Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Resolution: Minimalism

One of my new year's resolutions is to embrace minimalism. This isn't a new topic--I'm always thinking about it in the back of my mind. But I decided that instead of it just being a nagging thought or a nebulous "wouldn't that be nice" (or an every-few-months freak-out where the crap literally drives me bonkers and I go into frenzied purging mode), I wanted to finally take some real steps to make it a thoughtful and sustainable model, one that becomes a part of my everyday life (and the family's).

At heart, I am truly a minimalist. When I see pictures online of sparse Scandinavian homes, I want to throw out everything in my house and live in a bright white box with a pretty white table and a white sofa (with a wool gray blanket perfectly draped over it). I want to have nothing. I am also very adversely affected by visual clutter.  At work, if my desk is cluttered or dirty I can't get work done. My coworkers make fun of me for constantly attacking my desk with wet wipes. I often think about my advisor in college, Prof. Rabkin. I loved him as an advisor--the man is brilliant, funny, irreverent--but that man's office was so. cluttered. and. messy. When we had meetings, he would say "come on in!" and then literally knock over a tower of 15 books teetering on a chair so I could sit down. I would sit in our meeting silently in horror, stealing glances at the 15 books now flung all over the floor.

I'm a minimalist when it comes to possessions too. For the longest time, especially as a young working woman, I thought I needed to accessorize with different jewelry every day to look put together, so I'd go online or to the mall and buy fun costume jewelry here and there. But I ended up almost never wearing them. They'd just collect dust on the necklace tree in the corner of the bedroom. Every morning, I would instead default to the same earrings, the same necklace, the same bracelet, the same watch and my wedding ring--and what I really mean by that is I just never took any of it off, because I always sleep with all my jewelry on except the bracelet and watch. None of it was costume jewelry--they were all real gold or silver jewelry. Once I realized this about myself, I stopped buying costume jewelry entirely. I've come to realize that I don't do well with too many choices. I like wearing the same jewelry every day. I have a closet full of clothes but wear the same few sweaters in the winter, and the same t-shirts in the summer. I have about 5 nice bags but I use the same one every day. (Tangent: I also hate going to diners and Cheesecake Factory because the menus have a gajillion items.) Despite knowing this, I buy things. Why? I think it's the fun of the hunt. I think it's retail therapy. I think it's buying into the lie of consumerism. The worst part is the cycle that follows: you have too much stuff, so you go and spend more money on ways to organize the stuff, but the stuff eventually wins and takes over, then you stress about it, then you purge. Rinse and repeat. I read this quote somewhere: "Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly." -- Epictetus. Wuuut. So on point!

The following are some concrete steps I'm taking to to pursue minimalism. None of these are purely my own ideas--I've been doing a lot of reading and writing down tips I find helpful and adding my own thoughts to them.

1. Define your minimalism. Every person has his/her own idea of what minimalism looks like. I'm working on articulating and honing my version of minimalism.
The broad goals (the "what") I have written down so far are:
- to have less stuff of better quality in my house
- to buy less stuff overall
- to spend less money on stuff
The reasons (the "why") are:
- to free up more money and time to spend on people and causes and experiences and travel
- to simplify my life and have better focus on the important things
- to make the house less cluttered, and easier to clean, which means less time spent cleaning too

I'm never going to be the extreme minimalist I describe above, which is ok. But I want to find my happy equilibrium of minimalism.

2. Take inventory. Go through all your stuff, by type. For clothes/shoes/bags/etc., it can be helpful to write down what you have. Sometimes, you have so much crap that the good stuff is buried with the bad stuff and you forget you have it. Keep what you want to keep, declutter and get rid of the stuff you don't want (point 3 below) and make a shopping list of anything you don't have but really, actually need. This helps you to better use the stuff you do keep. I recently heard about an app called Stylebook and I want to try it out. It lets you upload pictures of your clothes, and then it puts together outfits for you. Sometimes I think good outfits are in my closet, I just don't have the mental energy to sit there and figure out what goes well with what.

3. Get rid of it. I've been on a mission getting rid of the clutter around the house. So far, I've done the kids' rooms, the linen closet, the kitchen and my closet. I still have to do the basement (uyyyy), my bedroom and the kids' toys (never ends...). Guidelines are, get rid of it if: a) I haven't used it in a while (other than seasonal items or occasionally-used items like tents or sports gear, unless it's really not getting used at all), b) it doesn't fit (you mean I won't ever again fit into that suit I bought when I was 24?), c) it's not in good shape and can't be easily repaired or d) my tastes have changed and I just don't like it anymore. I sell or donate the items in good condition, and the rest is thrown out. I use the Poshmark app to sell clothes/shoes/bags/accessories (I've made close to $1000 on there, but if I think about how much I spent on those items originally...ugh). If you and your friends are similar sizes, you can do a clothing/shoes swap. Size doesn't matter for accessories and anything else--home wares, kitchen stuff, kids' stuff, even furniture, etc. It's a good way to get more use out of the item and keep things out of landfills. Tip: do not get rid of toys when kids are home or awake. All of a sudden, that toy that was buried at the bottom of the toy chest for 6 months is "my favorite and I have to keep it!" Do it at night...with wine and George Michael.

4. Quality over quantity. When you actually need something, try to get something that's good quality and that will last. This obviously doesn't apply to everything, but clothes and shoes, I'm looking at you. I am as guilty as anyone of loving fast fashion. It's cheap and it's non-committal. It's also wreaking havoc on our environment, taking advantage of/abusing cheap labor and causing our landfills to overflow. I'm actually going to try to keep clothing purchases to a minimum in 2017 (I didn't say shoes right........), but if I do need something, I'm going to try to buy better quality, less quantity. There's a freedom that comes with this point--if you're buying less stuff, you can afford to spend more on each item, instead of constantly feeling the need to search for bargains. I'm also researching brands that are socially and environmentally conscious--if you know of good ones, let me know. Some people are going the "capsule wardrobe" route--which sounds nice but I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet. Maybe one day.

5. Repair and reuse, if possible. Let's be honest. There are certain things in your house that are broken and you KNOW you will not get around to fixing them, or you don't know how to fix them. And so they just sit there in the corner of your basement/kitchen/garage/etc. collecting dust and silently nagging at you. If you know it's not going to get fixed, and it's not worth the money or time to do it, just get rid of it. But. I bought a sewing machine (last year...it's still in the box...) because I want to learn how to sew. If I buy good quality clothes and they need small repairs, I want to be able to repair them myself on the sewing machine (again, once I learn how to use it). If the repair is harder, I can always go to my trusty tailor. For other non-clothing items, sometimes all you need is some superglue. Ask yourself, "can it be fixed?" before throwing it out and buying something new.

6. Don't buy organization items (furniture, bins, baskets, etc.) before you know exactly what you're organizing. Self-explanatory. I read this somewhere and I was like, "ugh why are you staring into my soul." I love organizing. It satisfies a deep need within me. I think it's genetic. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to visit my dad's office. It was, for a budding organization freak, heaven. His desk was spotless. All his paper files were paper clipped in the exact same spot (an inch in from the left), and then perfectly stacked. I would go and take it all in, and sometimes for fun I would reorganize it.

7. If you need something, see if you can borrow it instead of buying it. Ask friends and family if they can lend you an item. If you need it once, and you borrow it and then return it, awesome--you didn't bring an extra item in your house and you didn't spend money. If you find that you need it often and are borrowing it often, it's a good sign that maybe you should buy the item.

8. Don't bring it into the house unless it's actually necessary/be zealous for your home/ask yourself 'do I need it?' multiple times. I read something a while ago that really helped me with this: we call all this collective stuff "clutter"--but it's not like it magically appeared in my house one day. I consciously brought it in. That really re-framed the way I thought about it. Why do we act like we are powerless in the fight against clutter--why are we resigned to it as our certain fate? This includes things we buy, but it can also include gifts and things you were given for free. It's simple, but hard. It does not come in the house unless you actually need it. This stops the cycle of getting and purging before it starts.

Be zealous for your home. Bring in things that are worthy to be in your house and live with you. Set the bar high so you're not buying or bringing home random crap. I think Marie Kondo uses the question "does it spark joy?" This doesn't apply to everything, and every blog post on Kondo inevitably has that commenter: "Does my vegetable peeler or jump cables spark joy for me? No but I need them." (eye roll) It obviously has its limits--apply it as you see fit.

Ask yourself "do I need this?" multiple times before buying something. One way I do this is to go online shopping, fill the cart, and then close the window. I mull over the item for a day or two. If I really think I need it, then I'll buy it. If not, I won't. I read that the act of shopping online and putting items in the virtual cart brings us the same satisfaction as actually buying the item (in other words, it's really about the hunt). I don't know if that's always true, but it makes sense.

9. Remember that minimalism is a means to an end. People embrace minimalism because they need a change in their lives. The worship of stuff is not working out--so they use minimalism as a way out. The funny thing is minimalism can also become a problem, if you end up worshiping it. It is a means to an end, but if you make it the end, you'll still be left stressed out because it won't satisfy you or solve your issues. I realize I do this--it's the classic "create order and gain control of your life when there otherwise isn't any order/control" move. When I'm stressed, I clean the house or I get rid of stuff or I organize or I make to-do lists. My house might be cleaner and neater (and my to-do list done), but I don't feel any different. I'm decluttering my house when I should be decluttering my life (so deep!). Usually, what I really need in that moment is to sit down, take a deep breath, be quiet, think, pray and listen to God. Minimalism won't satisfy you--it is a tool to help you get to a place where you are more satisfied. I think there's a very good reason that convents and monasteries are so sparse. Cut the crap, see the important stuff.

Is anyone else working on minimalism? Help me! Give me your tips and good ideas.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Project: Raising Empathetic, Generous, Un-Entitled Kids

It's a topic that comes up a lot. It's written about a lot. Here's the latest one for your reading pleasure: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/how-to-raise-kinder-less-entitled-kids-according-to-science/2016/10/03/1a74fa3a-7525-11e6-b786-19d0cb1ed06c_story.html

I think about this a lot. I generally have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to this (or parenting in general, tbh) so I wanted to document what I've done so far and what I want to do in the future, so I can come back here, see where things have progressed well or not so well, and adjust accordingly. I also want to ask other parents what you do to raise empathetic, generous, un-entitled kids. Please share your awesome ideas with me. See? Sometimes the internet IS good for something other than looking up those burning but completely inconsequential questions that come to you just as you're about to fall asleep (like "are grizzly bears and black bears the same thing?") (btw, no, they're not).

I really liked the article above because it provides some psychological background as to why kids are the way they are. And it also gives some solid, practical ways for parents to help their kids better understand the world around them and in that process, hopefully become un-entitled. I've been reading A Path Appears and it actually quoted the same book about how we are more eager to help an individual in need than a faceless many. And I say things like "L! So many kids don't even have enough food to eat so eat that green vegetable!" or "L! You don't need any more Shopkins--some kids don't have any Shopkins!" but I feel like that doesn't really do much for the cause. Who are these so-called "kids" anyway, mom? And truth-be-told, I have, in fact, become my mom because she used to mention the poor African kids all the time as a way to combat our entitlement, and now I'm doing the same thing even though as a kid all I did was roll my eyes. After reading that chapter in A Path Appears, I decided that I wanted to give L concrete examples of how others are less fortunate than her, with a hope that it will instill in her a deep sense of gratitude as well as a tireless drive to help others. I signed up to sponsor a child through World Vision. I actually thought long and hard about the child we should sponsor. At first, I thought maybe we should sponsor a child in Africa, because the need seems particularly great there. But I ended up sponsoring a child from the Philippines. I did this because I wanted to show her the child and say, "look, here's a girl in the Philippines who's your age, she likes stickers like you, she even looks sort of like you, and yet her life is dramatically different than yours." We looked at her pictures together and read her profile that tells where she lives, what she likes, who's in her family, etc. and I could see L getting more and more interested. Just like the story in the article (where the guy's kids are excitedly shopping for two needy kids for Christmas), the WV child's birthday is coming up so L and I went to Target a couple weeks ago and L was way more excited to pick out gifts for her than she usually is for her own gifts.

As the kids get older, I want to make it a part of our lives to regularly and routinely volunteer. If you know of organizations that welcome little volunteers, please let me know. I know soup kitchens and food pantries can use kids for serving, sorting, etc. But knowing J, we might have to wait until he is 16.

I've been praying a lot that my kids would grow up to become people who are marked by humility, empathy and generosity. And you know how it is--raising children is often a very honest, unforgiving mirror of our own lives (and apparently I have one of those mirror mirrors that talks back to you because L will call me out so fast if I exhibit less than exemplary behavior). It challenges me to live my life in a way that exemplifies all these traits that I want to instill in her, because they're watching us all the time, like little stalkers. Well I was away on business the past two days, and when I got home, SH told me that last night, before bed, L prayed for the WV child. She remembered her name, remembered that she's from the Philippines, and said "God, please help my friend J in the Philippines who doesn't have a lot of things." That really melted my heart.

One big thesis of A Path Appears is that the government spends so much money for things later on in life (welfare, prison, etc.), but if even a fraction of that money were spent on babies and toddlers and preschoolers for programs like subsidized childcare, education for poor parents on the benefits of talking to and reading to their children, visiting nurse services to help poor mothers learn how to breastfeed and care for their children, etc., we would, by investing in people from the very beginning, radically change our country (if you can't tell already, I'm a big fan of this book--go buy it and read it). Maybe it won't happen in the near future, but for those of us who are fortunate enough to worry about raising un-entitled children, we have the opportunity to shape our country's future by raising those kids who will then become the adults who will fight for these causes, especially on behalf of those who can't fight for themselves. The world is going through a lot right now. I find myself feeling so sad on a regular basis after reading the news. We often bemoan to each other, "what kind of world will it be when our kids are grown up?" But the funny thing about that statement (which I admittedly say all the time) is that, it sort of makes our kids seem like passive inhabitants and inheritors of this world. But that doesn't have to be and shouldn't be the case. They can make their world better, and I think we as parents have the responsibility to raise them to be the citizens who will make their world better. It's a tall order, but it's also a really noble and privileged one. And please, remind me I said that last sentence when L complains about how her tutu doesn't have enough sequins.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Away in CT

I can't believe I haven't posted in over a year and a half. Where has the time gone? I think it was mostly spent on my hands and knees picking up cheerios and other crumbs of unknown origin off my floor. Seriously. The day after the cleaning lady comes, you'd never know she came by. -_-

Blogger.com used to be blocked at work and let's be honest, work is where I used to write most of my posts: during my lunch break, or my Starbucks coffee break, or my Starbucks Marshmallow Dream Bar break. But today I checked the site, just cuz, and for some reason, it's not blocked anymore. Maybe I will start blogging more regularly. I used to be a dedicated journaler in my younger days, but it's so hard to find time to do that now because see cheerios above. But I find that I love going back and reading old posts and remember things I forgot. I'll read a post and say to myself, "wuuut, J used to be a little baby who didn't eat more than his big sister??" That kind of thing.

Well today I want to memorialize a big occasion. The hubs and I went away on our first overnight getaway ever since kids. At first, I kept saying "first overnight trip since J!" but no. It's since L. Our last overnight getaway was when I was a 36-weeks-pregnant-with-L beached whale and we stayed at a great little B&B (which has unfortunately since closed) near the Poconos. That was 2011. I know. [insert horror face emoji here] My mom and aunts are here, so we took advantage and went away two Sundays ago. SH planned the whole trip. If anyone is looking for a quick getaway (parents or not), the trip we did is a great weekend getaway from the NYC area.

Mystic CT
We drove up to Mystic CT and first had lunch at the Oyster Club. It is an adorable little restaurant. We had raw oysters, NE clam chowder (best I've ever had--I love NE clam chowder but most are too thick and creamy--this one had a touch of creaminess but was very light) and coconut lemongrass mussels OMG. I'm still thinking about them. The waitress brought the bowl of mussels out and I gasped. It was huge. I think we counted over 30 of them. I think SH wanted to guzzle the broth from the bowl. But he's not shameless so he did not. The brunch entree was good but it was too late to the game--after the oysters, the beer, the mussels, the soup...we were so full that we couldn't finish it.



After Oyster Club we walked over to the water, where there's a cute little downtown area with small shops. We got to see the drawbridge go up (I took a video of the whole thing for L who loved watching it) and we grabbed ice cream at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream. Also very good.

Mohegan Sun
Next we drove to Mohegan Sun which is about a 25 minute drive. We came here once but it was probably ten years ago. We originally tried to do a Fri-Sat trip, but the hotel was $400. So we checked other dates and Sun-Mon was $129. The price discrepancy is crazy.

We went to the pool, listened to a free concert (Junior Brown? SH recognized him), walked around, had a quiet dinner, had really good blueberry cheesecake for dessert, then watched TV in the room before passing out with no children nearby. It was pretty glorious. The next day we grabbed a quick breakfast and hung out at the hotel for a while before leaving around 11am.

We'll definitely do this trip again with kids sometime. I hear Mystic has a great aquarium. Also, I was pleasantly surprised by how the common areas of Mohegan Sun were not smoky. If you're not going through the casino, it's not bad at all. The kids would have so much fun at the big pool, and there's also a kids zone indoor playground.

On the drive up, I said "don't forget, we need to take a picture of us to commemorate this trip." SH said "yup." ...we forgot. We are so terrible at taking pictures of us. Maybe that's because as of today, SH and I have been together 12 years. -_- Where does the time go? umm...cheerios.

Friday, October 10, 2014

my cousin vinny and my first week of work

i am oh so very fortunate to have a husband who is almost 40 (love you), who likes to make me watch his favorite movies from the 80s and 90s. mostly bad ones, i mean, like terrible ones - case in point, the last dragon. don't tell me it's good. i know i will hear it from those who are part of its cult following but it's so bad. i mean, the very reason it has a cult following is because it's so unbelievably bad it's amusing. and for SH, the general rule is, the worse the movie, the better. one welcome exception to this rule is my cousin vinny. it's a great movie, and SH's favorite. apparently, he and his friends watched it so much in college they wore out the VHS (yes, VHS) tape, so they immediately went out and bought another one.

anyhow, yesterday all of a sudden this scene popped into my head:

"Lisa, I don't need this. I swear to God, I do not need this right now, okay? I've got a judge that's just aching to throw me in jail. An idiot who wants to fight me for two hundred dollars. Slaughtered pigs. Giant loud whistles. I ain't slept in five days. I got no money, a dress code problem, AND a little murder case which, in the balance, holds the lives of two innocent kids. Not to mention your [tap tapBIOLOGICAL CLOCK - my career, your life, our marriage, and let me see, what else can we pile on? Is there any more shit we can pile on to the top of the outcome of this case? Is it possible?"

fyi, this is my second favorite part of the movie, right after the "doe-eyed deer" scene. anyway...i think there's a reason i thought of this scene. it was my first full week of work after mat leave. my mom left two days before i started work. we are in the process of buying a house, and the mortgage application process has been painfully drawn out because the property is new construction. our current house is a mess - in a weird limbo between living and packing. lana and jonah are both sick. i cook what feels like all the time (and burnt a pasta casserole i made and almost cried). jonah is still on a bottle strike and will eat max 6oz all day while i'm at work, so i'm an anxious mess every day as i rush home to nurse him, all while feeling terrible for the nanny. i keep getting stuck in traffic - first it was the UN, then it was obama, then it was a bus with a blown tire. my pelvic problem has not fully gone away. my postpartum insane-hair-falling-out stage has begun. i am really really exhausted. but at the same time, i don't know. i mean. i'm not really surprised, i'm not really mad or upset. i'm just tired. and i think this is probably normal for a working mom with two kids. exhaustion = normal. -_- it also probably gets much better once jonah is a little older (please tell me i am not deluded in thinking this). the easiest part in all this is work itself. work is easy compared to everything else that happens as a result of work! i think 50% of my stress would be reduced if i didn't have to commute, or if i could teleport. i'd take either, though i'd prefer the latter, because then i could teleport to hawaii or florida if i need a break and be back by dinnertime.

so. that was my week. so, SO thankful that it's friday and that i work from home on fridays, although it hasn't been much of a break at all being home with a sick toddler and a baby who refuses to take even an ounce from a bottle because he knows i'm home, even though i'm hiding upstairs. HOW DO THEY KNOW??

but then i look at this picture and i, you know, feel a little better.


















the moral of this post is come over and play with our kids and help us pack. i will pay you with food, since i'm cooking all the damn time anyway. and maybe my cousin vinny will even be on TV. i mean it's on all the time. and who doesn't need a little more marisa tomei wearing an english garden as a romper in their lives?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

i think someone messed with the speed of time

i'm serious. seriously, for serious, where did this year go? and at the risk of being the 46934985th mom to say this - where did my maternity leave go? i mean, really, where did it go?? i had jonah, then it was a blur, then i was soooo sleepy (i think that was my last post), then i breastfed what felt like every minute of every day and my boobs hurt like hell, then they got better, then it was more of a blur, then jonah started sleeping a lot better and now i go back to work. the last post i wrote was when jonah was 5 weeks old, and now he's over 3 months old! i mean, i start work in THREE DAYS. :( truth is i don't mind work itself, but i'm just not ready to go back yet. i'm really not. there's so much i wanted to get done during leave and it didn't happen. i wanted to start working out (nope). i wanted to get jonah on a 3 hour schedule (nope - the kid wants to eat ALL. THE. TIME. i guess you don't get to be a 17 pound 3 month old by eating every 3 hours). i wanted to declutter the house (nope). i wanted to get lana sleep trained. (NOPE.) perhaps i was too ambitious. or perhaps someone really did speed up time. in which case i should get some more leave time to get these things done.

despite everything i didn't get done, my maternity leave was really awesome. it's been so nice being at home with both kids (read: it's been so nice being home with both kids, with my mom doing almost everything). even though most of the time i was focused on jonah, i've been able to spend a lot of quality time with lana too. i love picking her up from school and taking her to the playground, something i can't do once i go back to work. i think she's the kid that makes her teachers think to themselves, "i'm not getting paid enough for this." other kids get picked up by their parents and it's a quick hi/bye, but when i pick up lana the teachers always have a bunch of stories to share with me. -_- at least they usually say it with smiles on their faces (though sometimes, they look really tired...mental note: get teachers nice christmas gifts).

anyway, it's not so much the work part that i'm worried about, it's everything else that happens as a result - waking up super early, the morning craze, commuting, pumping at work, jamming all errands into the weekend, cooking all day sunday for the week ahead, etc. i keep thinking back in awe at my pre-kids life, esp. the weekday mornings. i mean, we got up, walked sammie, drank some coffee, showered, and went out the door? unbelievable. did we know how good we had it?? what makes it infinitely worse is that my mom leaves tomorrow. insert a million frowny faces here. she's been doing everything for us. i don't think i'll ever really know how hard it is to have a new baby because my mom did so much of the stuff that parents normally have to do. in jonah's 3+ months of life i think i've bathed him about 5 times. my mom did all the rest of the baths. i think in the past 3 months i've cooked dinner about 5 times also. my mom cooked every other home-cooked meal (and we did eat out a bit on days when everyone was down for the count). she did a lot of the daycare dropoffs and pickups for lana. she made sure i took a 2 hr nap every day, even if it meant watching both kids (something i haven't yet done for more than one hour at a time). i know we'll eventually find our rhythm and be ok (i think), but i'm a little terrified of going down to man-to-man coverage with the kids. since jonah's been born it's always been 3 on 2, and now it's going to be 2 on 2. -_- and sometimes, i think lana is more like 1.5. but jonah is a pretty good sleeper so far (sleeps up to 5-7 hr stretches) so that makes things much better. but honestly, i know that these are the complaints and fears of someone who is extremely lucky and blessed - blessed with having been spoiled by help from family, blessed with two awesome kids, blessed with jobs. i know it's going to be crazy but i guess that's the definition of life with kids? i probably wouldn't change much at all (except my parents living here...and maybe a much shorter commute...and eventually working part-time...and cheaper housing prices...ok fine maybe i'd change some things but you get the point). i thank God every day for these "problems" in my life but that doesn't change the fact that i still am terrified. so i'm praying for a smooth transition. 

jonah is 100 days old today. we celebrated with family yesterday, and i'm glad the timing worked out that my mom could be here for it. someone wasn't thrilled about wearing a suit so we took it off him. but i did manage to get a tie on his onesie. :)


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

5.5 weeks in: i dream of sleep

jonahpants was 5 weeks old this past saturday. on friday we went to his one month appointment and he now weighs almost 11 pounds. no one would ever guess he was a late-term preemie. he gained 4 pounds in 4 weeks - so he went from the 20th percentile to the 75th percentile. my arms know it ain't no lie.

he's been good overall. there was that growth spurt stage at 2-3 weeks that was rough, and he's getting gassier which sometimes makes feedings harder. he's also learned that being held beats lying alone in the crib or bouncer. but overall i don't think we can really complain. it's hard and tiring but it's normal hard and tiring. 2 nights ago he slept a 4 hour stretch which was glorious. 4 hours feels like 7 these days. i hope he continues to stretch out his night feedings. i take naps every day but i'm still living in that sleep deprivation fog, the one where you'd give up riches and fame and a date with mark wahlberg for just 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. i'm bracing myself though - while most of the early days with lana are now a blur at best, i still remember very clearly one particular night when she was 6 weeks old. she didn't eat or sleep from 9pm-3am. she cried the entire 6 hours. we were in complete panic mode and utterly exhausted. when we started telling our pediatrician about it, he chuckled and said it was the "witching hour" which for some reason conjured very disturbing scenes from the blair witch project. apparently babies are known to be super fussy in the evenings. i was so relieved to find out it was a known phenomenon and it wasn't just our kid being a baby terrorist. after doing some extremely scientific research on the internets, i also learned that 6-9 weeks of age is particularly difficult for everyone involved. it is a period of rapid neurological development for the babies so they go through a lot of fussiness, this on top of the gas issue. so they don't eat well, don't sleep well, they cry and cry, and in turn make their parents cry too. all this to say, jonah baby, please be kind to mommy and daddy the next few weeks. 

speaking of terrorists, lanapants has become one. we've been very fortunate that lana has been overall very easy behaviorally. she is easy to take out and about, listens pretty well, has a very happy temperament and doesn't tantrum much. that was...until a few weeks ago. she has been an utter terror the past few weeks. it's probably a combination of jonah jealousy and becoming three soon. In the US we talk about terrible twos but in korea it's actually terrible threes and this time i think the koreans got it right. she is still very sweet to jonah and i don't think she'll ever take it out on him, but she often gets jealous if someone holds jonah, like she'll ask me to hold her right when i start feeding him. she throws tantrums for no apparent reason and we cannot figure out what's wrong bc she refuses to talk. she gives major attitude. she's regressing in the potty training department. it's pretty exhausting. and since she hasn't given us much reason to practice discipline until now, we find ourselves often wondering whether to approach her with toughness or gentleness. on monday she had a total meltdown and i felt i had no choice but to put on the mean mom face and discipline her pretty strictly. it actually worked though which was encouraging. while she's pushing boundaries like crazy she doesn't not care about our reaction - she definitely fears "time out" and getting punished. this is an area of parenthood i could do without - tips are appreciated from seasoned (and battered) parents. now i feel bad about all those times andy and i fought and drove my mom crazy, even though, obviously, he always started it.

anyway, to give my mom and me a break, sh took lana to my in-laws' place yesterday for the night. then my mom offered to take jonah overnight so i could get a real night's sleep. i tried to fight her bc i thought it'd be too tiring for her but she wouldn't take no for an answer. i couldn't really sleep for the whole night straight bc the milk factory operates 24/7, but i definitely slept so much better without jonah. i went to my mom's room to nurse him once at midnight, then pumped one other time. but basically i slept from 9-5:30 and only woke up twice so it was so nice! sh probably slept the night straight though… -_-

Monday, July 14, 2014

jonahpants: 3 weeks

jonah's actual due date was yesterday, 7/13 (again, can't IMAGINE), but he is showing no signs of being an early baby. in one week, he gained 1lb 3oz, so as of last friday he was 8lb 9oz. he is fattening up and getting noticeably chubbier by the day. he is definitely able to take in more at every feeding. he is rarely satisfied with 2oz anymore and has even eaten 4+oz here and there. he's falling into a pattern of cluster feeding in the evenings - eating almost every hour for about a three-hour stretch sometime between the hours of 8pm and 1am and then sleeping a good 3-3.5 hours till the next feeding. sometimes we get lucky and that stretch is 10-12, and other times we are not so lucky and it's 12-2 -_-.

the big thing that happened this past week is we found out that jonah needed to get circumcised…again. our pediatrician told us two weeks ago that he didn't like the way it looked, and that he thought my OB had botched the initial job by not taking enough skin off. so last week we went to see a pediatric urologist who confirmed that it would need to be redone. he said we had a choice to do it now or later on when he's around 2, but later on means general anesthesia because it's hard to control a flailing 2 year old. needless to say, we were so pissed. it's hard enough to deal with the fact that they have to go through it once (though, i'm pretty sure it's harder on us than it is on him), but to have to make him go through it again really made us mad. i called my OB and told her what our pediatrician said, but she stood by her procedure and said she did it right, and that she was making sure she didn't take too much off because that comes with its own complications. i mean, what do i say to that? i just left that conversation at that. anyway, so we opted to do it right away - why not avoid general anesthesia if you can. so today was the procedure. we really really loved the pediatric urologist. he was so friendly, warm and reassuring, and true to his word, the whole procedure seemed to take less than 10 minutes. i'm just so glad it's over and hopefully this time it's done properly and we don't have to deal with this again.

my recovery feels like it's two steps forward, one step back. there are days when i feel pretty good, and i don't know, maybe because i feel pretty good i overdo it, which makes the next day not feel so good? not sure if that's the case or not but i guess it's possible. some days i don't really feel the incision too much, and other days it (and the surrounding area) stings/pinches/pulls/hurts so much. today i actually felt a little pelvic pain and i freaked out that the SPD was coming back, but i'm hoping it's not that...and that the pain was just a result of sleeping on my side last night, which i think was a bad move. i think (hope/pray) that i'm still just very stiff in the pelvic/hip area and the sleeping on the side put extra pressure on those bones. we'll see how i feel the next few days. once i hit one month postpartum i'm going to start going to the chiropractor/acupuncturist again. i think that'll help my hip, pelvic bone, back, etc. loosen up a bit. i'm starting to feel restless though. i can't wait to feel normal and be out and about again. because i only gained 13 pounds during the pregnancy, i've lost all the extra weight, but it'll take a while for my belly to go down and for me to be back in non-maternity clothes. but once i am wearing my normal clothes again, i feel a shopping spree coming on. :D

jonahpants! (smiling after making a big poo)