New and Old

Old Year

Saying goodbye … Jumping … Sand Beach … Old house … Mono … Face painting … New faces … Adjusting … Talking in complete sentences … ‘punzel … Belle … Minnie Mouse … Fancy Yogurt … Twirling … Coffee and Applesauce trips …  “reading” … Lentil soup … Books … Beatbugs … Light switches … Gilmore Girls … Big girl bed … Planning … Not enough yoga … Puzzles … LL Bean boots … So many toys … Ghostbusters date night … All the singing … Dancing in costume … Can’t Stop That Feeling … All the princess … Old porch conversations … Dinosaurs … Gluten free panini in NYC … Spur of the moment trips … Anniversary morning at the beach … Anniversary afternoon at Ikea … Remembering former activist self … Rosie Revere … Daisy cups … Too much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse … Piggy tails … Meeting Santa … Trick or treating …

New Year

Tiny toes … Time off … More yoga … More books … More dancing … Potty training … Growing family … Continued adjusting … New home (sorta) … More piggy tails … Beachy days … Coffee reunion … That first glass of wine … More spur of the moment trips … First sleepover … Hopefully less Mickey Mouse Clubhouse … No more paci … Cleaning … Running (again) (eventually) … Big birthdays … Preschool … Old toys made new again … New car … First haircut (maybe) …

Advertisements

Lentil Soup

Christmas season is definitely here. It even snowed the other night – granted, I just got a mere dusting that turned into rain and slush and is now nothing, but snow! At my house we are knee deep in presents to wrap, Christmas cookies to bake, and Christmas Eve menus to plan. And of course a toddler who keeps changing her mind about which princess dress Santa will bring her. (Currently, it’s Cinderella. Waiting until it’s a bit closer before placing our final order with the big guy, just so she is sure to get what she wants.)

This year, as it was eight years ago, the holidays feel a bit hollow and hard to manage at time. But with a toddler, I feel like it’s my job to generate all the Christmas magic I can. It’s my job. Christmastime is magical. I still remember the awe I used to feel as a kid and I want that for my kids. I want them to ask for ridiculous presents but also get excited about the perfect present for someone else. My daughter informed me she was going to get me a Belle dress and a Prince dress. (I hope the latter is purple.) We will decorate the house, go see Santa, maybe go see some lights, and prepare our tray of cookies for Santa. I will put out a bunch of presents the night of Christmas Eve and maybe set up a few big gifts for her. And I can not wait for Christmas morning. The joy of the three (and a half) of us sitting around the tree, opening presents, and enjoying each other is something I know will be wonderful.

But I’d be a liar if I said this was all easy. I mean, I know it’s never easy. It’s a stressful time of year. But this year, I find myself forcing myself to remember memories and conversations with my brother and with my mom. And remember various traditions that I can carry on with my family so that their presence is always there. And because I’m very much me, this places a ton of pressure on me. (I’m warning you, there will be a moment that I will lose it and cry for something seemingly so trivial but OH SO IMPORTANT AT THAT MOMENT.)

And this year, I’m focused on Christmas Eve. As a kid, this was our holiday. My family always hosted. The house smelled (or stunk, depending on your preference) of fish and fried Christmas zeppole. People popping in and out to send their holiday joy and a table that extended into the next room for a meal that would go on until late because once the main courses were done there was dessert. And somehow we’d stumble around at the end of the night and make our way to midnight mass.

The crowd got smaller over the years and visitors became more scattered as families grew and people pass. I remember everyone who used to be a part of this holiday and who is not here today. And yeah, it sucks. And this year, it sucks hard. But when my husband and I sat down to plan what we would serve for Christmas Eve, there was one voice in my head as we thought about the first course (yes, there are courses… so many courses). It was my brother. And it was the year my dad said he wouldn’t make lentil soup because no one really ate it and there was always so much left over. Both my brother and I said “HELLLL NO.” And as he so eloquently put it, “I’ve been eating lentil soup every year on Christmas Eve and life’s been pretty damn good.”

So, lentil soup is on the menu. Eat a bowl or have just a spoonful, but eat it you must.

The tradition: Eating lentil soup on Christmas Eve will bring good fortune in the coming year. There are variations of this tradition. I believe in my family, it was mostly a tradition from my mother. But I could be wrong because traditions do get fuzzy after all the years. But I do know there are versions of this tradition in the South involving black eye peas on New Year’s Eve. Some argue the lentil soup should be on New Year’s Day not Christmas Eve.

But the message of the soup is that if you eat it, it brings you fortune. I’ve taken to interpret fortune as not just money, but just a good life.   Or luck.

And this year, while I impatiently wait for 2016 to end and look forward to a better 2017, I want that good fortune. And I am eagerly waiting for that soup. Now I just need to convince my dad to teach me how to make it.

 

Waiting

I’m currently sitting in a waiting room at the dentist office on the Saturday of a long holiday weekend waiting for my dads tooth to get bonded. 

Not exactly how I want to spend this morning, but it beats missing more work and once this is done, I have the rest of the weekend to play and enjoy the husband and the kid. I even snuck in a little quiet me time this morning while everyone slept in. Well, not exactly quiet. I drank coffee and caught up on The Mindy Project. Stan from Mad Men is the current love interest (just don’t ask me the name of his character.) As I often do, I mindlessly perused Facebook and stumbled on a post on a mom oriented page from someone just looking for positivity and support while she struggles to get pregnant with her second child. She wrote about how getting her period each month makes her cry. 

I commented with a brief note of understanding her sadness and sending her love. 

There’s not more I’d want to hear in that situation. Just support and love. 

I really don’t like when people tell me it will happen if I want it. Pregnancy doesn’t work that way. You can’t wish yourself pregnant. You can’t really wish yourself anything. But you really can’t wish yourself pregnant. 

Or I’m lucky to have my daughter. Yes. I am. I know that. Don’t make it sound like I’m greedy or selfish or not grateful. My daughter is the best thing I’ve made. I love her to pieces and am beyond grateful about how lucky my husband and I are. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’d like to be more lucky. I’d like to have another child to share that joy and luck with.  

The worst though is the “if it’s meant to be, it will happen.” There’s something so fatalist about this. I mean, to a degree it’s true. But at the same time I don’t want to hear that. I am angry and feeling a little sad at not being pregnant each month. Don’t try to minimize that. 

While I’m at it, don’t ask me why we don’t have a second. Or tell me it’s time. 

Just don’t. 

Pregnancy is such a crap shoot in the best of circumstances. And we tend to create expectations of what we want in our life. At least I do. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. (Not a mother. But a mom.). I always saw myself with two kids. And I think it would be amazing for my daughter to have a sibling. It doesn’t change how great life with my daughter is now. Not one bit. I just want to increase that greatness. 

I am slowly accepting what I have now and trying to appreciate that to the fullest. Trying to remove the stress of wanting something else. It doesn’t make me want less. Nope. Not one bit. It doesn’t make each month I get my period a jerk. 

But maybe I will stress less. And I am thinking that’s a good thing all around. 

IMG_2791

It is almost official.  In about a week, my dad will have sold the house we all grew up in and it will no longer be our hub.  Our center.  A teeny piece of my life will go away.  It’s one of those things you know will happen.  And even if it is the right decision, holy crap, does it suck.

Seeing that empty kitchen for the first time was a gut punch.  The kitchen is where everyone gathered.  Even though there were at least three other rooms on the first floor, everyone stood around the kitchen to talk, eat, slice, prep, cook.  We usually all stood around the table.  The one that was there for every meal as I grew up.  A table that my grandmother had purchased for my grandparents (I think I have that right…) and a duplicate of the one that used to be in her kitchen and is now in my basement.  There was always sliced sausage, some cheese, usually some olives because I bought them, and my dad at the stove checking on his sauce.  This is what I’m going to make sure I remember about that kitchen.  That’s what I thought about while my brother and I saw it emptied out.

My biggest worry in losing this house is losing my connection to everyone.  That is not to say that my dad should never have sold, it’s just a realization of what a centering place the house was.  It was where we returned.  If we were seeming distant or disconnected, a Sunday Lupper with dad’s meatballs and sauce was usually the perfect antidote.  If we needed to meet up, we would do it there.  Christmas Eve.  Birthdays.  The never-ending supply of tools to borrow.  The never-ending supply of fresh tomato sauce or sausage in the basement.  There was a sense of connection to everyone through my dad and by extension through the house.  Sure, it’s probably all a romanticized notion and is me waxing nostalgic for something about to be sold, but it is also something I’m mindful of.

As everyone gets involved in their own lives and families grow and lives move on, I think it becomes harder to see people and maintain connected.  More effort is required.  There is a lot more work involved.  Sure, I may text often and share and comment pictures on social media, but it does not at all equal those times you are face to face.  And I feel like there is less of that.  And I feel like seeing my dad’s house empty triggered something in me that is making me want to work a hell of a lot harder on maintaining connection.  And it’s not even just in my family.  I sometimes pull back because I don’t want to seem pushy.  Or too desperate maybe?  Or maybe it’s because I think my house is a mess and I shouldn’t invite people over.  Or it’s really hard to find time.  Or it’s too hard to find someone to stay with the kid.  Or would it be odd for me to bring the kid.  Or it’s after work and I haven’t see my husband or the kid all day, do I really want to go out?

This post got away from me a bit.  But I think it’s getting to a point.  Bear with me.  I have placed a lot of emphasis on the memories (good and bad) formed in the house I grew up in.  And they are there.  And they are what we will hold on to as the house gets sold and it is not there.  But so many of those memories and things I fear losing are not based on that house but the people who were there at the time.  I will miss my dad making meatballs in his kitchen – he could come to my house and teach me.  I miss gathering around that table and catching up with everyone – there are other kitchens to gather around.  Sometimes it feels too hard to try to get everyone together.  Or you think it has to be all or nothing, but the reality is it’s never the perfect time.  You just need to make it happen.

(phew, I actually pulled this off)

books and goodbyes

Tags

, , , , ,

Recently, my daughter has started insisting on reading through her books on her own before bedtime.  Given that she is not quite two, this includes a lot of page flipping, random words, and books quickly being flung aside.  As she gets sleepier, she crawls into my lap and has me read out loud to her.

And as it always goes, I start to think back to my own childhood. I was a big reader. I loved books and I loved reading and I could often be found sitting in the walk in closet of my bedroom surrounded by clothes and other junk, book in hand oblivious to whatever else was happening outside that space.

The thing is I don’t know where I got this obsessive reading habit. My mom read her Italian romance novels and I recall my dad with his Spanish western novellas. And my mom used to read to me before bed. I also remember her sometimes making up stories for me. They were usually about a princess. Named Francesca. And usually she needed to do a better job at some chore. I also have a vague memory of her having me read to her at some point when she claimed I was a better reader.

I’d love to sit and ask her about this. And compare my habits to my daughter’s habits. I’d love to have my mom tell her granddaughter her made up bed time stories. I don’t get to have this luxury. I don’t have the luck of my mom being nearby to ask every single question that I have had in the nearly two years that I’ve been a mom.

When my daughter had her first 104+ fever, I cried. I cried because I didn’t know what to do. Who to call. How to fix it. I cried after I gave her Tylenol and left a message for the on call doc to run through suggestions, but I cried nonetheless. I cried because the one person I instinctively wanted to turn to was not around.

And I probably even cried a little more because I knew that even if my mom was still here, she would not necessarily have been able to answer the questions because of the dementia taking over her brain.

It’s hard to not miss this romanticized version of my mom. The one who could swoop in and tell me that the current crazy sleep pattern would end. The one who would make a honey and chamomile tea for my daughter’s cough. The one with the answers. It feels stupid, but it’s there.

And it’s been more present lately as we help my dad get the house ready for sale. It almost feels like we have to say goodbye to her  all over again. She loved the house. My dad did not. They bought the house because my mom loved it so much. And now as we box up all the glasses (seriously, why are there so many glasses?) and dishes and whatever else we find, it becomes hard to not feel like there’s a sense of finality to this. Now I have to actually decide what to do with her sweater, her purse, and any other items I’ve put in a closet or drawer to be “dealt with later.” And I know I have to do it, so I will. But I don’t want to do it.

I have been very eager for my dad to sell the house. But I was not prepared for how emotionally draining this would all be for me. It’s incredibly sad and wistful making. I have a lot of mixed memories in that house. There’s the little I remember of my childhood before my mom became ill. And then there’s everything else. A lot of love, sadness, and anxiety. I feel like a new house is a much needed clean slate for my dad, but having to say goodbye to this house is completely gut wrenching.

I am trying to move forward and hold on to the memories and embrace what I feel as it comes up. I mean that sounds like the right thing? Let’s face it, I’ll probably keep being a bit of a mess about it. There are too many emotions wound up in all of this. But, really, when all is done, I need to move on.

And each night I will sit and read books with my daughter and hold on to each moment.

goodbye old year

2015 moments (in no particular order)

giggling, cooing, crawling, baby locust, baby downdog, toddling, standing, walking, running, giggling, laughing, babbling, london, bar harbor, dublin airports, cheese, coffee, nursing, boppy, curls, cuddles, star wars date night, spectre date night, slippers,  windows, day care, jets fans in london, covent garden lego trains, carriage trails, corn on the cob, bar island, oliver’s socks, trafalgar christmas tree, carousels, minnie “kiki” mouse, lobster rolls, turning 1, cupcakes, sears auto center, watching friends

bring on 2016.

 

Practicing Gratitude

Tags

, ,

Oh, hey. Hello again. I don’t know for how long, but here I am.

There’ve been some changes. A new house. A new kid. Same dog though. He is helpful as ever.

Quite simply, life is good. It’s enjoyable. I generally like things. My kid is pretty much amazing. I’m sorry to all the other parents, but my kid is the best and the cutest and the most everything. Sorry guys. Also, she’s the most stubborn and evil genius of one year olds.  So, we’ve got that going for us.

In news that is not entirely shocking, having a kid is life changing. I wouldn’t trade one minute of the stress or discomfort for anything. Actually, that’s not true. I would gladly trade changing diapers.

But on the whole, everything has been pretty damn great. I have things to complain about, for sure. Who doesn’t? But as I got the itch to write again, I tried coming up with something. I kept waiting for the profound. You have a kid  It’s life changing.  I should have tons of profound things to say, right?  Something about the cliched “I never knew I could love this way.” Or what about the “my life is so much richer now.” Or “now I know what my life’s meaning is.”

Nope. I guess there is truth to all those statements. Falling in love with your baby is really an incredibly different feeling. And my life is a lot more full and there is a new meaning to it. But, I am still the same person. I think. I just have a new dimension.  And really, every moment is not about such profound statements. Every day and most moments are spent in the mundane and routine. And while it’s not as full of flowery language, the mundane is amazing. It’s awesome really. It’s real life. It’s eating dinner and then playing with the Fisher Price mooing farm before bed. It’s singing “itsy bitsy spider” again. For the twentieth time. This hour.

I feel like we are supposed to hate the mundane. Mundane is not very pinterest friendly. But, who cares. I am so grateful for the mundane.

And if there is one thing I want to be sure and pass down to the kid, it’s the practice of gratitude. I think we have to actively practice being grateful. It’s way too easy to get bogged down in all the things that suck or all the things that you need. Just turn on the news and commercials and tell me if you don’t want to just hide in a bunker and bury yourself away from the world. But the world is where we live. And to make it a better life, I think it’s a good thing to practice being grateful. Every night before putting kid to bed, I list one or two things that I am grateful for. My hope is that as she gets older, she will do the same. And, here, again, I don’t need it to be profound.  When she is old enough to understand what being grateful means, she can tell me she is grateful for her stuffed Flounder or popsicles or Daniel Tiger. I don’t think it matters so much what the thing is. What matters in this exercise is taking the single moment to acknowledge that there is a lot in life to be grateful for. Trust me, there are nights where the only thing I can think of is the ice cream I am waiting to eat after she is in bed and watching Gossip Girl reruns with the husband.  (DAMN YOU CHUCK BASS AND YOUR WILY WAYS!!)

The amazing thing about this practice in my experience is that when I do it, it’s hard to stay angry or grouchy or negative for long. Sure, I wish I could lose the weight, or that work was better, or that I was less tired, or that the dog didn’t wake me up at 4 am to go pee. But personally, I find that if I can take the two minutes to think of a few things to be grateful for, I am less focused on the negative noise.

Crap. This has turned into a long and wieldy attempt at being profound even though I usually hate that.

and so it goes.

Tags

, , ,

The past two days have focused on an evening practice. I visited postures I have not even attempted in months. I don’t know if it is the consistency of practice or just the decision to do it. But yesterday, I listed into urdhva dhanurasana for the first time in months. There was no hesitance or insecurity. I just went up. And stayed there. It was a very happy moment.

Yesterday I read a post on Yoga Dork about “power posing.” It includes a great Ted talk about how our posture and body language betray so much about how we feel about ourselves. It kind of makes me smile to think about how “fake it till you make it” has some science behind it.

As the speaker says:
Our bodies change our minds.
Minds can change our behavior.
Behavior can change our outcomes.
In short, you “fake it” until you become it.

There is some truth to this. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been in a funk for no particular reason and not know how to “snap out of it.” I finally just let myself accept that I was feeling that way, but became determined that I would not let that influence how other people feel around me. I am not going to suck someone’s happiness because I’m miserable. And the more I force myself or “fake it,” the less I feel crappy. It does work. Hopefully by re-focusing my yoga practice, I can see the confidence carry over. Take up more space in my every day, if you will.

Video

Day 8

Tags

, ,

Tuesday night’s date with my mat took place after work. The same will be for this evening. It’s a different practice. I’m a bit warmer and have a ton more tension – all at once! I want a hard practice. I want to move. I want to sweat. I want to push myself to do things.

This song has been one of my favorite songs to play during savasana lately. It’s quiet. It’s a it introspective. And it’s gorgeous.

days 4, 5, 6, 7

I didn’t mean to not post for the weekend, but that happens. My practice was scattered this weekend. I teach Friday mornings, so I brought my mat to class and sat on it in virasana for a few moments. Saturday was a nothing practice and Sunday was more a roll around on bolsters morning. This morning I tried to get back in the habit and I’m finding it troubling how “out of shape” my body is. I have definitely not been at my fittest for a while and my yoga practice is struggling. I realize I a remain consistent, a lot comes back. That’s what I will aim to do. Consistency.