Monday, February 28, 2011

Good Morning

I woke up this morning to this statement from Zach:

"Tate started eating dog food out of Mesa's bowl this morning.  I consider it a step in the wrong direction."

Made me laugh.  This means, folks, that we are officially on dog-food watch 2011.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

On the Subject of Mommy Guilt

I normally use this blog just to post things I like.  But something has been on my mind lately, so I am going to venture into the territory of (gasp) writing about my thoughts.  A departure, I know.  But hopefully a useful one (if not for you, maybe for me? Because getting it out should be at least cathartic, right?  We'll see...).

So... a little background.  I am a working mom, which means that I am not home to witness Tate's every accomplishment.  When I had Tate, I was in school getting my MBA, so for the first 6 months of his life, I was gone every Monday and most Saturdays (including the first Monday after he was born, when he was just 5 days old).  I also choose to go to happy hour with friends regularly.  And I volunteer for organizations that I love, which occasionally means I have evening meetings right after work.  And I feel it is important that Zach and I spend time alone together.  And sometimes (hard to believe, I know) I just want to be alone, have a moment with no responsibility.  So when you add all these things together, it means that there are times when I only see Tate for a few minutes in the morning and right before he goes to bed.  Or I ask Zach to take him along on the grocery shopping so I can sit at home, alone, and do exactly what I want to do.  Or it might mean that I miss a major milestone.  Or that I relish my kid-stuff-free hotel room when I travel for work.

Based on everything that society tells me, I should be feeling heaps and heaps of "mommy guilt" for all of the above.  That dreaded emotion where I punish myself for not being able to do it all.  For having a meeting after work that means I don't get to give Tate his dinner and a goodnight kiss. Or for not being patient enough to be able to be with Tate every second of every day.  But here's the confession:  I have never experienced "mommy guilt". 

(Which, ironically, makes me feel kind of guilty).

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Why does mommy guilt exist?  And more importantly, why is it perpetuated? Because as much as articles tell us we need to "take care of ourselves" or "put ourselves on our own To Do list", I find that (at least among moms I know), there seems to be an almost competitive nature to how much we can self-flagellate.  Mom-talk seems to hover around the topic of how badly we all feel, as if it is some kind of badge of honor that means we love our kids the most, or are more devoted, the more terribly we feel about investing in other parts of our lives.  I hate this because a) I am super competitive and this is a competition I just won't win, and b) I think it is completely destructive and frankly, does more to make motherhood seem like some kind of ball-and-chain that distorts priorities ("my child is the single most-important thing in my life and if everything I do isn't absolutely devoted to him, I am a failure") instead of just changing them, like any other major life event ("I love my child and love spending time with him, so I might only go out with the girls once a month instead of every week like I did before").

But why don't I feel it?  When it is apparently so widespread, does it somehow make me callous, or insensitive, for feeling absolutely fine about the reality of my life?  For accepting that I make choices (to work, to volunteer, to invest in my marriage) and that those choices might take away from time with Tate? 

I think that I have figured out that the way I escape mommy-guilt is all about context. 

When I think about the things I do that take me away from Tate, I try to imagine the context in which he will view them as he grows up.  And for me, that context always begins with this:  I am loved by my mom and dad and grandma's and grandpa's and aunts and uncles and many, many others.  I have a happy and healthy life.  My parents love each other. We eat good food.  We are silly.  We spend time rolling around on the bed, and we read together.  I get to have pets.  I am safe and protected and supported.  And that, in my opinion, is a pretty good starting point.  So it is very important to me that I maintain that context, that the "big picture" of Tate's life be filled with joy.  Which means we eat together.  And don't answer the phone during dinner. And try to be playful.  And don't yell.  And say things like "books are the gadget fueled by our imaginations!" when Tate tries too hard to go after the laptop.  So as long as Tate's life is centered by these things, I feel generally pretty good about my parenting.

From there, I think about the kind of person that I want Tate to be.  I want him to be a hard-working, conscientious person.  I want him to love friends and family, and be willing to invest time in those relationships.  I want him to volunteer with the organizations he feels passionately about.  I want him to love his wife, and romance her throughout their marriage, kids or no kids.  So, when I think about the things I do in the context of how they will shape and contribute to the person I want Tate to be, I find that there is absolutely no room for guilt.  In fact, I feel pride in them.  Because I fundamentally believe that as a parent, modeling the behavior you expect is the best way to impart it on to your children.  So when Tate sees me go out to dinner with a good friend, or miss dinner at home because I have a meeting for a non-profit, I think (hope?) he will internalize those values. 

And the final thing that helps me avoid the plague of mommy guilt?  Frankly, I know myself and I know that I will show up.  This was the best lesson I ever learned from my mom.  How to show up.  How to recognize the big things (even when they might not seem big on the surface) and to be there.  So at the end of the day, I trust my own instincts in when my presence truly, deeply matters (like the night of a big performance or event, or maybe the week or two following a big disappointment or break-up).  And when it doesn't (like on a random Wednesday). 

Phew.  I am glad I got that off my chest.  Because I would like to see us banish mommy-guilt, and the sense of pride that accompanies it, and replace it instead with pride in our own accomplishments and how we model those for our children.

(stepping off the soapbox now)

P.S.  Artwork pictured above is from Stuff No One Told Me About.  A perfect reminder to let go of our guilt, perhaps?  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Food Tidings

Speaking of food, I am excited to share this next idea.  You know how nice it is to bring a casserole to someone who needs it?  Kind of like a casserole dish of love.  Well, Food Tidings makes it easy.  My sister emailed me the link.  It is a genius idea, and a great name.  Have you heard of it?  Basically, Food Tidings exists to simplify the process of organizing meals for friends or family members in a transitional time of life. Lissa sent it to me because she knows that we try to bring food to friends with new babies.  Food Tidings is perfect for that, or for a friend who is grieving, just had surgery, or is going through another important life event where meal planning and preparation might take a backseat.

The website helps you arrange a schedule, organize friends and family to plan drop-offs, and allows you to enter the pertinent details: Family food preferences, allergies, number of kids and adults, and other special instructions (like "please don't ring the doorbell because a baby might be sleeping")... Once the event is scheduled, anyone can log in at any time to sign up for an open slot.

Isn't this a wonderful idea?  I think so.  I only wish the site itself had more style... I find the name and idea outstanding, but the site itself feels a little... well, stale and kitschy.  All that to say, I still anticipate using it pretty regularly from here on out.

photo via weheartit

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Heart Foodzie

I love Of-the-Month clubs.  Just the idea of them, getting something every month.  I especially love the idea if that monthly item is food.  So for Christmas this year, I got Zach (and also my sister and brother-in-law) this awesome of-the-month club from the company Foodzie.  Have you heard of Foodzie yet?  It is an online marketplace where you can discover and buy food directly from small passionate food producers and growers.  So basically, you know all those amazing, artisan food products sold at places like Williams-SonomaFoodzie takes those artisan products straight from the producer, essentially cutting out the middle-man.

Each month, they have what they call a "tasting box".  The tasting box is filled with sample sizes of about 6-9 different artisan food products from all over.  Past tasting boxes have included artisan salts, cupcakes, pretzels, granola... mmmm... Are you getting hungry yet?  The best part is if you end up wanting to buy any of the products in your tasting box, you get them at a discount.  It is a fantastic way to learn about specialty products from across the country.

Anyway, our February box just came, filled with delicious chocolates, truffled popcorn,brownies, caramels, and other delicacies (my favorite so far are the NutC Sweet and Spicy Walnuts. So good.  Go here and scroll down to see everything in our February box).

But what is so impressive to me about the Tasting Boxes, in addition to the food, of course, is the design.  It is packaged so beautifully- each box is accompanied by a menu of sorts, telling you what you are tasting and a little bit about the producer.  Such fun.
P.S.  I keep thinking that this is the perfect gift for my friend Brigid, but since she is vegetarian, many of the items (like the beef jerky in last month's box) might be wasted.  Perhaps they need a vegetarian tasting box?!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Anthropologie's New Wedding Line: BHLDN

Have you heard about Anthropologie's new wedding line, BHLDN?  It just launched, and I love it.  It features bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, hair ornaments, shoes, jewelry, lingerie... but some of my favorite items are in the "cover up" category which highlights boleros and wraps. 

Here are some of my favorites from the line:
You can check out the entire line here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine's Day Wrap-Up

Did you have a nice Valentine's Day?  We did.  It was fun but hectic.  I had spent the last few weeks trying to decide how we were going to celebrate- I wanted to do something inexpensive but festive.  I started out with poms from pomlove hanging from the ceiling fan.  Simple.  But fun nonetheless.

I followed this up with a "clothesline of love" for Zach down the hallway. *This was easy: I criss-crossed red and white bakers twine down the hallway (I used pushpins to hold it against the wall).  Then I used mini-clothespins to pin up heart-shaped love notes to Zach (notes that I typed on my vintage, 1930's Remington typewriter, a gift from a friend in high school- great gift, huh?). 

As far as food goes, I had grand plans of cooking a delicious dinner.  After a busy day, those plans went out the window.  So we had pizza.  And champagne.  While we sat in front of the absolutely gorgeous bouquet Zach bought me.  Perfect.  And remember the dessert I made last year?  It was such a hit, we had a repeat performance this year.  Yum.

But my favorite, favorite part of the day was, ironically, the one thing I hadn't planned.  Ever since I read this post on Hip Hip Hooray, I have been thinking about confetti.  So when I realized that I had some extra tissue paper (what the poms had been wrapped in for shipping), I decided to make some.  I cut long strips into confetti:

And then I surreptitiously stacked little piles on top of the ceiling fan blades** so that I could grab Zach, stand under the poms, turn the ceiling fan on... and for a split second, we would be surrounded with red and pink confetti.  Perfect for kissing under.
Happily, Zach didn't notice the little piles, so he had no idea what to suspect when I made him stand up with me, and turned the fan on... tada! It worked perfectly! I did a trial run- here's a pic so you can see for yourself.
It was just a few seconds, but it was a perfect few seconds. 

I am so lucky to have Zach as my Valentine.  I hope your day was also filled with perfect moments.
*Warning #1- you are likely to walk into the clothesline about a million times between 10 am and 5 pm (when your valentine gets home).

** Warning #2: if you ever decide to pile anything on top of ceiling fan blades, be aware that the top of ceiling fan blades are absolutely disgusting.  It took almost an hour to just get the layers and layers of dust off the blades.  Not fun.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

And now...

It's time for gratuitous pictures of Tate because I can't resist. He finished up swim lessons last week, and even got to go down the big slide with Daddy. Swim lessons were great- highly recommended!

Do you see the yellow blur?  That is Tate (in his life-jacket) as he and Zach hit the water at the end of the (two story!) twisty slide. They went down twice.  I was jealous.  Who doesn't love a twisty water slide? 

P.S.   Any photographers out there?  How do you get good action shots?  I swear, more than 90% of the pictures I took are completely blurry...

Behind the Scenes Butt Squeeze

This little butt squeeze photo makes me happy.  Love and silliness are on the mind... which makes the fact that Zach is sick a little sadder.  Fingers crossed he's feeling better by Valentine's Day (I have a few things up my sleeve).

photo via Erin Hearts Court

Monday, February 7, 2011

Musings of the Birthday Party Variety

Tate's birthday is in just 2 months.  Two months!  This means that planning needs to begin now.  But I am completely, utterly stymied.  And the plan just won't come together in my mind.  I hate this feeling, because when you plan a party, I feel like there should be some vision of that party in your head.  And this one just won't come.  Perhaps because I am putting too much pressure for it to be something special (it is a first birthday, after all).  But I am also conflicted because back when I was pregnant, before Zach and I knew how totally head-over-heels in love you fall with your baby, we had joked about crazy first birthday parties that kids don't even remember.  And we had talked about how we were going to host a "we survived!", adults-only celebration with cocktails and no kiddie games in sight.

But now I am rethinking that plan.

But if we had a kids party,  I am troubled over who to invite... how many kids... and the fact that most of our friends kids are quite a few years older than Tate.  And that Tate won't remember.

So than I think we should just have a family dinner and call it a day.  But where's the fun in that?

You see how ridiculous this is all becoming?  I think I am going to have to shut my brain down by watching The Bachelor.  In the meantime, whichever way I go, I am loving these invitations by Simplicity Papers.