Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I beat Meryl!



I was nominated, y'all!

And when I win (I'm channeling the whole The Secret manifest destiny for you. Oh wait. Or it's just destiny manifesting... #marriedtoahistoryteacher), I will thank my supporters for the virtual Liebster badge that I will forevemore use as a weapon against self-doubt.

But seriously. There's no winning (from what I gather). Amy from Anthologie was super sweet to consider me for a Liebster award. It comes at a crossroads, as just like Jodi Foster, I've been toying with retiring (from blogging).

And by toying, I mean wondering what happened to my mojo and peeling off the layers of envy I get while I read all the other fantabulous viral mommy blogs that started way after my emergence in 2007, and threatening to close up shop. But then I remember my mission statement. Wait, you haven't read it? I promise it is coming through copy review by the EOW.

I had never heard of a Liebster Award before. Although, I had never heard of Gangnam style until well after the singer PSY was accused of Anti-Americanism and David Gregory's version of the dance on the Today show stopped trending on Twitter. So...yeah...I'm not really up on the times.

Amy posted a great breakdown of the award:

What is a Liebster award? A Liebster award is given to blogs with less than 300 followers as a way of making them more well-known. The rules for the acceptance are:

1) Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you
2) Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back
3) Answer the 10 questions posed by the blogger who nominated you
4) Select 3 – 5 bloggers for the award
5) Pose 10 new questions to the new nominees
6) Post the award on your blog

Here are my questions from Amy:

1) Why did you start blogging?
Because I thought I was dying from pregnancy in 2007 and needed to talk about it. No, seriously.

2) What are your blogging goals?
My ultimate goal is to stay connected with family and friends who do not live close. Following a close second, is documenting these precious early years of my life as a mother. Finally, it's my way of trying to connect to other people. In my dream world, I'd quit my day job, become a professional photographer, and blog about it all day after spending my mornings with my kids, running, and eating copious amounts of avocado. Shoot for the stars, because even if you miss, you hit the moon on the ride back...err, it's something like that. (Y'all know I don't quote. I "paraphrase.")

3) What is your favorite article of clothing?
Yoga pants and unitards. (Okay, I just had to add the last one in the 11th hour before I know this is scheduled to post...Amy will understand.)

4) What is your favorite blog that you read?
Not fair; that's like Sophie's Choice! Honestly, I enjoy reading blogs of those with whom I have a personal relationship with (I think we call those "friends?"). You know, not the ones I stalk.

5) Facebook or Twitter?
Snail mail. (Okay, okay, Facebook).

6) What is something that currently challenges you?
Tying my shoes. Having patience. Feeling like I am doing a good job as a mom.

7) Paper calendar or electronic?
No question: paper

8) What is your favorite cosmetic?
BareMinerals pressed bronzer. It's amazing.

9) As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In kindergarten, I wanted to be a bus driver. My parents then gave me the salary scale and knew at a young age I couldn't drive stick or parallel park, so I started looking more toward actor or doctor. You know, saving lives or playing someone on TV who saves lives.

10) What is one of your goals for 2013?
Honestly, run a half marathon PR after I have this baby. Realistically? Run 13.1 miles without walking. Oh, and reducing envy.

***
And now I present to you my nominations! This was hard because pretty much all of the blogs I follow have 400+ followers. So these may, in fact, have far more than 300 readers, but I went by any official "members" posted on your sidebar, or just selected you because I like you and you *don't* have any "members" posted so I convinced myself you qualify.

1) Imagine Our Life Stephanie and I were "due date buddies" on a mothering.com message board back in 2009. Okay, let me tell you that this girl has got some sick (as in amazing, not norovirus) skills with felt. She makes the most amazing "quiet book" pages and scenes. If she ever comes out with a book to sell, I'm selling my first born to get the funds to buy one.

2) Our Casual Friday Kelley is actual a pretty new addition to my Google Reader, but seems to have had the same mission with her blogging roots: "I started this blog back when I was newly pregnant with my little baby guy, Brixton, in a sad attempt to connect to a cold, dark world. You see, I live in the Chicago area, but our family and friends are scattered all throughout this nation/planet, so starting a blog just made sense." I love her posts, her perspective, her style...and the fact that she is going to be all "who the heck are you, and what did you just nominate me for?" Surprise!

3) This Place is Now a Home I know...the chances of Kate's blog having less than 300 readers is laughable, but she doesn't have an obvious readership count on the site...so...tag! You're it! You may know Kate from Pinterest and her awesome Popcorn Costume...or her famous pregnancy test reveal. I know Kate through another Kate. And she just brings sunshine to my Google Reader. She is also a working mother, just trying to make sense of it all...with an amazingly cute kid and some pretty awesome posts. I do vow to meet her in person one day.

Here are my questions:
1) What is the hardest thing about blogging?
2) What's your biggest vice?
3) Sweet or savory?
4) What time to you get up in the morning (follow-up for bonus points: what do you eat for breakfast?)
5) What is a totally embarrassing story that you are willing to share?
6) Would you rather lose the ability to use your arms or your legs? (Anyone else play this game as a kid? Okay, that's not an extra question...)
7) What is your biggest fear?
8) Mac or PC?
9) What is your favorite part of your body?
10) What would you like your child(ren) to remember about you when they grow up?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

11 = 1/3

Before all of you mathletes get your quotients in a bunch...I do know that the equation above isn't mathematically sound. 
Unless your brain is wired like mine. 
In which case...condolensces.

I am 1/3 of the way through my 33 random acts of kindness with the completion of #11.

And there I was, a few days ago, concerned that 33 was such a "vanilla" number...it's divisible by 11! And Eric reminded me it was the age Jesus was when he died! (Um...thanks, hon.)

For the most part, I have tracked my progress exclusively via Instagram. Much like my DSLR, I know just enough about it to be dangerous. What I don' t know is how to take amazing pictures and then weave them into a grid. After some Google searching, I settled on a free app called "FrameMagic". It's junior varsity at best, but in my price range.

Trouble is, 33 doesn't fit into a grid very well. Nor does 11. So below I have the first 9 random acts along with #10 and #11 sitting on their own.

11 down, 22 more to go...

I included links to some of the sources of the random acts in case interested.
  1. Give a 100% tip. (Okay, it was at Starbucks on a $4 drink. *Update! I found out that my husband secretly gave 300% tip at IHOP when we went out for dinner recently, and had the most horrible service. He didn't even do it in honor of my mission, but said he did it because he needed to do something so he didn't blow up at the server. Show off...)
  2. Dropped off a new pair of running socks in the mailbox of a neighborhood gentleman we have seen run every single day by our house for 4 years.
  3. Taped change to my company's $0.25 pop machine.
  4. Cooked cinnamon pecans for someone we know who mentioned she liked pecans.
  5. Sent 2 free movie ticket vouchers to a couple who I know need a date night out!
  6. Taped 2 lottery tickets to the gas pump.
  7. Baked gluten free peanut butter cookies for a co-worker recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance and just announced she is pregnant.
  8. Gave a friend an awesome eco-friendly t-shirt from Etsy's OneLaneRoad depicting backyard chickens. (She really really really really wanted chickens and a coop for Christmas. Santa didn't get the memo, so I improvised for her.)
  9. Dropped off a donation to a local elementary school (my kids do not attend there, yet), for them to buy daffodils for their garden. 
  10. Went to Target.com, printed out all of the online coupons and taped them to the products at the store.
  11. Planted a bunch of $1 bills to Target dollar items. (Totally bring your kids for this one. They were "making it rain" with the dollah dollah bills throughout the aisles.) 



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

8th Deadly Sin: Pregpugnance

PREGPUGNANCE: I just cooked up that little word up for you this fine morning, gluten free folks. I can do that. I was an English major undergrad, and watch copious amounts of Top Chef.

It's my word for hating pregnancy. Capital sin #8.

Forgive me uteri of the world, for I have sinned. Man, and I'm only Catholic through osmosis...that guilt stuff has some strong brew.

It's taken me 3 pregnancies to admit my feelings this vocally. The moment I put the words out to the universe "I hate being pregnant" during a moment I was attempting to meditate, I immediately realized:
  1. I'm not good at meditating,
  2. If I were a millionaire, I would consider surrogacy, and
  3. I could be perceived as an awful person. 
My intent is not to come off as "Tome Cruisian" (ie, glib), ungrateful, or attempt one of those opportunities to make you feel obligated to stroke my ego and tell me how amazing I look and how well suited I am for this Herculean task. *Note, I am refusing to post any belly pictures for that said reason.

My intent is to be honest and admit that I do not enjoy being pregnant nearly as much as what I think society would like, or what I thought I would feel before 2007.

Important time out:

With that being said, I know there are far too many couples who are saddled with infertility and struggle daily with becoming and sustaining pregnancy. I know there are hundreds of thousands of women who could read this and opine, "I would give anything to dislike pregnancy." I have witnessed acquaintance, close friends, and family all confront the demons of infertility, and although cannot claim to "get it," hope my admissions do not indicate any element of insensitivity to the realities that others face. For all of you struggling and experiencing pangs of sadness as you hear of each new pregnancy from friends/family, please know my heart aches for you.

M'kay, time in:

I liken my dissatisfaction to when someone complains that their 6-range Viking stove keeps breaking down. You know, the one in the main kitchen that the personal chef uses. Or when a mother-friend agonizes on Facebook that her notoriously amazing sleeping 5 month-old woke up 2 times at night as I am re-concealing the bags under my eyes from my 3-year old barrel rolling off of his bed in a middle of the night, asserting that he is a Montessorian sleeper. (Liberty taken on that term.) Let's not forget about my 4-year-old who still gest up by 6:20am every.single.day.

Perspective.

I recently read this quote:

Saying someone can't be upset because they don't have it the worst is like saying someone can't be happy because they don't have it the best.

And by read, I mean viewed somewhere on the interwebs (dollar to doughnut it was Pinterest).
And by quote, I mean a butchered paraphrase because ask anyone in my family and they will tell you
the only reliable things I can recite are The Lord's Prayer and Inigo Montoyoa's famous line from The Princess Bride.

Listen. I love the idea of pregnancy. I love all the nuances and the stories. Although I am not quite a free birther at heart, I have always seen myself as that empowered woman who would name her ovaries "woman" and "warrior" and take pregnancy by the fallopian tubes and *nail*it. I ate up Ina May's Guide to Childbirth like a freaking primal postpartum woman gnawing on her placenta. (Bee tee dubs...is placental consumption on the continuum of cannibalism? Also, if it were easy and cheap to encapsulate mine, I'm not gonna lie--I'd do it!) I even have a picture of Klimt's "Hope I" in our master bedroom that Eric got for me one Christmas early in our relationship.

I think his grandmother just about had a heart attack that I wanted a print of naked woman with her pubic hair out for display.

I was pretty certain that I could mimic Hope's visage in my future pregnancies. Flower headdresses and creep-tastic demons not included. There was even a time in nursing school I talked to the admissions department about switching from women's health to full on certified nurse midwifery.

Then I got pregnant.

2007-2008: After round 1, I wasn't so sure I liked the whole pregnancy gig, but also felt what I experienced was an anomaly.

I started with 20 weeks of the absolute worst morning sickness.
And then hypertension.
And then "suspect" IUGR.
And then unexpected delivery at 33 weeks. (What up pitocin no epidural? Yeah, not so fun...)
And then the NICU and feeding problems.

In retrospect, I'm not sure I really ever experienced that pregnancy without worry or anxiety. There was no feeling empowered, I just felt betrayed and bewildered by my body.

2009-2010: Round 2 was better, but I entered the experience with hesitation. Morning sickness wasn't nearly as bad, but I had a few hospitalizations and scares and delivered early again. I still felt betrayed and bewildered by my body. And as I have said, ad nauseum, the scare and anxiety surrounding Eric's cancer diagnosis made both the end of my 2nd pregnancy (when he found the lump/mass/growth/canker in his mouth), and the first 6-12 months after delivery a huge blurr.

Round 3 has also gotten better in terms of anxiety and fear, and I have had almost no morning sickness. Plus, I have an overwhelming sense of peace in that I will last longer than 35 weeks. (And that my husband is not going to die.) At this point, I have avoided all premature trips to L&D, have great cervical lengths, and my contractions are just irregular enough to keep me from bedrest. Plug: I highly recommend weekly progesterone shots. Throw in our new minivan and sounds like I am living the dream, no?

With the reduced worry and anxiety, and this being the third time my uterus has gone on a bender, I think I am not only feeling the physical discomfort more, but also have the brain space to process it more regularly.

Guess what...after about 13 weeks, I've been on a steady decline of feeling "good."

I'm uncomfortable all.of.the.time. I feel like my ass is a removable lego piece that is in a time zone behind me. My belly button doesn't just pop at 20 weeks, but I can feel and now see my intestines herniate out of a little slit in the area. My pubic bone throbs whenever I try to do some light walking for fitness (how dare I get my heart pumping?), or God forbid--get out of bed. In fact, I recently had to ask Eric to hoist me up from the bed one morning because I thought my pubic bone was shattered.

At 26 weeks +, I am 7lbs shy of where I was delivering my last child at 35 weeks 5 days. (oink.)

I don't feel like myself.
I don't recognize myself.
I feel swollen and unattractive and not "fit."
I spend many nights feeling like I can't breathe because my lungs are collapsed.
I have diagnosed myself with pubic shattering disorder.
I dread book time at night and the boys jockeying over position on my ever disappearing lap. (ouch.)
I selfishly worry that once I have 3 children earth side I won't have any time for myself and my health and will never run or exercise again.

More immediately, I am terrified of the idea of passing a baby over 6lbs out of my hoo ha. (Never had the pleasure.) I had damage the first 2 times, and imagine this time will be no different. And the OB told me, "even though each time you tend to have faster labors, for you if you go longer and the baby is bigger, it may take longer." Listen, if you push a baby out in like an hour the first time, and then exactly 10 minutes the second time, you can't even consider 11 minutes or you start inquiring about being put under general anesthesia upon hospital admit.

What strikes me most, is that I dread people's comments about my pregnancy. First, I want to avoid any more "your face is fatter" remarks, and second, any time someone makes a comment to me, I immediately withdraw and change the subject. I even got upset when my 3-year-old told me "Mommy, you have a big belly and bottom!" (What does he know? Kid has a 6-pack at 3.)

I am trying to reconcile the fact that this last time when I feel the pressure to savor every moment, I lose sight of the miracle and instead focus on the pain. And that, sadly, the combination of having many more responsibilities now than I did during my first two pregnancies, and toeing the edge of denial that I am, actually, pregnant, I am feeling disconnected to this baby. (Even amidst INSANE uterine gymnastics. Child gonna be a trapeze artist!)

I read a post recently on one of my favorite mom blogs, merelymothers, and felt some pangs of guilt and same. I am one of those women who is lamenting over my "blossoming shape". (I just don't do it in front of a mirror, lest it shatters. That's 7 years bad luck!) I want the power and miracle of gestation to override physical and emotional discomfort. I want to use the word "I've come to terms with my changing body" and actually mean it. But during this last rodeo, I'm finding myself with the double D's (not boobs...although, they are getting there): discomfort and dissatisfaction.

You know, Dr Phil always says you can't fix a problem you don't acknowledge...er, something like that (refer to my quoting issues above).

So there. I've acknowledged it. I do not like pregnancy. Not in a box. Not with a fox. Not in a house. Not with a mouse.

(Ali, stop the quoting.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Turdy Tree

33 is a really tough age if you ask me.

Last year I was all "32 flavors and then some, taking my chances as they come." I totally had permission to rocket between a year-long internal sing-off between Ani and Alana Davis for my favorite version of that song.

And truthfully, 32 is even pushing it. I mean, Baskin-Robbins couldn't even think of an extra flavor to hit # 32. 

But 33? Wasn't that the life expectancy in the 50s?

I'm not big on the idea of my birthday. Our family is still high on the fumes of Felix's birthday just a few days back, and lest you forget, I have shared my birthday with my husband since meeting him over a decade ago. And that damn Princess Kate decided to steal my glory by having a birthday the same week as mine as well (...and by being the most beautiful pregnant person on the planet...and by pretending to play field hockey like me...and by copying me and marrying a guy with great manners who is prematurely balding. I mean, not to say that I am married to someone who is follicularly challenged...but I'll just insinuate it.)

I've decided that because I have such an amazing track record of making promises and keeping them: my 52 (err, 28) weeks of mail, my attempt at getting on the yeahwrite grid by the end of 2012, I would keep the tradition of failed challenges as we barrel into 2013:

33 random acts of kindness over the next 33 days. 

Please note I did not say 1 random act of kindness a day, but 33 by the end of 33 days.

And I can change that "days" to "weeks" if I want.

My birthday.
My blog.
My rules.

I came up with this idea quite a few months ago and told Eric about it as the first stage of accountability. And then I started chickening out of the whole mission. But then in December I read about the 26 random acts of kindness people were doing in response to the CT tragedy, and thought that I really could do this.

Today, day 1, I started off strong in concept, weak in execution/impact.

I've always wanted to give someone a 100% tip and leave before I could see the look of awe and excitement on his/her face.

So after dropping Miles off for school, I drove over to Starbucks and ordered the most expensive drink I could find and stomach (I've grown to love coffee this past year, but am not huge on the specialty drinks). I settled on a $5 venti Skinny mocha latte. After paying, I handed the barista an envelope with a $5 bill inside. I ran into my car and drove away.


So I didn't 100% tip on a $50 dinner...but I'm betting that barista made her next cup of coffee with a little more cheer in her step.

I will keep tally of my progress on the blog from time to time, but will probably have more real time picture updates on Instagram (find me at TEAMHEINTZ) and Facebook.

"...both my parents taught me about good will
and I have done well by their names
just the kindness I've lavished on strangers
is more than I can explain..." -Ani

PS: A shout out to my blogger friend Pyjammy, Pam! HB to you, too! My sistah from another mistah triplet mom just celebrated her birthday this week with a Starbucks treat as well. *Pam, I totally laughed when I saw your post and admittedly moved my Starbucks tip random act to #1 instead of #14.)

PPS: A shout out to my husband who is 32 flavors and then some as of today. The boys gave him a pair of socks each, and I gave him the opportunity to give me a shot of progesterone in my ass this morning...he can't say we don't spoil him. 

PPPS: Eric, happy thirty-two and a half birthday! I know you won't read this until then...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Felix: 3


Happy Birthday, Felix...you wild and crazy guy.




Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolute: 2013

I don't make promises I can't keep.

At least not intentionally.

Which is why New Year's and Lent are just opportunities for me to remind myself how much will power other people have.

The beginning of every year is now filled with preparing for Felix's birthday, getting my emissions done, writing holiday thank you notes, scheduling my yearly dermatology and physical appointment, and reminding myself that I am about to share another birthday with my husband. Yeah, that's just January 1-7! Who has time for resolutions, let alone writing about them?

So many other people have far more meaty posts about 2012 reflections and 2013 goals and resolutions. And while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, plagiarism is the work of the devil, and it would be hard for me not to read all the wonderful posts my "friends" (ie, my blog crushes) write and not just regurgitate it out like a Mama penguin to her baby.

So here is a list of far better writers and their posts that I wish I wrote:

"Life has gone on. And in the end, I have learned this: My peace is not dependent upon anyone else. Not anymore. My peace is God, and God is as close as my decision to sneak away for a moment and find quiet and find my breath and remember that the music is always louder than the crying."
From, Momastery (probably my biggest blog crush.)

"I forgive my friends for starting their own blogs which forced me to look inside my tiny petty heart and ask tough questions about my character, not like the answers I found therein, and then work to become a better person. I forgive the people I love for having talent that surpasses mine and passion I cannot match. I forgive my friends who got “there” before me and I forgive those that make me lead the way."
From, Outlaw Mama (probably my biggest blog crush. Oh wait, I already said that. Okay, they are my twinsy blog crushes.)

"We are all such works in progress, yet we tend to approach life as if we might be able to put that final brushstroke on the masterpiece that is ourselves. I've learned enough over the past year to understand that it doesn't work like that. We are constantly in motion, often unsatisfied, and searching for more. And while I am no exception to any of the above, I am beginning to see the value in change itself. This year I'm not working toward any specific vision of myself. I just want to stay in motion."
From, Love for the Maslins (Please do yourself a favor and get acquainted with the Maslins's story...it is a family who are friends with a my college friend. Her entries are brutally honest, perfectly composed, and thoughts speak to universal truths that I think we can all learn from despite our circumstances.)

"You want to know what irony is? Irony is writing a post about how 2013 sounds like it's going to be unlucky and then suddenly your computer screen does this weird thing and the whole post is gone before you got a chance to save it.

Actually, I don't think that's what irony is. It's more like the Alanis Morissette version of irony.

Whatever. You win 2013. I will do whatever you say. You want me to quit the chit-chat and post a "Best of 2012" list? SO BE IT.

Here are my top posts of 2012 (give or take a few) in images, charts, and videos..."
From, Mommy Shorts (Because we all need to laugh. A lot.)


With that said, I am inclined, and have been moved to be more resolute in my work. This goes for personal, professional, and "blogal." I want to be more admirably purposeful in all that I do. If you have noticed, my posting frequency has waned since the end of last year. I want to write when I have something to say or images to share and not when I feel like I'm losing readership. My friend Amy just posted about focusing on quality, not quantity today on her blog. And anything Amy does is cool and hip and right in line with the year's trend. Phew!

So instead of freaking out that I didn't do a recap of Christmas 2012 with an account of our trips to TN and OH, I remind myself that if we are friends on facebook or you are in my immediate family, you've seen the photographic proof and/or talked about it on the phone with me. And that time I would have spent blogging was spent with my family and *finally* putting together yearly photo albums for each of the boys. And maybe sleeping. And definitely eating.

I haven't made the leap to abandoning this space altogether, but my secret hopes that it would turn into something "real" has finally been laid to rest. 2013 will be a full year. And I know there will be lots to say and show, so don't jump ship quite yet.

For now, I'm just aiming to stay in motion.