Monday, July 14, 2014

Baptisms, Cake and Baby-led Weaning

Doctors will tell you that babies can start having solid foods around four months old.  But they caveat that by adding that babies shouldn't have solid foods until they begin showing interest in foods.

Paul was baptized on Sunday, 10 days after his four month birthday.  I baked a little cake to serve as dessert at his reception after the baptism. And when I asked to get a picture of him with the cake, he DOVE in!  I have seen one-year-olds less interested in their first birthday cakes!  
We had not yet given Paul any solid foods to eat. In part because I simply hadn't remembered to buy any infant cereal at the store on any of my grocery runs!  However, I think we can safely assume that Paul in definitely interested in food, and ready for cereal!

I also just love that my son's first food was cake... I have had a deep love of cake since I was a baby. My first word was cake - maybe it will be Paul's, too!
Paul's second food: rice cereal on 7/14/14

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Asking for help

I tend to believe I can do everything.  I can be a mom and a wife and a coworker!  I can get all the laundry washed, folded and put away!  I can do all the dishes!  I can feed everyone all the meals!  Healthy meals, too!  I can get all my work (both at home and at work) done!  I can vacuum, too!  Groceries!  Planning!  Play dates!  Let's go to the pool - Daddy will Birthday parties, showers, baptisms - all the parties!

And I don't need help!

But oh yes, I do need help.

Lately, everything has been slipping a little.  The house isn't as tidy.  I can't figure out what the hell to cook for dinner on any given night.  We've been getting more take-out than I believe is healthy or wallet-friendly.  I took the kids to the pool once by myself and it was... a challenge.  Work has been frustrating to say the least, and confusing and difficult and self-esteem wrenching.

I know I'm no saint.  I'm not perfect, nor should I strive to be so.  But it's been really hard for me to step back and say "No I can't do this. Not by myself."  And so I've had to ask for help.  I need Nate to meet me at the pool - if only to help me carry the kids kicking and screaming back to the car when it's time to go home.  I need help with the laundry - even if it's just carrying the folded baskets upstairs to their designated bedroom.  I need help with dinner - even if that means another night of take-out that Nate brings home.  He's part of the marriage too, so why don't I let myself depend on him more?

And I need help at work.  This has been the hardest help to ask for.  Asking for help at work means I have to admit that I am struggling and that I should have asked for help months ago.  Weeks ago.  Even days ago.  Every day I let pass without asking for help only mires me further and only beats down my usually cheerful and positive demeanor.  (Side note: while I can be extremely mopey at home, I tend to be the complete opposite at work.  At work, I'm the cheerful optimistic cheerleader,  keeping everyone else peppy. Strange, isn't it?)

Today I asked for helped.  I sat with my boss, apologized for getting a little weepy, and told her all the horrible things I've been feeling inside for waiting so long to ask for help.  I told her all the things that are confusing me and challenging me and keeping me from moving forward with projects.  I asked for help.  And she gave it freely and without hesitation.  Because that's what she's there for - to oversee and assist and lead and help.

Why did I wait so long?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Capable

This is what going to the zoo with three kids looks like.
Nate was in North Carolina on Saturday, leaving me to fend for myself with the three children.  I needed a plan to get us all out of the house, and my friends were planning to be in DC.  Perfect!  I'll see friends AND get the kids out of the house without going crazy!
The plan was a good one.  I would feed the children an early lunch, then leave the house at noon in order to give Gavin a chance to nap in the car.  We would park in a prepaid garage near the National Zoo (thank you Groupon and Parking Panda!).  I would wear Paul in the front pack, and push the other two in the double stroller.  We would meet our friends at the pandas at 2:00.

The problem with plans is that they never quite go, well, according to plans!

The first part worked out just fine.  We got into DC, found our prepaid garage, and walked to the zoo a few blocks away.  So it was hot, so the stroller was heavy, we were off to a fun day at the zoo!  But then snag #1: a delayed flight into DC meant we wouldn't see half the friends we were planning to see until 5:00 at the earliest, and I wasn't sure my crew would last that long.

And shortly thereafter, snag #2: "meet at the pandas" is a really vague meeting place, as it turns out, and my other friend doesn't have a phone after spending 6 years overseas... So there I was, wandering the National Zoo with three children all by myself.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to give up and walk back to the car and go home.  I was on the brink of feeling completely inadequate in taking three kids out of the house by myself.

But wait a minute, self!  I'm already at the zoo!  The children are (gasp) excited to see animals!  They're even behaving and sitting nicely in the stroller and holding hands when they get out of the stroller to see better.  They are overjoyed to see pandas!  They don't care in the least that my plan to see my friends isn't quite working out.  And you know what, self?  I am completely capable of doing this trip!

I swallowed back the tears, handed snacks out to the kids, and chose to enjoy myself.  And as it turns out, we did find that phoneless friend!  And we were able to stick around the city till 5:00 to meet up with the other friends for some dinner!  My kids were amazingly well behaved, given the heat and length of the outing and everything else.  And I felt completely capable and strong and confident pushing my trio through the DC Pride Parade, where we happened to wind up (I totally forgot that was going on!) for dinner. 

I was staring at all the men who had forgotten their pants that morning... and they were gawking at me in turn!  "Good lord, that's a lot of kids, lady!" I heard from one man in gold undies with a tiara...  All in all, it was a wonderful day.  And then I got shingles.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Work It

Last week was hard.  I flew from Albany to Chicago, switched planes, and flew the rest of the way to Seattle, with Paul strapped snugly to my chest.  We checked one bag and one car seat, and carried two bags and a stroller through the airports.  Let's be honest: the stroller was for the duffel bag, not the baby.

We landed at 11 am, hopped in a taxi, and off-loaded at the Conference center. I checked my suitcase, grabbed my conference badge, and met my coworkers outside my session.  They took Paul while I changed in the ladies room, put in my contacts, and slapped on some make-up. A quick lunch and a venti coffee later, I was up on stage speaking to 100 Chinese museum professionals.  And while I knew Paul was safe outside the meeting room, I heard him cry a few times and I knew he was as exhausted as I.

We spent most of Monday in the exhibition hall, meeting vendors in person and scoping out the coolest freebies to bring home.  We did go to the general session, and I'm glad I did.  The speaker was fabulous (and Paul was quiet).  Monday was great. I was on a high from my crazy Sunday itinerary going off without a hitch and I felt confident in Paul's easy personality.

Tuesday brought sessions I wanted to hear.  And I tried.  So hard, I tried to sit through sessions.  But a crying baby in a crowded meeting room isn't fair to anyone.  So I left every session I went to within the first 10 minutes.  And I sat in a corner and cried for feeling like bringing Paul was a mistake.

But that was stupid.  I didn't go to the conference to hear things, at least that wasn't my sole reason.  I went to the conference to represent my museum.  To speak and be heard.  And actually, yes, to be seen as a strong working mother with my child in a front pack on my chest.  There aren't a ton of working mom role models in my field.  I am proud to be one of the few.

Tuesday night, after telling myself it was ok to skip the sessions, I went to a fabulous evening event.  The venue was packed, so imagine my surprise when several people elbowed their way to me - me! - to tell me they had seen me all week with Paul and that they were inspired by seeing us together at the conference.  

So when I walked into my second session Wednesday morning I didn't have Paul strapped to my chest (he was at the hotel with my aunt), but I was carrying instead pride and confidence.  My session was fabulous - a packed room with great audience response and questions.  

I hope my fellow conference goers attended great sessions and went home with some fun freebies.  I didn't attend a single full session, but I came away with the best freebie there is - a great deal of confidence in who I am as a woman, mother and professional.