Sunday, November 28, 2010

i highly recommend dating your spouse.

for many people, when you have kids the most pressing role you play is "mama" and "papa." there is a tendency to forget that once-upon-a-time you might have been "girlfriend" or "boyfriend," then "newlywed" or what-have-you. sometimes you forget what its like to be a couple, as opposed to a couple of parents. for a sustainable marriage, this spells disaster.

at one point early this year, blake and i hit the hard realization that we don't really know how to just be "the two of us." we used to date? really?? that was soooooo long ago. its not like we NEVER go on dates, its just that it is so infrequently that every time we are out it feels....weird. so we made a pact to get to know each other all over again, outside of the role of mom/dad. and let me tell you, it is NICE. more than nice, it's downright HOT.

i highly recommend dating your spouse. we realized that we DO have things in common, which was a surprise because parenting can be so difficult at times that all you see is where you disagree. this can lead to "we are SO different...." which can lead to "who the crap is this person??" and that is, as i said, disaster.

sure, we ARE very different people, with very different personalities. but when we come together over something casually-mutual like good food, or a favorite band we can see how we actually compliment each other--in a more relaxed way, outside of our normal home environment. at a restaurant, we choose different plates and sample each others food, and talk about what we like and don't like. at a concert, i like to dance and drink while we watch a band, Blake likes to hold my coat, and keep me safe from drunk dudes, and drive me home while we talk over the play list on the drive. we laugh together and come up with little "had to be there" inside jokes to share later....we make memories. when we are on our date we are "blake and leah", or "that cute couple" who might be newlyweds or together for a decade, or who may or may not have three flooping children at home.

this weekend was the ultimate date: overnight in Seattle to see the man that binds us, Mr. Nick Cave. our first time away overnight since having George. i was worried i'd put too much expectation into this adventure, that because i wanted it to be so relaxing and so magical and so fun that i'd jinx it and we'd fight or i'd somehow be disappointed. apparently though, in my 20's, what was once my ability to "jinx" things, has now become an ability to manifest...hooray for my 30's!

relaxing, magical, and fun: it was all of those things. our hotel was classy and quiet with a vintage feel (for cheap), we were 4 blocks from a fantastic restaurant that we got into on a Saturday with no reservation or wait, sat at the counter and watched the chefs work their craft, and opened our eyes together to the glory of the charcuterie plate; plus our show was only 2 blocks away and the band, Grinderman, KILLED--we had so much fun there and then stayed up late in our hotel room talking about it....among other things....:) in the morning we walked toward Pike Place Market (only 6 blocks) and found a great, quiet breakfast place serving fresh crab and avocado eggs benedict while we read the newspaper. after we checked out, we explored the (free!) Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront and finally, when we felt satisfied in our exploration of the city, we headed home, with hot coffee and happy souls.

i am already looking forward to our next date.....

ready for our big night out...look how excited we are!

i had to be tourist on the way to our's my honey and the space needle!

post-dinner and ready to rock!

here be the said "rockin'"

we both agreed it was the best we've seen Nick...having this new, straight-up rock-and-roll project has given him new life...and the venue (King Cat) was small so we really got to enjoy the band up close

okay, i'll be honest i only vaguely remember this photo being taken....

the morning after: enjoying a stroll in downtown before the crowds

we still thought of our precious kiddos now and again...

our crab-and-avocado eggs benedict totally hit the spot!

our hotel was called the Warwick and we had a Juliet balcony

you may not see it, but i see the look of a relaxed and happy husband!

@Seattle Art Museum's sculpture park

here i am glaring at blake because he just belched loudly while taking my picture...just because we are on a date doesn't mean he doesn't get "the look"!

hey LOOK, it's that cute couple, Blake and Leah!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

how weaning happens

...or at least how it happens with us. even more specifically, with george and me.

i cried last night. a good, hard, had-to-take-off-my-glasses cry. without complete intention, i have just weaned my last baby from the breast. (and i am 99% sure i am done having babies.) only another nursing mother can fully understand what it feels like to nurse your baby for the last time. plus, in this case i didn't know the last time was "the last time." so, now i have this little grief dancing inside my heart, that i know will settle but hurts all the same. i thought this post might help.

i did the math: i have been suckling babies for 6 of the past 8 years, with one period of rest in between. it will feel weird to not have that connection. i've said it a hundred times: nursing, if anything, is a relationship, not just a food source.

mayan nursed like a champ from the minutes she was born, and nursing her into toddlerhood not only seemed like the way SHE was going to have it, but it was important to me, as well, since she had so many food allergies and it took her a while to establish a food-diet that could nourish her. with her, nursing was a valuable tool. to calm her down when she was freaking out, and also to shush her when i needed to talk on the phone. :)

i decided not to cut this relationship short when i became pregnant with isadore. while the milk supply dwindled, she was not deterred. life was going to change dramatically for her when her new sibling arrived, and i didn't need to give her another reason to resent the new baby, by taking away her precious "boobah."

this turned out to be a good decision, when at 35 weeks isadore was induced early. while she was in the NICU and not able to nurse at the breast for her first 10 days, mayan became my "portable breast pump." i'd saved up more milk than isadore would ever be able to drink, but to keep up supply i was instructed to pump every three hours ("just like if you had a nursing newborn..." they said.) mayan went from being able to have a casual conversation with me at the breast to watering eyes and choking trying to keep up with the new flow.

once isadore was able to nurse she latched on like a pro as well, and was so efficient at getting milk from me even as a tiny 4 1/2 pound baby, that she would suck a few times, establish the flow and then lay back a let it ease down her throat with little to no effort. this completely unvalidated the formula the nurses had laid out for me: "about one cc per one minute of sucking." we had to weigh her to verify that in fact, just 10 minutes of weak, sleepy sucking she ingested 45 cc's of milk--a full feeding. we were released for home the next day.

after a few months, just as i had hoped, mayan got the picture that nursing was for "little babies", and gracefully bowed out, at age 2 1/2.

isadore was a mellow child, and a great sleeper so the nursing relationship was not as intense as it was for me and mayan. she had already lost interest at 2 years--slowly tapering off from day feeding so that the go-to-sleep sessions were the last to go--so that's when i had my first break. it was a bitter sweet transition, but deep inside i knew i'd get to have that experience one more time.

enter george-ephraim, 2 years later. his birth was everything i'd dreamed, and was healing and empowering in so many ways. i was a nursing professional now and it took no effort to establish that bond. eat, burp, sleep, eat burp, sleep...constant cycle that i practically did with one hand while i took care of everyone else with the other.

gives a whole new meaning to the word 'buffet'!

on vacation in seattle 2008

previous blog readers and other nursing mothers may know, this is called "NAKing"--nursing at keyboard

george "gettin' some" in the backseat of the car--milk that is

the difference with george, is that i didn't want to use nursing as a calming or quieting tool, but instead just for eating and just for sleeping. so once he grew into a walking, pointing, babbling, food-snacking toddler, i just never sent the message that it was something we did while we were out and about. this made the sleeping feedings oh-so-special. more than special....absolutely divine. we have a white chair in our bedroom that for the last year is where i sat nearly everyday, once in the afternoon and once at night, for george to have his "me-me." this is the word he made up at a few months old, to describe more than just the nursing but the act of me swaddling him in a specific blanket (the "me-me blanket"), binding it with a scarf and then latching on to the breast. (he eventually at age TWO was okay with not being "bound"--the boy LIKES to be restrained! don't get me started thinking about how this will play out as an adult......)

swaddled in the white chair, with his kitty halo, for our daily nap ritual. the image i will carry sweetly within my mind's eye until the day i die.

this routine, like with my other children, became so ingrained that sleeping any other way (besides in the car) became a non-choice. i have always trusted the process and knew from experience that my child would not be a nursing grad-student as many have joked, but that nursing would taper off in the time that was right for our family, around 2 1/2 years.

well, here we are.

i am preparing for a trip to L.A. in november for my 30th birthday, and am leaving the family behind. i know it would be best to have an established bedtime routine for george that doesn't require my breasts, so blake can have an easy time with having all three kids. george already has a bed in his own room so the biggest trick was getting him out of the "white chair" for that moment he drifts off. a few weeks ago, i started to nurse him until he was almost asleep and then i'd pass him to blake, who would carry him to bed with his own whispered papa-words and beardy kisses. this met with little to no resistance. then i began to skip all naps so that when bed time came, george would be very, very sleepy. a few nights ago, on a whim, i told him he could touch and kiss the "me-me" but not nurse it. this met with medium resistance. i let him nurse for 10 seconds then asked for it back, and he obliged, with a look that showed me he thought he'd just gotten away with something delightfully forbidden. then i passed him to dad in his favorite blanket, who had a sippy-cup of warm milk. blake tucked him in, and george got up and wandered in to our room a few times. we alternated tuck-ins until one stuck. i discovered if i stay, and pet his forehead like i did when he was a baby, and sing him a lullaby while his eyes get heavy, he won't get out of bed at all.

today, he seemed like he needed a nap, and i was SO temped after my tearful realization last night to just nurse him one last time. but i knew that we'd already crossed the line into successful weaning, it would only complicate matters to backtrack, so i took him upstairs with some milk and we lay in his bed together. i was doubtful it would work in broad daylight.

george (eyes twinkling with the remembrance of the new routine): "mama, touch me-me?"
me: "sure, you can touch the me-me."
i reached to pull my dress down just a bit for access.
george (every word sounding like a question): "mama? take? bra? off?"
me: "no, buddy, i am not going to take my bra off."

his hand settled into a spot, halfway down into my bra. i hand him his cup of milk. i lay my head down on his pillow and close my eyes, to send the we-are-napping message. the all-symphony station played in the background. he set his cup aside and stared off at the ceiling. i peeked periodically to see the status his eyelids. it took about 4 minutes. i slipped his hand out of my bra, ever so slowly and crept away. then i came down here to write this.

it really is over. on to the next phase.

Monday, July 26, 2010

a peek into summer 2010

as far as i see it, even though summer really just got started, its already halfway over. here, family and friends, is what we've been doing with our time.

bikes (or scooters) on the street-- a daily affair

issy made him a bed in the hall, and he really used it!

my garden. really only going at 50% capacity this year. better than nothing, right?

our first time riding bikes with the public! sunday parkways is awesome!! google it if you don't know about this pdx event...

a visit from auntie naomi and uncle noah. short but sweet!! this is us at the farmer's market at OHSU

when you buy a bunch of live shrimp to cook on the bbq, the least you can do is save one and dress it up in a paper towel and electrical tape tuxedo, right??

the birthday girl requested swimming for her day so that is what she got.

making the world's best gluten-free, corn-free chocolate cake for sister EVAH!!!

karaoke at voicebox lounge was awesome!!!

could be singing george michael...or lady gaga...or no doubt...or the beatles...

we love auntie na-na!!

never under estimate an afternoon chillin' in the backyard.

a sigg bottle to reflect all personalties:

downtown adventure: waiting for the street car

downtown adventure: on the streetcar after a trip to finnegan's. these kids know the importance of staying hydrated on a 90 degree day!

downtown adventure: jamison fountains....ah, smell the chemically-treated water in the air!

what could August bring?? i'll try my best to blog it for you:)

Friday, June 25, 2010

a craft to do TODAY!

mayan likes to go thrift shopping with her grandma, and the other day she came home with a cute book on easy recipes and crafts for kids. this one in particular was SO easy and cute (and useful...i only like useful crafts) i had to share:

take a pair of old jeans (stained and worn our knees is great!) either the size your child wears or a little bigger, then simply cut across so you remove the legs and crotch, about three inches below the back pocket. then cut up the sides to the waistband and remove the front parts of the jeans including the zipper, making sure the waistband and button stays intact. what you are left with is a craft apron or tool belt....looks like this:

its FREE, it takes two minutes, and your kids can decorate them to their hearts content....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

mayan's big recital!

i was so nervous for her! this is mayan's third recital and she has been playing piano now for over a year. this particular piece is called Colorful Sonatina, a three part piece : Sunshine Yellow, Dreamy Sky Blue, and Happy Red. she's has been working on it for months, and at first i was surprised at the complexity of the piece, but now i see that her teacher knew that she could pull it off by recital time. she seems to really connect with the mood of each piece, and her teacher commented that she mayan also really connect with playing the large concert piano. you go, sweet girl!

now that we have family here, we took full advantage. grandma, grandpa, chemynne, avia, and even our friends zack and emily (who blake plays music with and mayan crafts with regularly) all came to see her perform. i noticed something too, at this recital, which was mayan has a really fantastic attitude about it all. she was so pumped this morning, aware of her nervousness but more excited than anything. she has the biggest smile on her face before and after the performance, and was on a high from it all for the rest of the day.

so for those who could not be there, without further ado:

(while the other kids were over it, Mayan was still proudly beaming at the front of the stage)

(the Mayan fan club)

The family (sans the hard-working Papa--at least he got to be there to hear her play though)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

George-Ephraim Turns Two

George-Ephraim, or Geo, or Georgie Boy, or Vubbie, or The Vubs as he is usually called.....
was born in the wee hours of the morning on April 27th two years ago today,
directly above my head where I type this,
a smooshie-lipped, curly-headed boy
a boy who brings joy
so much joy and love,
more than I could ever imagine one little boy bringing to a family,
yet his joy spreads much farther,
as he offers this joy to everyone he passes,
rosy-red cheeks glowing with delight,
smiles spread like ripples on the mouths of those in his presence...
oh, little boy, thank you for your joy!

Things to know about George, The Two Year Old:

Favorite food: hummus, just straight up with a spoon. the more garlic the better.

Favorite song: Changes by David Bowie

STILL likes to be swaddled to fall asleep. He has a special blanket for this--his "Mi-Mi" blanket which is a fleece Nightmare Before Christmas blanket.

A day is not a day without walking to the mailbox with Papa.

He never fails to say sorry ("Waaah-reee") or thank you (Day Do!") when the occasion arises. In fact he gets irritated if he thanks me for dinner and I don't say "You're welcome."

He loves shoes. Prefers them to bare feet. Walks on his toes if his feet are bare so they won't touch the floor.

If I were to use one word to describe George it would be: delight (he is both delighted at everything around him and delightful to be around.)


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

still (kind-of) feeling the clean...

the spring cleaning "party" is meant to be done over two weeks, monday through friday each week, so you have the weekend off to do what you normally do. i am busy fridays but not saturdays, so i decluttered the first four days (mon-thurs), took friday off, did the second part of the kitchen on saturday (with my moms help), and took sunday off. monday, i happened to be out-of-town, which was "bathroom day" anyway, and had i already decluttered them: the downstairs was recently cleaned because we got a new shelving unit, the children's bathroom (barely used, they like ours of course!) was swept through the first day of decluttering, and our master bathroom a week ago, because george is now agile enough to open doors and get up on the tub and riffle through all of our stuff, including a box of hair dye. my first time calling poison control! he had been upstairs in the early evening and i had called him down at dinner, so three hours after he'd been up there i discovered a bottle of color developer half gone. did he drink it?? there seemed to be a cloudy substance in the toilet so i figured he squeezed it in there...but i called to be safe. the nice lady at 1-800-222-1222 said he would have gotten sick already...i sighed relief and promptly threw out tons of old bathroom crap and blake rehung the cabinet higher.

after that on-and-off schedule, tuesday i had to get back into it. i decided to move up the master bedroom in line and leave the kids' room for later. i'd cleaned a house that morning and was tired--i like to keep my bedroom tidy so i knew it would not be a difficult task. i love our bedroom, we spent a lot of time making it to our liking during my pregnancy with George, and it is decidedly a "grown-up" space, sexy and modern. i sorted through my clothes which was kind of depressing, as apparently i wear too much black, and anything that i have that doesn't fit and at one time cost a lot of money, is so worn-out its barely worth donating. my wardrobe is lacking desperately but even if i had the money to buy new stuff, i would hate to buy it at this size since i would like NOT to be this size anymore (that's another post!)

today, brought the first wave of the kids' rooms and it was highly successful, even though, to be honest, i am petering out. either i lost my momentum during the choppy weekend or it just gets hard after the first week to stay motivated. but there was a lot to trash and that always feels good. ended up with two bags of trash, one bag of recycling, and two boxes for donation. there are even some empty toy bins now!! i was hoping to transfer all of the kids' dress-up clothes to bigger more accommodating tubs, so took a break to go to target where i'd bought them before, but they are not in season yet. while i didn't think to take before picture i do have a nice shot of the finished toy shelves and the pile that came from it:

george's birthday is next week, and i am excited about making his room more for a little boy--we are going to change his big mattress to a toddler bed, i took some toy storage boxes from the girls rooms and put them in his, and decluttered his closet. a friend gave me a wooden castle this week and i would like to find a train table for him to set it up on.

tomorrow is day two of the kids rooms but really i just need to sweep and mop and wipe down the shelves, which is good considering i work in the morning as well. one thing i never did get too, if i can fit it in, is the drawers and spice cabinet in the kitchen. i think saturday will be my day to wrap up any loose ends--the schedule says the last day is for the entry and hallway but i did those already last week. if i can get blake to hang our new curtains on sunday, our house will look like a million bucks!

sure, its a lot of work, but i can see how having less and being more organized is helping me save time in my life and keeps me feeling more "on-top" of things, which for me equals more peace. i keep reminding myself that next year won't be so hard......