Monday, August 30, 2010

The Last Week

In honor of my last week of work before full-time mommyhood and writing, Ellie has decided not to sleep at all and teethe like mad. Hooray! As I'm sitting here at my desk, bleary-eyed and regretting that my IBS prevents me from drinking coffee, I can't help but think that this is one of those things I won't miss about work.... I won't miss being drowsy at my desk and trying to hide it.

Which, of course, got me thinking about the other stuff I won't miss. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things I WILL miss, but the transition will be easier if I just concentrate on what I won't miss...

  1. Ringing phones. I hate the way these things ring. And then when your coworker is away from the desk, and it just rings and rings and rings and rings... that drives me nuts.
  2. Perfume. I'm allergic to fragrance, people. I'm glad you smell nice and you'd like to share, but come on! If I forget to take my Zyrtec before work, I'm doomed. Today, I forgot it. Again.
  3. Gossip. Couldn't care less about what he said/she said/happened yesterday... Unless, of course, it's really good...
  4. Lost and found emails. Oh no! I lost my press-on nail! Let me email the entire campus and see if someone found it in his tire treads!
  5. Breakfast on the go. Sometimes you just want scrambled eggs, not another damn Pop Tart.
  6. Looking busy. If I'm not busy, I don't want to be busy trying to convince you that I am. Follow?
  7. Being polite. When I don't want to be. Jerk.
  8. Leaving Ellie in the morning.

I think that about covers it. What wouldn't you or don't you miss about YOUR job?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Me & My Soy

So being dairy-free for my dairy-intolerant daughter was no picnic at first. She could not have any dairy at all, so I had to avoid even the tiniest amounts if I was going to breastfeed her (without her bleeding in her diaper).

When she stopped breastfeeding, I went back to dairy. Happy to eat cheese once again. Eager to get my hands on a brownie sundae. Thankful to trade in that soy mozzarella for the real deal.

But that's when my own troubles began. Or, I guess, that's when they became clear. I'd always suspected I had issues with dairy - not lactose-intolerance, but just difficulty digesting it. And then being free and clear of it for about 8 weeks reset my system. That initial shock of yogurt, cheese, and milk sent me over the edge.

That's when I had all those issues with my tummy and angry bladder. The end result being, I have IBS. And all along, dairy has been irritating it. So there you have it. If that's not a lesson in 'things happening for a reason,' I don't know what is.

Anyway, I'm back to a very limited amount of dairy in my diet. I don't have to avoid it outright, but I'll pass on the daily yogurt and bowl of cereal with milk, thanks. Instead, I've gone right back to the soy products I grew to like. Some of them are even delicious.

For example, Vanilla soy milk in plain coffee is the most delicious "french vanilla" I've ever had, without the artificial flavor. Chocolate soy milk in coffee makes mocha! Yum!

Vegan butter takes just like the real stuff, but my tummy doesn't get angry. Same for soy whipped cream. That stuff is good! And don't get me started on Tufutti ice cream sandwiches. I was surprised how yummy those were and they have fewer calories too.

So being dairy-free has its perks. I think I might eat these alternatives even if I didn't have to. Any other suggestions for dairy-free stuff I should try?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Sippy Cup Diaries

Ellie has been doing so well at holding her bottle up and stealing plastic cups from innocent bystanders that we decided to present her with her very own sippy cup. Filled with water, of course.

As it turns out, Ellie, like her Mommy, is not too impressed with drinking water. I'm not sure if it's enough motivation to learn how to do this. Although the sippy cup itself is an adventure, we're still generating a mixed bag of hit-and-miss results. Thank goodness for spill-proofing!
Still, she's eager to get this whole drinking-by-herself situation down, and I know she'll get there. In the meantime, enjoy the photos...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Six Months

Yesterday, my little pumpkin turned six months old. Hard to believe how quickly that six months has passed. Next Sunday, she will have been home for four months. That's just crazy talk.

Elissa is getting to be very bright and very curious. She also thinks she's a comedian. We've reached the slapping and pinching phase, and I've got the scratch marks on my face to prove it. I also have a tiny hand permanently afixed to my hair and/or necklace. Between that and a constant patch of drool on my shoulder, I'm one stylin' lady.

She's also still trying to control the spoon at feedings. Something Mike is brave enough to let her try, with mixed results. Her aim is improving, but she still manages to spread a fair amount of baby food onto various parts of her face.

Sitting up is going well, although Ellie still needs to take "breaks" from all that physical exertion, at which point she face-plants into the nearest comfortable surface. Which is sometimes Mike or me, but often the floor. When Penny walks by, Ellie nearly loses it with excitement. I can just see her plotting how she's going to get those ears into her mouth. This excitement, however, also leads to an inevitable "thump" where my daughter has again folded herself in half.

But her dedication is impressive, nonetheless.

So, at this six month mark, I can honestly say that watching a child grow and develop is one of the coolest things we get to experience as human beings. Watching her discover and learn is an incredible gift. I can't wait to see what's in store for the next six months!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Diaper Dilemma

Did you know that there are not trash bins in church? There aren't. I'd never noticed this phenomenon before, since I've never walked into mass with trash in my hand. Ever (which I find somewhat strange, but whatever). They say motherhood changes everything, and this walking-into-mass-with-trash-in-hand thing is included.

Yesterday morning, Mike and Ellie and I went to breakfast at our favorite diner. As we were getting ready to leave, Ellie made us a present in her pants. The diner doesn't really have any bathrooms to speak of, certainly no designated changing area, and I wasn't about to change her on the table in front of the manager. So we paid the bill and I changed Ellie in the car. There were no barrels around on the street, so I kept the diaper in the car as we drove to mass.

"We'll find a barrel," Mike said. "It's only a few minutes away."

"Yeah, but this one's really bad, hon," I said, trying not to leave my mouth open too long. It really smelled. It was ruining my french toast breakfast.

"They gotta have a barrel at the church. Throw it out there."

And I agreed, because there are trash barrels everywhere else. Surely, we could throw it out in a barrel in the parking lot. Or outside the entrance. Um.... nope.

Apparently, Jesus makes no waste of any kind. Consequently, he doesn't recycle either. There were no bins anywhere.

As I walked into the church, clutching my daughter's waste in my hand, I panicked. Mass had started. There were no barrels. Mike was ahead of me and unless I yelled, "Wait! Where can I put the poop?!" I wasn't going to stop him.

So I ran back out to the car and put the diaper in the trunk. Cuz, you know, when the car gets hot and the poop gets hot, it would make the car smelly. Right? Better to put it in the trunk. At least we can't smell it there.

Thankfully, when we got home, Mike remembered to ask me where I put the diaper. If he hadn't it would still be sitting there. Tragedy was averted for us, but how many other parents are forced to store baby waste in their trunks? One barrel, just one, could have solved this dilemma.

When I put my money in the collection bin, do you think I can earmark it for "waste management solutions?" Just a thought...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Big Changes

It's finally official. I'm taking the leap... to full-time freelance! And full-time mommyhood!

There are some big changes in our lives slated for the beginning of September. I'm leaving my job, just in time for Mike to go back to teaching, and we're moving! I have to admit that all these changes are a bit overwhelming, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited. So there you have it.

The new apartment we're moving to will be a great place for Ellie to grow up. We still have a pool, a playground, and a gym, but the area is much safer for walking than the busy street we're on now. I can still walk to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the bank, and (of course) a Dunkin. But it's definitely less accessible to the T. It'll take some adjusting to be so limited in where I can go, since we share a car and Mike will be teaching all day. But his commute will be cut in half, and he doesn't work nights or weekends - so I'm sure I'll be fine.

I just hope I can stay focused and motivated to keep my writing career alive. I've built a great base since I started this freelance thing last October. And ultimately, I'd like to find a balance between the articles/blogs I write and my fiction work, which has been shelved for entirely too long. It's easy to get caught up in what I get paid for.... too easy.

But I'll definitely have less on my plate, since none of the jobs left are "new" (aside from moving/unpacking). I'm already a mom, a wife, a "housekeeper," and two kinds of writer as it is. Nothing new there! Maybe I'll have more time to relax....

Or maybe I'll finally get that novel published.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Applying the Breaks

I learned something valuable this weekend. Mainly, that sometimes it's okay to say "no" to something. I've always been really, really bad at turning down the opportunity to be useful (or make extra money, as in this case). But when you're in over your head, you have to step back and say "no" once in a while.

This has been a problem since high school, when I was simultaneously editor-in-chief of the newspaper and president of the drama club... and in all the shows, while also producing them.... and a writer on staff, plus a layout designer. Add frequent babysitting jobs (which I never passed up - of course), my full course load, and applying to college - I was a mess. But I loved every minute of it.

Things didn't change when I went to college. Drama, newspaper, drama, co-founding a magazine, work study job, more drama... producing/acting/costume designing/writing plays....Oh, and I also took classes. I frequently ended up sick, probably because I never let me body rest. Again, loved it. I didn't know how else to live my life. I had to be busy.

But what was I afraid of?

In the years since college, I've learned the value of a good "day off." In fact, I think I got so burnt out by 8 years of cumulative "busy" that I needed a break. I laid low on the drama front, gave myself some space. I focused on working, took extra hours at my retail jobs on the weekends, then left my nights free. I started writing again, when I finally found a job where I could relax a bit.

My shoulders felt lighter. My world was a little easier to digest.

So I was writing... and then I started to fall back into my old patterns. I was rabbid for new writing jobs, signing up left and right, searching Craigslist, scanning Freelance message boards... anywhere there was content that needed writing, I wanted to write it. I started going back to school too. And poof! There went my free-time.

But this weekend, I was proud of myself. I took a minute to think about what was important. Did my short-term goals match my long-term? Was I headed in the right direction? If not, what did I need to do to get there? And I let some of the deadlines go, relaxed my grip a bit, said "no" to a few new projects.

It felt really good.

So then I spent the weekend away from the computer. I read a couple of romance novels, spent some time with my family. It feels good not to be overloaded again.

Maybe I can spare some time for that book I'm writing, one of these days.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Latest Idea

Recently, a friend posted a link on my Facebook wall that got me thinking... Well, actually, it gave new life to an idea I've been kicking around for a few weeks now.

It started simply enough.: How can I combine skin care/beauty with being a mommy? The answer came to me last week when I joined Mom Blog Network and spotted the Beauty category for shared blogs... A mommy-centered beauty blog? Would anyone read this?

I'm taking a huge chance here and (hopefully) ending a streak of failed blog attempts in a similar vein. I never took a Mommy perspective before, so maybe that's the missing ingredient?

I hope you'll all join me at my new site, Mommy's Makeup Drawer, for helpful tips and beauty secrets. There's not much there now, since it is a work-in-progress, but I thought some of you might enjoy this!

Don't worry, I'll still be posting here! So keep reading :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

I don't know why, but to be successful, I must procrastinate.

Now before you call shenanigans, hear me out. When I was in school, I was a chronic procrastinator. Instead of tackling that big school project looming in the distance, I'd work on the little assignments first--the five-problem math homework, the 200-word essay for history...etc. All the while, ignoring the big 10-page paper.

Until the night before. The eleventh hour.

Then I'd write like mad, stay up until it was finished, until my hands hurt from typing and my eyes hurt from the research. I'd get myself all worked up, adrenaline pumping, then tackle that assignment with wild (but grammatical) fury.

And I'd get an A.

Once, in high school, I tried to change my ways. The night we were assigned a huge English paper, I went right home and got started. I found my sources, read the research, drew up an outline... I worked on that paper for two weeks, on and off. I wrote it, then edited it a few times. I had my mom read it over, then I made more changes.

I got a B.

This, to someone who has spent her entire life putting out academic fires, was disconcerting. Did I need to be all but inebriated with adrenaline to perform? Was torturing myself part of my creative process?

When I wrote a novel on a 30-day deadline for National Novel Writing Month, I finished it in THREE WEEKS. Yes, that's right. 60,000 words. Three weeks. When I started editing (and editing and editing...then let my mom read it...then edited it some more), I got rejected by every agent I sent it to. I'm starting to think that I might need to operate under the same rules in all aspects of my writing.

And of course, my freelance career is grounded in the mantra "I can't right now, I'm on deadline." And yes, that life-on-a-deadline might have resulted in bladder spasms a month or so ago. It might be fueling this raging case of tendonitis in my fingers. And it might explain my caffeine problem. Might.

But I can't help it. In the eleventh hour, I'm a genius. I'm prolific. I'm procifient. And I'm gramatically correct.

It makes me money. Can it be so bad? Where do I draw the line?

I guess I'll just keep trying to reset my internal system. Maybe I can make my body THINK it's on deadline two days in advance? Maybe I can impose some sort of control over my adrenal gland? I don't have the answers. I just know what I have to do to get the job done.

But man, am I tired!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fitness Challenge

Ok, here we go again. I mentioned last month that I'm trying to whip my butt into shape again. And when I say again, I mean for the first time since high school. I know. Sad.

Anyway, now that I have this active rolling-all-over-the-place, and soon-to-be-walking munchkin, I gotta get moving. I've been keeping my promise, though. The Wii Fit and I are still friends, and my handsome virtual "trainer" says I have great balance...sometimes. Until I try to do Standing Knee on my left leg, then it all goes downhill.

Anyway, we're down 9 pounds and we're moving forward. Hooray!

I promised my doctor... actually, I forced him to give me a weight loss imperative... that I would lose 30 pounds before I got pregnant with #2. So I'm giving myself a year from now to lose the 21-pounds left of that promise, and hopefully 20 more. I can do it, right?

So I'm happy about those nine pounds right now. But I gotta tell you, I have an unfair advantage. This new IBS diagnosis has me shedding pounds like crazy. With no beef and no dairy on the menu, I'm doing great. Granted, I'd kill for a cheeseburger most days, but when I think about how much my tummy will hurt if I eat one... well, that fights the temptation for me.

More exciting updates later, I promise. Like Ellie's new obsession with plastic cups. Or perhaps our adventures in bananas... Stay tuned.