Wait, THIS Is My Life?

I was supposed to have a baby named something like Payne (after Payne Stewart, the late, great, knicker-wearing professional golfer). Or maybe a Peyton (played out, by the time my time came around). Or Maddox (after Ford Maddox Ford, because, you know, I WAS an English major) but then Angelina and Brad started their family-building initiative and that name went off the list.

I figured I’d have a dog named Comma, or maybe Fitzgerald (F. Scott, anyone?). Again, I’m an English-major-dweeb.

I was going to host dinner parties with placecards and over-planned menus.

I thought I’d take cooking classes and be a wine snob.

I was sure I’d be married and have birthed all my children (all five of them) by age 27 because, well, that’s OLD.

I’d be one of those annoying, slender, skinny Pilates-doing women with a perky ass, perky tits and arms that Michelle Obama would want.

My house would be my dream house, all the rooms ready for their photography moments and set to be featured on the pages of Pottery Barn-House Beautiful-Restoration Hardware.

I’d be THAT neighbor who had a plate full of sugar cookie cutouts because, as everyone would know, I have an ever-expanding cookie cutter collection. Said neighbors would thoughtfully pick-up obscure cookie cutters on their respective travels and I’d send nice thank you’s on personalized stationery.

And then, last night, I realized, I named my child a name that was NEVER on the short – or the long – list of names I had selected for my children two decades ago.

It was weird. This flash of recognition that my life is different because I didn’t end up choosing a name for my baby that was on my original list (yes, gentlemen, lots of us gals have lists of names we are intent on naming our children years before we cross your path).

Turns out, I still have never had my own dog because, unlike children, you NEVER have to stop picking up their poop.

I haven’t hosted a legitimate dinner party with placecards in my life — though I’ve had parties and I’ve had dinners. I don’t even know anyone who wouldn’t find me incredibly stuffy if I actually thought to make a seating arrangement for a dinner. I have good friends and smart friends and I’m pretty sure they’re capable of choosing their own spot at the table (or in front of the tv, as the case may be).

I’ve wanted to be a wine snob. I know enough about wine glasses to know what is allegedly a good glass (when they’re one piece instead of having a ridge at the bottom and/or top of the stem). But, I drink less-than-$10-a-botttle wine. Michigan wines, wines purchased at Meijer and various grocery stores. Domestic wines. What can I say – just one more way this isn’t the life I envisioned at some random point in my history.

And, as far as having my FIVE children (HA – RIGHT!) by the time I was 27. Well, I didn’t even meet Jon until I was 27 and we’re not approaching marriage any time soon, so…I don’t know exactly WHEN I thought this one up, but at some point before I was 27, I assume.

The last time I did Pilates was, well, I can’t even remember. The last time I did something truly aerobic with a nice, solid sweat was too, too long ago. My arms are flabby and the thing standing between me and being a jogger is that I don’t have a ponytail that swings. Seriously, I’m growing my hair out so I have a better jogging ponytail.

I can’t make this stuff up, folks. This is who I am.

I have the house I loved when I was small. It needs a lot of work. Parts of it I love. Parts of it I abhor. Parts of it I can see coming together. But one – ONE – room in the house is complete and that’s Elle’s room. Ugh.

I haven’t had the energy to make cookie dough, create the mess and clean it up, let alone decorate cookies, and then willingly walk to the neighbors to deliver cookies. Which means, no thank you notes to write for cookie cutter gifts that never arrive. But at least I’ve got boxes full of thank you notes at the ready – just in case. Heck, I can barely get the dishwasher unloaded and don’t get me started on how many times, on average, I wash a load of laundry. I put it in, it’s clean, and then I forget to move it to the dryer. So, it gets re-washed. Current average: 2.1 washes per load. NICE and environmentally friendly.

So, this is my life. My kitchen counters constantly need to be wiped down and Jon and I leave our coats anywhere that’s convenient throughout the house. I haven’t done more than dust-mop the wood floors in way too long. The vacuum is sitting out in the basement, but it hasn’t been run. The laundry is probably still in the wash, waiting for the day, some day in the future, when I finally remember to transfer it to the dryer. Folding it before it’s wrinkled is another story all together.

I have a lived-in house that’s been full of friends and family. I have a PHENOMENAL daughter and a wonderful partner who’s an awesome dad. I have 800+ cookie cutters that I can brag up as a collection of my own. Jon’s painting the bedroom this week — so maybe it’ll be ready for its close-up soon!!

So yeah, THIS is my life.

Not what I planned – but the one I prefer.

Except, I’d still like a perky ass and a good jogging ponytail.

I Forgot To Show You Something: Elle’s Bedroom

Because today is my 200th post, and because I have been digging around and trying to become a bit better at this whole blogging thing, I have been re-reading my old posts from the beginning. (Not ALL of them).

It’s certainly a trip to see what I was thinking THEN and how it IS NOW. I guess that’s why I wanted to do this whole blog thing – for posterity’s sake and my own memories.

But, I realized that there are things that I wanted and meant to share that I haven’t yet (I think).

One of those is Elle’s bedroom.

It is, by far, my MOST favorite room in the house.

Here is what it looked like on August 6, 2011:

By the following day, it looked like this:

We used Sherwin Williams “Brown Teepee” on the walls. Absolutely LOVE this color. I’ve seen it used in almost every room in a house with great success. It’s a wonderful color!

On August 11, we started adding in my FAVORITE, the Pottery Barn “Morrocan Red”.

By September 3, the finishing touches were the only things required. Here’s a look:

Wall decal from Trading Phrases, Rug from Ikea, Glider from JCPenney, Crib from JCPenny, artwork from allposters.com, Fan from Lowe's, Blinds from Budget Blinds

The quilt was hand made by Kathy to fit in with our Picasso theme.

So, what did I learn in all of this?

JCPenney’s has great deals on gliders and cribs.

Ikea was the place for the dresser, the lamps, the ladybug and the rug.

Trading Phrases had the Picasso dove decal and I found the artwork at allposters.com. The frames came from Ikea, too.

And I’m sure you may be curious to see what her room looks like after having used and lived in it for over three months. I swear I didn’t clean it up just for taking these photos this morning…as you can probably tell!

This was the find of the decor process - a Picasso five-piece set at Ikea. I love these and the Rooster and Summer Bouquet to the right.

Meant it when I said I didn't clean up - notice the middle-of-the-night bottle on the nightstand. Adding the nightstand and the lamp next to the glider were must-have additions.

I'm a huge fan of the light that comes into Elle's room even on the gloomiest of days. A bit bright (and frigid) this January morning.

 

 

 

Little Socks

Another quick thought I wanted to be sure to capture…

 

I made it my goal to catch up on laundry yesterday. I have pretty much accomplished this feat and have been carting folded laundry and matched socks up from the laundry room throughout the day yesterday.

As Jon and I were preparing to head out for drinks last night, I saw something on the floor, out of the corner of my eye.

It was a pair of Elle’s socks that must have fell off the top of the pile of clean clothes, balled up into their one-inch diameter size, with little bows to boot.

And once I realized what they were, and that they weren’t doing any harm, I left them there for a few more trips up and down the stairs…and every time I saw them let myself smile a little bit, because it feels so good to have a home where little socks can be found on the floor.

So today, I’m thankful for little socks and for the little girl who wears them.

Making Dinner

I have to say that I feel unusually lucky with the way things are going thus far.

Tonight, we hosted Jon’s Mom, Dad, brother and (almost) sister-in-law (technicalities at this point, really) for dinner. Jon’s Dad is heading in for surgery on Thursday and the week is full of preparation for the procedure. I wanted to be sure we had a nice dinner before that happened, so I offered yesterday to have dinner over here tonight.

I will say this, it’s not as easy as I make it out to be in my head, hosting a dinner ‘party’. But, I felt like I was pretty close to being both me and Elle’s Mom all at the same time tonight and I felt good about that.

I made a chicken parmesan that is DELICIOUS, potatoes, noodles, green beans, beets and set what I believe to be a beautiful table. (If I had more than eight seconds to write this post before our Minnie calls, I’d post the pics of the table that I took).

The last two days have reaffirmed why this house, in this place, at this time, is the right place for us to be. Yesterday I had a friend from college over, a friend’s husband and older son over to watch football, Jon’s brother to watch football, then Andrea and Drew came over too. It was a full house and a fun day and it was so lovely to feel our house come alive. It was everything I envisioned for myself and our little family — and more. And while there are pieces of furniture that I want and things I desire to add to my home, yesterday and today made me…well, frankly…happy. I feel so fulfilled. This is what I wanted my life to be like right now. What a nice realization to come to on a Sunday evening, after a glass of wine with some jazz playing in the background (I shit you not, I turned on the jazz channel in our music-on-demand…seemed like the right thing to do).

I wore an apron and Jon wore a sweater and we used a tablecloth and my nice, matching dishes and the not-plastic salt and pepper. What can I say – it was a great weekend for us.

Now, as for Elle, she rocks. She fusses a bit here and there (why not?!) but she’s great. She’s my girl. She’s sleeping in about three hour stretches…and I can’t complain about that (though you might catch me complaining). She seems overwhelmingly, exceptionally normal (the exceptional part is where I’m placing the emphasis) which makes me very, very happy.

I also want to enter into the record the fact that Jon is awesome – he’s seriously a wonderful, engaged, doting, caring father and it’s more than I knew to expect from him. He loves his daughter so much and it makes my heart swell that both of them are — for brief flashes in time — mine.

As an oh-by-the-way I’ve ended my time with the breastfeeding exercise and am feeling only slight guilt over this choice. And, do I have stories to tell about hemorrhoids…

But not tonight, because tonight, I’m only talking about the things that make me exceedingly happy. And Elle and Jon are it – so I’m headed their way.

L

 

Day 18…in the life of Elle

It’s been 18 days, can you believe it?

I know there is a lot to catch up on, for sure, but I think instead of feeling intimidated and overwhelmed in catching up, I’m just going to update you on where we are NOW.

Elle is 18 days old! Can you believe it?

I remember writing (or at the very least commenting to others) about blogs I read where the women just had babies and I was disappointed that it took them so long after having the baby to write again. Well, now I get it. If I had the time/energy/resources in the right place at the right time I’d have written a lot. In my head, I’ve been writing lots of blog posts. The problem with that is that I most certainly remember less now that I have at any time in my life, so…those blog posts are gone with the fleeting memory that created them.

Not that those of you reading at home will notice, but I was just gone on a 20 minute hiatus due to a second-in-as-many-days diaper blowout. Poop? Yes. And to think I was worried that she hadn’t pooped in her first few days at home!

I went for a nice, long 2 mile walk today with the sun shining and a cool breeze…we don’t have many days left like this in Michigan this year, so I’m taking them for all they are worth.

I don’t know where I stand in post-partum weight loss, because I haven’t necessarily stepped on a scale that I trust. My pre-preggo pants do not yet fit, but I have to say that I think I’m pretty close…I figure I’ve still been a little bit swollen, but in the whole scheme of things, I feel pretty good about how my body feels and looks right now, for 18 days out of delivering out sweet baby girl.

I have been thinking a lot of how to describe loving our baby…and for a few days it was all so surreal and unreal that I don’t think that I was doing a good job visualizing how I felt about her or how her arrival impacted my life. But, the other night it came to me…it’s like my whole heart and all the things I’ve loved and cared about are still in the same place and still occupy the same space in my life and consciousness…but she outlines all of it. Seriously, loving Elle is like having my heart outlined with thoughts of her, dreams for her, fears for her and a fierce sense of protecting her.

I also have these weird moments where I’m terrified about her safety – like what if this slippery, clean baby slips out of my cautious hands? So then I’m even MORE cautious so that I have a good hold, that I know that I have her. It’s like I have to take an extra beat in the things that I do to make sure that her safety is first. Like, coming to a four way stop. I feel like I took those a lot less seriously 19 days ago. I would always assume the other cars were stopping, too. But now, I wait. I have the time. I will wait to make sure that those other cars on the roadway stop at the stop sign. Even if she’s not in the car. Because I want to be there for her.

It’s amazing, really, to understand how quickly your world goes from revolving around yourself to revolving around someone else.

In this, Elle’s third week of life, she’s beginning to have better control of her arms and hands and fingers (Jon swears that she is intentionally clawing his face this week!). She is awake for longer stretches at a time (somehow, though, not at the moments when her grandparents stop over…she seems content to sleep through the visits of most people).

Jon got laid off from the power plant job the first week we were home, which has worked out well. He and I have had a chance to get to know Elle together, separately and to work at being parents together, too. And I feel like somehow, at least right now, we are really firing on all cylinders when it comes to being parents together. And I feel like our relationship is healthy, too. I think we’re both respecting each other’s need for sleep to the point that neither one of us feels too sleep-deprived.

All in all, we’re all happy and healthy at our house.

To end my ‘I-hope-I’m-back-in-the-swing-of-things-and-post-more-often’ first post, here’s some Halloween shots of Elle.

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Time Flies

I just re-read some posts of mine from the last few weeks.

I’ve felt for the last four weeks that the end was near.

I got sick of hearing about the end, so I’m going to stop talking about it.

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I awoke this morning to the following headlines in my Gmail Inbox:

“Your Healthy Pregnancy: Week 39”

Living Social Deals: “Two Hours of House Cleaning”

“Foods That Induce Labor”

“Bottle Feeding Your Baby”

Groupon: 80% OFF JCPenney Portrait Package

“Your Breastfeeding Questions: Answered!”

Just thought I’d share these. Don’t they seem like they all go together somehow? Like, I need baby pictures of our Minnie and I need a clean house for her to call home, and we’re at the end – so here are some foods that induce labor and some tips for breast and/or bottle feeding, since I never did take the breastfeeding class.

 

Just Write…

I’ve come across some really GREAT blogs by women writers. Or, rather, women. Who happen to write.

Like here at The Big Piece of Cake.

Or, here at the Extraordinary Ordinary. (This is where I found the “Just Write” concept and fell in love with the momentum of it immediately).

And this aggregate site of blogs and info is TOO COOL.

And with that, I just used the word aggregate in a non-academic, not work-related way.

The thing is, I’m finding all these other women writers so empowering. I like knowing they’re out there, and that I’m ‘out there’ with them.

They make me want to write the blog post about the conversations Molly and I have had since she’s had her baby 13 days ago and I’m about 13 days from having my own Minnie.

Molly asked me the other day, sitting in her house as she pumped and breastfed for the umpteenth time in the day, after ANOTHER 23 minute conversation with the lactation consultant. She asked “Why does no one ever tell you what labor is really like?”

And the conversation ensued.

Mainly, she wanted to know how anyone describes the pain of childbirth as indescribable. She says she’s pretty sure she could describe it. (I’ll let it slide for now that she hasn’t, since I don’t really need the nitty gritty details of it anyway).

Then she asked if any of the books I’d read said that when you are pushing your child out it feels like you’re pooping. And why doesn’t it, she wondered. Because, that’s what it feels like, she says.

So, I’ve re-told this story to all the women I’ve come across in the meantime.

And…

They all agree.

So what the heck? Why don’t the damn books just SAY that? That that is the sensation you’re going to have?

Molly texted me today, chalking yet another one up to things no one ever tells you about having a baby.

Evidently the umbilical cord smells like garbage as its getting ready to fall off.

Again, not something they tell you in the books. Like, if you smell garbage and you’ve changed the baby’s clothes and diaper and given the baby a bath…it’s a sure bet the umbilical cord is rotting off of your brand new, clean baby.

Yuck.

But, good to know.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I think we’ve settled on a name for our Minnie.

And no, it’s not Minnie.

But I’m also not putting it out there yet.

I like that we’ve agreed on it and yet, we’re keeping it to us. I’ve thrown it out there a few different times to different people…but Jon and I are in agreement.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The neighbor, Michael, has mowed his lawn again today. I swear that’s twice in the last three days.

Keeping up with the neighbors in lawn-mowing efficiency is tough stuff when Michael makes a habit of mowing his lawn incessantly.

It makes me feel guilty, our long grass standing at attention next to his.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t also live on a golf course, so that the grass is always mowed right up to your property line on all sides. And then, there you are, the nine-months-pregnant gal bribing her brother to mow the lawn so that the neighbors don’t talk. Or talk anymore than they already are.