behind me and be on my way? I felt selfish, not self-full.

See, some women's postpartum anxiety and/or depression cause them to become extremely attached to their babies - anyone else wouldn't take care of them as well,or be as vigilant as they are, so no one else could possibly care for their child. I understand how pushing them to do things for themselves is crucial.

My PPD symptom was the polar opposite of that. I felt a total lack of attachment, and thought that anyone else would do a better job taking care of her than I would. I could hand Rebecca off willingly to just about anyone - friends, baby nurses, family, and most often, Evan. So I did, for my prescribed self-care time. And every time I did I felt better momentarily, because the crushing pain of trying to take care of this baby was gone, and then suddenly worse, because WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WILLINGLY GIVES AWAY HER BABY WITHOUT A SECOND GLANCE?! WHY AM I HAPPIER WITHOUT HER? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

I would agonize over how easy it was for me to detach as I went through whatever activity I had chosen, likely defeating a large percentage of the purpose of the self-care - but still, I always arrived home calmer and more able to take care of Rebecca. More self-full in service of my child - though I beat myself up to get there each time.

This weekend, Evan and I went away, just the two of us, so that he could compete in a triathlon. It is also his birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVAN!!) so we made the weekend celebratory, taking an extra day away after his race to just let loose. And we did - we drank, we ate, we gambled, we relaxed by the pool and we laughed. We talked without being interrupted by a 4 y.o. or screaming infant. We held hands, we flirted and we remembered how much fun the other is - something that gets lost in our day to day lives of wiping little butts, noses, faces and hands.

And after just 48 hours away, we drove back to my in-laws' to get Rebecca and Lila and bring them home and I was suddenly aware that I felt completely self-full. And as such, I was full of love for my family.

I drove home from my in-laws' house with the girls while Evan drove the other car alone. Lila slept in her car seat and Rebecca and I talked - truly talked - the entire way. We had a nonstop conversation about the weekend she had with Grandma and Grumpa, our plans for the rest of the Summer, and an upcoming trip that we are taking at the end of next week. We talked about the school year to come, and friends and family, and we made each other laugh. It felt like I was chatting with a good friend and was so. much. fun. She is such a big girl - but still so small and adorably hilarious without intending to be - and she makes me swell with pride at least once a day with her memory, sense of humor and imagination.

Back all together again, I was patient, played with, bathed and fed my daughters with a warmth that I hadn't felt in a long time, and even Evan and I were more gentle with each other.

I got in bed that night in awe of my life. Of my relationship with this little girl with whom I initially wanted none. Of my baby, who is a dream. Of my husband, who makes me happier than anyone else in the world. I am so grateful for this past weekend, the self-reflection that the Warrior Mom Conference opened up in me and Kate Kripke. And I finally don't feel guilty about that ability to detach anymore - because taking time for my self-fullness is entirely in service of my children, my husband and myself.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Creating a Monster or Taming a Beast?

Just before Rebecca turned two, she began to exhibit the qualities of the dreaded Terrible Twos, nice and early - as was her way with most milestones. A sudden independent, demanding and more and more often as the next two years went by, downright mean nature overtook my sweet, calm, go-with-the-flow little girl. Usually directed at my husband and me, we often threw up our hands, exasperated and at our wit's end with this precocious daughter of ours.

I counted while I made her breakfast yesterday, and I asked her a total of 11 questions throughout the process. ELEVEN.

  1. What do you think you want for breakfast?
  2. Pancakes, great - chocolate chips or syrup?
  3. Chocolate chips, yum. Just put on the pancakes, or spread after they melt?
  4. Whole pancakes or cut into bites?
  5. What color plate?
  6. Would you like water or orange juice?
  7. Which kind of cup - big girl or sippy?
  8. Big girl cup - awesome! With a straw or without?
  9. The straw is sometimes tall - do you want me to cut it a bit?
  10. What color straw?
  11. Which table would you like to eat at - your little table or the big one?
I realize this seems extreme. I have realized this for quite some time. And yes, we use the mantra, "you get what you get and you don't get upset" very often - sometimes even successfully - but it doesn't always work. And Rebecca has become quite picky in her four-and-a-half years, and likes things just so. Or else...

Now, I don't think I have to ask every single one of these questions - if I just gave her pancakes on a yellow plate and OJ with a red straw in a blue cup she may eat them just the same. 

BUT - if she wanted syrup and not chocolate chips? Or wanted them whole and I had ripped them into bites (I mean cut them - who would just rip apart mini pancakes instead of using a utensil? Certainly not me...)? Or wanted the chips just placed on and oozy vs. my smearing them after they melted? Meltdown city. She'd refuse to eat them, and I promise you that girl's will is stronger than anyone I've ever met (except maybe her father). This is the girl who wouldn't potty train until she was just over 3 1/2, and prior to that would sit on the plastic bowl for twenty minutes, not let out a drop, then stand and pee next to it when we let her get up. Seriously, she's got some willpower.

So to head these tantrums off at the pass, especially once her sister was born, I got used to asking Rebecca the questions I needed answers to in order to get things done smoothly. I'd rather ask and do it her way than need to remake her breakfast or have her not eat anything. Because the only thing worse than a vindictive Rebecca, is a HANGRY one. For real.

So what I wondered yesterday is - is it better to ask these questions, ensure a smooth road and tame the beast that she can become, or am I in fact creating a monster?! I fear I know the answer here... but I have seen what comes when I assume the answers, so for now will not attempt to do so. 

Oh, and lest you think this is just about breakfast, I assure you it is not. In each scenario below, making the choice for her has resulted in a tantrum that it is just not worth it to have, in my opinion, when she will quite happily answer...
  • Which stuffed animal friend is coming to preschool with you today?
  • Which toothbrush do you want to use? Which toothpaste? 
  • What do you want to wear today? Which Frozen one - the Olaf tank? The Anna and Elsa tee? The longsleeve one? The Elsa dress? The Anna dress? The Elsa and Anna and Olaf and Kristoff tutu dress? Siiiiiiiiigh....
  • What movie should we watch?
  • What pajamas do you want to wear?
  • Which underpants are you going to wear?
  • Do you want to drive, scoot or walk to school?
  • Where should we go to dinner tonight? (On this one, Evan and I often override her decision. Don't come between us and our food, Bex...)
The past couple of weeks, though, I have noticed we are starting to potentially turn a corner (I won't say more - and wait for my next post, on jinxing things, to find out why). Recently she has been more easygoing, letting down her Terrible Twos / Terrifying Threes / F&%$ing Fours armor and even being... nice!!! It's so wonderful to see this girl again, and I think I can see a light at the end of this tunnel - one not filled with questions and tantrums, but amazing fun times with my big girl, and her little sister who - dammit - turns two in a little over a year.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Second Child...

Lila is on the move - she crawls faster than I walk sometimes, cruises around our sofa and coffee table, has started climbing onto stools and other low-lying surfaces such as the dishwasher, and walks quite well while holding onto our hands. We broke out Rebecca's old plastic walker, and yesterday she began to slowly master that too.

I am ready for her to walk - I really hate the crawling stage, when they are licking the floors (or is that just our child?) and picking up every piece of dust / hair / old Cheerio / other assorted crap that is apparently all over our floor they find because that's eye level for them. Also, crawling in public places is even worse than at our apartment - at least there I know whose Cheerios and hair it is.

We have an annual family trip in a month, and I definitely want Lila to be walking before that. Rebecca was only seven months the first year we brought her there, so not moving yet - that was perfect - and then the next year she toddled around at 1 1/2 years old. Having Lila crawl all around the pool is just not as appealing as her walking, so we're doing a bit of walking boot camp to make sure she's ready by then.

But - am I really ready for her to be WALKING!? That makes her officially a toddler, and hardly a baby anymore - which as we know, I'm okay with - but it also means... she will be even more of a terror than she already is!! I'm telling you - this girl is sweet as pie, but into EVERYTHING - cabinets, climbing shelves, eating shoes, licking the dishwasher, turning on the DVD player and eating the disc that comes out, sitting in the fridge, pushing items off the ledge of and into the bathtub, and the toilet - well let's just say, we now keep the bathroom doors and commode lids closed.

Rebecca never did any of this, I swear. That girl understood when we said no, and never tried whatever antic it was again. I never got why people needed the plastic guards for the front of their cable boxes and DVD players... until we had Lila. She has singlehandedly proven the worth of every childproofing (or as Evan calls it, "Evan-proofing") invention out there.

I've talked to so many people about this - the second child being crazier than the first - and SO many say that this happened to them too. I've come up with three reasons why:

1) Duh - they want to be like their older sibling. When Rebecca makes noise - ANY noise - it is like a bat signal to Lila. Her head whips around to find her sister, and she immediately must go to wherever she is. Which Rebecca loves, causing her to make even more noise than she used to (if that is possible), starting the never-ending cycle all over again. Don't get me wrong - nothing makes me happier than the two of them playing together and watching the amazing bond they are already forming, and I always stop whatever it was I was trying to get done to let them have their time together.

2) There is such interesting stuff around the house now - when Rebecca was born,we had toys suitable for her or else boring grown-up stuff. Now, there are Lila toys, Rebecca toys, in-between toys, art supplies and grown-up stuff... which, incidentally, is apparently not boring at all to Lila. Seriously, hand that girl a remote, cordless phone, cell phone, tissue box, bowl, spoon, or anything else that is not a toy and she is all about it. But don't you dare make it a Fisher-Price version of any of those items - what do you think she is, a fool?!

3) I'm not able to sit with her 100% of the time. With just Rebecca, I was either with her or doing something for her - now, I have tasks to accomplish for both of them - food or bottles to prepare, clothes to wash or pick out or change them into, diapers to change or a tush to wipe, toys or dressup outfits to put back in their rightful place (ha! yeah right.)... It's a never-ending dance, and Lila doesn't seem to like it.

We bought a playpen for Lila, thinking that being inside of that with all of her toys would be great and allow me the freedom to accomplish all I have to without worrying that she was a foot off the ground somewhere, but she stands at the edge of it and screams bloody murder when you put her inside. So we use that quite sparingly to say the least. Instead, we either carry Lila around while we do things, let her crawl behind us whining as we do them, or throw the girl a remote control to get her to sit still while we take care of what needs to be done. Whatever it takes.
Caught amidst a gathering of her favorite thing - shoes.
I recently took my first long, solo car ride with the girls. Two-and-a-half hours down to Margate NJ with just one stop at a Target so Rebecca could go to the bathroom and Lila could eat a pouch. By the last half hour, Lila was D. O. N. E. with that car seat and would not settle down. I frantically searched the passenger seat for anything I could throw back to her to occupy her time, hands and mouth - and laid eyes on Rebecca's Croc. Yes, the one she had worn in the pool that day at camp. Much like a puppy, Lila has a penchant for shoes - licking, sucking on and taking bites of them. She can hone in on a pair from across the room and be next to them, with it in her mouth in a flash, it's actually impressive. So I am not proud of what happened next, but am proud that I had the instinct to wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe before tossing it to Lila - and wouldn't you know, not another peep for the rest of the ride. Hey, whatever it takes, right? Sigh...

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Changing Nature of Photographs

I love taking pictures and videos, and my iPhone is a permanent fixture in my hand because of that. I come by it naturally - growing up, my father was never without a camera in his hand and in our face.  Still camera images exist of all trips, milestones and occasions. The video camera was like an extra guest at all family events, and this was before it was the size of your palm. But he was onto something, because watching the videos that he made, and flipping though the albums of images of my sister's and my childhood is a favorite pastime of our family - and something our kids have grown to love doing as well. Seeing us when we were their age, or watching our wedding videos and seeing family members appear on TV makes them giggle non-stop.

If - knock on wood - anything ever happened to our family home, we knew that the first thing to retrieve was those albums - all the memories they contained are infinitely more priceless than any other object we owned. And I am at the point now of not knowing if the memories that I keep in my head are in fact my own or from examining those images and watching those videos year after year.

When leaving for camp, or one of my trips out West or to Israel, or even when I studied abroad in Spain my junior year in college, I spent tons of money purchasing film, developing rolls and reliving moments. You never knew what image you had captured, if all eyes were open, if someone had stolen your camera and taken an image without letting you know. Half of the fun of those trips was getting your pictures - doubles obviously so you could trade with friends - back from being developed, and we would sit often in the parking lot or store itself to flip through them immediately.

Since having Rebecca, and now Lila too, I take - at least - ten pictures a day. The most mundane moments have been deemed photo-worthy now that cameras are so easily accessible and I am certainly guilty of oversharing these on Facebook or Instagram. I send pictures to my parents and sister of the girls almost daily, and videos with increasing reckless abandon as well.

But...

I hardly have any photos printed or framed. We've never put any of the videos I capture on my iPhone on the television. And other than Rebecca's Welcome Book or the one from her first year of life (and I'll pat my own back for even getting those done), I don't have anything filled with the digital images I've taken for my girls to look through. I have a few hard copies printed every few months or so to give to family members, per pointed requests from them, but otherwise, they exist on my iPhone. Or - even less accessible - in "the cloud..."

We do look through my phone from time to time at old pics or videos and laugh, and when I take the time to bust out our Canon DSLR for special events I am better about uploading the images to the computer, but without the constraints of a 24-exposure roll of film (or the even better 36!), I am absolutely still guilty of overshooting. This then makes culling through and choosing favorites that much more of a chore, and one that gets pushed back and back until I have time (which - newsflash - is never).
video

I realized this weekend as I re-watched this amazing video of Rebecca and Lila on the beach in Margate that while photos and videos have become  a constant part of our every day, they are that much less special, which is bittersweet. So I'm going to make a point to go back to my family roots - to make the digital books so that we can reminisce together, even when my phone is out of juice or we can't access the cloud. And this time with the added benefit of them being stored there, in case anything does ever happen to them. Wish me luck... and the stamina I'll need to cull through the now 5,000 images on my phone...

Friday, July 17, 2015

5QFriday - Expectant Mommy Q&A!

My friend Brittny is one-of-a-kind. Truly. Hilarious - outgoing - thoughtful - hilarious - did I mention hilarious?! She cracks me up more than anyone else, and since she lives in DC, our in-person laughing sessions are few and far between. 
Brit and I bachelorette party-ing it up back in the day!
Thankfully, this weekend we are getting together! It's my annual Summer Girls' Weekend at our friend Leslie's family's house in Margate, NJ. One of my favorite traditions, everyone comes with their spouses, kids, and this year - the bun in Brit's oven!! That's right, a little baby Brit is on the way - watch out world... So in honor of her pregnancy and the soon-to-be newest member of our group's second generation, here are Brit's answers to my 5Qs...


1)      What part of having a baby are you most excited about?  
I cannot wait to see what amazing cocktail my husband and I have created… AND to have an actual cocktail (I dream of mojitos)! The notion that there is going to be a little being infused with both of our crazy personalities keeps me up at night with excitement, and (admittedly) a little fear for her toddler and teenage years. The thought of constant entertainment thrills me to no end. I can’t wait to feel that instantaneous love and all that will ensue as she grows.
A month after marriage, we fell into the typical cliché and adopted a 7 year old golden retriever from my mother-in-law. Never having grown up with a doggy, I had no idea what to expect. We’re obsessed. The unconditional love, the pull to leave work/a party/a baseball game ANYTHING because you just want to be with that little furry pup and the fact that she made us a “family” and not simply a couple has changed our lives. I cannot even begin to imagine that I’ll soon be feeling these same emotions (quite a bit stronger, I’m sure!) for a little piece of us that I’ve been carrying for the past 9 months. It’s going to be a special thing. 😊

2)     What makes you the most nervous to think about?
The fact that I may be a little naive as to how hard parenting actually is—ok, very naïve. Growing up I was pretty much a professional babysitter. I spent 75% of my teenage years bring grounded so I figured I might as well get paid for it and learn some “life skills” along the way. I would wrangle a family of 4 kids with ease—loading up the Suburban and carting them to hockey/tennis/out for fro yo like a mini Mama. I felt a true satisfaction after they were all snuggled in their beds at the end of a long day.  So just ONE is going to be nooooooo problem—right?! Wrong. I am confident that I will soon find out otherwise. I do not have that 16 year old energy, the carelessness of thinking that 2 packs of Gushers wont really hurt in the long run, a full-time job, a mortgage….shall I go on? I’m in for a rude awakening.

I’m also worried about juggling work with the baby— things like firming up the “routine” and hoping that returning to reality in January isn’t going to be hellacious. I’m super organized and very on top of things at work and oddly let personal matters (“bills? what bills?!”) go by the wayside on the home front. Fortunately, my husband is amazing and keeps me in check. I realize that I have to apply the same rigor and organization and planning to my family’s personal life that I do to my professional life. Translation: time to grow up. 

3)     What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while pregnant?  
I work in the only building in Washington, DC that employs full-time elevator operators. There is one in particular—a little spitfire—that I have grown especially fond of. We batner, and it was going well… until I got pregnant. She has become my daily “self-check”  mirror each time I board that elevator. I struggled initially with “dressing the bump”—really wanting to steer clear of Pea in the Pod’s finest empire waist dresses which tended to dwarf my petite (at the time) frame. So—I creatively thought I would try to squeeeeze my way into my pre-preg frocks… well, not so much. As the belly grew, my hemlines lifted and my once work appropriate dresses got a little… scandalous. It may or may not have looked like the bump and I were headed to “da club” and not "da office." One day I was wearing a particularly form-fitting dress and my personal mirror and devil on my shoulder (aka. Ms. Elevator Operator) bluntly advised me to “start wearing maternity dresses.” “This is one!” I giggled (blatantly lying through my teeth) while trying to simultaneously pull down my northbound hemline. She looked me up, down then dead in the eyes while shaking her head:  “No… no, it’s not.” Lesson learned.

4)     We all know people offer their unsolicited advice when you're knocked up - What has been the BEST advice you have gotten from a mom so far? 
So true. I also think that some people get a personal thrill and satisfaction in regaling you with their horror stories.  (“Oh, but that won’t happen to YOU….” ) I’m honestly pretty open to advice (from people that I trust and love) as I feel that prior to getting pregs, I really glazed over the baby talk until it actually applied to me. Ahem, earmuffs to my amazing friends who now think that I blocked out the past 5+ years of convos—that wasn’t the case, I swear... ;) Bring on the good tips….I need em’! I've been fortunate enough to have a parade of friends who are Mommy role models to me. 

International Supermom Leslie “How does she do it?” Meunier (another 5QFriday contributor) advised us to get out and about while we can (first 6 months) before baby gets on a strict schedule. Many others have told us that your life does not have to stop when baby comes. Take them out, travel with them… I’m game! We have a bevy of bars and restaurants literally around the corner from our house—city living!—I don’t want to be a prisoner in my home when baby arrives. Baby in a bar anyone?

5)     What advice do you have for other pregnant women?
It goes by quickly—as does everything. OK, I am lying a bit. The first trimester can seem to be a never-ending haze of napping and comfort food but then it starts to fly. Be good to yourself—sleep when you want to sleep, eat when you want to eat and practice lots of “self-care.” That little lovie is relying on you to be good to your body.  If this is your first, enjoy the precious time with your mate/husband. Despite your hormones, remember that you’re a team. He's part of what got you into this predicament in the first place! If you’re sweet to him (“paws, not claws,” mine is constantly reminding me) he will be sweet right on back to you. You’re in this together although many times it may feel like the burden is yours alone. It is not. I found that when I am active (walking, spinning, pilates...whatever your poison) I feel better. When attempting to shave your legs without toppling over is the first of many hurdles you’re going to encounter all day, try your hardest to remember—being pregnant and growing this special little life is an absolute gift. It’s the ultimate gift that will keep on giving and I’m looking forward to meeting mine at the end of August.  (Lesley's Note - I've always been eager to meet every single child my friends have had - but this one? For some reason, I can. Not WAIT. To see what Brit and DJ have created :) LOVE YOU GIRLLLLLLLL!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#WarriorMomCon

The first time I went to sleepaway camp, I remember coming home and feeling... different. More mature, I guess, having had experiences away from home and the only friends I'd ever known. 

The summer I went away to Israel, when I was 17, I remember coming home and feeling changed. More connected to my Judaism, to the new friends that I'd made and the country I'd fallen in love with. I had such profound experiences there that truly made an impact on me and I remember to this day. (Sadly, my mother made me remove my more visible reminder of that trip - the upper ear cartilage piercing I got against her wishes - within one day of being home, when we were meeting my grandfather for lunch. Teenage angst sigh...)

This weekend was yet another trip that has newly defined me. I can't stop thinking about it - rolling around the facts we learned inside my head, recalling stories I was told and that I shared with others, replaying the funniest and most poignant moments of the weekend over and over. I have been almost in a daze since returning home to my darkened apartment late Sunday evening. I feel like I'm somewhat straddling two worlds, as part of me has stayed either in Boston or in the dark days of my postpartum past, reeling from discoveries that the weekend led me to make. 
The night we all met - pre-conference cocktail party!
Tatted up!
What were those discoveries?
- That I'm not 100%  healed as I thought and willed myself to be. If that is all it took, I'd be set. But after only four years, and since having a baby just ten months ago, I'm still more in postpartum depression and anxiety's grips than I realized. Through guilt (I mean REGRET. Regret. I regret missing the first few months of Rebecca's life, and worrying through the first couple months of Lila's. I regret not remembering Rebecca reaching the milestones that Lila is now hitting. I regret the burden I have put on my husband. I regret that I still have days when my mind is fuzzy and patience short.) Through bouts of anxiety. Through rage issues that flare up when the anxiety does. Through the medication that I take daily to help me get to the point where I currently am.

- That self-care is SO important. Yes, I came back from this weekend away a bit rocked and more than a bit exhausted - but I crept into my daughters' room when I got home, studied them sleeping and took a photo of each, so I'd remember how I felt. Filled with gratitude for them, and the overwhelming desire to wake them up (I didn't - what do you think I am insane!?).


Monday morning when Lila awoke and I got her from her crib, she wouldn't leave my side. When I had to wake Rebecca for camp, she did a double take, jumped up and into my arms with the hugest smile. Taking time for me, gives me more room for them.

- That support - true, unconditional support - is invaluable. The women I met held each mom there in the highest regard. We heard about each other's lowest lows, and shared pictures of our kids - our highest highs. We told stories of the darkest days and cried, and quotes from our littles that made the room erupt in laughter. We assured each other of things we know is true - that we are all great moms, and the exact right moms for our children. 

- That Warrior Moms are incredible; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6iQp-JdjkU&sns=fb 

- That a room full of moms needs really good AC.

- That education is SO important. Women need to know more about maternal mental health issues. Pregnant women need to see a list of risk factors to determine where they may fall. Pregnant women need to see a list of various symptoms that they may or may not find themselves dealing with, so that if they do, they know to get help. New mothers need to be given clear materials that stay top of mind during a time when so much information is being thrown at them. The partners of new mothers need to be given materials that will help them recognize an issue with the other - and fathers should know about their risk for postpartum depression too. As should adoptive mothers. There is SO MUCH that is unknown. So much that is misunderstood. So much information to get out there.

- That Postpartum Progress is made up of incredibly strong, powerful and courageous women. 

- That I will will be attending every Warrior Mom Conference in perpetuity. 

- That I have only just begun to use my experience and my voice for good.