I am linking up with ‘While Wearing Heels’ today for an assignment that I’ve been debating for a few days. I’m none too keen on having my picture taken, but I do feel compelled to share the difficulties of retaining your sense of “self” during pregnancy / motherhood. I have not been in the mood to star in any self-portraits lately, seeing as how it’s been 90+ degrees outside, I’m pregnant (read: 20 pounds heavier), and proper blow-drying and styling of my hair is woefully infrequent.
But then I remembered back to my angsty, faux-artsy high-school days, when self-portraits could be abstract, mysterious, and symbolic. So, I decided to compromise:
I call this – ‘The Balancing Act’. Right now, I’m balancing all of my old and new loves in life with my pregnancy. I LOVE being pregnant with my second little boy. Every kick in the groin is a gift – truly. But no matter how appreciative you are of being pregnant, I’ve learned that it’s hard to give up little bits of who you are. I am an avid biker and runner (hence the bike pump perched on top of the books and journals), but don’t get to enjoy that much these days. But I do get to drink my favorite tea, collect rocks by the river with my little man, enjoy being a toddler mom, and read when I get the chance. The quote came from a pithy little charm that I picked up at a craft store. It’s not deep, it’s just true. Balance.
For another great self-portrait, check out Bonnie’s at ‘A Compass Rose’. She’s good, real good.
I love parks. Playdates are fun. But the only place that offers true respite from the 90-degree heat (aside from standing in front of my swamp cooler), is the river. We are fortunate to live about 7 blocks from the Arkansas river, which is running low and cool and just about perfect these days. (When it is high and muddy, I can’t stop thinking about how quickly Blaine could disappear under the surface if he ever wormed out of my hand and managed to long-jump three feet from the shore. Such are the fears of mothers.)
We go just about every day, and Blaine loves to play in the water, throw rocks (a habit that is translating into some difficult social situations), and dig in the sand. It was my husband’s day off today, so I managed to snap a few photos without endangering Blaine’s life by letting go of his nimble little hand. When it comes to taking blogging pictures, I put the priority level at just below ‘safety of child for which blog is named’.
Neverending source of fun.
I feel that the river is also a perfect substitute for all of those “sensory” bin activities that I see on Pinterest and can’t be bothered to put together. (Lazy mommy.) At the river, we play in the water, pick leaves, play with grass, run our fingers through sand, and stack pebbles. That’s a lot of sensory business going on, and I call it good. It’s also good for me to get out and walk the nearly 2 miles to and from the park. Mommy needs some sensory stimulation, too. Not that Curious George isn’t engaging…
The mighty Arkansas River.
What do you do when it’s 8:00 in the evening, your husband is two hours late, and you’ve already done all the chores (baby and non-baby-related) by your poor, sad, little lonesome? This:
Happiness in a bowl.
My friends, meet Cinnamon Chocolate* Ice cream. We met a week ago at a little café in Salida, fell in love, and have been inseparable ever since.
Ben is marooned at work tonight until further notice, so I took the liberty of rewarding myself for a hard day’s work with my one true frozen cream love and my BFF, Sunset Magazine. I tear pages out and add them to a binder of bucket list trips. Don’t worry, I recycle the rest. (It wouldn’t be fair to donate them to the library with all the good stuff torn out.)
What’s that, you say? You need proof that a hard day’s work was actually done? Here you go: This is a photo of me watching Blaine play in his favorite room in the house – aka the Laundry Room. You know, the room where we keep the bleach and the dog food and the perilously stacked makeshift shelves for overflow kitchen appliances. That room. Good mommy.
Good, clean fun.
*If you live near a City Market or King Soopers (yes, that’s how it’s spelled out here), you can get this in the small Private Selection pint sizes. Or, Boulder Ice Cream makes Mexican Chocolate, which is just as good. If you’re in California, just go get Thrifty’s Chocolate Malted Crunch and don’t tell me, because I’ll still be jealous.
Visiting Daddy for lunch and a walk.
This time of the summer, Ben works six days a week from about 6:30 to 6:00. He is the manager at a whitewater rafting company and deals with all manner of fun stuff: happy guests, angry guests (seriously, if you can’t be happy on vacation, you’re just not happy), big groups, exclusive groups, and plenty of business-related hangups. He works very hard so that I don’t have to go back to teaching anytime soon, and I appreciate it so much. That’s not to say that I don’t also sometimes act the martyr and whine about all the long hours he’s putting in and how exhausted I am at the end of taking care of the little one for 12 straight hours. I do. I try not to, but I do. I have to remind myself that things will slow down in the fall and he’ll get his two days a week back and we’ll see more of him.
But right now, we miss him.
So, once a week we take time to make time to go up to see him. Sometimes we have lunch, sometimes we just go for a walk, and sometimes we eat at the restaurant next door. No matter what, it’s nice for Blaine to see him during daylight hours, and I love getting out of the house for a change. Blaine has plenty of admirers up there, too, so it’s good for him to be exposed to new people and new faces. (He’s been a bit clingy lately.)
Plus, it gives me a good excuse to take a shower, do my hair, and put on something besides a tank top and my trusty lycra skirt.
I’m linking up with Wild and Precious for her Life Lately series!
There are so many Pinterest Boards / websites dedicated to helping moms to engage in meaningful play with their children. I just read a post (which I originally dismissed but then saw the value of) called ‘Meaningful Block Play’ , which reminds mothers and fathers that kids need help discovering which tactile toys can best help them express their creativity. If kids don’t know about a particular medium, they won’t be able to utilize it. And let’s face it, when it comes to knowing a lot about the world, toddlers are at the bottom of the smartie-pants scale. They know nothing! We have to teach them the basics of play and life. (I don’t even want to discuss the joys of potty training that will be coming up in the next year.)
So when we went up to visit Daddy yesterday to have lunch and spend precious daylight hours with him, it made me feel good to know that, although he can’t put his shoes on by himself or say the word “Mommy” (sigh)… my little man can dip a French fry into ketchup. Repeatedly. With style.
Doing what we call the “dip, dip”.
He’s surprisingly neat about it, too.
The highly professional tools of my trade.
I don’t know about you, but one of the things that I struggle with as a new (after a year, am I still new?) stay-at-home-mom is the feeling of not being productive. I used to work 10-hour days and produce a vast number of projects before B: student essays, school-wide events, wedding photographs, even firsts drafts of books! But with baby in tow, it becomes a lot harder to create, craft, produce, or participate. (How’s that for some alliterative poetics?)
So I am particularly pleased when I actually make something that isn’t just consumed at the dinner table. I love the work of an artist in Salida who runs a shop called Art and Salvage, and bought one lovely painting from her. She inspired me to try my own because, well, I can’t really afford to buy another one of her paintings just yet…and I thought it would be fun to try anyway.
So I did.
And here it is in all its glory.
It took four partial naptimes and two evening sessions. It was actually a really great project for doing step-by-step because you have to let one layer of paint dry before you can go on to the next one. I’m very happy with my first try as a painter and may just try another one soon. I’m not sure how some mamas manage to have complete Etsy businesses, create quilted masterpieces, or make their own almond milk from scratch. Maybe I’m just not motivated / organized / serious enough. But for now, I am happy with my one little painting that says a little bit about who I am as a person, not just a mom.
I like bikes.
It does a mommy’s heart good when she teaches her baby something new. A few weeks ago I taught B how to identify doggy doo in the backyard so that he would learn to avoid it. So far, he’s only stepped in it once since then. I call that success. Daddy had his own little moment of joy today when he brought B into the garden to pick strawberries, and, wouldn’t you know it, the little tyke remembered (after only two times before) to pick the red ones, take off the green top, and pop it into his cavernous mouth. Daddy was astounded. I’m becoming used to him doing things like this – after I showed him once how to use a whistle, he found it a few days later and immediately put it to his mouth and began to blow. Genius! My baby is a genius all right. (For the record, I want you to know I originally spelled “genius” wrong twice in the last sentence. Fair disclosure.)
It is amazing how fast they learn and what they’re picking up even when you don’t know you’re putting it down, hypothetically and not hypothetically speaking. Makes me realize I need to watch my words and behavior even more closely. Or at least stop saying “crapstick” so often.