How Zumba Taught Me How to Be 35

So I’m 35 today. I’m not overly excited about it. In fact, I’ve been dreading it since turning 34. I’m old. I’m cranky. I’m out of shape. Oh, and I’m tired. Oh so very tired. But in preparing to write this post, I tried to think about what the angle would be. I’m old and I don’t like it? A bucket list of what I’ll do going forward? A list of all I’ve accomplished in my 35 years? Nothing seemed just right. I did start thinking about how I’ve changed – how 35 years of being a daughter, 10 years of being an attorney, (almost) 8 years of being a wife and 4 years of being a mother – has molded me. The surprising thing that came to me is not what all of that life has taught me, but what doing Zumba for the past 12 months has taught me.

I’ve fallen in with a Zumba teacher I like, who makes class fun, gives us a great workout and has created a community within her classes. She teaches four times a week and I aim to attend twice a week, though most weeks I’m lucky to make it to one. (Ironically she has the same birthday as I do too!) Doing Zumba is never something I really thought of as being a “me” thing, but I’ve really come to enjoy it and miss it when I can’t go. But more than just a great hour of exercise and fun, I’ve taken more from this teacher and these classes.

– Be silly. Our teacher is always encouraging us to just let go and do the silly stuff. Don’t be afraid to make the “ham sandwich” hand motion during “Wiggle,” do the running man during “Work It” and just have fun. No one is too cool to be silly. Having kids has helped a lot with this. You go from being self-conscious about so many things to singing and dancing to Baby Beluga in the check out line because it keeps your kid happy while the man in front of you tries to push 14 items through the 10 item express lane.

– No one is watching you. Certainly part of learning to be silly and not take yourself so seriously is learning that no one really cares about you. I don’t mean this in a life is cruel and lonely sort of way. I mean no one really cares what you are doing on a daily basis. No one is judging you – and if they are, who cares. No one in Zumba is watching you dance. They are all doing their own thing. Stop worrying about what others are thinking about and just do the fake Beyonce walk – and yeah, do the Beyonce walk not just in Zumba but in life in general because everyone needs more Beyonce.

– Make it bigger. Our teacher always tells us to “take up more space” or to “be bigger” when we’re dancing. Swing your arms, use all your space. It may sound a little frou frou but these are powerful words. Take up space. Don’t be afraid to be out there. Sheryl Sandburg talks about it in Lean In – women tend to sit on the periphery in meetings and let men sit at the table. Sit at the table. Take up space, tell others you belong there. Make your presence known. I just read that doing a “power pose” before a big meeting can help you to feel more in command. Do the Wonder Woman pose. Take up that space. (You know, being Beyonce is works here too. Maybe we all just need to be Beyonce.)

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve taken from 35 years of life. (Ok maybe a bit more, but that’s what I’m thinking about these days.) As I strive to be sillier, not worry what others think and be bigger in life, I feel better (albeit a little bit better) about turning 35. I live a life that allows me to do these things, surrounded by people who support me in doing it and turning 35 isn’t going to change any of that.

The awesome makers of GoldieBlox made an even awesomer Rube Goldberg machine

I love everything about this. I supported GoldieBlox when they first started on Kickstarter because I love the idea of toys that don’t play down to girls. I think it can be a scary world, raising two kids in a Tinkerbell/princesses world. (Did you know that if reminded of their gender at the start of a math test, like checking a male or female box, girls do worse on the tests then when gender is not raised. The subconscious thought that girls are bad at math is thought to sabotage their performance.) And while I support Lila’s (and eventually Lucy’s, of course) choice to dress in a tutu and spin around the room, I love that this toy also lets them build and be engineers and awesome in ways that don’t involve finding princes.

So watch this awesome video and then go buy GoldieBlox for everyone on your holiday list.

via The awesome makers of GoldieBlox made an even awesomer Rube Goldberg machine.

Maybe go to Bed Bath & Beyond, don’t know if we’ll have time

Lila likes to know what is going to happen next or what our next activity is. She’ll ask what are we going to do after day care, what will we do when we get home, what will we do after nap time. For much of the week the answer is the same – we wake up, we go to Twos (day care), we come home, have dinner, go to bed. Repeat. Except for the occasional parent having an after work commitment, there is little variety in our weekly schedule. Such is life, I suppose, but it is starting to feel a bit like a rut.

The title of the post comes from a quote from Old School. The married guy has found his way to a college party and doesn’t want to drink too much because he has a big day planned for Saturday. “Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.” This folks, is my life. We have lots of nice Saturdays planned, but lately I just feel stuck.

With two kids, there isn’t that much time for anything but routine. In fact, not only is there not time, without routine nothing would happen. Alarm, shower, get dressed, bottles, diapers, wake the girls, get dressed, commute, work, commute, dinner, bath, bedtime, clean bottles and diapers. Into bed. Try to make conversation for 10 minutes. Sleep. There is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing wrong with our weekend routines of gymnastics, music class, coffee shops, nap and the library. But I just feel so suburban mom. I mean, I was making tutus tonight. I AM NOT CRAFTY.

I don’t know how to shake the suburban mom blues. New hair? New clothes? Losing 10lbs? Less yoga pants? It’s not that I don’t love my girls, my husband, my life. I want to be a good mom and a good wife. I just wish I didn’t feel like I was on a one way to track to mom jeans and a practical bob.

 

What Keeps Me Up at Night

The girls are having their photos taken on Friday. (By the amazing J. Shelton Photos.  Perhaps you recall these photos.  Or these.  Maybe these? Or seriously, baby Lila ones. Yeah, you can see why I’m excited for more photos.)  This means I stay up at night not enjoying Lucy returning to a semi-normal sleep schedule, but trying to figure out what the heck they will wear.  Matching? Coordinated? Favorite outfits? Can Lucy wear a hand me down or should it be something of her own.  The photo session theme is “back to school/fall” so should it be seasonally appropriate? Seriously, up all night with these thoughts.

owls

 

 

 

I like this top for Lucy, maybe with some hipster skinny jeans?

 

 

peterpan

 

 

 

Maybe something a little more girly like this one?

 

 

 

 

 

hide and sekk

 

 

Lila likes dresses and I think is cute.  It is reminiscent of owls so it might go with Lucy’s top if I went with owls, but I’m not sure Lila would be convinced to wear it. She does have her own sense of style.

 

 

 

 

 

hoodie

 

 

 

 

This one is more casual but could be cute for the fall shoot.  Casual and fun, maybe both girls in different color hoodies with different pants  or even a skirt for Lila?  Similar without being too matchy matchy? Seattley and cute, without being cutesy? The more I think about it the more I think it might work . . . which means of course that Lila will refuse to wear it that morning.

 

 

I know they’ll be cute no matter what, but I want it to be really great. Setting expectations too high are a sure way to experience disappointment (especially with a two year old) but maybe a mommy daughter shopping date tomorrow will help Lila to buy into the special outfit.  That or she’ll throw a huge fit Friday morning and insist on wearing her second hand crazy print Hanna Andersson shirt and striped skirt.  And in a way that will capture Lila at this moment in time the best. (Honestly, even if that is true, I will not let that happen. Ever.)

Haters Gonna Hate

There are several different types of mommy blogs.  Crafty ones, kitchen ones, God ones, working momones and then the uber angry ones where they seem to hate being a mom, hate their children and generally hate their lives.  I’m not going to link to examples of this type of blog, because I’m not trying to point fingers, but in reading a blog like this recently I became really concerned that maybe my blog may come off that way.

 I am far from the perfect mother.  I’m not shy about whining on this blog (or twitter) (or Instagram) (or a variety of other social media locations) that being a mom can be hard.  But I have to say, I hope that no one who reads my blog thinks that I hate being a mother.  Or that I hate my kids.  Because I really, really, really don’t hate it.  

Everyone has good and bad days and sometimes on the bad days you just need to vent.  I get that.  I mean, that’s what Twitter is for, right?  But I don’t get entire blogs dedicated to why being a mom makes you miserable.

So I guess the moral of this blog post is just to say, I love being a mom.  I love my girls.  I have good days and I have bad, but I hope that no one ever stumbles across my blog and thinks, wow, that mom is really angry and really hates her life.  Because I don’t.  Promise.

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Making Some Me Time

I’m really bad about taking “me” time.  I know all of that about how you need to take care of yourself first, yada yada yada – but let me tell you that my two year old screams a lot louder than my “self” does.  So odds are I am always going to end up trying to make my two year old happy, or feed my infant or whatever first.  I’m not a mommy matyr, it is just that sometimes it seems easier to just keep doing what needs to be done instead of making time for myself.

A’s been out of town at least one night for the past three weeks, including a full week in Japan, so I’ve been working pretty hard.  Knowing I had more solo momma time coming up this week, not to mention some really gross feet that were dying to wear open toed shoes, I made a pedicure appointment and announced I was going to the gym Saturday morning.  I took a barre class, went to Starbucks and then a pedicure.  I was out of the house for only 3 hours but I returned a new woman.  I was such a better mother the entire rest of the weekend.  I just felt great, rejuvenated and ready to really be there for the rest of the weekend.  It amazed me.  I knew that all the so-called experts tell you how important me time is, but I never really thought it would make this much difference.  Like I said, it always seemed like a burden – working around schedules, pumping, etc.  But it really was the best thing ever to just get out for a short time.

I’m going to try to get to class each Saturday morning and maybe grab a solo cup of coffee at Starbucks.  It will probably end up being less than 2 hours out of the house, with the occasional pedicure thrown in there, but I am so looking forward to it.  A is more than capable, so I don’t know why I’ve been so hesitant.  Making me a better momma is always worth the time.

Wordless Wednesday

Sisters!

Guilty as Charged

Maybe it is my Catholic upbringing or just my personality, but I am often riddled with guilt.  About everything, about nothing, about something that happened three weeks ago.  It can be crippling at times – the guilt keeps me from moving forward or just doing something.  Being a mom has not made my “guilt complex” any better, but instead given me tons of new things to feel guilty about.

Things I currently feel guilty about:

– having a second baby and changing LC’s life so dramatically

– feeling guilty about having a second baby because it is unfair to Lucy

– taking “so much” time off from work for maternity leave

– returning to work at all instead of staying home

– looking forward to returning to work

– knowing that I won’t be as productive as others at work because I have two young children

– sending LC to daycare while I am on maternity leave

– not treasuring this “alone time” I have with Lucy while it lasts

– not exercising enough while on maternity leave

– wanting to hire a babysitter so I can exercise more while on maternity leave

– blogging when I should be reading in Russian to Lucy to stimulate her brain development

– only giving Cal one walk a day (at best)

– enjoying naptime a little too much

– spending money on maternity leave despite a reduction in my pay while on leave

– not spending enough time on my marriage

– worrying about my marriage when I should focus just on the kids

– not spending enough time on “me”

– even considering spending time on “me” when there is laundry to be done and dishes to be washed

So the list could go on.  Today I felt horrible guilt because I sent LC to day care despite the fact that she had been up much of the night.  Honestly, I was happy to drop her off and know I wouldn’t have to fight temper tantrums all. day. long.  But I went home and began making breakfast and sitting with Lucy and starting thing about how maybe LC didn’t feel well or maybe she just needed her mom or maybe she was upset at the treatment of Iranians in Argo.  I don’t know, but the thoughts kept tumbling in my mind.  I decided to call day care and see how her morning was going, willing to go pick her up if it was a disaster.  Her teacher assured me she was having a great day.  So I climbed into bed with my laptop to read the Oscar fashion reviews on Go Fug Yourself.  Which really only started another guilt battle in my head of – you should be cleaning the house or exercising or walking the dog vs. you should be napping because you were up most of the night vs. you should stop worrying and just enjoy the quiet time at home while Lucy sleeps and you don’t have to be back at work yet.

I don’t know how to reduce the guilt.  I try to acknowledge it and move on, because it really can be crippling at times.  The guilt I feel over two choices can paralyze me and keep me from making a decision – like today when I decided WTF and just climbed into bed with a sleeping Lucy and my laptop.  I’m hoping to find some better way at coping with these feelings before returning to work so that they don’t keep me from being the mom, wife and employee that I need to be.

Strength in Numbers, or Why We Love Our Doula

In the last post I mentioned our doula, Katrina and some advice she had given.  This is our second time using Katrina as a doula and we’re so happy she is available for this birth.  Like so many decisions you make surrounding giving birth, choosing to use a doula is one of personal preference, but one that A and I felt was right for us.

Katrina was our doula for LC’s birth.  It had been our intention to have a birth with as few medical interventions as possible.  Complications in my pregnancy prevented that from happening (it was quite the opposite really) but we still had Katrina by our side.  She was a huge support to me through bedrest, answer questions as we constantly received new information and then be in the delivery room when our time came.  Even though our intended “doula use” didn’t happen, it was still great to have her in the room.  For me the biggest reason why came immediately following LC’s birth.  LC was taken by the NICU team and A went with her to ensure everything was ok and be with her.  I continued to have complications and it was great to have Katrina by my side, not only supporting me through the continued pain and issues but to keep me company while I anxiously awaited news to of how LC was (and eventually be able to hold her.)

When talking about hiring Katrina again this time, we discussed whether the risk of similar complications might discourage us from using a doula.  In the end, we both felt that the support and guidance that Katrina provided was worth it, even if things played out as they did before. (As I am closing in on 39 weeks complication free, we’re very glad we decided to go with a doula again).

So our goals are the same this time as they were last time – to have an unmedicated birth.  I hope to labor at home for as long as possible and then take advantage of the great resources our birthing suites have available (birthing balls, jacuzzis, showers, etc.)  Since the first day we met Katrina, she has been a very calming presence.  While I never anticipated A and I getting into an argument in the delivery room, I also know that A’s coaching style and my stubborness don’t always work well together.  Katrina’s personality is not like either of ours and I think helps to balance us.  Katrina acts as a support not just to me, but to A.  She lets him take a break to eat or run to the bathroom, without feeling like he is abandoning me.  Him being able to do these things means he can support me better.  She has been to many more births than either of us (obviously) and so her knowledge of coping skills, positions and relaxation techniques will be an amazing resource for us.

Pre-birth (because we all know this baby is going nowhere right now) she has been very helpful with every panicked question I’ve thrown at her.  Even though this is our second birth, last time was not “normal” with packed hospital bags and laboring as I wished in the birthing suite.  I’ve had questions from when do I call the doctor, can I stay home longer to what should I pack to wear in the jacuzzi and do I have to wear a hospital gown.  For those questions that keep arising that I’m not sure whether I should call the doctor for, she is a great sounding board.  Earlier last week I thought my water may have broken (it had not) so I called and talked through the symptoms with her.  She thought it didn’t sound like it but felt it was worth a call to the doctor.  On Thursday I had a number of contractions that made all of us believe this baby was on her way (silly, silly us).  I spoke to Katrina throughout the evening, discussing what was happening and what I should be looking for if this really was labor.  In the end, when contractions went from every 10 minutes to every 25 and then nothing, she was supportive and reassuring.  Both A and I were disappointed – thinking we were going to be able to meet our baby by Friday – but she helped remind me that this was a sign things were getting ready to happen and at least allowed A and I to have a dry run of babysitter calls and packing hospital bags.  It may seem like a small thing, but it definitely helped me that evening.

Postpartum last time, Katrina helped us through breastfeeding issues as well as my guilt issues surrounding LC’s birth.  We talked about all of the interventions I had through the birth and why each was needed.  It made me feel better to know that the interventions couldn’t have been avoided and that we did what we needed to have a healthy baby.  I worried that I didn’t speak up for myself or my baby enough and challenge the interventions, but she reminded me of the high level of questioning both A and I had done before any intervention was taken.  While it may not have been the birth we imagined, it was the birth we needed for a healthy LC.

There are many reasons to choose a doula, these are just a few of ours.  While I’m not a 10 member “birthing team” in the room type of person, I am so happy to know I will have two wonderful support people in the room with me.  I just hope the next time I text or call her, it is to say that I really mean it this time, I’m in labor.

Second Time’s a Charm

Today was our Lamaze refresher course in preparation for BE2.  I took two notes in class.  One, 5-1-1, which suggests that for second time mothers, you should go to the hospital when your contractions are five minutes apart, one minute in duration for one hour.  The other note read “cafeteria closes at 7pm.”  Different things are important with your second child.

In some ways, not having the time or ability to obsess over this pregnancy as I did with LC is a relief.  All of a sudden, here we are, on the eve of 32 weeks.  It is relaxing to not over research car seats and swaddle blankets.  There are plenty of other things to obsess about – but most of them focus on LC and how this new baby will change and affect her life.  There are so many ways in which I prepared for LC that I have not done for BE2.  We don’t need any equipment, we have it all from LC.  With a second girl on the way, I’ve purchased two clothing items for the new baby, both second hand – a pair of Christmas pjs and a sleep sack.  LC had a full closet of clothing well before this point in that pregnancy.

The lack of preparation does not mean a lack of excitement, but it is as my Lamaze class notes suggest, just a different focus.   I don’t know what size fruit she is this week and I have no idea what she will wear home from the hospital .In some ways it is freeing, but as the day gets closer and closer, I am beginning to feel the weight of all that time I didn’t spend thinking about the new baby.   I think it is just the beginning of a new balance of thought that we’ll need to adapt to.  After spending over two years of thinking about LC and what she needs, we’ll need to think about what LC and BE2, not always putting LC first.  Hopefully, just as we learned to put LC’s needs first once she was on the scene, it will naturally come to us to balance the needs of both girls – so less focus on the minor things like the “perfect” coming home outfit and more focus on the important matters, like making sure our hospital food orders get into the cafeteria in time.