Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Day in the Life

I've been inspired to change my blogging ways. While the bi-monthly heartfelt pour-out-my soul entries were satisfying in some sense I've realized that I want to get more out of this process than just temporary venting relief. I vow to write more frequently with more well rounded question posing entries. I will start with a detailed account of a day (today) in the life of me, a 25 year old stay at home mom.

I woke up at 6:24, not to the sound of Ainsley but from the need to pee and the satisfaction of a night well slept (which has been more the norm lately). Lo and behold, 6 minutes later I hear the sweet coo of our nine month old baby. I slip on my bathrobe and acorn slippers (the right one is encrusted with do you wash slippers with leather bottoms?)

Let me tell you, there is nothing better than waking up to a happy baby standing up in her crib with a big smile on her face pounding away at the rails. It always puts me in a good mood. As she's not crying, she's not ravenous so we move to the living room floor to play after a quick good morning snuggle. Thanks to all of my babycenter emails and updates I am officially paranoid about Ainsley's hand/eye coordination so we play more "purposefully" now. I filled her puzzle box with pieces of fabric and showed her how to remove them one at a time and then replace them. She quickly reminded me of how stupid this game was when she decided to remove all of the fabric at once and then eat the box.

After Ian emerged shortly thereafter and made the required cups of coffee to get us going we sat and continued our morning routine; Ian on his iphone checking the news, Ainsley investigating the living room, and me taking it all in holding my hot cup of coffee (Ian once told me that research shows that people are happier when holding a hot drink in their hands...think about it, are you ever SAD when you're sipping on hot chocolate, tea, or chai? I didn't think so) After changing, making Ian's lunch and sorting the laundry to be washed Ian was out the door. I fed Ainsley peaches and oatmeal which she actually ate better than normal until she kicked the bowl out of my hand ending the meal.
As a morning nap still seemed far off I piled her into the car after changing a disgusting diaper (this is the only time I lament using cloth) and proceeded to the grocery store.

Ainsley LOVES grocery shopping. I think it's a combination of the smells and colors, and people that aren't me, coupled with sitting up in a moving cart. What an adventure. As I'd already done the bulk of grocery shopping this week my goal this morning was to buy junk food to fatten Ian up and a few missed staples. I NEVER and I mean never buy junk food. I guess the occasional bag of kettle cooked chips, dark chocolate bar, or container of TJ dunkers may find their way into my shopping cart but as a rule, both for health and our wallets, I steer clear of the junk food isle. This morning I was reminded of why...I have no self control when it comes to junk food. I can't buy just one bag of chips or one kind of reeses peanut butter cup candy, especially when EVERYTHING is on sale. AND all of the Halloween candy is out included my favorite all time, pumpkin shaped reeses pb cups. Out of control. To top off the crazed junk food spree I bought 2 donuts and somehow managed to eat a mere 1.5 of them. Then I opened the chilli cheese fritos and ate a handful while starting this blog. Uff da.

After arriving home and putting down a very sleepy baby I warded off the temptation to watch the Rachel Ray show and started to clean up the breakfast/dinner last night dishes, clean the bathroom, and switch around the laundry.

Ainsley woke up after a mere 45 minutes which left me virtually no time to get anything done, as per usual. After feeding her a bottle and changing her diaper we were off in search of a Homegoods to buy 2 new lamps for the apartment. This is one of the greatest challenges of where we live. Chicago traffic is ridiculous! Just about everything is within a 5 mile radius of us, but it can take anywhere from 15minutes to over an hour to get places depending on the kind of traffic that you run into. Enter my new favorite computer application, google maps traffic. I can at least check traffic before we leave somewhere so that I don't get stuck with Ainsley in the car, but on the way home I'm on my own, unless Ian is with us with his iphone. We lucked out today and a mere 25 minutes later I'd found the new (to us) Homegoods and found 2 lamps, a new toothbrush holder and soap dispenser AND two board books for Ainsley. She again did fantastically both in the car and at the store. For being such a fussy new born she continues to amaze me with her patience sometimes. I found a new non-highway way to get home which truly was the highlight of my day.

We got back, ate some lunch (chilli for me, yogurt for Ainsley) and both went down for a nap. We slept for 2 hours! I never nap with Ainsley anymore because as much fun as I think it'll be in the end neither of us sleep as well as we could. I used to nap all the time when she was napping in the first months of her life but lately I've tried to take advantage of the time to knit or catch up on emails or just NOT have a baby to look after for a while. Today I was glad for the nap though. Something about the crisp fall weather makes me sleepy. I woke up, again minutes before I heard her do the same. After another bottle and diaper change we were off to the park. Ainsley LOVES the park. She cries when I put her back in her stroller to go home. She loves swinging and the big sandbox. I've started letting her crawl around in the tot park area and occasionally take her down a slide. She yaks and talks the whole time. Did I mention she LOVES the park?

We headed home all too soon for Ainsley to start making dinner. Tonight I made beef bracciole from a Boston North End cook book that my sister gave me. This book has the best italian recipes in it. I never buy canned/jarred sauce anymore and just make the simple marinara. It's cheaper and better.
1 - 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1/1 - 1/2 c. olive oil
3 - 4 crushed garlic cloves
pinch each of mint, basil, and red pepper flakes

Get the oil hot in a pan, add the tomatoes and seasonings and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes...amazing every time and SO fresh tasting.

Beef bracciole is simply pounded steak rolled up with parmesan, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper. It was better the first time I made it, presumably because this time I used skirt steak instead of flank. Stick with the flank, the skirt was too tough, even after being browned in oil and simmered for an hour.

Ainsley usually does pretty well while I cook. I just block off the doorways in our kitchen and let her crawl around. Unfortunately her favorite places in the kitchen are the pantry (where she's knocking over the sugar and flour) the garbage can, and the recycling area. If I give her a spatula and direct her to the tupperware cupboard it usually buys me a few minutes. When she was a bit smaller I used to to put her in my hotsling (best baby product out there!) and cook with her in it. She would still love it, but I fear my back would give out, even though she's a mere 17 lbs. (25% for her age).

Ian came home around 5:30 as per usual and surprised Ainsley by sneaking up on her like she likes. The smile that she gives him when she sees him melts my heart. She sure loves her dad. We hung out in her room and played while I attempted to straighten out her drawers and changing table, only to have Ainsley throw everything to the ground as soon as I'd finished. I switched out the book that we had out in the living room and her bedroom for new ones, you know, to spice things up and then went to change the laundry around, do a quick bathroom clean, and take out the recycling before dinner was ready.

Ainsley had minced pork and pear with nutmeg courtesy of the baby food cook book from her grandma Amy, and peas and rice. She ate moderately well and munched on some shredded cheese at the end of the meal. After cleaning up and switching the laundry again it was Ainsley's bedtime. Ian put her to sleep while I folded laundry and watched So you think you can dance and glee. I am also working on a new knitting project for Ainsley that occupies most of my evening time. It's a hooded sweater/jacket with four buttons. The hood is taking FOREVER but I'm excited for the end product. I'll post pictures when it's done. I'm anxious to get it done so that she can wear it this fall AND so that I can start the knitting for her Halloween costume. No spoiler here, you'll have to stay tuned to see what she's going to be.

Now I'm sitting here with a glass of wine after consuming far too many pieces of chocolate (thanks again junk food run) feeling pretty good. As Ian told me earlier "this is that one day a month you're in a REALLY good mood." Thanks Ian, I am.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

So Happy Together

Okay, so it's not the next day and I know, don't make promises that you can't keep. But I'm thinking that terrible stomach flu counts as a legitimate excuse for breaking a promise. After recuperating for 4 solid days I finally feel ready to make good on my promise to write a happier blog.

It's odd that the hardest moments in life always bring out something good. I truly thought I was going to die on Thursday. Both Ian and I were laid out on separate couches, with poor Ainsley entertaining herself in her playpen for hours at a time. I was delirious with fever, wailing that I was a terrible mother for not having the strength to pick up my baby, or put her shirt back on when she kept taking it off, or comfort her when she kept getting annoyed for being "caged" for so long. It got to the point where I was convinced that Ian and I were dying of some foreign flu and Ainsley would be left to fend for herself until someone realized that we were dead and she was alone. And that we hadn't written our will yet so she'd go to the state and pretty much all hell would break loose. Of course we did not die and at the end of the day I realized there is no one I would rather be vomiting with than Ian.

These are those moments that they talk about when they say "in sickness and in health" during the vows of marriage.

Life is really an amazing journey. You go through your childhood years blissfully unaware of most pain and suffering, hit puberty when it seems like the world is crashing down on you, finally find yourself and your direction and then you meet someone, and even though you haven't known them before, you feel like they are home. Then you start a family and it is the most bizarre amazing experience of your life. By "your" and "you" I obviously mean me and mine.

I am constantly amazed by Ian. He surprises me and makes me laugh every day. In college we dated but kept our own circle of friends and I think that is why we ended up where we are. I am still me with Ian. I have never lost who Becky is (although previous posts may suggest the contrary). He lets me be who I am and loves me anyways...faults (and there are many) and all.

Just today we were on an outing with Ainsley and I was getting anxious over ludicrous things as I tend to do (where are we going to park, what if it starts raining, what if Ainsley flips her shit?) and he was right there, calmly suggesting that I "chill out". Of course he did not use this phrase because I would have spanked his face, but in so many words he got the point across. He knows me better than I know myself sometimes and I am constantly reminded of how much I love him.

Now we have this baby. This amazing, crawling, laughing, cooing, attitude-laden baby girl. We made her. It is the most incredible miracle that I can imagine. I know that Ian would scoff at this reference but I can't help thinking of the Stevie Wonder song "isn't she lovely".

Isn't she lovely
Isn't she wonderfull
Isn't she precious
Less than one minute old
I never thought through love we'd be
Making one as lovely as she
But isn't she lovely made from love

Isn't she pretty
Truly the angel's best
Boy, I'm so happy
We have been heaven blessed
I can't believe what God has done
through us he's given life to one
But isn't she lovely made from love

My faith has grown and grown over the years, but having a beautiful perfect baby girl is the greatest confirmation of the presence of God that I can think of. How else can you explain an otherwise simply romantic moment between two people resulting in a baby, a human person, with thoughts and feelings and a personality right from the get go.

Ian and I often ponder Ainsley's demeanor and have concluded that she was who she is from the start. Kicking away and deciding to come too early and then waiting for Christmas Eve to make her grand debut. This little girl has a personality and it's big and it's hers and we can only hope to tame it into submission before the terrible twos. I love her and I love Ian and I am so blessed that I can't even stand it sometimes.

So, there's nothing happier than a happy baby sleeping, a happy dad listening to an interview with Robert Caro on the couch, and a happy mom taking it all in on a quiet rainy Sunday evening nearing the end of September, is there? I thought not.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh Bother

It's 10:21pm and I'm still up, not even sleepy, well, not really. It's been one of those bummer of a days. You know the ones. We all have them. Those, what is my purpose here, I've accomplished nothing so I'll eat 3 desserts and sit on my bum all night kind of days. The irony is that then you only feel worse. You go to bed depressed, wake up with a stomach ache, and it's that much harder to make tomorrow a great day with an iffy start. I hope I'm right in assuming that we all have these days, if not, I'm in big trouble.

When I started this blog I envisioned it more as an update tool for family and friends, to keep everyone abreast of life here, and particularly of Ainsley's developments and antics. I've been surprised to look back and see that most of what I write is about me, inner turmoil, all that good stuff. Even now as I thought of sitting down to write something with my last burst of energy for the day, I find myself gravitating towards topics I've already touched on. Perhaps it's because I feel this is what my life has become, a sad broken record player. When the song switches you have momentary relief and anticipation of change and greatness, then you realize you've heard it before and it just gets worse each time you hear it.

Wow that sounds depressing. I assure you I'm not sitting here with droopy eyes and a half empty bottle of wine. I have a beautiful baby sleeping in the next room and a tuckered out husband hogging the covers in the back of the apartment. Life could be a whole lot worse.

I just feel stuck. Lately I've been so fatigued that I'm starting to wonder if there's something physically wrong with me. Granted I do have a ravenous almost 9 month old baby that's been waking me up lately for 4am growth spurt feedings, but even with an extra cup of coffee per day, B vitamins, and the occasional nap, I can't seem to shake this chronic sleepiness. I think it's the stuck-ness that's dragging me.

Life with a baby is bizarre and wonderful but I'm starting to remind myself of how I was with my first boyfriend. (Stay with me here) 15 years old, completely in love, losing my identity in being his girlfriend. When we broke up 2 years later it took me months to remember who I was without him. Pathetic I know, but that's what being a mom is. I have completely lost myself in Ainsley. When Ian got home from work today I was trying to start up a semi-intelligent conversation about a bit I heard on NPR and could barely form a coherent sentence. He had to jump in and save me because on top of being a neuroscientist he somehow manages to stay current with all of the news that I struggle to comprehend.

To be honest, I've never been a big news girl, I never used to mind not knowing things or stumbling over my words, but that was when I had something to back it up with. "No, I didn't hear that the world economy is collapsing, I was too busy writing a kick ass paper on Eugene O'Neil." "Nope, I don't know that Afghanistan is the new Iraq, I spent 8 hours straight painting in the art studio, listening to independent artists, expanding my creative mind." No more. I have no excuse, at least not a good one. The truth is, I have started feeling a bit lame being a stay at home mom. I have succumbed to the pressures of society. I have guilt that I don't make money or do anything besides change diapers and go for pathetically short walks. (I do more than that, it just sounds better to only list two things)

Most of all, I miss human contact. Revise that, I miss friends. I miss you Bil, and John, Lisa! Everyone. I miss you all. I so crave sitting with a good old friend that knows me and loves me. No pressure or awkward searching for words. The life of a stay at home mom is rather lonely. I think I'm gearing up for a long winter, with a wonderful daughter, who unfortunately doesn't talk back to me.

I guess that's why it's been a rough day. My mind has been plagued with all of these thoughts of things that I miss, lamenting what I don't or can't have. I'm confident that it will pass. It always does, especially when Ainsley does her crinkly face smile. You can't be sad when seeing that face.

I'll make a promise that I'll write again tomorrow and I'll try my best to make it a much better, fruit for dessert, productive and active, smile on your face as you fall asleep kind of a day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

House Woes

Our house is gone. Well, not literally, it's still standing there, with all of its front porch complete with swing cuteness mocking me every time we walk by. But it's gone nonetheless, off the market, out of reach.

After my last post we had a whirlwind of a week. Going to open houses on the weekend, spending 2 hours one night looking at 7 homes (Ainsley did amazingly) and then making an offer on one this past Saturday. I had it all planned out. Where all the furniture was going to go, what colors we would paint the rooms, how we would spend our new homeowners government stipend (ceiling fans and energy star appliances). It was literally the perfect house.

Oh well. I guess they always say "if it's meant to be it'll be". I find this phrase to be both infuriating and true. I was so conflicted about buying a house here, I still am. I was looking for a sign or direction anywhere I could. When the light bulb in Ainsley's closet began emitting sparks when we turned it on I was sure we were being pointed in the direction of homeownership. Now, I'm not so sure. After crying on and off for about an hour yesterday (mostly triggered by the realization that my dreams of a dishwasher and dog-poop free yard had been dashed) I actually feel pretty good. People have gotten by with less than a great 2 bedroom apartment in Oak Park...I think I can make it work.

The hardest part for me remains entangled with motherly guilt. I want a house for Ainsley so badly. I want her to frolic in the yard and eat the grass without worrying if that's one of our flatmate's cigarette butts that she has in her mouth. I want to put up a swing in the backyard and decorate for holidays and go to bed as early as we want without being awoken by the blaring television or video game playing below us. I'm just DONE renting.

Again, oh well. I am not good at letting go of things that I really want. I just can't accept that this isn't going to work out and that I really have no control over how long we're in Oak Park, and to be fair, neither does Ian really. I am so proud of him for all of the hard work that he is doing and the connections that he's making. At the same time I know that the longer we're here the harder it's going to be to move eventually, for both of us.

I'm only going to be a new mom once. I've made connections here, have a great doctor for Ainsley, know where to shop for anything, and who to call if I don't. If we move back I'd have to start from scratch all over again.

Clearly this to move or not move issue is a big deal for me right now as I've written two of my seven posts about it. I have no control anyway so I don't know why I'm agonizing over it. I wish so badly that I was one of those people that could just accept a situation and roll with it. I am not a rolling kind of gal. I need plans and projections and I don't deal well with the unknown.

On the plus side it's fall, my favorite season. I'll keep myself busy with knitting and cooking and, oh yeah, raising Ainsley, and hopefully before I know it it'll be time to move on, one way or another. At least this year I'll get to spend the holidays not on bedrest or in the hospital, but with my sweet baby girl and my wonderful husband. I have a lot to be thankful for. House or no house.